Capitol Hill Block Party 2023: Local and Traveling Artists Hype Up Crowds for Another Year
Updated: Aug 6
Edited by Gurjot Kang
Hundreds of attendees gathered at Capitol Hill Block Party throughout the weekend of July 21-23. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
Capitol Hill Block Party (CHBP) 2023 didn’t disappoint with its line-up of local artists and big-name headliners hyping up crowds of excited festival goers with their electric performances. From the weekend of July 21-23, Broadway and 12th Avenue were blocked off for the event, and hundreds of attendees in colorful festival garb strolled the streets as music echoed throughout the neighborhood from one stage to another.
From July 21-23, CHBP fenced off an area in the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood to invite festival-goers from all throughout the area. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
For the past 25 years, CHBP has been the summer event uniting both artists and fans across musical genres in Seattle’s historic Cap Hill neighborhood. Whether you enjoy pop, R&B, alternative, or rap music, CHBP has often been for anyone looking for a good time and great food. Even amid some unfortunate cancellations, such as with the artist PinkPantheress, who was scheduled for the Main Stage on Sunday, July 23, festival-goers did not show their disappointment as they came out in droves and made the best out of the weekend’s stacked setlist.
From local artists to more traveling mainstream acts, CHBP thrives at its best in an environment that allows for smaller, more intimate, and expressive experiences for both the artists onstage and the attendees who opted for this event over Bite of Seattle or the massive, seismic Taylor Swift concert–all happening the same weekend. The lightrail was packed this weekend to say the least.
With plenty of food trucks and stalls, festival-goers lined up to grab a meal in between performances—from cookie dough ice cream to Korean hot dogs—the options were many. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
The weekend included appearances from artists that graced the main stage, such as Sofi Tukker, Denzel Curry, Rico Nasty, and Louis the Child. With plenty of smaller artists and local bands with a dedicated cult following also hyping up audiences on the other venues, such as the Vera or Neumos stage. With dozens of artists performing across a total of eight different stages—the live music and fun entertainment went on all day long from Friday to Sunday evening.
The Mariner Moose spotted in a rare appearance having a blast at CHBP on July 22, 2023. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
With GZR crew members able to attend and capture moments from the Saturday and Sunday schedule, plenty of artists stood out in memory from the weekend.
A crowd awaits by the Main Stage for the musical group Between Friends. (Photo/Gurjot Kang)
On Saturday, local acts like Lemon Boy and Coral Grief shook up the Neumos stage from punk rock jams to breezy chill tunes, while right out the door, acts like Muna and Between Friends got audiences cheering and vibing by the Main Stage.
Coral Grief, the local dream pop band made up of Lena Farr-Morrissey (vocals, bass, synth), Sam Fason (guitar, synth), and Cam Hancock (drums), play their ethereal, experimental set on the Neumos Stage on July 22, 2023. (Photos/Gurjot Kang)
Lemon Boy, in particular, had the crowd headbanging and rocking along to their set, especially during their unique, totally metal, rendition of Britney Spear’s “Toxic.”
Lemon Boy amps up the crowd with their sick beats, with Yaz on the guitar, Nicole on the bass, and Myriah on the drums. (Photos/Gurjot Kang)
Lauren Isenberg, the Canadian singer and songwriter known as Renforshort, took over the Vera Stage with her performance. During her set, the singer encouraged the crowd to sing along, jump, dance, and hug their friends. (Photos/Gurjot Kang)
For the GZR crew attending CHBP on Sunday, one such group that stood out for their unique mellow sound just so happened to be the first band to perform on the Main Stage, i//u. Formed at the University of Washington in 2018, the local neo-jazz band i//u came dressed to impress as the band stepped onto the stage with matching forest green jumpsuits. With unique badges and sewed-in accessories, each of the six members gave the jumpsuit its own twist that fits perfectly into the overall nonchalant flair of the band.
The electric group, fresh off winning the NW Alternative Jazz Group of The Year award presented by Earshot Jazz, was now ready to take on the main stage at CHBP. During their 45 minute set, lead singer Katyrose Jordan serenaded the crowd with their profound voice accompanied by the sweet melodies of bassist Scott Elder, trumpet player Andrew Sumabat, guitarist Julio Estrada, saxophonist Brandt Fisher, pianist Jason Chan, and drummer Billy Wu.
Katyrose Jordan, lead singer for i//u, guiding the crowd to a call and response to lyrics of one of the band’s songs at Capitol Hill Block Party on July 23, 2023. (Photo/Marian Mohamed)
I//u’s set didn’t shy away from giving each band member their own spot to shine–showing the audience the band’s wide range of musical expertise through a vibrant and soothing combination of vocals, guitar, trumpet, drums, and more. The band’s setlist included songs like “Sun Behind My Eyes,” which highlighted Jordan’s honey-like vocals amid the upbeat tempo of various instruments. The band also performed “Monday Morning” from their 2019 EP “Junebugs,” their 2022 single “Waiting Test,” and their most recently released single “Eros.”’
The band even treated audience members to a special rendition of “Boy’s a Liar” from Pink Pantheress—soothing the broken hearts of fans who were disappointed by her inability to make it to Sunday’s lineup of performances. Either way, audiences were fully immersed by i//u’s dreamy, out of this world performance on the Main Stage that incorporated rare elements such as an electric aerophone into the set and ultimately left many audience members with the soft feeling of walking on clouds by the end.
