Last Night: The Frankie 45 Memorial Concert at Club Dada

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Frankie 45 Memorial Concert
Club Dada
January 6, 2011

Better than: a traditional funeral -- so much better.

After losing an adored member of their inner circle earlier this week, the family and friends of Frankie Campagna only had simple requests heading into last night's show.

They wanted the mood to be celebratory, not somber. They wanted a killer show. They wanted the bands, as Spector 45 bassist Adam Carter put it before the night's events, "to bring the motherfucking bad."

They got what they asked for.

All nine of the bands the family invited to perform at this event put on moving, inspiring displays that, as requested, avoided somber tones.

It was a night of pure punk rock -- one that Frankie surely would have adored -- that spanned the entire realm of Dallas' punk history, thanks to performances from the brand-new Leg Sweeper and the yes-they-very-much-still-have-it Barry Kooda Combo, which features members of the region's first, and still greatest, punk rock outfit, The Nervebreakers.

There were still, of course, tender moments. From behind the microphone, bands shared stories and memories, as well as their motives behind certain elements of their performances on this evening. The Marfalites, for instance, played songs Frankie had told them were his favorite of theirs. And The Phuss' Josh Fleming performed in a banana suit as an homage to the time Frankie showed up at one of his gigs, moshing around in the same costume.

Crowds, meanwhile, gathered in bunches, sharing their own memories of Frankie and, overall, just showcasing an immense amount of support -- for one another, for Frankie, for the Campagna family and for Deep Ellum. numbering somewhere around 1,000 attendees when all was said and done. They were a gracious, cordial bunch. A prime example of that: Perhaps the most cordial circle pit ever seen, as fans young and old moshed in front of the stage to everything from Johnny Cash covers and Nervebreakers classics, falling over one another as they did -- and then again falling as they rushed over to help those who had fallen get back on their feet.

It was a night that won't be soon forgotten -- one just filled with memorable moments. There was the touching sermon at the show's start from Tom Gibbons, the Campagna family's "rock 'n' roll" reverend. There was the moment of silence that immediately followed his introduction. There was the roar from the cavalcade of bikes parked out front Club Dada that came just after that. There was the Double Downs' performance, which ended with every surviving member of Spector 45, current or not, rushing the stage to join the band in singing Spector's most endearing track, "I Love You," a song that was again covered numerous times throughout the night and screamed along to by members of the crowd.

There, too, were touching tributes from Frankie's closest friends and family members -- from Spector 45 drummer and co-founder Animal Anthony, from Frankie's little sister Amber, and from Frank Sr. The crowds listened on with both respectful silence and supportive roars as these three speeches shared fond memories and implored those in the audience to cherish their friends and to celebrate them while they're still alive.

It was a great night overall -- for memorializing Frankie, for celebrating Dallas punk rock and for supporting a once-again-close-knit Deep Ellum -- albeit one spurred on by unfortunate circumstances.

And, for this writer at least, it was exactly what was needed.

We'll miss you, Frankie.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
This explains it, I think.

Random Note: The fire marshal indeed stopped by for a moment last night, peeking through Dada's windows at the probably-past-capacity turnout, before leaving the scene without any write-ups.

By The Way: Lost in all this is the fact that Club Dada opened its doors last night, revealing its latest incarnation and new renovations. The place looked beautiful. Congratulations to the new ownership on a hugely successful opening night.

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