Chris Cantalini never expected or wanted the fame he received after starting his blog, Gorilla vs. Bear, from his office cubicle in 2005. But he's nevertheless stayed the course with his website, which will be hosting its sixth showcase since 2011 on Saturday. Popular chillwave musician Ernest Greene, who performs under the name Washed Out, has co-curated the lineup and will also headline.
“The approach has remained more or less the same since the beginning. I sort of selfishly just wanted to curate my own dream lineups that I wanted to see personally and that are a real-life reflection of the site,” Cantalini says. “With the GvsB fest shows, specifically, I put some consideration into bringing acts to Dallas that might not otherwise come through town.”
GvsB VI marks the first time Cantalini has brought in a co-curator. Greene is from Athens, Georgia, and known for writing the theme song to the television show Portlandia.
Cantalini and Greene considered about 25 acts for the card, and Cantalini compares the process to building one of the mixes his site is known for releasing. “Ernest trusted us to put together a lineup that would complement that and feel like an authentic club night/dance party,” Cantalini says.
Some recent Gorilla vs. Bear favorites have been announced for the show, including Canadian artists Jacques Greene, She-Devils and Jessy Lanza. Cantalini says Lanza ranks among his favorite artists. DJ Sober has also been announced for the show.
Like every GvsB fest, the bill is an extension of Cantalini’s influential music blog, which has held the attention of millions of fans, critics and artists. However, Cantalini eschews the notion that he's an authority on good taste, so the site features little of his opinion; he just uses it to share music he enjoys.
“I'm not trying to patronize or condescend to anyone. I've always tried to give our readers the benefit of the doubt by providing only as much context as necessary — whether that's a few words or sometimes just an image — and letting the music stand on its own as the focus of the site,” he says. “I don't consider myself some authoritative critic or even a music journalist necessarily, so it's important to me that the curation process and what is ultimately posted on the site is an honest and genuine reflection of myself and what I'm into.”
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Cantalini famously avoids describing the music he shares on his site, opting instead to let the music speak for itself. With his partner and creative director David Bartholow, he has created a bastion at the frontline of hipster culture, built on aesthetically dreamy tunes from up-and-coming acts and grainy Polaroid shots.
Twelve years after it began, GvsB is still showcasing the bleeding edge of the aural frontier, if only from the perspective of one man. At its peak, the blog garnered nearly 1 million monthly visitors and was hailed as one of the best corners of the web to hear new music — and, for the bands Cantalini put his stamp of approval on, also to be seen.
“It can still sort of feel like a dream at times,” he says. “But I try not to think about it too often; I think dwelling on the fact that anyone, much less my favorite artists, is reading what I'm writing would derail the whole thing for me pretty quickly. “
Gorilla vs Bear Showcase, 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, Bomb Factory, 2713 Canton St., $28, thebombfactory.com.