By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Sure, Dallas has its fair share of great restaurants, concerts and art galleries. But rarely do all three of these components blend as seamlessly as they will during Saturday's second annual Homegrown Music and Art Festival.
It's an impressive feat, actually, that the festival, for at least one day, is able to turn downtown Dallas' Main Street Garden Park into an epicenter of the Deep Ellum, Arts District and downtown areas, as it fills a grassy oasis in the urban sprawl with 13 bands performing on two stages and flanks them with booths maintained by local art galleries, artists and restaurants.
"It's definitely a symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationship that we do hope will bring people in to see not only the great talent but, yes, a resurgent Deep Ellum, the great new Arts District and all the new restaurants and clubs and bars in downtown," says John Solis, the festival's spokesman. "We hope to help introduce people to all of it."
And with its diverse bill featuring some of the top artists to have called the DFW home in the last few years, Homegrown should have little trouble joining the ranks of 35 Conferette, the Deep Ellum Arts Festival and even our own Dallas Observer Music Awards Showcase as one of the area music scene's fervently anticipated annual events.
On that note, let's take a look at each of the bands booked to play this year's offering.
Chillwave wasn't supposed to survive long past the "deadbeat summer" of 2009. But that just makes genre poster boy Alan Palomo's recent spate of increased attention all the more impressive. Thanks to a recent collaboration with The Flaming Lips and the buzz of an in-the-works sophomore LP, it would seem that the Denton product is poised to prove he might have some staying power yet.
School of Seven Bells
Brothers Benjamin and Brandon Curtis never got near the attention they deserved when they first began playing shows around DFW as The Secret Machines in the early 2000s. A move to New York and a stunning debut album later, though, and the Machines' indie-rock favor seemed pretty secure—until Benjamin up and left the band to focus on his School of Seven Bells side project. Fortunately, some things never change: SVIIB's atmospheric sound is as massive as anything Curtis has ever produced.
This rapper, born Andy Bothwell, first started gaining national attention a few years ago while attending Southern Methodist University. With his heady synthesis of rap, blues and shoegaze-inspired indie-rock, it's no wonder Astronautalis is so often compared to Beck. But, make no mistake, while his undeniable mic skills are what make him so well-respected by the hip-hop community, it's his charisma that makes him such a force to be reckoned with.
This Will Destroy You
It's far more difficult for instrumental groups to gain and maintain popularity than groups with singers—which just goes to prove that This Will Destroy You is doing something right. The San Marcos-bred doomgaze act, with its two new Dallas-based members, combines dynamic ranges, ambient soundscapes and simple melodies into the kind of wall-of-sound compositions that helped them earned gigs touring alongside acts such as The Deftones.
From 1994 to 2005, Denton band Slobberbone combined alt-country, punk and bar rock into a brew that earned them a decade-long domination of the local music scene. Since getting back together in 2009, the band has been trying its damnedest to make everyone forget all about that little four-year layoff.
After growing—somewhat suddenly—into arguably Dallas' biggest drawing band last year, one can only imagine the denigration hurled Ishi's way. But there's no arguing the self-proclaimed folktronic group's ability to turn even the stalest, most cougar-filled venues into raging party zones.
Being run through the major-label ringer, changing band names (see: PlayRadioPlay!), changing sounds from electro-pop to stadium lo-fi, and putting out a half-dozen releases is enough to be an entire career for most. But for Fort Worth's Daniel Hunter, it's just the beginning. At just 21 years old, Hunter is easily among the most promising young musicians in the area.
In a nutshell, Oak Cliff's Angelo Gonzalez is a character. Over the years, his performances have grown from rapping behind a wildcat mask borrowed from a high school mascot costume to boisterous, cheerful multi-instrumental affairs in which he's joined by a backing band. His skater-influenced brand of hip-hop has been described as the "Chuck E. Cheese of rap," meaning that his rhymes come from a fun place where a kid can be a kid. Which is all fine and good. But, for the record, his 2009 single "Say Say Say" remains one of the best Dallas hip-hop songs ever.
The Burning Hotels
2010 was a year that saw Fort Worth's The Burning Hotels adding glitzy bits of sex and glittery new wave vibes into their already angular post-punk offerings—all in the wake of their cameo appearance in the Vanessa Hudgens-driven Bandslam flick. Somehow it all seemed to work out well: Fort Worth Weekly readers voted the band as the Best Rock Act in the alt-weekly's annual music awards last year, while also voting their album Novels as the Best Rock Album of 2010.
Attribute this endearing folk-rock duo's massive popularity at least in part to their well-documented senses of humor and good-natured stage shows. The songs, which are incredibly catchy, deserve some credit, too. But, clearly, there's something extra special at play here. Let's put it this way: There aren't too many bands that can charmingly pull off releasing a new album in eight-track format in 2011.
When Seryn first began performing their perfectionist blend of chamber-folk around town roughly two years ago, there was a collective swirl of wonderment coming from the local music community. How could this group of youngsters be creating music that sounded so mature? How do they sound like such seasoned vets after only a few weeks of performing live? It was only a matter of time before the rest of the world took notice: Paste Magazine called the band their favorite act at this year's South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin.
Grant Jones and The Pistol Grip Lassos
Grant Jones and The Pistol Grip Lassos have a keenly whittled sound and a finely crafted batch of tunes ostensibly focus-grouped to be the perfect soundtrack to accompany afternoon beer drinking.
Suddenly going all soul revivalist seemed like the logical next step for vocalist Larry g(EE) following the demise of his former outfit, Odis. g(EE)'s vocal talents are such that he has little trouble pulling off a '50s vibe while fronting his now horn-filled backing band.