4 New Bands At Day One Of Capitol Hill Block Party

Capitol Hill Block Party

Seattle – Streets are closed, rainbow sidewalks are slowly becoming littered with cigarette butts and coffee cups, and a certain Seattle recreation is being enjoyed…yes, the annual Capitol Hill Block Party is in full swing.

For three days, Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood shows its pride as the city’s hub of arts and culture. Named by USA Today as one of the “Twelve reasons to visit Seattle,” the festival stretches over six city blocks, five stages, and dozens of restaurants and bars. This year, Capitol Hill Block Party showcases a diverse lineup of acts, with a focus on indie rock and punk bands alongside hip-hop and EDM. The festival showcases more than 100 local, national, and international artists, including headliners TV on the Radio, The Kills, and Ratatat.

“We made a concerted effort to book bands we felt best exemplified the spirit and history of the festival,” said CHBP owner and producer Jason Lajeunesse. “We booked the acts we’d want to see and, as a result, the artists we chose reflect the energy and heart of this music festival and neighborhood.”

Friday morning’s clouds cleared to blue skies as day one of Capitol Hill Block Party kicked off. Best New Bands caught several acts worth being on your radar.

Shabazz Palaces

Shabazz live by Caitlin Peterkin

Experimental hip-hop by way of Ishmael Butler and Tendai “Baba” Maraire, Shabazz Palaces entertained the Main Stage crowd with their energy. Taking the stage, wearing futuristic sunglasses and African-inspired garments, the duo delivered sharp lyrics backed by textured, pulsating polyrhythms, samples, and vocal effects. Drawing from their full discography, highlights of their set were the Afro-Caribbean-tinged “Blastit,” off their 2009 self-titled EP, “Free Press and Curl,” and “Youology,” both off 2011’s Black Up. Showman Butler zigged and zagged around his small table, poetically spitting lyrics, as multi-instrumentalist Maraire effectively crafted beats and rhythms on the drum machine, conga, hi-hat, and mbira (African thumb piano). It was a fresh set to get the evening going.

The Kite String Tangle

Kite String Tangle live by Caitlin Peterkin

Over on the Vera Stage Presented by Alaskan Airlines Visa Signature Card, Australian electronic artist/producer Danny Harley performed under his solo project The Kite String Tangle. Opening his set with “What If,” Harley delivered pure, wistful vocals backed by atmospheric synth and metallic rhythms. “I want it all/ but I’m thinking something has to give,” he sang as the crowd steadily grew. Pondering keys and drum machine claps and ticks led into the brokenhearted “Words,” with the remorseful chorus “You didn’t have to say no/ I didn’t have to see you go.” Harley’s smart use of layering vocals and electronic production made for an aurally pleasing set as festival goers were arriving en masse.


Broods live by Caitlin Peterkin

Perhaps the most celebrated evening set came by way of New Zealand. Brother-and-sister duo BROODS, comprised of Caleb and Georgia Nott, made it a family affair by adding their cousin on drums during this show. A lot has changed since Best New Band’s Sarah Hess saw them perform last year and noted, “By the looks on their faces, it was clear [they] are still adjusting to their growing popularity.” That doesn’t seem the case anymore. BROODS confidently took the Main Stage and launched into “Never Gonna Change,” followed by “Everytime,” during which vocalist Georgia energetically jumped and danced all over the stage. “I need to go to the gym!” she breathily joked to the crowd before thanking everyone for being there. “It’s a really long flight, but we love you so much we keep coming back!”

Georgia’s impressive, powerful vocals, backed by consistent percussion and well-produced effects, took hold of the audience, song by song, until everyone was either singing and/or dancing along, especially during hit single “Bridges.” With a strong, double-drum intro, BROODS closed their set with “Mother & Father,” a bittersweet ode to leaving home. A memorable performance, BROODS was certainly a crowd favorite Friday evening.

Jamie xx

Jamie xx live by Caitlin Peterkin

British artist Jamie Smith first rose to prominence with indie darlings The xx before asserting himself as an electronica artist under the moniker Jamie xx. Before his set began, stagehands hauled a giant disco ball onto the stage and hoisted it up in the air, much to the delight of the crowd. Then, Jamie took his place between giant speaker sets, mulled around a little at his turntable while he waited for headphones to be brought out to him, and launched into “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times),” one of the standout tracks on his recent debut LP In Colour. As Best New Band’s Corey Bell noted in his review of the record, Jamie xx uses “hip hop as a more assertive force in thoughtful juxtaposition to the honey-like sounds of The Persuasions’ rich vocal harmonies….in an effort to not only create something new but also pay homage to the roots of the music we know and enjoy today.”

The CHBP crowd certainly did enjoy the opening number, as immediately bodies started to move. In his hour-long set, Jamie xx, smiling ever-so-coyly to his audience, delivered track after track of remixed, resampled, and original sonic delight, all of which the crowd devoured.

Stay tuned for a recap of Day Two at Capitol Hill Block Party!

Top photo by Ashley Genevieve – All others by Caitlin Peterkin

Caitlin Peterkin

Caitlin Peterkin

Caitlin Peterkin is a Seattle transplant fresh from the Midwest. She owes her passion for music to her parents, who filled the house with artists from The Beatles to The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel to Carly Simon, and Jackson Browne to Michael Jackson. One of her favorite memories includes being presented with her mom’s original vinyl copy of Sgt. Pepper when she got her first record player.

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.
Caitlin Peterkin

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