Gig Recap: Wetware Music Festival (2017.05.19-21)

A feast for both the eyes and the ears, the Douban-hosted festival which unfolded across Tango and School over four days in mid-May was a music geek’s dream come true – a meticulously curated and designed multi-stage musical experience that didn’t once play it safe and was all the better for it. The number of surprises in store, unexpected delights, and straight up twisted pleasures found during the weekend reminded me of the joys of festivaling for the first time in the states (and even my first MIDI experience back in the day) stumbling across new sounds with reckless glee. I don’t know what the numbers were for Wetware, I don’t know if they were able to cover their costs – there are enough cynics out there to cover those bases. All I know is there hasn’t been a festival this ambitious in quite sometime and I want more already. Here are some highlights from the festival and some (not so grand) photos….

– Stephen O’Malley making fun of my Teva scandals like a drunken college bully (as opposed to being a introverted music nerd) outside of School Bar made me strangely enjoy his earlobe crushing set even more

– This guy was spotted everywhere throughout the weekend – a sweaty mess of unhinged joy

– Speaking of being a sweaty mess School Bar decided it would be wise to not put on their air con during the weekend rendering the venue a spa where all of the previous nights toxins were expelled

– There were at least two detections of t.A.T.u’s ‘Not Gonna Get Us’ making its way into sets which still boggles the mind – I’m not gonna point fingers but you know who you are

– Hat tip to the visual mastery of multimedia artists Kim Laughton and Jonathan Zawada who transformed the first floor of Tango in a hall of mirrors; an ever changing digital landscape that elevated just about everyone’s set

– Saturday afternoon surprise: Alessandro Cortini — ambient bliss mixed with retrograded home videos of Italy was beautifully manipulative and poignant

– Quick fusball game with Guizhou singer Dieel Guik before his tender moving set

– Saturday MVP: While the one-two combo of Andy Stott and Actress was pretty thrilling, far and above the highlight was Mirrors, the precision missile of psychedelic mayhem and groove that had festival goers in a frenzy more so than anyone else that day – holy shit do I recommend checking these guys out first opportunity

– The Wine Challenge still baffles me as to do it was a mere 24 yuan, so really the worst that could happen is you pay for a big ol glass of wine —- some folks however like Big D here and Krish of Split Works went the extra mile and beat said challenge much to their immediate regret and demise

– Food For Thought: the Panini was pretty dope (though the company name escapes me mainly cause it was like ten words long) but come on, it wouldn’t be a night at Tango without dangerous amount of Dim Sum next door and alcoholic pick-me-ups courtesy of the Q Mart

– Sunday kick off: siting in the complete dark with smoke machines going off in every direction while Tim Hecker shook the entire room and my plane of existence – hells yes

– Ran Music’s showcase at School sadly couldn’t compete with Tango (and remained a steam box) but for those who stopped by were treated to some really cool live acts — case in point: newly planted Fishdoll

– Sunday MVP: Faded Ghost – probably the most mesmerized I was during the long day, equally terrified and hypnotized by the pagan, witch house vibes of Chacha’s latest project which put listeners in a trance-like state of mind. And maybe the first instance of the day were I thought I was losing my mind

– Kobe9’s set was essentially watching someone play the mid-90s PC game Descent for a hour straight – let’s just say I was more fascinated by the limitations of the tech than how the music and verrryyy loose narrative entwined

– However, watching Howie Lee take command of his set and sound and the mind-bending satirically biting imagery on hand was like watching a kid (though that towel is a tad much Mr. Lee) upgrade from a sandbox to a whole jungle gym

– The true freaks were out in droves for the Teklife crew – Chicago footwork legends DJ Earl and RP Boo – the latter who, decked out in an BBQ apron, relentlessly went above and beyond, having to told twice to wrap it up (before going to Dada to play even more) — class acts though and though, they were the perfect closer to the night

– As always there were acts I was disappointed to miss (namely Hai Qing and Mouse on Mars) but all and all I pretty much was able to hit up all the acts I wanted to with ease and the short walk between School and Tango was a pleasant palette cleanser

– Cheers Wetware — till next time!

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