Photographer Chona Kasinger ran around the Capitol Hill Block Party this past weekend shooting for our friends Three Imaginary Girls, who were regulary posting live during both days of the festival. Chona’s fantastic photos can be found on Flickr (Day 1 and Day 2). We managed to coax her to write a review of Saturday at the Block Party, based on her impressions while running from one stage to the next.
text by Chona Kasinger
photos by Chona Kasinger and Gregory Perez
With round one of Capitol Hill Block Party knocked down, anticipation for the second wave of festivities was definitely palpable in the hot air early Saturday afternoon. With the adorable Seattle Block Star Winner PWRFL power, aka Kazutaka Nomura, kicking things off on the main stage, the crowd steadily poured in, clad in their best summer chic wardrobe as Kaz egged the crowd on into chanting â€œF U FUNK!â€ along with him in his precious affected accent.
The hilarious Team Gina rocked the all-ages Vera Stage and were reminiscent of perhaps menstruating Beastie Boys in their mid 20â€™s. Songs about good grammar and belligerence floated statically through the air into the Pop Machineâ€™s quick and poppier than Sprite 30 minute set. Well received by the Vera Stage audience and clearly liked by all, the young members of the Pop Machine left the stage clearly quite pleased with themselves.
The Pharmacy took the Vera Stage next and exploded with their jangly guitar progressions and rhythmic keyboard lines. The young all-ages crowd bounced, clapped, and danced gleefully to every song, often brandishing their shiny point and shoots to capture moments along the way. At one point, a haphazardly hurled keyboard flew dangerously near me (which I spied promptly through the viewfinder of my camera and scrambled), and by the end of their set, instruments were strewn across the stage. The crowd was in an uproar. The energy of the Pharmacyâ€™s set was like no other I had seen in the day previous.
Meanwhile, the hippie-esque Mirah performed a most enchanting set over at the main stage, complete with a meager string section, spandex, bare feet, and unsightly underarm body hair.
I will â€˜fess up to knowing very little (nothing, really) about British act The Cribs, who shortly followed Portland native Mirahâ€™s set on the main stage, but was happily surprised to find that their guitarist bore a striking resemblance to that of Dave Hernandez of Shinsâ€™ fame. Though the upbeat and malaria infectious pop-rock was in no way recalling of the legendary Sub Pop act, it was an effective performance and held its own in introduction to Seattle favorite John Vanderslice.
John Vanderslice is a great guy which I have known this ever since he introduced himself to me and a friend at an early 2007 show at the Triple Door with St. Vincent, and exclaimed â€œEvery show should be like this, where the band gets to go around and talk to people and shit.â€ He started his main stage set with brief commentary on the virtues of Oxicontin and announced that it would â€œbriefly be passed aroundâ€ to uphold the laughter and obvious overall cheeriness and then offered this nugget of wisdom: â€œThereâ€™s a reason that company is being sued.â€ With throngs of happy fans singing along to favorites like â€œExodus Damageâ€ and â€œAngelaâ€, JVâ€™s performance was a clear success. Even John Roderick, who I spied lurking near side stage, seemed to enjoy himself during the set.
Darting amongst several head band sporting hipsters, I made in back in time to catch the Fleet Foxes setting up. What really caught my attention about this particular set was the classical training quality to Robin Pecknold’s vocals. The roots-sounding guitar arpeggios and soaring vocals amalgamated into Seattle pseudo folk rock at its best.
Though I missed out on the 21+ fun (Greg Perez graciously showed me the snaps of the Burger and Bong fight during the Sunday Night Blackout set on his camera), I did manage to hit up the Veraâ€™s doughnut eating contest (my best friend lost by only a narrow margin), which both fascinated and repulsed me. The award for this sick and unusual trial? A doughnut eating trophy, of course!
Aesop Rock, aka Ian Bavitz, won me over the moment he exclaimed â€œIâ€™m not an asshole, Iâ€™m just a little confused.â€ Even better? The appropriately named DJ Big Wiz rebutted â€œNo, he really just is an asshole, though.â€ Much fist pumping and general crowd enjoyment ensued through the duration of the rap act.
Through much of anarcho-punk act Against Me! moshing and crowd surfing exploded rampantly and the true Against Me! fans were then differentiated from casual listeners , as many stepped out during the punk rock free-for-all.
Spoon as usual put on an indelible set, leading with several new tracks off the critically acclaimed â€œGa Ga Ga Ga Gaâ€. Britt Daniels, appearing as youthful and energetic as ever, also serenaded the crowd with old and impossibly catchy hits like â€œThe Fitted Shirtâ€ and outstanding Stranger Than Fiction track, â€œMy Mathematical Mindâ€. Pit Spoon and John Vanderslice together , as when JV took the stage at the end of the set, and you get an American indie rock force to be reckoned with. By the end of the night, I could see my own satisfaction reflected in the eyes of so many other tired but exhilarated (and undoubtedly intoxicated) people.
Where does Capitol Hill Block Party leave us? In itching anticipation of the end of summerâ€™s Bumbershoot Music Festival which features handfuls of the same acts Cap Hill had to offer that some of us may have not had the great fortune of catching or would like to catch again.
For more in depth reviews of Capitol Hill Block Party acts and to see more of Chona’s pictures, go to Three Imaginary Girls.