Before this summer I had never attended the Capitol Hill Block Party, but that didn’t stop me from expressing my distaste for the event whenever it was mentioned. For a variety of reasons, both practical and highly and irrationally judgmental, the festival had seemed undesirable and, to quote a Me of Summers’ Past, “like, soooo dumb.” CHBP is notorious for its history of ageism and neighborhood intrusion, but as of last year has made strides towards reconciling some of these issues.
In 2014, the Vera Stage’s lineup was expanded to include larger, visiting artists and remedy the inaccessibility of many artists’ performances to underage festival goers. Although local venues like Cha Cha’s and Neumos still host some 21+ shows and young’uns may have better luck at other Seattle events (I’m looking at you, Bumbershoot…), the changes in booking have allowed for more “national” artists to be seen by the (specifically underage) masses.
For those of us who have inhabited the earth for 21+ years, however, the inclusion of shows in local bars and venues as well as the general zoning of the event to include numerous local establishments is also a little frustrating. Access to most bars and restaurants in the Pike/Pine Corridor is restricted to only festival attendees. This is a total bummer, but the real frustration comes from the realization that as a festival attendee you’re basically paying a large sum of money to frequent the same spots you regularly stumble home from without a cover every weekend. Add in the possibility of the indoor venues filling up and waiting in line for half of the band’s set or not getting in at all and this makes for some pretty lousy enticement for locals to attend.
That being said, after finally gaining some first-hand experience at CHBP, there are several things that I really appreciate about the festival, the foremost being its vast selection of local artists. Every day’s schedule featured a stacked lineup of Seattle favorites including Grave Babies, Chastity Belt, CHARMS, Thunderpussy, Shannon and the Clams, and many more. Although most of these artists play frequently around the city, being featured in a festival lineup alongside big names like TV on the Radio and Built to Spill can be invaluable to their careers. This also offers the frat bros and woo girls who came to get wasted and see Jav Dee the opportunity to hear some other quality artists from the city.
As a former CHBP basher, my overall experience was mostly positive! Would I go again? Yes. Would I recommend going to others? It depends on what you’re looking for in a festival, but also yes. Will I still continue to complain about it despite this eye-opening weekend? Probably.
Shannon Phelps | Unashamed Hypocrite | KXSU Reporter