Capitol Hill Block Party
Friday, July 22, 2011
Friday afternoon, the 22nd of July, 2011, was a wonderful 72 degrees with a heat index of 77 under clear Seattle skies, 29 percent relative humidity, light winds from the Northwest at 5 miles per hour, a steady barometer of 29.92, and a UV rating of nine.
Combined, these were the perfect conditions for the Capitol Hill Block Party to destroy my iphone. We’ll get back to that.
I left work at 3:30 p.m. with hopes of making it from South Lake Union to t Capitol Hill by 4 p.m. for Fresh Espresso. I made it in time to catch their last few songs while I procured my press pass, and, I need to give the organizers of the Block Party their due. Not only was getting credentials and through security an absolute breeze, everyone was extremely helpful and friendly.
I proceeded directly to Big Mario’s for a pre-game meal consisting of two slices of pepperoni and a tall can of Rainier.
I’ve been to the Capitol Hill Block Party, in some shape or form, for
the last five years. It’s usually hot and crowded, but chock full of
great bands playing all over the place. This year, it was
eerily empty on Friday afternoon, meaning I was able to navigate the multiple stages and
venues with ease.
I caught most of Kurt Vile’s surprisingly mellow set while meeting up
with friends. We made our way to the front of the main stage for
Thurston Moore without so much as a push or jostle.
Thurston played a mellow set too, but I expected that from what
I’ve heard of his latest solo release, Demolished Thoughts. The Sonic
Youth frontman brought a second guitarist, drummer, violinist, and
harpist along. They played a great, very intimate set that culminated
with some classic feedback, much to the delight of the now-thickening
By this time it was just after 7 p.m. and the after work attendees gave the
event a more familiar, crowded feel, but I was still able to grab a
quick beer at the Comet Tavern and cross the street with plenty of time
to catch the last few songs from Woods, a band I will seek out again.
They have a jam vibe, but aren’t obnoxious. In fact they are infectious
and very cool live.
I used Cults’ sound check to nail down my spot in front of Neumos’ stage.
This Manhattan band has been enjoying strong radio support for the first
two singles off their self-titled debut album, “Abducted” and “Go
Outside,” and the early crowd at Nuemos was evidence of their swift
They opened with “Abducted”, which resulted in a hair
swinging sing-along from the huge crowd. They have a great sound and all
their tunes are ridiculously catchy.
Then my Block Party experience took a change for the worse. I had been
Tweeting my adventure all afternoon and noticed an increasing lag in my
phone’s performance. By the end of Cults’ set it had completely died,
which coincided with an uppity, faux-hawked photo enthusiast with a messenger bag deciding that I was in in the way of his perfect shot. A steady stream of elbows resulted in me taking the time to
explain that I did not care about his shot and thought he was a total
Cults finished their fantastic, yet brief set, and then I
realized what had happened during the time I watched their
ethereal performance: the crowd had not just swelled, but exploded. It
was like when you find you’ve swum too far out into the ocean, and now
shore is too far, and the theme from Jaws begins to play in your head.
I followed some very determined girls as they blazed a trail out of
Nuemos, only to find that the sea of people was vast and undulating
outside as well. I had a charger and was betting on making it to my
practice space across the street and back to Nuemos in time to fight my
way up front for Fucked Up.
No such luck.
By the time I made it clear of the fenced in area, I found even more
human cattle choking the surrounding streets. The phone was unresponsive
and left for dead, but by the time I made it near Nuemos and could
make out the familiar sounds of Fucked Up’s Damien Abraham screaming, I
knew there was no chance of getting anywhere close, let alone inside.
I ended up milling about aimlessly for a bit, then arrived at the Vera Stage an hour later for Sub-Pop’s
newest artist, THEESatisfaction. Saving my night from an otherwise poor ending, these ladies killed it from the jump, performing one super funky,
can’t-help-but-dance song after another.
When their short, but super
strong set wrapped, I broke free from the crowd and began my walk home,
listening to Fucked Up the whole way, happy after an incredible day of