I'm beginning to think every band in Dallas should be a tribute band.
It's not that we don't have our fair share of delightful groups, to be sure, but at last weekend's Double Wide Halloween tribute show everyone seemed to be having such a damn fine time—so many fists pumping through the air, so many loopy grins, so much good-hearted energy, you had to figure it just can't get much better than this.
The evening kicked off with Baboon covering Echo and the Bunnymen, and Peter Schmidt and His Gentlemen Scholars as Elvis Costello and the Attractions, but it was the two final acts—Blow Aces and the fake Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, as interpreted by Nightmare on E Street—who pushed the evening from subtle homage into awesome, sprawling, respectful parody.
Maybe it was just a fish-in-a-barrel kind of thing. Oasis is already a parody of so many things—the Beatles, arena rock, British-ness—that to parody the parody proves a winning equation. Still, ya gotta nail it, and Blow Aces, fronted by Glen Reynolds, was the hammer. Reynolds, who also has fronted a Blur tribute band (did he go home and get in a fight with himself after the show?), got all Philip Seymour Hoffman on us, inhabiting Oasis front man Liam Gallagher right down to the booze-drenched bone. He was cocky and Cockney, Britpop and brash, his voice achieving the perfect balance of rough-edged scragginess and slightly off-key bombast that Gallagher somehow makes endearing, as the band scorched through its first number, "(What's the Story) Morning Glory?"
And the crowd might as well have been at the Reading Festival—we all ate it up as if it were a tasty spotted dick. Reynolds smarmily skipped around the stage, petulantly chunked his tambourine and lewdly jerked off his microphone stand, as [DARYL]'s Beau Wagener proved an able Noel. He and his "brother" traded faux-accented barbs, mostly mumbled and incomprehensible, including one that went something like, "I'd punch you if you weren't still sucking off our mother's 'nads!" Crazy and senseless—just like the real Oasis!
And, also just like the real Oasis, a hard act to follow. The Nightmare on E Street crew—composed of members of [DARYL], Blood on the Moors, Motor Skills and others—not only had to match Blow Aces' exactitude, they also had infinitely more complicated songs to master. Their response seemed to be to get rather drunk.
Clad in a tight leather jacket covered by a denim vest a la the Born in the U.S.A. tour, Jeff Parker led the E Streeters through a rendition of "Badlands" as tight as the Boss' 501s. Damn, it was one hot kickoff—the palpable electricity, the heat, the sweat flying through the air. Nightmare on E Street, replete with Mike Lamb in Patty Scialfa drag, plus Wagener as Little Steven, dragged a bit during "Glory Days" and didn't quite capture the pathos of "I'm on Fire."
But then, redemption: "Dancing in the Dark" climaxed hilariously with a Courteney Cox look-alike clambering onstage to dance with the Boss, and then the pièce de résistance, "Born to Run."
It was, to be clear, a drunken mess, a sloppy version but glorious in its decrepitude. What greater fantasy is there than to be careening through a rock epic in front of a room full of people, pretending to be something you're not? And again, for once we all shed the irony and just rocked out, arms akimbo, heartland-style, and had some fun.
And that's what proved the most crucial theme of the night. Music these days has come full circle, having made its way from the streamlined formula of early pop through the sprawl of giant stadium rock and back to pop again. But, throughout the various fads, neither Oasis nor Bruce Springsteen's E Street oeuvre ever strayed from the stadium, and thus they were the perfect fake bands to bring the house down. This was a silly, drunken one-off show, and it reminded us: Arena rock is fun. Music is fun. Dallas music can be fun. And maybe we don't even have to wear costumes to make it so.
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