2014 has been a rough year for country music. Florida-Georgia Line is selling more records than anyone else in the genre, Luke Bryan is the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year, and any traces of Willie, Waylon, and Hank seem to be stamped out of country music's most popular acts. Except, fortunately, for Sturgill Simpson.
The buzz around Simpson is fierce this fall, and it's not exclusive to country fans. He's appeared on NPR and performaned on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. So his coming to Club Dada on Saturday night for his first-ever Dallas appearance is a big deal -- so big, in fact, that you might not even be able to scalp your way in. Things could be about to get interesting.
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Since 2012, Simpson has toiled in small clubs and bars playing some of the best country music in a decade. His 2012 album High Top Mountain is a deliberately twangy album with tons of Bakersfield and outlaw influence, but the 2014 release of Metamodern Sounds In Country Music has brought Simpson the most success of his career. Critics heaped praise on the alt-country troubadour's sophomore effort for his uncanny vocal resemblance to Waylon Jennings, impressive arrangements and an unparalleled ability to move the hell-raising character of country music forward without watering it down.
Despite not sounding like anything else on the Hot Country Billboard chart, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music peaked at No. 11 and has been able to draw even avowed country-haters into the genre. More importantly, though, Simpson gave people who were disgusted with the direction country music was going hope for the future -- a hope that means that more artists like Simpson can start to edge the good ol' boys off the top of the charts.
So much hope that ticket buyers quickly turned Saturday night's show at Club Dada into one of the hottest concerts of the year, country or otherwise. When tickets were released for the performance, they sold out within a day. When Simpson made his appearance on The Tonight Show last month, potentially opening him up to a whole slew of new fans, those tickets had been gone for months. In maybe an even bigger testament to Simpson's popularity, a single ticket to the show is going for nearly 10 times its original $15 cost on StubHub and Craigslist. At present, there are only eight tickets remaining.
The show is so popular that it could make the relatively small venue burst at its seams. It's standard practice at Club Dada to move sold-out shows to the venue's large outdoor patio for extra capacity, a situation that could be untenable if it is rainy or too cold on Saturday night. (Fortunately those chances seem slim at the time of writing.) The venue is projected to be so full that Transmission Dallas promoter Kris Youmans was even turning away his friends, posting a message on Facebook that warned them to not ask him for guest list spots. "I will not answer you. You will not get in," he wrote in the publicly-shared post.
More interestingly, Youmans also warned that people who purchased tickets from second-hand sellers like StubHub "most likely" would also not be able to get in. Judging by the number of people trying to buy and sell tickets on the event's Facebook page and Craigslist, there could be a number of ticket holders who are denied entry. Should that happen, you'll likely see a line of very pissed off people who paid upwards of $100 bucks per ticket standing out in the cold.
Many people were surprised when it was announced that Simpson would play Club Dada, if only because he could have easily sold out a much larger venue. Certainly it's a testament to Youmans, a veteran talent buyer, for pulling off the deal, and the prospect of catching Simpson in such an intimate setting is enticing. With succeeding shows on the tour sold out, including at Houston's 750-cap Fitzgerald's, it's likely that you'll never see Simpson in a venue this small again, and it is surely going to be one of the best country shows in Dallas this year.
For fans of "old" country music, the kind that actually sounds like country and not a bunch of idiotic pop-rockers with a backbeat and a banjo, Sturgill Simpson is widely regarded as the genre's "savior." That description is not too far off. The old-country twang that is characteristic of Simpson's sound, mixed with equally distinctive and progressive lyrics about love, psychedelic drugs and life, is the kind of thing that fans who despise the ascent of vapid, pop-influenced country have been begging for.
More importantly, though, it means that fans in Dallas are willing to show up to a good country show. "Every artist wants their first play in a market to sell out," says Youmans. While Youmans declined to comment further on the logistics of booking the show, he undoubtedly has a point: Simpson has never played Dallas before, which only compounds the anticipation.
If you were among the unlucky ones unable to score tickets to the show, you may be kicking yourself until Simpson comes back to Dallas, likely at a much bigger venue. For those that do have tickets, consider yourselves lucky. This kind of music experience doesn't come around often, especially for country fans. Logistics be damned; Saturday night at Club Dada should be a show that no one in attendance will soon forget.
It seems the prayers of anyone wishing to get into the show last-minute (and concerns about complications arising from the excessive demand for tickets) have been answered. Shortly before 5 p.m. on Saturday, Youmans announced via Facebook that Dada will be hosting a second show for Simpson tonight:
Due to weather and overwhelming demand Sturgill Simpson will be playing TWO SHOWS tonight indoors at Dada. We will be allowing the first 400 current ticket holders entry to the early show and releasing a limited amount of additional tickets for the late show. We will offer refunds at the door to ticket purchasers who prefer not to attend the late show.
Tickets for the new show will be $15, as were the original tickets for the sold-out show. They're available at ticketfly.com. Here's the updated set times for tonight:
EARLY SHOW 08:00 - Doors 08:30 - Cris Jacobs 09:00 - Sturgill Simpson
LATE SHOW 11:00 - Doors 11:30 - Cris Jacobs 12:00 - Sturgill Simpson
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