CHS CHBP: New sound set-up, layout and schedule tweaks for 17th Capitol Hill Block Party


(Image: CHS)

Secure your parking and buy some sunscreen, we’ve entered the countdown to the 2013 Capitol Hill Block Party. As usual, there are plenty of firsts — including the first competing festival — and a few changes in the annual Block Party that draws more than 30,000 music fans to the streets of Pike/Pine. Here’s a rundown of what’s new and what’s out in 2013.

(Image: Suzi Pratt/CHBP with permission to CHS)

(Image: Suzi Pratt/CHBP with permission to CHS)

Got an awesome sound goin’ down
We hope headliners the Flaming Lips are appreciative. This year, organizers are planning upgrades to the sound systems to ensure less bass thumping permeating through the neighborhood. In previous years the main stage had only one speaker tower on each side of the stage. According to festival spokesperson Olivia Gouveia, this year’s main stage will also have a tower near Neumos to more evenly distribute the sound which will keep each speaker volume lower.

Other new additions this year include a three-camera set-up on the main stage which will broadcast performances over a big screen behind the main stage as well as the festival schedule. The same video feed will be playing in the VIP area.

Block Party officials say party-goers and anybody needing to pass through the area will find an optimized layout with reconfigured — and expanded — beer gardens. The beer garden has been widened and pushed back to end at Neumos with hopes of alleviating the congestion of past festivals. A second beer garden will replace the old VIP zone next to Poquitos and across from Lost Lake.

Competition in Carnation
For the first time in its modern incarnation of a big-time music fest (here’s how it used to be), CHBP will face some nearby music festival competition for its ticket dollars — $49.70 with fees in 2013. The Timber! Outdoor Music Festival in Carnation will share the last weekend of July with the Block Party. Gouveia said CHBP planners aren’t worried about the competing festival.

Three-day passes for the Block Party have sold out, but single day tickets are still available. Be advised: According to @CHBlockParty, Chromatics, Glass Candy and Big Black Delta are no longer playing due to “unforeseen circumstances.”

2013, by the way, will mark the 17th Block Party and the second under the leadership of Neumos chief Jason Lajeunesse who bought out partners Marcus Charles and Dave Meinert for ownership of the festival following the 2011 edition.

Lajeunesse and Sub Pop VP Megan Jasper (Image: Kelton Sears for CHS)

Lajeunesse and Sub Pop VP Megan Jasper (Image: Kelton Sears for CHS)

The 2012 festival saw the event rise above some sticky neighborhood issues of the past to successfully broaden to include visual (and other!) arts as well as try out some new — and apparently short-lived — features like a Sunday kids concert. Music critics were mixed as the festival focused on many local acts and more modest headliners than some of the arena rockers that showed up on the main stage in the past.

For the neighborhood issues, the Neumos squad that organizes the CHBP has increased efforts in recent years to ensure Pike/Pine businesses and residents aren’t negatively impacted by the three-day event. The 2012 party was seen as a massive success on that front. This year organizers again held a community meeting to further mitigate negative impacts on the neighborhood. The Block Party is also providing funding for Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce projects to help mitigate some of the lost business for retailers, salons and services in the area.

Restaurants and bars? The ones that go with the flow do fine and will be busy inside the fence and out. An example? The usually tasteful Quinn’s will again roll out a full menu of Jello shots for the festival.

Organizers are also launching some new efforts to make getting to Block Party easier. The ride share program Sidecar, which connects drivers to those in need of a lift, will have a pick-up/dropoff point in front of Rancho Bravo. Gouvia told CHS if you download the Sidecar app, you just need to pin Capitol Hill Block Party, and drivers will pick you up at the designated spot. Gouvia also said Car2Go will be adding more cars in the area throughout the weekend.

While “block party” usually denotes a neighborhood gathering, it’s no surprise that many CHBP-goers will be traveling from far-flung neighborhoods, suburbs, and beyond. To orientate those less familiar with the hood, these maps will be available.

The Lumineers in 2012 (Image: Jim Bennett/CHBP with permission to CHS)

The Lumineers in 2012 (Image: Jim Bennett/CHBP with permission to CHS)

Not happening
There will be a few things missing in 2013 from years past. The CommunityFamilyFunfest will not be returning this year. Organizers did not say why even with a solid turnout for the Sunday morning fun in 2012.

CHBP also had plans to work with Bike Works and SDOT this year to to provide bike racks in and around the festival area — that won’t be happening. Bike Works executive director Deb Salls said the two sides ran out of time to organize a partnership. Gouveia said the festival will promote Bike Works walk/bike ride challenge by offering prizes throughout the weekend.

Capitol Hill Art Party
CHBP has again partnered with Ghost Gallery to perform live acts of art making during this year’s festival. The 2013 Visual Arts Program is being run by Ghost Gallery owner/curator Laurie Kearney. Here’s what Ghost says party goers can expect:

With a collaboration between three local muralists, the North wall of the Neumos building will be transformed into a collage of large format murals that will remain long after the 2013 festival comes to a close.  Additionally, the art program will feature a series of video projected murals to run throughout the duration of the weekend in the Havana parking lot, large scale street chalk art by Urban Artworks and goCstudio, and several vinyl and scrim banner installations.

And maybe most important of all, the weekend is expected to be gorgeous with highs in the mid-70s.

You can find the daily schedule, an updated CHBP app and more at

See CHS coverage of CHBP 2012 here:  Day One | Day Two | Day Three

Ghostland Observatory (Image: Jim Bennett/CHBP with permission to CHS)

Ghostland Observatory (Image: Jim Bennett/CHBP with permission to CHS)

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11 thoughts on “CHS CHBP: New sound set-up, layout and schedule tweaks for 17th Capitol Hill Block Party

  1. Block Party gets more and more expensive. A single day ticket is nearly $50 this year. 4 years ago it was only $20.

  2. I know, I know, if I don’t like the noise I should move to Lake Forest Park, but I have lived a block away from the block party main stage for six years now and every year the crowd gets larger and more obnoxious. I am not intolerant to noise, I lived through the H.G. Lodge and Maharaja, through many 2 a.m. break ups and fist fights. Trying to get a second of sleep during block party weekend is nearly impossible, though, even with my usually awesome sleeping skills… and I have to work this weekend. I hope their new sound configuration reduces some of the vibrations. Maybe I’m getting old. It’s my block but it’s not my party.

  3. I have gone to the Block Party for 7 or so out of the last 10 years. I love the idea of it and continue to support it in the ‘hood (I live near by), but I just can’t drop the cash for a single day ticket this year. I’m underwhelmed by the line up. Granted, you can’t please everyone, but I’d go check it out for $25-30. However, $50…no thanks.

    I have encouraged friends/parents to attend the family-oriented “funfest” and I’m bewildered by why that was eliminated. If the organizers are truly interested in connecting with people who have been long time residents and stakeholders, they should face the fact that many of us have started having kids and want to continue to live in and do stuff in the neighborhood we live in. Just look at the success of the Family Fourth in Cal Anderson! I’d be interested to hear more from the organizers on that front.

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