Oh boy, I had a doozy of a weekend at Capitol Hill Block Party. For those who don’t live in Seattle, Capitol Hill is a super hip Seattle neighborhood just east of downtown, and Block Party is a weekend-long music festival in which the city closes Pike Street between 10th and 13th (much like SXSW, only on a smaller scale) to allow for some serious live music grooving to take place. In spite of my skinny pocketbook (does anyone even use the word ‘pocketbook’ un-ironically anymore?), I decided to buy a weekend pass because a) my good friends Hot Bodies in Motion were playing, b) small outdoor music festivals are awesome (see: Bumbershoot), and c) YOLO, my friends. YOLO trumps every excuse ever.
In hindsight, I definitely made the right decision… and we all know that hindsight is 20/20. It was awesome: good friends, great weather, lots of moderately priced beer, and Seattle dogs, the most divine of all dogs in all of America. My mom even came on Saturday (to see HBIM because she’s a total fan girl, bless her heart), which should give you an indication of how awesome it was. And of course, the music. I saw lots of big names like Major Lazer (overwhelming), Grimes (creepily enticing?), and Neko Case (surprisingly uninspiring), but CHBP, like most music festivals for me, was all about the underdogs.
First of all, Allen Stone. Good Lord, what a homecoming. After nearly a year of touring the globe and making some big appearances on television (he was on Letterman last night!), and after The Stranger gave him a recommendation in their CHBP preview that was lukewarm at best, he absolutely killed it. Nate was reminiscing about last year’s Block Party, and noted how impressive it was that Allen had accompanied him to CHBP last year as a mere pedestrian, and a short year later, Allen was playing the Main Stage and Nate couldn’t even get close to him because of the enormous crowd of people that came out to watch him perform. Go on, boy, you GROWN!
El Ten Eleven
Two of the best performances I saw, however, were from two relatively unknown bands: St. Lucia and El Ten Eleven. St. Lucia played on the smaller outdoor stage on Saturday evening, and their set was nothing short of magical: their Caribbean-influenced dance pop was infectious and incited much happy dancing within the crowd, and there was a light breeze that was blowing through all of their hair and it was so picturesque, like a movie, and just perfect in every way. For El Ten Eleven on Sunday night, my friends and I decided to arrive early and stake out a front-row spot, which proved to be genius on our parts because they were mind-blowing. It was just two guys, one on drums and one on guitar (bass and double-headed!), and lots of loop pedals and INFINITE ROCK. I’m so glad that we were so close to the stage because from that short distance, you can really see the joy in the faces of the people performing, and how excited they get when people are grooving to their music and clapping and cheering for them. You could see how much it meant to them, and it was really inspiring and amazing.
Live music is truly one of the best things in the world. I’m convinced of it.