As some of you may know, we were lucky enough to represent the #music community at this year's Capitol Hill Block Party. The annual music festival takes over a couple square blocks of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood and fills the streets with music and beer for everyone! What follows are some thoughts from our experience at some of the shows we were able to get to.
We started off the day attending a panel that featured some folks from the industry including record label heads, venue directors, business managers, publication editors, business managers and artists themselves.
During the first session on integrated marketing, there were a couple interesting points touched on. One random fact was that there's a five month backup on vinyl production. I knew vinyls are getting more popular, but jeez, a production backup? Another interesting thought from this panel revolved around the playlist vs. album battle. They said that since the introduction of streaming services (and their popularity over downloading mp3s), listening to entire albums over playlists might be something to take notice of. Essentially, when downloading mp3s was a thing, it was super practical to download single songs without the entire album, thus making playlists the obvious follow-on. But with streaming services, when you listen to a song, you're usually presented the whole album with the artwork and it no longer makes complete sense to ditch albums. Taking this into consideration, we may see artists recording albums as one complete piece like it was in the good 'ol days.
During a following panel on the future of Seattle music, the speakers pondered the apparent disconnect between the bustling Seattle Tech scene and the creatives involved in music. They thought one thing that could help would be integrating a SXSW type tech-week ahead of the festival - I'd definitely be all for that.
Now on to the music.
Following the panel, we headed out to catch the Seattle group, Flavr Blue. It wasn't the first time I had heard of the group, but never had I given them a listen...so I thought. I recognized their song, Magnetize immediately and realized I actually liked it. With the first main stage act of the weekend, the crowds hadn't yet packed in, but I thought they did a pretty good job ignoring that fact and played their hearts out.
Following that performance, hip-hop duo, Shabazz Palaces took the stage. There seems to be some hype around the guys and sentiments from the crowd were mixed, but they integrated some live instruments (including bongos!) which I thought was pretty cool. After talking to some folks standing near us, some thought the group simply tried too hard to be different for the sole sake of being different.
Jamie XX's set was later that day, but with all the hype, it didn't seem like that great of a performance. The setting and venue could have a lot to do with that and I'm sure some people danced their asses off (the song selection was not bad at all), but for the time and place, he definitely didn't rock the house.
Hands down, the group I was most excited to see didn't disappoint one bit. We caught BADBADNOTGOOD on the smaller stage and thoroughly enjoyed watching them do their thing from close up. Everyone in the crowd I was awed at the playing ability of the trio (+ a saxophonist for a couple songs) and left with their expectations raised.
Following their performance, we headed over to check out the headliner for Friday night, TV on the Radio. The rock group has been around for quite some time and attracted a pretty energetic crowd until the rain came shortly after they performed one of their most famous songs, Wolf Like Me. Thumbs up for TV on the Radio. Thumbs down for Seattle rain.
After the outdoor shows are all set and done for the day, the clubs and venues keep the party going indoors. Escaping the rain, we stumbled upon an eclectic group of rockers who call themselves Thunderpussy. We had just as much fun saying the name all weekend as we did at the show, but from someone without too much rock'n'roll expertise, I'd say they were pretty good. I'll leave it to the #rock heads to judge.
On Saturday, I was most excited to see Toro y Moi and because I'm a fan, I enjoyed! The performance was nothing out of the ordinary, but they got the crowd moving and it was the highlight of the night. Seemed that the performance spoke to the personalities of the group members: mellow, but focused.
We got to the festival pretty early because some friends had told us we couldn't miss the Brooklyn group, Wet. They sounded good, but were subject to the "early risers" factor that Flavr Blue experienced because they too performed first that day. I think it's difficult to capture the intricacies of their sound with the live performance, but those who arrived early enough to catch the show seemed to enjoy. I'd definitely recommend checking their music out.
The next show we caught were the Flatbush Zombies. I had no clue what to expect, but if there was one thing the performance lacked, it definitely was NOT energy. They made the most of a mid-afternoon performance and had hardcore fans magnetized towards the stage. We weren't close enough to be in the mix of things (which is usually preffered for hip-hop shows), but those brave enough to elbow their way to the front most likely had a blast.
It could be my personal bias, but the Father John Misty show seemed like nothing special. The streets were packed for the show, but I though the theatrics may have overshadowed the musicianship. He definitely put on a performance and most likely pleased his followers - I just couldn't connect.
Not too much more impressive were the closers of the festival, RATATAT. I'm a fan of their music, but still have yet to give their new album a listen until someone tells me I've absolutely got to hear it. It could have been the long weekend taking a toll on me or the incredibly high bar set by BADBADNOTGOOD, but we let the diehards close out the weekend.
Overall, I'm convinced the performance by BADBADNOTGOOD blew everything else out of the water. I think I missed a lot of talented acts by simply not knowing about them - I'll have to give the lineup a thorough listen before it gets going next time. If any of y'all have seen any of the artists perform before, I'm curious to get your thoughts!