The final day of the final Whartscape. What a complete clusterfuck. I got there a bit early due to my ride situation, but when the doors finally opened, and we saw the clouds lurking in the sky, a hint of concern grew. But it was alright, because there were the blue tarps, and Dan had gathered a plan in case of rain to move the wiring and cords out of harm’s way. Whartscape would go as planned, just a little wet. Wrong.
Before INEVERYROOM’s started things off, one corner of the blue tarp on the A Stage fell off and knocked down the keyboards, samplers and mixers on their table. Nothing was broken or harmed, and the tarp was put back up without issue. So, we started off to Baltimore band INEVERYROOM whose tribal beats got me quite liking their sound (I bought one of their cassettes from Friends Records, expect a review at some point). The Dodgers sort of post-rock type of sound was quite enjoyable to, and the Captain Beefheart styling of Little Howlin’ Wolf made for a great afternoon, however as soon as the group walked off the stage, a giant rip could be heard from the tarp overhead, as a giant gust passed.
I was at this point at a loss of what to do, I tried to hold the far end of the tarp, but it was too high, so I went onto stage after a bit, grabbed the tarp and waiting. Sam of Future Islands, a couple members of the Dan Deacon Ensemble and others were there as well. Not really knowing of what to do, I stood there holding the tarp down, while also trying to keep the torrential downpour that started shortly thereafter from collecting in the tarp. Others removed the tarp from the buildings it was attached to so we could be in better control. Others tried to repair the leak that was dreadfully close to the P.A. system. After a while, the tarp was tied down to the stage so it literally could not move, and the P.A.’s were covered and moved to the UHAUL truck. At this point, we waited for a decision which Dan Deacon’s “head Whartpeople” were making inside. At this point we left The Current Space to grab some food and check out a record store in Fells Point.
Quickly after leaving we found out that it was being moved from the current space to Sonar on Saratoga Street near City Hall where Lower Dens, Wye Oak, Deakin, Celebration, Health & Beach House would play, and all other bands (except Xiu Xiu who cancelled, and Ducktails, who was not to be found anywhere) would play at the H&H Building back in Seton Hill. All was saved. For the most part, anyways.
Lower Dens brand of post-rock came at a pleasant surprise to me not knowing who they were prior to the event. Their quick set started the head bobbing, but I quickly noted that the change to a closed venue ruined the vibes, and enclosed us, forcing us to be right at the music, as opposed to being able to roam free prior at the Current Space. Wye Oak’s lead singer, during their shoegazey set said “please don’t treat this like a normal rock concert” however, it had all of the makings of one. Deakin, a member of Animal Collective, who I had seen 2 times prior is still developing his sound, which he is close to perfecting. His swirly guitars on top of his melancholic sounding lyrics and vocals created a nice little set before Celebration’s cabaret punk. HEALTH finally took the stage, and kicked everyone’s collective ass with their heavy, sample and guitar led set of feedback and shredding. Due to the assholes at the emo/metal concert next door who pulled the fire alarm, Beach House’s charming set was cut dramatically short (3 songs).
However, the “chill vibes” were brought back at the H&H Building. We walked in the 5th floor during Prince Rama, the latest Animal Collective Paw Track Records signee. Their ritualistic performance filled with psychedelic madness got me back into the mood that had pretty much stayed with me the entire festival sans Sonar.
But to me, the highlight of the entire festival was its ultimate act. Future Islands. Gerrit Welmers synth-lines and drums soared over the P.A., and despite the lights going out twice, William Cashion’s bass continued to rock our bodies, with the entire crowd moshing and pushing and having the best times of their lives. Sam’s vocals and showmanship were on top as always, with songs like “Walking Through the Door” and “Tin Man” having all of us sing along. Katrina Ford even joined the trio for “In the Fall” off their last EP. After most of the crowd had sorted out, Dan Deacon and Stefani from Wham City, who had spent the entire time working on making Whartscape the perfect experience for everyone sat just off the stage when they decided to play a personal favorite track “Little Dreamer” off of their first album Wave Like Home. Truly a magical performance.
A special thanks to Wham City, Dan Deacon and all of the performers for making this a festival that I will never forget, and to everyone who provided me with a ride and a place to sleep. This concludes the Whartscape 2010 coverage. See you for whatever Wham City will do next year! Pictures from Sarah H. will be up on Saturday or Sunday.