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Vampire Weekend, Hold Steady, and More Take Over Seattle

The Pac Northwest music hub's annual Capitol Hill Block Party was a neighborhood-sized success.

A massive crowd of Seattle scenesters clogged the arteries of the main drag of one of the city’s most eclectic neighborhoods to celebrate the Capitol Hill Block Party this past weekend (July 25 – 26).

On day one, Girl Talk dominated the main stage, inviting a slew of dance fanatics on stage. While the long-haired, headbanded DJ mixed everyone’s favorite ’90s anthems, fans were lucky to catch a glimpse of the man himself between the bouncing teens, who resembled an MTV spring break audience. The streets turned into complete gridlock as the crowd continued to expand to catch a few Girl Talk songs, or to observe the dancers, several of which were armed with squirt guns that emulated Seattle rain in the warmth of the summer afternoon.

In an abrupt shift of musical styles, Les Savy Fav took the stage. Lead singer Tim Harrington stripped away his clothing until he was scantily clad in nothing except tighty whities and a slinky, red-flannel bathrobe. During “Patty Lee” and “The Sweat Descends,” Harrington propped a leg up to pretend to tie his shoe and showed off his “assets” to the lucky folks along the front fence of the stage. After wrapping up the set, he grabbed a box on the stage containing his shed clothing and took a bow.

Attendees took a slight detour from their musical focus when Washington State Governor Christine Gregiore made an unexpected visit to not only encourage Seattleites to vote for the democratic presidential nominee next month,but to introduce the headliners of the evening: New York’s Vampire Weekend, who are also a Pacific Northwest favorite. The vast horde of music lovers cheered as Ezra Koenig and crew took to their instruments to open their set with “APunk.” Voices rose and hands clapped along with “Mansard Roof” and “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” as the half-moon rose and the first night of the Block Party came to a successful close.Click here to see photos from Day One of the festival.
Click here to read about Day Two of the festival.

Champagne Champagne’s Pearl Dragon on the mic. / Photo by Alex Crick

Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig could hardly contain his Capitol Hill fervor. / Photo by Alex Crick

Vampire Weekend keymaster Rostam Batmanlij focuses during his headlining band’s set. / Photo by Alex Crick

Koening shouts, lets it all out. / Photo by Alex Crick

Koening takes a breather from all that shouting. / Photo by Alex Crick

Les Savy Fav’s Tim Harrington holds court. / Photo by Alex Crick

Harrington sets asail. / Photo by Alex Crick

Menomena’s Justin Harris wanted to sax Seattle up. / Photo by Alex Crick

Past Lives yelper Jordan Billie belts one out. / Photo by Alex Crick

Billie spazzes out. / Photo by Alex Crick

Thee Emergency writhes around. / Photo by Alex Crick

Thee Emergency guitarist Matt Smith soaks in the crowd appreciation. / Photo by Alex Crick

Smith swaggers whilst delivering the rock. / Photo by Alex Crick

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire (right) and daughter urge the audience to vote Democrat. / Photo by Alex CrickClick here to read about Day One of the festival.
Click here to read about Day Two of the festival.

Day two brought a welcome performance by local choral rock collection, Fleet Foxes. Sporting Josh Tillman as their new drummer, the bearded group beautifully executed songs from the Sun Giant EP and their new self-titled longplayer. The swarming streets paused to enjoy new and old favorites such as “White Winter Hymnal” and “Mykonos.”

The loveable Hold Steady cheerfully captured the audience’s attention. They opened with “Multitude of Casualties” from Separation Sunday, but moved on to play plenty of tracks from their latest release, Stay Positive. Frontman Craig Finn’s merry demeanor inspired the ever-growing audience to dance and sing along.

Things came to a close with a performance from DeVotchKa. Female fans swooned over lead singer Nick Urata’s reverby vocals and romance-novel lyrics, but the entire crowd was intrigued by DeVotchKa’s parade of unique instrumentation (including a sousaphone, accordion, and Theremin). Urata turned his mic to the crowd during the sorrowfully beautiful “How it Ends” to let the them sing the chorus, and sousaphone specialist Jeanie Schroder riled up the audience with hand claps during “Last Push.”

The audience was completely smitten with the performance to the point that rogue fans would hop on stage (to the security team’s dismay) and those who remained on the floor were leaping and clapping between shouts of “hey!” on the upbeats. The mix of Spanish, Eastern European, and indie rock influence was the perfect culmination of one of Seattle’s most colorful music celebrations.Click here to see photos from Day Two of the festival.
Click here to read about Day One of the festival.

Chromeo / Photo by Alex Crick

Fleet Foxes / Photo by Alex Crick

Fleet Foxes / Photo by Alex Crick

The Hold Steady / Photo by Alex Crick

The Hold Steady / Photo by Alex Crick

The Hold Steady / Photo by Alex Crick

The Whore Moans / Photo by Alex Crick