Impressions of Whartscape 2010
by Tim Kabara
Impressions of Whartscape 2010

Dear Whartscape 2010,

What’s up?

I imagine you are pretty tired after an entire weekend of being amazing. I know I still have sore feet. Do you think it was from standing for so long, or just the extreme heat firing up all that asphalt? I am not sure which, but our weekend together has left me walking funny!

I hate to get all personal when we are both clearly so exhausted, but I am to understand that this is the last time that we are going to get to be together, and I have a few things I need to say. As someone who has been with you for five years, I admit I am going through some mixed emotions right now about this being the end.

Music festivals are an institution. This is strange since they have a tendency to be terrible. And you are an awesome music and arts festival that has decided not to become an institution.

I respect that decision, but I can’t believe the news. Surely, there is a next year? Surely we will get together again, same month, different venues? As they say on the Internet, j/k, right? Right? LOLZ?

Maybe you don’t understand the gravity of this situation. It is only you who can do this to me, Whartscape! Only you can get me to spend ten hours outdoors on two of the hottest days of the year. I was warned by the City of Baltimore Health Department to reduce outdoor activities and to stay inside, and there I was watching band after band perform, chugging water, eating food from Wrapdragons, nodding my head to Rapdragons.

And in case you are thinking I am someone who is writing this letter just to get some kind of a free show out of you, let me reassure you that I can’t imagine anything further from that. My Megapass provided me entrance into a triumphant weekend, and I have zero regrets.

Do you remember when we first met? It was at the Charles Theater. Videos, ten minute plays, poetry, prose, dance routines, a Q&A with Ian MacKaye, a lecture from Mink Stole. You told me R.M. O’Brien would read poetry, and he did. You told me Santa Dads was playing, but they didn’t. That was when I started to learn about you and your published schedule, Whartscape 2010. Despite how many people were peering at you up there on the wall or spread out on the sidewalk, what you said on that poster wasn’t always true. You weren’t kidding when you told me that all set times were approximate!

As the next day dawned and we awoke to our weekend together, all was well. I went down to the site of our next date. You had re-purposed a nondescript Baltimore parking lot into something wonderful, something out of nothing. The seemingly abandoned buildings that surrounded us provided shade from the burning sun. You surprised me with a storefront set by the Oxes before I even made it inside. I was with you from Teenage Souls onward that afternoon. Your maple syrup snowballs were delicious. You are the kind of festival that inspires young men to want to yawp selections from Leaves of Grass at the top of their lungs, and I respect you for that. You let a man dressed as a giant Cup Cache chant and intone from your stages. Who does that? You do, Whartscape.

Right before I left, you worked your magic yet again. I was having a conversation with a friend about his love of Baltimore club music when it was made clear that Scotti B, a legendary godfather of Club, was about to DJ. As my friend ran off to dance ecstatically, to dance his pain away, I was in awe of your power. I wanted to stay all night, but I knew the next day was going to be something to behold, and I needed to get some rest.

Our third day and night together was one where I began to question our relationship. Isn’t this all just too good to be true? At last year’s Whartscape, I was conversing with a young man who was wearing a homemade Universal Order of Armageddon t-shirt. In our brief conversation, he explained that he made the shirt to honor the band that he feels was one of the best to ever come out of Maryland. This year, that band reunited and played the festival after a day that also saw sets from Altered States, Dope Body, Ed Schrader, Double Dagger, Ponytail, the Dan Deacon Ensemble, No Age, Arab on Radar, and Lightning Bolt, to name a few.

Are you reading our minds, Whartscape? You made dreams come true for so many people. How will we ever have anything like you again in our lives? In an age of instant Internet everything, you managed to craft a festival filled with unmissable and unforgettable moments. Your bounty seemed inexhaustible, great bills piled on top of one another, floor by floor, the H&H building overflowing.

By our fourth and final day and night together, we hit some bumps in the road. As the rain poured down, I feared for the worst. Plans were remade and venues were changed. Standing outside of Sonar Baltimore with others beaten and bedraggled by our wild weekend together, I took in the sunburns, the mangled wristbands, the dazed expressions. Only you can make us do this, Whartscape.

And yes, the fire department came. And yes, everything was subject to change (even this). But we did it. In fact, we can all get together and do this. We didn’t need anyone but ourselves and our collective will to make this happen.

At some point during our weekend together, free tickets were given away for the 2010 Virgin Mobile Freefest. I didn’t care. And that is all because of you, Whartscape 2010. All because of you. You’ve spoiled me rotten, and I won’t ever be the same.


Kim Tabara
Posted by: Tim Kabara

Features (July 26th, 2010)