Monday, April 10, 2006

Wall of Sound

(let me say from the get go that because of some confusion with some of our pictures people, we weren't able to make it out on Sunday. Its too bad, because we really wanted to see Starlight Mints. But have no fear, I'm sure someone will tell you all about it in the comments thread, whether you like it or not.)

My first thought when I pulled up to the Ridglea in Fort Worth was: "Where the hell is everyone?" We only saw a couple of kids standing out in front of the theater, and the parking lot was somewhat full, but not at capacity like we had expected. We thought a lot more people would be there by the time we showed up since it was, oh I don't know, three hours later than we wanted to. Thats what a Friday night show in Denton followed by a couple of house parties and a 430am arrival back home in Dallas will do to you.

Once inside, we noted that the crowd was probably smaller than the organizers would have liked, but it was still fairly well attended all things considered. We walked into the main theater just in time to catch the Black Angels set on the side stage, which was positioned to the right of the main Ridglea stage. The sound for the Angels set was terrible for some reason, and it was really hard to make out any single instrument. Yeah I know I know, they are kind of a wall of noise psychedelic band, but we've seen them three other times (including at Avenue Arts, a place that doesn't have a "sound guy"), and it sounded much clearer than it did on Saturday. A disappointing set by a good band.

Next we turned about six inches to our left to watch Red Monroe play the main stage. This was something we really liked about the festival. Everything was very close together in the small Ridglea Theater, and there never seemed to be any break in the music. After one band finished on the main stage, for example, another started up on the side stage within minutes, and if you didn't want to see them, you could go upstairs and watch whatever was up there. And everything started almost exactly on time, which was really really nice. If the poster said 5:30, the band started at 5:30. Novel concept, huh?

Red Monroe was pretty engaging in the beginning, but it felt like they did a bit too much meandering during some of their songs, and some of their lyrics seemed a tad, um, underdeveloped, which took away from their otherwise solid material. Something about smoke stacks and Cadillacs. Anyway, we actually think they are a pretty good band, and at times they sounded wonderful... great atmospheric guitars and synths and a really good singer with great range and an interesting voice. They've just got some kinks to iron out, although we'll surely catch them again in the near future to see if they have.

After splitting for the Mexican Inn, we returned to catch the Angelus on the side stage. We had never seen them before, and were actually pretty impressed. Their music was an extremely dark and spacey take on neo-folk rock, and their singer had a intriguingly creepy stage presence and a solid voice. We'll surely add them to the list of bands we have to see in a smaller venue, so we can get a better idea of where we stand on them. But they certainly put on a good show Saturday, and it was one of the highlights of our time there.

Then we went upstairs and watched A.M. Syndicate for some reason. They weren't very good. They all seemed like good musicians, and some of their instrumental stuff wasn't bad, but their singer really annoyed me and many of their songs sounded like the Goo Goo Dolls with strings. Sheesh.

After that, we headed downstairs to see Record Hop. I'm sure I'll get some shit for this, but I just didn't get it. The sound wasn't too great, which might explain some of it, but it just seemed like straight forward Pixiesesque- Sleater Kinney rock music with few twists or surprises. They weren't bad, but it doesn't seem like it is my kind of thing. Considering that they were pretty tight and everyone else seems to like them, however, we'll probably go see them one more time in a smaller venue to see if we can pick up on what everyone keeps talking about. Having a few more drinks in me and seeing them at a small club would probably help, since volume seems to be a big part of what they do, and a small venue would certainly be more conducive to the kind of atmosphere that they seem capable of creating.

Next we watched Midlake, which was by far the highlight of the evening. They played several songs from their new album, and the two internet buzzy hits "Roscoe" and "Young Bride" sounded fantastic. I don't know if Sam from the Observer is right about them getting ready to put out the record of the year, because I haven't heard more than four songs from the album. But what I have heard is really really good, and clearly some of the best music coming out of Texas right now. Period. Their visual show was also well done, adding to an already strong performance. I'm really looking forward to seeing whether or not their new material can live up to the hype.

After Midlake we went upstairs and watched Mazinga Phaser II. They absolutely killed it in the beginning, and despite what seemed like a few mistakes, they played some really interesting and often exciting material. Lots of percussion and feedback and random blips and noises, but strong enough vocals and hints of pop to keep you interested. The upstairs area was packed for their show, and it was good to see that people were interested in one of the more experimental bands at the festival.

And really, that was my only complaint about the whole thing: it seemed like the line up choice was just a bit safe. Not that rock shows have to be "edgy" or strange or anything like that, and we honestly can't say whether or not an experimental art rock festival could really make any money considering that it wasn't even apparent that Wall of Sound turned a profit. But we would have liked to have seen some more adventurous acts thrown in with the indie pop stuff, even though much of what was there was very good.

