Sunday, July 22, 2012

Saturday at the Capitol Hill Block Party

I volunteered at the Vera booth at the Capitol Hill Block Party on Saturday. I got there way early, close to 1 so the music hadn't started yet, and my shift at the Vera booth wasn't until 3.

I helped setup by chalking out the Vera Stage schedule on the street in front of the booth, then wandered around checking out the other booths. The Washington Bus booth was giving out excellent popsicles and registering people to vote, and they've now committed to helping pass the Marriage Equality law that we'll be voting on this fall. The Bus is one of my favorite local charities; lack of voting by the young is a major problem in this country and leads to elections that don't represent the will of all of the people, only those who vote. Anything that gets the youth more involved politically and more engaged can only be helpful, as far as I'm concerned. No matter what you might think of any specific issue they take on, the result will be better if more people are involved in the decision. I know that there are explicit strategies to disenfranchise voters who won't "see it our way" but I have a real problem with that approach. Anybody advocating for disenfranchisement on specious grounds is actually afraid of democracy and the will of the people, so they're trying to tilt the ability to participate against those they oppose and that's just horrible. By engaging and registering youth and involving them in the political process the Washington Bus is helping improve the system, while make our democracy more representative and inclusive. Thanks!

Once the music started I was able to catch a few acts like Reignwolf: Reignwolf has a band now, the first few performances I saw (video taped stuff from Jet City Stream, a favorite site for local acts) he played by himself doing guitar and vocals and also using a drum with one foot hitting the pedal. I like him better as a band mostly because the low end is more full and the beat's a little more prominent, but I love his guitar shedding and sound either way.

I also saw Nightmare Fortress at Neumos doing an early set. Interesting sound, the drums are synthesized from a keyboard (at least I think they were, they may have been sequenced, it's hard to be sure), the guitar was jangly and distorted, and the fog machines were running. Good to see some heavier creepier stuff in the mix!

I dropped by the Vera Stage to catch Stephanie before going to work in the Vera booth: Nice guitar oriented sound and I like the vocals, it's a single vocalist so they must be using some echo to give it more depth, it almost sounded like somebody was singing harmonies to me.

I had a little time before my shift started so I zipped over to the mainstage and caught a bit of Absolute Monarchs, another band I've been wanting to see:

After Absolute Monarchs my shift started so I wasn't able to go see some other acts like Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, one of these days I've got to track them down!
I did manage to see the acts at the Vera Stage, since the Vera booth (tent?) was petty close to that, so I got some video of Nude: I like the sound, it's (I can't help myself) a bit stripped down with a classic 2 guitar, bass and drum lineup. The sun was pretty intense and it was fairly warm (for Seattle, anyway) and I think that contributes to the crowd moving less. I like it when the crowd moves more but that tends to happen later when the audience is in the shade and there's more people there. I suppose the bands have to pay their dues, taking early festival slots early on as they work their way up to the better slots. Gives 'em something to shoot for, anyway.

Mostly I hung out at the Vera booth telling people about the Vera Project and handing out freebies and chalking and so on. As each act started on the Vera Stage I headed over and video taped another song or two, so next up was Tropical Punk: I enjoyed their set, they got the crowd moving a little - or at least they got me moving a little. Good driving beat and nice guitar oriented sound, good vocals too.

The last band to play a set on the Vera Stage while I was volunteering was Hot Bodies In Motion: As it got later in the day the crowds slowly got larger and more active which always enhances the experience from my point of view; HBiM was able to get the audience to clap along on the video above, I'm not sure it would've worked that well with the earlier crowds.

As my shift ended I caught a bit of Tom Eddy on the Vera Stage: Nice sound, good songs, didn;t see that much of his set though, I'll have to keep an eye out for him, I'd like another chance to see a longer set.

I made it back to the main stage in time to catch a bit of what I think is Twin Shadow: The sunlight makes it hard to see the band, even the plumes of pot smoke rising from the crowd are easier to see. Sorry, got there too late to get close enough for a better video. Interesting sound for the little bit I saw, another band for the "I'd like to see a more complete set" category!

Next I was too late to see Reignwolf's set at Neumos, good thing I saw the earlier set!

I was winding down, showing up to late to see most acts and my feet were starting to hurt. I made it down to listen to Pony Time, but once again I was too late to get close enough to see anything; at least I could hear it:

I headed back to the Vera Stage and caught some of the Night Beats, the audience was in the shade (finally!) so it was much more pleasant, but by then I was getting dehydrated from the beer and heat and lack of water. Did I mention there was no public watering station? That's unfortunate, I brought a water bottle in thought I'd be able to refill it once I drank it, but that did't end up being the case. Memo to the CHBP operation: a water station is pretty much a needed item when July gets hot at a festival.

At that point I called it a night and headed out. I wish I'd been able to stay, I would've enjoyed seeing Space Needles and Lemolo again, and the mainstage acts looked interesting, but I was just running out of gas and getting to the shows too late, and I didn't have enough energy to hang out at a venue like the Cha Cha for 40 minutes to make sure I had a good spot; if I start hanging out in lounges I tend to drink more, and that won't lead to more energy or good videos anyway.

So that's a wrap, I headed out and caught the bus home. Ten bands, lots of fun, hours spent talking about the Vera Project, a little more beer than is good for me, pork pulled sandwiches and pizza eaten, enjoyed the heck out of it. I wish I was in better shape so I could've caught a few more acts, but there's always next year.

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