West Seattle Summerfest is the Best Little Music Festival of the Season
The West Seattle Summerfest (taking over West Seattle’s Junction this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) has been kicking it every July for 29 years, and it’s easily one of the best free festivals in these parts.
This season, the ‘Fest showcases an embarassment of riches, event-wise. There’ll be a Sustainability and Garden Expo; an Art Dive, put on by the Twilight Artist Collective; HackCycle, a bike-frame re-jiggering project overseen by industrial arts madmen HazardFactory; a spiffy Super Fun Kids Area; and scores of wares being proffered by scores of local vendors.
But the big draw for a lot of folks in town (and this most emphatically includes me) is West Seattle Summerfest’s line-up of musical acts. Every year, the ‘Fest’s music programming gets better and better; and Summerfest 2011, in particular, boasts several astonishingly good Northwest bands and musicians. It’s like walking into one of this ‘burg’s best live venues on an extra-rich bill–only Summerfest offers free admission. Here’s a rundown of the must-see acts hitting Summerfest this weekend:
Friday, July 8
Whalebones (4:30-5:15 p.m.): Whalebones sound, to these ears at least, like the Northwest’s equivalent of the Black Angels. Like the Angels, they work the lysergic side of the street with a greasy, swaggering batch of tunes that pick up the mind-tripping torch passed from Satanic Majesties’ era Stones to the Brian Jonestown Massacre. This could be the weekend’s best sonic accompaniment to baking in the sun–in more ways than one.
Thee Sgt Major III (5:45-6:30 p.m.), Cali Giraffes (7-7:45pm), The Fastbacks (8-8:45 p.m.): Call it Fastbacks Friday. TSMIII, Fastback guitarist Kurt Bloch’s current power-pop outfit, deliver a great, toothy sugar buzz, topped by Leslie Beattie’s Debbie Harry drone-snarl and an all-star rhythm section comprised of bassist Jim Sangster and drummer Mike Musberger. And based on the one song I’ve heard, fellow ‘Back Kim Warnick’s new group Cali Giraffes will likewise deliver loud-and-fast tartness with the fizzy sweet. Best of all, The Fastbacks re-form for the first time in nine years to continue the party. Who’da thunk that an important branch of Seattle music history could also make you gyrate like a top?
Caspar Babypants (6:30-7:15 p.m.): The Presidents of the United States of America pretty much wrote and played great, funny, weird songs with kid-like exuberance anyway; so it should be no surprise that Presidents singer/guitarist Chris Ballew’s kiddie-song incarnation of Caspar Babypants consists of great, funny, weird songs brimming with kid-like exuberance. Shed your jaded hipster goggles and dance along with the small fry.
The Cops (9-10 p.m.): Michael Jaworski takes time from one of Seattle’s best art-punk bands (Virgin Islands) to abuse his six-string and declaim for a formal re-union of one of Seattle’s other best art-punk bands. The Cops shred live, and they’re working on a new record. God, life is good.
Saturday, July 9
The Bad Things (1:15-2 p.m.): If the Pogues could hold their liquor better; shared tequila, German brews, and Scotch ales with Tom Waits; and jammed with a mariachi band; they’d sound kind of like the Bad Things. This awesome kitchen-sink cabaret ensemble comes fresh from the den of debauchery that was the Columbia City Theater’s One-Year Anniversary show (go here for details) to bring mordant humor, alcohol-sodden moping, and killer musicianship to the ‘Fest music stage.
The Bend (8:45-9:30 p.m.): They may be from Seattle, but they wear their UK alt-rock influences (U2, Doves, Elbow, pre-OK Computer Radiohead) on their sleeves. Fortunately, The Bend tread that path really, really well; with chiming guitars, throaty vocals, and songs strong enough to stand confidently beside their idols.
The Staxx Brothers (10-10:45 p.m.): With their fusion of garage-rock, soul, and snarky wit, the Staxx Brothers would make a mean pairing with the Electric Six.
Sunday, July 10
Gunn and the Damage Done (3:45-4:30 p.m.): Springsteen/Mellencamp-style heartland rock isn’t a favorite genre of mine, but Tommy “Gunn” McMullin and company know how to do it right. McMullin possesses a great raspy growl of a rock voice that sounds like The Boss possessed by B.J. Thomas, and his backup band The Damage Done play with snap and polish.
The Fuzz (5-5:45 p.m.): Clumsy, shambling garage rock with sprinkles of ripsaw punk; and vocals so awkward they sound like they were recorded by a passing vagrant? I’m there. Bet it’ll sound great live.