Seattle – Three days, 6 city blocks, 100 artists. The Capitol Hill Block Party certainly has grown since its humble beginnings back in 1997, when it had only one small stage, a handful of DJs, and five bands.
Today, the CHBP sees more than 9,000 concertgoers per day, and the first day of the 2014 installment certainly drew an impressive crowd to see acts such as A$AP Ferg, Odesza, Spoon, and more. After a week of cloudy skies, the sun burst upon the streets of Seattle Friday afternoon, just in time for the weekend festival.
Shy Girls, led by Portland’s Dan Vidmar, kicked off the Capitol Hill Block Party’s Main Stage set with atmospheric, electronic R&B tracks, getting the early crowd grooving. His smooth vocals, accompanied by heavy beats, synth, and, on one song, saxophone accompaniment, created a sound reminiscent of The Weeknd, with an especially sexy, sensual vibe on tracks like “Voyeur’s Gaze.” “It’s an honor to kick off this festival,” Vidmar announced to the crowd.
Across the festival at the all-ages Vera Stage, Seattle’s own dream-pop duo Lemolo swayed the crowd with Meagan Grandall’s breezy, delicate vocals paired with Emily Westman’s impressive drumming. Performing tracks off their 2012 LP The Kaleidoscope as well as brand new tracks that are currently being recorded in the studio for an upcoming album, Lemolo gave a great performance for the sunny afternoon.
Brooklyn’s Small Black kept the indie electro-pop-rock rolling throughout the afternoon on the Main Stage. Soaring vocals and strong electronic beats mixed with the lead singer’s high energy and great rock layers of rhythmic bass, rolling drums, and synth keys, the four-piece gave a dancy, poppy performance – truly enjoyable under the Seattle sun.
Wild Ones’ sound might not be completely new, per se, but damn if it wasn’t danceable and catchy as hell. The Portland-based quintet’s indie pop, complete with Danielle Sullivan’s pure, beautiful vocals, was a hit among the crowd gathered around the Vera Stage. Interestingly, some tracks had guitar riffs similar to Modest Mouse, while another’s electronics were reminiscent of LCD Soundsystem. Wild Ones were one of the strongest acts Friday afternoon.
I absolutely loved Dub Thompson’s set at Neumos. After catching their KEXP in-studio performance, a genre-bending mix of punk, garage rock, hip hop, and David Byrne (yes, I give him his own category), on the radio this morning, I was really excited to see this California band’s set – and man, did they impress. Performing songs off their 2014 album 9 Songs (which is made up, of course, of only eight songs), Dub Thompson filled the stage with intense vocals, furious drumming, fuzzy keys, and energy of the highest caliber (guitarist/ lead singer Matt Pulos even broke a guitar string within the first three songs). The surprise of the evening was guest appearances by Foxygen, a connection forged when Dub Thompson recorded their album at Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado’s rented house in Bloomington, Indiana.
Stay tuned for recaps of days two and three of Seattle’s Capitol Hill Block Party.
All Photos By Caitlin Peterkin
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.