Westword Music Showcase

#WMS 2012 recap: The Church

Every year, for the Westword Music Showcase, we enlist our army of Backbeat wordsmiths to write up the acts that appear on the individual stages across the Golden Triangle. Stacy Ward and Cory Lamz split their time at The Church stage, which was graciously hosted by David Barber. Page down to read their thoughts and see some additional photos.


When Rubedo took the stage at the Church, there weren't too many people in the audience, but the crowd had grown considerably by the time they were finished. No matter how many people were there at any point in their performance, the band played as if the place was busting at the seams, and the guys clearly had a fantastic time. The transition in their sound through the set was interesting to follow. The band began with a dark, almost Mars Volta-esque sort of tone, and gracefully flowed toward something closer to Pink Floyd.

Panal S.A. DE C.V. is definitely a band that appeals to the technical side of the progressive music nerd. The songs are not just played with technical proficiency, though --they have a grace and eloquence to the music that speaks volumes without the need for words. The crowd responded to this unspoken connection by swaying and nodded to the beat as if they were in some kind of lovely trance.

Not one person at the Church could say that Melati Olivia, lead singer for Choke the Word, isn't unbelievably gorgeous. She has a come hither expression for which you can't quite tell if she wants to kiss you or bite your face off. But there is so much more to this band than the petite siren in bare feet. The violin and cello are essential parts of the act's hard-hitting sound, and they give both a depth and dimension to the songs. Bassist Cameron Hays shared at the end of their performance that this would likely be the last one, but said that each member would be around individually, working on their own projects.

Demon Funkies played one of the best sets of the day. Frontman/guitarist, Ryan Chrys, was all over the place--jumping down into the audience, weaving between hot, sweaty people and making his way to the bar, which he jumped on top of to play for a good few minutes. With jewels in his scraggly beard glinting in the light, Chrys was a joy to watch, and the band as a whole was tight and had tons of energy.

The Church was starting to get packed by the time Slaughterhouse Rootz came on to perform, and it was clear that many people came specifically to hear this band. With their mix of reggae, hip-hop, blues and country, Slaughterhouse Rootz had the whole crowd moving with a beach ball bouncing along upraised hands in time to the music--it was perfect for the vibe of the set. The energy the act created in the room was tangible, and it was most certainly one of the most fun performances of the day.

Trichome wasted no time engaging the audience the second they were on stage. Within seconds, they were creating a dance party like no other with their electro-funk vibe. Everyone in the Church was getting down, fist pumping, dancing and screaming out the lyrics. Even though it was getting almost unbearably hot on the stage between the lights and the heat of the sweating crowd, Trichome killed it. By the time the set was over, the members looked like they'd all just gotten out of a swimming pool, and it was all smiles and excitement.

Definitely the chillest of the bands, Andy Palmer and Grub Street Writer got everyone going nuts with their cover of "Fat Bottomed Girls." At a few points in their set, even bartenders and staff were dancing along as they served drinks. Andy Palmer's stage presence was incredible, and he kept the crowd engaged while their sound got progressively harder as they continued through their set.

Potcheen was equally memorable, but for different reasons. The first of a powerhouse trio of bands that would lead set-long dance parties at the Church, Potcheen managed to get everybody and their baby moving with its Irish rock. Granted, that baby was wearing headphones and, granted, his mama was only rhythmically moving her shoulders, but still, it was contagious.

Pink Hawks & Koffi Togo Company, with their eleven people -- at least! -- on stage, also led a hip-shaking dance party with salsa, hip-hop and even flavors of jam band. They were fun to watch, each of the band members with their one instrument and their contagious energy.

The band cohesion was also something impressive as they would finish a song and close with a thirty-second blast of outro chords. Pink Hawks also excelled at interacting with the crowd; one song, with minimal lyrics supporting the Occupy movement, was fun to dance to, but even more fun to figure out its political meaning or wave back when the percussionist waved his red towel -- which signified love, he said. There's no doubt, Pink Hawks now have at least a Church's worth of supporters.

IZCALLi closed the evening at Church with their all-over-the-place sound. For some bands, such genre exploration would have been confusing; for iZCALLi, it was intriguing. Beyond just dancing to a beat you'd never expect, the band also kept you on your toes with its showmanship. The lead singer and guitarist, with a full mane of hair, did well to use his locks to amp up his stage presence. In whole, they were a strong end to an already strong day of performers.

-- Stacy Ward and Cory Lamz

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