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Originally published June 3, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 3, 2007 at 6:16 PM

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Georgetown Music Festival sizzles

Special to The Seattle Times

Last Saturday, the Georgetown Music Festival was pure local fire as sun rays and sound waves bounced off the concrete of a closed-off city block for nine straight hours.

Under a cloudless sky (and on two more stages inside Jules Maes Saloon), GMF succeeded in showcasing some of Seattle's brightest independent rock bands. The event's first half was a varied, intriguing assortment of NW indie-rock, while the second half was focused and heavier.

The Fest got a major adrenaline shot when Seattle band Ice Age Cobra took the stage in sweltering heat, kicking out white-hot blues-rock jams. The group's '70s American rock vibe is a spot-on and completely sincere throwback, and in the sweaty heat, its dirty, riffy set of classically rebellious rock hit hard.

The synchronicity between intense rock and intense heat continued as Seattle's The Hands won over their audience by force. After repeatedly wailing "rock 'n roll is dead," lead singer John Healy and his band screamed through tightly arranged and frantically solo-ed garage rock. They gave a visible 110 percent, powerfully resuscitating a heat-stroked, rock-loving crowd.

At the same time, Stanwood's underage Skullbot played GMF's loudest set, a scorching display of deafening groove metal that shook everything not bolted down at Jules Maes. They looked like kids and played like beasts straight through to the day's only encore, a deafening rendition of Seattle grunge legend Mudhoney's "Touch Me I'm Sick."

Set in an area rich in industrial cool, GMF's audience of young and aging hipsters (some brought their kids) watched as local foursome Tennis Pro ooh-ed, sha na na-ed and shouted their way through a half-hour of wonderfully scrappy rock. They looked at once upscale and trashy in half-attempted Value Village tennis outfits.

Inside Jules Maes, local songwriter Bre Laughlin was spirited and composed, singing clear, acoustic anthems over spare guitar and bass arrangements. Urgent and cool local power pop followed from high-energy three-piece Sea Navy and Ballard's radio-ready Lillydale. The latter wowed the crowd with a tight blend of palm-muted verses, melodic guitar hooks, and soaring choruses.

Of the nearly 30 bands that played Saturday (another 18 played Sunday), other notable performances came from local heavy-rock band With Friends Like These, and Portland psych-rockers The Pink Snowflakes, a GMF oddity whose echoed vocals, delay/reverb-heavy guitar walls, and bubble machines briefly turned an outdoor stage into loud, psychedelic carbonation.

Not every band sizzled. The substance waned with all-girl Seattle band The Trucks' hypersexual dance pop. And Earlimart, the evening's LA-based headliners, played restrained, graceful, slightly underwhelming pop to a 9 p.m. sunset.

But it was all embers by then. GMF's fire came from Ice Age Cobra, The Hands and Skullbot. They outshone the sun.

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