The Capitol Hill Block Party opened Friday to a large crowd in what has become one of the biggest music events in the Northwest. This year the festival is expected to attract more than 30,000 attendees to Pike Street throughout the weekend. It’s the 17th year for the popular urban event, and a forecast of sunny weather made it crowded. On Friday the festival was sold out by six, though single-day tickets remain for Saturday and Sunday.
More than a hundred bands will play on five stages over three days on Pike Street, and in nearby venues. The biggest crowds are expected on Sunday, when The Flaming Lips headline.
On Friday night, local band Telekinesis played on the main stage to a crowd of several thousand. The band is the creation of singer Michael Lerner, whose well-crafted alternative rock songs were a perfect counterpoint to the hip-hop and dance music that are the Block Party’s bread and butter.
Lerner plays a number of instruments, including drums. He told corny jokes, and was at ease onstage, but his songs often told more serious stories of lost love, or introspection.
Telekinesis is a prime example of the Block Party’s programming, which is always left-of-center and highlights upcoming acts. Over 17 years, festival bookers have shown a remarkable ability to spotlight future stars. Telekinesis fits that bill.
Also playing Friday was local hip-hop band Fly Moon Royalty, which filled Neumo’s even though it was extraordinarily hot inside. The band’s creative mix of dance and soul made the audience move, if only to stay cool.
Large fans were brought in, in an unsuccessful attempt to cool down Neumo’s. A better bet was Barboza, the one air-conditioned stage at the Block Party.
Only a few dozen people were in that basement club, though it was the coolest spot on Capitol Hill. The lineup included Steve Gunn, a New York-based singer songwriter.
Gunn’s music was old-style earnest, with moody, emotive lyrics that were very much in the same vein as Kurt Vile, who Gunn plays guitar for when he’s not solo. His songs were in marked contrast to many of the Block Party offerings, where movement, rhythm and bass are often the reason a young crowd arrives in such numbers.
But then again, it’s called the Block “Party” for a reason. On Friday, that party was in session, and wasn’t scheduled to stop until the wee hours.
Charles R. Cross: email@example.com