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 in 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!
There I found Angel Olsen standing unceremoniously in the shade, her band appearing out of nowhere behind her. The instruments creeped in and out of the mix their at-first eerie presence supplementing Angel’s softly quivering voice. On the street and in the balconies, bodies swayed to the beautiful power with which Olsen and her band surrounded us.
Olsen employed the presence of the Jumbo-tron by using it to her advantage. As she stepped towards the cameramen to show off her nimbly played guitar, her instrument projected up above her head. She stared wistfully out into the crowd, smiling occasionally at whatever thought entered her mind during the occasional guitar and rhythm breaks.
Her comfort in performance was no doubt a result of the many festivals she has recently performed for during the last few weeks of her tour. The band was relaed and responsive, almost as if they had found a home on the stage. Despite the large crowd, the environment felt intimate as Angel sang of friendship, heartbreak, and other relatable emotional substances.
As they rocked through their set with songs from Angel’s recent and distant past, the music picked up in rhythm, allowing us to dance, sing and clap furiously whenever we weren’t laughing at her lighthearted humor.
Drums and screams started off the next set, immediately energizing the audience as we trickled into the Vera Stage’s side street. Kithkin arranged themselves in a semi-circle, staring intently at us and one another without standing still for a minute!
We continued to feed off of their energy – newcomers dancing as they joined the crowd of fans both old and new. The local group led us in chants that broke through the creative commotion coming from Kithkin’s performance. As they reconfigured the instruments in front of them, the band continued to move around the stage – each member grabbing for his next artistic tool to create the subsequent song or musical movement.
Ian McCutcheon’s performance stood out above the rest, his charismatic movements feverishly drawing attention to his percussive and vocal talents. McCutcheon led the band from one song to the next as he and Kelton Sears (Vocals, Bass, Drums) took turns singing and playing towards our active attention. During the second to the last song Bob Martin left the safety of his synthesizers to come out into the audience and dance among us. We screamed in chorus with them as we celebrated Kithkin’s return to the Block Party after a year away for performing and touring.
Two lanky DJs walked up to their setup on the Main Stage. After adorning their headphones, RAC quickly began pushing powerful pop towards the crowd of excited faces. Cold brews in hand, the band conducted the disco dance party through a series of randomly timed microphone breaks – one of which causing the crowd to break lose for a personal picture taken by Remix Artist Collective founder, Andre Allen Anjos. Their wide range of song selections kept us dancing while guessing what could possibly come next. They mixed together their original work with various remixed of artists like Lana Del Rey, Two Door Cinema Club, and Ellie Goulding.
With little leadership from the stage, the audience did what they wanted as the duo danced along with us. The two dudes grooved with concentrated faces to the ephemeral summery vibe they created. The security team found ways to keep us moving. Whether they were spraying our faces with water or tossing a giant, camera-filled ball out onto our fingertips, the crowd grew more and more excited – one man to my right even pissed himself, he was laughing so hard! As they closed their set, (main) finally introduced themselves as DJs from “[our] little brother down in Portland, OR” which only made the last track, “Let Go” all the more familiar.
As Slow Magic approached the Vera Stage, we prepared ourselves for the masked musician to blow our minds with his intricate interpolations of beats and tracks both old and new. As the beat changed, he tuned his drums accordingly, slamming the two toms above the heavy rhythm. Swinging the smaller drum over his forearm, Magic quickly broke the wall between us and him. With his mask lit up in a bright blue hue, he cleared the barrier and began banging furiously on his tom in the center of the crowd.
The determined performer played through every technical difficulty with prowess as he continually confused the sound engineers by blasting white noise between every track. Magic coerced us into dancing as he attacked the stage with a passionate pattern – starting a beat on his computer and adding to it a raging pitter patter from the reverberating toms. As the sun fell behind the cranes in the distance, the set ended in a sweaty mess of swinging arms and colliding bodies.
I attempted to squeeze my way through the crowd to the main stage where A$AP Rocky finished the final outdoor set of the weekend. As we waited for the show to begin, I got a chance to peruse the crowd and get a feel for what was in store for the Main Stage’s last act. One visibly high crowd member (shout out to Lin) yelled with excitement, “A$AP is gonna destroy this whole fucking place!” And, it seemed, that was exactly what A$AP planned to do.
Per usual, he arrived 30-minutes late, red-eyed and ready to rock. Dreads full of sweat, Rocky pumped up the cramped crowd until it became nothing but a riotous mess. Multiple times during the show, he would tell us to mosh – but the crowd repeatedly refused. After bringing A$AP Ferg back onto the stage, the daring duo did something unexpected; led in by some serious scratching on the turn tables, the A$APs began playing an eclectic medley of west coast jams. From “Jump Around” to “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the two tried to build as much excitement as possible with their clever covers of familiar tracks.
Since his efforts to create a mosh pit continuously failed to stir up enough commotion, A$AP Rocky decided to stop the show until one was formed. Ferg and security led the way, pushing apart the squished-together audience members until enough space was left on the street. “Wild for The Night” began with a blast and the pit finally broke lose to Rocky’s riotous satisfaction. The two musician’s overwhelming popularity allowed them to stop rapping altogether to let the crowd finish their lines. We led the show as he told us to let loose and do whatever we wanted. So we did – jumping beneath the trippy and anti-authoritarian visuals that flashed back at us until the end of the night.