(Watching) Mahjongg at Capitol Hill Block Party in Seattle, WA (07/23/10)
Words and Photos: Drake Lelane
Capitol Hill Block Party: Day One (July 23, 2010)
I have a serious love/hate relationship with the Capitol Hill Block Party. In concept, it’s the ideal music festival, with a focus on local acts mixed in with big name indie rock and hip hop bands all in the comfort of a fun neighborhood to visit. When applied, however, it always ends up being a bit of a pain thanks to the most inaccessible main stage of any festival I’ve ever attended. I got a late star thanks to the day job, and so by the time I got there, it was already near impenetrable.
The one photo I took shows the closest I got to the main stage all night. Apparently, the fire marshall mandated that the volume come down, so from an approachable distance it was awfully quiet. Sticking mostly to tracks from their latest, Odd Blood, the five-piece from Brooklyn sounded like their recording (if, from where I was, one blasting from a house down the block).
I’d recommend this Chicago band should tour with Yeasayer, but they’d likely steal the show from their more popular headliner. Culling from the same influences, Mahjongg take the tribal electronica genre to a sweaty, sweaty level, and had the modest attendance in their trance from the opening sample. As one oddly loud photographer yelled after one song, “is it possible to kick more ass?”
Head Like a Kite
A hot sweaty beer break that brought dancing, slide projector fun and no photography whatsoever. HLAK bring infectious fun, but it was just too hot, dark and crowded to stay. The camera needed to be freed.
I’d heard mixed things about their Sasquatch performance, but knowing that they were on the tiny Yeti stage, I can see why. The Vera Stage provided the perfect amount of space to pogo, dance and interact with the audience making this the performance of the night for me. Took more photos of this set than I ever have and ended up deleting most of them thanks to both the Vera Stage lighting black holes and lead singer Johnny Whitney‘s pinball performance. Exhilarating to watch, but difficult to pin down on camera.
Most took off to see the over-hyped MGMT set, so this felt as intimate as a side headline act could be on an outdoor stage. Said singer/songwriter Eric Johnson, “Thanks for sticking with us, I know it’s a conflict for some. When I saw the schedule, there was two bands I wanted to see, MGMT and me, and you see where I ended up.” Fruit Bats provided a preview for some of us who will be heading to Doe Bay Festival next month, and even debuted a never before heard track off an upcoming album to be recorded later. Busy side man Ron Lewis (The Shins, Grand Archives, Vetiver, Ghost Stories, Treasure State, et al) was in tow on keyboards providing sweet background vocals.
The congestion ratcheted up even more for MGMT and with a barely audible volume at the closest distance I could get, I could tell it was time to quit while I was ahead. Heard later from folks near the front that I didn’t miss much, but I knew that from their somewhat listless Sasquatch gig.
More photos from Day 1 (Friday, July 23) of the 2010 Capital Hill Block Party after the jump.