SEATTLE — It’s was the epitome of “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday” when the Flaming Lips closed out this year’s Capital Hill Block Party weekend with a spectacular light, confetti and stage show. Also playing Sunday were Seattle’s the Grizzled Mighty — the duo might not have drawn as many fans as the Lips, but packed Neumo’s and held one of the sexiest rock ‘n’ roll shows of the day, culminating with gyrating dancers. I hope you had fun Seattle, this event is fast becoming noticed and our “quaint” block party is becoming the place to be in late July.
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What are some things we’ve learned from another weekend of ear-splitting tunes and sweaty crowds?
Well, here goes:
For starters, beers in the Cha Cha are cheaper and better than beers in the Bud Light Beer Garden Tent. Second, some of the best bands you’ll see are the bands you’ve never heard of. If you want a good vantage point for a headline act, get there early, or else all you’ll see is the back of someone else’ head. Local bands play the best shows. Smoke, fire and lights don’t make a bad band good, but they do make a great band even that much more entertaining.
And what was the most important thing we learned from another Block Party come and gone?
Buy tickets for next year. Why? Because when Seattle’s big dance comes, you don’t want to be on the outside looking in.
Saturday and Sunday notable acts
Big Freedia – Out of tens of bands that played over the weekend, Big Freedia fostered the biggest post-show buzz. All around the Hill, I kept hearing, “did you hear Big Freedia? Did you see Big Freedia?” The New Orleans rapper who coined the term Sissy Bounce and is known for her booty shaking Twerk dancing was a dark-horse surprise. While beat-heavy songs like “Y’all Get Back Now” and “Gin in My System” may not be for everyone, there wasn’t one self-righteous hipster who could deny the talent of the booty shaking going onstage during her set. Not familiar with Big Freedia? Google it — but it might be best if you don’t do it while you’re at work.
Pickwick — Local Seattle band Pickwick takes the cake for most polarizing band. Their folky, slow, thoughtful lyrics brought a good portion of the crowd to near tears and were a great closer to a Saturday that featured some amazing acts. A nice wind down; a great desert wine. But, unlike me, some thought the act was too slow for a Saturday closer, and I couldn’t help notice more than a few leaving the main stage area in search of beer or base-heavy EDM. Pickwick is a musical force though, and their talent could not be denied whether you were a fan of folk and blues or EDM.
Jarv Dee — I’ve attended enough Snoop Dog and Juicy J live shows to know that hip-hop often sounds much better on a studio album than it does live. That’s why the biggest surprise of the weekend was Jarv Dee. I don’t know whether or not it was the lonely Vera stage, the pot-smoking crowd or the clever lyrics, but Dee was a force to be reckoned with. In between rapping about Facebook, Dane Cook and plenty of weed smoke, I was pleasantly surprised Dee could keep a calm, collected cadence as he danced around stage.
Tacos — The Cha Cha takes the cake as my favorite stage for the weekend. Wait, there was no stage at the Cha Cha, you say — and that’s exactly what made it good. There’s nothing better than seeing a band at eye level. Tacos, a fast-moving two-piece with technical skill is everything little punkers wanted their early high school band to be, but never quite accomplished. “Cobra” was an especially mind-melting song.
The Grizzled Mighty — If the Cha-Cha gets dubbed my favorite venue, local band The Grizzled Mighty takes the prize for my favorite band. Now, to be fair, I’ve heard them before when they played with other Seattle band Mystery Ship at the Blue Moon Tavern. And though I liked them then, their off-the-charts performance at the Block Party blew minds. Heavy, hard rock from a man with a beard and a lady on a drum set. The crunch didn’t let up for an hour. By the time they finished, I was mad I had to go outside and watch headliner the Flaming Lips.
The Flaming Lips — Frankly, I’m a bit torn on this year’s headliner. While the band’s light show and masterful lyrics rocked the house, I couldn’t fully appreciate the show because I was so far back in the crowd. “Block Party should really be on a graded street so everyone can see,” one short girl next to me quipped. Agreed, little lady. But graded or not, the band sounded great and — as big and popular as they are — were a great way to close out a weekend of debauchery, sweaty pits and hurting yet happy eardrums.
