Fire and The Wheel
The evening of October 17, 2012, I attended one of the Kennedy Center’s 365 free shows at 6:00 pm, which are presented on their Millennium Stage. The show was a performance by indie DC based rock group “Fire and The Wheel.” To say the least, it was a performance I wish I could soon forget. The entire time I was there I sat in my seat, hoping that the people in the crowd over thirty would not associate my youth with the music that was being played. I, myself, felt embarrassed just watching the group preform. An occasional laugh as I looked at my feet was all I could do to remedy this for the hour long performance.
The Millennium Stage’s seating was full. Ushers lined the rows of seats, wearing the classic style theater red uniform. Soft ambient light from the setting sun filled the giant marble halls, as rich red drapes hung all around. The neoclassical structure of the Center made me feel as if I was to enter a grand ball. And, since it was happy hour, it was clearly visible that this was one of the main attractions. I felt excited, I felt privileged being in such an extravagant building, I was ready to hear some music.
Promptly, at 6:00pm, Brandon Wetherby of the Huffington Post DC, introduced the band. In a second I could read the band like a book. Vintage style clothing, vests, pin striped pants and the lead vocalist, Joey Harrison, had a handle bar mustache; hipsters (oh no).
After a minute I could tell it was going to be a long night. It was evident that the group tried to pull inspiration from classic rock groups, such as The Doors, David Bowie, and Pink Floyd. These styles were then mixed with alternative sounds of modern underground bands, utilizing a wide arrange of instruments and unconventional music patterns. Although the group’s concept sounded interesting and eclectic, it fell short of anything worthwhile to listen to. Often they were out of key, droned on, the beat did not match the melody and the timing of the harmonizing was off. The drums overpowered the other instruments, the sound mixing was off, and a any clarity and crispness was non-existent. Out of nowhere they would switch keys, pause the song abruptly, then they would just continue playing. The bass was kept at a frequency that reverberated throughout the hall and was similar to an air conditioner’s gray noise that makes everything else inaudible. The lead singer often just spoke in time with the music, only yelling louder when it was time to provide some sense of emphasis.
If you like nails on a chalkboard, a dog park, and an elementary school concert all thrown together, then “Fire and The Wheel” is for you. However, I liked the seats; they were comfortable.