I can't blame people for asking the same question over and over: "How's the music scene in Dallas?" But I feel silly answering it in conversation. Sure, I see a lot of bands, but I'm not qualified to make an end-all declaration. After all, too many bands are playing around town for me to whip up a simple, three-sentence response. Really, the best answer is "See for yourself," which I decided to do this weekend.
Friday started with a package from a band called The Freek Out filled with handwritten notes and badly Photoshopped fliers, and I opened it, if only to laugh before dumping the discs in the trash. But then I noticed that Michael Bryant, former guitarist for The Tah-Dahs, was leading the project. In Bryant's short Tah-Dahs tenure, he had proved himself and then some. So when I read that his new band was playing an early-evening show at the Cavern that night, I popped in to kill time before my drive to Denton later in the evening.
Most of the set was what I'd expected from a band that intentionally misspells the word "freak." A sombrero on every member's head? Check. A complete bongo section? Yuh-huh. Some messy parts that sounded fresh out of a high school band? Well, a little.
But as a whole, the band's goofy, shameless love of funk worked thanks to infectious songs (including a radio-ready ode to poverty called "Better Than High School") and Bryant's Bowie-loving lead guitar. His playing is the saving grace of the group, turning even the cheesiest material into golden rock, and his far-too-short solos left me craving more.
Afterward, I sprinted north on Interstate 35 to see Bosque Brown's opening set at Rubber Gloves, and if anyone in the D-FW scene is worth a 40-minute drive for a concert, she's the one.
Everything Noah W. Bailey wrote about Brown (aka Mara Lee Miller) in his CD review a few weeks ago was on the mark, but in concert, the Dentonite is even more captivating, as her acoustic restraint, onstage modesty and beautiful vocals fall somewhere between Cat Power and Spain's Christina Rosenvinge. She's a master of little moments: When she cried the word "still" in "Still Afraid" beneath crashing cymbals, my knees buckled. Trust me--this music section isn't done singing her praises yet.
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Saturday night saw a loud change in gears when The Golden Falcons headlined at Double Wide. The set had a few rough patches--after all, this was their first show in weeks since drummer Joshua Jackson moved to Austin--but a few new songs and riotous versions of tracks from their debut, The Honduras Album, sealed the band's status as the best new hard rock band in town. With fists and guitars aimed at the sky, the quintet barreled through single "Tracy Rabbit" like they'd just come fresh from a nationwide arena tour.
Strangely, those shows broke my heart a bit because I had to skip even more great local bands. Friday was tough enough, as I missed an insane number of quality acts--Baboon, Record Hop, Eleven Hundred Springs, Boys Named Sue, Radiant, Salim Nourallah, Chris Holt, Black Tie Dynasty, [DARYL], The Happy Bullets and Robert Gomez, to name a few (luckily, Jesse Hughey didn't miss the latter; read Set List on page 75)--but somehow, the one show I missed on Saturday hurt even worse. I found out later that Budapest One's Chad Stockslager played a surprise opening gig at the Pinebox Serenade CD release show at Dan's Silverleaf.
The man is John Lennon reborn, and his four-track demo CD, with acoustic romps like "Japagoddamneasy," is strong enough to make him an Elliott Smith-level cult favorite. But because he's been busy in Budapest One and Brent Best's The Drams, this was Stockslager's first solo show in nearly a year. Don't make everyone wait so long for the next one, Chad.
At least there's a bright side to the heartbreak. If there's not enough time in one weekend to see all the great bands in town, from folk to post-punk to '80s rock to country, then that's as positive an answer to the "How's Dallas music?" question as possible. Now stop bugging me, will you? Besides, I'm busy. I gotta get ready for the next show.