Ratatat - Capitol Hill Block Party - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Ratatat - Capitol Hill Block Party

by Brian Lange. Rating:9 Release Date:2011-11-30

The Capitol Hill Block Party in Seattle is, quite literally, a block party. With humble beginnings in 1997, it was originally just a one day festival of music which has now expanded to three days with attendance estimated at over 20,000. With armbands costing $60 a day and billion dollar sponsors flipping the bill, the Capitol Hill Block Party has now added to the resume acts such as Maclemore, Atomosphere, MGMT, Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, Jack White, The Presidents of the United States of America, TV on the Radio, and RATATAT.

With 18-year-old hipsters drugged out of their minds as far as the eye can see, staggering about the six-block grid of the block party, what better headliner for the festival than Brooklyn’s very own RATATAT? Surprisingly, they have an extremely high-tech setup that they brought to the show, a stage set up in the middle of historic Pike Street. The stage, featuring a large rear LED screen and two smaller glass screens in the front (and yes, lasers), seems hardly equipped to deliver any kind of impressive show. 

Though RATATAT is only billed for an hour, it's enough to close out a three-day festival of music, food and cheap novelty freebies. The sun sets just in time for the lights and lasers to overshadow the glowing sign from the Shell station. With screens featuring random as hell graphics depicting screeching birds, exploding Greek sculptures, roaring lions, and geometric shapes along with myriad of lighting sequences, it's a spectacle for the eyes. The kids just wanted to dance.

But imagine for a moment that I am not a grumpy 30-something, born in the shadow of Generation X and actually did drugs and was still in my early 20s. Perhaps then, I wouldn’t be so quick on making negative opinions on just about everyone around me.

Pot is unavoidably inhaled everywhere you walk. Those who want to take it up a step seem to be popping pills or inhaling substances. As I shake my cane at these damn fool kids without regard for anything in the world I realize that, with small exceptions, everyone here is smiling and having a good time.

RATATAT is getting everyone in attendance dancing, holding their hands to the air, waving free glowing Alaska Airlines batons to the beats, blowing up condoms and batting them around like beach balls, making friends with those around them. People making residence in the buildings on which CHBP is located are hanging out of windows to enjoy the show along with the crowd. The energy is positive and palpable.

As popular as CHBP is and has become, it generally seems to be less about the music and more about the culture. Capitol Hill, a section of the city that was once overrun with gutterpunks and heroin addicts, is now ground zero for hipsters and trendy bars. People come to CHBP because it’s cool, because they’re supposed to.

But for old farts like me, there’s still that sacrifice of weeding through these damn fool kids to experience a good show. It was a good one. 

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