Oh my god I'm so tired. The third and final day of Capitol Hill Block Party is already well underway, but I cannot imagine enduring another day of pounding $12 Red Bull and Vodkas while uploading blurry videos of bands to Instagram. However! Chase, Lester, and Dave are much stronger than me, and they will fill you in on all the musical and gustatory and anthropological goings-on at CHBP today.
But before my colleagues hurtle you into the present, it's worth talking about last night. In short: Sundries was good, the tacos were okay, and the voting preferences of Brockhampton fans are strange.
Before Sundries kicked off their set in Barboza's underground confines, singer Sadie Ava announced she'd be leaving for LA this week, which meant, she said, that Saturday evening's performance would be the band's last show in Seattle for a while. This news is a shame! They are so good!
At CHBP they banged out 30-minutes worth of premium, southern style loudQUIETloud rock (like Wye Oak with less gravity but more drive). I could have listened to it for another hour. The whole band rules. Ben Lindbloom's bass skills seem honed in the fires of high school jazz band. Travis Gillett's guitar playing reminds me of those kids who learned to play in their uncle's barn at a very young age. But Leah Julius, who also plays bass for Thunderpussy, deserves special praise for her command of the kick drum.
Ava sang about rocky relationships as if she were still mad about them, but with a kind of rueful quality that kept the atmosphere kinda upbeat. That energy spilled over to her stage banter midway through the set when she yelled, "Dave Meinert's a fuckin' rapist," presumably referring to a report from KUOW's Sydney Brownstone of five women accusing the business owner of sexual assault and rape. A few people whooped and clapped in the venue, but the response to Ava's powerful statement wasn't exactly overwhelming. I got the sense that a majority of the people at the block party—an event Meinert ran for a decade—hadn't read the reports. Hopefully I just misjudged the room.
I love all kinds of tacos, but I have a special place in my heart for the tacos at Bimbo's, the place above Cha Cha Lounge. They taste like Taco Bell tacos but with better meat. Plus, the selection of available hot sauces at Bimbo's trumps the selection at Taco Bell. Plus, I love everyone who works there.
ANYWAY. To keep up with the volume of customers, Bimbo's wasn't offering their regular, delicious Taco Bell-style tacos last night. They were offering "street tacos" for $6. Not bad, honestly. But really if you put them together they would only be the size of one regular taco, which meant I needed to get a second dinner, which made me make the face you see above. My advice: stick to the hot dogs.
Because the youth vote will be so important in the 2018 midterms this year, I thought I'd take the opportunity to survey the youthful crowd gathered to see Saturday evening's headliner, Brockhampton, in order to gauge their excitement about voting.
The first person I ran into was Bess Byers, aka Instagram weed influencer Cannabess. The Stranger profiled the "radical libertarian" earlier this year, and she lived up to her reputation. She said she was concerned about "new gun stuff," annoyed about "property tax increases," and wary of "government overreach." She then offered me a hit from her vapin' stick, and I accepted. This made the following interviews flow much more smoothly.
Dominic, Ernesto, and James said they liked Brockhampton because the band projected "a good vibe." When asked if they were pumped to vote this year they all nodded vigorously. "We gotta fix Flint's water," James said. "Fuck Donald Trump," Dominic said. "And stop fucking up families," he added. James implored Democrats to quit trying to flip Trump voters and to instead "focus on the people who don't have a voice yet." Right on my dudes.
Derek, a white guy in a basketball jersey who was all up in my face for some reason as I tried to press through the packed Main Stage crowd to find a vantage, told me he liked Brockhampton because they "spit that real shit and they say 'fuck the cop ass bitch motherfuckers.'" When asked about the midterms he told me he lives in Ballard and votes for Bernie Sanders. "That's about it," he added.
Derek wasn't lying about Brockhampton's antipathy for the police. As the self-described "boy band" took the stage around 10:45 p.m., all dressed alike in oversized white T-shirts, one of the rappers said, "Fuck the cops. Fuck the media."
Fuck the cops? Sure, I get it. But fuck the media? Why? This is not the kind of message we need to be sending to the youths, Messrs Brockhampton! We must tell them to subscribe to newspapers, or else they'll end up answering questions like Derek from Ballard.
During the hour-long performance the band projected long videos of themselves taking selfies in portrait mode. Lyrics beside some of the videos gave bad advice or issued faux profundities. "If you're going to start, don't ever stop," read one video slide. Epic. Another lyric said something about how feelings were actually produced in the brain and not the heart, but I didn't write it down because it was so dumb.
That said! The Saturation trilogy and the whole project of Brockhampton is immensely ambitious, and the featured rappers/singers display incredible talent onstage. Like any boy band worth its matching shirts, they achieve aesthetic balance and unity by combining their unique and various styles. Russell Boring sings real well, Dom McLennon's speed and control keep the tracks amped up, Merlyn Wood provides surprising color and texture, Matt Champion offers some heart and lyrical introspection (though his Anthony Kiedis vibes kinda spook me), and Kevin Abstract is the mastermind who writes hooks so catchy that straight dudes in the audience don't even seem to notice they're rapping along with a guy who is rapping about sucking cock.
It's still pretty shocking to me that a band that formed on a Kanye West appreciation forum can produce hit after hit after hit and execute them live so well. Saturday they performed crowdpleasers like "Gold" and "Sweet" without missing a beat—though Kevin Abstract was maybe a little more tired than everyone wanted him to be.
The whole night I went back and forth wondering if they were bigger than the sum of their parts, or if they’re each bigger the whole. I'm not sure I came to any conclusion, but lord knows they have plenty of time to grow.