Guest post: How I learned to get over myself and enjoy Block Party

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Written by amateur music critic and friend of, Josh Diamond. 

I am officially quite pleased with myself for deciding to take the opportunity to attend Capitol Hill Block Party. After swearing myself off the festival for years- largely due to my overall irritation with the Capitol Hill neighborhood and my assumed distaste for the public-at-large within the festival’s confines– I decided to give it a go this year.

And I…well…I sure had a heckuva lot of good ol’ fashioned  fun. Soaking in the Technicolor variety of musical acts and quite respectful (if not over-drunk and under-sunscreened) crowd, I left happily dazed after 16 hours over two days on the asphalt and inside various venues.

I mean, how often does one really get the opportunity to hear the uber-sarcastic statement, “If only you had a pair of dope sunglasses?” parlayed to a lamenting female (surrounded by a sea of cheap plastic hipster shades, mine included), as Gainesville, FL’s Hundred Waters plays their swirling, beautiful indie folktronica? Folktronica everyone!

Chromeo Rocking the Main Stage on Saturday night.

Chromeo Rocking the Main Stage on Saturday night.

But seriously, Hundred Waters were beautiful. As were many other bands at the Block Party on a gleaming, upper 70s, low 80s summer days on the Hill.

Bands like Poolside, who played the mainstage in the peak of the 206 heat, spraying the crowd with their super- chill vibes indicative of a band named Poolside. And Weed, from Vancouver, BC. Mmmm stoner jammy metal, just wonderfully slackerish enough for our recently legalized state. And don’t get me started on Blood Drugs, a heavy and raw punk rock band from our fair city, who rocked the basement confines of the Cha Cha Lounge.  Blood Drugs were one of many local bands proclaiming to the music world that Seattle isn’t all beardy neo-folk and pop-rap megahits.

Josh Diamond. The music is always on his mind.

Josh Diamond. The music is always on his mind.

You know what else was awesome? The local eats I got from the Off the Rez food truck (no personal endorsement of their choice of name). Right on Indian tacos and frybread before I see the literate, hard-hitting art rock of South Dakota’s EMA!

And thank goodness for the abundance of Port-a-Potty amenities on Pike, even if the lines did get a wee bit long at night. But who can blame the thousands of people surrounded on all sides by bars and taverns!

All in all, the Capitol Hill Block Party 2014 was a very chill, quite diverse musical celebration with a nicely heavy emphasis on regional acts. Oh, and Foster Farms was very colorfully handing out free swag and food at the entrance, just to remind us that these summertime festivals are reeeeally just about rocking out-of-fashion trucker hats from large companies.

Here are a few more worthwhile things about Saturday and Sunday the CHBP:

  • Easily maneuverable layout:  It was very easy to manage getting quickly between all the stages of the Block Party, of which there are 5. The Main Stage, Vera Stage, Neumos and Barboza stages, and the Cha Cha Stage are all within a couple minutes walking distances of each other (well, at least if you are 21 with regards to the last 3 stages listed). I easily jumped out of one venue or outdoor stage to another and was able to catch all or part of about 11 acts. And the security staff at all the stages and around the area was quite helpful and efficient.
  • Chiller crowd than expected: I stopped being a judgmental dude and tucked away my extreme reservations for the kind of people attending what has become a massive, 3-day event with nationally and internationally known acts. And frankly, I had no issues with anyone! All the bros, hipsters, nerds, tweens, popular girls, insert label here, all seemed to be having a really good time dancing in various manners and not being huge jerks. At least no one was jerk-ish to me and all who did, apologized for scuffing my Pumas.
  • Horns are a welcome addition:  The Dip at Neumos and The Budos Band both kicked a lot of festival butt. And showed how muscular and awesome rock songs with horns are, thank you very much Courtney Love.
  • Manatee Commune: Playing on the Neumos Stage right at the peak of the summer heat, this multi-talented young man was a great way to escape the beating sun and crowds. Manatee Commune was very lush, tripped-out but danceable electronic music overlaid with his proficient live guitar, violin, and drum playing. A real crowd pleaser, especially for those happy about Washington’s legal marijuana law!
  • The War on Drugs: Sometimes referred to as ‘dad-rock,’ I would say more like just straight ahead awesome American rock & roll infused proudly with what we call ‘classic’ rock. Evoking the best of 1960s and 1970s gripping yet rocking Americana rock, Adam Granduciel and his very talented group played as the sun was getting lower, ripping through many songs from their new “Lost in the Dream” record. Wispy, guitar solo-y, emotive….this is the America I want to live in.
  • XXYYXX: A real ridiculously fun indie-dance party. This young gentleman (like 19!) really brought it in the middle of the day to the Main Stage. With insane vocal samples, XXYYXX played out of this world, future-y sounding, R&B dripping electronic music. Endlessly engaging and trippy, and reaaaallly talented, XXYYXX is a bright light in the increasingly saturated electronic music field

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