WakeUp Fest

Saturday, April 2, at North Texas State Fairgrounds

Saturday afternoon at Denton's WakeUp Fest was full of sunny skies and cool breezes, and if Deep Ellum hadn't stolen focus with its Arts Festival, perhaps more people would've driven out to enjoy the bizarre musical cross section. Country stalwarts The Gourds and manic-depressive punk-rockers The Riverboat Gamblers provided headliner punch that Drowning Pool didn't, while surprises through the day kept me from falling asleep at WakeUp. An out-of-the-blue reunion set by '90s hardcore band The Banes, including Brutal Juice's Craig Welch on drums, boosted the early afternoon with a sucker punch of no-nonsense rock, while the Lily Masse Quintet (or LM5) played a fine set of free-form jazz that built groove and texture without getting cheesy. Masse's guitarwork, especially during slower, smooth-jazz ditties, struck an impressive balance between improv and restraint; it's a lesson her attention-hungry drummer would be wise to learn. The hip-hop stage saw a four-hour delay because of blown equipment, but Dallas' Pikahsso kicked things back into gear and out-performed entire posses by himself, singing his funky, Parliament-style hooks and dropping fast rhymes in charismatic fashion. On the country stage, Bobby Weaver offered a surprise, too--his self-titled group proved vastly different from his other band, the pAper chAse, with dark, stripped-down country sounds that suited Weaver's cigarette-heavy vocals. One stage over, The Angelus impressed with a keyboard-driven take on the slow, melodic feedback of fellow Dentonites Lift to Experience. Not to say all was grand, as lousy Alice in Chains-loving bands filled out much of the day, and the fest didn't even have schedules to hand out to the crowd. But near fest's end, drag queens danced 20 feet away from a steel-cage wrestling match, and, honestly, that made up for all the lulls.

 
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