2011 Westword Music Showcase: Backbeat scribes' travelogues

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Every year, we enlist our Backbeat writers to host various stages at the Westword Music Showcase, and in addition to their emcee obligations, we ask them to pull double duty and write up the acts that appear on their individual stages. Click through to read travelogues from Thorin Klosowski, Ru Johnson, A.H. Goldstein, Jon Solomon, Tom Murphy, Britt Chester and Cory Lamz.

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Stephen Cummings
Port Au Prince

Things got started a bit late at Bar Standard due to some missing drums, but Port Au Prince ended up being a great way to start the day. The group's laid-back pop grooves got the audience ready for the rock that was soon to follow. A clear sound is starting to solidify from the band, and although there were a few hints of Astrophagus left in some of its songs, it's clear there's something new coming up here.

By the time FaceMan played, the crowd was already nice and warmed up and prepared to actually see a show in the early afternoon. The outfit wasn't able to bring in the giant head sculpture, which certainly takes away from the overall experience of seeing FaceMan, but the slower tone was a nice setup for what was about to come from the next few bands.

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Stephen Cummings
FaceMan

Seeing Accordion Crimes in the middle of the afternoon is a bit weird, to say the least, but the band managed to kick the bar into overdrive pretty quickly with its Drive Like Jehu-styled rock. The crowd was totally into it, with a mass of people you wouldn't usually see at one of the act's shows getting their rock pants on and digging in. Still, people somewhat humorously kept a good distance between the stage and themselves.

To say Lion Sized destroyed it is a bit of an understatement -- they came ready to rock and delivered, and people responded accordingly. It can be a bit tough to get the energy to seriously annihilate a venue at two in the afternoon, but Lion Sized did it with style.

After a good old-fashioned name balk (thanks for being understanding, guys), Ideal Fathers delivered some serious rock in the form of short, fast songs perfectly suited for the mid-afternoon drinking binge that most of the crowd seemed to be taking part in. The band powered its way through the set and felt like a natural fit for everyone who stuck around to see them. There is something special about seeing people screaming in the afternoon, especially when there's a faux British accent mixed in there.

Gangcharger clearly takes a lot of its cues from Sonic Youth, which isn't a bad thing, and it was more transparent on some songs than others. That isn't just a statement on their overall sound, either; a lot of what the band was doing seemed to fit the ideal of '90s rock, from the whacked-out toys as instruments to the loops upon loops of feedback. The crowd seemed to appreciate it, too, with lots of head bobbing and a generally chill stage demeanor, which was a bit of a shock after seeing Ideal Fathers' energetic set.

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Stephen Cummings
Le Divorce

Almost out of nowhere, Bar Standard filled to the brim with people. By the time Le Divorce started, the venue was packed full of bodies sweating out a thick stench of a day full of booze. For its part, Le Divorce brought an energetic set that had people in the crowd bouncing around and even singing along to a few tunes. The band sounded solid, clearly reveling in the energy the crowd was putting out, which was, to say the least, exploding a bit.

Overcasters managed to play to a totally packed house and kept the crowd there. The group sounded solid, and a big portion of the crowd really appreciated the noiser rock they were dealing out. I half expected people to take off mid-way through for some reason, but people stuck around and kept the atmosphere alive and well -- and Overcasters were up to the challenge.

If you've seen the Photo Atlas, you know exactly what to expect, and the bulk of the crowd was clearly aware of what they were stepping into, because the second they started playing, Bar Standard sounded like a stadium show filled with screaming fans. It was rather impressive to see people summon the energy to dance at 6 p.m. after a day filled with music, and Photo Atlas was certainly into the idea of the whole thing and kept its energy up as well.

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Stephen Cummings
Snake Rattle Rattle Snake

This was Snake Rattle Rattle Snake's first real show with only one drummer, but it still managed to cull together an atmosphere that somehow evokes both witches in a forest and ass-shaking all at once. Thankfully, the crowded house at Bar Standard obliged and danced like it meant life or death. -- Thorin Klosowski


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15 comments
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9 of "hundreds"
9 of "hundreds"

So Cory - your reporting got a little light when you hit DELLA and then almost non-existant for MBSE and MM.  Did the "hundreds of people" that were there at 4:30 really leave to hit the main stage - or were they there in the first place to see DELLA - and left afterward?  And what were your thoughts on the MBSE and Monroe Monroe set?  Did you leave after DELLA to hit the mainstage as well - thus no report?  Would love to hear more about these 3 bands - without your apparently 500 word limit....

Stuart
Stuart

Correction, Hindershot played "Lipstick" by "The Buzzcocks". 

Guest
Guest

So if there wasn't a Master of Ceremonies present at a venue then we should assume there will not be a write-up of the events at that venue? Will we not be seeing reviews of the "lesser" venues, like Stoney's, Opal, Bannock St. Garage, Rooster & Moon, etc.?

