Capitol Hill Block Party
07.19.19 – 07.21.19
Capitol Hill Block Party is easily one of the most fun and unique things that Seattle does every year. Just like a normal block party, the streets get temporarily shut down for a few blocks, and lots of people from the community come out to celebrate and have a good time. However, unlike a typical block party, CHBP lasts for three days, brings out some of the best music artists around, and hosts over 20,000 PNW fans for a crazy weekend.
Day one kicked off with one of the biggest bangs of the weekend: JPEGMAFIA. After forgetting his laptop and resorting to DJing his own set off his iPhone, JPEG’s set didn’t lack any energy. He jumped around the stage, screaming into his mic for a performance that was experimental, shocking, and overall incredible.
After Ekali gave the main stage crowd some nice house music beats and Evan Giia rocked the Vera stage, it was time for Mitski to take over. Another very experimental set, Mitski had her stage set up with a plain white table in the middle, and each move was perfectly choreographed for a set that put you in some sort of trance. Her music was slower, with an eerily deep presence that made her impossible to look away from. She creeped across the stage, staring into the soul of each of her audience members, leaving an impression on everyone that walked by.
Next up, we had another EDM break with Robotaki on Vera Stage, and CHBP native Big Wild on Main Stage. I saw Big Wild for the first time almost by accident at Block Party in 2017, and he blew me away. He’s somehow found the perfect formula for catchy electro-pop songs that carry you along effortlessly.
Peach Pit then hopped on Vera Stage to show off the alternative side of the lineup for the weekend. These guys were just so laid back it was impossible not to have a good time. They’ve got great music, but they were also just hilarious between songs, telling stories as they moved through the set, and dancing along with the crowd.
Finally, Phantogram topped off day one with a beautiful performance. The pair are no stranger to live performances. Their #1 track remains one from the 2009 debut album, but they’ve been stacking on killer albums ever since them, They’ve had time to cultivate and perfect their set, and it was absolutely evident. The dynamic between the duo seemed easy and relaxed, yet passionate through the whole performance.
Day two was a whole new level of crazy. The only day 100% sold out, Saturday of Block Party was crazier than I’ve ever seen it get. The streets seemed to be packed with people way early in the day, main stage had a solid crowd of fans that were absolutely not going to move until the end of the night, and the heat outside seemed to be kicking up.
Saba got things rolling on main stage with some good Chicago rap and a dedicated following rapping along. Next up, Chelsea Cutler brought her emotional pop tracks out and also had a shockingly strong fan base in the crowd hyping her up the whole time. Snakehips offered the perfect mindless escape the crowd needed next, putting everyone at ease with some exciting EDM party tracks.
By the time Lizzo came on main stage, the crowd was at peak crazy. Months ago when CHBP announced her as a headliner, it seemed the public was very underwhelmed. Lizzo? Who? And then “Truth Hurts” blew up and everything changed completely. Suddenly she’s one of the biggest breakout artists of the year, and no one can get enough of her. Same goes for the Block party crowd. Sandwiched in tighter than anyone thought possible, everyone screamed their hearts out to every song.
Lizzo has the biggest stage presence I’ve probably ever seen. This girl owns everything she does with 100% of her being and does not care at all what anyone else thinks. She’s got big outfits, roller-skating backup dancers, and cool sunglasses—what more could she need?
After Seattle artists Umi opened up main stage on day three, Jack Harlow took over for some easy-going hip hop. Since seeing him at Block Party, I’ve had his Spotify on repeat. All his tracks are pretty laid-back, but he also comes through strong enough that he doesn’t sound as drugged out as most rappers these days. They lyrics aren’t crazy poetic and deep, but his Block Party set was perfect to sing along to on a Sunday afternoon.
STRFKR, another CHPBP veteran was next up. Their indie pop is fun to bounce along to, but they’re almost more entertaining just visually. Each band member, and each of the many ensemble members, was dressed in different crazy outfits. We had crowd-surfing wizards, dancing astronauts, and dinosaurs all on stage creating a wonderfully shocking set.
Finally, Aminé from Portland. Aminé is no stranger to Seattle as he’s been playing here for years, and every single time he comes through he gets better than the previous time. And Block Party was no exception. Perfectly narrated by the sassy voice of Rickey Thompson, Aminé’s set was hilarious and also a rager. His songs have funny lyrics, but also beats that get everyone jumping until they’re out of breath and their faces hurts from smiling.
Finally, RL Grime capped off Block Party with a rave. Face masks came on and the glitter body paint was applied in preparation for the EDM closing of the weekend—truly a night to remember.
Year after year, Capitol Hill Block Party seems to be the festival that gets slept on until everyone realizes they should’ve bought tickets. This year featured some of the greatest breakthrough artists of this year, supported by old favorites, and hosting a crowd of Seattle’s music lovers to celebrate our favorite neighborhood.
Review and photos by Lulu Dawson
Capitol Hill Block Party