Ru with a view: A mainstage travelogue from our Westword Music Showcase emcee, Ru Johnson

Categories: Music Showcase

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Ru Johnson and a few thousand of our closest friends.

Because I live in the club district, for me, the Westword Music Showcase started around 5 p.m. the day before and went on through the evening. Outside my window, the workers toiled and clanged away throughout the night, building the production. By morning, there was a complete stage, and the heat was on a thousand. After checking in at City Hall to procure some fly custom designed earrings from Xencs L. Wing, I took a deep breath and prepared to brave the heat in the name of music as the emcee of the main stage, and oh baby. It was an adventure.

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After being introduced to the production crew (who were so damn awesome and on point the entire day), and finding the stash of water, I gave a brief introduction to Denver School of Rock, who, for what it was, completely rocked shit. The show ran on time for most of the day, while we all made an effort to stay cool. I, in an azure short dress and huge sunglasses, also made the effort to stay as cute as possible, while my face melted.

My Body Sings Electric gave a performance more people should have been there to see, while Baywood and Churchill kept things moving. As the day wore on, the performances got longer, giving me the opportunity to catch some other things happening at Showcase. It was super hot upstairs at City Hall for the hip-hop stage when I entered for Mr. Midas's performance. Hip-hop and sound problems go together like, well, two things that clash inevitably. I also caught Julox, who probably doesn't get enough credit for how dope his music actually is. Tall, dark, and encompassing, the MC was impressive.

Back at the main stage, I commenced watching the sound crew stand around in amused confusion while the guys from Battles wheeled out their entire wall of sound. The set-up was so intricate -- there was no microphone available to announce them, and the entire rig had to be deconstructed for the next performers. Musically, though, there are few doper than Battles, and they smashed it.

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Aaron Thackeray
Black Joe Lewis at the 2012 Westword Music Showcase.

Black Joe Lewis was way too cool. The horn section behind Black Joe was in sync step by rhythmic step. It was pretty incredible, in fact, and, man, if I had to, I'd swear that Joe didn't break a sweat the entire time. Karl Denson's Tiny Universe brought the noise sufficiently with a tribute to the Beastie Boys, and the crowd loved it. Their take on "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" was the best rendition I've heard since the original.

At this point, the sun was in full blaze, and the Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka and Coors Light were being poured by the vat, it seemed. We received a slight reprieve from the sun right before Macklemore and Ryan Lewis came out. As emcee, I could barely get the words out of my mouth before chants of "Macklemore! Macklemore!" permeated the space, and the Seattle native tore onto the stage and wrecked it.

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Aaron Thackeray
Macklemore at the 2012 Westword Music Showcase.

We were encouraging people to use the hashtag #WMS for Twitter and Instagram, which was perfect for the Showcase family photo that took place before Girl Talk went on and exploded the entire world. Somewhere in between, I ran over to City Hall to check out BLKHRTS, who, honestly, get better with ever show. Really.

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It was all music everything yesterday, and seeing the entire production from the back-end made me extremely proud to be a part of a team that works so hard to emphasize the best homegrown talent.



Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music
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