Live: Respectable Street's 24th-Anniversary Block Party, August 27

Respectable Street's 24th-Anniversary Block Party
With John Ralston, Guy Harvey, In Boxes, Gun Hoes, the Band in Heaven, Krisp, Dick Knuckle, Lavola, Ordinary Boys, & more
500 block of Clematis Street, West Palm Beach
Saturday, August 27, 2011

View a slide show from the night here.

Better than: Cleaning up a post-Hurricane Irene mess.

A party to commemorate "24 Years of Oblivion" at West Palm Beach's cherished rock stage Respectable Street could never be timid. And as the four stages blasted a mixture of fringe melodies from local talents on Saturday, Clematis Street was awash in multigenerational, perspiration-rich good cheer. And this reporter was on a feverish chase to capture as much of it as possible.

Snatches of nearly every sort of modern-retro-indie-post rock rang out from four stages in Downtown West Palm Beach -- one constructed near the east end of Clematis Street, one inside the Lounge, and, naturally, the indoor and outdoor portions of Respectable Street. Moving through the packed corridors of people meant that most attendees were building up a film of tonic water, sweat, and heaven knows what else on their skin.

Free well drinks made for a large bit of the most dedicated boozehounds also imbibing in Retrocities' throwback Joy Division-inflected melodies inside the venue early on. A venture out back would greet listeners to the bearded Jon Glassman fronting Luna Rex's raw rock raucous, and the Lounge was heating up with the two-piece garage fury of Gun Hoes -- one member had donned a sweet Tupac shirt.

"Say yes to everything," Dick Knuckle/Freakin' Hott singer Maggie Dove screamed amid the South Florida supergroup's lively barrage back inside Respectable Street. "Say yes to free handjobs; say yes to reasonably priced handjobs." And why would anyone disagree? The entrancing, hopping blur courtesy of Zombies! Organize!! and Timb up there with her reached its peak intensity during a cover of the Jim Carroll Band's "People Who Died." And for anyone who decided they had enough already, this was just the beginning of a liver-stabbing, shin-splinting marathon of music.

While Under Every Green Tree was laying out an ever-powerful alt-country surge via "The Postcard Place" on the back patio, "Bigmouth Strikes Again" and other Smiths faves proved to stir a ton of happy sentiments -- and shot-guzzling -- from the crowd by the street stage during Ordinary Boys set. The outfit features Miami alt-rock act Rebel's drummer A.J., who held down the fort outside on the street a little earlier in the night.

One of the most striking moments of the whole evening came courtesy of In Boxes at the Lounge. With an impossibly complex grouping of mallet-wielding xylophone players, a jazz cat rocking a clarinet, several pan lids on top of drums, and guitar gluing it together, the instrument-swapping group turned the room into a trippy opium den. Singer/drummer/noisemaker Daniel Elijah-F led with poise and irrepressible energy. It was a beautiful, psychedelic, and confusing sight.

Back on the Respectable Street patio, the members of Bonnie Riot struck masterful poses as they careened through a badass set of synth rock. Frontwoman Milly La Madrid dedicated one song to all the "perverts that like young women, fuck y'all," and it sounded as if her band would crush the sex offenders with infectious force. Meanwhile, "Love Will Come Around" highlighted the solid set in the packed street by Americana rocker John Ralston. The echoes upped the soaring harmonies provided by rhythm guitarist Chris Horgan. The three-man interpretive slam dance pit at the front of the stage was a little bizarre, though.

Miami's Krisp provided a keyboard-heavy attack and kept their fluffy hair bobbing on the Respectable Street back patio for an especially well-groomed segment of the attendees. Have them back, venues! With more than an occasional nod to Hot Hot Heat in its material, it was a sunny contrast to the darker vibes Mychael Ghost, donning a knit cap, gave off with Astari Nite to a black-clad assemblage at the indoor stage.  

In usual fashion, hard-rock experimentalists Lavola churned up a wild bit of emotion within themselves and the crowd packed inside the Lounge. Bros singing along, swinging their limbs, and clapping along at relevant points in "Dry Socket and "The Queen Is Dead" seemed to work out some issues. It's a riotous sign of things to come for the rising local trio. 

Once situated after the annual Ping-Pong ball drop, Guy Harvey took full advantage of the street stage -- "Probably the biggest one we've ever played on," said drummer Drew Locke -- and put in one of its strongest sets to date. A frumpy wino in full-on air-guitar mode in front and their video director, Carlos Charlie Perez, looking on were among revelers basking in the outdoor clarity of the merciless postpunk of "The Rope." The set's surprise proved to be a Wipers-style cover of Nirvana's "Something in the Way," which meant that the song was turned from a slow, mournful slog into something eight times as fast and intense. With every playful muss of his hair, singer Adam Perry had this crowd delighted. 

While Leading the Heroes was ripping through a muscular rock set on the indoor stage, the Band in Heaven provided a sweaty closeout on Respectable Street's back patio. With approximately 10,000 flies swarming around them, by one member's estimate, the five-piece battled back against an unruly microphone, and closed out the night with vigor, fuzz, and a little bit of menace. The usual full disclosure that percussionist Ryan Burk contributes to New Times aside, he and drummer Jack Tree provided apt rhythmic lubrication for the distorted thrusts coming from guitarist Ates Isildak, bassist Jay Tillman, and keyboardist Lauren Dwyer. By the time they wrapped with "Tunnel Into Your Dreams," much of the patio crowd close to the stage was falling-down drunk, throwing slimy Ping-Pong balls at one another, and spilling cocktails every which way.

Critic's Notebook

Random detail: Respectable Street owner Rodney Mayo remarked that he'd be heading to Tacos al Carbon "in about four hours, so don't eat all the guacamole before I get there." In the meantime, he began pouring shots at the bar, to the delight of the late-night holdouts.

Bad news: By about 10 p.m. that night, word was already traveling that Missing

Persons would not be performing. And puns ensued, and it didn't really matter in the end.

Personal bias: There's nothing worse than accidentally touching a stranger's greasy hair.

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Reed Fischer
Contact: Reed Fischer