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!
Kicking the action off on the Neumos stage Sunday were Seattle DIY garage rock wunderkinds Dude York. This trio is consistently the funnest local act you can catch nearly every month. The band’s new record Dehumanize has been melting faces for half a year now, and their live set hasn’t lost any of its vicious power while the band was recording. Peter, Claire, and Andrew ripped through a relentless ten songs or so in 30 minutes, giving brief anecdotes between songs (“This one is called ‘Cannibal’! It’s about being hungry!” or “This one is called ‘Giving Up’! It’s about the future!”). Altogether, the day couldn’t have started off with more energy. The band took the Vita stage later for an encore set where further hijinks ensued.
Seattle talent kept things going at Neumos as Manatee Commune took the stage after Dude York. Grant Eadie has been making some masterful stuff with his one man project and put it all on full display here today. Armed with a table full of sample pads, wire, a laptop, and a drum machine, Eadie also manned a standing drum kit to keep both sonic and kinetic energy flowing from the stage at all times. Numbers trickled in throughout his set until the room was packed out. Manatee Commune was a welcome addition to Capitol Hill Block Party this year and will without a doubt be seeing some new fans at his upcoming appearances around town. As his set ended, Grant jumped on the mic and told everyone to leave to go watch xxyyxx. No wonder why, really - I’m sure he was out there dancing with the rest of us.
Marcel Everett’s xxyyxx project has growing in a remarkably organic style over the last few years, and now, the guy has gone from bedroom producer genius kid to festival main stage big name. Everett deserves it, though - his one of a kind style can get a chilled out party going at any time of the day, whether it’s 1:00 in the morning like at Pemberton last weekend, or 4:00 in the afternoon like on the hill today. Everett spun a diverse set of originals, remixes, and crowd pleasers (yeah, we all saw that smirk when T Pain “Chopped and Screwed” dropped). Xxyyxx saw an excellent crowd that got the party started early, despite the hot weather. Everett spun 20 minutes extra and not a soul complained - fantastic set for a lovely afternoon.
Brooklyn synth-pop duo Tanlines could not have been happier with their 5:00 slot. “Too late on a Sunday and people start thinking about Monday”, Jesse Cohen said, “but 5:00, you guys are still partying”. Cohen couldn’t have been more right - despite fighting sound with RAC on the main stage, Tanlines pulled in a great crowd at the Vera stage and played a brief, sugary collection and brand new tunes as well as favorites from their 2012 True Panther LP Mixed Emotions. Eric Emm manned the drum pads and the shimmering synthesizers while Cohen handled the vocals and guitars. Over far, far too soon, Tanlines had to call it a day, though the crowd could have done with another hour. However, it did whet our appetites for what these two are cooking up next.
Adam Granduciel might seem like a weird act to put on the main stage right before the closing party act takes things home in ridiculous fashion. The War on Drugs find themselves in a comfortable place somewhere between festival rock showiness and Phish-esque 4-hour jam sessions, but here with only an hour to kill, it was interesting to see how the massive crowd would react to the serious change in stage dynamic. But if you’ve ever seen The War on Drugs live before, you know there’s nothing on earth that could convince you to be elsewhere when Adam and his band are onstage. Fresh off the release of excellent new record Lost In The Dream and armed with guitars, saxophone, and keys to boot, The War on Drugs played a marvelous performance that could have gone on for another two hours. Pulling out the best of the new record and some fan favorites from Slave Ambient, Granduciel ripped through one beautiful guitar line after another, never contenting himself to goofy festival antics or cheesy interaction. Well, I guess only once - Adam threw on a wide-smile and yelled “Are we having fun yet!!!” before cracking up with his band on stage. Acutely aware of the weird setting but not one to lose a single moment, Granduciel and the War on Drugs gave us one of the best sets of the weekend without an ounce of ego on the side.
The War on Drugs:
Seattle indie pop group Pollens had a bit of a tough slot Sunday night battling both A$AP Rocky and Dum Dum Girls, but they sure made their Neumos set count. The band’s sporadic use of vocal sampling and off-kilter harmony, mixed with animalistic percussion and eclectic instrumentation, makes their music a vibrant and overtaking experience. While Pollens do all of the above on their record Brighten & Break quite well, it’s all taken up a few notches in the live setting, where size and scope and both fully realized. Pollens made the best of a competitive slot and pulled in a great crowd for their bright, all-encompassing Sunday night set, wrapping up the local love at Neumos before Beat Connection & friends took the stage for an encore performance to cap the festival off.
It’s no surprise to see Dee Dee Penny and the Dum Dum Girls at the very top of the marquee for Capitol Hill Block Party’s closing day. While crowds bustled in waiting for an hour-late A$AP Rocky performance at the main stage, those in the know packed out the Vera Stage with eager ears. Dum Dum Girls ripped into Too True opener “Cult Of Love” with a vengeance and didn’t slow down much from there. Dee Dee’s new record is pure late-80s magic, channeling heroes like Siouxsie Sioux and the Stone Roses into the key of her soul. Even on the most danceable numbers like “I Got Nothing” and “In The Wake of You”, Dee Dee puts her very essence on the line to make the performance as impactful as possible. The band dipped back a few years to pull out favorites like “He Gets Me High” and “Bedroom Eyes”, but crowd interaction stayed pretty high across the board. Easy to understand though - it’s impossible not to want to belt out every line with Dee Dee as she stares across the crowd like a haunted sage. As the band reached their usual closer, Only In Dreams classic “Coming Down”, the mood got somber, but the voices got louder. There’s something incredibly emotive about Dee Dee’s music, and even a warm summer’s night with bass pounding from the stage two blocks down the street can’t stop that feeling from revealing itself at times like this. Dum Dum Girls finished off a hilariously fun weekend with a powerful set, equal parts pain and pleasure.
Dum Dum Girls: