Every time I go to a festival and even consider taking a step toward the hoards of people loitering around that one large platform, the hipster in me that I’ve tried to suffocate all these years manages to catch a breath and scoff, “Really…..the main stage?”
Partly I feel this way because it often draws the crowd that seems to be there for every and any other reason besides the actual music, but it’s more than that. Mostly, I go to shows because I’m drawn to the kind of intimate, unpredictable experiences I’ve had at live performances in small, dark spaces; these are the experiences that have fostered my obsession with rhythm and harmony.
So last weekend, when I found myself clinging to the Capitol Hill Block Party main stage, I had to stop and wonder if I was potentially robbing myself of those new found love chills I get when I hear a new artist or song. I then realized that I was clinging to the main stage because a lot of those artists were OUR artists. Our next door neighbors that we’ve watched grow up over these years were being championed right next to successful, international artists like MØ and CHVRCHES. Local musicians have made significant contributions to the sonic support system that is my iPod, so to see them on the main stage didn’t feel like a shallow experience to please the masses—it felt like validation, support and acknowledgment.
No matter what sort of money mongering beast CHBP may grow into, the concept and hopefully the intent will always be valiant: a concert in our very own backyard, put on by us and for us. I want to take a moment to highlight some of the PNW artists I saw last weekend that shifted the Capitol Hill Block Party conversation away from ticket prices, style (or lack there of) and partying, and back to where it should be, music. Check out Christopher Reick’s photography of the weekend below.
This year I made sure to get to Capitol Hill Block Party when doors opened. It was an overeager move, but I was overeager. I’d been longing to see The Dip perform since I first heard them. That soulful, mellow groove of Tom Eddy’s voice over their infectious rhythm was exactly what I needed to transition my mindset from weekday to weekend. These UW graduates definitely know how to get the party started.
Sango is one of those artists who seems like he is just there to chill and vibe with the rest of us, something that I’ve found true of everyone involved with Soulection. He danced with the crowd and would occasionally grab the mic for some casual Portuguese ad-libs. It was endearing to watch a welcome addition to his already stacked set of dynamic, favela-infused beats.
After Sango, I ventured away from the stage to explore the block. My adventure was cut short when I heard what came from the stage. Portland native Emancipator (aka Doug Appling) stopped me in my tracks. His ethereal, smooth sounds were the perfect backdrop to my brief stint in the beer garden.
I spend much of my time highlighting local electronic and hip-hop acts because it feels like Seattle’s never been able to fully accept them and evolve from its grunge identity. For me, Thunderpussy is one of the few links between the city’s past and present. Their bluesy, soulful rock has a clear Seattle influence but incorporates a passion that is vital to the life of the local music scene.
Dave B’s show on Sunday was the highlight of my weekend. Two days after the release of his new, Sango produced album, Tomorrow, the artist graced the main stage as a last minute replacement. This was a welcome substitution, as the Seattle native is hip-hop gold: He raps, sings, writes and produces. Dave B speaks with a purpose, which was particularly clear when he had the crowd echo him in a “Fuck Donald Trump” chant, encouraging the audience to use their voice. He is unapologetic in the use of his platform, a refreshing display of effort and responsibility from someone from my generation.