By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
The band Weezer has released only two real albums, but it has spawned a zealous following and a true musical distinctiveness, the sort that prompts countless indie-rock fans to quip about countless indie-rock bands, "Um, sounds kinda like Weezer." That bright and poppy singalong sound, fortified by massive (albeit noodly) guitars and drum throttle, has eked its way into the brain of just about everyone who's bought a rock record since 1994. Pervasive is too tepid a description for the unwitting and unpretentious band's tentacles. Insidious--that's more like it. And Weezer's sonics are ripe for playing live: cheerfully loose but not too sloppy, thick and rounded as shotgun barrels, and as harmonious as a multi-singer band can get.
So it's with a mix of surprise and knowing amusement that a handful of Dallas' finest spend their off-off time as Weener, playing the most uncanny replicas of Weezer tunes--even the obscure soundtrack and B-side stuff. In fact, as a group--Mark Hughes (Baboon) on bass, Ben Burt (Pinkston) on drums, and Jason Weisenberg (The Commercials) and the endearingly spastic Glen Reynolds (Chomsky) on guitar--these guys put on one of the most satisfying live shows ever to stumble across a Dallas stage. Explosive yet instinctively nuanced, it's so instrumentally and vocally dead-on that if you close your eyes during the set, you'd swear it was the real deal. These are songs performed by guys who learned to tune their instruments to them, guys who know Weezer's sound as well as they know their own moms.
If the songs were by Reynolds or Weisenberg instead of by a guy named Rivers Cuomo, Weener would be the best real band ever to come from these parts. But they aren't, and there's the splendid irony (a must when it comes to bands like Weezer/Weener): Despite all that talent, you just can't get too serious about it. Like Weezer, Weener doesn't invite intense scrutiny. Occasional injections of lyrical angst aside, everyone who's heard Weezer's 1994 self-titled debut and their 1996 follow-up Pinkerton can't help but bounce around to all the hook-laden, ballsy junior anthems. It's just that these four Dallas-Denton lads will actually play them for you, out loud and with love.
The Local Show,
Winner for: Radio Program That Plays Local Music
Lift up your heads, Forlorn Androgynous Shoegazers, and face the music. This isn't really an upset. Sure, Josh Venable's The Adventure Club (KDGE-FM, 94.5) wins this category so often we've considered renaming it the Best Morrissey Radio Program That Also Plays Local Music Award. But when hundreds of write-in voters give the overwhelming nod to a program called The Local Show that--get this--plays nothing but local music, maybe some justice has been served.
Long gone are the days when Edge music director George Gimarc would spin the latest homegrown acts, among them The Spin and the Bat Mastersons, alongside their nationally touring peers during the heat of drive-time. (And it's probably for the best. Nobody really wants to listen to "I Like Love" at all, especially not when facing the hell of Central Expressway construction at five in the afternoon.) There's something to be said for spending a little time--even if it's merely an hour on a Sunday night--to root, root, root for just the home teams, even when you know they're a shame.
The Zone (KKZN-FM, 93.3) can have all the "Old 97's Weekends" it wants, but the station has to play the band's record more often than just once a week on Abby Goldstein's Lone Star Radio for it to mean anything. Hell, National Public Radio's World Cafe plays Rhett Miller and the boys more often than The Zone, and that show's based out of Philly. And, sorry, KDGE, but playing the Toadies' "Possum Kingdom" hardly counts as hometown cheerleading these days. The band doesn't even like to play that one anymore. KNON-FM (89.3), community radio in every sense of the word, gets an "EZ" for effort: EZ Eddie D's hip-hop hour, Knowledge Dropped, Lessons Taught, and Dave Chaos' hardcore Twisted Kicks both ended up on the best-show short list. But those programs, buried deep at the left of the dial, are too far-flung to reach the masses.
The fact is, now that Redbeard and his long-nurtured Texas Tapes have been put out to pasture along with the rest of Q102, The Eagle is the only station in town willing to give some undivided attention to local music. In reality, every Local Show is really nothing but an on-air advertisement for a cheapie $1.97-cover-charge showcase at the Curtain Club--just, in fact, what every local band needs most. For 99 percent of them, their bread and butter is never going to come from a couple of turns on the radio. Their success or failure will hinge on whether they can get folks to their gigs, and no one will ever come if they don't know who or what they are. If nothing else, The Local Show is a good way for homers to find out if they're shit and should just get off the pot. If you promote it and they don't come, well, tough.
This, one might think, is a tall order for a station like The Eagle. Surprisingly, The Local Show, these days under the tutelage of (just) Chaz, isn't the 100 percent testicle-rock format you'd expect from a station that still promotes Sammy Hagar as "The Red Rocker" with a straight face. The show still skews to the heavy side of the road, and every edition could still use less talkin' and more rockin'. (Is it really that interesting to anyone other than the FCC to hear members of Hellafied Funk Crew cursing up a blue streak?) But as a quick glance at the recent schedule proves, Chaz is willing to give a wide variety of talents a shot in the spotlight. Party-with-your-pants-down bands such as Beef Jerkey and Bowling for Soup, newer acts such as Floor 13 and Bicycle Thief, conceptual experiments like The Falcon Project, and adored faves Centro-matic either have been or will be the featured acts for a couple of dozen minutes on a Sunday night. If the program director is secure enough to throw in a little twang or some hip-hop, The Local Show could easily become a true populist melting pot of the Dallas scene, the place where audiences could vote every week on who has it and who doesn't.