A vicious kind of writer’s block held my brain in its firm grasp while I was attempting to write intelligibly about Baltimore’s Whartscape 2010. I couldn’t portray the four-day festival’s dizzying display of DIY awesomeness without rambling incoherently into oblivion. There was much to analyze and canonize but I lacked the ability to organize. I needed to give the festival its proper due without jaunting on for forty-five hours.
I felt hopeless and slightly nervous I’d give up on writing about something so profoundly brilliant before I got over my mental farts. I was frustrated, yah know?
Then, a week after Whartscape, I attended the third and final day of the Newport Folk Festival.
Newport had excellent music overall, but my fresh memory of the Whartscape perfection helped focus my attention on what I appreciated most about Dan Deacon and his band of weirdos. Indeed, Baltimore’s Wham City showed me the way a musical celebration should be run. The folkies provided me with a tidy little foil that I could rail against after demonstrating very annoying points of mediocrity.
I found a catchy writing gimmick that the whole family could enjoy: Whartscape versus Newport, good versus evil, yadada yadada. Ah, but that draft sucked and, honestly, there were some very cool moments in Newport. This complicated matters. I threw out the parts about Newport and kept the Whartscape stuff. I’ll save the rest of that for another day.
Fortunately, the comparison exercise helped organize my thoughts enough to produce something semi-publishable.
So finally, in all its guts and glory, an explanation of the living organism, or orgasm, that was:
(Note: I borrowed a few pictures. Tell me yr name if I failed to give credit)
Whartscape’s musical performances took place in two “Do It Yrself” locations. The first space was in an old parking lot. Two makeshift stages fit in between the alleyways of a few old, probably abandoned but still sweet looking warehouses. Named the “Current Space”, this environment was wonderfully laid back while continuously stimulating.
Once one musical act finished on one stage, the next performer would begin on the other. There were no moments of bumming out cuz the next band was taking forty-five minutes to sound check and therefore killing off any momentum. Plus, if you didn’t want to be crushed in the mosh pit, you could step back with plenty of comfortable personal space. You could still see and hear the band and jump back into the fury if you felt the urge. Simply, there just weren’t too many people and hardly any big assholes. Proper concert etiquette was understood and abided by all.
If you were too tired to stand, there was plenty of room beyond the stages to sit and hang out and watch the mayhem. Also: plenty of affordable, yummy food and water (taco stand!), a cool-off “mist tent”, arts and crafts/merch tables, and the lot was within walking distance of a liquor store. Current space ruled and there were many pretty girls.
The second venue, the H&H Building, was in another old warehouse/apartment complex down the street a couple blocks. Music took place on the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth floors. If you weren’t jumpin’ and jivin’ with one performance, you could wander around until you found something more suitable towards your mental state. Nothing was ever boring, mind you. All was cool, fool, it just depended on your mood.
Whartscape was run by the workaholic Dan Deacon, who according to reports had been putting the festival together for three or four months, non-stop, and not taking any time to invest in his own music. A merry cast of Wham City members and Baltimore residents joined him in keeping things running.
All volunteer run. No security. No fights. Mosh pits were feisty yet controlled. Everyone was nice, pleasant, friendly, and unusual.
There were some amazing moments of grooving at Whartscape. The following video, taped during Scottie B’s set on Day 2, was spontaneously launched after Dan Deacon promised a 200$ cash price to whoever had the best dance moves.
Plus, the intense dance party I was part of during Day 3’s 3rd floor H&H party, was one of the best dance parties I’ve ever been a part of. Someone message me who those DJ’s were, I forget their names.
True, there were hundreds of hipsters. But they were the friendliest hipsters I’ve ever met. Plus, the performers were nice and approachable. I hung with Ed Schrader and talked about Robert Crumb, had a Natty Boh with the singer from Ponytail, and slapped the back of Nolen Strauss from Double Dagger. I was too staggeringly drunk to tell him how happy Double Dagger had made me. Instead I creeped on him.
Best Quote from dancing, I wrote down in my notebook, concerning the Scotti B dancing: I danced so hard my pants fell down.
No advertising. Or, as Double Dagger’s Nolen Strals pointed out: “there’s no cellphone company sponsor or Scion parked out front.” He also said something about “fuck Pitchfork” which was where I cheered loudest.
Coming tomorrow: Part 2 Alcohol, Luck, and The Music…