Twenty years of Capitol Hill Block Party magic is bound to bring some surprises, and some of 2016's latest additions made for some of the best events of the day. New Jersey producer and DJ Clams Casino was announced as part of the bill only about a week before the action started on Friday. Meanwhile, locals Maiah Manser and Dave B both filled last minute cancellation spots with flair. Manser kicked the day off at the main stage after UK R&B singer NAO cancelled a few days ago, and Dave B jumped on the afternoon after rapper Goldlink cancelled less than 48 hours ago. The trio of acts made Sunday's first half of main stage entertainment some of the best we saw all weekend, and helped close out the festival's 20th year with anything but disappointment.If Maiah Manser seemed at all stressed about the short notice of today's performance, she sure as hell did not show it. The Seattle singer, filling in for UK singer NAO (now playing the Barboza later this September), brought a full band to the main stage, who were all, Manser included, in tip top form. The singer is a former orchestral violist turned pop powerhouse, showcasing strong instrumentation and arrangement, both with the instruments onstage and with the three present vocalists. Manser's "Hold Your Head Up" was a game-changer for her growth and presence on the scene, but as it was evident here, there's a lot still brewing for Manser and her band. Today's set may have been a last minute ordeal, but the crowd sure didn't act like it. Plenty of early attendees packed in for Manser's set, excited to hear her bring it all like she would with a primetime spot. Given today's performance, it will truly be thrilling to hear Manser play Bumbershoot later this year. If you slept on today's show, don't make the same mistake twice.
The addition of Clams Casino (Mike Volpe) to the Sunday lineup a week ago was a game-changer for many an attendee. The New Jersey producer has shaped the hip-hop and pop scenes in monumental ways over the last five or six years, beginning with his work on A$AP Rocky mixtape Live Love A$AP as well as his extensive work with the Based God himself, Lil B. Since then, Clams has made a name for himself with ethereal, emotive production whose exploration into the existential is only outdone by the sheer volume of bass. Even beyond production alone, his stylistic techniques welcomed in a new age of melancholic and introspective rapping, complimenting the atmospheric beats perfectly. Over the last few years, Clams has released a handful of mixtapes featuring the instrumentals of his productions, but this year, he releases his full length debut 32 Levels, featuring the likes of A$AP Rocky, Lil B, Vince Staples, Mikky Ekko, and more. Fresh off the record and with only a week's worth of warning, Clams is here in the Emerald City for the first time ever, ready to rock the Block Party like its another day in the office.
Clams Casino is no stranger to a party, and his work as a DJ and a curator is nearly as reputable as his production skill. Look no further than his excellent FACT set for the only party mix you'll ever need again. But for today's entertainment, Volpe stuck strictly to work by his own hand. Kicking things off with a double shot from the new record, he then moved to Vince Staples banger "Norf Norf" before playing Staples' feature on Clams own LP, "All Nite". This was the pattern of the afternoon, baiting the crowd with the familiar and bringing them willingly into the fray for a more adventurous quest into Volpe's cloud of mystery. Seattle producer Keyboard Kid joined Clams for a cameo on 32 Levels cut "Witness", for which he supplied some co-production. After a lean forty minute set of hip-hop magic, Clams toned things down to close gracefully with the instrumental from Lil B's "I'm God", one of his first projects for the rapper and one of his most effortless productions ever. As the Imogen Heap sample echoed through against the walls lining Pike, Clams nodded approval. His job here was done - now on to the next one.
Dave B is one of the most consistent offerings on the Seattle hip-hop scene. Dave has put nothing but magic into his sets for some years now, but with rising awareness on the scene, it's no wonder that we continue to see him shine on stage's like Capitol Hill Block Party. B's new album Tomorrow features production from Soulection producer Sango, who blessed the main stage with a solid set earlier this weekend. The Soulection vibe seems to fit quite cleanly into B's spacial landscape, combining vintage Seattle hip-hop vibes with new sonic exploration of chill. With an effortless fifty minute set, Dave B kept the main stage energy going on Sunday afternoon like it was second nature. Just goes to show, when you feel like you can't trust anybody, the family comes through with everything they have. Dave B did just that.
Check back to the KEXP blog for more Capitol Hill Block Party action!
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