100 Shows of 2010 - #57: Birdnote Records Showcase, BiMA @ Wind-Up Space, 8/27/10

Y’all. I’ve gotta tell you, I’ve been in festival withdrawal something terrible over the past year and a half. But just when I was totally down in the festival-lacking dumps, up pops this great, great new festival, the Baltimore Independent Music & Arts Festival, better known (and heretofore known) as BiMA. Not only did BiMA manage to rope in over 100 artists from far and wide (i.e. Baltimore and beyond) to take part in the festivities, but it was localish (i.e. a mere 60-some miles), which was one of the best things about it. For a fledgling festival, it was pretty darned entertaining. My first taste of BiMA was the Birdnote Records showcase, and it was a rather fine time.

MINI RECAP: Well done, everyone! Overall score: B.

After circling around for what seemed like ages trying to park, I arrived at the Wind-Up Space just as DC’s own Bellflur was getting underway. Now, despite having wanted to see them live for quite some time now, it was a feat I hadn’t accomplished until BiMA. The venue appealed to me right away, as did the band. I definitely haven’t heard anything (at least, not that I can think of at the moment) come out of DC before, their sound being a very interesting mix of gentle rhythms with some subtle grooves and synthy goodness. In my notes I compared them sonically to a much, much less gloomy and non-Scottish Arab Strap. They used sound bytes in several songs, adding to the cinematic feel of the music. It was rather atmospheric and a touch dramatic, and I was pretty impressed with the boys of Bellflur. Their set was way too short for my liking, which I suppose just means I’ll have to work hard to make another Bellflur sighting happen. They were definitely my favorite band of this particular showcase.

Next up was Solar Temple Suicides. Their name made me think of a 60s stoner band, and their sound tended to trend that way. It’s perhaps what might happen had The Young Sinclairs been more into Phish than The Rolling Stones, in that their sound was very loud and very swirly and very expansive, with more straight-up noise than song structure. I preferred them sans vocals, but found their set to be rather entertaining. Stoner drone seems to be their forte, and the sound of the Wind-Up Space enhanced their vibe.

Milwaukeeans Brief Candles were the third band of the showcase, and I was curious to see what their sound would be like after the two vastly different preceding bands. They turned out to be a little dark and sinister, which I loved. They concocted a big ole wall of sound through the guitar and the bass, which made me quite happy. My only question about their set was the vocals. When Jen Boniger was doing vocal duty, I couldn’t ever quite tell how I felt about her voice, and preferred when guitarist Kevin Dixon took over. Their overall sound was pretty good, though, and I’m glad to have seen them, my reservations about vocals notwithstanding.

I paid a little more attention to the hot pink narwhal on the wall than I did to Baltimore’s Avec, which is probably not their fault. I just became fixated. However, the band was almost as awesome as that narwhal. They were super loud, and their boy-girl vocals worked really well off each other. They all had serious stage presence, which goes a long way in winning me over, and their sound was polished.

By the time Thrushes played I was well and truly distracted by the narwhal and friends that had rolled into town. But on the whole, I must say the showcase was fantastic. It got my BiMA experience off on the right foot, and proved that a newbie festival doesn’t have to suck while going through inevitable growing pains.

mp3: Insect Politics (Bellflur from asleep.asleep)


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