A man came out of Neumos and stared in bewilderment at the scene before him on Sunday evening. A sea of dancing humans, crammed side by side across an entire city block, raged as famed party starter Diplo conducted from the main stage DJ booth.
His voice was inaudible through the throbbing bass and chirping synth lines fueling the chaos, but his lips were unmistakable: “Ooph,” he exclaimed with a heavy sigh.
Undeterred or simply out of options, he pulled a contraband PBR (two for $8 inside) out of his pants and pushed on, shoving his way through the jungle of sweaty bodies at the looking for his friends, god or a quiet place to drink an illicit tallboy. .
Capitol Hill Block Party is back, baby.
One of Seattle’s premier music festivals returned for the first time in three years last weekend, taking over the city’s nightlife epicenter with a stacked lineup led by the pop star alternative Charli XCX and dance producers Jai Wolf and Diplo. Beyond our day one vibration check, here are some of the highlights, presented as fake prizes. Congratulations to all the winners (and losers).
Seattle’s best rapper…
…was actually from Spokane. Any Seattle fans mistaking fiery East Washington rapper Jango (or is it just Jang now?) as the 206er can be forgiven given the foothold he’s establishing on this side of the mountains. The artist to watch ignited a small Neumos crowd with his punk rock energy over booming, sinister beats reminiscent of the murky Florida underground of the early 2010s. Seattle stalwart Sam Lachow – whose latest appearance at Block Party was a clutch filler slot on the main stage in 2018 — made an appearance for a light run through their springy collaboration, “Merchandise.”
The healthiest and uncomfortable moments: Danny Brown
During his sometimes slow set, colorful Detroit rapper Danny Brown pulled a young child out of the crowd for a session of onstage dancing and adorable banter that delighted the crowd. “Sometimes I feel like rapping; sometimes I don’t,” Brown proclaimed earlier. “But they pay me to rap.” Although he killed a number of cuts during his 2011 “XXX” breakout, Brown, who also has a podcast, seemed more interested in chatting on Saturday, bringing up Phoenix Jones (love him), the homeless of Seattle (scares him) and Seattle rapper Raz Simone (“That’s my [guy], I’m not going to lie,” he said to a handful of uncomfortable applause). Simone is charged with sex trafficking and physical abuse in a civil lawsuit, and was recently involved in a tort action relating to the shooting death of a teenager around the Capitol Hill Organized Protest Zone in 2020.
Worst product placement: Big Soda’s big boombox
On Saturday, vibe jackers activating the brand of a major soda company (not Pepsi, the other) planted a giant boombox-shaped DJ booth on Pike Street to promote a “limited edition” Cola collaboration with a DJ famous that may or may not taste like marshmallows. Eye-roll, whatever. But the dance music emanating from the betrothal-thirsty publicity installation spilled onto Stage No. 2 of the block party about 30 yards away. Wasn’t a Doritos scene that ruined South By Southwest? I’m just saying.
Best Product Placement: Toro y Moi’s Enumclaw Shirt
Chillwave ancestor Chaz Bundick and his merry band of synth men delivered what was arguably the weekend’s most vibrant set to a massive, tight crowd on Saturday night. He did so while reprising his recent touring mates Enumclaw, the lively Tacoma-area indie rockers who performed earlier in the day, wearing the local band’s t-shirt on stage. It was a cool main-stage tribute to the locals of steam construction who will be releasing their debut album this fall.
Best reason to feel old: Josie on the rocks
Anyone who can correctly identify a Discman could be 100 years old to know that the daughter of Seattle rock royalty, Chris Cornell and Susan Silver, is now making her way onto the local scene. A chip on the musical family block, Lily Cornell Silver leads the new quartet Josie on the Rocks, which helped set the mood for Sunday afternoons on the Vera Stage. Calling the gig a “dream come true” – a common theme for young local bands who grew up as fans – Silver and crew’s songs ranged from breezy jangle pop to a rock rock ode to “our good -loved Sonics” with a heavier psychedelic riff that could have been taken from the “Superunknown” sessions.
Dressed least functionally: Duckwrth
“Why did I decide to wear black today? the Los Angeles rapper/singer wondered aloud, taking a well-deserved break after leading his band through some high-octane “Power Power.” Although shirtless under a black blazer, his black slacks, chunky boots, and leather mic-hand glove weren’t the most functional outfit for the hottest afternoon of the weekend. end, as temperatures on Sunday reached 80 degrees. Even without the air conditioning he enjoyed during the electrification of Climate Pledge Arena with Billie Eilish a few months ago, the progressive mix of hip-hop, dance music, funk rock and dreamy R&B (among others ) by Duckwrth with a group punch was guaranteed Block Party smash.
Best Call and Response: “Positive Affirmations” with Remi Wolf
Alt-pop singer-songwriter Remi Wolf and his three-piece band (who sounded 10 times bigger) wowed a delighted crowd on Sunday with dubby soul rockers, sunny pop tunes and the thundering vocals of Wolf. At one point, the vibe-friendly singer swapped her mic for the drums while her drummer, who “can’t sing for [expletive]led the crowd in chanting a series of “positive affirmations” aimed at improving our human condition. They included “My happy thoughts will become my reality” and the approved dad “I know how to do my taxes”. It was the most responsible thing to happen all weekend.
Most likely to confuse your parents and future children: 100 Gecs
The hyperpop masterminds came crashing down to the main stage like a wandering Mario Kart racer on speed-accelerating mushrooms (the funny kind) on Sunday night. The duo’s wonderfully erratic digi-noise is a concoction of smash-and-grab video game senses, crunchy hip-hop beats, glitchy electronics, ska and metal riffs, and heavily auto-tuned vocals that sound as if they had been filtered through a dial-up modem. The sonic equivalent of a Tumblr page comes to life, 100 Gecs may only make sense in these desperately online times, and even then I’m not so sure. Gecs was the most glorious oddity of the weekend.
The Best Reason to Support the Continued Success of Capitol Hill Block Party: Local Groups
For better or worse, most music discovery happens online these days. But that’s not the same as walking into a room full of people and being blown away by a band you’ve never heard of. That hasn’t been possible during the lockdown phase of the pandemic, and it’s made fan-winning performances of Seattle bands like dreamy indie rock quintet La Fonda and indie pop newcomers Sea Lemon all the more so. more special. While some artists have challenged Block Party’s pay rate for local artists in the past, this remains an event where Seattle talent has the potential to perform for larger crowds than they otherwise could. And it is worth celebrating.