This marks my first year attending the Capitol Hill Block Party and upon arrival I was impressed by two things: 1) The number of vendors that were crammed into such a small area and 2) that I was able to find a parking space on 12th and Pine, right next to the outer perimeter of CHBP.
Here is what I heard and saw taken directly from the pages of my notebook:
4:20 The first band I caught was Black Whales over at King Cobra, which was a 21+ stage. The local band had a pretty generic indie rock sound, but that’s not to say they sounded bad. In fact, the sound at King Cobra was pretty good, rivaling that of Neumos, another 21+ club stage for CHBP, across the street. I arrived late and was only able to catch one of Black Whales’ songs, so I will pass on further criticism. But if I had to label the band’s sound I would stick with the generic indie garage rock tag.
4:35 Common Market’s Ra Scion, one of the slickest MCs spitting rhymes in Seattle, took the main stage rapping over Lil Wayne’s “A Milli.” The bass was booming from the main stage’s sound system, which made it difficult to make out what the socially conscious rapper was saying, but from where I was standing it sounded like a freestyle
At times Ra Scion’s words were swallowed up by the massive sound system, but that didn’t seem to bother the crowd, which continued to grow throughout the main stage as Common Market’s set. Block Partiers were eating up the fresh, intellectual offerings of Ra Scion and showing their appreciation with hands waving, heads bobbing and bodies moving everywhere. The group delivered tracks for its self-titled debut as well as the recently released EP “Black Patch War” and the title track to their sophomore record “Tobacco Road.”
5:00 The Pharmacy is the first band of the day that impresses me. Simply put, The Pharmacy is a straight shot of rock ‘n’ roll with no chaser. The group’s straight-ahead approach of loud guitars, driving rhythms and catchy melodies is undeniably awesome. If you combine early The Who with The Strokes you’re pretty close to this stellar Seattle band’s style.
5:30 Aside from taking their name from a Shins song, I know nothing about Head Like A Kite, but my buddy is really, really into their new record so we dropped into Neumos to check them out. The first thing we notice is some goofy looking guy on stage dancing while singing backup vocals. He was definitely taking away from the band’s ethereal sonic textures and melodies.
After one song the dancing dude (who kind of looked like an awkward cross between Chester Bennington and Quentin Tarantino) left the stage and now it is just the drummer and guitar player making noises with an assist from an electronic loop-making device. From where I was standing I thin I saw a keyboard on stage too.
The singer picked up a telephone receiver and sang into it for a song. The created an echoey, electronic vocal effect that fit naturally over the droning electronic loop. Unfortunately the loud, repetitive electronic noises got old fast and I found myself wanting to head out of the dark confines of Neumos and into the sunny outdoors. We stayed for the rest of HLAK’s set and my friend informs me he was disappointed because they didn’t play anything off their new album that he recognized.