Eugene Weekly : Music : 6.12.08

Party Like a Bloc Star
The corner of Olive and Broadway comes alive
By Adrienne van der Valk

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
The Devil Makes Three
Pnuma Trio

Graduates aren’t the only Eugeneans who have reason to celebrate this weekend. With warm weather (finally) arriving in earnest and the pollen clouds blessedly retreating, why not throw a kick-ass shindig to jump start a rockin’ summer season? So thought Tom Kamis, co-owner and one of the culinary masterminds behind new-ish downtown dining hot spot Davis’. A few phone calls after inspiration struck, and Kamis was on his way to planning the inaugural Broadway Bloc Party, a two-night festival of performances ranging from explosive DJs to punk-tinged blues to high profile indie superstars with food vending and a wine and beer garden thrown in for good measure.

“Every town I’ve ever lived in that had a university had some kind of celebration to kick off summer,” Kamis says. “As a bartender, I would bemoan the fact that there wasn’t something else to do here on graduation weekend so we wouldn’t have all these damn drunk people in the bar!”

With the help of local talent buyer Mike Hergenreter, Kamis set out to put together a lineup that would appeal to newly liberated college students and draw the community into a downtown area working hard to reinvent itself. Friday night is what Kamis describes as the “dance-your-ass-off night” featuring the electronic fusion stylings of Boulder-based Pnuma Trio, and a combined set of dub-influenced, soul-saturated crossover dance delirium with Sound Tribe Sector 9 and Bassnectar. On Saturday afternoon, the public can enjoy Crayonsmith and Despot for free from 12:30 to 3 pm, then party the rest of the afternoon away with Canadian neo-psychedelic pop mainstay Islands. If you’ve tried to see Devil Makes Three at Sam Bond’s and got denied due to gross overcrowding, jump on the chance to rock out with this twisted Americana act up close and personal Saturday night, followed by the wildly popular Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. CYHSY is one of the most drooled-over indie bands of the last few years, and it’s unlikely audiences will get to see them this accessibly again any time soon.

Kamis and Hergenreter hope the weekend’s promise of serious rump-shaking, as well as the ambient options provided by the surrounding “Barmuda triangle,” will contribute to the revitalization efforts of the block’s surrounding businesses.

“Everyone is looking for a downtown that has more vibrant life,” Kamis emphasizes. “Every one of our neighbors is on board; the city is backing us.  We want to support the life that is here already, to show people [downtown] is not all mall rats and being intimidated on the street. The heart of downtown needs a jump start.”

Beloved college radio station KWVA will benefit from a portion of the Broadway Bloc Party proceeds, adding to the feedback loop of goodwill the organizers hope this fledgling event will produce. The logistics will be as “green” as possible, and audience members are encouraged to bike, walk or bus it downtown in an effort to keep traffic (and carbon emissions!) under control.

While the Bloc Party’s newness is a little nerve-wracking for Kamis, he’s optimistic that big names and seasonal excitement will get the city’s party people (of all ages) out in full effect.

“I hope it doesn’t stay just here,” he says. “I hope it grows so big we have to take up the same area as the Eugene Celebration!”  


Broadway Bloc Party 5 pm Friday, June 13. 12:30 pm Saturday, June 14 (free until 3 pm). Broadway and Olive. $30 ($27 stu.) per night, $50 two-night pass. Tix at or Davis’ Restaurant

Vertiginous Rock

It’s a strange world the Montreal sextet Islands lives in. The band’s second album, Arm’s Way, continues down the trail broken by 2006’s Return to the Sea — a trail scattered with strange creatures, lively beats for booty-shaking under the direction of singer/mastermind Nick Thorburn’s dramatic tones, unexpected lyrical references and videos seemingly compiled of ’80s TV footage. Over it all floats a theatrical sensibility that veers between decades, nipping and taking from here and there to create something classic and playful and thoroughly modern and delightfully ridiculous. Listening to Arm’s Way over and over again isn’t getting me any further into the album’s grandiose, astonishingly image-packed tunes (three of which are more than seven minutes long), or helping me make any more sense of the lyrics (though “Kids Don’t Know Shit” is pretty straightforward), but it is making me think downtown Eugene isn’t going to know what hit it come Saturday night. Arm’s Way is the soundtrack to an impossibly unfilmable musical; create your own scenes as you see fit. — Molly Templeton


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