[EVENT RECAP] Capitol Hill Block Party
Exploring new places is always a welcomed endeavor, so when these adventures string us through a hotbed of music, food and drink it's easy to feel spoiled. A delayed flight (no surprise there) and a $111 cab ride (which I was later refunded) had me off to a rocky start but eventually I found myself in a quaint space on the lovely Lake Union. After a morning jog along the water and a brief walk down Broadway Street I arrived in the thick of what would be my playground for the weekend.
Being my first time in Seattle, day one was very much about finding my bearings. Moseying up East Pike Street I made mental notes of where I would be stopping over the next few days. Finding the Vera Stage for what would be Yumi Zouma's opening set I was greeted by an empty stage. A stage-hand confirmed that the group ran into transportation issues which sent me on my way to Moe Bar to hydrate and meet my festival comrade. The Kite String Tangle was next who lived far beyond his hype with a flawless set. Pulling all the strings on live keys, sampling and vocals, the Brisbane-native saved the crowd favorite "Given the Chance" for last. Audibly content, our bellies rumbled for the same satisfaction which we found in the form of Poquito's fish tacos.
Awaking from our taco dream we moved toward the Main Stage for some of what was visible from the back of a packed crowd for Jamie xx. Wiggling to cuts off In Colour when we could, we eventually sought more elbow room and found it at the Cha Cha Stage on Bimbo's bottom floor. Arriving downstairs in time to catch Deep Creep's last two bits of muggy punk, the humid room called for a frosty PBR before slinking our way back into daylight.
Instead, we were received by grey skies and began to grasp the unpredictability of Seattle's weather. Drifting through a gradually swelling crowd, mist coated our cheeks as we bundled up to the barrier for TV on the Radio's day-closing set. The festival veterans worked through their vast catalog reaching back to 2003's "Staring at the Sun." Rain began to fall (as if on queue) and the set along with the evening crescendoed at "Wolf Like Me."
Melting over day one like the slice of butter on my pancakes I took my time at Lost Lakes Cafe chatting with fellow attendees. With spirits high and a full belly, it was time to kick the day off with local hip-hop favorites, The Physics. The accompaniment of back-up singers, a trombone player and a humbling presence of friends in the crowd made the warming family effort a prized discovery of the day. Up next was my most anticipated set of the trip, Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Bursting through spastic fits of distorted funk and a jazzy version of "So Good at Being in Trouble", Ruben and his crew played to an impressive crowd for their early-afternoon set. Closing with "Can't Keep Checking My Phone", the irony peaked as everyone pulled out their devices to take videos for later enjoyment.
The day continued in this fashion with a handful of awe-inspiring sets. Big Wild dropped heaps of untamed bass with the debut of his Hundred Waters remix while Meatbodies thrashed about the Vera Stage clad in fishnet stockings and sparkling capes. Giraffage provided a breezy bounce to the early evening crowd as a menagerie of inflated condom balloons filled the sky. Following an obligatory taco-break we feasted further on the sounds of Toro y Moi whose set favored his latest What For? release but still made time for "How's It Wrong" and "Say That." At this point my partner had tapped out and I was on the verge of calling it a day myself. It was beginning to rain and two full days of walking had my dogs barking but I thought it best to get a glimpse of The Kills. This turned out to be one of my best decisions of the trip. One song in and I knew I would not be leaving until they were finished. Alison and Jamie displayed a captivating chemistry that demanded every bit of my attention and with a small army of percussionists at their back it was impossible to walk away. Revealing tracks that have yet to be released as well as stomping through "Sour Cherry", we were sent off with the crushing version of "Monkey 23."
As the sun rose on my final day I could feel the the weight of the weekend catching up with me. A sad but necessary mid-day flight back to Oakland meant my viewings for the day would be brief but I picked myself up from the cozy air-mattress made the move toward the Block Party's closing day. Brooklyn's Wet would prove to be the last bit of my viewing pleasure for the weekend and what a perfect sendoff it was. A striking trio to say the least, their calming brand of down-tempo r&b was executed without error. With that, the rains found their way back to the grounds, nudging me into Comet Tavern for my final Seattle brew.
The greatest takeaway from my Block Party experience would have to be the fact that you're not just strolling through some grand production that packs up at the end of the weekend. All the landmarks you see; all the watering holes you nestle up to; these are part of the town and you feel that connection to it's history. Seattle now has a warm (and rainy) spot in my heart and I'll be counting down the days until next year.