Capitol Hill Block Party: Saturday, Part 1 - Chromeo, Beat Connection, Poolside, EMA, and more

photo by Victoria Holt

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!

photo by Brittany Brassell

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.

Cymbals:

set by Brittany Brassell

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:

set by Brittany Brassell

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.

Poolside:

set by Brittany Brassell

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.

EMA:

set by Victoria Holt

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.

Weed:

set by Victoria Holt

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.

Beat Connection:

set by Brittany Brassell

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.

Star Slinger:

set by Brittany Brassell

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.

Chromeo:

set by Brittany Brassell

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TV Eye: Week of 7/28

Temples // photo by Dave Lichterman

KEXP has our TV eye set for this week in late night television. Set your DVR, TiVo, or just drink some coffee to stay awake for these musical guest performances on your favorite talk shows. Here are the highlights:

Monday, July 28th:
Late Show with David Letterman: Conor Oberst
The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon: Jenny Lewis
The Colbert Report: Beck

Tuesday, July 29th:
Late Show with David Letterman: Rodrigo y Gabriela
Last Call with Carson Daly: Franz Ferdinand (R)

Wednesday, July 30th:
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Temples
Conan: Veruca Salt (R)
The Arsenio Hall Show: Prince (R)

Thursday, July 31st:
Conan: Twin Shadow (R)
Ellen: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Friday, August 1st:
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Aloe Blacc

Saturday, August 2nd:
Austin City Limits: Jim James / The Black Angels

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Monday Music News

photo by Kyle Johnson (view set)

  • As we reported last month, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ frontwoman Karen O is releasing her solo debut album this year, and today we’ve got the first single to share. Stream the dreamy, underwater video for “Rapt” below, a track off Crush Songs, out September 9th via Julian Casablancas’ label Cult Records. [Spin]


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Album Review: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

There’s only one thing that’s remained constant on the weird, mystical journey of Seattle experimental hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces: progressive thinking. Everything else is up for grabs. Where their debut EPs were bombastic and shocking in their odd use of sampling and jazz rhythms in a bass-heavy hip-hop style, they switched it all up for their studio debut, Black Up. There, a hefty layer of haze filled the air, letting the heavy punches fade into the mist a bit, but giving the record equal size and scope with help of the shadows. But it’s be a couple years now - more than we’ve ever had to wait for new Shabazz material, and that means things are going to change again. But as we can trust from Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire at this point, that change is going to be amazing. You may not have any idea what to expect, but you are going to love it. All of this could not be more the case with Lese Majesty. Shabazz Palaces have upped the ante on every front and brought the fog nearer to the dawn for their second full length effort, and this second offering is in every way as memorable and provocative as the first. Shabazz Palaces continue to prove themselves a visceral, important voice in the future of hip-hop and a vital organ of the progressive Seattle music scene.


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Live Around Town This Week

Charles Bradley to headline Concerts at the Mural this Friday! // photo by Morgen Schuler

Tuesday, July 29th

The Donkeys, Ephrata, Keaton Collective at Sunset Tavern // 21+ (more info)

Wednesday, July 30th

• Out to Lunch Concert Series Presents Michael Powers at Metropolitan Park North Tower // All Ages (more info)


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Song of the Day: Total Control - Flesh War

photo by Karl Scullin

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Flesh War” by Total Control from the 2014 album Typical System on Iron Lung Records.

Total Control - Flesh War (MP3)

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Capitol Hill Block Party 2014: Friday, Part 2 - Iska Dhaaf, Man Or Astro Man?, CHILDBIRTH, Shaprece, and more

Capitol Hill Block Party

photo by Dave Lichterman

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!

As I approached the main gate, notebook in hand and a smile on my face, I heard the distant tone of the Main Stage soundcheck. I followed the growing crowd to the stage - taking in the festival that I have always heard such great things about. Soft and sultry, Shy Girls entered into focus as he sang, “Burning girl, your flame burns, but please don’t burn away.” This focus expanded as sound erupted from the keyboards to the left and right of Dan Vidmar, frontman and creator of the Portland, OR, based project. The band sports a balanced stage presence as they surround Vidmar with their bodies of sound. Despite Shy’s intimate interactions between himself and the microphone, what stole the show was the multitalented and Joaquin Phoenix-looking drummer who alternated between pounding on his digital drum-pad and blasting his woodwinds through the main stage’s oversized speakers.

Shy Girls

photo by Victoria Holt


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Capitol Hill Block Party: Friday, Part 1 - Spoon, Matt & Kim, ODESZA, A$AP Ferg, and more

photo by Dave Lichterman

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!

photo by Dave Lichterman

Seattle dream pop duo Lemolo got things kicked off on the Vera Stage on Friday in dazzling fashion. The two have dialed into a really powerful live presentation, with shimmering, reverberated guitars and pounding, forward-motion drums. A long time favorite on the underground Seattle scene, Lemolo started the weekend as the first of many reputable local acts to show off their best colors here at Capitol Hill Block Party.
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All Tomorrow’s Parties Iceland 2014: Icelandic Adventures


Press Bus Tour

all photos by Victoria Holt

This past weekend I had the pleasure of journeying to Iceland to cover the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival. Check out my coverage of the festival here. Whenever we had free time, we made it a priority to get out and see some local sights. Here are a few of the random and beautiful things Iceland had to offer.

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Pemberton Music Festival: Sunday - Outkast, Frank Ocean, Modest Mouse, St. Vincent, and more

all photos by Dave Lichterman

Up above Whistler in British Columbia, Pemberton Music Festival returns this year for the first time since 2008. It’s ambitious tag line, “The Coachella of Canada”, isn’t too bold at all. In a triumphant return, the festival features one of the best overall music and comedy lineups of the year, and we are proud to provide coverage through photos and summaries all weekend.

California indie pop group Foxygen are one of those bands that you kind of have to see to believe. On the record, the group has a starkly unique pop sound, mixing 60s and 70s psychedelic pop and disco texture with an Iggy Pop sensibility. But live, the pieces all come together to form a clearer whole. At the keys, Jonathan Rado in his fur coat looks like Bob Dylan gone off his rocker, while polished guitar, bass, and drums decorate the background as if pulled from a for-television 70s performance, with backing singers and dancers off to stage left. But in front, Sam France is a man possessed. Part Iggy Pop, part Johnny Rotten, part pale flamboyant angel from another world, he is a sharp contrast to everything else on stage. Crossing the stage erratically, almost throwing himself off stage numerous times, strangling himself with the microphone cord and stand, and jumping off of everything in sight, there’s zero continuity. His interim banter is so ADD it’s almost impossible to respond to. For “Teenage Alien Blues”, he’s Saturday Night Fever on top of the drum set before jumping off and pretending to have a back failure hitting the ground. The live rendering of Foxygen gives flesh and blood to their music’s undertones. A classic, glistening era disrupted by the immediacy and moment-to-moment disarray of punk music - there’s perhaps no better way to capture the essence of life. Foxygen burned through a short but impactful set kicking Sunday off to an excellent start.
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