Capitol Hill Block Party, Day 1: Haunted Horses, Gifted Gab, Constant Lovers, My Goodness

Gifted Gab // all photos by Dusty Henry

In its 21st year, Capitol Hill Block Party feels more like a party than ever. The first day alone proved that people were willing to forgo their post-work tiredness and rage in the streets to Run The Jewels, Wolf Parade, and Mura Masa. CHBP may have the budget to keep bringing in larger and larger national acts to the Pike Street intersection, but the fest still hasn’t lost its commitment to local music. From the sweaty pits of Cha Cha to the sleek, redesigned Neumos; you could get your fill of Seattle’s genre-diverse acts.

The recently reunited Haunted Horses had a welcomed homecoming at Cha Cha on Friday evening. Sure, they haven’t been gone that long but the time away has reinvigorated an act that was already a vicious powerhouse. Drummer Mike Pyle’s propulsive rhythms against guitarist Colin Dawson’s guttural wailing felt appropriate for the basement setting. The duo was locked in, facing one another while they churned out the bestial material from their recently released “COME” EP. As one of the first acts to play the Cha Cha stage, they set the tone for all the crowded mayhem that would come the rest of the weekend.

Gifted Gab didn’t mince words in her rousing and thrilling set at Neumos. She was quick to identify herself as representing the real Central District, not just newcomers who are flocking to the neighborhood lately. She even brought along some of the CD’s best talents, including Koga Shabazz, Jarv Dee, and Nacho Picasso. It was a brilliant spectacle of the raw energy the neighborhood harbors, but Gab herself still outshone it all. Gab is an entertainer, knowing how to hype up the crowd and always having the best quips to throw out between songs, but first and foremost she’s a rapper. When she’s spitting on the mic, she’s untouchable, uncrushable. The fact that she opened her set with ’90s R&B vocalizations may have been just a way to warm up the crowd, but really it showcased just how versatile she is. Gab calls herself the Queen of Seattle and after a set like that, it’s really hard to argue with her.

Constant Lovers came through with quite possibly the hardest sounding set to feature maracas and pink roses. The post-punk, Good to Die Records affiliates don’t seem like they really give a shit about what’s perceived as “hard” anyway, and they’re all the better for it. Equal parts theatrical and brutal, the quartet charged through their set with menace and precision. Shirtless vocalist and guitarist Joel Cuplin screamed into his mic wrapped in flowers, stinging through the PA system. The red lights of Cha Cha were fitting for the band. Depending on your perspective the lights could represent romance or rage. Constant Lovers veered between both.

 

I can remember seeing My Goodness back when they were a garage rock duo and they sounded massive back then. But the newly reimagined, expanded version of the band is even better. The inclusion of synthesizers and bass guitars into the mix not only fills out the sound, it seems to have energized the band itself. Their late night set at Neumos had the unenviable booking of going against Run The Jewels at the main stage, but they were able to rise to the challenge with a set of sweeping rock anthems. The band sounds and feels bigger than ever. If you haven’t caught up with them in a bit, now is the right time.

 

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