Westword Music Showcase 2010: Backbeat scribes' travelogue

Categories: Music Showcase

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Here's our massive, multi-page report/travelogue of the Westword Music Showcase from (in order) Tom Murphy, Cory Casciato, A.H. Goldstein, Jef Otte, Jon Solomon and Brian Frederick. Let us know in the comments what you saw and loved, saw and hated, or missed and hated yourself for missing.

While walking to Vinyl in time to just miss Night of Joy, I ran into people who informed me that the Showcase had already sold out -- a fact that became more obvious as the day went on. On the rooftop of Vinyl, the hip-hop showcase was underway, and Extra Kool laid down some of his better songs -- mostly the sunnier material from Even's Dead. Joining Kool was lyrical wunderkind Chris Steele, aka Time, throwing in some phases and otherwise handling the electronics. Despite the swelter, Kool put in a spirited performance.

It'd been a while since I last saw Blue Million Miles, but it seems like those guys have tightened up their act even more. Jeff Shapiro's wide-ranging guitar gymnastics complimented Sam McNitt's rhythmic leads better than ever, and the newer songs, written since the act's last album came out in 2008, were haunting and uplifting at the same time. The band has always been good at writing songs that get under your skin, even going back to the time when McNitt and Shapiro were in Small Objects, but with Johnny Lundock and Ethan Ward fully integrated into the songwriting process, this Bar Standard show, so sonically lush and electrifying, hinted that the next Blue Million album will be its best.

Overcasters played a short set at Bar Standard, Matt Regan's last with the band, but didn't skimp on showcasing songs from its upcoming release this fall. Despite the heat and the restrictions of that stage, the band put in a fine set. Sure, the projections had to be scaled down a bit from its normally reality-warping colorings, but Overcasters didn't scale down on its indigo swirl of dynamic sound. Kurt Ottaway even treated us to some moves that accented the rhythmic shifts.

Although in the shoegaze category on the ballot because there aren't enough bands like it to merit a separate designation, Overcasters, on this day, were more akin to a band like Catherine Wheel (also lumped in with the shoegazers), who rocked too much to stare down at pedals. At least that's what it seemed like to the crowd of people down front who were more into the show than most things I saw the rest of the day.

The "Rhino-In-The-Round" at Mo's was a fairly crowded affair and five acts performing formed a semi-circle just inside the entrance. First up was Married in Berdichev pal Stephen Steinbrink from French Quarter. One of the best male vocalists in underground music, his soulful falsetto accompanying the gentle but strong melodies did a lot toward brushing away any concerns with the muggy atmosphere.

Married in Berdichev performed two songs that were more melodically atmospheric and gorgeously ghostly than some of her more noisy, organically inflected compositions. Milton Melvin Croissant III's performance of the drivingly expansive "Blizzaga" came as a pleasant surprise even after a promising new song for the first half of his set. Ryan and Kristi from Hideous Men wore what looked like what might be described as Tleilaxu chic. Nevertheless, the duo brought its futuristic, experimental electronic pop with conviction, especially "Talons."

Pictureplane closed out the round robin with his own variety of house-avant electronic songs. At this point, the charming awkwardness that characterized Travis Egedy's earlier shows is gone replaced with a humble confidence in his ability to execute the music and so he did, ending the show with "Trance Doll." -- Tom Murphy


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