The final day of Capitol Hill Block Party was dialed down a bit compared to the previous day, with main stage performances ending around 9:00, but just because things wound down a bit early doesn’t mean there wasn’t great music to be enjoyed. Like the previous two days there were plenty of national acts that made me think differently of them and several locals made favorable impressions.
One of those locals that made an impression was Feet, who were finalists in this year’s Sound Off! competition. The four-piece comes across like a spirited, youthful version of The Cure with songs that are a bit more jangly and poppier than Fat Bob’s material. Feet needs polish (how’s that for an odd statement?) but they are definitely a promising bright spot for the future of the local scene.
Another promising bright spot for the local scene is Kithkin. They remind me a bit of what Wild Orchid Children might have sounded like before they started regularly tripping balls on peyote. During their set they not only distributed various percussion devices to the crowd for a rather interactive experience, they also called up more than 20 fans from the crowd to join them on stage. They were having a contiguously fun time. Kithkin are another youthful quartet who also competed in Sound Off! and I will be seeking them out live soon.
Over on the main stage Cloud Nothings, another one of the festival’s Pitchfork-friendly buzz bands, played a pretty loud and raucous set. Like Grimes the night before them, Cloud Nothing proved to me that I may need to reevaluate my nearly automatic disposition to bands that get high marks from Pitchfork and the like as I really like what I heard. I was told by a friend that the band’s singer often gets compared to Kurt Cobain but I didn’t see the connection. Although I will give him credit for having a pretty powerful screaming voice and he definitely knew how to notch up the intensity of a song by pairing it with the just the right moment of a cymbal crash, guitar pluck or kick drum thump.
As much as Block Party is about the music it’s also about friends (see this post and what I alluded to in this post) so I was thrilled to spend the final part of my day watching my friend Ra Scion. His set was filled with new material and it had the crowd at The Barboza moving. Like a lot of Ra Scion’s material the lyrics smacked of intelligence and at times they could be a bit difficult to follow, but that didn’t stop the late-night Block party revelers from turning the back of the club into a dance party. Ra Scion appears to be poised for making a return to the form he was in back in the breakout Common Market days except this time he’s bringing a bit more fierceness to his game which could put a lot of other local MCs on notice. I can’t wait to hear him on his proper solo LP which is expected to be released later this year.
Two of the things I really enjoy about Block Party, and music festivals in general, is discovering new bands I didn’t previously enjoy and challenging my listening tastes by exposing myself to music I wouldn’t otherwise choose to listen to. As noted, earlier in the day Cloud Nothings won me over, but another main stage band with a pretty big following didn’t do much to make me think differently of them. The band was The Lumineers and the crowd ate up every second on their performance. But after witnessing their really solid live performance I, however, remain unimpressed by their music.
The Lumineers play a poppy brand of folk that makes me think of what early Dylan might sound like if he was less political and more focused on commercial appeal, or as my pal Bryce from 107.7 The End calls it “neo-Mumford and Sons.” In my book they’re similar to Mumford ( which is another band I can’t stand) in that you can say what you will about not liking their music but you can’t deny that they’re a great live band. The Lumineers are undoubtedly the top of the class when it comes their brand of music and excellent live performers, but it’s just not music I enjoy.
Sub Pop group Jaill is one of the bands I have a bit of personal history with (I went to a Jaill show the day I was served legal papers from a major label demanding I stop using the name Ear Candy) so I was pretty excited to check them out. Unfortunately their set was heavy on material from their new album Traps and that material doesn’t have the same oomph as their earlier output. The band’s set wasn’t a disappointment per se but it definitely wasn’t as impressive as the last time I caught them live.
What was impressive though was the relatively new band Walking Papers. The group consists of Jefferson Angel (formerly of Post Stardom Depression), Barrett Martin (formerly of Screaming Trees) and, on record, Duff McKagan. You can watch a clip of the band’s set over here and I’ll be writing more about Walking Papers a bit later so look for that soon. In the meantime, enjoy the below clip of Jaill’s performance at Neumos.