Bronco hole

Dallas' last great concert hall suffers growing pains

Schmidt and Vogeler have decided to keep mum about their reasons for calling it quits, but it doesn't take a rock critic to figure out the reasons: Funland, born as Melt more than five years ago, simply wasn't fun for its members anymore. They bit into a major-label deal for a brief moment in 1991, then decided it tasted like shit when Arista delivered nothing it promised; the band's debut EP for the label, Sweetness, was more a threat than a promise of potential, and when the label decided it couldn't make a decision about Funland's future, the band begged out of the contract.

Funland would sign to Crystal Clear Sound's Steve imprint last year and release the terrific The Funland Band, which consisted largely of material that existed for more than a year. The record--which finally garnered the band an Observer Music Award this year after many shut-outs--was as good as any alt-pop-rock record released by any major label in the past couple of years, yet Funland never got any further than playing Trees every Saturday night. You don't get anywhere unless you pack up the van, but a constant shiffle of bass players, Johnson's school schedule, and other dilemmas seemed to conspire against the band.

Deep Blue Something reaps success, and Funland breaks up. No justice, no piece of the action. (Burn, Deep Ellum, burn.) They wanted a deal, then realized scratching their way toward one wasn't worth ruining their friendships; Schmidt had been through enough of that during his days with Three on a Hill a long, long time ago.

And who says good press means jack shit? I've been writing about Funland since I was at the Dallas Times-Herald, sat in the room with them when they were hammering out their deal with Arista, watched them kill a room of label execs at CBGB's in New York, attended dozens of shows (some great, some mediocre, all worth the free admission). Yet they could never get another deal, and they were forced to watch as the likes of Tablet, The Nixons, and Deep Blow take their free lunches and Super Bowl tickets. Funland's final show will take place June 15 at Trees.

And as they go straight, so do I: Matt Weitz, who has written about music for the The Dallas Morning News since 1992 and done a damned fine job, takes over as music editor here this week, and he will begin the job of writing "Street Beat"--God help him. But as I begin my new job as associate editor here, I just say this: I'm still reviewing the new Jackopierce record. You can't stop me.

Street Beat welcomes e-mail tips and comments at Matt_Weitz@dallasobserver.com.

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