Fever To Sing

This weekend, Blacksburg, VA played host to a music festival of a different kind. Hosted at several bars and art galleries around town, local and regional musicians of all stripes and abilities played with varying degrees of fever. I ended up managing part of a show, running the sound for a few bands, playing an open-mic, and photographing every single set I was a witness to. Problems aside, I had a good time.

I arrived in Blacksburg and parked within a hundred feet of the NLCF building, check in for the Fever to Sing festival. I spent over a half hour wandering around the block looking for any sign of a festival, stumped. I looked up the address and found my way on in. Several artists and musicians I interviewed had the same trouble. There was no signs, no groups of people coming or going, but the gears were churning inside.

The organizers were putting things together using some kind of online system, stressing and fretting over laptops wherever they went. The sound guys were often late, or unreachable, or went missing, but for the most part the bands were well on time and ready to go when needed. I changed the schedule, manually, with a pen on at least 50 fliers because certain shows were very much more than an hour late to begin. I suppose I was a volunteer too, as well as impromptu press, musician, and management.

There was a some awful trash that I wish I’d never seen. On the other hand, I saw great acts, such as the Bastards of Fate, the Andalusians, and Don’t Call Us Sweethearts.

Doug Cheatwood's blinding emotional fury unleashed

Doug Cheatwood's blinding emotional fury unleashed

The Bastards of Fate defy all explanation. Doug Cheatwood is a performance genius beyond compare. His songs are imaginatively written and musically unique, defying rules I didn’t even knew existed. Standing on an amp, holding up a guitar, blinded by shaving cream, construction light draped over his shoulder, and mic in hand, Doug Cheatwood is no gimmick hungry rocker. He is what punk rock was never smart enough to be, crazier and more ambitious, full of antics that wake sleepy fear-ridden audiences into a frenzy of dance and jubilation. Did I mention that the music’s catchy, well-written, and like nothing you’ve heard?

andalusiansThe Andalusians were a punkish woman-fronted band from DC, with loads of energy to back up their fun music. Such well written music played by obvious professionals was a welcome treat, and I especially appreciated how grounded and personal their presence was. These were proud, powerful women who were absolutely comfortable on stage and off. Sadly, that’s not something I see often. They were reminiscent of the best bits of The Clash.

Aw, this band should be called Sweetheart

Aw, this band should be called Sweetheart

I didn’t run the sound for Don’t Call Us Sweethearts, although I was supposed to. One faux member of the group who played a little percussion felt the need to do the sound, although I had to inform him on how to use the mixer. Thankfully with my help he was able to do a passable job, and truly could have done little to diminish the silky-smooth vocals and soft melodies of Don’t Call us Sweethearts. The performance was emotionally charged and musically superb. Though I tend to think their particular kind of songwriting is generally boring, there was no lack of excitement during their performance. Don’t Call Us Sweethearts had a friendly, warm presence that everyone picked up on.

The good was good, but the bad got very bad. I don’t mind bad music, or late shows. There’s just a small list of things I expect musicians to NOT do, which almost always ruin the appeal of the performance. Fever to sing had a few good examples.

  • Show outright disdain for the audience while making assumptions about their beliefs
  • Explain what every single song is about in detail
  • Apologize for how bad the music is

Musicians who do these things defy all logic, and must be proud of how amateur they are. Since we’re mean bastards here at Elf Wax, and want to harm those who we dislike, here’s a list of bands and musicians you should never, ever see.

  • Kristi Emmons
You won't like this show unless you're a Lesbian who thinks the entire world hates you.

You won't like this show unless you're a Lesbian who thinks the entire world hates you.

I was there to help you run sound, and you refused my help probably just because I am a man. I hope you enjoyed spending 5 minutes going back and forth between the mixer and the microphone to satisfy your own misguided foolish pride. You’re not a bad musician, but probably a bad person. I have nothing against Lesbians, in fact I rarely have sex with women who aren’t Lesbians. I was enraged by your song about how everyone in Virginia but the Lesbians are hateful fucks. Now Elfwax.com hates you, and it’s not just your imagination this time. You can tell everyone we hate you just because you’re a Lesbian if that makes you feel better.

21 comments to Fever To Sing

  • Hi Elfwax, thanks for attending the festival. Things were pretty rocky the first year, we’re still working out the kinks and we hope to have a much more organized event next year. We weren’t entirely sure we’d be able to pull it off this year, but we did! However, we do appreciate you providing a candid personal account of your experience and we hope to see you at the festival next year.

  • we’re nothing if not candid, and oh boy. you found this fast. i was truly glad to help out, i like to see things like this succeed-and it did.

  • oh wait that was the one part of your article i was too high to read until now. fuck kristi emmons. hopefully one day she’ll google herself and see this.

  • forego the handjob plz

    great article billy

  • i think its probably as good of a review as she could wish for from this site.

  • HAHA, one faux member??? that was their manger who helps handle sound guy, and somehow got a pass for being a member of the band. You didn’t help him figure the mixer…thanks for pretending to help…your welcome for the hospitality and staying at my house over the weekend. I hope you had a great time sucking face with beautiful, beautiful, lovely jasper… i can still smell your bodies and it makes me soooo jealous.

    Your lack of gratitude, non-understanding of music, non-understanding of mixing, and overall negativity is what fuels the hate/apathy in this world

  • Leah

    The pictures are great! They have really high quality and absolutely capture the essence of Fever to Sing. In my very esteemed opinion, you have such a great grasp on the music world and should continue to write more articles proving your knowledge and skill to the woeful souls trying to have “fun” with their music. You really are deserving of praise!