Cory Lamz
Cory Lamz

No, not everyone at Stoney's migrated to the mainstage after Della's set, but there were considerably less people in the place. It seemed as if a good 200 people showed up just for Boys and DELLA, and then the same 200 people who flooded Stoney's just an hour before left after DELLA's set -- the place went from shoulder-to-shoulder standing room only to considerably more spacious between bodies.

I had the pleasure of introducing both My Body Sings Electric and Monroe Monroe, but I did not have the opportunity to catch all of MBSE's set because of meeting up with Chromeo prior to their performance. What I did see of MBSE was more than exceptional, though. Those guys have the talent to fill any of the local venues the size of the Bluebird or the Gothic -- and they'd do even better with a light show to match their set. And the beauty about Monroe Monroe was the soul in their tunes; unlike other bands at Stoney's for Showcase, you could distinctly tell when one song ended and another began, and that variety in the different moods and songs in the set list was truly refreshing. Now don't get me wrong: the earlier bands' performances were equally great, and I am now a big fan of all of the bands that played at Stoney's for Showcase, but the contrast between Monroe Monroe's songs during its set was a nice, welcomed change of pace.

backbeatmod
backbeatmod

Although we didn't have Backbeat writers stationed at every venue (none of which we'd consider "lesser venues," BTW), there are more travelogues forthcoming from Stoney's and City Hall. If you caught a great set that hasn't been mentioned, please feel free to share your experience.

Guest
Guest

While it's politically correct of you to say you don't consider some of the other venues "lesser," the lack of coverage from those venues suggests otherwise; obviously Westword chose to book certain bands at certain venues, assigned writers to certain venues, and did not assign any writers to others. When you stratify your priorities like that it's hard to agree that Westword doesn't consider certain venues/acts to be "lesser," as prioritizing creates the "greater" (priority) and "lesser" (priority) dynamic. Aside from that: political correctness is total crap, so cut it out. Let's not pretend that bands you thought would be a bigger draw (greater) were grouped together at larger (greater) venues, and groups you thought woud have little/no draw (lesser) were grouped together at smaller (lesser) venues, and that the larger venues took priority for coverage. A play towards popularity isn't exactly a play towards quality ... not that I expect that.

The Admiral
The Admiral

NumberThree loves getting rides from me, don't listen to him. And Lion Sized totally slayed, except the drummer is a huge dick. xoxo

NumberThree
NumberThree

I saw The Admiral taking a "live blog" in one of the bathrooms at Sutra. This person is just trying to get a free ride from you. Don't trust him! Something tells me he's really into Vampire Weekend or some Yacht Rock B.S.

The Admiral
The Admiral

I liveblogged from my phone all day, I'm sure you could recruit a few locals, as it were, to help with it next year in exchange for a pass or something (I'd do it for a few free beers honestly). It might not be as up to par as your regular writers, but the need would be filled, and everyone would be covered, ostensibly. Just a thought for the years ahead. Totally on board with your reasoning, and understand the frustration of the artists and venues that were not covered. Hard to be everywhere at once, especially since you seem to grow exponentially each year. Thanks for another great time!

backbeatmod
backbeatmod

While you're certainly free to infer whatever you'd like from our post-coverage or lack thereof, fact is we hold all of the acts in high esteem. In fact, these musicians are the precise reason we started putting on this Showcase to begin with and continue to do so year after year -- to celebrate the very scene we otherwise write about all year.

Now, with regard to your assertions regarding scheduling and coverage: I can speak to both of these things, since I happen to oversee them both.

First, scheduling: I make a concerted effort to coordinate the lineup in such a way that the music has a chance to build up some momentum at the beginning that carries over from one act to the other from start to finish. To that end, I strive to line up acts and music from the same genre or at least kindred genres that complement each other so as to create continuity for the most optimal listening experience.

As far as the venues themselves are concerned, I put just as much though into that as I do crafting the lineups. While certain styles have found their undeniable niche at certain places (Dazzle, for instance, is the home to jazz/blues, in the same way Bannock Street Garage is the natural home for punk), I made some significant changes this year such as moving metal to Rockstar from Broadways, hip-hop to La Rumba from Vinyl rooftop and our DJs from Bar Standard to Vinyl rooftop patio -- all notably bigger spaces. Rooster and the Moon is a new venue this year, and it's sort of smaller than the others, so I wasn't sure if full-on bands would work there -- so with that in mind, I scheduled singer-songwriters.

Now, as far as coverage is concerned, we simply didn't have as many writers as we would've liked to have had to cover every single venue. That's not a commentary on the bands -- rather it's a reflection of our resources. Fact is, we needed everybody available to host individual stages. And I spread them out as much as possible and then asked them to not only to host the event but to send me recaps. As it was, we had four photographers and seven writers -- which is a far sight better than when I first started in 2003, and it was just me running myself ragged.

Anyhow, on behalf of Backbeat, I'm geniunely sorry if you feel slighted by the fact that we missed writing a few words on your band, your friends' bands or a band you love. Hopefully, you'll continue to read Backbeat, and if you do, I'm confident that you'll find continuing coverage on all of these bands, the ones who performed, as well as those who didn't. In the meantime, thanks for reading and for taking the time to share your thoughts.

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