Was I seeing ghosts, or did Deep Ellum just move? Maybe she was writhing and kicking in deathbed pain from yet another wounding club closure, or maybe her body was being molested by necrophiliacs who never had the chance while she was alive. Either way, for about a half-hour Friday night at the Dallas Music Festival, you'd have thought the reports of her imminent death were exaggerated.
That spark of life came when a gaggle of dorks in a N'Awlins-style marching line tromped through Ellum, banging drums and blaring brass in a rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In." The line grew as onlookers fell in step behind. A homeless man somehow procured a pair of drumsticks and took it upon himself to lead the group, offering a rambling pep talk when the line stalled. Behind the line was a wake of smiles on the faces of necktied and faux-hawked weekend punks, burly club bouncers and even cops who slowed their cruisers and ignored parking meters for a few minutes to watch.
Dallas Music Festival
Friday, January 27, at clubs throughout Deep Ellum
Beyond that moment, signs of life were tough to find--unless you're a metal fan. No performance compelled me to stay for more than a few songs, and most repelled me within seconds. A few exceptions, though barely: The Triggermen sounded like competent rhyme slingers with some funny lines, and Soulbol were good at what they do, even if the last thing the world needs is another Denton jazz-fusion band. But I'm not going to complain that the DFW scene has so few excellent acts. It has plenty; I just didn't come across any on Friday night. Maybe they didn't sell enough DMF tickets to be invited.
So imagine my disappointment when I found out that the guys leading the parade were a freaking ska band. The march, equal parts marketing gimmick and goofball prank, lived up to the band name: Pure Genius. Hell, it worked on me. I had every intention of checking out Kin Fok Kru's hip-hop set at Liquid Lounge [see Across the Bar --Ed.], but instead listened to ditties like "Emo is Gay" performed by UTA students squandering their musical talents on dumb party ska. Their gig was changed at the last minute to the Art Bar roof; that's because the originally scheduled venue, the TAC Bar, was locked up and sporting a "for lease" banner. Maybe the Pure Genius parade wasn't an unexpected sign of life, but rather, Ellum's funeral procession.