By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
While the rest of the paper looks to the past for its 25th anniversary, the music section looks to the future by presenting picks for this weekend's North Texas New Music Festival. I'll level with you: This isn't my dream local fest. The schedule has a smattering of genres, but most of the three-night, 12-stage fest sticks to hard rock, which I have already likened to a cancer on Deep Ellum in previous reviews. I was hoping the festival, as a whole, would dig into the musical richness throughout Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton, but instead, most of what I see is the "we're here, we're fierce, get used to it!" crowd.
Luckily, there are more than a few exceptions to the generic stuff, so if you're reading this on Wednesday, September 28, hurry up--you still have a few hours left to snag free three-day passes at Scion Dallas, 2610 Forest Lane, before NTNMF starts charging $10 a pop.
Thursday, September 29
Arrive at Trees by 8:30 p.m. for Denton's Skin Trade, whose reckless abandon and frantic, ever-evolving songs are strong enough to void any "garage rock" labels. Assuming they're as on fire as their gig at the Double Wide a month ago, music lovers will have plenty to talk about the next day.
Really, save yourself some steps on Thursday night; camp out at Trees and enjoy the chipper pop-rock of Bridges and Blinking Lights, the dark, piano-driven stylings of Black Lights and the synth-rock party of Austin's What Made Milwaukee Famous. Thursday night trifectas don't get better.
If you're still up at 1 a.m., pick from the straightforward, super-catchy pop-rock of Austin's Household Names at Gypsy Tea Room or gritty, fist-pumping rock from Saboteur at Trees. Then again, at 1 a.m, the worst band name at the fest could also wind up being the biggest surprise: Gypsy Tea Room's last band, Alan, the Universal Answer is Both, delivers some incredibly clean, radio-ready generica. Give 'em a shot if you're indied out by night's end.
Friday, September 30
All three nights of hip-hop at the fest will be solid, but Friday's set at Clearview's VIP Room is the best to catch, thanks to ultra-charismatic, half-singer half-rapper Pikahsso and the slam-your-ass hip-hop of Steve Austin. Unfortunately, the rappers won't be able to bring full bands to the tiny stage--why does Dallas hip-hop have to be relegated to the backroom, NTNMF? Are you trying to reinforce what I said last week?
You can get schooled in Dallas '90s pop-rock history at Clearview's main stage, where The Bat Mastersons continue their recent reunion alongside a set by Toby Pipes' (Deep Blue Something) The Hundred Inevitables early in the evening, or you can see Dallas' next huge Latin superstar when Zayra Alvarez commands the Curtain Club stage at 11:15 p.m. But really, it's almost unfair how awesome Spune Productions' Gypsy Tea Room showcase will be in comparison. This section has talked endlessly about locals like Spitfire Tumbleweeds (whose brand-new album, King James Version, is effin' sweet), Bosque Brown, Red Monroe and Pleasant Grove. See why on Friday.
But don't let that showcase overshadow the solid country acts at Texas Tea House, where Beaumont's Glenna Bell and Denton's nine-member Pinebox Serenadewill deliver lovely-sounding shades of alternative Americana that will give country fans reasons to enjoy NTNMF.
Saturday, October 1
If you missed Friday's hip-hop showcase, Saturday's Liquid Lounge show makes up for your slack with the down-souf, liquor-drawl delivery of Money Waters, the old-school, proud-to-be-whack wit of Tahiti's Free Agents and the radio-proven skills of Mr. Pookie & Mr. Lucci.
Once again, Spune pulls off an unbeatable indie-rock showcase: Zykos (who impressed at this year's ACL), Pilotdrift (whose new CD, Water Sphere, is reviewed on page 67), Record Hop, Midlake and John LaMonica's Tiebreaker could be the only bands at the whole festival, and I would still write a column-length piece on the deal. If you only go to one show this whole fest, make it this one at Trees, but feel free to sneak out by 1 a.m. to catch the amazing songwriting of Audrey Lapraik at Club Dada's Far Bar, the punkabilly power of Slick 57 at Dada's patio or the nearly tolerable (and at least socially conscious) rap-rock of Mad Mexicans at Clearview's outdoor stage.