Newness Begins

At this weekend's Wall of Sound Festival, the New Year resolves to play its first local gig in two years

Last year, the Wall of Sound Festival was just another local-loaded concert in a crowded month. April 2005 saw quite a few super-sized music events around the Dallas area--Fry Street Fair, Deep Ellum Arts Festival, WakeUp Festival--and each had its share of solid local bands but little to distinguish it from the next (aside from WakeUp's professional wrestling matches between bands).

One year later, the guy behind the Wall, Spune Productions' Lance Yocom, has made damn sure not to get lost in the crowd again. It's only April, but there's no question that this weekend's Wall of Sound Festival 2006 will prove itself the best combined bill of any musical event in Dallas, Fort Worth or Denton this year.

By the end of the concert's second day, an ear-numbing 88 acts will have made their mark on three separate stages in Fort Worth's Ridglea Theatre. That's not just 80-something bands to pad time until the headliners show up, either--this is the near-ultimate local schedule, full of established greats and up-and-comers alike. Listing the acts would be an act in futility; there are too many must-see local bands playing before national indie faves like Low, David Bazan (Pedro the Lion), Okkervil River and Starlight Mints get anywhere near a WoSF stage.

It's tempting to draw attention to a few bands, and I've already done that to some extent with daily WoSF updates at our blog, Unfair Park, but if you're on the fence and need one good reason to change your mind and get out to the show, then consider this: On Saturday, Dallas' legendary the New Year will play its first hometown concert in nearly two years, not to mention its first concert altogether in roughly 365 days.

"This past year, I have to say, has been a real bummer," New Year songwriter Bubba Kadane says. After touring in the States and Europe to support 2004's The End Is Near, the band only booked a few shows last year that would suit everyone's schedules and locations. (The septet is currently spread across Texas and the Northeast.) Unfortunately, each of those stints fell to pieces, victims of botched bookings and miscommunication that Kadane explains at great length. The way he repeats his sad cancellation stories, it's obvious the band didn't want to be silent.

And to some extent, they weren't, as brothers Bubba and Matt continue a perpetual songwriting cycle between their respective cities of Dallas and New York ("We've finally entered the 21st century," Bubba jokes when explaining the brothers' recent upgrade to e-mailed song sessions). The local Kadane gives little away about the new songs; they're not in their final form and won't be debuted at WoSF, but Kadane indirectly admits that the next album could be their most ambitious yet.

"We used to care quite a bit about being able to pull everything off live," he says. "We have so many things that we can play now, so many more songs, that I don't think we care so much about that anymore."

Does that mean string sections? Gospel choirs? Doubtful, but Kadane's so happy about playing with his band again (who will embark on another tour this summer "and some ideas beyond that") that he might green-light any idea: "Really, it's the relief of having the darkness of the past year, having that lifted."

When asked about the local music fraternity he would be sharing stages with, including reunited versions of longtime Dallas acts like Mazinga Phaser II, Comet and Chao, Kadane had to reach for his copy of the schedule. "Let me grab this so I can follow along." He admits to being out of the loop and not recognizing "80 percent" of the local bands on the list, but that doesn't mean he's not excited. In fact, Kadane pays WoSF a mighty fine compliment by comparing the local fest to the All Tomorrow's Parties festival the New Year played in London in 2002.

"[ATP] had two stages, and they had [bands playing] all the time, starting early in the day...Something like this gets you in the spirit of checking out new things and catching up on old ones, more than maybe if all of these bands were playing separate stages on 40 different nights. It's hard to get motivated to do that. But this takes even the most jaded and turns them into a music fan again."

 
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