Another Sunday act that the GZR crew couldn’t get enough of was The Della Kit. In the air-conditioned Neumos venue, Canadian artist The Della Kit stood in the middle of the stage, bathed in purple lighting, with pink and yellow roses adorning her music stand. As attendees filled up the venue, The Della Kit ran through a series of vocal warmups while playing with her sound system. Before diving into her set, the artist thanked not only the crowd but also the ability to perform on this land– acknowledging the Duwamish territory that CHBP resides on.
Through these intimate acknowledgments, The Della Kit set the tone for what her listeners were to expect for the rest of the show. The artist’s set included numbers such as “looking in,” “just a call away,” and “10.5”— cleverly named after The Della Kit’s shoe size. Through each of her songs, The Della Kit reflected on the trials and tribulations of life and the human experience while simultaneously celebrating the beautiful struggle of it all. Whether the artist sang a love song or one about a shoe size, The Della Kit didn’t shy away from giving her heart to the lyrics and letting the music move her.
The Della Kit belts out a high note to a cheering crowd on July 23, 2023. (Photo/Marian Mohamed)
“This moment with each and every one of you in this space is really special, and it’ll never be the same,” said The Della Kit. “We will never have this exact moment again, and I appreciate and love each and every one of you.”
Other artists that stood out from Sunday’s roster included the South Carolina rapper Mavi performing on the Vera Stage. Mavi’s quick lyrical flow and memorable beats captivated passersby—drawing audiences to the stage. Beyond his rap skills, Mavi’s lyrics, which give insight into his own personal dilemmas as a young Black man in the music industry, stand out.
“He’s my favorite artist,” said Sergio Canbero, a Mavi fan and a first-time attendee at CHBP. “I’ve been listening to him for three years nonstop.” For fans like Sergio, the chance to see some of their favorite, lesser-known artists perform at CHBP is an unforgettable experience like no other.
Quincy Purcell, a fan of Mavi, poses for a picture with the rapper as Purcell’s friend, Henry Wise, captures the moment on July 23, 2023. (Photo/Kylie Rowland)
Mavi’s setlist included songs from his 2022 album titled “Laughing so Hard, it Hurts,” such as “Spoiled Brat”—a song with an upbeat and smooth tempo juxtaposed by more contemplative, hard-hitting lyrics. The set also had moments of light-hearted fun, such as when Mavi brought out his friend to rap alongside him and got the crowd chanting his friend’s name. As Mavi’s flow got quicker, the energy of the crowd became electric. As Mavi chanted ‘Go Seattle,’ a wave of hands and shouts flew across the crowd. To wrap up his set, Mavi surprised attendees with a sneak peek of a few songs from his upcoming album.
To end our evening, the GZR crew headed over to the Main Stage in high anticipation to see the one and only Rico Nasty. Although the female hip hop phenom was set to perform until 7 p.m., by 6:30 p.m., the Main Stage area was already packed with fans eagerly waiting for the rapper. And for many of those waiting, Rico Nasty’s set did not disappoint. As she walked on stage, the musician was met with screams and applause from the crowd.
It’s Rico Nasty. That’s it. That’s the photo caption. (Photo/Kylie Rowland)
“I’ve been following Rico for about four or five years now and [enjoy her] energy of like don’t give a f*ck, just do you, and keep walking with your head up high,” shared fan Arius Miko, who traveled from Portland to CHBP just to see the rapper.
The iconic Rico Nasty looks into the crowd as the audience screams her name on July 23, 2023. (Photo/Kylie Rowland)
In the midst of her set, the rapper jokingly mentioned how the only thing she knows about Seattle is—in the most PG terms—the unhygienic gum wall at Pike Place Market. The songs “Smack a B*tch,” “Pressing Me,” and “Poppin,” were just some of the iconic hits a part of that night’s set. At one point during the performance, a group of hyper attendees even tried to form a circle to create a mosh pit but failed to execute it as fans kept getting caught dancing to Rico Nasty’s set.
Such moments of rambunctious, carefree fun while enjoying music from a wide range of artists is what Capitol Hill Block Party has always been about. Through dozens of performances stacked across the weekend, CHBP prides itself on showcasing talent both homegrown in Seattle and from afar.
For Brujita XO, a local Filipina Mexican American artist, this year marked the artist’s first time performing at CHBP. who performed her set late into the night at the Barboza stage. This year's block party would be Brujita XO’s first time performing at the event and despite the initial nerves, the night turned out to be an incredible experience as she could feel the support of her friends within the Seattle music community to rally behind her on the Barboza Stage. As she noticed fans singing along to the lyrics of her songs, Brujita XO couldn’t help but feel somewhat emotional at the thought of connecting with a group of fans she never met before but loved for her music. This meant the world to Brujita XO.
“You never know who you’re going to be performing in front of,” said Brujita XO. “So, I just wanted to make a lasting impression…It’s like you’re here; I’m here. Here’s what I have to share.”
Brujita XO performs in front of the pinkly lit room of the Barboza Stage on July 23, 2023. (Photo/Kylie Rowland)
It’s these moments of connection between fans and artists like Brujita XO that make CHBP so special. Full of new-found inspiration and gratitude, Brujita XO is excited to continue working on her music and hopes to be invited back to CHBP next year and the year after that.
“I’m just grateful that they had me this year,” said Brujita XO.
Whether it’s Rico Nasty or Brujita XO on stage, CHBP is at its best when it gives the artists and fans a chance to connect, shine, and let loose.