Crappy Holidays

It wasn't always a holly, jolly time for Dallas musicians

Four stories of holiday hard luck.

I. It was New Year’s Eve, and Deep Ellum was on edge—cars nosing impatiently around the perimeter, people spilling onto the sidewalk and swaying a bit too much. It was like any weekend, really, but a smidge more electric. Just after 2 a.m., when Spoonfed Tribe took its seven-piece band off the Curtain Club stage and into the streets, backed by Arlington’s Lamar High School drum line, it was a way to feed on that wild-eyed energy. After all, this is the jam band that describes itself as “a multidimensional movement of persuasive percussion and melodic mood manipulation.” I mean, duuuude. They marched up Crowdus Street to Elm—the throng swelling to an estimated 500—and, for a moment, it was just the kind of hippie togetherness that Spoonfed hoped for: blacks and whites, preppies and punks. Perfect except for one thing—they didn’t have a permit. The cops came, and from there it gets fuzzy. Police maced the crowd—without any warning, claim bystanders, 27 of whom were issued “pedestrian in the street” or “jaywalking” tickets. Police arrested a handful of people with outstanding warrants, making for an even more dramatic scene, and by the next morning, Spoonfed’s Web site was alight with cries of police misconduct. Lieutenant Vince Golbeck responds, “You have to picture that it’s 2:20 in the morning in Deep Ellum. Probably 98 percent of the people there are intoxicated. And here is an unruly crowd inciting people to riot. I can’t imagine the chaos.” Although Golbeck was not there, he says the report states that one officer was attacked and the crowd began shouting, “Fuck the police.” “Most responsible people know when a crowd is getting out of control,” he says. “When people think they can take over the streets, officers have to intervene. You know what we’ve had to deal with down there in Deep Ellum. I’m sorry if some people were in the wrong place at the wrong time.” As for allegations that the crowd was maced without warning, Golbeck says, “I’m sure there was plenty of warning. If someone wants to file an internal affairs complaint, they can.” Spoonfed Tribe declined to comment, and fans are following suit as the band decides what to do with videotape footage of the incident. (“I’VE GOT THE TAPE!!!!!!” screamed the subject line of one posting.) Ed Lamonica, one of the Curtain Club owners, would only say, “I’m sorry whatever happened happened.”

II. Earlier that night, at Trees, Eisley was playing to a wee tamer crowd—mostly quirky teens in thrift-store cool—swaying to music more stirring than the hard stuff being poured at the bar. It was a blissful scene, Stacy DuPree’s haunting melisma on “Marvelous Things” scaring the hairs on our arms to full attention. But it hadn’t been so calm that morning at 4:30 when, as the band was en route from Austin, a car swerved and crashed into the band’s trailer. It was a fright: the hideous screech, the crunching of metal, the other car spinning madly into the median and then swerving off, front end crumpled like a tin can, leaving the band to wait for police for two hours. “We’re fine. All our gear is fine,” reports the DuPrees’ father, Boyd. “It just scared us.”

III. It was Christmas Day, and Slowride’s van sat outside vocalist Dan Philips’ dad’s house, brimming with toys—expensive, shiny toys like a vintage P-bass and SG guitar, blue sparkle Ludwig tom-toms and a snare and cymbals. Then, like Santa Claus in cruel reverse, the goodies were missing. More than $4,000 in belongings was stolen from the van, including the car stereo, a box of merchandise and the steering column. This is a sucker punch for any band, especially one that tours so aggressively. But not to worry. Drummer Stevey Visneau writes by e-mail, “No punk-ass that steals from us would ever stop this band from getting out on the road.” Several bands have offered to lend Slowride equipment for Saturday night’s show at Bar of Soap. Now that’s the Christmas spirit.

IV. It was the day before Christmas Eve, and 17-year-old Spector 45 front man Frankie Campagna had a flat tire. He pulled off Garland Road and jacked up his truck—a real beaut, that car, a classic 1973 International Harvest. He was mounting a replacement when THWACK! The jack popped out and smacked him in the face. Then BLAM! The steel rim landed on his left hand, a brutal, 5,000-pound eye-popper—all of which, Campagna says with a teenager’s gift for understatement, “kind of sucks.” His father rushed him to the hospital, where he spent Christmas Eve. “I have some scars on my face. My middle finger’s shredded. There’s some nerve damage. But I’ll be able to play again eventually. Maybe rhythm guitar, but I’m gonna keep playing.” If there’s a moral to these stories, it’s that.

Hand stamps: Austin’s Elizabeth McQueen is all class, plenty sass. Her country crooning has won her a slew of praise in the capital city, and you can find out why when she plays Double Wide with the Lucky Pierres on Friday. Also, the Old 97’s are part of the Sons of Hermann Hall 10-year anniversary celebration on January 14. (For more information, see “Out & About” on page 62.)

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