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Capitol Hill Block Party 2023: Friday Recap

Posted by August 6th, 2023 No Comments »

Capitol Hill Block Party
July 21-23, 2023
Friday Recap 
By Frida Ray Bones; Photos by Alton Fleek and Frida Ray Bones

Friday at Capitol Hill Block Party (CHBP) had me arriving pretty late, being that it was a workday with the standard Seattle traffic chaos. Plus, I had two gorgeous partners to dress up along with myself, a cooler to fill, and a tour van to pack that hasn’t seen a proper tour since the pandemic. Why not make it a rolling hotel for three of us to park near the gates of the festival for weed and snack breaks, the occasional nap or some stealth street sleepin’ at night instead of driving home? Amirite?

So, there you have it. That’s why I toddled into CHBP with only 7 minutes to spare before Empress Of hopped on stage and shouted feminist love songs at my face. (She really did, y’all. Right. At. My. Face. It was glorious.) If you haven’t seen Lorely Rodriguez, a.k.a. Empress Of, you are in for the power and beauty that this Honduran American L.A. musician, singer and songwriter has no problem delivering. In my case, she went as far as locking eyes with me in a way that sent happy shivers down my spine while she told the crowd all about her heart. It was the perfect start to the party, and my partners and I were dressed for it: for the femmes, matching sexy black tank shirts, black cut off daisy-duke shorts, glitter, bug-eye sunglasses, matching leopard print boots and for our dude, black converse, floral white button down with a black band t-shirt underneath. We all helped each other with our hair and glitter and vibe –we looked like a pack of sexy vampires as we sauntered in step into the crowd. We only parted ways temporarily while he ran to the pit for photos, and I began taking video. (You’re welcome, CHBP. Our little troupe of vampires signaled GAME ON from the start and the Empress noticed.)

Channel Tres has been in heavy rotation amongst the three of us in playlist form for a solid 6 months. We have a group habit of sending each other music as love language: we are forever making playlists, adding to them, recommending songs for playlists made, or sending individual songs to one another to say “hi, how’s your day,” “I miss you terribly,” or “this reminds me of that day last April.” Channel Tres finds his way into many of these exchanges so needless to say, the three of us were beyond excited to experience his magic live show. Little did we know that in all resulting conversations about CHBP that weekend, we would each keep his performance as a key highlight. Honestly, the second he walked out onto the Main Stage, we were enthralled and transfixed, hips and feet moving, smiles tipped toward the sky, with a cool wind pushing its way through our already tousled manes while dancers gyrated with big smiles and Channel Tres said hello, first in song and then from his mic as the beats continued and we all bounced joyfully as he treated us to our beloved “Topdown.” We were too mindful of this moment to future trip on this performance: perfection.

I grabbed my pack of dream-beauties and rushed to the Vermillion Stage to catch ATHR (pronounced at-ther), whose bio reads “ATHR is a social activism experimental music project. They make genre bending audio and NFT visuals to empower marginalized communities.” That tickled my neurons, and the prospect of a whiskey at Capitol Hill’s finest living room-gallery-venue and a more intimate show was what I needed just two sets into the party. Seeing my favorite Hill Maven Diana Adams, owner of Vermillion and an extraordinary human was a double plus; having her sing the praises of ATHR got me extra excited. Absorbing the enthusiasm of a venue owner over an act they booked is a great feeling. The three of us grabbed our drinks and settled in for some incredible music infused with hip-hop-industrial vibes and deep, rumbling bass that pulsed through us while an absolute goddess informed us she was here, present, watching us all and taking notes: this is a great local act to follow. Then poof, we had to run to the Wildrose to catch L80, Seattle’s preeminent avante-garde-theatrical-darkwave duo that thrills me to no end.

Want chaps and hot buns wigglin’ while a slim cowboy in slinky garb bounces and vogues at you? How about sexy costumes, choreographed dance moves and twin falsetto’s that come smashing through the speakers with 80’s inspired, Eurasure-esqe synth waves dancing around? L80 is your band, babe. L80 is your show.  

I looked at the schedule and realized my beloved Diogenes was living in town again after a long stint in South America AND they were playing a dreamy set at Vermillion? Yes! I blew kisses to the sex-pots of L80 and hustled back to Vermillion where I found the dulcet sounds of mix-master and producer-god incarnate that is Dax Edward, a.k.a. Diogenes streaming through the long hallway of the venue. That was also when I heard Seattle’s own celestial being and Emcee Julie-C bringing her lusciously sophisticated vocals and power-truth to his tunes while folks streamed in steadily to the cozy bar stage. Diogenes and Julie-C set to cooling us all off with their jazz-hop-downtempo groove. I am very happy the Wildrose Stage and Vermillion Stages were just across the street from one another so I could catch both acts. It felt like a little secret to wander into both venues to enjoy excellent local talent while the Main Stage thumped on in the distance.  

Next up was Goth Babe on the Main Stage with their floating, shimmery dream-pop. This is excellent music for warm summer winds and the smell of spilled cocktails on hot pavement, quite intoxicating for the urban olfactory senses: think sugar and gin blending with petroleum distillates, sweat and the perfume of hundreds of bouncing souls and you’ve got it. I got high on summer sniff and slinked off mid-set to get my ear bones pleasantly jangled by the power-pop of Acid Tongue. 

Remember me giving that gentle reminder to plan accordingly to catch our local on-the-rise act Taylar Elizza Beth since her set overlapped with Sofi Tukker? Well, I did it. I got my infusion of Taylar’s new music AND I got to dance and sing to Sofi Tukker. Thank you to the CHBP folks for booking Taylar on the Neumos stage so I could drift between her soul soothing, life affirming set and Sofi Tukker, especially because I got fully trapped in the crowd for Sofi Tukker: think blood cells in a narrowing artery. I had to close my eyes, breathe and manifest a small halo of space around my body that was quite intense and worth it. I also had my beautiful girlie partner and one of her besties in tow while my dude smashed his way early to the photographer’s pit. The set was nearly over before we could all rendezvous beneath the Paquitos sign to watch the last few songs together as a group. Gentle reminder number two that Sofi Tukker has also graced playlists from the past year and their song “Orignial Sin” bathes my queer-ass heart in everything-is-okay vibes that I often need in this spiraling world of weirdness we all inhabit.

“Original Sin” also became part of the soundtrack to new love late last year and then the soundtrack to burgeoning friendship and love between my partners that made the last show of the first night of CHBP 2023 full of laughter, dancing, more smiles, and hugs before we hopped into the van to share some weed, nosh some gyros, and share our highlights of the day before we drifted off to sleep like a pack of lazy cats on a cozy mattress, in the middle of the city, dreaming of what we’d wear and who we’d see on Saturday.  

Check out our full set of CHBP 2023 photos from Alton, Frida, Alley Rutzel and Luke Kneally in our Flickr album.

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