Datahowler, Gallery Cat, Damaged Good$, Hoyotoho Club Dada January 15, 2011
Better than: staying home to "avoid all the crazies on the road" while your friends have a ball celebrating the New Year (again).
Honestly, if I wasn't sick and running a fever right now, I'd try to come up with a better lead than: It really was a wonderfully cold and foggy night in Deep Ellum as some 200 folks showed up to Club Dada's New Year's Eve Do-Over -- complete with a Champagne toast at midnight.
So, to officially celebrate the dawn of 2011 at Dada, Method Entertainment put together a great bill that showcased a few Dallas-based electronic/experimental rock and hipster-hop favorites -- with one glaring exception.
While all four acts put on great, memorable performances, the night was perhaps most notable for the debut live performance by Datahowler whose catchy instrumental, genre-bending soundscapes mix downtempo and ambient electronic sounds with elements of hip-hop, sci-fi and, yeah, with a little dollop of chillwave.
Datahowler is the new solo electronic project from songwriter/producer Ross Edman, formerly known as mash-up artist Objektiv One, also formerly the drummer for The Secret Handshake.
While Datahowler's debut album Slowdrifter won't be digitally released on sites like iTunes, Amazon and Rhapsody until January 25, the crowd got an early listen as Edman skipped, jumped and downright hopscotched from one electronic genre to the next.
Though the 70 or so folks who showed up early enough to catch Datahowler's set rarely drew near the stage -- other than to snap a few quick photos on a cell phone -- the crowd was cheering and clapping between the songs. Sometimes hollers of approval erupted from the audience mid-song as Edman's fingers danced across his equipment recreating his sleazy sci-fi bump-and-grind tracks.
But whether it was the up-beat songs or the ambient/experimental movements, all of the material seemed to capture a very hook-heavy, spaced-out vibe with a bit of a nu-disco feel.
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Next up, all seven members of hipster-hop meets art-rock act Gallery Cat took the stage. As usual Gallery Cat frontman Angelo Gonzales brought his vibrant and highly infectious positive energy to the stage. And the crowd quickly embraced the band's overall enthusiastic, energetic stage presence -- drawing nearer and nearer to the stage. And, by the third song, folks in the crowd were dancing and singing along -- some of whom may or may not write for the Dallas Observer. Even the most crotchety sourpuss would have a hard time not falling for Gallery Cat after catching a live performance.
For those unfamiliar with Damaged Good$, I don't even know where to start. The duo is definitely one of my favorite Dallas acts to catch, and, like Gallery Cat, always seem to deliver an excellent performance. Saturday night's set was no exception as Trak Bully and Coool Dundee took to Club Dada's stage. Well, not really.
The duo rarely set foot on stage other than to queue-up the next track on their laptop. In their usual style, Damaged Good$ swaggered through their set while sitting, dancing and rapping in the middle of the audience. Though the duo didn't play much new material, the act did perform a new song a capella-style to a mostly pin-drop silent crowd.
And whether the act was moving thought the crowd or sitting on a barstool with crowd members sitting Indian-style on the floor around them, one thing's certain: Damaged Good$ know how to entertain.
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So too does Hoyotoho, who were up last.
The Dallas act (whose name comes from Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" and not a Japanese soda pop) fronted by Calvin Chynoweth has made great strides in the past year, from releasing a "videopera" to earning a fair amount of press to getting airplay. If you listen to KDGE-102.1 FM The Edge's "Local Show," you may have heard the band's track "Virgin Eyes," which was the lead single off the band's 2010 debut album, Brutal Beauty.
And, for the better, the band does seem to be moving away from the earlier nu-disco inspired hipster-rock toward a more ritualistic art-rock sound. The band's fans certainly showed up, as evidenced by the number of folks in the room singing along to the songs. Critic's Notebook Bias: Since the first time I caught Gallery Cat at Rubber Gloves in Denton, I've thought they and Damaged Good$ should share a bill as often as possible. By the way: After the show Datahowler and Gallery Cat were tweeting about a doing a collaboration of some sort. Here's hoping that this "colab" really is in the cards.
Random note: Though the audience clearly liked the set, had Datahowler's debut show been in Denton, I have no doubt that the audience would have gathered closer to the stage rather than staying near the bar or the pub tables.