Block Party faces its future in a developing Capitol Hill



(Image: Alex Crick for CHS)


Capitol Hill Block Party wants to keep the heart of the neighborhood alive as so much of it changes.

In its 18th year, the weekend event which closes down six blocks of Pike/Pine and draws upward of 30,000 music lovers remains an annual subject of excitement from fans and the rarest of summer musical festival beasts: a three-day commercial concert venue carved out of a living, breathing city neighborhood.

With A$AP Rocky, Chromeo and Spoon headlining this year, rock fest tourists and plenty of locals will once again swarm the cordoned-off area in the heart of Pike/Pine starting July 25 for a weekend of sights, sounds and selling your soul for a parking space.

Only in America
Owner Jason Lajeunesse has not needed the Capitol Hill Block Party to make his mark on the neighborhood. CHS dubbed him one of the ‘Princes of Pike/Pine’ — along with business partner and frequent collaborator David Meinert – due to his extensive stakes in many nearby restaurants and venues, including Neumos and Lost Lake.

After spending nine years planning the Block Party’s music as co-producer, Lajeunesse took ownership of the event in 2012.

He believes Capitol Hill Block Party is a product of the neighborhood which gives it its name.

“I think it’s important to promote the neighborhood year round,” he said. “The Block Party sort of grew with the local and regional bands. As the bands got bigger, so did the Block Party.”

With four indoor venues, two outdoor stages and dozens of restaurants and bars in the area, the Block Party has the distinction of being the only event of its kind in America.

“To our knowledge Capitol Hill Block Party is unique as the only ticketed three-day street festival in the country,” Chris Swenson, program manager with the Seattle Office of Film and Music, said. “It’s a little like scooping up half of Sasquatch and plopping it in the middle of a neighborhood for a weekend. The city’s primary concern is safety and, because of the unique layout of the event, each year safety officials and agencies spend many months establishing organizer requirements and emergency plans specific to the site.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill Block Party readies for 18th annual neighborhood invasion — UPDATE: 2014 lineup announced

The explosion of fun that was CHBP 2013 (Image: CHS)

The explosion of fun that was CHBP 2013 (Images: CHS)


The hopefully sun-drenched days of the Capitol Hill Block Party are just three short months away and the festival’s producers have been busily making new plans for the three-day Capitol Hill celebration of Pike/Pine’s nightlife culture.

The 18th annual installment of the festival will once again fall on the last full weekend of July, this year the 25th, 26th, 27th. Block Party producer Jason Lajeunesse told CHS that permits have been issued and most of the bands are booked. The main stage acts and ticket prices are expected to be announced Tuesday morning. The festival annually draws more than 30,000 attendees.

UPDATE: Spoon, The War on Drugs, and Sunday closer A$AP Rocky will be among the Capitol Hill Block Party 2014 headliners, organizers revealed Tuesday during their ritual announcement on KEXP. Three-day passes also went on sale for a limited time discount of $99.

Here’s the list of headliners being announced Tuesday morning:

A$AP Rocky, Spoon, Chromeo, Matt and Kim, The War on Drugs, Odesza, Sol,  A$AP Ferg, Beat Connection, Star Slinger, Budos Band, Tanlines, XXYYXX, Angel Olsen, Poolside, Cymbals, Shy Girls 

The full lineup and schedule is typically released by early June.

Tickets can be purchased here.

“The Block Party is a boisterous and spirited event that takes place right in the heart of Seattle’s artistic community,” Lajeunesse said in a statement released along with the 2014 lineup tease. “This year’s headliners like Chromeo and Matt and Kim will transform the intersection of Pike and Broadway into a giant dance floor. I can’t wait.”

In December Lajeunesse went before the city’s Special Events Committee to assure the city’s party police that there would be no major logistical changes from last year’s festivities. Over recent years, Block Party planners have attempted to do more with less, packing more music and art into the same confines and doing more to mitigate the festival’s impact on the neighborhood by keeping a lid on attendance and last call. Ticket prices have also climbed with single-day access reaching $40 last year. 2014 three-day passes will start at $99 for a limited time, organizers say. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Block Party 2013: Day Three Open Thread

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

The Flaming Lips go boom. More images from Day Three, below (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne gets into the CHBP Day Three "31+" theme  (Image: Alex Crick for CHS)

Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne gets into the CHBP Day Three “31+” theme (Image: Alex Crick for CHS)

Capitol Hill Block Party Day Three. Anybody seemingly functioning at 100% after the first two days of CHBP is either faking it or is parachuting in for the glory of the festival’s finale. Day Three brings the 2013′s festival most widely known act to E Pike as global superstars and weirdos The Flaming Lips take the main stage Sunday night.

