The return of Capitol Hill Block Party: Hotter and Queerer than ever before

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Charli XCX — Photo by Kylin Brown
Charli XCX — Photo by Kylin Brown

It feels like a decade since 2019 for live music lovers and local artists who rely on Capitol Hill Block Party each summer to come together and dance away three days and nights in the middle of Pike Street.

With Charli XCX headlining Friday night and a slew of up-and-coming Queer favorites playing throughout the weekend, the festival did not disappoint. Let's discuss the highlights of Capitol Hill Block Party 2022.?

Photo by Kylin Brown  

New and noteworthy
To kick things off, Friday's Vera Stage saw a near-genderless and colorfully clothed crowd flood the scene for highly-anticipated genre-bending collective MICHELLE. Having released their sophomore album only months ago, the predominantly POC and Queer New-York-based group had fans in a groove from the start of their set to the finish. Their warm, summery sound is both wistful and energetic — befitting a yearning, predominantly LGBTQ+ Seattle crowd.

Beach Bunny — Photo by Kylin Brown  

Rock band Beach Bunny took to the mainstage to address the angst in the audience. After three years of built-up anxieties, their performance was much needed. Led by Lili Trifilio's compelling vocals, jumping fans yelled, "??Shut up/Count your calories/I never looked good in mom jeans" and "I wanna be okay" from Beach Bunny's hit song "Prom Queen."

The band's guitar-forward crush-pop passion remained unwavering through songs such as "Sports" ("I'm tired of waiting/I was never good at sports/save the games for the girls on the tennis courts") and "Cloud 9," which can typically be found on a playlist next to Queer artists like girl in red and Claud.

On Saturday, before Danny Brown captivated the mainstage audience with his inebriation and unsolicited show of support for controversial Seattle rapper Raz Simone, other young artists swept diverse Seattleite listeners off their platform Converse-clad feet.

Boyish, for example, let it all out with their fans in passionate ballads "FUCK YOU HEATHER" and "mom i think im gay" (a song for anyone who had a Pride month heartbreak) early Saturday. The duo has been together since 2016, but have blossomed since graduating college in 2019. They go on tour for their recent praiseworthy EP My Friend Mica in September.

CANNONS brought funky electronica to life for the crowd on Saturday as well, inspiring 70s disco dreams with lead singer Michelle Joy wearing a leopard leotard and knee-high boots as she sang their hit about failed relationships, "Fire For You."

Diplo — Photo by Kylin Brown  

Headliners to remember
Whether you're into DJs like Diplo and Jai Wolf or you're more of a hyper pop Charli XCX gal, this year's CHBP headliners made the festival's return all the more surreal. While typically indie pop and rising pop artists headline the event, organizers at the parent company Daydream State opted to give CHBP the notoriety of a music festival this year, saving names like Mitski, MacDeMarco, and Japanese Breakfast for Day In Day Out Fest in two weeks.

On Sunday, Diplo brought down the house with endless mixing and smash hits. Similarly confetti-accompanied, future bass DJ Jai Wolf enlivened Saturday's dancefloor with dreamy hit songs like "Indian Summer" and "Moon Rider," putting listeners in a trance.

Remi Wolf — Photo by Kylin Brown  

Prior to the DJs' finale, Remi Wolf and her bandmates balanced the crowd with repeat-after-me affirmations. Performing everything from the unwavering and lovable hit "Liz" to fun songs like "Liquor Store" that showcase her unique voice and style, Remi Wolf brought authenticity and Queerness to the mainstage in a way no other artists would.

Charli XCX — Photo by Kylin Brown  

Charli XCX, an ally whose loyal fans are predominantly not heterosexual, came directly for the venue's LGBTQ+ crowds as well. "This one's for all the Gay boys out there," she announced, giving a familiar-yet-shriek-inducing dedication for her song "Boys."

One thing was proven that night: Charli XCX is a bona fide star. As she nailed almost constant choreography with two masc, leather-wearing dancers by her side for a seemingly endless set, she appeared to switch her well-known autotune on and off to feature stunning vocalizations and harmonies.

Charli XCX — Photo by Kylin Brown  

Charli XCX is known to push creative boundaries, so seeing this process play out in real time provided the audiences with an opportunity to take part. Between songs, she tested the audience with teasing banter. Revving the audience up for SOPHIE-produced hit "Vroom Vroom," she called out, "Who out here tonight is feeling cute? Who's feeling sexy?! Are you ever feeling like you're cute, you're sexy, like your ride's sporty?"

CHBP's crowds happily obliged by swaying their bodies and cheering on Charli XCX's latest, more experimental hyper-pop anthems, but they were more enthused about hearing her breakout Icona Pop feature hit "I Love It" and tracks from her more centrist, pre-pandemic album Pop 2.

In the meantime, Charli and her dancers brought a production so high-quality that the Capitol Hill 76, with gas prices almost twice as high as they were during the last Capitol Hill Block Party, disappeared behind the mainstage and the ecstatic music bellowing from it all.