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2008 Wrap-Up (Alex) – Live Performances

Luckily, my editor is on in-between semester break. Otherwise, I’m sure he would be in T.A. mode and grade my late post accordingly…

However, I dragged my feet somewhat deliberately. What’s the point of a 2008 summation if you don’t have at least a little critical distance between current time, and the past year? One doesn’t write a book report until the book is actually finished. A conclusion about a hypothesis can’t be reached until the experiment is actually completed. You don’t say, “Wow, baby…that was some good sex,” until the deal is sealed–unless you’re an ego-tripping moron with a teenager’s maturity level.

January 29, 2008 was my emergence from the world of sub-par print music journalism into the realm of much more serious online music writing. I don’t take credit for the upgrade; that goes solely to Greg Szeto, the music editor at my former publication, and the founder and managing editor of Aural States. I know good coat tails when I seem them, and I was really excited to jump into this venture with Greg. 

The results have been unthinkable, really. Much of the work I’ve felt the best about, and been the most proud of in the past several years has been for Aural States.
For me, 2008 has been a year of amazing music–recorded, live, and starting recently, making it again. To be accurate this journey’s proper beginnings are in the fall of 2007, but isn’t it weird how events usually arise from prior events in sequential order? Event chains, I think they are called.  I have been into music all my life, but 2008 is unique in the fact that I actually, in some small way, took a spot in a broader network of music, and culture-of-music people. I began blogging, and people were actually reading what I wrote.

This status of blogger doesn’t feel quite like it fits yet. Around Baltimore, indie/hipsters types (definitely loaded words, which are commonly mistaken for being synonymous with “music types”) don such close-fitting clothes. Perhaps, feeling as though this is a role I need to grow into is a healthier stance, than having skin-tight clothing restricting, and inhibiting movement (read: critical movement, and development).

Also, clothes being the signifiers that they are designate people into one group. I personally don’t fit into one single group musically, and probably not socially, either. From my understanding (and I think it’s an accurate understanding) the same goes for Aural States. To be clear, this does not mean AS has to be everything musically to fulfill our eclectic mission statement, but we simply need to be who we are, and only who we are.

And who are we? Music geeks: pure, unabashed, genuine music geeks.

My (Highly Subjective) Most Memorable Live Performances of 2008 (in no order, and it’s more than 10)
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Whartscape 2K8 Photo Exhibit!

All photos and words courtesy of our in-house photog Caleb Moore!

Dear Baltimore,

Love of my life. Dastardly deamon of colors, body odor, and DIY artstuffs. Shitstorm of creativity and inspiration. A mistress after my own heart, and many many others.

I want you to know I will be bringing many friends to share your scarred, beautiful body. We will feast on it.

You’ve taught me so many things in my one short year as your humble resident. I don’t know where to begin. This was a truly epic, exhausting weekend for all; Whartscape being a most inspiring cavalcade of electronic wizardry, acoustical sublimation, and performance arting.

This is an event that makes dealing with your less attractive qualities ALL WORTH IT. This is why you are being seen (for better or worse) as a mecca of art and music, right under NYC! A cheap, dirty, violent, spastic mutation of your aforementioned big brother.

Whartscape is a culmination of the spirit, energy and honest artistic effort that you are becoming known for.

I just wanted to say thanks for everything, and fuck the police.



Miscellaneous Items of Interest (in no particular order):

  • Where did all of these attractive people come from? Where are you all hiding? (I’m talking to you, girl with the red patent leather fanny pack and checkered ray bans)
  • Greg Gillis’ side project– Why, Why, Why is that girl in the band? What did she do exactly? Play off beat on purpose and “sing”? Whose girlfriend is this? Am I supposed to be asking these questions? Is that all a part of the master plan?
  • Ray bans are getting a bit out of control in this town. For that reason, I will cry a single tear.
  • EAR PWR will save the free world.
  • Beach House has saved my soul. And they are the cutest band alive.
  • That kid with the rash on his arms and the crazy eyes. I don’t want to say anything else because he might actually be special.
  • Double Dagger– while throwing a tom into the crowd might seem like a good in the heat of the moment, the kid that got hit in the head with it will likely disagree. Control the rage, or instantly lose the respect of potential fans. Ed. Note: Actually, I am pretty sure I saw the big guy after the set and he seemed damn happy to meet Double Dagger. The bleeding head just seemed to irritate him. I could be wrong though…
  • Ed Schrader should always wear a leotard.
  • Narwhalz (of sound). The hater that we loved to hate love. Please come back and talk more shit about our town, you kicked so much ass.
  • There’s NOTHING gay about interpretive dancing.
  • Why is White Williams such an ambivalent hard ass (see below)? And since when does he play droney electronic ambiance?
  • Baltimore is SMALL. I mean SMALL. Don’t make enemies here.
  • Chruches get really dank and sticky when you cram 300+ hipsters into them.
  • Lizz King, props to you for being neck-down-naked and melting your own face off almost.
  • Creepers.

These are in no order whatsoever (kind of). Please enjoy, and buy me a detachable flash for xmas. Read the rest…

Whartscape 2008 Day 1 Review


Thursday night, the first night of Whartscape, had that still new and fresh feeling…virginal maybe? Open seats were hard to find in theater 1 of the Charles. Wharstscape posters adorned the wall with phrases like “Worm Paste,” and “Owl Dad.” As with much of Wham City, I have no clue what either poster means, and it’s implied that I’m not supposed to know.
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Whartscape 2008 Day 2 Review

inside the 2640 space

Whartscape 2008′s Friday show was at the 2640 Space, a church undergoing renovation assisted by the Red Emma’s collective. In exchange for their services, they get to hold events provided there is no alcohol sold/drunk on the premises…house of God and all.

