Sponsored by The Stranger, KEXP-FM and others, more than 50 bands will take up five stages along East Pike Street between Broadway and 12th Avenue. Last year's lineup brought the rock world's biggest names - Silversun Pickups, Spoon and Against Me! shared headline honors during the two-day event - and this year's Block Party-goers have an endless weekend of quality music to look forward to.
The festival finds Fleet Foxes (Main Stage, Saturday, 6 p.m.) and Cave Singers (Main Stage, 3:15 p.m.) returning for the second year, with the two local favorites enjoying elevated national success following their debut recordings. The Foxes' self-titled release - the quintet signed with Sub Pop earlier in the year - received superlative reviews from Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Spin Magazine for its docile, harmonic take on classic, earthy folk rock.
Cave Singers precede the Foxes by only a couple of hours on Saturday, scheduled for a mid-afternoon set. Sharing a similar affection for backyard blues and vintage folk music, the Singers have their 2007 release, "Invitation Songs" (Matador), well under their belt and will head out later this summer for a lengthy tour across Europe.
The weekend is full of local and national flavor. Festival organizers, Fuzed Music, assembled a profoundly eclectic cast of musical performers.
Day the first
The weekend begins before 5 p.m. on Friday, with local hip-hop juggernauts Common Market kicking off the festival at 4:30 p.m. on the Main Stage. The pair RA Scion and DJ Sabzi stand as the weekend's lone representation of the budding local scene, with the genre surely taking backseat compared to last year. With Aesop Rock, Blue Scholars, Gabriel Teodros, The Saturday Knights and Dyme Def all on last year's bill, this year's lineup is considerably lighter on hip-hop.
The disco-era throwbacks United State of Electronica (U.S.E.) promise to enliven even the weary, taking the stage at 5:30 p.m. If the combination of tambourines and multicolored spandex isn't your idea of fun, local products Head Like a Kite (Neumos stage, 5 p.m., 21+) might capture your attention. The largely electronic act fuses club-era dance music with hip-hop and gritty guitars.
Friday's toughest dilemma has Partygoers torn between Girl Talk's high-energy, hip-hop hodgepodge (Main Stage, 7:45 p.m.), Seattle transplant PWRFL Power and his irreverent, acoustic musings (Vera Stage, 7:45 p.m.) and L.A.'s next big thing, The Airborne Toxic Event (King Cobra Stage, 7:15 p.m.).
New York City's Vampire Weekend headlines Friday evening, fresh off a highly successful year in 2007 and a resume littered with national praise. Fueled by just one LP the Clash-inspired group formed in 2006 and was named "The Year's Best New Band" by Spin Magazine in March.
They'll take the reins from fellow New Yorkers, Les Savy Fav (Main Stage, 9:15 p.m.) at 10:45 p.m. and put a cap on the festival's opening night.
Day the second
The party resumes at 2 p.m. on Saturday with Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground returning to the festival for the second time (Main Stage, 2 p.m.). With the Main Stage lineup well worth the price of admission, psychedelic-purveyors Voyager One (Cobra Stage, 7:15 p.m.) and Olympia punk-rockers Schoolyard Heroes (Vera Stage, 10:15 p.m.) are extra-special bonuses in the day's stacked lineup.
Chromeo (7:30 p.m.), the Hold Steady (9 p.m.) and DeVotchKa (10:30 p.m.) close the weekend with a hard-to-miss block of music booked for the Main Stage.
The list of Saturday block rockers couldn't be more varied, leading with Montreal-based electro-funkers P-Thugg and Dave 1 (Chromeo). New York's The Hold Steady find themselves atop sales charts at Easy Street (currently sitting at No. 10), with "Stay Positive" (Vagrant Records), while Denver's DeVotchKa is still riding high after taking the cinematic world by storm (the band scored the soundtrack for 2006's "Little Miss Sunshine," and the album received Grammy nominations).
Though this year's Capitol Hill Block Party looks to be a rousing success, local businesses bank on it being a wild two days. With bars and restaurants on East Pike Street transforming into a haven for concertgoers, owners anticipate the two-day festival will result in some of the year's best business.
Shelley Brothers, owner of the Wild Rose, says that although chaos is inevitable, the Block Party is even fun for her and the staff.
"It's going to be a fun, busy weekend," laughed Brothers, whose bar is located just behind one of the festival's two beer gardens. "Sometimes you have to remind people that it's not New Orleans here, and they can't just walk around with their drinks outside [designated areas]."
Like other businesses, Brothers has taken full advantage of the opportunity to be part of CHBP, by having live music spinning all weekend. Just down the street, Bimbos Cantina and the Cha Cha Lounge will play host to 10 different acts over the two-day stretch.
"The block party is a great idea, and a huge success," said one server at Via Tribunali. Unlike some of the other establishments on East Pike Street, the Neapolitan kitchen will not be directly affected by the festival boundaries. "Last year, it was great, because people would just pop in for a pizza and beer and get right back to the festival."
The Capitol Hill Block party takes place on Friday, July 25, and Saturday, July 26. Doors open at 3 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday, with music beginning at 4 p.m. and 2 p.m., respectively. The Seattle Department of Transportation reminds that sections of the streets on Capitol Hill will be closed to cars only on Friday and Saturday.
Advance tickets are still on sale for $18/day and $34 for a two-day pass. Tickets are available online at www.ticketswest.com, in all Rudy's Barbershop locations and at select QFCs. For more information visit www.thestranger.com/blockparty.