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Festival Review: Capitol Hill Block Party 2016

July 30, 2016

Capitol Hill Block Party is a 3-day music and arts festival that takes over six city blocks in the heart of Seattle starting on July 22nd. This year the lineup included big names like CHVRCHES, Washed Out, Big Wild, Crystal Castles, and hometown favorites, Odesza. Although the festival felt rather small in comparison to other city festivals I’ve been to, I found things I both enjoyed and disliked about CHBP.

Pro: The Crowd

From my personal experience, most city festivals have less of a “good vibe” and more of a “free-for-all” atmosphere. At CHBP, this is simply not the case. The attendees of CHBP 2016 were very polite and courteous. There was no obnoxious shouting or aggressive pushing and shoving. The crowd was there to dance, vibe, and most of all, have a good time.

Con: Water

At most festivals you can only bring in empty camelbacks and/or water bottles. Which is fine because it prevents people from bringing in outside substances. The only problem with that at CHBP is there are no water refill stations in sight! This is a major problem with the festival that I find personally unforgivable. It was not until I went to CHBP that I had realized I took water refill stations for granted. This is an easy fix though, and hopefully CHBP joins such city festivals like North Coast or Lollapalooza in keeping its attendants hydrated.

Con: Stages

I understand at city festivals that it can be difficult to make room for stages, or even give them enough room to have proper crowds. The problem with CHBP is that half the stages are inside and cramped. Not only are they cramped, but also to bring back to my first con, people flood into the bathrooms to take water from the faucets. This leaves the inside of establishments, within the six blocks of CHBP, with wet floors and just an overall unorganized feel. Honestly it doesn’t feel like any real effort is put into establishing any sort of environment/feel for even the main stage! I mean, all you see is a Shell Station that disrupts any visuals from the main acts. Don’t get me wrong, the Shell Station is bumping; but a curtain could have solved this visual obscenity easily.

Capitol Hill Block Party

The Shell Station right next to the stage really took away from the scene.

Pro: The Music

The lineup is the only real reason to go to CHBP. I mean, obviously it’s a music festival, but CHBP doesn’t really have an atmosphere to it, just a lineup. Big Wild and Odesza killed it. I’ve seen Odesza several times and they really brought an atmosphere, which CHBP so desperately needed, that really brought life to the crowd. From the Seahawks drumline to the Passenger Seat String Quartet, Odesza brought CHBP on a beautiful ride. They even had Tom from Beat Connection, which really pulled on my heartstrings being that it’s one of my personal favorite remixes.

Overall: Meh

CHBP itself is nothing to really be that proud of. High five to the promoters for bringing on an excellent lineup, but lack of water refill stations and apathy towards making the Main Stage extraordinary really made this festival feel like a one time endeavor. I mean, if the promoters don’t feel a need to try and evolve CHBP into a festival worth talking about, then what’s the point? You can check it out next year, but if the lineup isn’t something you’re too keen on, don’t go.


This is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of Recreation Pro.

Author: Luke Parker