(I was lucky enough to be assisted by Seattle photographer-writer and all-around goddess/badass Suzi Pratt this year at CHBP, so she and I bring you this co-post! All photos © Suzi Pratt unless noted. Please to enjoy!)

Suzi: This past weekend, the 17th annual Capitol Hill BlockParty (CHBP) took over the Pike-Pine area of the popular Seattle neighborhood for 3 full days of partying in the streets. While this year’s festival was at less-than-capacity with plenty of tickets available at the gate, the event was much more enjoyable than previous years. The ability to easily navigate through crowds to reach stages between acts and get reasonably close to bands during their sets made CHBP feel more like the neighborhood party it was originally meant to be. At the same time, the presence of corporate sponsorship felt extra heavy this year as brands such as Jameson and Rif converted entire venue spaces into VIP lounges for product demos in exchange for places to sit and free libations.

Marianne: I agree with Suzi – it was great to be able to even get through the crowd this year, rather than squirm like a gridlocked, hot, hipster sardine. When you can move, you can get to more of the venues, and partake of more of the vendors…it’s good.

The issue of festival sponsorship is a bit hot-button, but I think everyone can agree it’s it here to stay: the cost to put on such events is huge, and I am sure CHBP would be an afternoon with a beardy dude on a harmonica instead of multi-day multi-band diversity without that corporate cash. To his credit, the Rif representative that talked to me as I plopped on a comfy couch in the VIP Lounge was respectful, cheerful, and did a fine job of promoting his product, a pre-loaded cannabis “vape pen,” even though he didn’t ask me if I was a weed-partaking person. I never did locate the gratis Jameson drinks, which upon reflection was probably for the best!

Pre-fest on Friday morning, I attended a very interesting Block Party panel discussion at The Elliott Bay Book Company Reading Room, which in part focused on this partnership of music promotion with business. In the digital age, music is more accessible than ever, and this comes with very big pros and cons. Moderated skillfully by Matt Ashworth (Porter Novelli, nadamucho.com), the panel, made of up five Seattle music movers and shakers, discussed from their differing perspectives of booker, musician, publicist, corporate sponsor specialist, and internet radio curator how musicians can up their odds of financial success by making great music and then thinking out of the box how to get it out to as many people as possible. I was reminded once again that I am so fortunate to live in a town with a passionate scene – there are so many people who love and live for music. Good things come from it.

(CHBP panel at Elliott Bay Book Company Reading Room by @mariannespellman on Instagram)

Now let’s get back to the Fest!

Suzi: Music-wise, this year’s lineup seemed geared toward the electronic and pop music in the form of bands such as Matt and Kim, Chromeo, and Beat Connection, all of which drew energetic crowds of dancing millenials.  A$AP Rocky also filled the mainstage area to close out the fest, giving it the overstuffed vibe that CHBP is known for. Many local Seattle artists also put on impressive shows throughout the weekend including Odesza, Sol, Fox and the Law, Kithkin, and Childbirth to name a few.


 Katie Kate



 Beat Connection

Fox and the Law



Suzi: My personal top 3 favorite performances were incredibly diverse genre-wise. Man…Or Astro-man? was the only space-surf rock band on this year’s lineup. The quartet from Alabama put on an explosive, photo-worthy show on the Vera stage late Friday night.

Popular indie rockers The War on Drugs also put on a great set on Sunday afternoon, despite starting late due to technical difficulties. Founded by Kurt Vile and Adam Granduciel, the band’s ambient, mesmerizing tunes made for a great soundtrack for a chill Sunday before A$APRocky closed out CHBP.

My last standout pick was Slow Magic, a rather mysterious solo DJ act performed by a guy wearing a mask. While DJ performances generally are not the most visual, Slow Magic’s huge tribal mask coupled with the fact that he provides the drum beats live (and at one point took his drumming out into the crowd), he ended up being captivating to both watch and listen to.

Marianne: I was only able to see and shoot two bands myself this year at CHBP as I was slammed with home duties this weekend, sadly. But they sure were two GREAT ones: the aforementioned rocket-fueled Man…Or Astro-man...

...and Friday Mainstage headliners Spoon. I had a very special opportunity to shoot Spoon’s entire set – what a joy! From my vantage point in the photo pit, I had a lovely view of both the band and the rapturous crowd and the wonderful communication between them – lots of smiles back and forth between band and fans. I even had the luxury of tossing a few beach balls that had wandered into the pit back into the crowd.

The band played a nicely-paced set divided between older songs like crowd fave “Don’t You Evah,” and several songs of their latest album, “They Want My Soul,” which will drop on August 5th. “Do You” and “Rent I Pay” have been getting heavy airplay in advance of the record release, and fans were singing along to every word, also delightful to see. I’m pretty sure everyone had a grand evening, as I did.

Thank you very very very much Suzi Pratt, Matt Ashworth and everyone at Porter Novelli - Seattle, Kitty Page, Mike Shoenbeck, Britt Daniel, and all the kind folks involved in putting on the Capitol Hill Block Party.