Every summer, the crowds pack into Pike street between Broadway and 12th to throw a party unlike any other. Capitol Hill Block Party is a tried and true block party, rocking the streets until 12:30 in the morning, showering them with confetti, and giving both attendees and nearby Capitol Hill apartment dwellers a show to remember for months to come. This year is no different! Check the KEXP blog for coverage of the full weekend’s experience!
London indie rock group Cymbals made their Seattle debut on the main stage on Saturday, opening up the day’s events in spectacular fashion. The band’s sound falls in a similar vein as Foals and Alt-j, mixing islands funk with driving indie rock for a magnetic sound mixture. As the crowds packed in the gates, few went elsewhere in the early afternoon. Cymbals saw more and more pack in to dance for their excellent set, all the way up through the end of their set. This was a wonderful debut set for them, and we certainly would like to see more of them in Seattle sooner than later.
Denver synth pop act Chain Gang of 1974 took the Vera Stage on Saturday to a great crowd. The band had a strong breakout hit last fall with “Sleepwalking”, their infectious contribution to the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto 5. This is just the latest in strong singles from the band – they have a pretty uncanny ability to craft earworms out of rock and disco beats. Chain Gang got the party started early on Saturday with an excellent set.
Chain Gang of 1974:
LA “day-disco” act Poolside had a set made for dreams on Saturday afternoon. If you’ve never sampled Poolside, they are an excellent band, mixing day-drinking vibes with disco sensuality to let a groove get in like none other. But somehow, the band has tended towards obscurity on the indie scene more often than not. Thankfully, today’s Capitol Hill Block Party set defied all of that sense entirely. Poolside drew a massive crowd and had everyone on the block dancing from the first note to the last. With instant sing-alongs like “Do You Believe?” and “Take Me Home” as well as their marvelous disco rendition of “Harvest Moon”, Poolside had positive vibes abounding throughout their 45-minute set, though they could have played 2 more hours and had the same crowd dancing throughout.
Hot off the release of a critically acclaimed second LP, experimental artist EMA brought her visceral live show to the Block Party main stage for a very memorable 45-minute set. Mixing 90s electronic textures, grunge sensibility, and a hard-hitting social commentary on the Internet generation, EMA may have been a bit high level for a midday festival set. But the crowds stayed, mesmerized by her ghostly movement across the stage and banshee screams. The set was an excellent appropriation of EMA’s wonders into a concise festival form. Sacrificing no art for a cheap sell, EMA brought it all on Saturday and may have been a sleeper favorite for many.
Vancouver rock band Weed have been making waves ever since their debut LP dropped last fall, and seeing them live, it’s easy to understand why. The Vera stage was packed full for the band’s mid-afternoon set, with a mosh pit slowly and steadily forming towards the front. The band’s mixture of punk head-bob and sludgy sonic texture fits their band name par like a pair of new shoes. And, given their crowd context today, there were no complaints from the audience whatsoever. Weed shook the Vera stage in respectable fashion and gave fans and newcomers more reason to rock out to their grainy tunes.
ODESZA weren’t the only local act to pull out all the stops for a massive main stage performance. Beat Connection really outdid themselves on Saturday with a ridiculously fun set, complete with confetti, matching jerseys, and dancers. Beat Connection have always been a danceable act, but with the full effect of their festival presence here today, it was impossible not to join in the party from the crowd. The excellent new single “Hesitation” made an appearance, as did some new versions of classics like “Silver Screen” (now a half-time, hi-hat heavy slow jam) and “In The Water” (less house, more disco for a new/old crowd favorite). Beach balls, water guns, and dancing abounded throughout the massive crowd. Everyone joined in the tropical fun and it was hard to tell whether more fun was being had on stage or in the pit. Beat Connection continue to prove that the sky is the limit with their tropical dance project, and times like this, we can’t help but wonder what they’ll look like someday when only their imagination limits them.
UK producer Star Slinger kept the party going at the Vera stage with an eclectic DJ set designed to get the crowd off their feet. Like Star Slinger’s original work, his set combined 90s house and R&B with a modern production sensibility and even a touch of hip-hop. Tonight’s mixture was no exception, throwing samples of “Call Me Maybe” over 2-step beats, playing a house remix of Smiths classic “This Charming Man”, and spinning in his own new singles along the way. An excellent DJ set and a great warm up for Chromeo, Star Slinger appeased the massive crowd packed in at the Vera stage with ease.
After a day chock full of dance magic, what better act is there to send you home with a bang than Chromeo? The two-man arsenal has been pumping out disco and funk dance tracks for the record books since 2001, and with new album White Women out this year, it doesn’t look like anything has changed in that department. Armed with shimmering guitars, leggy synthesizers, and dapper attire all around, Chromeo played through an endless list of addictive hits as the massive crowds all loved every minute. In typical fashion, Dave Macklovitch balanced suave rock star with tenderhearted lover on tracks like the sultry “Over Your Shoulder”. Meanwhile, Patrick Gemayal wound his way through one blistering synth solo after another and even broke out the talk box for tracks like “Frequent Flyer”. Chromeo are impossible not to love in the live setting, with both of these guys throwing all cares to the wind to put on a party like none other. Saturday night couldn’t have ended stronger – Chromeo brought it all for a killer of a set and sent everyone home with smiles abounding.