After an afternoon of fervid performances by young Seattle hip-hop talent, the early evening hours listed more toward a rock n’ roll journeymen vibe with a main stage set by Northwest mainstay Built To Spill.
There was a sunshower just as the set began, and thunderclouds wafted down over the wind farm on the ridge behind the stage. In that peculiar light, the band played a solid and heartfelt set. To say it was low-key wouldn’t be exactly it, but it was together and right.
Looking like (and being) an indie elder-statesman, lead singer Doug Martsch, ably played the band through many of their standards, like “Carry the Zero.” While the frenetic roving and beer gathering proceeded elsewhere, the crowd on the lawn seemed satisfied to relax with Built to Spill, an indie institution for nearly 20 years.
As if to signal the beginning of the evening session, the Arctic Monkeys were considerably more aggressive. In the Shefflied, U.K. foursome have evolved from flippant schoolboys into if not menacing then at least dark-edged rock n’ rollers. Sporting a pomaded pompadour, crisp white shirt and a sharply tailored blazer, front man Alex Turner projected a kind of dressed up Joe Strummer vibe.
The set list tended toward their more recent work, like “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” and “Brick by Brick,” from the band’s most recent album, “Suck It and See.” They also played the excellent b-side “Evil Twin” with the lustful disdain that the lyrics of that song would suggest. Almost entirely gone from the band’s sound, and stage presence, is the tin-y belligerence of their smash-hit first record, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” — but they are a more complex, enthralling group for it.
After the bare-boned, scouring guitars of Arctic Monkeys, it was curious to see a wonderland of odd props begin to be wheeled out onto the stage. A Potemkin forest of mismatched fauna—evergreens, cacti—it could only mean one thing. Ma-a-a-ackle-e-e-e-emore. He was up next.