By Kelly Dearmore
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Last Wednesday night, the double threat of flash flooding on Dallas streets and several competing area shows made for a modest turnout to see Bad Sports and Spooky Folk—two of Denton's finest exports—play at The Cavern.
While Bad Sports will spend Halloween up in Milwaukee playing as the seminal punk act The Dictators, Spooky Folk will play on October 30, again at The Cavern (along with The O's and RTB2), before taking November off to finally record the band's debut EP. It's sure to be a killer release too, even if there's nothing that scary or ghostly about Spooky Folk other than the band's name.
Or is there...?
"We're not all slow and gloomy or down tempo," frontman Kaleo Kaualoku assures the uninitiated, acknowledging that the band's name can cause some misconceptions. For instance, Kaualoku says: "We're not a folk act." Rather, the "folk" part of the band's name was intended to mean "people."
Sure, what Kaualoku performs when playing solo might still be considered "folksy." But with Chris Brown on drums, Jesse Perry of Tiger, Tooth and Paw on guitar and Scarlett Wright of country rockers Sarah Reddington (R.I.P.) on bass, the band's sound ends up more indie pop than indie folk.
Any other misconceptions?
"In person," Kaualoku says, "we're not anywhere near spooky."
What is spooky about Spooky Folk is how quickly its melodies and hooks can creep deep into a listener's brain. Typically, songs take a few listens before taking firm possession of our gray matter, but I'd wager that after the show at The Cavern, several innocent patrons walked out into the rain with at least one Spooky Folk song stuck in their skulls. All it would take is hearing a song like "Polaroid" or "I Am a Ghost." The band's soaring sing-along number "Bible Belt" is a perfect example: "I was born in the Bible Belt/Give me something sharp so I can kill myself," Kaualoku shouts before reining in his vocals and continuing, "'Cause I can't go on living this way."
OK, so maybe the band does have a song about a ghost and another about being pushed to suicidal tendencies, and, sure, Petra Kelly's violin does give some of the songs an ethereal edge. But the songs are still poppy enough to hook a crowd—to the point where I've seen crowds of 40-plus people belting out the lyrics in time with the band.
As for the upcoming EP? The band will be recording it with RTB2's Ryan Thomas Becker and, on at least two tracks, Chris Flemmons of The Baptist Generals.
"Then we'll be finishing [the EP] with Justin Valdez from Baruch the Scribe," Kaualoku adds, "so, hopefully it will be done by early December."