Hey party people! Wowza. This blog has not been at the forefront of my attention and I want to change that. This past weekend, I saw a collection of really great shows at Capitol Hill Block Party in Seattle. This three day festival took place in one of the city’s hippest neighborhoods, where everyone, even the high school kids, were much cooler than me. I attended on Sunday, the final day. Ratatat, TV on the Radio and the Kills were among the festival headliners, but the lineup overall was an impressive mix of indie regulars, smaller bands from the Northwest and new artists.
The first group I saw, Diiv, was like the Seattle weather that day: gray and moody. Washed out effects they used combined with echo-y vocals added to their dark, mystical vibe. While the bass was the most significant foundation, the vocals acted more as a supplement than a focus. By the time the set was wrapping up, I must admit that because many of their songs lacked direction, I was growing a little bored. However, the last song they played, “Doused,” made up for this shortcoming and received many head nods of approval. Perhaps the most valuable takeaway I had was learning the correct pronunciation of “Diiv,” which turns out to be exactly how it’s spelled, while I was walking around like a douche for months saying it like, “dee-two-vee.”
One of the gifts of a festival is having the chance to discover new artists by stumbling upon their shows. This was my experience with Lower Dens, an edgy band originating from Baltimore. Jana Hunter, the lead singer, was truly the focus for me. Hunter’s flowing, deep voice was reminiscent of 1970s and 80s rock ‘n’ roll female powerhouses. This was the point in the afternoon when the downpour began, and makeshift shelters made of trash bags and tarp were all they had to protect all the equipment, but Lower Dens didn’t miss a beat.
The highlight of Capitol Hill Block Party was the smooth, expressive Father John Misty. J. Tillman has quite the resume, including membership in Fleet Foxes and Saxon Shore, but his solo work shines the most. The return of the sunshine that evening gave him the excuse to sport old-school round sunglasses, but I’m sure he would have worn them regardless of the weather. Tillman was full of charisma, jokes, and poignant honesty.
Capitol Hill Block Party overall was relatively inexpensive and a manageable size, making me definitely want to return for the full three days next time. Even though my experience was only a small piece of the bigger picture, it was enough of a peek to make me excited for July of 2016.