Overall, the thing seemed well planned out, organized, and set up in a way to maximize the fans' enjoyment of the music. We have to give them credit for that. And as we expected, we saw a few shows that we liked a lot, a few that were ok, and a couple that sucked. But that is what you get at a festival. And although the attendance was decent, it could have been much better. There is an endless list of possible explanations for this phenomenon, so we're not going to even try. But Wall of Sound could be a very exciting thing for DFW if they can do it again, at least based on what we saw. Adding more diversity in the line up surely wouldn't hurt, and possibly having it outside somewhere might also be a good idea. We hope they can do it again next year, and that it will be a little bigger and a tad more diverse.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

if lance does another WOSF next year, you would almost have to respect him more for overcoming all the verbal attacks he's endured from this year's WOSF.

It's gotta be weird simpling showing his face in public at this point.

or maybe this blog is just a small group of people logging in under different screen names or anonymously.

in either case, it's scary to think that when someone around here tries to do something intednded to enhance the local music community, someone else is going to try to shit all over it....

5:35 AM  
Anonymous Scott Hop said...

Regarding our set at WoS: that was our 6th time to play with our new drummer. He joined the band last week. Kind of a bummer to have to switch a member after 4 years, the week before a big show. We ended up playing some of our oldest material, just because Josh the New Guy already knew those songs...
But I'm glad you checked it out! Give us a few more rehearsals and then try it out one more time.
Fun weekend!

7:13 AM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

I know we will, Scott, since our entire Denton crew loves your band.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous sctthp said...

Cool, man. I trust we'll be back in pure fighting form pretty soon.

I think I read this in the bible at sunday school when I was younger... "It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock n' roll."

I think it was the
Apostle Shecky,
but it's kinda fuzzy.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would prefer to be anal raped with a broken bottle than ever, ever, ever hear one more note of music played by "Alan" and "Black Tie Dynasty".

12:04 PM  
Blogger jonofdeath said...

So, how did the New Year do? I wanted to go so bad, but I had to get paid that same night. Anyway, I'm really looking forward to their new material.

12:08 PM  
Blogger jamo said...

I am starting to wish I could have attended this.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If they let me pick 10 more bands to play (at least) i'll offer up my farm in frisco to next years W.o.S festival. doubt (and just ONE of the "national" acts has gotta be fucking interesting.... just one band that doesn't sound like Low (no offense to low.... but if they had a festival dedicated to bands that sounded exactly like that they may as well have beds available).

3:53 PM  
Anonymous zak said...

I wish I made it out Saturday, but Sunday was a tiring day. I'm just not a fan of these long festivals.

The turnout on Sunday was embarassing. I'm shocked (maybe?)that more people didn't come out. The upstairs room was always packed and fun, especially with all the hipsters who seemed to come out of nowhere for the hyped-up SOUND Team show.

Saw some great sets though...

I'm assuming it was because it was a Sunday and that is why it had low attendance or that people just won't drive to Ft. Worth?

It was just weird seeing like 20-30 people there to see the final headliners. There were more people earlier in the day, but as it got later the crowd slimmed down.

I hope Spune didn't lose their asses on that... it was amibitious... I hope he does it again because it is a good thing for this area.

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would absolutely like to bitch about the staff at the Ridgelea. The security may have a job to do, but they take it just a bit too seriously. Either that or they are bored out their minds with nothing to do and no one who actually could use a good hassling to keep in line. I was working the festival for Spune, and working my damned ass off, too, and this has nothing to do with Lance Yocom - this is all the Ridgelea people. They wouldn't let us put out stickers (people stick them on stuff), they guarded the door like Bono was in the house, they threw away my dinner because it was 'outside food' even though I couldn't leave and their pizza was gross and cold, they gave away nearly all the beer that had been put aside for us (we had 5 beers out of case), and then, when I asked for a cup of water, not the $3 bottle, the bartended wouldn't give me one. He pointed at the fountain in the hall. Dude! I'm working, have pity. A cup of water?! No? Fine. And that panhandler who harassed me in the parking lot at load-out? Security? Where are you?

I'm never ever ever working the Ridgelea again if I have a choice.

5:47 PM  
Blogger glen said...

hilghlight of wall of sound: watching chuck trying to hold himslef up with a wall that wasn't there.
i felt like I was one out of my gourd!

7:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

scotthop says to coach "come on coach,give me another shot,put me back in!i was totally open..this new quarterback
doesn't know what he's doing.can't you hear the roar of the stadium!they love me!please caoch,one more chance"

2:43 PM  

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