Capitol Hill Block Party is almost here, and it's going to be huge. So big, in fact, that we've put together an entire Capitol Hill Block Party calendar to help you navigate the 100+ artists playing the festival. It's sortable by venue and day, has photos, music clips, and staff picks for every artist, and even includes a list of CHBP dance parties, art shows, and other special events.
If that's too overwhelming, check out our list of the top 40 Block Party artists worth checking out, or take a look at the map and schedule for Friday at a glance, Saturday at a glance, and Sunday at a glance. Still need tickets? Buy them here.
Capitol Hill Block Party wasn't always this big. In 1997, the idea that the Pike/Pine corridor might attract enough people to justify a little handmade outdoor rock show was in no way a sure thing. For the first couple of years, nearly everyone in the crowd and on the wee stage were at least nodding acquaintances with one another, and many were on a first-name basis.
Flash-forward a couple of decades, and the Block Party crowd is a perfect reflection of Seattle: a mélange of old and new faces sizing each other up while the bodies they're attached to jockey for a decent place to stand. Some are skeptical, some oblivious, some resentful of the obliviousness, some skeptical of the resentment. But for one long weekend every year, everyone has to stand in the same line for the biergarten. (Unless they have a VIP wristband, of course, in which case they have to stand in a different line.)
To anyone who has lived or worked on Capitol Hill for more than a handful of years, the growth of CHBP has been astonishing to witness—maybe even more so than the growth of the city itself. The whole premise of the event was organized around the idea of an "us," and usses have become an unruly commodity since the world exploded.
As the organizers have experimented with different models of bigness—this year's lineup seems to indicate a slightly scaled down version—the core of the challenge has been to appeal to enough people to justify the scale the festival has taken on, while acknowledging the audience's multiplicity of tastes and distastes. It's no small thing that the Block Party has found a way to keep drawing a crowd without going full common denominator like Bumbershoot or going under like Sasquatch!. This calls for a delicate balance of fame and obscurity, guitars and laptops, hot dogs and vegan hot dogs.
You can't offer a little something for everyone without guaranteeing that same everyone will find a little something else to sneer at. But that's also how you know the Block Party remains fundamentally local. No matter how much Seattle changes, the GDP of Capitol Hill has always been compliant about the way other people amuse themselves.
Speaking of which: If you're not going to the festival, there are still plenty of ways to get your live music fix in town. The nearby Capitol Cider will get in on the action with the Under the Block Party festival and Alley Protest Party, which will benefit the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. Local punks will put on the Sebastian Bach Party and That Block Party Costs Too Much, two contrarian mini-fests that arose as natural foils to CHBP. And for everything else, our music calendar's got you covered.