The only thing the three Dallas acts on last Wednesday's Callithump Productions bill at the Darkside Lounge had in common was an invite to SXSW. Nothing musically linked the sleepy-time guitarwork of Crushed Stars, the manic, confessional rap of Pikahsso and the Strange Boys' whiny-voiced garage punk, and the pre-fest showcase was all the better for it. Crushed Stars' set, full of reverb-heavy guitars, had a soothing effect, and in spite of their lack of showmanship, the trio at least had some decent songs. Headliners the Strange Boys proved to be their polar opposite, cranking out gritty, ear-splitting rock with a distinct Nuggets-era vibe and concrete-hard drum pounding.
Bridging those acts was Pikahsso's off-the-wall, funked-up rap and wild-eyed stage presence. He was the odd-man-out for the mostly white indie-rock crowd, but the MC brought his A-game and changed questioning stares to head-nodding approval and even some hand waving. Of particular note was a humorous blend of funk and neo-soul when guests Picnic and Tahiti (who gig with Pikahsso as PPT) took the stage, but the most endearing moment came from a rare miscue: During one track, Pikahsso dropped his microphone while tossing it from hand to hand and behind his back. Scrambling for the mike, he assured the crowd, "It's all right. Go ahead and laugh, y'all."
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Rap-rock aside, rappers and rock bands rarely play the same shows in Dallas, and hopefully, showcases like this will change that. Everyone I spoke to at the show, musicians and audience alike, agreed the experiment was a success, which makes sense; people who care enough to catch local concerts usually aren't genre-exclusive. I'm not asking for a remake of "Ebony and Ivory," but maybe after a few diverse bills, the public perception that Deep Ellum is a dangerous, gangsta-ridden zone will fade as more indie-rockers realize that young black men in the district aren't there to mug or attack them. Call that unrealistically idealistic, but--crazy as it sounds--music could save Deep Ellum after all.