The sold-out second day of Capitol Hill Block Party Saturday (July 23) didn't feel crowded at first, but when headliners Odesza came on, the crowd came out of the woodwork and Block Party lived up to Capitol Hill's reputation as one giant night club.
By Charlie Zaillian and Alexa Peters / Special to The Seattle Times
The sold-out second day of the 20th installment of Capitol Hill Block Party Saturday (July 23) played up the local angle admirably well. Patrons could have spent the entire afternoon watching just Seattle bands. Two highlights were Thunderpussy, on the main stage, a super-legit hard-rock combo seemingly beamed in from the ’70s, and Tape Stacks, at Barboza, offering up delicately-played, melodious twee-pop jangle with moments of striking beauty.
The festival also reflected our tumultuous times, with increased security at the entrance, as well as political commentary from the stage about racial and gender tensions. The Cha Cha lounge belonged to feminist punks like Mommy Long Legs and Lisa Prank, who donned her sparkly “Prank” crown while delivering introspective lyrics, accompanied only by her electronic Roland Groovebox. In contrast to the angry feminism of her female peers at Cha Cha that day, Prank leaned more toward a sensitive emo character, even covering Blink 182’s “Dammit.”
Mommy Long Legs was a roaring freight train of energy, screaming indictments of capitalism, corporatism, sexism and whatever else the band could comment on in its short, electrifying set. The group had the crowd bouncing up and down and screaming right along with them.
The Cha Cha showcased a wide variety of other up-and-coming local acts to watch, including the ska-inflected Boyfriends and in-your-face noise-rock group SSDD. Best of all was the power trio Acapulco Lips, whose post-dinnertime set of searing surf-punk earned an especially warm reception at the basement venue.
Los Angeles group Prism Tats, at the Vera stage, introduced the crowd to its blend of pop-grunge-rock, which had a spacey electronic edge and tight grooves, driven by simple, tom-heavy drumming a la Ringo Starr.
At Neumo’s, The Grizzled Mighty offered blues-inspired, distortion-heavy rock with a volcanic presence. Ignited by the chemistry between Ryan Granger’s dexterous guitar playing and Faustine Hudson’s drumming, the band’s pedal-to-the-metal set showed nuance, style and most of all, fiery intention.
Though the festival was technically sold out Saturday (more tickets were released late Friday), it didn’t feel like it for most of the afternoon. Food, drink and bathroom lines were generally short, and one didn’t have to jostle too hard to get close to acts like angsty indie rockers Car Seat Headrest, which turned in an excellent set on the main stage.
But when headliners Odesza came on at 10:30 p.m., the crowd came out of the woodwork and Block Party lived up to Capitol Hill’s reputation as one giant night club. Odesza went on unopposed, weekend warriors packing out the length of Pike Street, from Broadway all the way up to 12th Avenue. Making its third appearance at CHBP in four years, the Western Washington-bred, Seattle-based duo has for many become synonymous with the event. The duo flexed that might Saturday with one endless crescendo after another proving highly agreeable and easy to dance to.
Still, while certainly still riding their own wave of popularity, Odesza hasn’t proven particularly influential on the local scene. If the riskier and more intriguing sounds emanating from the fest’s nooks and crannies were any indication, the EDM trend might be on the way out before too long.
Capitol Hill Block Party enters its third and final day Sunday (July 24) with Seattle three-piece Charms, the most buzzed-about locals on the docket. Co-headlining the main stage are a pair of fest-friendly synth-pop acts from out of town — Chvrches, from Scotland, and STRFKR, from Portland.