Hardcore hijinks and musical time travel

Weirdos: Stringing together every performance in a two-day festival is hard work. I’m not even talking about putting it on—I mean attending it.

Not to say that I didn’t enjoy Weirdo Fest III, an overwhelming event that took place at Midtown Barfly last weekend. It’s just that when you’ve got more than 30 heavy-as-hell acts in a 24-hour period, at some point your body breaks down and forces you into emergency nap mode somewhere on the second day. Kudos to the organizers for keeping it together.

While turnout was decent both Saturday and Sunday, there was a clear split between the two days.

The difference could be seen in the pits. On Saturday, there was hardly any moshing until the festival was already four hours deep, and they were mostly small circle pits. On Sunday, you were lucky if your face didn’t catch a whirling fist from the first band forward, with vicious arm flailing and flying spin-kicks marking off a large open space in front of the stage.

That shift could also be attributed to the deeply different lineups. Death metal ruled the first day; Bay Area hardcore owned the second.

Saturday saw thinner audience numbers until later in the night. Local tech-death band Alterbeast took arguably the largest numbers, filling up the main stage and bar areas of Barfly despite being four notches down from the top of the bill. As cool as it is that a local band drew people out among solid competition, a huge chunk immediately took off afterward, leaving Will Haven and Warbringer just a small sample of the crowd. What’s up with that?

It got worse for the headliner, Nekrogoblikon. I’m not sure if there were even 30 people in the room by then—and one person who left turned out to be the sound guy, who was double-booked Saturday night. The frustrated band grappled with heavy feedback throughout the set, and while the mistake was understandable, it still marked a strange end for the night.

Day two’s attendance proved much more solid, and they showed up earlier to boot. The big draws, the Warriors and Lionheart, played the kind of hardcore that got bodies flying real high while frenzied fans stormed the stage to scream their favorite lyrics into a commandeered mic. People stuck around in solid numbers for bands like Mastiff and Havenside, but they ditched the act I found most interesting, the prog-grind Entheos.

Between it all, some hip-hop and burlesque acts kept things moving, providing quick doses of fresh air amid all the raging.

No matter what people took from it, Weirdo Fest III should be called a success. The fest, organized by Trigga Productions, came from a DIY local ethos, and it brought out a diverse and respectable lineup with lots of options for varied tastes. The fourth edition of the fest, however, has already been announced for the Bay Area after three years of duking it out in Sac. So it goes.

—Anthony Siino

What year is it?: Nick Waterhouse is often touted as being part of today’s soul revival, along with Sharon Jones and Leon Bridges. He certainly sings with soul—reminiscent of ’60s R&B—and on recordings, he’s joined by stellar backup singers and a horn section. But at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub last Tuesday night, Waterhouse brought straight-up rock ’n’ roll right out of the 1950s.

It was obvious before he even took the stage—Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” blared through the sound system as the small but enthusiastic crowd teemed with anticipation.

Waterhouse walked out with his horn-rimmed specs, slicked-back hair, vintage attire and his Gibson hollow-body. His band wore suit jackets. Waterhouse, though engaging, looked more hard-boiled than joyful. The band evoked a time period of conservatism, of seriousness. Music ain’t all fun and games, but the organ sure did soar.

Most striking was Waterhouse’s unwavering commitment to his time-travel quality. He said things like “This was on my last 45,” and introduced his bandmates as “the fellas.” Perhaps more telling: He once compared people who vehemently advocate for CD over vinyl to anti-vaxxers.

—Janelle Bitker