#WMS 2012 recap: Curious Theatre
Brian Landis Folkins A. Tom Collins peforming at the Curious Theatre during the 2012 Westword Music Showcase.
Every year, for the Westword Music Showcase, we enlist our army of Backbeat wordsmiths to host various stages, and, in addition to their emcee obligations, we ask them to pull double duty (or triple-duty in some cases) and also write up the acts that appear on their individual stages. Kelsey Whipple hosted the Curious Theatre stage. Page down to read her thoughts and see some photos.
Brian Landis Folkins The Yawpers performing at the Curious Theatre during the 2012 Westword Music Showcase.
At exactly noon, the Yawpers proved to be the ideal opener for the Curious Theatre's close quarters and crisp sound, layering peels of harmonica over guitar-propelled growls for high-stakes Americana. What the guys lacked in attendance, they made up for in energy: The guys broke a guitar string and unbuttoned their shirts before they even made it to "Jesus Car," a tribute to singer Nate Cook's dream machine -- a 1967 Nova Super Sport -- and made perfect do through a set that also included a rowdy "America." Key line: "David Foster Wallace took a bullet from the stars."
Brian Landis Folkins Petals of Spain performing at the Curious Theatre during the 2012 Westword Music Showcase.
It was hot yesterday, y'all. If sweat-struck discomfort didn't provide enough proof, the six good-looking, smooth-grooving members of Petals of Spain demonstrated the unfair weather in a show so lively their face paint dripped from their faces to the floor. Throughout a set that pulled from more genres than people on the stage, dual singers Hunter Hall and Nic Jay called on both serious crooning and fancy falsetto across songs such as "Secrets and Answers" and buoyant new single, "I Gotta Know." As a tribute to the late Robin Gibb, the band unleashed another new one that required both the band's founders and its banjo player to topple some impressive high notes.
Brian Landis Folkins I'm with Her performing at the Curious Theatre during the 2012 Westword Music Showcase.
I'm With Her's Angie Stevens and Haley Rydell packed petals on the front of a dress, guitar and tattoo, but their sound is hardly flowery. Sparse and simple with a strong debt to country's historic greats, the duo played bare, honest tunes in their bare feet, channeling both summer spirit and seasonless heartbreak in a charming half-hour set. In one of their loveliest moments, the former Fargo residents recounted a bit of personal history: Years ago, with a different act and a different focus, Stevens considered quitting music -- only to be re-inspired by a fan who sent her that flower-decked guitar and asked her not to. Thank you, mystery fan.
Brian Landis Folkins FaceMan performing at the Curious Theatre during the 2012 Westword Music Showcase.
"Don't be afraid to not live in fear," FaceMan's eponymous and willfully anonymous lead singer spat at the crowd early on. But he said nothing about awe: With the added help and showmanship of Scott McCormick on keyboard, the raucous rockers blazed through an all-too-brief set of fist-pounding, gut-checking, eye-opening electric rock grounded in keys and charged by rhythm. Before exiting the stage (to generous applause), the band upped the ante on itself: "This song was written two days ago, and we're scared to play it," FaceMan (also known as Steve) admitted, "but fuck it." And whatever that song was called, it was the best in their show.
Brian Landis Folkins Ian Cooke performing at the Curious Theatre during the 2012 Westword Music Showcase.
The Curious Theatre is probably not supposed to allow this kind of capacity -- but it's worth a half-hour pressed up against other sweaty, smelly fans in an air-condition-free chapel to see Ian Cooke. The singer-songwriter with a band in the middle of the day is a completely different beast than Cooke solo under dim lights, but the added evening energy showcased his off-kilter arrangements and inter-instrument chemistry as he stretched and warped his curious vocals in time with the acrobatic notes of his trademark cello. Always graceful and occasionally eerie, Cooke trapped the audience in sound for the quietest set of the day -- at least until it was time to cheer.