Seattle — Now in its 20th year, Seattle’s Capitol Hill Block Party kicks off on July 22 and runs through July 24. Featuring headliners Odesza, CHVRCHES, and Washed Out, and a diverse lineup of indie pop, electronica, hip hop, funk, and more, CHBP asserts itself as one of the premier summer music festivals of the Pacific Northwest.
To celebrate its 20th anniversary with the local community, CHBP is partnering with surrounding neighborhood venues to offer extended programming, including free evening shows at the famed bar Unicorn throughout the weekend and Sunday Morning Yoga at Chop House Row, as well as a poster show in conjunction with the Capitol Hill Arts Walk that begins July 14th and runs through the festival.
“Capitol Hill is the artistic and cultural epicenter of Seattle,” says owner/producer Jason Lajeunesse. “This year, we want to activate the entire neighborhood and community to celebrate arts and culture with us.”
CHBP has always celebrated its thriving local arts and music community, programming Seattle-area artists alongside national and international acts. Check out a few of our suggestions of some must-see sets.
Car Seat Headrest
Seattle artist Will Toledo’s project Car Seat Headrest is at once intimate and wide-ranging. From his sharp, poignant lyrics to their DIY garage sound, Car Seat Headrest has become an accessible, inescapable force, garnering an enthusiastic fan-base from supportive local radio stations to devoted internet users around the world, culminating in more than 25,000 downloads on Bandcamp.
The project, which began in Toledo’s hometown of Leesburg, VA, began in 2010, when the then-17-year-old set up a recording space in the family car (thus, the name). After several lineup changes and his move to Seattle in 2014, the group now includes bassist Ethan Ives and drummer Andrew Katz, and they recently released Teens of Denial, the first Car Seat Headrest album recorded with a full band.
Car Seat Headrest is a refreshing, vibrant, sweeping act, sure to be one of CHBP festivalgoers’ favorites.
Pure Bathing Culture
If you missed Pure Bathing Culture’s 2015 Pray For Rain, a gorgeous, intimate indie pop album, that is a mistake to rectify immediately. From “The Tower,” a “slinking opener marked with chilled out percussion and spacey guitar” as Corey Bell noted back in March, to the anthemic title track and pulsating, ‘80s-inspired “Clover,” Pray For Rain takes the listener on an irresistible sonic journey. And for the last several months, the duo of Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman has been touring in support of the album, including a run opening for Lucius.
The Portland-based group evolved out of the indie folk outfit Vetiver, as Versprille and Hindman, who were playing in the band together, emerged as their own entity. Since releasing their 2012 eponymous EP and 2013 debut full-length Moon Tides, PBC has continued to develop their sound, and have confidently found their rooting with their latest record. The result is a performance filled with “sweet melodies and the honey-like timbre of Versprille’s voice…sure to bring comfort and pleasure to many along with way.”
Since forming in early 2012, The Dip has taken hold of Seattle with their electrifying, funk and soul-filled performances. Featuring three members of Beat Connection (Tom Eddy, vocals, Jarred Katz, drums, and Mark Hunter, bass) and a tireless, timeless horn section, the local band delivers solid neo-soul music, that is at once a retro throwback and refreshingly modern. Audiences at a typical show never stay still for long; between Eddy’s effortless croon, a killer rhythm-and-bass unit, and the jazz/soul stylings of the three-piece horn section, The Dip’s music never fails to get people movin’ and groovin’. After releasing their self-titled debut album last year, the group recently came out with their EP Won’t Be Coming Back in May, kicking off a summer tour that culminates in this CHBP appearance. Fortunately for Seattleites, The Dip isn’t holding true to their album title.
ON AN ON
The Minneapolis-based ON AN ON was formed in 2012 by three long-time friends and collaborators Nate Eiesland (vocals, guitar), Ryne Estwing (bass, vocals), and Alissa Ricci (keys, vocals). Two full-length albums later, the trio has honed their sound of captivating, somber melodies. Between synthesizers, electronic beats, ambient guitar, and the trio’s vocal chemistry, ON AN ON crafts gorgeous, ear-wormy music, filled with honest lyrics about life, love, and loss. Check them out at CHBP while you get the chance – the group recently announced they’re taking a hiatus after wrapping up their summer tour.
Great Good Fine Ok
Great Good Fine Ok, a Brooklyn duo of Jon Sandler and Luke Moellman, has surged ever since releasing their debut single “You’re the One For Me,” an instant pop hit whose original video made waves in the blogosphere at breakneck speed. Together, the duo draws “on the R&B savants of yesteryear to concoct a singular spin on synth pop,” noted Liz Crowley when she interviewed them back in 2015. “Put simply, this band’s work is infectious, and they’ve got a steeply mounting listener base to back that claim.”
More than a year later, the claim still holds true. Their blend of lush, indie-electro pop and R&B beats has earned comparisons to Passion Pit and M83, and, backed by the infamous tastemakers Neon Gold (Ellie Goulding, Icona Pop, Gotye), GGFO has seen sold-out shows and pandemonium at their six SXSW shows. The duo has been busy working on their debut record, which is sure to be filled with anthemic, sun-soaked pop – just like this set at CHBP.
NAO is Neo Jessica Joshua, a British singer-songwriter who studied vocal jazz at London’s Guildhall School of Music & Drama and went on to sing backup for artists Kwabs and Jarvis Cocker. After releasing her two EPs, NAO played the Glastonbury Festival in June of 2015 and was the featured vocalist on Disclosure’s “Superego,” off their hit album Caracal. She’s since been touring and working on her debut full-length, due out at the end of this month.
NAO skillfully blends R&B, soul, funk, and electronica. Her tracks like “Bad Blood” and “Girlfriend” showcase her vocal prowess and diffuse influences, and are easily sure to please the wide variety of music lovers that attend CHBP. As Corey Bell noted when he saw her set at Primavera Sound earlier this summer, the vocalist is “perfectly able to stand on her own with her own heartfelt, aurally arresting original material.”
For more information, including full schedule and tickets, visit capitolhillblockparty.com.
With degrees in journalism and music, Caitlin’s written for Paste Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and MajoringinMusic.com. She loves cheese, laughing at GIFs of corgis, road trip sing-alongs, and connecting with people over good beer and good music.