Third verse, same as the first. Or, that is, third part, same as the first. That doesn’t rhyme. Ah, well. The point is, this is a more in-depth look at the Friday night mainstage sets at Wrockstock, with a little bit more heavy-hitting analysis than three numbers I pulled out of my rectal cavity. Do bear in mind that it’s been over a week, the whole weekend is a bit of a hodgepodge of random, disconnected images and sounds, and I have an absolutely atrocious memory to begin with.
So, first off, we had the Parselmouths, and I’ve got to say, it was the weakest mainstage set (that I saw). It was by no means bad, and it was even dancey at times, but only sometimes, and it just wasn’t the most engaging or memorable set – musically, that is. It will be awhile before I forget the epic pillow fight, or the headshots with boxes of Magic cards, presumably left over from Comic-Con. Speaking of which, while I like free stuff, and Magic is pretty cool, it was a bit of a giant non-sequitur. I mean, they did explain it through their talking between the songs, but it didn’t flow into another song or anything, there was just a portion of their set where they beaned people with chunks of cardboard. Not saying that it was a bad thing or anything, but it come off a bit more avant-garde than I think they intended. And that pillow fight was a great spectacle and a ton of fun. So, I guess I ultimately enjoyed myself, but it wasn’t really because of the music.
Another reason why this was the weakest set for me was because it just didn’t sound great. Now, normally, the sound was great all weekend (mainstage, at least), but often Kristina’s notes sounded really bad coming out of the sound system. I don’t know if that’s because the sound tech crew were still figuring things out for the first set, or because she was singing out of her range, or what, but there were multiple times throughout the set where there was some pretty painful feedback and distortion caused by the higher notes.
While there were some musical highlights (like Eia [and I'd just like to point out how cool it is that someone has a name comprised entirely of vowels] donning a terrible wig and an equally terrible male British accent [though again, that was more because of the spectacle rather than the actual music]), I think my biggest problem with the Parselmouth’s set is something that’s not really their fault – I just don’t like their current music as much as their old stuff. And not in the Onward & Upward sense, in that they got worse, they just changed their musical style, and it’s not a style I like as much. Case in point: I got really excited when they announced they were gonna stop using real instruments and switch to backing tracks coming out of the speakers, because I like electronic Parselmouths even more so than acoustic Parselmouths (and I like their acoustic stuff – “Quidditch Is My Favorite Sport”, etc. is a classic). But instead of getting something like “Illegal Love Potion”, it was just acoustic guitar coming out of the speakers, except a tambourine had been added. Why exactly did they need to do that song using backing tracks? Abby could have easily gotten up there and rocked out with a tambourine – or did they just not want to relearn that song, or what? As the backing tracks section of the set went on, it did get more and more electronic, but never quite reaching the sort of thing I wanted.
But hey, that wasn’t a huge deal, because Swish and motherfucking Flick were immediately after, and gave me the sort of electronic wrock I was craving and more. Getting to see Swish and Flick live was one of the biggest things I was excited about for Wrockstock, and they did not disappoint. One of my problems with Ministry of Magic’s set (and I will be doing a more in-depth article about their set that’s not entirely pictures of Captain Picard sometime soon) was that since it was entirely done with instrumentals coming through the speakers, there wasn’t any room for improvisation, or repeating a chorus, or getting to see the technical and musical skill needed to make the music right in front of you. But that wasn’t the case with Swish and Flick – not only was Flick melting elbows and knee sockets with the electric guitar, during one of the songs he pulled out this… thing, where when he touched it, it made a musical electronic tone, sort of like a theremin with a physical interface. And not as ethereal sounding. And he proceeded to become a rock and roll wizard on the touch machine. But live displays of musical prowess aside, it was just a damn fun set. You may have noticed that I tend to spend more time talking about things that I didn’t like or went bad than things I did like or went well, and while that might be because I am hardened pessimist that has forgotten how to love life, and doesn’t remember until I embark on an epic journey with a kid, a dog, and a shit-ton of balloons, at least part of it is also because it’s harder to come up with different ways to say that something was good. When a lot of little things go wrong, it’s easy to mention and expand upon all of them. But when almost everything went right, well, you can say that everything went right, and… that’s about it.
Not to say that the set was perfect – apparently they forgot the lyrics during “Cho Chang”, but I didn’t notice, or at least I don’t remember noticing. And there were a couple issues with feedback, but Stacy managed to turn that into an opportunity for humour. It was exactly what I want and expect out of live wizard rock – like the recorded stuff, but better. More fun, funnier, and more energetic. A thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Now, for The Remus Lupins. While the number I pulled out of my anus during the previous article was a fine “grade”, it wasn’t the best, and in retrospect, I’m not entirely sure why I did that. I mean, really, you can just disregard all of those numbers. It’s odd, but I find it hard to adequately represent my thoughts and feelings about an hour-ish long musical performance with a two-digit number – I’m not sure how pitchfork manages to do it. I mean, really, what’s the difference between a 7.3 and a 7.4? Really?
Ahem. Anyway, I probably gave TRL a more middling score because 1) I’d already seen them before, so there wasn’t the joy of discovery, 2) They followed an amazing set by a band I had never seen live before, and 3) When I wrote the damn thing, it was, like, 3 in the morning or something stupid like that, and let’s just say I’m not at my most… effusive that early in the morning/deep in the night. And… actually, I don’t have a real clear (OMG PALINDROME! Oh, wait, nevermind) memory of the set, but I remember having a lot of fun. I remember them “closing” with “In Which Draco And Harry Secretly Want To Make Out”, which warmed my crusty old heart. I remember that, unlike The Parselmouths, who had a spiel between each song that connected each one (something that I did like and forgot to mention until now), it was just “Here’s a song that will kick you in the face,” and then they played a song that kicked you in the face, and then Alex was like “Here’s another song that will kick you in the face,” and then they played another song that kicked you in the face, and then Alex was like “Here’s another song that will kick you in the face,” and then… well, you get the idea.
While I’ve seen TRL live acoustic before a couple times, and TRL live electric in a library before, it was pretty damn awesome to see TRL live, electric, and with 200 or whatever other people singing and wrocking out, not quietly humming so as not to upset the librarians. Though I must admit I was a tad disappointed when Tyler only played the Mario theme on bass. I mean, it was cool and all, but it didn’t really convince me that you knew “pretty much any video game theme song” – how about Frog’s Theme from Chrono Trigger, or Wily’s Castle 1-2 from MegaMan 2? Or pretty much anything from MegaMan2? Or the castle theme from Super Mario World? Or freakin’ Zelda? Okay, I’ll stop now, and I do realize that this was a wizard rock convention, and not an OCremix convention or whatever, but still… you got my hopes up, AND I’LL NEVER FORGIVE YOU!
Okay, this is getting needlessly nitpicky and silly (pretty much that whole last paragraph was at least partially tongue-in-cheek). My point, and I do have one, is… Okay, maybe I don’t have one. Either Wampum Willow or Sunday afternoon is next. And you have until tonight to vote in the poll over to the right there for best mainstage set at Wrockstock!