The colliding past and presents of local music.
I'm not usually one to get too nostalgic—not for local music, at least. There's already a debilitating amount of those types around town as is. You know them—those who glorify our town's past while unwittingly spitting in the face of the metroplex's ridiculous talent level at the moment.
They're same ones who come running up to you drunkenly at a bar, raving about this new band they just heard—R2D2 or something? (Uh, it's RTB2, dude)—and want to know where they suddenly came from, as if those of us actually paying attention haven't been giving that band its due praise for the past half a decade.
I guess what I'm saying is this: I kind of hate those people for not paying attention to what's going on. And yet I say that with a heavy dose of self-loathing.
Because, see, this weekend, I was one of those people.
There was plenty of current, adding-to-the-local-fabric stuff happening around town this weekend—up in Frisco some 20 bands (including worthwhile touring acts such as Efterklang, Jukebox the Ghost and Bowerbirds, and some of the best locals this region can offer, like Telegraph Canyon, Whiskey Folk Ramblers and Analog Rebellion) played the inaugural Oysterfest, and out in Oak Cliff, legendary sideman Marc Ribot performed a "Storytellers" session and helped cement the Kessler Theater's place as one of the best new additions to the local music landscape. These shows would sell you on the fact that things are just fine locally when it comes to music.
And, really, things are just fine. They're pretty darn great even. At some point this weekend, when the drinks were flowing perhaps a little too liberally, a buddy of mine and I started shouting out a list of our favorite local bands at the moment. Some 10 minutes and dozens of name-checked acts into our moment of wistful adoration, we just gave in, threw our hands up and admitted to one another that, yes, there are a lot of good things happening—and that events like Frisco's Oysterfest and the Kessler's new "Storytellers" series are among the reasons why people are starting to finally catch on to that fact. It was a beautiful, rah-rah-sis-boom-bah moment of clarity.
As for those actual events, though? Well, I didn't make it out to either the Oak Cliff or Frisco affairs this weekend.
Blame the fact that it was just a busy week, with Thursday alone featuring touring sets from the likes of Kings of Leon, The Black Keys, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, The Whigs, Torche and others. More than that, though, blame the fact that things didn't let up too much on Friday and Saturday, when the weekend formally began.
And, OK, here's the thing about even the shows I attended this weekend: They had a lot of local ties, too. Nostalgic ties, sure, but ties nonetheless.
Friday, for instance, showed what we can often forget when we've got our "Yay, Local Music!" blinders on: Dallas-Fort Worth remains a massive market. People seem to forget this, actually—especially when that one band that they really like decides not to come through the region during their two-week tour of the States.
At Superpages.com Center there was proof that, indeed, major artists do see value here—and, rightfully so, because, no matter how small this region may seem at times, there are a lot of people who live here. For that reason, one assumes, on this night, at this venue, something really cool took place: Three-fourths of thrash metal's Mount Rushmore—Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer (Metallica was noticeably absent)—joined forces to kick off their massive triple-bill tour right here in the D. And here's where the nostalgic aspect arose: All the way back in 1991, this very same trio of acts did the very same thing, kicking off their collaborative fabled "The Clash of The Titans Tour" in Dallas. As such, Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian, while on stage in his band's night-opening set, called the event "Clash of the Titans Revisited," reveling in the fact that, yes, it was indeed pretty darn rare to have both tours, the 1991 one and this 2010 version, kicking off in the same city and in the same venue. Before the show, Ian was even more wistful backstage, admitting that it did indeed give him a pretty serious case of déjà vu.
For the crowd at this show, as Megadeth and Slayer performed sets mostly consisting of their 1990 releases, Rust in Peace and Seasons in the Abyss respectively, it did much of the same. Aside from a few cuts each of those bands offered up from their most recent releases, their offerings very much felt and sounded like they probably did back in 1991—if not even more tight and more technically proficient than ever, with another 19 years of experience tacked on to these already-legendary performers' résumés. For the few in attendance who had been at both of these two shows, it was indeed a rare chance to live the same moment twice and to revel in it because, yes, by launching both of these tours right here in Dallas, these bands gave Dallasites a slice of music history to call their own.
Which is pretty darn special—and not unlike what happened on Saturday night at Bryan Street Tavern.
There, at an unannounced show, area barroom rock heroes Slobberbone played a loud, sweaty, hour-long set of their greatest drinking songs (plus, oddly enough, some Centro-matic and Rush covers thrown in) to a crowd of fervent fans utterly gleeful at the chance to watch it all take place. At one point, my own awe got the best of me, as I pretty much rolled up to every person I knew in the room and openly wondered aloud how Slobberbone never became the national alt-country heroes that, say, the Drive-By Truckers had. Conveniently enough, the Truckers were in town that same night, playing at the House of Blues—and they echoed that sentiment, too, shouting out their "friends in Slobberbone" from the stage.
Rumor had it that at some point in the night the Truckers were even going to join Slobberbone on stage at Bryan Street. They didn't.
But what did happen was even more fitting—and, well, better too. Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller, who performed earlier in the day up at Oysterfest, showed up, and, with Deathray Davies frontman and Apples in Stereo drummer John Dufilho following him, the two rushed the stage and joined Slobberbone frontman Brent Best and bassist Brian Lane for a couple songs, covering The Replacements' "Can't Hardly Wait" and Tom Petty's "American Girl."
I can't tell you how many smiles and cheers were shared among the crowd at this point—suffice it to say that there were plenty. And, see, here's where I got nostalgic—oddly enough, for something I'd never even experienced on my own. The Slayer and Slobberbone shows both just kind of caught up with me, just as they would, I should think, anyone with a pulse.
And so I realized, contemporary local music chip on my shoulder now massaged back to health, that it's OK to revel in this town's past—especially because we've got a special one. We've also got a great thing going on currently.
The trick, I guess, is combining those two things into one. If someone could figure out how to do that, that'd be swell, because, fun as this weekend was, I don't want to keep hating me. I prefer to leave that up to you, readers.
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