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. Cory Lamz hosted at Stoney's Bar & Grill this past Saturday. Keep reading for some of the highlights from that stage.
The Stoney's stage had lots of people dancing to a ton of great music, starting with Petals of Spain, who got things going with rich and robust harmonies. "Take Me Higher" stood out with hooks galore, beaming as a funky love child of Rufus and a Scissor Sister. The best part wasn't the sleek falsetto; it was the characters on stage -- Nic Hammerberg on guitar with his rooster-necking dance moves and Hunter's Vaudevillian mastery of the keys.
Showcase-goers poured in by the dozens for Vices I Admire, which brought out their most loyal of fans and won a lot of new ones with a performance that jolted with energy. The guitars zipped, and the vocals, rhythmic and crunchy, popped in only the best way. Hipsters were not in abundance yet at Stoney's, but the ones who were around were head-banging in perfect rhythm with the music. (Okay, maybe more like head-bopping: They sort of looked like little lemmings waiting for their marching orders.)
Take to the Oars did an excellent job following Vices I Admire. Oars played an equally strong set that had similar vibes but with slower tempos. Of all of the performers on stage throughout the day, Take to the Oars ended up being the most mobile and the most gracious. "You have had so many options today. We're very honored you would choose to see us," lead vocalist Ryan Gombeski said. The highlight for the set was "Touch the Sky," off the band's new EP.
Next up was Eldren, the first of two bands to incorporate more instruments than just guitars, guitars, drums and guitars in their lineup. The effort paid off in music that was both dynamic and interesting. The band's violinist helped add a flare of prog to the group's party-starting sounds.
Foxfield Four was late to the stage, but that hardly put on a damper on this party. The audience was all smiles during its set. Rachel and the Kings, meanwhile, performed a great set that was near-comparable sound-wise to what was recorded in a studio. Lead vocalist Rachel James proved the band is totally worth the buzz. Ever the crowd-pleasers, Monroe Monroe and the Epilogues played next and were great, sounding tighter than ever.
Bop Skizzum's unique sound and performance style was on blast throughout its set, and the crowd ate it up, as they should have. The band's energy, combined with the brilliance that was You Me & Apollo, made for a very memorable ending to a day of local music. There wasn't a dull note or bad performance of the bunch. Cheers to that.