By: Anand Harsh
With only a few days of tolerable weather left in the Midwest, the last outdoor festivals of the season are coming and going fast. This past weekend, Wuhnurth did its best to keep the heat alive. After a couple of hectic years at Muncie’s Water Bowl, Wuhnurth packed it bags and headed down to south-central Indiana’s Stable Studios. Built on 55 acres of picturesque rolling hillsides, Stable Studios was until 5 years ago the home of champion horses, but now houses a couple of state-of-the-art recording studios, an enormous main stage barn, and a beautiful lake in which to dip your toes while you’re baking in the mid-day sun. For a festival whose mission statement is dedicated to preserving the environment, the organizers certainly picked a perfect location to show off nature’s glorious greenery.
The headlining slot on Friday belonged to Ohio-based jamtronica outfit Papadosio. Bassist Rob McConnell certainly made a case for himself as MVP of the fest. A thrilling new song, followed by hard-nosed versions of “All I Knew” and “Night Colors,” from their 2009 disc Observations established McConnell as a force to be reckoned with. While a great deal of Dosio’s songs feature brilliant melodic work from guitarist/vocalist Anthony Thogmartin and keyboardist Billy Brouse, the battery of McConnell and drummer Mike Healy really propel the band that’s now found itself at the forefront of festival acts. I can’t wait to see what happens when Papadosio introduces their fifth member, Sam “Nala” Brouse, sick DJ and keyboardist extraordinaire.
Embryonic Fluid was certainly the breakout act of Wuhnurth. Comprised of DJ Embryo (Dave Embry) and keys maestro Ashton Kleemann, the Fluid duo was all over the place, scattering dancers across the field at the second stage. I hadn’t heard Tool like that, and I certainly hadn’t heard “Reflection” all d’n’b’d out ever. Slamming to the other side of the spectrum, Embryonic Fluid took a Cornmeal tune, “Hasten Jason,” added fiddle player Stephan Cook from Fresh Hops, and tripped that ditty to the max. Finally, the chants of “dubstep, DUBSTEP” hit their target, and DJ Embryo dropped into the dubbiest version of The Who’s “Who are You” that there has ever been. Ridiculous. Look for these guys to bust out of the Midwest with a vengeance.
I’m an Indiana boy, through and through, so I’ve seen Umphrey’s McGee—a lot. I know how absolutely filthy their drummer, Kris Myers, can be. Finally, he’s joined a project that lets him step out as the rhythmic monster he is. Digital Tape Machine is the brainchild of Land of Atlantis guitarist Dan Rucinski, who essentially wanted to create deeply poignant video game music, and used the skills of some of the most talented musicians in Chicago. DTM’s lineup at Wuhnurth consisted of Myers and Rucinski, along with Strange Arrangement’s keyboardist and bassist Joe Hettinga and Kevin Barry, guitarist Marcus Rezak of the Hue, and DJ Boy Elroy. Myers and DJ Elroy started off the late-night set with a couple of nice and easy drum ‘n’ bass tunes. Then something exploded. All the members of the crew eventually made it out, and the breakbeats turned into symphonies. These lush melodies rode on top of the most strident, intense beats I’ve ever heard. The absolutely perfect fusion of breaks and prog. Truly a masterful effort that’s got me looking forward to the debut of DTM’s “The Elephant in the Room.” While all members are parts of incredibly prolific bands who tour relentlessly, I can’t help but hope that Digital Tape Machine starts touring regularly.
Wuhnurth’s second day had less electronic music on the bill. Although, I noticed that several bands I’ve been seeing for years are really incorporating the new sound. I remember when the Indianapolis-based Twin Cats were just a funk band. Suddenly, keyboardist Phil Geyer seems to have a whole host of synths, and the band has this driving sound. Bassist Cameron Reel is a beast, as always, creating a wall of sound with his mastery. The Twin Cats have broken their chains, and are really ripping out some terrific dance music. Catch ‘em if you can!
Sixdollarsuit out of Lafayette, Indiana has a lot to prove. They were the hometown heroes, bringing a huge crowd to their second stage slot. Lots of STS9 comparisons were drawn, but they’re a bit funkier and lighter than that. Nick Golder is a true front man on bass, leading the sonic assault with a raw tenacity. The goal of the band is to get the audience to lose it, and dance, and they’ve accomplished that. When the band truly hits their creative stride, there’s no telling where they’ll go.
A rough night of partying caused me to miss EP3’s set—though I heard they tore it up. Beyond that, never to be satisfied, several fans of electronic music (and buddies of mine) set up guerrilla speaker systems in the woods to blast their own beats. Wuhnurth’s organizer, James Nimmer, wanted to set up a festival that put environmental concerns in the spotlight, and encouraged attendees to commune with nature. There’s nothing more natural than a deep woods rave! The backwoods throwdown really had nothing on the main stage light and sound production. Easily the best festival sound this season. Congratulations to Wuhnurth, I hope you’ve found a permanent home.
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