By Stephanie Dore
Despite the forecast for rain, there was no slowing down on day two of the Capitol Hill Block Party, where the lineup on the main stages leaned heavily toward the hip-hop and electronic genres.
To start it off though, I went straight to the Neumos stage to catch the local vintage soul of Breaks & Swells. In their own words, “We don’t care if there’s 10 of you or 10,000 were gonna fucking rock.” And that they did. The opening time slot is tough, but their charismatically funky, big band sound had a growing crowd grooving right off the bat.
Over on the Vera stage, veteran Seattle rockers Kinski were throwing open the door to day two with their own brand of classic, aggressive guitar rock. Blistering with dissonance and deep bass, their hook-friendly dynamics were on point.
From there, I went into a hip hop dreamland, starting with Seattle act The Physics, first in line on the main stage and always worthy of their billing. Their recent conceptual EP Wish You Were Here was on display, with intelligent and reflective, grown-up hip hop expertise. From local experts to local youth, we caught this year’s EMP Sound Off contest winners One Above Below None bringing their own heat to the crowd. Their talent is obvious, and that they were ever considered underdogs only speaks to what must be a glowing pool of local youth coming into the music game.
Back on the main stage Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s kaleidoscopic psych-pop reached danceable heights, with the Portland band mixing up tingly synths and fuzzy analog textures into home brew brilliance. I dragged myself away from the massive afternoon crowd to make sure I caught some of Dex Amora’s set in Barboza. The effusive, quick-tongued emcee got down to slick beats, oozing sincerity with unstoppable energy. Definitely one to watch.
Still touting the local expertise, Grenades blew up in Cha Cha, while the quintet of Smokey Brights made dynamic meat of the all-ages Vera stage with their moodily lush set. Their sound lights up the dark side of indie-rock, noir-pop, however you want to qualify it, it sounds great. Snuff Redux hit a power-pop note full of buoyant guitars and DIY pleasure.
Going big on the main stage Ivan & Alyosha took their sound from northwest indie to classic rock with guitar-loaded flourishes and swingy pop-laced ballads. They went so far as to claim they “never thought they’d be cool enough to play this festival,” but clearly they haven’t been paying as much attention as the rest of us.
Moving from bands to DJs I swung by Big Wild to find a large crowd dancing to his unconventional beats and then moved back to Barboza to catch the spirited HARPS making anthemic, keyboard-heavy electro pop. This all lead perfectly into the massive dance party that was Giraffage (née Charlie Yin), winner of best video display, where kittens mingled with fried eggs and strawberries behind the one-man act for his deeply elemental, emotionally charged electronic set.
Girlpool on the other hand were innately raw, the misfit duo of Cleo and Harmony performing their shrill, youthful anti-anthems with harmonious insistence. I made sure to double check my social feeds for the tip on Hot Damn (aka My Goodness), whose local screamo blues-rock thrashed the tiny Cha Cha space. These guys are not a show to miss and they’re everywhere this summer, so make sure to check them out.
Going from that basement full of heavy rock and emotional vocals to the dark and smoky Neumos for Zoolab (Seattle producer Terence Ankeny) was a bit of a trip. Security at the venue was at full attention as the beyond capacity crowd danced the evening away to his accessibly introspective tracks. Meanwhile outside at Vera, fellow producer Kodak To Graph – despite some early computer issues – brought a unique display of electronic tools, creating evocative textures with plenty of bounce.
The electro-DJ-binge took a break for the mainstage full band production of Toro Y Moi, where Chaz Bundick crafted the ultimate live performance of his emotive, artsy dance rock. Having never seen him live before, the tracks come alive with infectious groove in this format.
Also alive and kicking were the Atlanta garage rock outfit The Coathangers, who played a high-energy, brashly dissonant set. They were a perfect set up for the night’s main stage headliners The Kills, where Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart did a signature set of their critically-praised punk blues. Setting the stage with her hair-tossing and stomping around, Mosshart led the crowd through the band’s paces with buzzy versions of lo-fi favorites.
Though the Kills were definitely my top must-see of the day, I heard whispers of people skipping their set for synth-obsessed Com Truise, brainchild of producer and designer Seth Haley, so I decided to stop by on my way home to bed. And to be sure, Haley had garnered his own full crowd, everyone dancing to his meticulously hazy tracks. So the day closed out on high notes all around, exhausting the body with every excuse to dance and exposing new talent to explore.
- Third Opinion: AJ on CHBP Day 3
- Second Opinion: Cameron on CHBP Day 3
- Capitol Hill Block Party 2015: Day 3 Recap
- Capitol Hill Block Party 2015: Day 2 Recap
- Second Opinion: Cameron on CHBP Day 1
- Capitol Hill Block Party 2015: Day 1 Recap