After an underwhelming Friday, Saturday's Block Party regained the spirit of years past by giving the crowd a chance to dance. More on that later, but first, a few words on each of the bands I saw in short bursts throughout the day:
Chona Kasinger Twin Shadow
Spokane's Nude started the day on the Vera Stage with a dose of post-rock-meets-post-punk. The Sound Off winners' sound was strikingly similar to their Lilac City brethren The Globes, albeit with a lighter touch. The crowd: over-accessorized young men wearing makeup. Viva la '80s!
Pollens brought their Dirty Projectors-style art pop to Neumos, but with more concurrent sound and sharing of instrumental and vocal duties. Dave Longstreth would never be so egalitarian.Later on, dream-pop duo Lemolo took the Vera Stage with their usual grace. Their elegantly-arranged songs, topped by Meagan Grandall's sublime vocals, sounded perfect in the day's last rays. If you haven't picked up their new record The Kaleidoscope, you're missing out in the worst way.
Eighties and '90s synth sounds was a running thread throughout the day, with the main stage definitely having a distinct sound that worked perfectly with the sun and the crowd's desire to dance. With a horn section and live instrumentation, Beat Connection filled the main stage audience to beyond the beer garden for the first time of the fest. Hits like "Silver Screen," "In the Water," and the new single "The Palace Garden 4am" got everyone grooving and solidified the belief that the permanent addition of singer Tom Eddy was a smart move indeed.
Chona Kasinger Beat Connection
Up next on the main stage, New York's Twin Shadow brought the first distinct riff of the entire festival (Yes! Really.) with his summer jam "Five Seconds" and its squelching synth-bass line. George Lewis Jr.'s powerful voice, at times achieving Morrisey-level nuance, topped his extremely danceable '80s pop and continued to build momentum at the stage, making his set the highlight of Saturday.
I've been curious about Grimes since I first heard "Oblivion" on KEXP a few months ago. With all the hype surrounding the hard-to-categorize Montreal resident, I was certain I would detest her music, but instead, I was instantly drawn in to its web of '90s pop sounds (think TLC's "Waterfalls" and Mariah Carey) and Grimes' innocent girl-child vocals. Dressed in an anarchy t-shirt and yellow high-tops, she looked every bit the cool 10-year-old, while her musical compatriot sported a long black cape and gold chain. Stretching out songs like "Be A Body" and "Oblivion" into longer, free-styling jams, Grimes triggered loops, danced, and sang lead vocals, whipping the giant audience into a crowd-surfing frenzy.
Chona Kasinger Grimes
If yesterday was international synth day, today's lineup is all about garage. I'll be interested to see whether it wears as well.
What was your highlight of Saturday's Block Party? Add it in the comments!