“I’m Nicholas Benitez and I sing and take my clothes off.”
This is how my interview with Seattle punk band Bad Tats started, as I chatted with them right before they played a loud, sweaty, and packed show at Victory Lounge. Huddled in a somewhat awkward circle on the dark patio, enveloped in clouds of cigarette smoke, we yelled at each other over the other bands tuning up inside. The four bandmates told me how stoked they were to play at this year’s Summit Block Party 3.
“It’s the coolest block party ever to exist,” bass player Ricardo Gonzalez, also known as Ricky Dynamite, told me.
“I’ve never even been to the Capitol Hill Block Party. This is way better,” said guitarist Josh Dale. “Half of our band actually lives on Summit and it’s our home turf.”
“I mean, it’s the best street on Capitol Hill. For sure,” continued Gonzalez.
Bad Tats is a truly local band who’ve been playing together for years. They used to go by the name Downstrokes, until playing the closing night of the Funhouse, after which they switched to Bad Tats. I talked to them at the kickoff of their California/Mexico tour which wraps up just in time for them to play at the Summit Block Party.
“The party is really relaxed,” said Dale. “We just show up, start barbecuing, and wait to play. It’s got a really relaxed, friendly vibe.”
In its third year, The Summit Block Party takes the idea of a block party back to its roots. It will take place on Saturday, August 9th on Summit Avenue between East Olive and Howell Street.
“It’s your typical neighborhood block party: Boom boxes, BBQs, neighbors, and a couple of live bands,” Summit Block Party founder Adair Tudor told me. “We always feature bands that actually live on the block. And SBP is free! It’s all about getting to know your neighbors, celebrating your block, and partying.”
The entire schedule for the day is still being finalized, but right now the lineup includes: The Pharmacy, Ecstatic Cosmic Union, Snuff Redux, Great Spiders, Kleine, Kelli Frances Corrado, Wayfinders, Parker Edison, CMRTYZ, Diogenes, Lifeslow, Funky Photos, Nightspace, and Spread Thick Crew.
The two bands who actually live on Summit that will be playing this year are Bad Tats and Carnotaurus. Last year it was Health Problems, the Witches Titties, and Ronnie Ear Porter. You can find more details about the lineup as things get closer to the party, by visiting Summit Block Party’s website.
“Aside from reppin’ Summit, I try to pull bands from the community,” said Tudor. “I want people that live here to enjoy their block party, and since this neighborhood is so diverse that means having a well-rounded line-up. I always have one experimental performance art/noise project and never have the same band play two years in a row. I’m really looking forward to seeing Great Spiders.”
This year’s party is also bittersweet for Tudor, after a personal loss.
“I’d like to give a shout out to the tremendous amount of support from the community for stepping up to help this year,” Tudor told me. “I had to mostly go hands off in June because I was care-giving for my mother who was diagnosed with lung cancer. She recently passed away on July 19th. My mom, Shari Landers, was a huge help and expediter for previous SBPs and will be missed by her neighborhood family.”
Tudor says she got the idea to start the Summit Block Party when she found out block party permits in Seattle were free. She says this will be the best year yet, with fancier tents, more sponsors, and (hopefully) a bigger turnout.
Because Summit Block Party is free, Tudor depends on sponsors and donations from the community to keep it going each year. And when it comes to food, the party is a bit of a free-for-all.
“We encourage everyone to bust out a BBQ,” Tudor told me. “Evan ‘Hunger’ who lives on Summit will also be BBQ Master, serving up BBQ and pot luck style foods to the public for donation.”
And, like promised, if you make it to the party to watch Bad Tats, expect to see a half-naked singer: Nick Benitez. He’s a dizzyingly energetic performer, always teasing members of the crowd and jumping off anything he can find.
“And I’ll be drinking lots of beer,” he told me. “Lots.”
Summit Block Party
Saturday, August 9th