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. Josiah Hesse hosted at Rooster & Moon this past Saturday. Keep reading for some of the highlights from that stage.
It's never easy being the opening band for an all day festival, but Twin Peaks brought a strong energy to the Rooster & Moon lunchtime crowd, alternating between a late-Radiohead melancholy groove and infectious power-rock anthems. It's always impressive when a band can pull off a cantankerous rhythm section while splicing in a catchy melody -- particularly this early in the day.
A large scumster-fashion entourage followed Princess Music into the cafe for the group's 12:45 set, filling up the venue nearly to capacity. Their orchestral, jammy sound was a smoothed out compliment to the sunny afternoon bleeding in through the picture windows behind them. The complex rhythms and maternal warmth of cello and violin provided a beautiful foundation for Tyler Ludwick's soaring vocals, chilling out the midday crowd before the heat and musical oversaturation began to tax us all.
A relentlessly uptempo marathon of horns and marching drums, Go Star takes the frenetic melodies of bop jazz and hurls them into the modern era with an almost industrial metal bass and aggressively crunched guitar. The outfit's 1:30 performance couldn't have been better timed, bringing in a multi-generational sound that still brought the energy and experimentation needed to kick the festivities up a notch.
The A/C had it's work cut out for it when the massive crowd filed in for Shady Elders's 2:15 set. The bands vintage dream-pop sound was a comforting reprieve from the more up-tempo acts of the day, with Britt Rodemich's scratchy vibrato guiding everyone into fantasy land of summer nights and first-kisses.
The energy was revived during Safe Boating Is No Accident's raw take on Buddy Holly style wholesomeness with an edgy wink. Couples began unironically dancing together throughout the tightly packed crowd, enjoying the sunshine-pop groove of this uniquely vintage act. Closing its set with the anthemic Bruce Springsteen classic, "I'm On Fire," the band managed to get a significant amount of the crowd to engage in a sing-a-long, which is no small feet for an indie-rock crowd when it comes to The Boss.
Debuting a healthy amount of new material, Fingers of the Sun were one of the prize-acts of the day, exploring new sounds that enter a notably more stretched-out, emotionally complex sound that departs from their earlier work's more concise '60s pop sounds. The six-piece outfit was cozily scrunched together on the ground-floor stage, making for an intimate presentation to contrast their new expansive sound.
Things got a bit sweaty for the menacing garage punk of the Outfit. The band's danceable tunes got everyone on their feet and bopping about as if we were all at a DIY warehouse show as opposed to a tea and sandwiches cafe. With a sardine-room only floor, the thick vibrations of the Outfit's rhythm section jiggled the bowels of all who saw them until we had almost nothing left to give.
With a bipolar, loud-quiet-loud dyamic, I Sank Molly Brown held the awkward position of the day at the 5:15 slot, the time where those who have been pushing it hard all day with the booze and sun are trying to keep it together for the headliners. But the band's instrumental-driven tunes, bouncing in and out of a wild, screamo viscera, pulled in a large crowd by the mid-point of their set.
Hurling a mad-mop of sweaty hair over a tortured keyboard, Rubedo's Kyle Gray wins the title of the most charismatic frontman of the Rooster and Moon stage. Rubedo's colorful sense of instrumentation never ventured into indulgence, retaining an accessibility and energy that defied their minimalist three piece arrangement.
Closing out the Rooster and Moon stage at 6:45, Morning Clouds revived what was an otherwise spent audience with their ominously beautiful psychedelic shoe-gaze. It had been quite a musical marathon, with the R&M staff doing a killer job keeping everyone teetering between booze and hydration, while the small coffeeshop venue defied expectations by comfortably packing in a huge volume of sweaty music fans.