CHS will again be roaming the Block Party to see what’s up and what’s going down. You can follow @jseattle on Twitter for notes as we hear about them. Let us know what you see, too. You can email us or call/txt (206) 399-5959.

CHS CHBP 2013 | Day One | Day Two

  • Every year of Block Party, locals are wont to lament the changing nature of the event — and those who attend it. CHS intern Sam Heft-Luthy reports, as you might expect, a diversity of opinions inside the fences. One police officer on Day Two said SPD “worked a little harder (Friday) night than in other years,” but hasn’t noticed a rowdier CHBP in 2013.Most CHBP staff Sam talked with said that they don’t think this year has been any different than past years. “The crowd so far has been pretty mellow so far,” said one security employee.

    Continue reading

Capitol Hill Block Party 2013: Day Two Open Thread

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)


More images from Day Two, below

Capitol Hill Block Party 2013 takes a more soulful turn on Day Two with a bill built around headliners Pickwick. It might seem like a needed respite after a hot and heavy start to the party on Day One. Don’t be fooled. Even if you promise yourself to take it a little more easy after a lack of pace on Friday, CHBP Saturday will probably suck you in. Fortunately, things will be a little more cool on the weather front leaving you with enough in the tank to make it to Sunday.

With a Day One sellout under their belts, organizers have been pleased with the logistics around the festivals tweaked layout and upgraded sound approach — even with some asking for the dial to be turned back to 11 like past Block Parties. Most of the first day’s music buzz has been, predictably, around the party kickoff antics of STRFKR and Girl Talk. We’ll see if Day Two brings some lesser known names to the forefront. Tickets for both Saturday and Sunday remain available.

You can follow @jseattle on Twitter and watch this open thread as Day Two takes the stage and fills the clubs. Let us know if you see anything — or anybody — interesting, too. You can email us or call/txt (206) 399-5959. Keep track of all our CHS CHBP coverage here.

  • CHBP’s Steve Manning tells CHS he is pleased with how Friday’s sold-out festival ran, adding that the organizers have been making small logistical changes like the location of port-a-potties and the orientation of the first aid tent. “We’re always streamlining it trying to make it better,” he said. Manning said he was especially happy with the projection of images on the walls of several buildings within the concert area. “It really feels like you’re inside of a festival and less like you’re in a neighborhood,” he said.
    Continue reading

Man busted for voyeurism at Capitol Hill Block Party

Seattle Police have released details of a lewd act arrest that took place during Friday night’s Capitol Hill Block Party festivities.

According to SPD, a 31-year-old suspect with no previous criminal record was caught in the act of taking “upskirt” pictures of a 15-year-old victim as she sat on a curb of E Pike during the music festival around 7 PM Friday.

Police say the suspect, a North Seattle resident, was seen kneeling as if to tie his shoe for an extended period of time near his alleged victim:

The suspect was taking longer than the average human to tie his shoe. The sergeant couldn’t help but notice the suspect’s absence of manual dexterity but soon realized that this was due to the fact that the suspect was actually manipulating a cell phone and not shoelaces.

The sergeant, being naturally inquisitive, observed the suspect further and watched as he gently adjusted the trajectory of the phone’s viewfinder. The sergeant deduced that the suspect’s target was actually a 15-year-old girl wearing a short skirt and sitting on an adjacent curb.

The sergeant interrupted the suspect and told him why he was being stopped. The suspect denied that he had done anything wrong. The sergeant asked the suspect if he cared to share his phone pictures to clear up any mistake, but the suspect refused.

The sergeant interviewed the 15-year-old girl. She didn’t know the suspect and had no idea that he was photographing her.

