Concert Reviews

Over The Weekend: Fair to Midland's Wreck Benefit at Curtain Club

Fair to Midland Wreck Benefit with House Harkonnen, Serosia, Bronze Whaler and Moving Atlas
Curtain Club
February 14, 2009

Better Than: watching this year's very underwhelming Olympic opening ceremonies. (Great job, Canada!)

When asked what was on Fair to Midland's mind the moment its van tumbled through the Arizona desert back in January, the band says it doesn't remember much.

Well, other than frontman Darroh Sudderth's immediate utterances of "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!" 

This weekend, a month after Fair to Midland's van turned over in Arizona--wrecking its vehicle and the bulk of its gear in the process--the band returned to Deep Ellum in one piece to recoup its losses. In fact, two concerts were scheduled for the weekend due to the number of bands signed on to support FTM: Friday's show featured The House Harkonnen, Serosia, Bronze Whaler and Moving Atlas; Saturday's saw opening sets from Deaf Pedestrians, Night Gallery, Red Pyramid, and End of Eternity. And, actually, there was another benefit, too, held in Denton's Boiler Room on the February 4.

Like the opening bands, fans trickled in through the chill and fog to show their support for FTM at this show. And the band didn't disappoint.

In typical form, Fair to Midland overwhelmed its audience with a dazzling display of lights, sonic bombardment, and physical mayhem in its thrashing about the stage.

Performing to a crowded hall, the band's experimental rock sound served as the backdrop to Sudderth's legendary live-performance mania, as he flailed around, climbed a stage cabinet and eventually hung off the curtain rod while delivering his divergent vocal range. But it wasn't all Sudderth: Most song performances were followed by hypnotic sound-collage transitions courtesy of Matt Langley at the keys.

It seemed like a regular rock showcase--and a fairly celebratory one, too--despite the somber reason with which this show was scheduled. And not just for the headliners: Denton's Bronze Whaler brought a blues-influenced sound in the vein of Soundgarden paired with Circa Survive; Serosia, in the most underwhelming set of the night, delivered straightforward hardcore not quite flush with the other bands playing that night; Moving Atlas brought a progressive rock sound resembling Sikth and Rush as vocalist Dunagin Gains gave the band a musical mold that fit well with the headliners.

The House Harkonnen impressed as well with the loudest set of the night. Its Motorhead-influenced hard rock delivered the brutish might of its namesake from Frank Herbert's Dune series.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
As a big sci-fi nerd, I expected The House Harkonnen to follow in the rocking tradition of band names inspired by the Dune books--i.e. Shai Hulud, Stillsuit. The band claims knowledge of the franchise through the 1984 David Lynch film, and the first two books in the six-book series. Better catch up on your homework, guys.

Random Note: Darroh Sudderth kind of resembles actor Jim Parsons--or Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. As a result, his stage antics resembled a moment in the TV show when the character ingested caffeine, donned a Flash costume, and ran around uncontrollably.