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Originally published July 29, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified July 29, 2007 at 2:07 AM

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High-quality Block Party sets bar for Bumbershoot

People were partying like rock stars all weekend, dancing through beer gardens and hooting for joy.

Seattle Times nightlife reporter

They're not like us, these young and wild Capitol Hillers.

These urbanites have never smelled fresh-cut grass (no, not that kind), and they spend their nights putting to bed not their children, but their drunken friends.

Though hardly friendly to tourists from, say, West Seattle or Renton, they're not overtly mean, saving their most withering sarcasm for special occasions. (Like a bad band or an underpoured drink.)

They don't know much — or care — about interest rates and 401(k) plans.

But these Pikers and Piners are the Albert Einsteins of partying. They can figure out in a flash how many beers go into a $20 bill, and any of them can tell you between gulps what the five best bands are in Seattle. (Although each will have a different list.)

So it should be no surprise that the Capitol Hill Block Party was the best party of 2007 — setting a pretty high bar for Bumbershoot to try to better.

This 10th CHBP was the largest ever. David Meinert, the two-day festival's co-producer, said Friday's attendance neared 7,000, bettering the 6,000 mark of last year (featuring a Murder City Devils reunion show). When attendance is totaled, Saturday's mark should be near Friday's, as the party was capped by the out-of-town headliner, Austin, Texas, indie-rock studs Spoon. (Spoon and another outside-the-Sound act, Aesop Rock, both were scheduled to perform Saturday night, after this newspaper's deadline.)

Numbers tell only part of the story. This was a smoothly run, high-quality fest, with three stages full of dozens of diverse acts putting on satisfying performances.

People were partying like rock stars all weekend, dancing through beer gardens and hooting for joy. Friday night, the audience gave local hip-hop duo Blue Scholars a superstar welcome, surging toward the stage as Geo rapped over Sabzi's beats.

The weekend rocked but was often not rock, as Meinert surfed Seattle's wave of hip-hop talent. In addition to Blue Scholars, local hip-hoppers the Saturday Knights (not getting the love they deserved, from a Friday-afternoon crowd that was just warming up), D. Black (bringing it Notorious B.I.G.-style, winning some new fans and chasing away nonbelievers), Gabriel Teodros and Dyme Def performed.

The Vera Stage, geared to under-21 audiences (like its sponsor, the Vera Project), had several sassy, goofy young acts, including electro-poppers Natalie Portman's Shaved Head and faux-rappers Team Gina.

But if you think Capitol Hill maybe has forgotten how to rock, you weren't in Neumo's on Saturday afternoon. Sunday Night Blackout came out with a full-on, head-banging sound, Motley Crue-style.

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Then came The Whore Moans, a brilliant quartet that wears its Murder City Devils influence on its screams. These garage-punkers put on an electrifying show. If you missed them this time, catch them at Bumbershoot.

The Blood Brothers also brought some ear-challenging rock to Capitol Hill. These Seattle vets with their dual singers/screamers showed on Friday night how much they've changed, over the years, adding subtle electronic grooves to their high-volume attack.

Saturday afternoon, the main stage — right there at the intersection of 10th and Pike — of this close-the-streets party also hosted Mirah, sounding like a sweet-voiced young Bjork; mediocre Brit rockers The Cribs; and quirky local act Pwrfl Power. The last, natives of Japan who won a battle-of-the-bands contest to be the last addition, energetically played acoustic guitar and sang about sending a girl a million text messages.

Except for a shocking lack of recycling receptacles (aren't we supposed to be saving the planet?), it was good times on Capitol Hill, for both the locals and the rest of us.

Tom Scanlon: 206-464-3891 or tscanlon@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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