Spune 2k10 Fest
Hailey's Club, Denton
May 1, 2010
Better than: Watching any band that is or will be fronted by Fred Durst.
In many ways, the anti-Edgefest happened in Denton on Saturday. I don't know if it was Hailey's smoky darkness, or the general lack of bands that rhyme with "smizkit," but this experience felt special.
Certainly there were missteps, and, at times, a butt-load of pretentious hipsters. But the whole idea of Spune's 2k10 Rite of Spring Fling harnessed the reason you go to these smoky bars in the first place: to hear a smattering of good, genuine, interesting bands from both local and world influences.
Eight bands played travel-sized sets, and each was complimentary of the next and fascinatingly different than the previous. Wordless Abacus played haunting, almost Elvish harmonies over self-made beats while a projected storm of art screened on his DJ table. His arty beats were followed by the eccentric rock of Portland's Nurses, who sounded like a band good enough for a Chris Taylor production credit. Their 8-bit-driven gem "Technicolor" was a crowd favorite. Aside from my geek-out distraction from Kristian Matsson stepping in front of me every couple of minutes to check their sound (Mattson is on the road with Nurses this month), Nurses were pitch-perfect and lush.
White Hinterland was the only step backwards of the night. These guys have programming talent and richly layered vocals, but no hook. They lit candles next to their bee-bop machines, which made me think a hipster Phantom of the Opera was going to boat in front of me.
As always, Glen Farris was understated and good. Sure, there's a lot of folk musicians out there with a harmonica and a guitar, but Glen's doing it as good as A.A. Bondy, or Josh Ritter, or whoever else you want to compare him to.
Denton locals Sundress hit the side-stage next and it was hard not to be entranced by their wall of sound. I found myself drifting closer and closer, heeding the desire to chuck my notebook off stage and do some sort of rave dance. They had pin-point accuracy in their dreamy rock sound.
Then came Tallest Man on Earth. If you didn't know Dosh was the headliner, you would have assumed it was Tallest Man. The crowd pushed in, the biggest of the night, for the tiny Swede's folk. Have to say, this was the best 30-minute concert I've ever seen. He bled a quick opening intro into the startlingly good title track from his new album "The Wild Hunt." The joy of Matsson's live performance, aside from the kick-ass songs about death, is all about his swagger and charisma. He walks about the stage with an intent stare on the audience, like he's playing the character of folk-star out of time. And he sings with confidence. Hearing "King of Spain" and "The Gardener" (from 2008's Shallow Grave) live, you'd never miss a four-piece band.
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Dosh was like the denouement of 2k10 fest, as opposed to the headliner. Don't get me wrong, he was solid as hell. The crowd seemed tired and spacious after Tallest Man on Earth's set, as evidence by the two lonely hipsters trying to get the stagnant people to dance to Dosh's mad-house drums. Watching Dosh live is the equivalent of a watching a movie soundtrack live--there are no usual singer-songwriter qualities to experience. You're simply subject to the requirements of electronica. In this way, he was a perfect finish to the evening. Tracks like "If You Want To You Have To" from 2008's Wolves And Wishes and "Subtraction" from his upcoming release Tommy shined.
As Pizza Hut Park raged on with what I'm sure was a dichotomy of douchebags and Phoenix fans, Hailey's nailed home what should be remembered as a quintessential Texas music experience.
By the way: To the dude wearing the shimmering silver vest to my right during Tallest Man on Earth: You're not alone in your fandom for Tallest Man on Earth. I know you were excited. So was I--I had goosebumps during "The Wild Hunt." But don't go to acoustic-solo shows and sing louder than the performer. It just doesn't make sense, and it's selfish. Not that there are rules or anything. Still: If you're at a big, loud show--sing away. But, a quiet folk singer? Enjoy it in peace.
Random note: Kristian Matsson is freaking tiny, man.