Last night's album release show for the Nervous Curtains debut LP Out Of Sync With Time should have been a celebration of an excellent new album, but the death of Tommy Atkins cast a somber mood over the occasion. Atkins, bassist of Fort Worth's The Great Tyrant, was a friend of Nervous Curtains as well as opening act Darktown Strutters, whose singer Kara Howell is organizing a benefit show to help with the cost of services.
Nervous Curtains singer Sean Kirkpatrick paused after opening with an especially loud, distorted version of "Accomplice" to extend his condolences and express how saddened he and bandmates Ian Hamilton and Robert Anderson were.
With that, the group plowed into a deafening rendition of "All Yesterday's Parties," a highlight of Out Of Sync With Time.
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The song is directed to a musician whose glory days of lifted velvet ropes and comped drinks are behind him. During an interview for next week's Dallas Observer music feature on the band, Kirkpatrick said the song was inspired by his own personal experiences in music as well as by the stories of Phil Spector and Axl Rose. But last night its fondly backward-looking lyric seemed to take on a new meaning given the circumstances, and Kirkpatrick's performance was especially impassioned, his voice quivering with emotion. The sound levels were punched up so loud that every note distorted, as if to expel the grief, and the band didn't miss a beat even as one of the overloaded P.A. speakers cut out.
Each song of the band's set--which stuck to material from the new album, including its epic, Cohen-esque take on the Minutemen's "Jesus And Tequila," felt equally cathartic. After the show, a nose-ringed dude who'd wandered into the store looking for change, unaware there'd be a performance, ended up buying a copy of the CD and had the Curtains members autograph it. He gushed to Kirkpatrick about how he couldn't wait to see the band "on Conan, once Conan gets another show."
Darktown Strutters, who were scheduled to play with The Great Tyrant at the Kessler Theater in March, put on a great opening set of organ- and synth-fueled future-retro "satanic disco," but you wouldn't have known it from the subdued crowd, which remained eerily still during songs and silent between them.
Overall, it was an unforgettable evening. Check out photographer Spike Johnson's shots of both bands and the crowd in this slideshow.