It’s easy to get lost while looking over festival lineups. That’s especially the case with Capitol Hill Block Party, where none of the groups could honestly be considered household names (unless your house is in Brooklyn, or Silver Lake, or, perhaps, Capitol Hill). With 101 musical acts vying for festivalgoers’ attention, it can be tough to plot your weekend. That’s why we’re here.
Here are five artists a day worth checking out at CHBP:
Friday, July 20
Father John Misty (4 at Main Stage) – It’s worth getting off work early to come see Father John Misty open up CHBP. Come for the dark rock tunes about Hollywood’s decay, stay for frontman Josh Tillman’s absolutely fabulous dance moves.
Doomtree (5:15 at Main Stage) – I’ll go way out on a limb and say Doomtree is the best punk-influenced rap collective ever to emerge from Minnesota. But don’t judge the group by its atypical geographic origin. Judge it once you’ve seen P.O.S. (who happens to be this writer’s favorite rapper).
Crypts (7:45 at Cha Cha Stage) – Mixing hip-hop beats, grinding instrumentals, and ghastly vocals, Crypts has a sound as terrifying as its name. Headed by former These Arms Are Snakes frontman Steve Snere, the group seems at ease with uneasiness as each song descends further into noisy, chaotic darkness.
Eighteen Individual Eyes (9:30 at Barboza Stage) – The sinister sounds of Seattle quartet Eighteen Individual Eyes’ album Unnovae Nights earned the band our nod for March’s album of the month. Thank goodness EYE won’t be playing outside in the sunshine.
Fresh Espresso (10:15 at Neumos Stage) – The rhymes of hip-hop duo Fresh Espresso go down smoother than anything on the Starbucks menu. The group has plenty of new tracks to perform from its recent release Bossalona, so even if you caught Fresh Espresso at last year’s CHBP there will still be something, well, fresh.
Saturday, July 21
Absolute Monarchs (2:15 at Main Stage) – Despite debuting at CHBP in 2010, Absolute Monarchs didn’t get around to releasing its first proper record until this April. But most agree the wait was worth it as 1 is one of the best received local rock records of the year.
Reignwolf (6:30 at Neumos Stage) – See Reignwolf. See Reignwolf shred. Shred Reignwolf, shred.
Grimes (7:30 at Main Stage) – Grimes’ penchant for experimenting in artful electro-pop (or witch house, as its known by people who make up weird specific genre names) has led to comparisons with artists like Björk. The New York Times called her latest album Visions "one of the most impressive albums of the year so far."
Lemolo (8:30 at Vera Stage) – While it’s hard to stay fresh crammed among bodies at CHBP, Lemolo’s dream-pop can at least sonically make the masses feel relaxed and clean. The local duo just released its latest album The Kaleidoscope with a series of sold-out shows at Columbia City Theater.
Diplo (1:30am at Neumos Stage) – Drink a Red Bull or 5 Hour Energy if you need to, but don’t miss the dance floor wizardry of Diplo. The DJ, most famous for collaborating with M.I.A. on tracks like "Paper Planes," is sure to whip the crowd into a sweaty late-night frenzy.
Sunday, July 22
The Coathangers (2:15 at Neumos Stage) – The ladies of Atlanta punk outfit the Coathangers aren’t here to play nice (in case the band’s name didn’t give that away). They just want to wail and start a mini-riot. And honestly, is that too much to ask?
Phantogram (6:10 at Main Stage) – Phantogram manages to be more than the sum of its parts. While Sarah Barthel’s synth lines and Josh Carter’s relatively straightforward guitar playing come together to make some delightful electro-pop, the duo’s decision to bring drummer Tim Oakley out on the road really fleshes out Phantogram’s live sound.
Yukon Blonde (7:10 at Vera Stage) – British Columbia’s Yukon Blonde make uncomplicated indie rock that can best be described as sunny. And sometimes that’s enough. The group’s latest record, Tiger Talk, continues to build the band’s catalog of carefree ditties.
Neko Case (7:45 at Main Stage) – In recent years, indie songstress Neko Case has been much more active on Twitter than in any studio. She hasn’t released a solo album since 2009’s Middle Cyclone, but has managed to send out nearly 25,000 tweets. Thankfully, she’s been in the studio recently so (theoretically) a new record is just around the bend. That is if we can get her off her damn smartphone.
Dude York (8:20 at Vera Stage) – Dude York manages to balance the frantic energy of every garage band worth caring about and a real sense for pop melody. Besides, I can totally get behind any band with song titles like "The Assassination of Kurt Cobain by the Coward Dude York."
Capitol Hill Block Party
July 20–22, enter at 12th Ave & E Pike St, $30–$85