Seryn, Doug Burr, Telegraph Canyon & the Old 97's
Fair Park Centennial Building
April 9, 2010
Better than: getting a forehead tattoo like one of the guys I saw get ink last night.
A bringing together of skin and ink wasn't the only attempted matrimony on the first night of Dallas' Musink Festival at Fair Park's Centennial Building on Friday night.
With a bill headlined by the Old 97's and otherwise heavy on un-inked artists that dabble more in folk and chamber-pop than the latest trends in body art, the 30-minute sets by Seryn, Doug Burr and Telegraph Canyon proved to be an interesting study in how seemingly polar opposites react when faced together.
(Hint: They, indeed, react like polar opposites).
The crowd gathered at the festival early on was clearly there for the art being made inside and not the art of the musical variety taking place on the outdoor stage, even with the damn near perfect weather.
Opting for the more appropriate, beefed up, electrical instrumentation--versus the acoustic instruments that the band often employs--Seryn soldiered spiritedly and admirably through a concise set of songs that will make up its upcoming album, tentatively due in the fall. Having been together for only a year, Seryn already commands the stage with energy and authority.
After browsing the aisles of tattoo booths and catching a few minutes of BMX action on the half pipe inside, it was time to see Doug Burr take a swing at igniting the ink covered group outside. And even with a couple of the member of Seryn helping augment the performance of Burr and his sideman, Glenn Farris, a cavernous stage in front of an empty parking lot with a few dozen disinterested bystanders proved not to be the proper forum for Burr's beautiful brand of folk-rock.
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While the sound system produced a somewhat muddy vocal mix for Burr, he, just like Seryn before him, made the best of his 30 minutes. Going from just about everyone's favorite "Slow Southern Home" to what will soon be everyone's new favorite Burr track, "Red, Red," off of his album to be released in May, Burr and Farris did manage to elicit a slightly heartier amount of cheers as they exited the stage than when they had entered it half an hour prior.
In between sets, the evening's emcee, Jim Rose, the wild human punk-circus leader, seemed to be a bit bothered by the small crowd, even though he did his best to rise above it with his profane brand of stand-up and some relatively shocking stunts that would make Letterman's stupid humans look like Rhodes Scholars. Only when a flabby, shirtless man took several darts to his fleshy back did the crowd warm up to Rose.
Perhaps Seryn should bring a few darts from a Denton bar next time they want to really get an indifferent crowd revved up.
Adding to the out-of-place feel for the evening was the music being played over the P.A. during the set changes. David Gray was prominent on the playlist, for instance. It's doubtful that anyone will be confusing Gray with Mike Ness anytime soon.
But as darkness fell on Fair Park, the crowd outside of the Centennial building continued to slowly swell. Approximately 150 folks (if not a tad more) were on hand to see yet another stellar showing from Telegraph Canyon, the Fort Worth collective that continues to improve upon what has become possibly the best live show in North Texas.
As Chris Johnson and company rolled boisterously through "Shake Your Fists," "Safe On the Outside," and "Into The Woods," the style lines among the crowd gathered had been drawn in the parking lot. The fresh-faced indie-loving youngsters, who likely have never as much as had a temporary tattoo on them, huddled together relatively close to the stage while the well-decorated attendees made it a point to be more than a fashionably cool distance away from the musical proceedings.
At this point, more than earlier when hardly anyone had been there, it was apparent that putting a band on a stage at a tattoo festival doesn't necessarily mean that the people getting tattoos are going to care all that much about what's happening on that stage, simply because the stage is at a celebration of ink.
That is, unless the Old 97's are performing on that stage.
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Rhett Miller and the rest of the band are the clear winners of the night's MVB (Most Valuable Band) Award. By the time the opening number, "Wont Be Home" was complete, not only were there hundreds of people outside, but they were enjoying themselves and crossing the lifestyle boundaries that had been held so closely for the entire night. During "West Texas Teardrops", signs of unity were ever-present as men with Mohawks and tattoos banged their head and sang along next to dancing soccer mom cougars, who were out for a night of Rhett Miller hunting.
As on-top of their game as Telegraph Canyon had been before them, the 97's were even more so. Belting out time-tested fan favorites like "Doreen" (which saw Phillip Peeples going absolutely ape on his kit), "Curtain Call," "Rollerskate Skinny," "Hitchike to Rhome" and "Barrier Reef," the hometown heroes knew precisely what buttons to push on the audience.
By the time the 97's served up an encore of "Big Brown Eyes" and their classic show-closer, "Timebomb," it was clear that the vision of bringing different types of people together through music had finally been achieved on this first night of the Musink Fest.
Personal Bias: I do not have any ink, but have always admired the art involved and the guts of people who have not only one but dozens.