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Capitol Hill Block Party, day two: featuring Nightmare Fortress, Pollens, Silly Goose and a lost iPhone during Sandrider


Reignwolf was how I started out my second day of Block Party, the new-ish rock band fronted by Jordan Cook (or is Reignwolf Cook’s alter ego?). Cook is a young, guitar-hero-in-the-making whose style, playing a guitar like it’s a blowtorch, lends itself to immediate hyperbole. And damn, dude can play. He was playing a short set (about 30 minutes) in the Barboza for KEXP broadcast.

It was dazzling to watch Cook play his blues-influenced guitar heroics, of course, but guitar virtuosity only counts for so much and I wish I remembered full, complete songs (there was a drummer and another guitarist to complete the band). What Cook can do with a guitar is quite remarkable, but it felt a bit masturbatory throughout the set and lends itself easily to a “shreds” parody video on YouTube. Still, I do believe Reignwolf is one to watch for in the near and distant future.

I was feeling Nightmare Fortress’ set upstairs in Neumos a bit more. An eighties-influenced gothic pop band led by Alicia Amiri (who I know professionally through the course of her day job at the Crocodile and who I like personally a lot). The four-piece band that also includes members of Sleepy Eyes of Death and Cobra High, had a dazzling light show to go with its emotionally-detached synths and the icy-cool vocals from Amiri.

There were elements of industrial dance pop throughout the set, which also at different times paid homage to Bowie and Gary Numan. It made for a bit of a mindfuck going from the dark, cavernous Neumos after watching Nightmare Fortress to the sunshine outside at 2:30pm.

Pollens followed Nightmare Fortress at Neumos, and they also provided a bit of a contrast with the band that preceded them – and their sound is much more comfortable in the summer afternoon weather.

Pollens is a six-piece band – including four singers (!) – locally who experiment with some African rhythms to influence their pop hooks. I enjoyed their set, with the different harmonies, sometimes singing the same parts, but usually not. It’s a difficult trick to pull off, but they do it beautifully. Pollens relies on African influences more than, say, Vampire Weekend (who use the instrumentation for a basis for more Western pop music), but Pollens digs in deeper. They use their chorus of singers to use their voices as instruments, but the hooks are there, only slightly below the surface.

Silly Goose was a band that had started getting a lot of pre-Block Party buzz when people figured out who they were: a Blink-182 tribute band led by Jenn Ghetto of S and Carissa’s Wierd fame. She’s the Tom DeLonge, singing his parts and playing guitar. Jeff Montano and Thomas Wright of Grand Archves round out the power trio’s rhythm section.

They have the songs down cold and sound pretty great as a group, even without any irony, which I worried about. I know Ghetto did a semi-serious cover of Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” last year, but they sound too tight and execute the lyrics too well to be done for just a lark. Plus, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Blink-182. I was a twelve year old boy once. Plus, Silly Goose played the hits: “All the Small Things,” “What’s My Age Again?,” “The Rock Show,” “First Date.”

Yet, for all the talk of Silly Goose being the world’s best Blink tribute band, there sure was a dearth of dick jokes. They don’t even have to be funny, but ruminating on scrotum as a funny name for a word, or threatening a cock punch could go a long ways towards establishing this band’s authenticity. Either that, or have the drummer drum upside down. Whatever. It’s what Mark, Tom and Travis would have wanted.

I braved the large crowd for my first main stage set of the weekend: Beat Connection, who were another band who sounded ideal in the summer heat. I’m not going to write too much about their set because more will be forthcoming as I interviewed BC’s Reed Juenger and Jordan Koplowitz after their set.

Though Beat Connection sounded great on that stage, to that large crowd, in that weather (probably the hottest summer day in Seattle so far). The band, now a four-piece with singer Tom Eddy and drummer Jarred Katz, front-loaded their set with singles “Think/Feel” (featuring Chelsea Scheffe) and “Silver Screen” (with a horn section) paved the way for one of the best outdoor sets of the weekend. They add a lot of warmth with their electronic beats that anchor the songs with live instrumentation.

I was debating with myself whether or not I’d watch Good to Die’s Sandrider or Canadian indie pop queen Grimes’ set at 7:30, and whether or not I’d stay later. The decision was made for me when my phone was lost and not recovered during Sandrider’s abrasive and intense set in the Barboza and I had to go find a replacement before the store closed at 9.

{Pollens photo by Suzi Pratt.}


Chris Burlingame is the editor of Another Rainy Saturday.