Always Greener

Saturday Night's DOMA Showcase on Lower Greenville rocked. So how come it's not always like that?

I hope you were out at your clubs on Saturday night, Lowest Greenville bar owners. I hope you got to see what I saw at our 2008 Dallas Observer Music Awards Showcase.

It was a pretty rockin' time if you missed it. Big crowds (Billiard Bar, The Cavern, Gezellig, Stout and Sugar Shack—our five participating venues—each saw packed houses as the night wore on), good spirits (I'm sure your liquor sales for the night reflect that) and great music.

Seriously now: Did you see the way some of these bands melted faces on Saturday night?

Holy Diver, Batman! Those are some small instruments!
Holy Diver, Batman! Those are some small instruments!

THe BAcksliders housed the first packed house of the night at Sugar Shack, not letting the venue's smallish stage get the best of their set. Instead, the Best Hard Rock nominees flailed about with such rock bravado, the crowds seemed to forget that it was only 8 o'clock and the sun was still out. Best Female Vocalist nominee Kim Pendleton's stage presence surely had something to do with that, and so did Chris and Jason Bonners' aggressive turns on the mic. Of course, the brothers' penchant for jumping off the stage and into the crowd to rip off a few hot licks didn't exactly hurt.

Sydney Confirm's double set at Sugar Shack was nothing short of phenomenal either. After Dove Hunter had to back out of its set last-minute (damn you, walking pneumonia!), Sydney Confirm's members happily stepped up to the plate, performing one set as their Disqo Disco DJ alter egos and then another as the trio that got them nominated in our Best Electronic/Experimental Act category. The hot, sweaty mess of dancing fools at Sugar Shack more than proved Sydney Confirm's worthiness there; this electro-dance rock trio slayed its listeners with booty-shaking earworms that hit, it seems, just as the alcohol started taking effect.

And maybe you caught Florene twiddling the knobs to an engrossed crowd at The Cavern? They were just one of the many artists with a slightly experimental bent to grace The Cavern's stage on Saturday—and shit, man, if the young duo from Denton didn't do its own Best Electronic/Experimental Act nomination justice by offering up a stellar set of ethereal electronica to a fully attentive crowd.

Meanwhile, just up the road at Stout, Matthew and The Arrogant Sea played such a well-received set of its folk rock that people had to be wondering if the band's two nomination nods (Best New Act and Best Folk/Acoustic Act) were really enough praise. Did you hear MATAS' set? Holy crap. That one song—the one where lead singer Matthew Gray leads into the build-up with talks of colors ("black and blue") and then chants "It's the winter!" Listen, I'm probably getting the lyrics wrong, and unfortunately, I'm blanking on the name of the song, but seriously, I can't stress enough how amazing that live performance was.

And, oh yeah, there were something like 25 other ones going on throughout the course of the night. People raved about Best Instrumentalist Sean Kirkpatrick's solo set at The Cavern; Best Rap/Hip-Hop Act nominees Pikahsso and Tahiti (formerly of PPT) performed maybe the best show of their lives at Sugar Shack; and the Whiskey Folk Ramblers stopped the between-set pool players at Billiard Bar in their tracks the second they launched into their western noir sound to close out the night there.

Basically, here's what I'm saying: Lowest Greenville kicked ass on Saturday night—and I can say this on good authority because I live in that neighborhood. And not once have I seen this nightclub haven seem so hospitable.

So I hope you were paying attention, bar owners.

I hope you saw your neighborhood's own potential this weekend. I know I did.

On Saturday night, for the first time since I moved to Dallas, I saw Lower Greenville live up to its billing as Deep Ellum's rightful successor as the local live music hub.

Until Saturday night, though, I never really understood what people were talking about; sure, there are a few solid venues on Lowest Greenville that do a decent job of booking music, but for the most part, it seems like the area's been content to just live up (or, perhaps, down) to its reputation as a meat market.

But Saturday night? Much more endearing. Much more palatable. Much more welcoming to the large local music listenership that our showcase helped prove still exists in town. Now maybe you'll see what can happen when you bring quality acts to your bars. Bands will ignore the fact that your stages probably aren't the biggest and best in town, and people will come. They want to come. They want the memories and experiences. You can help provide them. You just gotta, y'know, give it to them.

It all boils down to this: On Saturday night, you got a glimpse of your own potential, Lowest Greenville. Now let's move forward and make sure that you reach it.

I don't want to have to wait another year—you know, until our 2009 DOMA Showcase—to see another great night of local live music in this part of town.

See, we always thought you could do it. Now, for better or worse, we know we were right.

 
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