2011 Westword Music Showcase: Backbeat scribes' travelogues
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.
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.
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.
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.
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