Capitol Hill Block Party is back for the 23rd year, taking over East Pike Street for another three-day, music-centric blowout on the Hill. The annual street fest on steroids, which runs July 19-21, spreads its wings into Cal Anderson Park with open-to-the-public yoga and barre classes (BYO mat), a skate competition and charity softball game. DJ sets in Chophouse Row are also open to non-ticketholders.
This year’s Block Party is also under the microscope, as the city plans to survey neighborhood stakeholders to make recommendations regarding the future of the event, according to a spokesperson for Seattle’s Special Events Office. While organizers tout the weekend boon to bars and restaurants inside Block Party’s gates, the survey follows complaints from some neighboring businesses outside festival grounds that say they’ve been negatively impacted by the crowds, which averaged roughly 9,800 people per day last year, according to organizers.
Regardless, the long-running music festival continues to be one of summer’s hottest local tickets, bringing a mix of hip-hop, electronic and hip indie acts to Seattle’s nightlife capital. With roughly 120 acts performing over seven-plus venues throughout the weekend, here are eight artists circled on our schedule.
(Note: Some songs contain explicit lyrics.)
Even with buzzy Florida emcee Denzel Curry canceling due to an ankle injury, Block Party organizers nailed this year’s hip-hop bookings, starting with local aces like Perry Porter and Romaro Franceswa. But this fearless hip-hop renegade is one of the best reasons to duck out of work early Friday. The Air Force vet made a name for himself in Baltimore as an experimental rapper/producer, culminating with his latest glitchy, serrated and politically charged “Veterans” LP. 5 p.m. Friday, main stage
Helmed by L.A. skater girl/studio hand Sarah Tudzin, Illuminati Hotties is exactly as much fun as its name implies. It’s no small feat either, as the self-aware songwriter — who has an engineering credit on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “This Unruly Mess I’ve Made” — balances bedroom-pop intimacy and heartbroken mope-arounds with the humor and pop-punk energy of songs like “Pressed 2 Death” — a highlight from the Hotties’ rambunctious Sunset Tavern gig this spring. 6 p.m. Friday, Vera stage
With last year’s lush, multifaceted “Be the Cowboy,” Mitski Miyawaki cemented her place among indie-rock royalty. The record swells with storming guitars and anthemic synths with a few disco detours creating some sonic distance from her past work’s somber rep. The latest, most narrative installment in the rocker’s cinematic universe ranked near the top of many a year-end list and her Block Party slot is one of her few U.S. dates this summer. 7:30 p.m. Friday, main stage
The new-school jazz man returns to his hometown, riding this year’s well-received “Go Get Ice Cream and Listen to Jazz,” his debut album as a leader. The New York-based drummer, producer and rapper revels in the intersection of jazz and hip-hop as deftly as anyone, simultaneously nudging the connected genres forward with assists from the late great Roy Hargrove, Theo Croker and his brother Carlos Overall. 5 p.m. Saturday, Vera stage
Block Party organizers sagely locked in this burgeoning pop star well before peak Lizzo mania. Hardly a stranger to festival slaying — her 2018 Sasquatch set sent fans sprinting to the lower bowl — the rapper/singer returns to Pike-Pine a headliner, fresh off a buzzworthy BET Awards show performance that drew a standing ovation. The Minneapolis powerhouse seamlessly blends hip-hop, pop and soul on her first major-label album, “Cuz I Love You” (take cover when her thumping Missy Elliott collab “Tempo” hits). Queer/Bar keeps the Lizzo love rolling with an unofficial “afterparty/worship-fest” Saturday night, free with Block Party wristbands and $5 without. 10:30 p.m. Saturday, main stage
Left at London
Seattle’s 35-year-old lesbian bar the Wildrose hosts a roster of local LGBTQ talent, from electro-soul-pop artist CarLarans to bluesier singer-songwriter Whitney Monge. Singer-songwriter Left at London (aka Nat Puff) first grew a social media following as a Vine star, with a recent Tyler, the Creator spoof video earning a co-sign from the famous rapper himself. With an online audience established, her stripped-down indie-pop tracks — like sprightly piano bop “Revolution Lover,” a standout off last year’s “Transgender Street Legend, Vol. 1” EP — are gaining traction in the local scene. 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Wildrose stage
The young Earl Sweatshirt affiliate has built considerable buzz over the past few years, leading up to his new 20-track mixtape released last month. A tribute to his late mother, “Tears of Joy” finds the lyrical New York rapper/producer feeling his way through a cloud of grief over flickering beats, his low-register deadpan perfectly suiting the melancholic fog. Still, there’s a light shining through the beautifully grainy and lo-fi production that’s never lacking in soul thanks to well-selected (and at times lightly warped) jazz and soul samples. 6:10 p.m. Sunday, Vera stage
This elusive electronic experimentalist, who seldom reveals personal info in interviews, was responsible for one of last year’s most cohesively adventurous albums. Across “Safe in the Hands of Love,” Yves Tumor teeters in and out of the darkness, flashing glimpses of trip-hop, noise, R&B, dance music, ambient and other influences, rarely sitting still long enough to get more than a blurry image. It’s restless, disorienting and magnificent. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Vera stage
Capitol Hill Block Party. July 19-21; main entrance at 12th Avenue and East Pike Street;$75-$305; capitolhillblockparty.com.