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Capitol Hill Block Party marks 25 years with Queer artists Rebecca Black, MUNA

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Rebecca Black — Photo courtesy of Kylin Brown
Rebecca Black — Photo courtesy of Kylin Brown

This year marked 25 years for the music festival Capitol Hill Block Party in the Pike-Pine area, and despite several sports events, the Bite of Seattle, and Taylor Swift's "Eras Tour" all coinciding last weekend, the festival proved its continuing success by packing Pike Street with dancing people all three nights.

The event proved its place in the neighborhood and Seattle music scene by booking several well-known yet niche headliners, like Sofi Tukker, Denzel Curry, and Louis the Child, as well as emerging local talent such as Sea Lemon and The Kerrys, and providing a diverse array of food, drink, and wellness vendors to satisfy ticket-holders and fence-jumpers alike.

Channel Tres — Photo courtesy of Kylin Brown  

Getting down on Friday with Channel Tres, Rebecca Black, and Sofi Tukker
Early in the evening on Friday, Compton-born producer and rapper Channel Tres took the stage and wowed the crowd with his genre-bending performance of what he's dubbed "Compton house," a mix of funk, hip-hop, soul, and electronic music. His full set of choreo led the crowd to join him — flanked by dancers in white-rimmed sunglasses — in dancing and clapping along to songs like "Topdown" and "6am." While later admitting he'd just had surgery the day before and thought about canceling, he said "I love Seattle. I wasn't going to miss this," and Friday's show went on.

Rebecca Black — Photo courtesy of Kylin Brown  

Speaking of the day of the week, you might know a little 2011 tune by the name of "Friday." If you do, you know its artist, Rebecca Black, or at least her in an earlier era. To the delight of YouTube bullies and longtime supporters alike, a now 26 and Queer Rebecca Black took the Vera Stage Friday to introduce herself as a new kind of pop star — and crushed any doubt of her talent that was ever born of her early fame.

Currently in the midst of wrapping up the tour for her debut album Let Her Burn, which boasted numerous sold-out shows across the country, Black made CHBP one of the last stops. While focusing her performance mainly on fan favorites from her 2019 EP "Rebecca Black Was Here" and of course, the new album, Black also leaned into the day of the week and the cringe of her 2010s virality, performing her surprisingly hyper-pop 2021 "Friday" remix featuring 3OH!3, Big Freedia, and Dorian Electra for a lively crowd.

Accompanied by two masc, harness-clad dancers, who sometimes also wore larger-than-life, realistic (nude) boob attachments on their chests, Black was expressive and fully captivating, even to the security guard at Gemini Room, who tried to get a better view of the stage. (Stay tuned for next week's issue to catch up with Rebecca Black in an SGN exclusive interview from her green room at the festival.)

Photos courtesy of Kylin Brown  

Friday night's festivities continued with a drag showcase by Kylie Mooncakes, featuring her "favorite performers from this new generation of ballroom," Fenty Wintour (Instagram: @its.justfenty), Viper (@viperfengz), Pixie (@flixofpix), and Rubí Venus (@sof.mrodriguez).

The showcase filled Neumos with festival-goers, one of whom described the experience as "entering a portal to a whole different occasion." Drenched in blue-red stage lights and donning stockings, each queen took the stage with their own ballroom style. Voguing brought the crowd to several peaks of excitement, and a wide variety of paper currency lined the stagefront by the final applause.

Sofi Tukker — Photos courtesy of Kylin Brown  

Later, in another realm called the "Main Stage," multi-instrumental artist duo Sofi Tukker — composed of one Sophie Hawley-Weld and one Tucker Halpern — headlined Friday evening.

In a pre-performance sit-down, they told me they have a hard time defining their music, as the DJ/band binary has never really worked for them. "We just make music and perform it, and hope people enjoy the experience," said Halpern.

"With the tools that we have available to us," added Hawley-Weld, with a laugh.

Depending on the venue, they said, they'll plan to make adjustments in their set list, instruments, and stage presence to create an atmosphere that makes people "feel free to express their authentic selves."

For Capitol Hill Block Party, they brought along Bob's Dance Shop, described on its website as "an immersive entertainment experience, a paradise of self-expression, empowerment, and community." The dancers have partnered with Sofi Tukker at several other recent events, and added dimension to the stage during the headliners' set, crawling out from stage right and charading as alligators for the song "Jacaré" (Brazilian for alligator).

Hawley-Weld met Halpern at Brown University over musical interests while studying Brazilian Portuguese, and thus Sofi Tukker's trademark sound includes the language and other mentions of Brazil. In the music video for "Jacaré," released this April, unknowing fans would come to learn that "an alligator" in Brazilian Portuguese is code for a woman who likes women. Sofi is seen stealing Tucker's fictional girlfriend in the music video, which has now hit over 1.6 million views.

On stage with the dancers, Sofi Tukker brought the audience a multisensory experience, a fully choreographed set with playground ladders and colorful clothing — partially from their own fashion line, "Wet Tennis" — to a full-capacity crowd and ended Friday night with a joyous dance party.

Photo courtesy of Kylin Brown  

Saturday and Sunday saw it all
Friday's jam-packed schedule, also including Goth Babe, Jean Dawson, Sea Lemon, Momma, Wavedash, and Husbands, felt like a marathon of pop, rock, and Queer artistry. Following it up, Saturday and Sunday allowed attendees a bit more R&R in the early evenings, featuring vendor activities, games in the beer garden, and fun-loving, synthy artists like Elohim, Spill Tab, and Surf Mesa.

Fans at Denzel Curry — Photo courtesy of Kylin Brown  

Chill afternoons both days made for a surprising headliner turnout for both Denzel Curry on Saturday and Louis the Child on Sunday, as well as their lead-ups, like Slayyyter, Rico Nasty, MUNA, and Madeon. As the crowds grew each night, the block saw a wide array of incredible street fashion, mosh pits, and crowd surfing (even one surfer in a watermelon-shaped pool float).

MUNA — Photo courtesy of Kylin Brown  

MUNA's return to Seattle for the first time since Day In Day Out Fest last August was well anticipated, especially after they recently concluded opening for Taylor Swift's tour and fans on Twitter complained that they "should have been in Seattle."

At Day In Day Out 2022, also covered by the SGN, they told the crowd between songs that they "wholeheartedly believe in a joyful Queer revolution," but at Capitol Hill Block Party, several anti-LGBTQ federal legislative moves later, it was clear that they had changed their stance.

Fans hold sign that reads "Let's go lesbians" at MUNA — Photo courtesy of Kylin Brown  

"This is a song about Queer joy, but we're also here for Queer motherfuckin' rage," said vocalist and guitarist Naomi McPherson before nodding to their bandmates and gifting the crowd with the utterly Sapphic hit "Silk Chiffon."

On Sunday night, Slayyyter's performance brought an influx of scantily-clad twenty- and thirtysomethings to the Main Stage. The 26-year-old artist, famous first on SoundCloud and for her songs "Daddy AF" and "Hello Kitty," brought down the proverbial house.

The message of self-expression first mentioned by Sofi Tukker on Friday evolved into a clear theme throughout the weekend. From the mosh pits of Denzel Curry fans to the Sunday outfits that would have shocked any churchgoer in my hometown, Capitol Hill Block Party has seen an all-inclusive evolution that couldn't be more fit for the ripe age of 25.