Every year at the Westword Music Showcase, we enlist our army of Backbeat wordsmiths to host various stages. In addition to their emcee duties, we ask them to pull double duty by submitting a travelogue of their individual stage. Adam Steininger hosted at Broadways this past Saturday. Keep reading for some of the highlights from that stage.
As Flashbulb Fires took the stage behind the patio at Broadways in what felt like its own little exclusive show squeezed between two buildings, the crowd trickled in, hung over and recovering from Friday night. Flashbulb Fires didn't hesitate to get the showcase started and knocked the cobwebs off the undead as the zombiefied crowd shuffled before the stage.
Even a faulty bass pedal didn't derail the band while it eased into the melodic and trippy "The Whale" as the sun seared the tiny brick alcove. The shade was welcoming, but there was only so much of it. Toward the end of the show, drummer Chris Sturniolo substituted his hi-hat stand for two short 2x4s of wood; with it strapped to his foot, he slapped it down on the other 2x4, alternating between bass drum beats. If that didn't already wake the crowd, guitarist Michael James's trash can lids crashed below his left foot before putting a lid on the end of the set.
Through the ever-increasing heat, Instant Empire kicked it up a notch with energy for the crowd and all the late comers as they drank the rest of their Red Bulls and moved on to beers. The band played on despite being a man down due to mechanical issues with Doug Chase's keyboard, swinging into "Keep Up" -- which was about going on a bender. Lead singer Scotty Saunders danced on stage in the harsh heat, which inspired the crowd to start bobbing their heads and dance as sweat beaded on their foreheads.
As vocalist Jeff Wiencrot grabbed everyone's attention by belting out highly emotionally vocals, all eyes couldn't help but notice the lack of a mic stand; instead, there was a five-foot cane-like portable pole attached to a vintage mic. "It lights up, too," Weincrot told the crowd. On songs like "Bend to Colors," the singer pulled out a miked telephone handset and cord, allowing him to distort his voice like a softened megaphone. A puddle of spilt gin and tonic rippled on the rocking floorboards of the stage as Chemistry Club burned through its set. Dylan Camacho's guitar echoed with his careful, subtle, resourceful pick work like a cross between Tom Morello and The Edge.
The most mild-mannered of the bunch, South of France eased in with echoes of guitar and a trippy, spacey sound that had the crowd swaying in place. Harmonious male and female vocals from Jeff Cormack and Kelly Lueke reverberated soothingly off the brick walls as they tiptoed through their set. Their chill music summoned in creeping clouds, inviting an overcast sky that cooled sunburned skin, to the relief of all spectators and musicians.
The clouds continuously swept in just like the crowd, which filled the floor between the two buildings. Rob Drabkin opened up his set mellow, gradually infusing full pleasant-sounding vocals that summoned goosebumps while simultaneously strumming his acoustic guitar. Drabkin also addressed the obvious presence of his broccoli-topped hair, which whipped in the wind while he told the crowd about his father's massive Afro. The crowd couldn't help but dance as the band tore into the Paul Simon cover "Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes," drawing it out to great length to keep up the good mood.
Drummer, vocalist and Captain Christian Blotchinger rocked a kilt and Nightmare Before Christmas socks as Potcheen punched in with a series of high-energy Irish folk-rock standards. Most of the band's songs expressed its passion for copious amounts of "Alcohol!" as the line for the bar coincidentally increased and the crowd danced a jig. It wouldn't have been a proper Irish folk-rock show full of alcohol-filled tales if they didn't cover Flogging Molly at the close of their set, "Finding ourselves in the same old mess singing drunken lullabies!"
From there on out, the rest of the Showcase was a nonstop brouhaha of activity, with iZCALLi clutching on the reins of Potcheen's charge into spirited music. Guitarist Miguel Avina stole the show with epic solo after solo in between Spanish vocals and lively movement around the stage. Traditional rock mixed with a Latino twist of limón led into songs that usually ended up with a sped-up tempo and an almost ceaseless Gun N' Roses-like outro.
The Blackouts took the stage like an all-woman motorcycle gang and quickly croaked out a raunchy set of speedy punk songs that got the crowd all riled up. With a heavily spiked guitar strap, Ali's hoarse vocals resembled Lemmy Kilmister without the warts, a cigarette or a handle of whiskey as the band slammed through a sound similar to AC/DC and Motörhead.
With bass-hooking-in issues, Logan O'Conner from MF Ruckus wouldn't have been able to play if Yosh -- bassist of Lola Black -- hadn't graciously loaned him his nice-ass bass guitar. Before kicking off its set, Ruckus lead singer Aaron Howell addressed the crowd, "I didn't know they were giving out hot-ass ladies at this show." After announcing a new live album and throwing it into the crowd, the band played a frenzied set full of power vocals and heavy rip-roaring speed rock with songs like "Balls of Steel" and "Party Machine."
The first thing everyone noticed was the huge white brass-knuckle mic stand at center stage, which eventually symbolized the band's hostile blend of punk metal along with screaming vocals from frontwoman Lola Black. In-between the band's third and fourth song, the group announced that they just got news that they will be opening for Jane's Addiction and Alice in Chains at the end of the summer at the Locura Festival at Fiddler's Green. "Crispy" Chris Dellinger and Lola frequently joked with the crowd, informing them that "I like naked men and naked women! I like nakedness in general. Don't tempt me; I'll get naked."