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Punk Rock Block Party

Burgeoning South Tacoma Way music venues making a strong statement

Burn Burn Burn is just one of nine bands to tear up three stages at the Punk Rock Block Party. Photo credit: Facebook

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Alright, let me know if you've heard this one before: Tacoma's music scene has a frustrating habit of fluctuating in waves, experiencing fallow periods and periods of fruitful activity, but it always has its way of bouncing back. Tired though this slightly panicked mantra is, it's mostly been proven to be true; however, the past year or so have been particularly galling, with a troubling quiet falling over the nightlife.

Subtly, though, a pocket out on South Tacoma Way has been building itself up into one of the more exciting areas in town. The rise of bars/venues like the Mule Tavern, Airport Tavern, and, most recently, the Plaid Pig Live Music Lounge, have served to fill the still-gaping hole left by long-lost Tacoma institution Hell's Kitchen. With each of these venues within about a minute of each other, they've formed a unit of out-of-the-box booking ideas, old school punk, and renewed vitality. This Saturday, these venues -- along with a soft opening from the new Church Cantina spot -- will be banding together to present the Punk Rock Block Party.

By paying one $7 cover, you will be able to traverse three venues, featuring a total of nine bands, in addition to punk vinyl being spun at the Church Cantina. Think of it as a shot across the bow from this developing music hot spot, a stake in the ground to signal their burgeoning power.

Doors open at 8 p.m. for all of the venues, and all of the noise. Pay $7 at, say, the Mule Tavern, and you'll be treated to the eardrum-splitting post-hardcore of Photon Pharaoh and the post-punk of Tacoma newbies the Griffs. Want to take a walk elsewhere? On that same street, we've got the Airport Tavern, where Tacoma punk stalwarts NEUTRALBOY! and Psycho 78 will be joined by Bremerton party-rock band the Fibs.

By this point, you've surely ingested enough decibels to adjust some problematic joints around your body, so you may need to take a breather at the Church Cantina. Not much is yet known about this new space, but they'll be spinning some punk vinyl, which still rocks, but doesn't necessarily require the same level of moshing.

The Plaid Pig Live Music Lounge rounds out the Punk Rock Block Party with a whopping four bands. This lineup is an overwhelming wave of punk and hardcore music, starting with Seattle favorites Burn Burn Burn. Their more anthemic punk plays nicely off of FCON's hard-edged, politically-minded style. And, speaking of politics, Millhous may be named after a Simpsons character, but their blistering hardcore is suffused paranoiac government screeds (amongst the pop culture references). The last band on the bill, Head Honcho, kicks back and plays smooth jazz.

Oh, sorry, I read that wrong. Head Honcho is also all about teeth-rattling punk.

Look, the world is an anxiety-riddled place where total peace can rarely find purchase. Where is your remedy? Counterintuitively, it's in finding music that allows you to release every last bit of psychic tension in brief sonic blasts. If you're likely to gain some mental rest by swinging your limbs wildly over a bed of agitated rock, the Punk Rock Block Party may provide a welcome respite.

PUNK ROCK BLOCK PARTY, 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 18, The Mule Tavern, 5227 S. Tacoma Way; Airport Tavern, 5406 S. Tacoma Way; The Plaid Pig Live Music Lounge, 5214 S. Tacoma Way; The Church Cantina, 5240 S. Tacoma Way, $7 cover for all shows,


The ridiculously awesome Japanese punk act Mugen Hoso will be returning to Olympia at 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, at Le Voyeur, w/ Not a Part of It and the Hard Way. 404 4th Ave. E., Olympia, 360.943.5710

Also, at 8 p.m., Sunday, the rising pop R&B revivalist Clyde Villain will be taking the stage at Real Art Tacoma, w/ Lunarbass, Astrol Waters, Josiah French and the Americans. $10, 5412 S. Tacoma Ave., Tacoma,

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