Concert Reviews

New Wave Music Resurgence Gains Strength as Channel 69 Plays First Show in 27 Years

Channel 69 was one of a few new wave bands who came together for a bill at Trees.
Channel 69 was one of a few new wave bands who came together for a bill at Trees. Elvis Anderson
Channel 69’s Kyle Schember laughs at the memory of a time when an unknown boy band named Backstreet Boys opened for them in Miami in the ‘90s.

“It was around 1995 during Winter Music Conference on South Beach and there were shows happening everywhere in Miami that week,” Schember tells the Observer. “I think the venue was a strip club and these Backstreet Boys guys go on before us. (Manager) Lou Pearlman was there. I saw him and then their show started and I’m like, what the hell is this?”

The final stop on a three-show mini-tour, Channel 69’s show Sunday at Trees in Deep Ellum was their first in Dallas in 27 years. T-4-2, also from Dallas and Anything Box were also on the bill. The lineup was united by a synth sound that soundtracked the new wave movement in the '80s and '90s. It was the start of a deviation from the traditional band setup with lead guitar, bass guitar and drums. Channel 69’s sound incorporates synthesizers and other technology.

“You might remember this one,” lead singer John Allen Moore, aka Britain Ashley, had told the 100-plus fans in the audience before playing “Promise Is Breaking.” One major indication of the passing of time is the sight of Moore’s wife and three kids in the audience. It’s their first time seeing Dad onstage, and they’re impressed.

“We all had big egos, but we’ve changed so much,” he tells us. “We were competing with each other back then, but we’re in a good place now. We’ve grown up."

T-4-2, a keys and synth-driven duo, was up next. Their set was a mix of old and new — their latest album, Intruder, dropped about a year ago. Much like Channel 69, they’re seeing a resurgence and rising interest from younger fans. Jay Gillian and Will Loconto cruised through eight tracks, closing with “Bar of Light.” Gillian asks that the stage lights be dimmed and then produces an actual bar of light. Musically and visually, it’s the highlight of the evening.

Claude Strilio was the last man standing for Anything Box. Once a trio, Strilio now performs alone. Like VH1 Storytellers, he broke between tracks to offer background for the songs. During one story break, he asked for a beer, to which a fan obliges with a Michelob Ultra. Strillio finished with “Carmen” and Will Loconto returned to the stage to assist with the evening’s last song, “Living in Oblivion.”

It was Cinco de Mayo and while most everyone in town was out drinking tequila, the dance floor was still busy at Trees. It’s clear that people still care about Channel 69, T-4-2 and Anything Box.

“This little tour was to just dip our toe in the water and see how it goes, but we’re happy with this turnout, it’s encouraging” Schember adds.  
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Elvis Anderson has written for the Observer since 2016. A music fan, he's an advocate for The Woody Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that improves the lives of the paralyzed.
Contact: Elvis Anderson