Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!Posted by Josh G. on July 30, 2010
Unfortunately, I am writing about something right now that doesn’t exist anymore.
But fortunately for me, I got to partake in the very last Whartscape (or at least, heavily thought to be). Whartscape is a 4 day, DIY arts festival in Baltimore. What I mean by DIY is that it is run entirely by volunteers with no corporate sponsors which is an incredible feat. Some consider it to be the best underground music festival around. Over the past 5 years, the festival has grown from something small (with a bunch of acts playing a big show in the Copycat Building) into something that got too big to organize for people who didn’t want to make it their full-time obligation – understandable considering the people putting it on are mostly artists and musicians themselves.
Thursday night of Whartscape 2010 was held at the Charles Theater. The throngs of smoking hipsters and artist types stood outside before entering the auditorium. Inside of the main theater, video art was played in between performance art and theater. As the night went on, there was an acoustic performance by Future Islands (an amazing now Baltimore-based band), stand-up comedy (such as one of the funniest existential ventriloquists I’ve ever seen), a Q&A with Ian Mackaye of Fugazi, and a session with Mink Stole (John Waters fans will surely recognize the name).
I’ll stop right there to interject something about the people at Whartscape. Make no mistake about it, they are the people you would expect at this kind of thing. MICA and Peabody students, Baltimore artists, and many locals. If you go to any shows in Baltimore (not bigger ones like Rams Head or Sonar even, but much smaller shows at the Hexagon or Floristree) you’ll start to recognize the same people at them. Not many Hopkins students which is a shame. Out of 4 days, I saw maybe 10 people there from Hopkins in the crowds of a couple hundred people. An my roommate and I were the only ones who were there for all four days. Granted it is summer so many people were away, but make it a mission to get off campus when you get to Hopkins. Baltimore is the self-proclaimed “Greatest City in America” (it says it on the benches here) and most take it as a joke, but Baltimore has so much to offer – especially for budding young artists.
Enough interjection. Back to Whartscape…
Friday started outside the Current Space with bands playing throughout the day. And at night, (as planned with all the days/nights) the festivities moved to the H&H Building. H&H is a funny place. It’s an apartment building made up of these industrial loft spaces with a cell phone tower on the roof. But if you’ve ever been there (there are frequently shows there throughout the year), you’d have wondered how people can live there. During Whartscape shows go on throughout the building simultaneously (each venue having 2 stages so music goes constantly throughout the night). I got to find some new bands to enjoy as well as see some old favorites (saw Dustin Wong on Friday night).
Saturday and Sunday were the big shows. (Again Current Space day, H&H night) Saturday featured 100+ degree heat, standing for 9 hrs, and music too. The likes of Ed Schrader, Double Dagger, Ponytail, and Dan Deacon Ensemble just to name a few. Sunday was bigger and mother nature knew that too. The sunburned, sweat-soaked patrons came out in full force for the last hurrah. But around 3 PM, wind picked up. (Coincidentally enough, it was during a break in the music for 10 mins of meditation and quiet time – which not even the weather took seriously) The gusts ripped through the tarps providing shade and cover for the artists on stage and knocked over some equipment. The volunteers sprung into action and made sure everything was safely secured before the hour or so of downpour hit. It only briefly put a damper on the big day, as after the rain cleared, things went back into action.
An impromptu performance by The Creepers got things going again while a decision was made about what to do for the rest of the day. Eventually, it was decided that the acts that remained from the day schedule would be moved to Sonar or pushed back to play at Floristree in the H&H Building at night. A mass exodus to Sonar (only a handful of blocks away) commenced and the stage was set (literally) for a grand finale. Deakin, Wye Oak, Celebration, Lower Dens, and Health played. Then came the act most people wanted to see. Beach House. A few songs into the set, one of the Whartscape organizers walked on stage and started whispering in the ears of the bandmates mid-song. Everyone was confused until she made an announcement that the fire marshall had arrived and ordered everyone to exit because the venue was over capacity. So the hundreds of upset onlookers slowly filed out and made their way to H&H for the remaining acts to play the festival out.
Overall, it was an incredible exciting weekend, and I’m sad to see it go. Whartscape, we barely knew ye. But I’m sure there will be plenty more Baltimore shows to come. That place can sure turn out some darn good music.
For more about the group that put on Whartscape visit whamcity.comPosted in Baltimore, Breaks, Social Life | Share This