Concert Reviews

Last Night: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at Club Dada

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Acoustic Show Club Dada August 1, 2008

Better Than: One show for the price of two.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club goes acoustic. (Daniel Rodrigue)

We warned you that the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club show at Club Dada would be a big deal. When BRMC played House of Blues a year ago, 1,300 fans showed up. And, last May, despite heavy competition from that Thom Yorke fellow, the band’s performance at the Granada drew a packed house.

So, Dada, with its max-capacity of maybe 400, had to know that some disappointed BRMC fans were gonna, literally, be left out in the street. And by 6 p.m. the line outside the club had started forming.

It was around this time that Jimmy Huckle and four friends drove past the ever-growing line.

“Just from looking at the line I knew there was no way the club could hold that many people,” Huckle said. “I got tickets the day they went on sale, and I was like there’s no way that’s the line for BRMC.”

Huckle parked his car, and they walked to the club. “I asked this guy, ‘Is this seriously the line for BRMC?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, don’t you want to shoot yourself in the face?’ We got in line and it just kept filling in behind us. And then the fire marshal showed up.”

The line to get in. (Daniel Rodrigue)

The first rumor--which spread like a fever--was that the fire marshals were going to close the club down. That went on for about an hour.

Then, word came down that BRMC would play two sets--one for as many people in line as could fit into the club, and another for the others forced to wait outside.

After waiting in line for an hour and a half, Huckle’s group of friends was the last to get in the door for the first set. But, once inside, he said, “There was nowhere to go, because it was so packed.”

As doorman, John "Beard" Brewer started to shut the door, a guy was holding out his ticket and his ID.

“Sorry, that’s it!” Beard said, blinking at the kid through his Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

“Are you serious?” the kid asked.

Beard was. And more than a hundred fans were stuck outside in the heat. Some even resorted to fanning themselves with copies of the Observer, pulled from a nearby stand/rack. The crowd outside quickly grew restless and irritable.

BRMC's Peter Hayes opened the all-acoustic set with “Grind My Bones” and played a handful of songs--and, outside, to appease the people stuck in line, BRMC's Robert Levon Been performed a sidewalk set. After three songs, Been played Bob Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna.” And though he admittedly flubbed one part of the nearly eight minute song, it was the best performance of the night.

Been apologized to the crowd, snuck back inside and joined Hayes onstage for “Sympathetic Noose” another of the standout performances of the night. The fans were onboard from the first song, but when the two of them played “Rifles” and “Ain’t No Easy Way” the crowd lit up.

Been busks for the crowd. (Daniel Rodrigue)

Stuck outside, Amy Fagan said she drove 300 miles from Houston for the show.

Understandably hot, thirsty and miffed, she quickly voiced her complaints: “We bought tickets the second they went on sale. We love BRMC. They’re awesome. Robert came out and played for us, and it was awesome. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is awesome, but this sucks.”

“They did a good job of getting a good band in here,” Collin Dougherty said while also awaiting the second set. Dougherty moved to Deep Ellum three years ago, and he said he’d never seen a crowd like this turn out for a show. “Obviously, some things happen and didn’t work out right, and it could’ve been handled in a better way. But, it’s great to see this many people coming down here.”

Back inside, Hayes sang, “Never thought I'd see her go away…” and, as he reached the chorus of “Love Burns,” the crowd pressed in closer to the stage. “...Now she's gone love burns inside me.”

Been thanked the crowd, and then the house lights lit up, and Dada staff and security tried to herd 400 people out the back of the club. The transition to the second set wasn’t exactly well-rganized. People were still coming in-and-out, but most complied.

After BRMC took the stage again, Been said, “Everyone here that waited to see us, thank you so much, for putting up with the -- with the standing in line. We’re gonna try to make it up as best we can. But, um…” He stops. Pauses, and grinning slyly, said, “This one’s ‘Screaming Gun’.”

What he doesn’t tell the crowd is how tired he is. “I’d like to curl up into a ball and go to sleep,” he had just told the Dada staff, gathered by the cigarette vending machine.

For the most part the two sets were the same, but for those who stayed until 2:12 a.m., the second set was undeniably a different, more intimate affair. And when the two of them played “Long Black Veil” they made The Band’s and Nick Cave’s version pale in comparison. They were both visibly tired, and Been played many of the songs slumped over his Gibson with his eyes closed-- embracing the guitar like a lover.

At about 2 a.m., Been said, “We were supposed to play one show, and now we’ve played two and a half.”

But, even as some of the house lights were coming up, BRMC started singing, “Spread you love like a fever…”

Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: Um, BRMC is one of the best American folk/blues/garage rock bands out there.

Random Note: Explaining the band’s reason for playing the all-acoustic show, Grant Gelt, the band’s tour manager, said, “The idea came up because we knew it would be the third time to play Dallas in a year, so the band thought let’s go in and give them something different -- something we haven’t given them before. And that’s where the idea of the acoustic show came up.” Been, meanwhile, told the crowd that BRMC had been doing playing the same shows for a year-and-a-half, and that “We wanted to give you something different. But, really, the reason we wanted to do this is because we were bored.”

By The Way: All the fans who declared the band dead with the departure of Nick Jago were horribly mistaken. And, though it was burnin’ hot inside Dada, Been never took off his black leather jacket. --Daniel Rodrigue

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Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman