As a young professional working downtown, I never set my social calendar without first firing up the Downtown Seattle Association’s (DSA) homepage. Recently, I was thrilled to see a public concert scheduled for July 12 generously funded by Metropolitan Improvement District ratepayers and presented by Amazon. A public show from hometown rock and roll band Lemon Boy presented totally free of charge with the generous support of a beloved local business and at the recently reopened City Hall Park no less? Sign me up, I said. Plus, the timing seemed perfect, what with Mayor Bruce Harrell making the brave choice to permit public access to the park again on June 13, following an extremely critical 22-month closure to, uhh, “air out” the park, if you will.
Sadly, these downtown sounds were nothing like I had imagined. When I strolled into the park around 5 p.m., there were neither lemons nor boys to be found. Only three 20-something women in identical white “Stop the Sweeps” shirts making an unholy racket.
The trio introduced one song by showing off matching tattoos and recounting how one of their poor mothers was left so upset by the ink that she had to consult a therapist. On “Sugar Daddy,” the band sang, “Girl boss, gaslight, gatekeep, I want to touch myself and smoke some weed!” over crunching guitar. I imagine the folks at the DSA had no idea what they were getting into with these young ladies. I certainly didn’t.
I was under the impression this event was intended to showcase the vibrancy of the recently renewed Metropolitan Improvement District. So, imagine my surprise when the din began to attract homeless people. My surprise turned to outrage when the young punks not only tolerated these vagrants but encouraged them! At nearly every break, band members Yaz, Nicole and Myriah pointed to a folding “mutual aid” table and implored anyone in the park to grab water, toilet paper, snacks and dog treats. For free! This was not the new and improved City Hall Park I was promised.
I hope you’re proud of yourselves, Lemon Boy. You took what was supposed to be a beautiful corporate concert for hardworking taxpayers heading home from the office and insisted on turning it into a chaotic mashup of dancing fools, grinning homeless people, shrieking feminist fans and families with young children blowing free bubbles and buzzing into kazoos like nothing was even wrong!
I haven’t given up on the Downtown Summer Sounds concerts still scheduled at various Seattle parks this year, but I have concerns that without serious intervention from the city, we could be in for more anti-establishment bacchanals in our beautiful parks. I’m especially worried about All Star Opera’s Aug. 2 show in Rainier Square and Acid Tongue’s Aug. 15 gig in Occidental Square. Decent people should avoid these shows at all costs! n
Jesse Kennemer is a local writer and line cook who is deeply involved in the mutual aid community on Capitol Hill, has never been a young urban professional and thinks Lemon Boy rocks, actually.
Read more of the July 19-25, 2023 issue.