By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Here's a question: Which local band has the biggest draw? Or another: Do people see local music as much as they used to? These are the kinds of things you and I can talk about for hours as we drain a pint or seven. Theories abound on this topic. My former colleague Zac Crain has written that the problem with the Dallas scene is "too many opening bands and not enough headliners." The city's most successful developments have nothing to do with live music--West Village, for instance, or Mockingbird Station. Meanwhile, the city's epicenter of live music continues to battle a perceived problem of violence and mediocrity. Or is that just what the press keeps telling us? I put out the call to various club owners and talent buyers to find out which bands draw at their clubs and how they see the scene. Sadly, but not surprisingly, several of these queries went unanswered, so I can't tell you who draws biggest at Club Indigo or Curtain Club. But the variety of answers and opinions is interesting. Order yourself a beer; you might learn something.
Scott Beggs, Fifth Street Concerts
"I'd say the Burden Brothers. As far as younger bands, Jackknife. They're a good metal band, put on a great hardcore show. As far as my shows go, I haven't seen a drop in attendance. If people really want to see a band, they'll still come out for it." David Card, Poor David's Pub
"In my experience, few local bands draw well. The Transcenders and Jayson Bales do OK, but Brave Combo is not the draw it used to be. There are many very good acts with small draws, probably due to the dearth of radio giving them airplay, like Becca Dalrymple and Mark Midland."
Glenn Squibb, Hailey's
"I would say Midlake, which is interesting because you never see that crowd at any other show. Followed by Black Tie Dynasty, Record Hop, Mandarin, Warren Jackson Hearne and His Merry Murdre of Gloomadeers, The Angelus and Spitfire Tumbleweeds, in no order. The pattern in successful turnout has to do with how many friends a band has--lots of friends, big turnout."
Russell Turns, Gypsy Tea Room/Trees
"Five to eight years ago it was easy to pack Trees with a local bill. You had too many bands to choose from--Doosu, The Toadies, Course of Empire, Pop Poppins, Da-Veed Garza, etc. Lately, local bands don't draw like they should. Fair to Midland, Eisley and Edgewater do well. Max Cady should pack a room; I don't know why they don't."
Richard Winfield, Barley House
"I'd have to say the biggest local draw is Petty Theft. And The Deathray Davies. To me, whether or not people come out really depends on who's playing in the scene. Ten, 12 years ago it seemed like there were lots of bands that could pull a good crowd--the Old 97's, Lone Star Trio--and then suddenly there were none. Then it started coming back--you had bands like Sorta and Chomsky. Right now I'd say it's about average for us.
Josh Baish, Rubber Gloves
"Record Hop, Fishboy, The Undoing of David Wright, Jetscreamer, Bridges and Blinking Lights, Baptist Generals, Hogpig, Spitfire Tumbleweeds. Denton's been having, for lack of a better term, a renaissance of new bands. And people feel like it's a good time to be here."
"It's hard to name a local act that is a 'guaranteed' big draw. Live music attendance is a fraction of what it used to be. People don't seem to have the same urgency to see local live bands like they once did. That all being said, I think the big draws remain the winners of [the Dallas ObserverMusic Awards] who drew the most votes. Burden Brothers? Uh, I don't know."
"Well, if he's still considered local, Reverend Horton Heat sells the most at our club. Flickerstick draws a lot. Midlake and Radiant* do well. It's just so subjective--as my experience gets a little deeper, I realize that anything can affect attendance--whether it rains or not, who else is playing that night, who's having a house party. But the question is how to get the word out to people--how to get 3 million people to pay attention to your shows."