Whartscape Part 2
Note of Stupidity: Apparently in Part 1 of my Whartscape review I decided not to include an explanation of the way I organized my summary. I chose to pick the most important parts of a festival and show why Whartscape ruled in every category. Sometimes, I am a dumb ass….
OK, all the time. I am a dumb ass.
In short, here’s Part 2:
Whartscape’s euphoric high truly started when I went to go get money at the ATM and ran into a couple pretty cool dudes who recommend purchasing the cheap and potent beverage known as Four Loko. This is a picture of Four Loko:
I gulped down the hefty, slightly rank drank, and headed back to the left-hand stage, where hip hoppers OFire were lighting up the hipsters, like whoa. I ran to the front of the stage and started dancing along to their Baltimore-style crunk, leaning my shoulders as they commanded, and danced like the whitest fool possible.
I truly adored OFire because they were clearly out of their element but still had a shit-load of fun. They were so strange and out of place, I couldn’t help but get over-the-top-excited. I think the day prior, Thursday’s night of luke-warm hit-or-miss ironic talent-show theater had kinda annoyed me. OFire’s genuine happiness just killed me. Plus one of the guys had grillz!
After recovering from that blast of fresh gangsta air, I caught:
Weekends – They were awesome. Two guys, one noisey sound of happiness.
So Percussion – Hit some wood blocks together in unison and it made a cool sound.
Height – Triumphant chubby/nerdy white boy rappers who got the crowd moving, especially with their cover of Ed Schrader’s song about sugar. Awesome.
Altered States – The drummer was wicked. I think they were the first band I checked out, but who cares about the linearity of Whartscape, cuz either way they were da bomb.
Dope Body – Rage Against the Machine-style punk rock. The singer had the same hair and sneer as Zach de la Rocha. They were sick.
Child Bite – Wolf Parade/Devo hybrid sound came from these guys. The lead singer had a cool moustache.
Javelin were cool, Providence represent, I don’t remember Scott Copeland.
Lil B was a bizarre rapper who reminded me of Lil Wayne, without the sick lines. Or talent…
Get Em Mamis were like the Baltimore version of Salt N’ Peppa. My friend would later convince them he was a writer for Rolling Stone.
The sets at Whartscape melted into one another. Not one thing stood out as my very favorite performance, although Double Dagger could make a case as the MVP’s of Whartscape. My feelings toward favorite musical moments tended to be clumped together into groups of happiness rather than single noteworthy performances.
Here they are:
1. Ed Schrader into Double Dagger into Ponytail into The Dan Deacon Ensemble
Ed Schrader – I had never listened to Ed Schrader before Whartscape. He hit the stage with his minimalist drum set and a guitarist and simply destroyed all human life. The man has a little bit of the devil in him, cuz what I witnessed that day was straight outta hell. Look at this fuckin’ guy:
In all seriousness, Ed Schrader tore the Whartscape crowd a new bunghole. He bashed his drums throughout his set like there was no tomorrow while screaming out his lyrics as passionately as his throat would allow. His intense facial expressions, gnashing teeth, and visibly popping neck veins added to the already magnificent performance.
Double Dagger – In what would go down as maybe my favorite overall purely musical-based memory of Whartscape, Double Dagger’s frenzied set transcended the human race and reached parts of reality that I had never seen.
Nolen Strauss fronts the bass/drums trio and seemed rather touched by the festival, causing him to pour his entire soul into his magical set. The dude walked around the stage while tune-ups were going on, waiting for Ed Schrader to end, basking in the glory of the Baltimore DIY accomplishment, making jokes with the crowd, and showing off his giant wealth of charisma. He would later cheer on the non-participation of blood-sucking advertisers, do a little Pitchfork-bashing, and summarize the communal feel of the festival. Already talked about that a bit in Part 1…
Strauss and company started out things by launching into Pillow Talk from the newest release, Mask. The tumult that immediately began, after the first note, was a sight to behold. People started flying off the stage, crowd surfing, and moshing the shit outta the place. Strauss did his thang on stage, and off of it, diving into his admirers and even running into the crowd, with mic in hand, then coming back to the stage, while slowly tying the cord around his neck. All this was done without missing a beat with his incredibly talented band. The pure rush of adrenaline mixed with the excellent musical chops of Double Dagger pushed me into the pit for a little while. It kicked my ass. I guess if I had to make a tepid comparison, it would be like seeing a combination Fugazi and Iggy and the Stooges. Or something…
Ponytail – After DD’s bruising delirium, I decided to sit in the back and watch Ponytail do their thang. I had seen them a couple years ago and wasn’t exactly a fan of their music. I kinda wish I had pushed up a little closer, since I found out later it was their last show, possibly forever. Either way, they were much better and tighter than I remembered them.
The crowd’s highly righteous response to their slow-burning mix of punk rock and avant-garde leanings was a rather beautiful sight to take in from the back. I have a very distinct image in my head of the front of the crowd moving in a very beautiful, almost mesmerizing togetherness as the band reached the climax of one of their last songs.
If this was their last show, they ended on a very lovely, awesome note.
The Dan Deacon Ensemble – I’ve seen the king of electronic-driven freak-outs around five or six times and was wondering how he would switch things up for the festival. I’d never seen him with a full-band and was prepared for another intense crowd reaction.
What followed was entirely different from any other Deacon show and anything else at Whartscape. The crowd erupted into a kind of new-fangled dance/mosh pit, responding to the xylophone, drums, and various electronics that were combining into a force of musical lightning. Mostly playing new material, or tunes I didn’t recognize, the ensemble truly encapsulated everything at Whartscape in one performance: artistic wizardry, astonishing musical innovation, and pure ecstatic happiness. Also, motherfuckin’ Zach Hill on drums. Oh, and a cute volunteer told me everyone on stage at that time were the best musicians she knew.
Saturday afternoon’s amazing music and brutal record-setting heat sapped me of all my energy. I almost passed out on the fifth floor of the H&H building at around eleven o’clock and was planning on bailing altogether. Unfortunately, my ride home was nowhere to be found, so my game plan turned to drinking Natty Boh until I was too drunk to be tired anymore.
Although not the most logical plan in the galaxy, the extra-warm glorious, delicious beer replenished my motivation to find cool bands. After an hour of chugging, I dragged my carcass to the sixth floor where, to my amazement, Universal Order of Armageddon was setting up.
Prior to the show, you were supposed to RSVP onto a guest-list to see these guys. I felt bad, since I had never heard the dudes before, and I didn’t bother putting my name in. I gave first dibs to others who were more deserving, yah heard?
My guess is they let in the people on the guest list first, then whoever else was drunkenly wandering around H&H (me!) was let in. I walked in, staked out a luxurious spot underneath one of the ceiling fans, and proceeded to have my mind blown.
UOA were a legendary hardcore band from Baltimore in the early to mid 90s. Before the show, I hadn’t read anything that portrayed their excellence accurately enough to make me excited. I’d try to here, but honestly, they’re the type of band you have to see yourself to understand. I remember being impressed with their guitar work and their energy, but that does them no justice. They had the energy of 8 dumpster babies. Let’s just say I fully understand why people lost their shit for their reunion.
But that’s not all: the band that immediately followed, Sick Weapons, from Baltimore, also lit the sixth floor up. Led by the very-charismatic Ellie Beziat, the punk crew blasted through a set of intense, rockin’ tunes. I can’t fully remember it all, but I did see Nolen from Double Dagger in the mosh pit! If that’s not enough street cred for yah, I don’t know what to tell you. Plus, they were a great follow-up to UOA’s sick set.
(Via Sick Weapons Myspace.com)