North of the Dial

When an all-local bill leads to a sell-out crowd on a cold Saturday night, one usually expects to see a well-established act atop the bill. But that wasn't the case during Yeahdef's recent "Fresh Faces" event at Dan's Silverleaf. In fact, more than 225 people showed up to catch three Denton acts at various stages of, well, freshness.

Sure, the one-in-one-out pre-midnight turnout at Dan's had thinned to a size more typical of a local show for Kampfgrounds' rousing closer. And, in a few short months, Peopleodian's live act has greatly improved, with songs like "Green Room" benefiting from moving vocalist Ally Hoffmann out of the shadows.

But, for many, the most memorable set that night had to be the opening act's six-song coming-out party. Because, by 10:40 p.m., halfway through the band's debut performance, more than 200 people had plopped down the $1 admission charge to huddle around Dan's stage and watch Final Club do its thing.

Formed in August, Final Club got its start when both vocalist/guitarist Brendon Avalos (of Dark Forces) and guitarist Austin Swann moved into The Lion's Den, an excellent DIY venue whose shows are on hold until several hundred dollars worth of noise violation tickets from past shows can be paid.

"I would much rather have debuted at a house show," Avalos says following this gig at Dan's, the band's first ever show. "But Dan's was great, and it was cool to see people like the dudes from Record Hop there, too."

Really, most Denton acts cut their teeth playing a handful of house shows, or at least the basement of J&J's Pizza. But not Final Club—and, just a couple days following the Dan's gig, the band had already also played its second ever performance, this one held at Rubber Gloves (where Swann bartends).

Credit the band's fast-paced, hook-laden debut set for that interest. Though Avalos claimed that the huge crowd watching the show was making him nervous, his energetic performance never showed it—nor did the mostly stoic stances from the rest of the band, which includes Swann, Anthony Manganaro (of The River Mouth) on drums and Bryan Smith on bass. Rather appropriately, the band lists "1990-1999" as its influences on its MySpace page, and the band's stylized guitar work ("tasty licks" as Swann refers to his own playing style) rides a fine line between J Mascis and The Edge, thankfully landing close to the former.

But how exactly did these new bands manage to draw such a large crowd?

Maybe it was because the show only cost $1 for people aged 21 and up. Or, maybe it was because Yeahdef has 1,700 followers on Twitter.

Or maybe it's more on the bands. As Swann says rather matter-of-factly, "It helps that I know a lot of people."

—Daniel Rodrigue