[Editor’s Note] The Capitol Hill Block Party is back once again. Frequently referred to by some as Straight Pride™, or at least as one of the loudest and most public symptoms/causes of gentrification on the Hill, it’s still a great place to hear some great live music. The organizers of this year’s lineup have also seemed to carved out some more prominent space for performances by queer artists. We’ll be sending Sam to brave the wandering parcels of beer-soaked bros and report back on the experience. In the meantime (or should Sam meet an untimely demise in the sweltering sub-terrestrial reaches of the Cha Cha and not return) here’s Sam’s plan of attack.

Block Party Panel Series: Resistance as Art: Gender, Race, Class and Sexuality as the Artist’s Platform for Change

When: 2:00PM, Friday
Where: Grimm’s

My guess is that if you’re the sort of person who reads Jetspace Magazine, words like “art,” “gender,” “race,” “class,” and “sexuality” bubble up to the top of your brain fairly often. Well, dear reader, a bizarre champion – Capitol Hill Block Party? – has jumped into the ring on your behalf. This event will feature prominent Seattle artists like Tacocat’s Emily Nokes, and Erik Blood’s Irene Barber engaging in a “discussion about artists’ ability to affect change in our current political and social climate,” per the press release. Of course you, dear reader, consume your media critically. “But!” you exclaim, “Isn’t there some level of irony in a festival as thoroughly corporatized as Block Party attempting to facilitate a discussion about issues which are deeply enmeshed with unchecked capitalism?” You are correct. And yet, one can’t help but be intrigued by the promise of hearing some of this town’s keenest minds discuss art and activism. Plus there will probably be free food. So.

Noname

When: 5:15PM, Friday
Where: Main Stage

Noname’s debut album, Telefone, was one of the smartest and loveliest albums of last year, and now’s your chance to see it all live. Hailing from Chicago, Noname initially attracted on a feature on Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap. Her past work as a spoken-word poet informs her music – with its elastic, laid-back flow and sunny, understated instrumentals – but her greatest strength is her ability to distill the everyday remembrances of her life into something both sublimely joyful and deeply sad. It’ll be interesting to see how an artist like Noname translates the intimacy of their music to a venue as large and undiscerning at the Block Party main stage, but if anyone can do it, she can.

The Entire Cha Cha Stage

When: All weekend
Where: Cha Cha…duh

Ah, Cha Cha. That beautiful, swampy, subterranean watering hole. For the past few years the Cha Cha stage has consistently delivered a killer lineup of some of Seattle’s premiere local talent. In the midst of a festival that can at times feel like an endless barrage of corporate sponsorships and rich bros from Bellevue, the Cha Cha stage can feel like an oasis. Nothing but the gnarliest, sweatiest, localest rock and roll music on this stage. Pro tip: It WILL be hot and muggy at points– bring a folding fan.

Cherry Glazerr

When: 8:15PM, Friday
Where: Vera Stage

Admittedly, I’m not as obsessed with Cherry Glazerr and their brand of scuzzy noise-pop as some people I know – but that doesn’t mean you should skip them! Cherry Glazerr make the kind of music you get drunk and paint your nails to. It’s equal parts glam-rock and blues – wistful and noisy and delightfully rambunctious. I’ve yet to see them live, but my guess is that their music will translate even better to a live performance than recording. If that’s the case, it’ll be one hell of a show.

Austra

When: 10:15PM, Friday
Where: Vera Stage

Presumably, you’ve read my review of Austra’s latest album, Future Politics, and if not, pause what you’re doing and do that right now. Ok cool. You’re back? Well now you know all there is to know about Austra and Future Politics and how great I think they both are. Austra’s frontperson and creator, Katie Stelmanis, is the kind of artist who only ever takes on interesting projects, and the band’s latest work is their most vital yet. Additionally, this set will be during Run The Jewels on the main stage, and while I love those dudes, the main stage at night is a nightmare. Better to stick to the Vera Stage once the sun goes down.

Lizzo

When: 7:30PM, Saturday
Where: Main Stage

Earlier this week I was feeling burned out, stressed about work and life and making dinner and the fact that I’m three episodes behind on the Bachelorette and when was I going to have time to catch up??? Suddenly, like a call from on high, I remembered that I would be seeing Lizzo within the week and instantly my soul was bathed in sweet, blissful radiance. That’s what Lizzo’s all about. Her music makes you feel good. It makes you want to shake your ass and tell off your boss and wink at a boy in a bar. Who even winks anymore?? You will, once you experience Lizzo.

Diet Cig

When: 5:00PM, Sunday
Where: Vera Stage

Diet Cig is the plucky, punky duo of Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman who recently released their long-awaited debut album, Swear I’m Good at This. That album’s hook-y, yearning songs have soundtracked a great deal of my summer, and should translate well to the sun-and-booze-drunk vibe of Sunday at Block Party.

Mykki Blanco

When: 7:30PM, Sunday
Where: Vera Stage

To be honest, I’ve written a lot about Mykki Blanco at this point, and I don’t want to rehash what I’ve already said in my write-up of their show at Neumos, or my review of their self-titled debut album. So I will simply say that Mykki Blanco is one of the most vital queer artists working today and any chance to see their bizarre, terrifying, moving performances should be taken.

Perfume Genius

When: 9:00PM, Sunday
Where: Vera Stage

And once you’ve seen Mykki, stay put at the Vera Stage to see one of the other queer artists that are truly killing it right now, Perfume Genius. The nom de musique of Seattle native Mike Hadreas, Perfume Genius crafts strange, delicate compositions that explore the beauty and trauma of queer existence. His latest album, No Shape, is his most ambitious and best work to date and his live performances are deeply moving. Very rarely does one encounter a performer so aggressively committed to their own vulnerability, and so rarely do we see presentations of queer people who so completely capture the mixture of fragility and strength that so many of us are forced to navigate every day.

 

Comments