Wakarusa Winter Classic featuring Spoonfed Tribe, Snarky Puppy, Catfish Whiskey and others February 8, 2008 Club Dada
Better Than: A 15-hour Young Life ski trip sing-along in the back of a mildewed church van. Download: See 20 photos from last night's show in our slideshow.
It’s 8:30 p.m. and Scott McCurry’s
mom* is rockin’ her balls off. This, unfortunately for us, is the last time that my comrade and I will ever offer smiles that are not at the expense of the bands’ predictability and obvious affinity for bong rips.
What we’ve wandered into, for the next five long, painful hours is the Wakarusa Winter Classic, a nationwide battle of the bands in which the “winner” scores a spot at the Wakarusa Music Festival in Lawrence, Kan. -- or an actual ticketed version of my own personal hell. To be fair, all six bands on the roster have talent, but, sadly, the majority of the bands chose to express themselves via the lamest musical genre of all time: the jam band.
To be unfair, this wasn’t so much a battle of the bands (I’ll kill the suspense: Spoonfed Tribe had it the bag from the beginning) as it was a battle of the bad band names.
First up, Scott McCurry. He’s a sweet little dude with a mighty soul. His five-piece backup band raised his cool-points through the roof with its tight, rhythmic delivery complete with a handsome drummer and plus-sized backup diva. McCurry is an unlikely frontman; his youthful exuberance is a clear sign that the music industry has yet to shackle his soul to the floor with disappointment. We liked Scott, but he’s a fresh fish and his stage presence isn’t quite developed enough to captivate 50,000 stoners in a cow field. Total Rating on the Balls-Ometer: Scott McCurry rocked 3 of our 5 balls off.
It’s 8:53 p.m. and a very young guy with an “ITHACA IS GORGES” shirt and Adidas tear-away pants is setting up his band equipment. Uh-oh. I smell a jam band.
At 9:04 my nose proves to be a well-calibrated machine as Snarky Puppy unleashes its “nu-jazz” assault upon the enthusiastic club-goers. While I envisioned Snarky Puppy to be a hipster’s dog that only drinks bottled toilet water, these fellas were quite the opposite. Their safe instrumental riffs rarely reached beyond the predictable. Talented? Sure. But it was about as exciting as a circle jerk in a TCU dorm room. Balls-Ometer Score: Snarky Puppy rocked 1 and one-third of our 5 balls off.
Have you wondered what would happen if you merged right onto Highway 67 instead of continuing south on I-35? I’ll tell you, you would stumble upon our next group of feet-stompin’ rocksters, Catfish Whiskey. While Catfish Whisky is not a jam band, it fits the archetype of a blues-laden southern rock band to a tee. Bleh. The group had a bit of Dukes of Hazard draw, minus the cool car and hot cousin. Balls rocked: 2 of 5
We were wondering when we’d find bare feet, pearl snaps, a non-ironic mustache and the first tattoo sleeve of the evening, and we found it at 10:52 p.m. with A Partial Freakout. This was by far the most aggressively uncreative band of the evening, or maybe that was just because I had quit drinking beer 12 minutes earlier. It was only the Freakout’s second song, when my friend turned to me and asked genuinely, “Didn’t they already play this one?” They left all 5 balls unscathed.
It’s 12:11 a.m. and we’re in our fourth-plus hour of the homogeneous Waka Sucka music something or other. The crowd is going ape-shit for the most prototypical of all jam bands, Fatty Lumpkin. The last remains of alcohol have abandoned my liver in search of a better host at a better show. Fatty Lumpkin is great within its genre, but do nothing to boost our spirits. Balls-Ometer: I’ll give them 2.8 of my 5 uninspired balls.
At 1:06 a.m., local favorites, Spoonfed Tribe emerges from the back of Club Dada like a Tommy Chong Memorial High School drumline. I perk up a little and watch the girls in broomstick skirts and bucket caps in front of me shake their nourished booties. Spoonfed Tribe has all the makings of a festival band. These guys are loud, well-seasoned, charismatic and just unique enough to make the hair on the back of a hippie’s neck twist itself into a dreadlock. And, though we don’t know the official results, I’d be amazed if this wasn’t the consensus choice to represent Dallas at the 2008 Wakarusa Music Festival. Total Balls Rocked: 4 out 5 tired and schwetty festival balls. -- Krissi Reeves
*Update: It has come to our attention that Scott McCurry's mom wasn't at this show. So, while others may have had their balls rocked at this show (granted, that doesn't include Krissi), Scott's mom was not one of them. Sorry!
Ed. note: Fatty Lumpkin won at this battle, and will head on up to Lawrence. The band's fans love its groove, and so did everyone (well, OK, almost everyone) at this show.