Bully screaming at SPF30. Photo by Seth Sommerfeld

Bully screaming at SPF30. Photo by Seth Sommerfeld

The 10 Best Moments From SPF30

A look back at the high points of Sub Pop’s 30th anniversary blowout.

Last Saturday, Sub Pop overtook Alki Beach to throw itself a 30th anniversary bash. Shocker — it was very fun. Here are a few highlights of the record label’s festivities.

Beach House basking in the golden hour at SPF30. Photo by Seth Sommerfeld

Beach House basking in the golden hour at SPF30. Photo by Seth Sommerfeld

• It’s a glaringly obvious point that everyone at SPF30 made, but there’s something special about seeing Beach House perform on a beach. (No, it’s not just the name thing.) The band’s ultra-lush dream pop soundscapes meshed perfectly with golden hour on Alki Beach — the color tones of the music and skyline blending into a unified sensory euphoria as the vivid warm hues of the sunset over the Puget Sound water transitioned into magical darkness. Truly sights and sounds to behold.

• Two of the stage SPF30 stages were named Harsh Realm and Flippity-Flop. If you’re not sure why that rules, familiarize yourself with the story of Megan Jasper (via Sub Pop) pranking The New York Times with the “grunge lexicon.”

LVL UP (almost) saying goodbye at SPF30. Photo by Seth Sommerfeld

LVL UP (almost) saying goodbye at SPF30. Photo by Seth Sommerfeld

• It’s odd to see a young band decide to break up and not immediately shut everything down. But when LVL UP announced in June that the group was calling it quits this year, the news came with a final single and a last run of tour dates. As SPF30 showcased, the LVL UP’s three-vocalist indie rock approach still sounds tremendous and the band still seems to legitimately enjoy playing together. In a way, this makes the break-up even more of a bummer for fans (make sure to catch the final LVL UP show in Seattle at Barboza on Sept. 5), but it’s probably better to end on high notes than sour ones.

• It was a treat just to causally walk past (Sub Pop’s own) comedian Eugene Mirman as he strolled along Alki Avenue between sets. (Though Sub Pop not having a pop-up Bob’s Burgers food truck seems like a missed opportunity.)

Jo Passed mastering the hair whip at SPF30. Photo by Seth Sommerfeld

Jo Passed mastering the hair whip at SPF30. Photo by Seth Sommerfeld

Jo Passed guitarist Bella Bébé has the most elite hair whip skills I’ve ever witnessed. During the band’s SPF30-opening set, she shredded while whipping her hair left-to-right with an unrivaled freneticism. My neck still is feeling empathy pains from watching it. (That’s not to diminish the band’s rock music — it’s quite good.)

• It was stellar to see early Sub Pop pop punk mainstay Fastbacks rip through songs in the sunshine, and the band also unknowingly provided the best comedic moment of the day. The group has been known for cycling through drummers (seriously, it’s the second paragraph on the Wikipedia page) and used two of them during their performance. But after the second final behind-the-kit switch, Kim Warnick and Lulu Gargiulo joked if there were any more ex-Fastback drummers in the crowd. While they didn’t see it from the stage, there was at least one hand very legitimately raised.

METZ at SPF30. Photo by Seth Sommerfeld

METZ at SPF30. Photo by Seth Sommerfeld

• It wouldn’t be a Sub Pop celebration without some walls of distorted, grungy noise. Whether you were in the mood for something old school (Mudhoney), new school (METZ), or some fem ferocity (Bully), SPF30 had you covered. (If your ears are still ringing, it’s your own damn fault.)

• In SPF30’s sea of fast, heavy noise, the slow, delicate. minimal indie songwriter sounds of Loma stood out from the pack. The band’s set felt almost meditative compared to the rest of the day’s offerings, with Emily Cross’s poetic singing feeling almost like a hushed mid-day lullaby.

clipping. holding court at SPF30. Photo by Seth Sommerfeld

clipping. holding court at SPF30. Photo by Seth Sommerfeld

• While Shabazz Palaces’ immersive interstellar tunes sounded great, there’s zero doubt who’s the best live hip-hop on the label. That’d be clipping. The combination of Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson’s abrasive industrial electronic DJing and the lightning-quick tongue of Daveed Diggs creates a musical molotov cocktail that’s always moments away from crashing and exploding into chaos. Clipping. drew the wildest (and unsurprisingly youngest) crowd of the day and the energy exchange between those on stage and off was electric the whole way through.

• Above all else, a sense of community reigned at SPF30. If you’re at all invested in the local music scene, Saturday’s festivities served as an endless parade of familiar faces. Even more than chatter about specific acts, the refrain I heard again and again was essentially “it’s crazy how I’m running into everyone I know.” (I alone ran into musician, industry, radio, music photography, and concert-regular pals.) Sub Pop’s musical legacy was on full display during SPF30, but the event also underscored how the label’s cultural cache ties together so much of our city.


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