Contrary to this paper's title--and this column's, as well--we are not always observant. For example, it took us awhile, as these things tend to do, but we finally realized that the building at 3510 Commerce St. was not actually abandoned. We drive past the spot every day on our way home, and every day, it seemed, the place looked worse. Vacant since the bar that previously occupied the site (Billy's Pub) went out without a whimper, the lot got trashier (literally) every time we saw it.
Except that was kind of the point. The random garbage strewn on the roof? Part of the décor. The poorly spelled sign saying the door was broken? Yep, that, too. All that fiberglass? But, of course. See, while we thought the building was merely going to seed, the owners of the nearby XPO Lounge, located just up the street, had bought the place and were giddily hurrying the process along, transforming it into a low-culture landmark, Double Wide, snug between Deep Ellum and Exposition Park. With trucker's caps currently the height of fashion, it's the perfect time for this kind of joint.
The bar, with its trailer-park tornado hovering just above the roof and outhouse out front, also happens to be the area's latest live-music venue. And it should be a good one. There's a little grand-opening shindig planned for June 26, followed by performances by Vibrolux (June 27) and a Pleasant Grove/Josh T. Pearson/Panda triple bill (June 28). Nice way to start. (By the way, though we've made light of the recent goings-on involving Pearson and his erstwhile band mate Andy Young, we still respect Pearson as a musician and a person. Known him since we moved up here from Austin, and he's always been a solid fella. But we are also extremely sarcastic. Something had to give.)
Speaking of Pleasant Grove--as we just were, allowing us to not-so-smoothly change the subject--the band has just returned from San Francisco, where it recorded six new songs for Badman Recording Co. Nothing has been signed yet, but according to Last Beat's Tami Thomsen, who has been working with the PG boys on this, "the label has 'officially' stated that they want to do a record with 'em," tentatively scheduled for sometime next year. Badman, if you didn't know, and you likely did not, is also home to fine singer-songwriters such as Mark Kozelek, Hayden, James William Hindle and Patrick Park, and has also released discs by the extremely whup-ace My Morning Jacket (including the upcoming vinyl version of the band's bordering-on-brilliant It Still Moves). Couldn't imagine a better home for Pleasant Grove.
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You still have three opportunities (at least for now) to catch Peter Schmidt's Sunday-night residency at Barley House, and we strongly recommend you find the time to do so. Teamed with Shibboleth's Rich Martin on keys, Schmidt explored a concept singer-songwriter Joe Pernice talks about in this week's music section (see "Right Hear" in a page or so), which we'll paraphrase briefly: The fewer instruments you use, the bigger the sound gets. Something about less competition for the "audio landscape," if we remember correctly. The June 22 debut was nominally an acoustic set--Schmidt was unplugged, so to speak, for every song but his chilling and thrilling version of "Well I Know," and even then the electric didn't get much action--but it never felt like one. If anything, it was even more intense than the rock shows he was playing with LCC not terribly long ago. As much of a fan as we were of LCC (not to mention Schmidt's other bands, Funland and Three on a Hill), this might have been better.
Martin's work on piano and organ and various other keyboards provided a sturdy yet supple foundation for Schmidt's songs, providing the missing element he has long sought. (He joked before the show that he always wanted a piano player in his band, and as soon as he found one, there wasn't a band left.) The duo's first show featured at least one new song, cuts from both LCC albums (as well as some unreleased tracks the band was playing before it recently splintered apart) and some pretty schweet cover tunes, including a kick-to-the-junk take on Elvis Costello's "Accidents Will Happen." Which finally made us realize what the show had been reminding us of: Costello's similar outings with keys player Steve Nieve a few years back. (Warner Bros. released a five-disc boxed set culled from those shows, a collection that is sadly now out of print. Pick one up on eBay--you won't be disappointed.) But more specifically: Schmidt is the closest thing to Costello this town will ever see. Start treating him as such.. .
Hand stamps: The Tah-Dahs and the Servo open for the Mink Lungs on June 26 at Trees, and Buzz-Oven presents Eisley, the Adventures of Jet and the Jimmi Sticks there June 28; The Theater Fire supports the Pernice Brothers at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios on June 29; Baboon's at Club Clearview on June 26, followed by Speedealer the next night; The Flying Machine plays Curtain Club on June 29; Save the Radio, who just released its debut EP (Extended Play), performs June 26 at Liquid Lounge.