North Texas New Music Festival

Friday, September 30, throughout Deep Ellum

On the second day of the North Texas New Music Festival, the Burden Brothers got off to an early start--in fact, the sun was still out during their outdoor performance at the fest's marquee stage. Presumably, the headliners' opening gig was meant to lure crowds with someone they've heard and convince them to stay for "New Music" by local up-and-comers, but this early hour brought an unintended consequence (aside from an average-sized crowd): the BB's tired, drumsticks-and-guitar-picks-flinging arena-rock posturing made the daring new acts to follow seem that much fresher in comparison.

In Club Clearview's VIP Room, rappers were segregated to a corner stage with near-constant feedback, but that didn't stop Dallas' Pikahsso from working the room like a genius carnival barker of funk. I'd only meant to catch a song or two, but I was mesmerized by his sometimes-dark, sometimes-hilarious, Uzi-fast rhymes and whacked-out funk-bandleader singing. That meant that I didn't make it to the Gypsy Tea Room in time for Super Love Attack, so I'll have to catch more of their pounding, spacey rock another night. Fortunately, Attack was followed by a scorching set of barely controlled chaos and droning one- and two-chord synth experiments by Red Monroe. Rock jones satisfied, it was back to Clearview's VIP Room for a tight hip-hop set with Steve Austin trading verses with Pikahsso; later, Pinebox Serenade--highly recommended earlier in the night by fellow Dentonites Spitfire Tumbleweeds during their far superior set of punk-influenced Americana--were marred at the Texas Tea House by an out-of-tune mandolin. Or was it the lap steel? Maybe the banjo? With seven members playing nine instruments, it was hard to tell, but the studio recordings of the Tom Waits-inspired, dark folk/rock/bluegrass collective from Denton are promising enough that I'll give them another chance.

And I'll definitely give the NTNMF another shot next year. More than a few great acts made up for the landscape of mediocrity, from the crowd-silencing folk of Bosque Brown to the super-tight pop-rock of Fort Worth's Coma Rally, from the MTV-ready Latin pop of Zayra Alvarez to the sweet, feedback-soaked euphoria of Pleasant Grove. But let's hope that the overdone rock dinosaurs from this year's fest are extinct by 2006.

 
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