Here we go; last day of Capitol Hill Block Party. Let’s finish strong.
The afternoon began with another spine-tingling performance from Midwestern singer-songwriter, Angel Olsen. Her set was backed by the same band we saw back in February, but the overall show was more conducive to their early afternoon daylight setting. Rather than opting for an ominous, shadowy setlist, their stage-time was devoted to friendlier introductions to Olsen’s fork-tongued wit and solitary clamor. They managed to set the bar high for the rest of the day without mustering up a sweat. I may, however, be somewhat biased by her amazing sophomore album, Burn Your Fire For No Witness. The keystone of the album, a seven minute opus entitled “White Fire,” was absent from their set, most likely to keep from bringing down the audience’s energy for the rest of the day. When a concertgoer shouted their request for the song, Olsen coolly responded “How about I imagine playing that song while playing another song instead? It’ll be really cool and trippy for me. I’ll look at you during it.” Since their last show, the band seemed more comfortable, at ease drawing in Block Partiers for their final day of the festival.
Following Olsen, Marcel Everett’s xxyyxx project was totally magnetic. The wunderkind’s ability to warp single lines of 90s R&B classics was nothing short of wizardry. During his main stage performance, I saw him flip Mary J. Blige in a way that completely blindsided his audience without having them forfeit their ability to turn up. Each song felt like a new riddle, offering just vocal cues and lyrics as context, before he slowly unraveling the song, which caused a weird level of relief and thus, more turning up. My personal favorite part is when he straight up played T-Pain’s “Chopped N Screwed”, maybe the most slept-on track with the highest amount of replay value. Also, there’s nothing more endearing than an artist who takes painstaking liberties to mask his samples suddenly bombarding the venue with a straight-up minor classic. Keep an eye out for Everett, he’s clearly a smart dude.
I caught RAC from afar but recognized their aesthetic from numerous remixes from the past few years. While entertaining, they seemed like a lesser continuation of xxyyxx, making for a great beer-guzzling and pizza-snacking soundtrack, but offered little else.
Following RAC was Philadelphia’s indie rock kingpins, The War On Drugs, touring behind their Americana-inspired third album, Lost in the Dream. The band played right as the sun started to set behind the stage, which made for a warmly transformative experience to supplement the lackadaisical instrumentation they offered. The crowd seemed extremely dense for such an easy-going set so I found a way out to take a break from everything.
Electronica artist Slow Magic was a sight to behold. He wore a mask that made him seem more or less like a creature, drumming along to highly danceable blips and forming hand-hearts to the audience between songs. While his “shtick” seems aligned with fellow producers like SBTRKT or even, to a lesser extent, Zombie, Slow Magic is very obviously in his own lane, creating and performing music unlike anyone else his genre.
ASAP Rocky meant a lot to me as the closer for this year’s festival. Sure, I love the sheer charisma and braggadocio, but seeing a rap artist shutdown the weekend felt like a step in a new direction for local music events. He brought out ASAP Ferg, second in command of the ASAP Mob, and their live chemistry was obvious and light-hearted. They waxed poetic about weed and women, punctuated by ear-shattering gunshot sound effects, while rattling through hits like “Fuckin’ Problems” and “Goldie”. It’s hard to tell whether he was so well-received because he’s trendy or because he’s easy to love, but regardless he caused people to faint from excitement and others to dance in the far-back section of the beer garden. No matter where you were, as long as you found yourself within earshot of Rocky, you were his.
Finally, I caught the end of Dum Dum Girls at the Vera Project stage, and have since come to the conclusion they are sentient pin-up images come to life who learned to play spooky surf-rock. Their set was backing Too True, their most promising release yet, and they sounded unbelievable.
With another Capitol Hill Block Party in the books, I want to express total gratitude to the festival planners for not only putting together a great weekend, but booking a true variety of artists, representing many genres. I felt this year was a fair assessment of Seattle’s musical tastes and, based on how packed the grounds were the past 72 hours, our city responded accordingly. See you guys next year.
For lots more pictures from Capitol Hill Block Party 2014, check our Flickr page.