We have liftoff

EMP opens with monster shows at Seattle Center.

Friday, Memorial Stadium

FRIDAY NIGHT'S PORTION of the Experience Music Project's grand-opening weekend was the most testosterone-heavy lineup since Woodstock '99. There were no women onstage, and no, the blow-up doll Kid Rock carried out during Eminem's set doesn't count. (Slim Shady charmingly introduced the doll as his wife, Kim. Between that and his lyrics about his fantasies of killing her, how does she live with this guy?)

I can't imagine I missed a whole lot by skipping the first two acts. Filter I missed on purpose, but I found stuck myself in line during Kid Rock's set—a disappointment, since I remain an unrepentant Devil without a Cause fan. I managed to enter Memorial Stadium just as the Red Hot Chili Peppers opened their set with "Give It Away." Watching the four pumped-but-tired-looking 40ish men parade their muscles onstage, I kept flashing back to the immortal words Kim Gordon once uttered at a televised Mick Jagger: "Dude, put a fucking shirt on." (Naturally, the Chili Peppers encored in their timeworn tubesocks-only costume.) How was the music? Perfunctory, though Anthony Kiedis' voice is deteriorating—a stunning achievement, since he never had one to begin with.

Eminem, on the other hand, sounded completely alert. Entering through the door of a liquor store that served as part of the Anyghetto stage set, he demonstrated a surprisingly easy charisma, never overdoing the hands-in-the-air shtick that buries so many hip-hoppers onstage. And regardless of his lyrical immorality, nobody's arguing he can't rhyme. Em was followed by his mentor Dr. Dre, and though I've never had much taste for the g-funk he pioneered, he and Snoop Dogg were probably the show's highlight: Goofy chants, bass lines that filled the arena, and a "What's My Name"/"Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang" medley that worked like a Timex.

Metallica, on the other hand, work like a jackhammer. Steady, pummeling, relentless, they brought their militia-ready riffs off pretty damn effectively. But though I don't agree with Eminem on most things, I, too, just didn't give a fuck.—M.M.

Sunday, Memorial Stadium

THE DEFINING MOMENT of Sunday's bill came during the Built to Spill show when a young hipster tapped the shoulder of a hardcore Heart-head and asked what song the band was covering. The hipster was happily bobbing his head along, but the Heart-head knew all the words. He was grinning from ear to ear as he answered the kid: "Ozzy, man! It's 'Mr. Crowley!'"

The afternoon kicked off with a set by the always-fun Young Fresh Fellows. Robyn Hitchcock showed up at the end of the band's allotted half hour and treated the crowd to "Viva! Sea-Tac," his homage to our town. He then led the gang in a spirited version of the Beatles' "A Day in the Life." The bridge between the song's two sections became a cacophonous noise fest with the Fellows' Scott McCaughey doing double duty—noodling like mad on his guitar and banging out a mean keyboard part with his red Converse sneakers. Walking off, Hitchcock sarcastically questioned, "Are you experienced?"

Following the Fellows were the Fastbacks. Emcee Krist Novoselic introduced the Seattle favorites, but not before he paused to plug JAMPAC, the local committee that advocates and supports our musical community. Kim, Lulu, and the boys kicked ass, like I knew they would.

Next up was the all-star posse of Northwest rock, The New Strychnines. Covering tunes by the Sonics, the seminal '60s garage band who predate the basketball team, the New Strychnines feature Mudhoney's Mark Arm and bandmates, plus McCaughey on keys, and members of Gas Huffer and Girl Trouble. The mosh pit was pretty much bum-rushed by old dudes. And I must admit that seeing a bunch of gray, balding heads rockin' out to "Cinderella" does a heart good.

The older set then bum-rushed the hot dog stand and the youngsters crowded in and prepared for Subset, the band that blends members of the Presidents of the United States of America with rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot. When the "band" broke into an old-school Mix anthem at the end of the set, the crowd went wild. Even the white boys had to shout, "Baby Got Back!"

Ann Wilson won the hearts of the adoring crowd by playing such favorites as "Dreamboat Annie" and "Crazy on You." Answering a fan's plea for "Barracuda," she replied, "I'm not quite the guitar player it would take to play that song. If my sister was here, we could do it."

Built to Spill rounded out the evening, covering not only Ozzy, but Macy Gray's "I Try." Then came Screaming Trees—and I'm here to tell you that Mark Lanegan has only gotten better with age and Barrett Martin is still the meanest drummer this side of the Mississippi.

Vintage metal band Queensryche and all-star headbangers Scrap Metal closed down the Memorial Stadium and the rock weekend, and I'm almost sure that nobody gave a thought to the gargantuan sculpture/museum that spawned the occasion. We were thinking only of Seattle's legacy of rock.—L.L.

Check out Special Coverage: Experience Music Project

 
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