This year’s line-up has more variety with a less shotgun-based approach of toss whoever, together whenever (as intimated by Adam in our interview). And what more perfect theme for the 2640 Space than a night focusing on folk, performance art and generally softer music and calmer music than the electronic spazz rock Wham City is better known for. The hallowed and empty space, presided over by stained glass cut with sacred and holy images, is one cavernous room. An orator’s dream, as well as any musician or vocalist.

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Whartscape Recap

So Whartscape is here. If you were smart, you saw Matmos last night. If you are smart, you’ll be seeing Arbouretum and Beach house headline tonight’s lush 2640 bill.

For those of you who might have missed it, we did a series of small interviews (min-terviews) with notable ne’er-do-wells who are performng Whartscape, asking the same 5 questions and seeing who tolerated us enough to get themd one; it was called Countdown to Whartscape.  Here they are, rounded up for your enjoyment and edification:

T-7 Andy Abelow

T-6 Arbouretum

T-5 WZT Hearts

T-4 Parts & Labor

T-3 Ponytail

T-2 Thank You

T-1 Jana Hunter, DD/MM/YYYY, the Creepers

T-0 Cex and Dan Deacon, Matmos

So, who did you like best?  Find anything interesting and informative, or maybe downright shocking?

Countdown to Whartscape: All systems go! Last minute mini-terview w/ Dr. Drew Daniel (Matmos)

1. Describe your feelings on Wham City and what it means to you?

When I first was making a decision about whether or not to take job
offers in Toronto and Baltimore I told my grad students in a class at
the Art Institute about the tossup and one of my super energetic and
hilarious students from Baltimore started ranting about Wham City and
how righteous the scene here was and telling me that I should skip
Toronto. I took her advice and haven’t regretted it. (Sorry Toronto!)

2. Describe your feelings on Whartscape and what it means to you?

The show we are playing takes place on my birthday so it mostly means
Happy Birthday! Aside from that, it’s the fest that we missed last
year because we were moving and now we get to play in the sweet spot
with some of my favorite people from this city. Being on a bill with
Leprechaun Catering and Nautical Almanac is intimidating.

3. Describe your feelings on Baltimore and what it means to you?

More than I can say in a questionnaire.

4. Come up with a snappy tagline/mantra/motto for one or more of the following: Baltimore, Wham City and Whartscape.

You’re never going to top “The City That Reads” for Baltimore.

5. If all Whartscape performers were required to don some sort of
costumage, in the spirit of Baltimore, Whartscape and Wham City, what would
yours be and why?

I would wear a snake costume because Baltimore has been a
skin-shedding place for me.

Countdown to Whartscape: Ground Zero feat. Dan Deacon, Cex

This is it. It’s here. Whartscape 2008 kicks off tonight at the Charles Theater with a spectacular, Matmos- headlined line-up and we hope everyone makes it out.

For the last day of our Countdown min-terviews, we’ve got some heavy-hitters including Mr Green-skull himself, one of Wham City’s patriarchs, Dan Deacon, homegrown electronic music royalty Cex.

Read on!

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MP3: Dan Deacon – Wham City

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Whartscape 2008 Schedule, now with set times!

Now you can plan your time tables between Art and Whart!  Have at thee!  Any bets on what the circles vs triangles thing signifies?

-Remaining tickets will be sold at the door on a first come first serve basis (duh)
-If you plan on attending getting a ticket in advance is highly suggested
-All Show Pass is $40 (6 shows, 77 Performances)
-Individual Day tickets are $12
-more info on tickets and other at whamcity. com


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Countdown to Whartscape: T-1 Jana Hunter, DD/MM/YYYY, The Creepers

We’re winding down here and it’s time for the deluge of min-terviews and more. Today we’ve got Jana Hunter, DD/MM/YYYY and the Creepers featured.

Jana Hunter

First up is Jana Hunter, fairly recent Texan transplant to Baltimore, serving up some delicious, jangling, startlingly transparent and moving music. She was also the first bold soul to call us out on our slightly sarcastic costume question #5. Listen to some tunes and read on, intrepid web surfer!

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MP3: Jana Hunter – Valkyries
1. Describe your feelings on Wham City and what it means to you?

my boyfriend is in wham city and my roommates are in wham city and wham city was the first place i came to (almost) when i stayed in baltimore so i know nothing else of your town.

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Countdown to Whartscape: T-2 Thank You

Thank You are currently well-poised. SIgned to Thrill Jockey like Arbouretum, Pontiak and so many others, they recently released their J. Robbins-produced latest effort Terrible Two to warm reviews from all the typically curmudgeonly outlets (I’m looking at you Pitchfork).

Their special sauce? A particularly dis-equilibrated, frenzied mix of blistering punk guitars, electronic noise and melody, driving, demonic rhythms, primitive vocal utterances and a slew of other madness-cultivating sounds. It would seem manic is the new black this season. And everyone wants in.

Thankfully, I bought into it ages ago. So I have no qualms loving on Thank You. Jeff McGrath took some time to partake in our little min-terview series. Read on and enjoy this track!

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MP3: Thank You – Empty Legs from Terrible Two

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