Whartscape 2010: Saturday review

In my opinion, the Saturday at Whartscape was the highlight of the local acts at the festival, with bands and artists like the Dan Deacon Ensemble, Double Dagger, Ponytail, the long defunct Universal Order of Armageddon, and Ed Schrader performing at our little Franklin Street hideout.

I should before continuing mention that Saturday was by far the hottest of the days, with the heat just about hitting 100 degrees for the day. However, Wham City graciously provided us with a misting tent and water refilling station. As far as sound and other technical “stuff” on the day, it was quite minimal, with only a mic problem during Dan Deacon’s set. Overall, very professional job for what was probably the climax of Whartscape.

I came in at the start of the Amil Byleckie Band’s ‘80s Devo-esque vibes around 2:00, which welcomed me into the festival’s 10 hour affair. Altered States later showed off an array of tunes that attracted quite the crowd, however at around 4:00, the “power line-up.” Thank You started it off with their intense electronically led rhythmic sounds. Baltimore hero Ed Schrader, whose music was primarily unknown to all of us, ended up being a very dark, yet percussion led set preceded probably one of the main highlights of the night: Double Dagger.

Their unrelenting bass led minimalist punk set was perfect to get the crowd going literally nuts, with stage dives, moshing and anything else you could think of. Singer Nolen Strals, who was dead on spoke to everyone when he praised the festival’s lack of “bullshit corporate sponsor… [and] no cellphone company sponsor or Scion parked out front. Another Baltimore hero group, Ponytail, played what would be their last show, and finished out on the highest note possible, with Dustin Wong and Ken Seeno’s mashing guitar riffs soared over the wailing of Molly Siegel. They seemed content with their performance, and ended with a simple “Thank you for listening, always.”

Finally, what most people came for, Dan Deacon and his 9 person ensemble began to play. After planning the festival for months in advance he “was tired of fucking spreadsheets,” but our hero played his electronic, art-damaged, freakout songs, including 2 new ones, which leave us hope for Wham City after Whartscape. However, the highlight for me was a version of “Wham City” which involved literally the entire crowd singing along with Dan’s “mountain of snow, up past the big glen.” Also, as expected, interpretive dancing and relay races were included and as enjoyable as always.

The final three acts at the Current Space began with Los Angeles lo-fi noise punks No Age, playing some crunchier earlier jams, combining them with the almost pop-punk melodies of their last album Nouns. The final two bands moved the festival up the Providence, Rhode Island noise scene of earlier years with Arab on Radar and Adventure bringing their brand of out loud droney noise.

I unfortunately didn’t stay that long at the H&H Building that evening, as I was far too exhausted from two days of madness, which still left me, and everyone at the festival, unprepared for the madness of Day 4.

-Kevin

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