Day 2 of Capitol Hill Block Party 2013 was flurry from beginning to end. Pike street was flooded like never before with ridiculous numbers pushing this way and that to every stage. Capitol Hill Block Party gives great exposure to small bands that deserve a bigger setup, and today’s action was no exception. It was pretty difficult to find any act playing that didn’t have a sizable crowd watching and rocking along.
Opening up the afternoon on the Neumos stage was Fox and the Law, a sucker-punch of rock and roll took the noise level to 11 right off the bat. The band is on a west coast tour right now with Brent Amaker and the Rodeo and slated to release their sophomore LP this summer or fall. Nothing about Fox and the Law seemed forced. From the trippy visuals projected over their drummer (whose face the audience never saw under a mop of disheveled hair) to the flurry of hair and face-melting guitar work up front, Fox and the Law didn’t let up and didn’t let down. Their Neumos set may have been short, but every ounce of it was pure, unadulterated rock glory.
Fox and the Law:
Seattle’s own Chastity Belt played an early set at the Vera stage to much acclaim. The band’s easy sound and delightful lyrics make them a pretty much guaranteed sale. Unfortunately, sound was having a couple issues with the drum setup, so a bit of set time was lost to the maintenance. But lead singer Julia Shapiro made up for it in wondrous ways. “Do you guys want to hear ‘Photograph’ by Nickelback?” she asked gingerly. Without any response, she broke into the tune in perfect form. The severely unapologetic members of the crowd joined in and sang along with all the Nickelback impersonations you could hope for. Finally, when drums were fixed, the whole band came in with her for about five seconds before they called it quits and broke back into their setlist with “Ponytail” off of their Dude EP from last year. Things were smooth sailing from there. Even with some technical difficulties, Chastity Belt killed it and sent everyone about their day completely satisfied.
Rose Windows took to the main stage for a fantastic set mid afternoon. This fresh Sub Pop act played the Silver Jubilee just a couple weeks ago to much acclaim, but Saturday, they were back to take a bigger stage and make a bigger impression. Though initially a bit shocked by the massive turnout for their set, the band didn’t let an ounce of stage fright affect their vibe. Laying out a super eclectic jam tunes, the band weaved their way through the 60s and 70s like clockwork. With so many people and so many instruments on stage at once, it was a visual feast as much as it was a sonic one.
Seattle producer Kid Smpl took to the Vera stage to a solid crowd in the mid afternoon. Joey Butler is hot off the heels of the release of his new EP Armour, out last week on Hush Hush Records. On this release, Butler continues to dial in his signature electronic sound, mixing heavy melodic tones with distortion, noise, and massive beats to make a spacey, euphoric experience unlike much else. On stage, Butler’s setup was simple – the visual aspect wasn’t really a priority. But the level of sound and sonic scope pumping from the Vera stage could be felt across the Block Party grounds as Butler gave his audience a near perfect offering of his best. The crowd was like one body, weaving in and out of the beat and feeling every pulsing wave of bass like an ocean. I doubt Butler could have asked for much else today.
Then it was time for Run The Jewels. The team of El-P and Killer Mike is a match made in heaven. The team have worked together on three records now: Mike’s R.A.P. Music, El’s Cancer For Cure, and now, the Run The Jewels debut album, out for free through Fools Gold Records. Every time they hit the beat, they explode. The record is 31 minutes of blistering hip hop glory with more power and punch than anything else put out this year. So naturally, the crowd was excited to see what would happen with it live. El and Mike didn’t disappoint. Together with a three piece backing band, the two ran through their various projects with zero mercy, laying down verse after verse in perfect form. They played off each other’s energy and moves like old pros, rapping back to back and high fiving and secret hand-shaking and interacting with the crowd all with the conviction and power that they would throw at their last show ever. On the main stage sound system, the track were blowing up – El’s production has never seemed more powerful or effective. Altogether, Run The Jewels was one of CHBP 2013’s biggest highlights.
Run The Jewels:
Seattle shoegaze band FF have been starting to get a decent amount of buzz, finally. The band only has a handful of tracks available to the world (all of it only available on cassette tape for those of you still buying physical media), but every one hits you like a late 80s punch to the face. Channeling early My Bloody Valentine and mid 80s Sonic Youth, the band’s set is an incredibly noisy and incredibly rewarding offering. Under the solid red Barboza light, FF look like ghosts. Their vicious sound is counteracted by a completely stoic stage presence. But it makes it all that much more effective – the mystery and the questions surrounding this new Seattle face are many in number. But one thing is very certain: they kick ass.
Rising Olympia grunge band Naomi Punk took to the Vera stage with just as much raw energy and inertia as ever. The band has been steadily dialing in their raucous sound for a couple years now, and just last fall, they released their proper debut through Captured Tracks records. Now, Naomi Punk get to play near their home town on a stage that’s big enough for a crowd that’s wild enough to offer some well deserved credit. These guys have been doing some great work to establish themselves as a unique sound and face and hopefully, this performance has given them some encouragement as a band that they are making it happen. If you aren’t watching them already, keep your eyes out. Naomi Punk is a name you will be seeing a lot in the years to come.
Canadian DJ and producer A-Trak hit the mainstage to meet a massive audience later in the evening. His easy to love EDM sound has put him on the map with a wide array of other artists. His Duck Sauce project with Armin van Helden produced the smash hit “Barbara Streisand”, and his remixes of bands like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kanye West, Robyn, and Justice have received international acclaim. As could be expected, A-Trak’s set was one massive party. The beat didn’t stop from the stage to the back of the block, and from the beginning to the end, he gave the crowd all they could have wanted.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s how the saying goes, and that’s how things seem to be going for Canadian duo Purity Ring. Since the release of their debut LP Shrines last year, this is the third time they’ve come to Seattle in support (they also played a full set at Sasquatch right before the release). But with each passing month, it seems like Shrines becomes increasingly popular with an increasingly diverse fan base and the band plays an increasingly larger venue. When Corin Roddick started dropping the cryptic introduction to “Ungirthed”, even the most unlikely members of the audience were begging for the beat to drop. And even for filling out the entirety of the main stage viewing area all the way back past the side entrance on 10th street, there were very few people in the audience unfamiliar or uninterested. In typical fashion, Purity Ring brought it. Megan James and her twisting, spacious vocals filled the block with sound, while Corin and his magic lanterns kept those close enough to the stage visually dazzled for the entirety of their performance. Switching things up a bit, the band did play their recently recorded cover of Soulja Boy’s “Grammy” to much audience acclaim. After going out with ridiculous amounts of crowd participation on “Fineshrine”, Purity Ring left with another excellent victory lap under their belt.