SEATTLE – Saturday at the Capitol Hill Block Party brought people to the streets and sun to the sky.
SEATTLE – Well, hello Neighbor. Having a block party is a way to say hello to those who live close to you. The Capitol Hill Block is one way to say “hello” to all of Seattle in three days.
Capitol Hill Block Party kicked off Friday, bringing hipsters, music aficionados and those looking to be seen in the epicenter of one of Seattle’s most notorious neighborhoods to listen to some of the best — and loudest — music around.
With opening night came the accouterments Seattle residents and wide-eyed out-of-towners have grown to know and love from this crowded music festival:
Plenty of fashionable, attractive 20-somethings wearing everything from fuzzy panda hats to tie-dye one-pieces to, well, nearly nothing at all. Mayor Mike McGinn was there, too — shaking hands, nodding his head to music and only talking politics when prodded. Bands of all caliber, from big names playing in front of 3,000 people to the obscure rocking out without a stage in front of 100 people in the Cha-Cha. The dark side of the Block Party? Expensive drinks in the beer garden, lines, cigarette smoke and packs and packs of people.
But most importantly, Block Party kicked off with smiling faces on a sunny, 70-degree evening.
Yep, Block Party is here. And though it’s not necessarily advisable to hit three consecutive nights of the party to end all parties, it might just be worth any pain and headaches you’ll have to endure Monday at work.
Notable Friday Acts
Grave Babies – I couldn’t shake the Grave Babies’ great post-post-breakup music. You know, that point in a break-up when you’re officially over your ex-lover, but enjoying that bit of self-loathing you still foster for being alone? I’ll always be alone, but at peace, you tell yourself. This Seattle three-piece played one of the more off-beat, interesting shows of the evening. Bold, melodic and slow, the band stood in front of a Neumos crowd that seemed entranced with their dark and spooky tunes. All the songs flowed into one another, hardly differing yet hardly the same. Definitely not the upbeat tempo for those looking to dance, but a great find for the first evening.
The Thrashies — Sweat and head-bobbing are why one comes to Block Party. The Thrashies played their fast-paced, late ’80s brand of punk in front of an enthusiastic and packed crowd at the Cha-Cha. As melancholy and alone as I felt (in a good way) after seeing Grave Babies, the Thrashies were the opposite with their raw, seductive lyrics and crunchy guitar riffs. The tunes have an almost California beach sound. I left the set with a furthered enthusiasm for the night, bobbing my head and ready for a beer.
STRFKR — This is the band of summertime. Melodic, highly composed, calculated dance beats. The main stage bumped beneath the rhythmic sounds of songs like “Atlantis” and “Bury Us Alive.” The younger crowd takes a liking to STRFKR as there is also something depressive, and nostalgic in their happy-go-lucky EDM beats. The feeling that “these times are fleeting, so enjoy tonight” is pervasive. And as the crowd ramps up with drinks and enjoys the long set, I hear more than once shoutouts of “I love STRKFR” from hipsters moving and bobbing, but nervously awaiting what’s next.
Girl Talk — Friday night’s headliner Gregg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, could not disappoint. The crowd was too prepared. At least 5,000 people packed toward the main stage to hear mixes mathematically calculated over the past 10 years of non-stop touring, festivals and recordings. While I’ve never been a fan of Girl Talk records, to see him live is another story. His stage was packed with fans. Girls were on top of guys’ shoulders. His Notorious B.I.G. remix fell from heaven, and not even the constant jostling of the crowd and the fact that I’d lost everyone in my group could ruin the mood. End the night? No, Girl Talk reminded us that the night — and the weekend — were just beginning.
Stay tuned for a slideshow of pictures from Friday night and continuing coverage of Block Party.
Author’s disclaimer: You’ve come to know Brett the Web guy as a reliable journalist who provides extensive coverage for Q13 FOX News. But hasten forth my loyal followers, I wasn’t always a straight newsman. The truth is, I used to write for an alternative weekly. And for the Capitol Hill Block Party reviews I’ll fall back on my old ways: Whiskey, beer, people watching and all that. So enjoy — I know I will.
