Capitol Hill Block Party 2022
Updated: Jul 2
Edited by Marian Mohamed
Festival-goers meander through the streets of Capitol Hill for a chance to listen to their favorite artists on July 23, 2022. (Photo/Lily Rodriguez)
Capitol Hill Block Party 2022 was an absolute hoot, with the classic turnout of ravers, gays, and everyone in between. The fashion was vibrant and eclectic, generously saturated with glitter, and the whole neighborhood felt loud. A mix of heat, sweat, and cannabis emanated through the crowds as attendees squeezed in front of the festival’s eight stages.
Each stage at Block Party has its own energy, representing six cornerstone cultural institutions that make up the music scene between 12th and Broadway, plus a stage run by the Vera Project and a main stage for headliners. Founded in 1997, block party has grown from a single-stage DIY rager into a full weekend extravaganza, pulling headliners such as Danny Brown and Charli XCX. Still highlighting plenty of local bands, block party has maintained a great deal of Seattle character, delivering an action-packed festival that is both kind of charming and kind of weird.
Wandering in and out of venues into crowds of people wearing little clothing offers a genuine snapshot of the Capitol Hill lifestyle. Still, instead of choosing between a day lounging in Cal Anderson or a night hitting the bars, block party combines everything into one dizzying indulgence.
As a first time festival photographer, I arrived just as the Saturday lineup was starting to heat up. I immediately headed towards the Vera Project stage, struck by the grunge, hyperpop pixie that is Chloe Moriondo. Not really knowing what I was doing, I gravitated toward the other people with cameras and flashed my media pass at security. A little too aware that I was blocking everyone in the front row’s view, I awkwardly half squatted to snap a couple of photos.
Chloe Moriondo strums away at her guitar on July 23, 2022. (Photo/Lily Rodriguez)
The rest of Chloe’s set was giggly and high energy, with her all-fem band joking around and dancing on stage. Delivering some bops from their 2021 release Blood Bunny, the crowd went wild to I Want To Be With You and Bodybag, with rows of teenage girls singing along to anti-misogynistic lyrics. We were also given a sneak peek at some fresh tracks coming up on Chloe’s new album Suckerpunch which is set to be released on October 7, 2022.
The Vera Project never disappoints; the block party lineup at the Vera Stage highlighted young, genre-blending artists who are toying with the boundaries of music. With a mix of queer and POC artists, the Vera stage amplified the Vera Project’s dedication to inclusion and diversity, resounding throughout Capitol Hill.
Next up was a trek to the Barboza stage a block away. In true Barboza fashion, the bouncer spent an unsettling 30 seconds meticulously inspecting my ID. Even at 22, I get a little nervous, but after a few up-downs, I passed the test and descended into the Seattle underground scene. A complete 180 from the bright mayhem upstairs, the club teleported festival-goers to the red room from Twin Peaks. With some poorly lit intrigue and a floor smelling like beer, everyone knew they were in for a real hardcore show. When Seattle locals Pink Boa took the stage, guitarist Brian O’Brien strutted across in a gorgeous cheetah print cape and incited some high pitch feedback to queue the drums.
Pink Boa settle in a pink and red-lit basement before launching into their set list on July 23, 2022. (Photo/Lily Rodriguez)
The psych-metal duo quickly incited a pit, but this time I figured I probably shouldn’t jump into the middle of the action since this wasn't my camera. Wailing on their newest release Bang Bang, Pink Boa delivered yet another perfectly pounding thrash anthem. Stationed before the transparent drum set, I somehow managed a simultaneous head-bang and action shot. The set cut off as quickly as it started and it was back into the light!
Major lesson number one: know your camera settings. Fresh out of the punk basement, I was back into open air and back toward the Vera stage, where I stumbled across at least five water guns being fired into a packed crowd moshing to Enumclaw’s PNW pop punk magic. There I was, in the heat of the moment, realizing that I had the perfect opportunity to capture this super candid moment as a fresh photographer! And…
An overexposed photo of artist Enumclaw performing on July 23, 2022. (Photo/ Lily Rodriguez)
This was a dark moment. Moving on.
Saturday was supposedly a functional 72 degrees, but with the sun and the body heat of shirtless tech bros, 72 quickly became 90. Luckily, some stage crew came to the crowd’s rescue, spraying water bottles in people’s faces as they waited for Danny Brown’s entrance. So another learning opportunity for a first time media pass holder was the power of the dreaded “pit stamp.” According to festival organizers, novice photographers can’t just go wherever they want. At the main stage, only the photographers who actually get paid are allowed to get up close and personal with Danny Brown.
Just when I surrendered to the side of an already packed stage, I noticed a beacon of hope. By beacon, I mean there was literally someone waving at me. After doing a few over-the-shoulder checks to ensure I was the target of attention because, let's be honest, we’ve all been there, I waved back only to find that this mysterious stranger was another photographer who had secured a spot at the front of the crowd! I never caught their name, but shoutout to my media guardian angel because Danny Brown’s set was incredible.
Danny Brown displays a hand-horn gesture to the crowd while performing on July 23, 2022. (Photo/Lily Rodriguez)
I was situated right behind the pit-stamp elite and had a prime location to capture the shenanigans on stage. If there was one takeaway from this set, it's that Danny Brown really wants you to listen to his podcast. He definitely had a lot to say about Seattle, calling out the “weirdness” we’re all acquainted with (if you aren’t familiar, check out episode 13 on The Danny Brown Show), but also hinted at some socio-political realness addressing the complex world we live in. Every song, monologue, and goofy gesture was complemented by the classic Danny Brown “EhHehAheHAhah.” At the end of his set, the icon, star, and legend hopped off the stage and into the crowd until he faded into the sea of people. I’m not really sure what happened to him after that, but there was no time to stick around and find out!
Back to, you guessed it, the Vera stage! My last set of the day was Kenny Mason, an Atlanta-based rapper trying to blend in with his Kraken jersey. Coming off his 2021 release Angelic Hoodrat: Supercut, featuring Denzel Curry and Freddie Gibbs, Kenny Mason brought his alt-rap style to a Seattle audience. With a whole entourage, smoke machines, and angst, this set offered the perfect subject for my last few shots of the day.
Kenny Mason performs "Angelic Hoodrat: Supercut" on July 23, 2022. (Photo/Lily Rodriguez)
Overall, this experience was a 10/10. An ideal combination of the picturesque Seattle summer, great music, and lively crowds, Block Party delivers an experience worth capturing. Media pass for the win.