The Relatives, Pleasant Grove, Seryn Dallas City Performance Hall Friday, September 14
There was a moment backstage at the Dallas City Performance Hall on Friday night, when we were being led stage left before the 10 p.m. show started. We got a little lost, went into the wrong room, couldn't find the door to the stage. It was one of those Spinal Tap moments, but the opening night of a new venue should always be filled with those little hiccups of unpredictability.
Earlier in the evening, Sarah Jaffe's 7p.m. opening slot, which included a simmering cover of Tears For Fears' "Head Over Heels," served as a warm-up for the night's main Triple Play event, but also pointed to the cross-over DCPH hopes to make within the music community. Beyond the smaller theater, dance and arts groups they hope to host, there is the question of whether local and national acts could fill the 750-seat venue.
Despite a few sounds issues here and there, The Relatives' set found its groove mid-way through, and "What's Wrong With America?" and "Walkin' On" sounded divine. It was during the extended breakdown of "Don't Let Me Fall" that the group's gospel-funk energy took hold: Singer Tommy West led the entire crowd in a collective side-to-side sweep, then a jump-along. More importantly, it put them in front of an audience that may not have typically come to see them: Their hometown crowd.
Next, Pleasant Grove's reunion set started in almost complete darkness, which would set the tone for their country lullabies. Having never seen Pleasant Grove in their heyday or heard them on record, their music was completely new. The sound fared better for them, as Marcus Striplin and Bret Egner's perfect harmonies eyed each other like estranged lovers, and Joe Butcher's pedal steel caressed every soft angle of the hall. The somnambulant nod of their songs worked best when building up to something voluminous, as on "Only a Mountain."
Denton's Seryn took the stage just past midnight, and put the opening night to bed with their own folk lullabies. What will take place in the Dallas City Performance Hall in the next six months or year will be interesting to see and can't be quantified just yet, but on Friday, at least, three decades of Dallas music stood on that stage.