By Chris Heide
Capitol Hill Block Party (CHBP) is 20 years old. It’s transformed so dramatically over the past twenty years, that the latest iteration hardly even resembles its original form. No longer does the event sport free entry or unrestricted access to events. It’s a big, branded, polished event that now draws several thousand attendees each summer.
CHBP is not so affectionately known as “straight pride”. Although an annoyingly pejorative reference, the term does shed light on a simple truth. Just as Seattle’s Gay Pride event has grown and assimilated to the masses, so has Capitol Hill Block Party. It’s an event that now draws huge attendance and attention. It’s not the same as it once was and that’s perfectly okay. For the first time since its inception, CBPH attempted to share this ritual experience with those who could not attend the event. According to the PR team behind the event, “CHBP elected to include this to help bring the festival into the era of virtual and digital experience for those unable to attend the festival.”
The sprawling event once again covered three days. Arguably, the most notable act of CHBP was ODESZA. The group performed Saturday on the main stage, to an audience that was packed into the street like sailors on a ship. Fans were packed in tightly, but the overall feeling of love and comradery permeated the streets during their alluring set. The vibe was frenetic and palpable. CHBP’s PR team wonderfully describes the headlining act:
“In 2012, a striking new voice emerged from the wider surge of electronic music in the U.S. ODESZA’s Summer’s Gone stood out from the crowd; it was a collection of songs, not just beats; and its irresistible, startling dreaminess, addictive drums and fathoms-deep bass set it apart from the by-the-numbers brutality of EDM’s also-rans. In an age of manufactured internet buzz and carefully plotted hype, ODESZA’s story was refreshingly authentic: A brilliant new duo unveiled their music on the internet, and the world paid attention.”
The infectious duo profusely expressed their gratitude as being able to headline Capitol Hill Block Party. A genuine, heartfelt moment from a group on the verge of true stardom.
It was a true capstone to a weekend filled with creativity. According to concert-goer Candice Wells, the weekend was dazzling.
“It feel like a million people were in an area made for thoughts. It’s like, ‘hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but ODESZA’s playing, so let’s dance, maybe?!’”
Dozens of acts performed on 5 stages throughout the weekend. Other notable acts included Crystal Cages, Big Wild, Chrvches. As Capitol Hill Block Party continues to innovate and expand, it will be interesting to see how the vent continues to resonate over the next few years.