rolling-stonesnot.jpg
The Rolling Stones

Friday, July 22

Cha Cha Lounge/Block Party

It only took a few minutes at Friday night's sweaty, almost violent set by Seattle

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Seattle's The Rolling Stones Give Fans What Mick and Keith are No Longer Capable Of

rolling-stonesnot.jpg
The Rolling Stones

Friday, July 22

Cha Cha Lounge/Block Party

It only took a few minutes at Friday night's sweaty, almost violent set by Seattle cover band The Rolling Stones--sometime between "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" and "Let's Spend the Night Together"--that I felt like I was back at the most memorable Tom Petty set I've ever seen, a crowd-surf-inducing anomaly in British Columbia.

In B.C., Petty brought his arsenal of hits to 20-something kids out at a weekend dust-covered summer festival outside Whistler, an inspiring setting that was in stark contrast to the comparably docile affairs that the Heartbreakers' seated shows have become. Friday, at the Cha Cha--as antithetical as any room in town to Qwest Field, the last local space to house England's hitmakers--a group of all-stars from Seattle's music scene put on their sailor hats and brought one of rock's most beloved canons--an unavoidable rite of passage for rock fans of every age--to its most natural destination, and a place Mike and Keith haven't ventured in years: a humid, drunken basement filled with fans grinning ear to ear when they weren't singing and shouting along to every word.

The Rolling Stones aren't exactly a tribute band, but are more than a cover band. Its members--Justin Deary, Devin Welch, Tyler Swan, sole female Stone Chava Mirel, and the band's Mick Jagger, Jordan Blilie, and Nat Sahlstrom--didn't ape the mannerisms of the British Invasion bad boys, but they didn't re-imagine their catalogue, either. As themselves, they played spot-on renditions of favorites, as if they were sitting in with the originals, not trying to replicate them. The set list included a couple of radio staples--"Gimme Shelter" among them--but focused largely on Exile-era cuts like "Happy" and "Loving Cup."

Bands don't resonate on the same broad level the way they used to. The greatest musical accomplishment of the Internet has been its incredible power to flatten the wall between bands and listeners, a feat that has spread audiences among a greater swath of artists. But Friday, amid a festival of dozens of bands with relative niche followings that, when collected, can bring masses together, The Rolling Stones' set celebrated the blissfulness of a time when popular music was more of a shared experience, and one that didn't cost $100 a head.

Reporter's Notebook:

Overheard Before the Set: "It's not the real Rolling Stones, is it?"

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