Capitol Hill Block Party continued on Saturday with another packed day of music from acts like surf darlings Tangerine, power rock babes Thunderpussy, and pop/R&B 7-piece Bardot. Cha Cha continued its impeccable programming of local punk with bands like Mommy Long Legs, Steal Shit Do Drugs, Boyfriends, and Acapulco Lips (seriously—it was hard to decide whether to be out in the sun or down in that basement all day). The day continued with a blaze of guitar from Duke Evers, thoughtful pop from ON AN ON, and soaring ballads from Pure Bathing Culture. To wrap up the night, attendees chose between the sea of crowds dancing to ODESZA, or the nerd-psyche head nodding at Wand.
See photos from day 2 in the gallery and read about the day’s highlights below.
STEAL SHIT DO DRUGS ENLIGHTENING THE NORMALS
As anyone familiar with Seattle knows, the city has been rapidly changing as tech workers move in to work for companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook. Nowhere is this more apparent than Capitol Hill, a neighborhood once known for its openness to artists and gay culture, where rising rents have pushed out those who once found it a safe haven. Those fighting to remain are forced into close contact with this new brand of “tech bro” as they try to navigate their dying haunts. This situation was compounded at Block Party as the high ticket price effectively turned away locals in favor of more affluent attendees.
Frontman Kennedy Carda had a bone to pick during Steal Shit Do Drugs (S.S.D.D.)’s set Saturday night. As he looked around the room, much of the crowd was made up of Bermuda shorts and backwards caps. The band’s shows are always gripping, but the tension in the air was palpable as Carda tried to engage the crowd, screaming into the mic and dousing them with water. Many responded by taking photos or laughing; some bobbed their heads meekly. Acknowledging the bro presence, Carda joked, “Any of you guys got a Solowheel in the house?”
Latest tape release Trash Can Demos sees the band continuing to up the ante on its blend of coked-out arty scuzz punk. Scathing tracks like “Trash Man,” “Michelle,” and I Tickled Whiting Tennis,” filled the Cha Cha with blistering anger and drug-induced delirium. As the sneering guitars swelled dangerously, Carda grew more and more animated, jumping on the spot and headbanging. As the final song reached its climax, the tension boiled over and he threw himself into the front row, wiping out a swath of people. Chaos ensued. Carda could be seen bowed over, singing with his forehead to the floor, resurfacing later with a bloodied lip. Despite their initial restraint, the crowd loved it, jumping and flailing around. Perhaps there’s not such a great bridge to gap after all—raw anger as the unlikely equalizer.
WAND’S SMALL BUT ENTHUSIASTIC CROWD
While everyone was cramming as close to ODESZA as possible, backing up the streets all the way to Big Mario’s, Wand was playing the Vera Stage to a comfortably spaced crowd. There was room to sway, nod your head, and best of all, breathe. The side stage was blissfully serene—save for the shredding going on onstage.
Wand’s debut album was picked up by Ty Segall in 2014 for Drag City’s spinoff label God?, and after a second on In the Red Recordings, the band has just released their third to Drag City proper. That’s right, 1000 Days is their third in two years. The L.A./San Francisco band is a touring and writing machine. Their sludgy, psychedelic garage rock has grown more electronic over time, floating between groups like Tame Impala and older of Montreal recordings. The members perform like they’re receiving transmissions from beyond, snapping back and forth between gesticulations of impassioned playing and thoughtful but expressionless stares. Rather than a sign of boredom, it seems they just have more important matters on their minds.
CAR SEAT HEADREST’S RISE FROM DIY TO MAIN STAGE/MAJOR RECORD LABEL
These days, everything under the sun is called indie, but Car Seat Headrest truly embodies the genre. Frontman and founder Will Toledo has produced almost a dozen albums to date, but the most recent, Teens of Style, is his first on major label Matador. He started out making infectious and emotionally honest demos in his parents’ car (hence the name) in Leesburg, Virginia and moved to Seattle in 2014. In addition to being the first record on a label, Teens is his first recording with a full band, and features rearrangements of older material. If you haven’t seen Toledo and the band yet, this is the perfect time to catch them when they’re still playing older material and when most of the world remains unaware. After witnessing their well-attended afternoon set on the Main Stage, it’s clear that people are catching on.
SOLOS AND SEXUAL TENSION WITH THUNDERPUSSY
Fans of badass lady rockers had a tough call Saturday afternoon, as Mommy Long Legs in the Cha Cha and Thunderpussy on the Main Stage were at the exact same time. Whoever planned that needs to seriously reconsider their priorities. That being said, everyone should see Thunderpussy live at least once, especially now before they skyrocket. The bandmates took to the stage in coordinated costumes, this time a theme of Superwoman skintight gold lame and sequins. Singer Molly Sides strutted the stage in knee high boots, sauntering over to guitarist Whitney Petty to get down with her while she riffed, belting out lyrics like, “I’ve got a fever of a hundred degrees.” Things got downright saucy at times, with both women leaning back and forth over each other on the ground. Bassist Leah Julius and new drummer Ruby Dunphy maintained the power and momentum of the moment. The band has built up a following exclusively through live shows, and is revving up to record its first album in September.