By the time Sonic Youth took the Capitol Hill Block Party main stage you had better be friends with your neighbor because it was a shoulder-to-shoulder situation.
The iconic New York noise rockers closed down the main stage of the Block Party’s final day Saturday night with a set filled with material from “The Eternal,” their latest release. Sonic Youth definitely drew the biggest crowd and was the major selling point Saturday but they really were just the musical icing on the cake during a day filled with amazing national and local artists.
Earlier in the day Ballard MC Grynch performed a set at the KEXP stage in the back of Caffe Vita’s warehouse. It included all material from his free EP “Chemistry,” including “My Volvo” a song with the catchiest hook to come out of Seattle since Mix A Lot was on the scene, and it was capped with an a capella freestyle. Also appearing on the KEXP stage were nine-piece Americana band The Maldives prior to their packed set at Neumos. Kevin Murphy, frontman for The Moondoggies, a band that rocked the main stage at the beginning of the day, also played a solo set at the impromptu stage that had a backdrop of bags of coffee beans.
Sonic Youth also dropped by the KEXP/Vita stage to do a quick Q&A with Andrew Matson of the Seattle Times. During the 10-minute interview Kim Gordon shared her views on social media (she doesn’t like blogs and encouraged everyone to delete their Facebook profiles), Lee Ranaldo said he dropped by SAM on Saturday to check out some art and Thurston Moore barely said a thing. But its didn’t matter that the interview wasn’t probing — it was just cool to be in the same room as Sonic Youth. It was like the Block Party’s own mini SXSW panel.
While Sonic Youth was being interviewed, Beth Ditto proved herself to be soul punk goddess during Gossip’s set. Her amazing pipes combined with her charisma and energy seemed unstoppable. Gossip’s cover of Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody” was an unexpected surprise. Less surprising, but still a bit of a surprise, was The Thermals‘ cover of Green Day’s “Basket Case,” a song they covered at the Pitchfork Music Fest.
I wasn’t able to see Truckasaurus because there were lines out both entrances at least 20 people deep waiting to get in to Neumos. The same thing prevented me from catching The Moondoggies. At a festival where there lots of national talent, it was nice to see the local groups get lots and lots of love too.