  • HAHAHAHAH! Trashing trash musicians is so funny!

  • oh come on, i only disliked one musician enough to even name them, and i’m doing her a service. it’s her vs. the world, and this is just serving her purpose mightily. despite the nature of this site, there’s no sarcasm here. i love the bastards of fate, the andalusians, don’t call us sweethearts and plenty of other acts i saw. i thought the pic of doug cheatwood was pretty cool, but hey, quality’s what counts right?

    david, i’m sorry for showing you how to activate the reverb, and making sure you had the guitar channel playing through both speakers. i know you didn’t even believe me and had to ask someone else’s opinion, but such is the nature of a powerful ego. you did alright though, for not even checking to see how it sounded on the other side of the speakers.

    i enjoy seeing amateur musicians play, even when they’re pretty bad. but really, it puts me off if you’re going to apologize for your art or insult me with it. you guys ought to read around this site a little bit before jumping to conclusions about what i’m saying here.

  • No, fuck that! Insulting shitty musicians is absolutely necessary – way more necessary than it was for those useless sons of bitches to stand up on a stage, bore and insult us, and fail to entertain us with their so-called “talents.” Just because your best friends are too nice to tell you that your music is lame doesn’t mean we are. We listen to musicians who fucking ROCK, so yeah we hold a bias against lame-ass unoriginal motherfuckers like you.

    “Since when did mediocrity and banality become a positive image for your children?” – Bill Hicks said that and he was referring to the safe, government-approved rock-and-roll you guys don’t even realize you’re playing. You think anybody gives a fuck about oppressing faggotry in 2010? We can’t say for sure what Hicks might say about this if he were alive today, and don’t you try to speculate on it. But here’s what I say: bands about being lesbian suck, so do most bands that supposedly “stand for something” because you’re letting the message get in the way and trying to be something you aren’t. If you don’t stand for eternal love and let that be the source of your conviction, but instead are guided by hatred and fear, then I can safely tell you this: you better have the wherewithal in your wussy little black heart to withstand the blowback because any member of the audience with three gray cells can easily sees through that act.

    Burning trash stinks, so I don’t stand in it. But Billy did, and while you guys were all sucking each others’ cocks after the show, slapping asses “we fucking rocked,” he came home to make sure it was worthwhile for everyone – not just your shit-sucking 1980s rehash of tired concepts and recycled attitudes. Get with the times and get behind a real cause. I get it – you want to say something. But people don’t want to hear it – not because it runs contrary to SHEEPLE’S hard-wired HATE-FILLED BELIEF SYSTEMZ but because you just aren’t very good at it; bunch of fucking try-hards with no actual grip on reality – such that you can’t even tell when it’s time to pack it up and quit. No, don’t stop playing shitty music! THAT’S WHAT THE MAN WANTS YOU TO DO! Go write a poem.

  • billywalshe

    i will be playing happy’s flea market on sunday, may 2nd. come on by, and feel free to write whatever you want about me.

  • hottopickid

    PUNX RUK FORVR MAN

  • MauMau

    I want to buy the world a coke. Hugs to the world

  • Roanoker

    Well, I wanted to like the concept of Fever to Sing, but they really made it difficult. From what I hear (Correct me if I’m wrong), they expected bands to pack up their gear, drive it to Bburg, perform for free, and then pay to get a pass to see the other sets.

    Riddle me this: If Fever to Sing is selling merch (And festival passes), venues are getting food and drink (No cover slice), and all of the bands are playing for free, then whose greedy ass is getting all of that money?

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all about the money. But something about that just isn’t right. Which is why so many of the great bands that were SUPPOSED to show up (ie: Magic Twig Collective and Red Clay River), decided to throw in the towel.

  • i was unaware of any bands not showing up for this reason. it was difficult to get around to everywhere and see it all. some bands i know were paid, and you’re saying some weren’t? what gives, yo?

  • Roanoker

    I could have been given bad info, but from what I heard, there was some question about the legitimacy of how things were done. All I know is that all of the Magic Twig Collective (The Young Sinclairs, etc) were supposed to come but fell through due to some kind of debacle. It wasn’t specifically involving money, and I don’t have a lot of info. But, I heard that there were some issues.

  • Eve

    Red Clay River and the 2 other bands who share members cancelled on us because their members had conflicts with other shows they had booked for the weekend. It happens sometimes when people are in 5 different bands.

    All travelling bands were compensated for gas money and in part for their food and provided housing if they needed it. Local bands (within an hour’s radius of Blacksburg) played for free, which I believe has been the custom in Blacksburg for many many years. We asked them to pay half price ($10) for their festival ticket- I don’t think it was unreasonable considering we had 70 bands play, probably consisting of a substantial portion of the concert-goers who would attend the festival. Regarding the merch, we may have sold like 30 shirts, but they cost us more than $1000. We were concerned about breaking even, so that we would be able to continue the festival next year. We are a young organization comprised of a few students who had $50 to start with, and we all put in countless hours and dollars into bake sales and a million other things to give the town what it needed, its own music festival.

  • True Thurts

    Sounds like this “festival” was undoubtedly a failure. Captain Crunch, Leah, and Eve (who I like to call “the Peanut Gallery”) do nothing to defend it either, but just make it look even less professional by attempting to rebuttal via The Times. Way to go, failures. Go cry somewhere else. Hopefully this will be the last “music festival” in Blacksburg, a town for drunk collared-shirted frat boys, not creative minds.

    Yvan eht Nioj dudez!

  • Lee

    I couldn’t agree with you more. This festifail was terrible. Anyway, l love your site layout. It’s gorgeous.

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