Capitol Hill Block Party Preview:
Ahhh, Capitol Hill Block Party. Sun. Rock ‘n’ roll. EDM. Crowds. Beers.
Insert your standard hipster joke here. How many hipsters does it take to… whatever.
As always, the annual party on Capitol Hill brings some big names, fresh up-and-coming acts and bands no one’s ever heard of, but probably should. Below is a brief list of bands Block Party-goers should see for their notoriety, their new sound or just their pure stage talent. This is by no means a full list and I’ve found that the best shows seem to surprise you when you wander (stumble?) into a small venue where the local are holding forth onstage.
For a full list of the Block Party’s lineup, visit the website. And if you still don’t have your tickets to the event, which runs from 3 p.m. Friday to sometime late Sunday evening, go get them here. (Or head to Craigslist, you hipster you.)
Friday 10:45 p.m., Main Stage – This guy is a Block Party stalwart. Gregg Gillis has released five albums as the beat-obsessed Girl Talk, featuring samples from the Animals, Lady Gaga and more. A great opening headliner and a perfect Friday appetizer to the weekend ahead.
Saturday, 10:30 p.m., Main Stage – What’s a Capitol Hill Block Party without a local headliner? Likened to bands like the Black Keys, Alabama Shakes and others, you’ve undoubtedly heard them (they are in pretty solid rotation on KEXP) to batter walk-ups at Safeco Field. Expect songs from the band’s debut full-length album, “Can’t Talk Medicine,” and pumped-up crowd filled with a lot of friends.
THE FLAMING LIPS
Sunday, 8:15 p.m, Main Stage – This Grammy Award =-winning, Oklahoma City band holds a special place in my heart. Not because I’ve ever seen them live, and not because I’m a particular fan of their psychedelic, space opera sound. I don’t even like robots much. They hold a special place in my heart because they were the music that opened up my first and only skateboard video. A young, strapping college chap, “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots” became the intro song to my skateboard epic “5215” (Not to be confused with “2001: A skate Odyssey.”) I harbor the fondest memories of this skateboard period in my life, thus I carry such sentiment for the Flaming Lips.
Expect hits from “Yoshimi,” their new studio album “The Terror“ and a spectacular act including smoke, lights and psychedelic waves.
Friday at 11:15 p.m., Neumos – Is Anacortes the next Aberdeen of Washington state rock ‘n’ roll (obligatory Nirvana reference)? If BellaMaine has anything to say about it, then yes. Guy and girl dual vocalists with a sonic keyboard kick. Plus, Neumos is a great place to grab a drink.
Friday 6:30 p.m., Barboza Stage – More heavy rock ‘n’ roll. Members of the band previously made up Snitches Get Stitches, the Keeper. And the Krills. Prepare for crowd-surfing and maybe, MAYBE, bring earplugs. You know, for safety and noise.
Saturday at 3 p.m., Vera Stage – Babes in a band named Chastity Belt? And their music is good? Yes, please. Birthed on the eastside of the Cascades and now in Seattle, this band has power. Check out the documentary video Unlocking Chastity Belt on these up-and-comers.
FOX AND THE LAW
Saturday 2 p.m. Neumos – The Stranger described these guys as “fuzzy, distorted rock ‘n’ roll. That’s enough to get me front and center.
Friday 6:30 p.m., Main Stage – His 2011 mixtape XXX is one of the best rap records in a long time. A LOOOONG TIME. I’m an unabashed fan of Juicy J, and compared to the iconic Dizzee Rascal, this Detroit-artist has a silver tongue and a quick wit.
Sunday 6:30 p.m., Neumos Stage – Composed of Latryx the Truthspeaker and Lyrics Born, this duo is a perfect complement to Friday’s Danny Brown. Relying on interesting lyrics and a tough stage presence, their set at Neumos is a can’t-miss.
RAVENNA WOODS WITH SEATTLE ROCK ORCHESTRA
Sunday 8:15 p.m., Vera Stage – This Seattle band’s latest album, The Jackals, is due out anytime now. New songs are expected, which is always a good thing.