20th Street Block Party grows, but vibe stays communal

Chicano Batman

Photos: Lorenz Angelo and Nick DeCicco

SAN FRANCISCO — Australian synthpop group Miami Horror brought a showy finish Saturday to the 20th Street Block Party in San Francisco.

In a day that brought many subdued or introspective performances, Miami Horror stood out for its energy and showmanship. Band members Aaron Shanahan and Josh Moriarty stood on speakers to jam and engage the crowd as well as scaling trees during the band’s hourlong performance.

Miami Horror capped the fourth installment of the 20th Street Block Party, which took place between Harrison Street and Bryant Street along 20th and 19th streets in the city’s Mission District. The event is sponsored by Noise Pop, an independent music promoter whose 25th annual namesake festival is scheduled for February 2017 at multiple Bay Area venues.

Promoters estimate the free event has doubled in size since its first installment in 2013, with more than 16,000 attending this year. In addition to three stages of music, local eateries, beverage pourers and artists shared their wares with the crowd.

The vibe resembled a street fair, with apartment dwellers near the main stage on Florida Street visible through the windows of their homes. Focusing on the Mission’s people and businesses gave the party a DIY flavor.

The block party also worked as a fundraiser for the Mission Language and Vocational School, which has provided training to Latinos and other underserved families in the city for nearly one-half century.

While Miami Horror provided a punchy finish to this year’s installment, several other performers played it cool.

One of the day’s standouts was Oakland-based Australian Hazel English, who closed the Bandwagon Stage with a warm set of jangly dream pop. Another Oakland transplant, Madeline Kenney, opened the day on the same stage, showing off her fret work on her own brand of dream pop that was more pensive and patient than English’s.

Chicano Batman, a Los Angeles group whose Latin alternative rock felt right at home in the Mission, showcased its guitar work, too, mixing in pedal effects to create sonic landscapes. They matched the vibe of the day with an appearance that traded magnetism for intrigue.

North Carolina synth funk singer Boulevards worked hard to engage with the crowd, jumping down off the stage to dance and sing inside the crowd assembled at the main stage on Florida Street. “To Death” got the toes tapping.

For more information on the Mission Language and Vocational School, visit mlvs.org.

Follow Nick DeCicco at Twitter.com/ndeciccodr and Facebook.com/nickdjournalist.


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