In a lot of ways, the Capitol Hill Block Party is my favorite local music festival. Sasquatch is too far away, Bumbershoot has the willingness to book Fergie as a headliner and most of the other ones either lack the stature and booking prowess or require an overnight stay. I’ve pretty much attended the CHBP every year since my first time in 2002. Back then the headliners were Mudhoney and Sleater-Kinney. The latter was at the time (and still is) my absolute favorite band, so my first CHBP experience was quite memorable. Each year since then the lineup has gotten progressively better and certainly more consistent.
Last year I thought I made a scheduling error by covering a new (to me) band called The Pop Machine (who had since broken up) instead of going to see Mirah (a reliable favorite of mine). It turned out to be prescient because TPM were fantastic — and the most pleasant surprise during my weekend. With a little bit of research (each band has a MySpace page so you can check them out beforehand) and the willingness to take a chance on someone new, you might just find your new band crush. One hint, though, to save any embarrassment, the performer at Neumo’s at 10:30 on Friday pronounces his name “Jay Ree-Uhh-Tard”.
For the second straight year, I’ll be attending as a reviewer and there are dozens of acts that I want to see. Here are a few that are pretty prominent that I’m excited for but there are dozens and dozens of other excellent options. I’ve basically set my agenda and I’m covering 8 bands this year, I believe. Of those 8 acts, I’ve seen them a combined one time. Here are a small handful of sets that I recommend:
Girl Talk (Main Stage, Friday, 7:45)
Gregg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, is a copyright lawsuit waiting to happen. His approach to crafting songs is to mash-up elements of hit songs into one. For example, on his new album Feed the Animals (available online using Radiohead’s pay what you will model), Gillis segues from Quad City DJs’ “C’mon ‘n Ride It (The Train)” to Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” by way of ? and the Mysterians and somehow, it makes sense. I’ve not seen Girl Talk live before but every single person I’ve talked to about his performances has told me they were blown away by the energy of the crowd and Gillis’ performance.
Vampire Weekend (Main Stage, Friday, 10:45pm)
The main stage headliners on Friday night have had a meteoric ascension over the past year – and for good reason. Their songs are catchy and fun, sure, but their reliance on the African pop influences that Paul Simon imported with his classic Graceland became a welcome relief from the barrage of guitar/bass/drums or programmed beats that usually dominate the airwaves. They are still a traditional pop/rock band that employs the verse/chorus/verse model of songwriting but those songs are infectious. How many songs do you know that write hit songs (ostensibly) about punctuation and drop Lil John’s name in a chorus?
“Super Secret Special Guests” (Neumo’s, Saturday, 10:30pm)
If this is who I believe it is, then it would be another “can’t miss” performance at CHBP. My understanding is that the guest is The Saturday Knights. It’s also my hope. TSK’s debut album Mingle is a triumph by any measure. Not quite straight-forward hip hop, TSK borrows from rock and jazz and pop at times and knows how to start (and finish) a party.
See you out and about,
*Three Imaginary Girls*
High iPod rotation:
(Three Imaginary Girls is a Seattle-based website that showcases the great music of the Northwest and beyond to music lovers worldwide. We post a Seattle live show calendar to help you fill your day-planner with loads of great shows, as well as record reviews, live show reviews, and an imagi-blog to entertain you throughout the day.)