Last Night: Melodica Festival at Expo Park

Yells at Eels.
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Melodica Music Festival
February 23, 2008
Exposition Park

Last night I trekked down to Exposition Park to take my Melodica experience beyond the paper and was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t too sure how the fest would turn out, but with some fairly packed venues and too few parking spaces, I’d say it at least looked like a success.

My main goal was to see local jazz band Yells at Eels. Festival producer Wanz Dover discussed them during our interview and I was fascinated by the little cool facts of the band. Trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez is a DISD music teacher and has this crazy international career. His sons make the rest of the trio as Aaron hits the bass and Stefan bangs the drums. And when they aren’t busy with Dad, they have their own band to tend to: Akkolyte, a grindcore band.

They were playing at the appropriately tiny Avenue Arts venue where some 35 to 40 people packed in to listen to Eels’ run at free-improv jazz. This isn’t the lush smooth jazz you’re going to find at, say, Brooklyn, but more like small journeys of music that envelope your ears and body and brings you in to whatever world Gonzalez is creating. With abrupt endings, the audience would take just a nanosecond too long to figure out they should applaud and upon coming down, applause filled the venue. Eels were a gem in the lineup.

Then I ran over to Sloppyworld to catch some Faux Fox. The pop-rockers were in full swing by the time I got there, but thankfully I didn’t miss this song. The crowd wasn’t bad considering it was around 10 p.m. We love us some Sloppy, but a spotlight would be nice in that place. Faux Fox’s frontman’s spastic nature on- and offstage is too much to miss. While the rest of the band performed toward the back in some weak lighting, he was spazzing out on the runway in less than glorious darkness. Fortunately, he didn’t let that stop him as he jumped off and onstage and ran back and forth down the stage doing that weirdness he does so well.

It was off to Amsterdam to catch some electronica where Treewave was at the helm. Admittedly, I don’t get a lot of electronica unless it’s maybe this or this, so I don’t want to be the guy who blasts it just because I’m unfamiliar with it. In the back outdoor stage, I mostly wanted to stand next to the heaters -- but so did everyone else. Hipsters in black either watched intently as melodious electronic bleeps gelled into music or continued with their conversations. Some of the music was engaging, but, overall, I can tell this music isn’t my thing. Treewave had some good attendance but a lackluster audience, which made it hard to tell if the people were there for the band or just there.

Finally, I caught garage rockers Faceless Werewolves back at Avenue Arts. They were good. Not really my thing either, but they won me over with some consistent kick-ass rock. And once again, an ample crowd at Avenue Arts made for a better show.

Some stops at minc and Fallout Lounge happened along the way as well. Fallout Lounge seemed to have a delay in its lineup. A crowd was getting its groove on to L.A. deejay [a]pendics.shuffle at minc, but with full satisfaction, I decided to step out of the world of Melodica.

Pete’s going to tell you more about the entire event later this week, but at least I can give you a taste. Is Melodica going to spark a fire under Dallas as Dover hopes? Hard to say. But if not, it at least had a good night of trying. -- Rich Lopez

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