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WE Fest 2009

May 20, 2009


For over 10 years now, a small group of music lovers in Wilmington, NC—a small town known more for its presence on One Tree Hill and Dawson’s Creek than its music scene—have conveyned over Memorial Weekend for one of the greatest indie music festivals on the planet. Over time, the WE Festival has spread to include bands from all over the world, and ironically, probably attracts more attendees from outside of Wilmington than from the town itself.

Sadly, I won’t be attending this year’s festival, but I’ve been fortunate to attend every year since 1997. The organizers were kind enough to send me some music from some of this year’s showcasing bands, so I can listen along and pretend I’m knocking down beers at the Soapbox. Here’s some info on just a few of my picks for this year’s highlights (but please, trust me when I say if it’s at WE Fest, it’s worth checking out), so if you are traveling to Wilmington this weekend, say hi to some of these folks:

L.A. Tool and Die (performing Thursday, May 21st, Laundro Lounge stage at 1 am)
Catchy, funny, synth-heavy indiepop from Charlotte, NC. These guys put on a very fun show, and it’s refreshing to see a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Or seriously at all. I really like that. Venture over to their website and take a listen to “Don’t Touch My Mustache” and see if you can keep from cracking up.

Pistolero (Friday, May 22nd, Laundro Lounge stage at 5 pm)
One of my favorite Atlanta bands, these guys have been working hard for several years now and it shows through their current lineup. Coming off like an indierock version of the Kinks, Pistolero puts on a spirited performance, and are just really cool, fun guys to boot. Gear heads might also appreciate that they make their own amps. I just like watching Corey flail around the stage. Their new record “Warface” is really great too, so be sure to pick one up at the show.

Clang Quartet (Saturday, May 23rd, Laundro Lounge stage at 4 pm)
OK, an act described as “a percussive interpretation on following Jesus Christ” might turn some folks off. Fine. But what if that act was courtesy of Scotty Irving, former drummer for Geezer Lake, one of the most interesting, captivating indie bands to ever come out of North Carolina? Scotty is a one-man show that never ceases to amaze; regardless of your relegious or musical leanings, this is something to see. His set often features the use of “The Crutch,” an instrument that Scotty assembled himself by attaching a large variety of instruments and odds-and-ends to a crutch. Still not impressed? Then take your closed-minded viewpoint somewhere other than WE Fest, my friend.

Illicitizen (Saturday, May 23rd, Laundro Lounge stage at 9 pm)
Illicitizen are a talented, entertaining, and hard-to-classify husband-and-wife duo from Charlotte. There’s definitely an 80s slant to their tunes, not surprising considering that (I’m assuming, and we’re friends so I think it’s safe for me to assume this) songsmith Eric Cavanaugh was reared on 80s college rock like Wire and Pylon; but not to the extent that they sound like a knock-off. Check them out and then take them over to Goody Goody Omelet House for “Two Eggs Any Style.”

Olivia Mancini & The Mates (Saturday, May 23rd, Laundro Lounge stage at 1 am)
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of catching The Mates at WE Fest and I immediately declared them my favorite band of that year’s festival. Considering all the amazing talent that WE Fest attracts each year, I’d say that’s some hefty praise. Honestly, it kinda baffles me that this band isn’t huge, especially when you look at the recent success of She & Him, who is the only comparison I can think at the moment (and I’ll even go as far as to say that The Mates are even better. Yep, I said it).

Dare Dukes (Saturday, May 23rd, Soapbox main stage at 5 pm)
And speaking of being baffled by bands who aren’t huge… Savannah’s Dare Dukes delivers some of the catchiest, thought-provoking Americana tunes I’ve heard in quite some time. If you don’t follow any other suggestions I make here, PLEASE visit Dare’s Myspace and have a listen to “Kick and Holler”. Ridiculously good.

Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun and Club Awesome (Sunday, May 24th, Soapbox main stage at midnight/1 am)
These bands are from Atlanta and are touring together, which is why I thought it appropriate to group them together. This is going to be a fantastic one-two punch that will no doubt leave WE Festers with huge smiles on their faces, and tired bums from dancing so hard. Both bands are incredibly infectious and entertaining, Today the Moon… a little more on the electro-dance-pop tip and Club Awesome more on the angular, quirky, low-fi side of things (they remind me a lot of Hot Hot Heat when they were cool, if you need a reference point). A good representation of some of Atlanta’s up-and-coming talent.

(For a full schedule visit the WE Fest website)

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