So this is my first, and possibly only, festival of the year. That being so I spent roughly 7 hours listening to music yesterday and it seems to me that such a thing should not simply count as one show. As such I have instituted a thousand word rule. Once I’ve reached a thousand words about the Westword Music Showcase I’ll stop (well I’ll finish writing about who ever I’m writing about) and that will be counted as one show. I will then publish that post and write a new one. I’ll stick with this methodology for future festivals should any occur. So, without further ado the Wesword Music Showcase.
First a preface, the Westword Music Showcase was terrible for national acts this year, the only one I cared about even a little was Black Joe Lewis and I didn’t end up seeing him because it was 100 degrees outside and I didn’t want to stand in the sun. The headliner was Girl Talk which I didn’t even bother with because it’s just not my thing, mashups can be great on the internet, in concert not so much. So I was in this for the local music, there was more than I could possibly see so I tried to stick to only people I had never seen before, the only exception to that rule was a. Tom Collins because they are too damn good to miss. So all of these acts are local. I considered putting them in order from worst to best, I also considered breaking them up into worst, best and the rest groupings but in the end that does a disservice to most of the music I heard. There were two clear standouts for me and they will be last, there were also two that I just didn’t care for they will be first. Everyone in between was good, often exceptionally so, and ranking them is pointless so I’m just listing them in chronological order. Now, on to the music.
These guys were far and away the worst act I saw during the entire festival. The vocals were weak, the songs were uninspired and when you mash all that together you get something slightly below mediocre. In truth these guys were the only band I saw that I felt was actually technically bad. The other group I’ve included as one of the two worst I only didn’t enjoy because I don’t like their style of music very much. The Morning Clouds were honestly just out and out bad. The singer was mumbling and off key, their new guitar player (somewhat understandably) spent the entire show staring at the ground because I’m assuming he wasn’t 100% up to speed and had to read music or chords for the songs. At one point, dung a slow song, the new guitarist headbanged his glasses right off of his face. Maybe in some instances that would have been awesome but in this instance it was just kind of sad. Their half hour set felt like it took forever and it was the first and only time that I ever really considered leaving someone midset. There was other music being played out there and it had to be better than what they were giving us and I probably would have left if not for the fact that I really wanted to see the band on directly after them, so I toughed it out and all I really have to show for it is this somewhat bitter diatribe. So, I guess there’s that.
I was able to find one video of them performing live online and this is it:
I really didn’t enjoy John Common’s set. This is possibly because he followed the highlight of the entire festival and also possible because he was the last act and I was hot and exhausted by the time he started playing. I think it mostly had to do, however, with the fact that I just don’t like his brand of music all that much. It was pretty much just genericly average rock and roll. Not bad but certainly not good either. It really just felt like rock without any teeth, it wasn’t hard rock and it wasn’t soft rock it was some kind of strange in between rock that just left me wanting. I wanted more guts, more bravado, more honest feeling, instead what I got was sort of sterile and kind of emotionless. Some people there loved it, and loved him as well and it doesn’t really surprise me because this kind of commercial ready rock is the kind of music that some people love but it just isn’t for me. I’d never go so far as to say they were bad because they really weren’t. They were actually very good at what they were doing it’s just that what they were doing was not something I cared about at all. They were the last act that I saw and it was kind of a downer to end the festival on that note. Also, kind of a random and meaningless side note but, all throughout their set their bass played appeared to be in pain. Not constantly, just while he was playing, and it didn’t appear to be mild pain but some kind of life threateningly hideous pain that made me feel terribly sorry for him. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that there was just his ‘guitar (or in this case bass) player faces’ but they really were absurd and they just added another layer of off putting to an already not that entertaining show.
Now we move on to the good stuff. Land Lines has a wholly unique band setup and as a result they have a wholly unique sound. It’s really just not every day you see a band composed of two cellists and a drummer. How does such a thing happen? And more interestingly how does such a thing work? I can’t say for sure that I know because I am certainly not some kind of musical expert but I can say for sure that it does work, in fact it works wonderfully well. Most of the songs they played were long and slow but I think that style of song works very well with the cellos and the vocals that they were bringing. Bot of these ladies have lovely voices and when combined they are able to create high haunting melodies that take you to this sort of sad slow melancholy world in which many of their songs live. I can’t help but wonder if this band started as simply some kind of experiment because I can’t imagine anyone, anywhere, thinking that two cellos and a drum was the ideal set up for band. It’s unique though, which I think works in their favor, and more importantly it just works in general. I really liked their voices and I really liked the uniqueness they brought. I definitely hope to catch them again soon.
There were several videos of them to choose from online but I feel like this one has the best audio and also does the best job of capturing their sweeping and haunting vocals: