Concert Reviews

Dave Wilson on The Bomb Factory and Other First Show Experiences

Until the recent "reunification" of [DARYL], if you've seen Dave Wilson at a show, he's either running sound for it or he's shooting it with his camera.

Wilson, someone who's toured with national acts as a soundman and has been a freelance photographer (even for this here establishment), has been going to Dallas-area shows since the mid-'80s. We had to ask him about his first show experiences, as an attendee, performer, soundman and photographer. And he brought up a place that is still beloved by many: The Bomb Factory

Read more after the jump.

What was the first show you ever saw? Were you with your parents? It's hard to pinpoint the first show. When I was a kid, my dad would take me out to various parks on the weekends and there were musicians who would play there. Some of it was impromptu busking, sometimes it was scheduled bands. Probably the first scheduled show I saw was the local musician Freddie White. He was a guitar player with a bit of a following. I probably saw him in '85 with my dad. The next year he went on to play at Self Aid, which Elvis Costello, Van Morrison and U2 headlined.

What was the first show you paid to see? That would probably have been The Sundays at The Bomb Factory in June of '93. I was living with my parents in Plano, so driving to Dallas was a road trip. I miss The Bomb Factory, it was always a fun time. I think The Sundays put on a really good show, too.

What's the worst show you've ever seen? I think there have been so many bad shows for me to pick out just one. As a sound guy, I get to see too many bands that aren't ready to be playing shows try to force their way through a set. I used to applaud people for having the nerve to get on a stage and show off their craft, but at some point you start to feel bad for a paying audience who have to witness a band that doesn't realize they're not worth the price of admission. Having said that, I see over a thousand shows a year, so my criteria of a good show may differ from the general public. In other words, what do I know?

What do you remember about the first [DARYL] show? I remember that the first show that we booked was an opening slot for Rainer Maria at Rubber Gloves. For a newly formed band, that would have been a daunting first show. Luckily, it ended up being our second show; we were added to a show at The Door with our good friends in the band Lewis. I remember that we had been practicing like crazy for so long that we were amped to play a show. We really brought that excitement to the stage and it was crazy and energetic. I played too hard and had bleeding fingers after the first couple of songs; the rest of the guys really cut loose too. It was a lot of fun, but was probably really sloppy. I think it helped us find a balance between putting on a performance and actually playing the parts of the song with some kind of coherence. The second show was a lot more restrained and sounded much better!

Since you've done a lot of work as a soundman, what do you remember about the first time you ran sound? I went to school for audio engineering, and the first time I ran sound was for live performances at the college. Live sound and studio sound are somewhat similar, but have very different approaches. Having to mix everything correctly on the fly as songs are being played can be daunting when you're used to being able to rewind and start over in the studio. I was lucky to be doing both at the same time. I remember setting up the PA for a singer-songwriter for the first time and being really happy when everything was plugged in to the right place and actually made noise. There's been that moment of relief at every show since.

On a related note, what do you remember about the first show you professionally shot? I think I had been shooting shows as a personal project for a while before I was paid for some photos I had already taken. As such, I don't remember which show it was that I was first paid for. I'm not really known for shooting shows, and it's only recently that I've been asked to shoot a show that I wouldn't normally go to anyway. In fact, shooting the Warped Tour this year for the Observer may have been the first such show.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Eric Grubbs is a Dallas-based writer who has published two books, Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007 and When We Were the Kids. His writing has been featured in Punk Planet, Popdose, Fort Worth Weekly, The Dentonite and LA Weekly. He supports Manchester City and will never root for Manchester United.
Contact: Eric Grubbs