Positioning oneself at the helm of an event that has been willfully publicized as a “fest” is no menial task. Myriad factors could easily push the fickle limits of organizers, performers, and attendees alike. Sometimes, opening sets start an hour-and-a-half late. Sometimes, the Dallas Police Department shows up demanding that the event shut down an hour early. An act drops from the line-up. And sometimes these unseen obstacles all lead to a special moment that would not have existed otherwise: artists sharing the stage in reaction to the time crunch.
In the case of THRWD Fest, an enormous lineup with patient, mature acts slated at the end of the night was a blessing, despite the odds. Where there could have been stamped feet, crossed arms, and dramatic exits, there was a calm and collected professionalism. Dustin Cavazos, -topic, and Vulgar Fashion all maintained composure and waited their turn like well-tempered siblings.
To celebrate a year of publishing success, THRWD drew their usual hip and knowledgeable crowd, which is pleasantly diverse and enthusiastic, to the Ware:Wolf:Haus, a new and relatively unknown Dallas venue. When a festival can draw a genuinely nice, relaxed audience who supports music this precious, it is evidence of people in charge who know what the hell they’re doing.
Pierre Bürger opened up with her hexing sequences. It was a relief to finally catch this gem after missing her sets for months. The mood was immediately set, with ambient vocals offset by spring-loaded beats.
Bürger was followed by Jenny Robinson, who delivered a set that could have been more impactful, had her intensity not been muted by the presence of a massive video camera rig that created a sizable barricade between the artist and her audience. It was brought up on DC9 At Night last week that sometimes photographers can be a little annoying. My knee-jerk reaction to this article was to rear my head and spit venom about how we’re just trying to do our jobs, but, truth is, there are some incredibly inconsiderate photographers and videographers out there, ruining the cherished front row experience.
It has gone a long way in marring the already sour reputation of concert photographers. Seasoned shooters don’t have to clamber to the top of a stage monitor for an entire two songs, thus rudely blocking the view of and potentially crashing back into the paying crowd behind them. This is especially true if the end result is little more than a light trail-tainted snap of a pizza punk quartet. Courteous videographers—they exist, I promise—elect not to consume a space of 10 square feet at a live performance to swing around a camera on some ridiculous studio contraption for an entire set. You’ll never notice the true professionals for longer than a couple of seconds.
Rant aside, the acts to follow Robinson built upon the initial velocity with noticeably stunted set times. The Fungi Girls always sail smooth and quick; George Quartz’s theatrics were buoyant and sexual as ever, with a backing crew that ranks as one of the most impressive in town; and Vulgar Fashion is incapable of delivering a stale performance. Thank the powers-that-be that the police didn’t rush in and stop the show at the rumored time, because I would hate to witness a Vulgar Fashion set cut short.
-topic and friends rushed the stage to close the night for an audience seemingly on a second wind. Dustin Cavazos, Blue The Misfit and JT from Brain Gang, Slim Gravy, and Dave from The Mohicans joined -topic at the front for “Party On,” a finale that lived up to the reputations that each of these individuals have earned respectively.
It was proven that the dexterous gentlemen at THRWD—Lee Escobedo and Javier Valadez, with much assistance from Renzo Pancorvo—have a decent handle on how to throw mid-scale events.
“Javier and I wanted it to flow as well. It had potential to fail as an overload of abrasive switches in sound and sight,” Escobedo told me via chat after the event. “I didn’t want to have a host, or have it at a well-known venue. I wanted to invert all the kitschy signifiers that bring down a multi-genre line-up.” One can only hope that someday, they’ll craft a full-sized festival with their signature curatorial integrity that finally puts the rest in a long-awaited check mode.
All photos by Andi Harman.