Police say they confiscated two cell phones, two iPods and a camera from the suspect and that detectives will inspect the devices for evidence once a search warrant is obtained. The suspect was booked into King County Jail for investigation of voyeurism and conditionally released.

Capitol Hill Block Party 2013: Day One Open Thread

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Merch! (Image: CHBP) More #CHBP pics here

Merch! (Image: CHBP) More #CHBP pics here

The 17th Capitol Hill Block Party begins today having matured into quite the machine. As E Pike is transformed into a musical playground for a Day One crowd of around 10,000 people, the festival will mark its second year under “new” management following the 2012 ascension of Neumos honcho Jason Lajeunesse into controlling interest of the now big-business event. CHS will be on the grounds and roaming the streets again this year watching for interesting people doing interesting things. We’ll probably talk about the music — here and there — too. But we tend to focus on the party part. It’s the most fun and, in the end, probably what sets CHBP apart from other events.

You can follow @jseattle on Twitter and watch this open thread as Day One — forecasted to be the hottest of the weekend weather-wise — plays out. Let us know if you see anything — or anybody — interesting, too. You can email us or call/txt (206) 399-5959 for the *really* interesting stuff to let us know what you’re seeing. Or hearing. You can keep track of all our CHS CHBP coverage here.



UPDATE: Pictures from Day One here courtesy Alex Garland for CHS — with notes, images and more, below.

Continue reading

Neumos’ new Block Party paint job is part Renaissance, part punk rock



(Images: CHS)

On Tuesday afternoon, while the Neumos crew bustled around Capitol Hill planning this weekend’s Capitol Hill Block Party, artist Crystal Barbre sat smoking a cigarette waiting for her scissor lift to recharge.

With murals, the hardest part isn’t the actual painting, she explained, it’s all the logistical distractions you don’t have to worry about when you’re doing your art in the studio — permits, scissor lift maintenance and not blocking the fire exit.

The prominent distraction? Passing pedestrians, all eager to share their opinion on her work.

Barbre said pedestrians are her favorite distraction. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Following last year’s ‘no complaints’ Capitol Hill Block Party, organizers hold 2013 community meeting

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

With six weeks to go before the big festival celebrates its second year under “new management,” Capitol Hill Block Party organizers are holding a community meeting next week to talk logistics, hear concerns and solve any problems for residents and area businesses about to get rocked by the annual celebration of music — and now arts — that draws more than 30,000 party-goers to Pike/Pine every July.

Hi everyone!
Capitol Hill Block Party will be holding a neighborhood meeting, June 19th, 4PM, upstairs at Caffe Vita (1005 East Pike Street), in preparation for the 2013 Capitol Hill Block Party, July 26-28th.

We’ll be using this time to go over all changes to this year’s festival, and to address any questions that the neighborhood may have.  If you have anything in specific you would like us to address, feel free to respond to this message.

Capitol Hill Block Party

In recent years, the members of the Neumos family who produce Block Party have tried to go the extra mile to patch rough relationships with some residents and businesses around the festival’s gates who are negatively affected by the three-day event. The 2012 edition with the expanded arts offerings and additions like Sunday’s family day was remarkable for the seeming lack of complaint compared to past years. With increased opportunities for local businesses to have a presence inside the gates and more outreach, merchants, studios and salons along E Pike apparently have found it in their hearts to accept if not embrace the popular festival. Some local businesses told CHS last year they benefitted from increased marketing at the event as well as free promotion in the Stranger which continues to provide ticket services for the festival.

Block Party officials say this year’s logistics won’t differ much from the changes made in 2012, but party-goers and anybody needing to pass through the area will find an optimized layout with reconfigured — and expanded — beer gardens. The “original beer garden” — not a bad name for your next bar, by the way — that used to bottleneck with the main stage crowd has been widened and pushed back to end at Neumos with hopes of alleviating the congestion of past festivals. Meanwhile, a second beer garden will replace the old VIP zone next to Poquitos and across from Lost Lake.

Where will Block Party VIPs hang out now? Maybe CHS will get lucky and find out.

2013′s Block Party will be headlined by the The Flaming Lips and will include acts Girl Talk, Pickwick and Purity Ring. You have three more days to make your group’s pitch to be part of the festival.

You can see our coverage of CHBP 2012 here:  Day One | Day Two | Day Three