Dick Dale/The Monco Poncho/Exit 380 (Trees): Dick Dale, wow, what a national treasure. At least that’s what I actually told the “King of the Surf Guitar” after seeing him perform at Curtain Club about fourteen years ago. He seemed surprised. I was a teenager, cut me some slack. Okay, it’s still one of the dorkiest things I’ve ever done. But Dale is incredible. He’s been playing aggressive surf music for over fifty years, and is still a very convincing live act, often employing much, much younger rhythm sections who can barely keep up. Fifty years. That’s hard to fathom, and everyone needs to see this man perform just once.
Dale was originally raised in Boston, (Quincy, specifically, which has been home to another influential guitarist), and it’s good that he got out when did, as Boston’s beaches aren’t exactly associated with surfing. Though Revere (America’s first public beach) is a nice place to be cold and pensive.
He was also once famously either insulted, or paid tribute to, by Jimi Hendrix, on “Third Stone from the Sun,” when Hendrix mutters the line about how you’ll “never hear the surf music again.” That’s the compliment of a lifetime in any case. National treasure, indeed.
Alejandro Escovedo/Doug Burr (Kessler Theater): Beloved Austin artist Alejandro Escovedo had the privilege of sharing the stage (not to mention the cover of the Austin Chronicle) with Bruce Springsteen during South by Southwest recently, which got me to thinking: If Dallas had a festival of this magnitude and Springsteen performed, who is our flagship singer songwriter worthy of sharing the stage with the Boss? Is it Escovedo’s fellow performer on this bill, Doug Burr? Would it be Sarah Jaffe? Brent Best? Best is actually a good option, considering he takes a lot of influence from an aesthetically grittier canon, which Springsteen obviously respects. Speaking of which, I was recently asked by a rather extreme musician if I thought it was strange that she liked “Dancing in the Dark.” Here’s how it went:
-”Is it bad that I secretly think ‘Dancing in the Dark’ is a good song?”
-”No, it’s fine! That’s funny however, because I always think of how much you hate him, and have spent time pointing out his ridiculous solo in the ‘We are the World’ video.”
-”It’s such a good song. And “Because the Night” is one of my favorite Patti Smith songs. That’s what I know of him.”
-”Yeah, and he also wrote “Hungry Heart” for the Ramones. And covered Suicide…
-”He’s not ‘The Boss.’ Just some guy that gets it right sometimes.”
Agreed. And I just want to add that it’s pretty kind of Austin to be so good to Escovedo for so long, especially by having him close the festival every year.
Reverend Horton Heat/Missile (Dan’s Silver Leaf): Two faces of popular Dallas music, from yesterday and today. The Reverend’s fierce live reputation put Dallas on the map with “psychobilly” fans at least, though the word-of-mouth went beyond just those circles. Missile is quite different musically, but it could be argued that the two groups at least share a fondness for mid-2oth Century ideals of male toughness and bravado, whether it be in the form of throwback apparel or copious amounts of hair product. For more on Dallas’ live reputation, see the Akkolyte/Garuda show listed below.
Flight Facilities (Rio Room): The dangerously glossy Australian “nu disco” act, Flight Facilities, will actually have the singer from one of their recent singles, fellow Australian Jess Higgs, to perform live with them this evening. The music video for said single, “Foreign Language,” is one of the most ambitious music videos I’ve seen since MTVs video twilight of two decades ago, which, oddly enough, was also obsessed with 1970s cultural references.
Bowerbirds/Dry the River (The Loft): I recently had the Bowerbirds’ promotional clip for their track “Tuck the Darkness In,” playing in the background with the actual video covered up by various other tabs I was working on at the time. The preciousness of the ably constructed indie folk created some mental imagery that I felt would be confirmed by actually watching the video, and upon further inspection it was. A shy looking kid with a silly animal hat is seemingly obsessed with animals (in case you couldn’t tell by the hat), so he “rescues” a fish from the supermarket and releases it into the ocean. This kid seems miserable and really needs someone to straighten out his priorities.
It all looks and feels like Wes Anderson outtakes, particularly the director’s newest film, which seems especially child-centric. If I ever get the chance to speak to Anderson, I’m going to ask him why he ruined the idea of childhood for an entire generation.
But this video is very well-made and so is the music. If you’re into serious sentiments politely expressed over lush arrangements, you will love Bowerbirds (maybe you already do). But you also may have heard how I feel about animal hats. This music is perfectly fine. I can just especially confirm now that I will never let my theoretical kids wear animal costumes outside of the house. It’s just not conducive to normal social development.
The Night Game Cult/Able Youth/Juve/Gavin Guthrie & DJ G (Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios): As a release party for the release of the second issue of the Denton-produced Overrated zine, this is quietly one of the best shows of the week. When the Night Game visited from Portland last summer, it was quite the event locally. However, now that it is a North Texas-based entity again, that won’t dull the impact. Night Game shows are always an event.
Stewart Copeland (Owen Arts Center at SMU): What is this multi-talented composer and drummer up to this year? Last year it was an Indonesian gamelan-inspired concerto commissioned by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and he memorably compared himself to a particular wild animal when I asked about the difference between composing and rock drumming:
Well, they’re very different and they, to a large extent, don’t overlap. When I’m playing rock music, particularly when I’m playing my drums, I am a silverback gorilla, a primate banging on things and swinging through the trees, and it’s not an intellectual exercise. The composer dude is somebody else. It’s just two different mindsets. My daddy raised me to be a jazz musician, which is why I’m kind of allergic to jazz these days. My mother, meanwhile, always listened to Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky, and so on. That’s always been drifting around in my head, even as I was playing power chords with a punk band and hating the world.
I still get a kick out of quoting that, so thanks, Mr. Copeland. As it turns out, this is a lecture and not a live performance, which is fine since his candidness is a suitable substitute for his music in terms of sheer entertainment value. For more info, and to reserve a free ticket, call: 214-768-2787.
Glamorama (Beauty Bar): You have to love the self-deprecation of a DJ admitting that he’ll be playing “a little bit of cheesy eighties bulls***,” as Glamorama’s Blake Ward did in the promotional material for this weekly. He’ll be accompanied by an artist who has been spinning records since before that oft-tackled decade even existed. Seriously, decorated Dallas vet “Wild” Bill Stanley has been doing this since the Seventies—you’ll get quite the history lesson along with the cheese. And unless you’re vegan, a little of that never hurt anybody.
Dove Hunter/Aaron Barker (The Foundry): Dove Hunter member Chad DeAtley blew my local music mind by admitting the following in a comment on the Facebook invite:
We hunt with doves, like most do with bloodhounds. We are pro-dove all the way.
That has completely shattered the mental image long associated with this respected Dallas rock institution. DeAtley also says that he has a hatred for invites, and “hates Facebook,” so this is an apology ahead of time for hustling a quote from both.
Aeroplane (Rio Room): Continuing in Rio Room’s series over three consecutive days, simply billed as “Big Week,” is the popular Italian/Belgian producer Aeroplane, who has reworked the likes of Grace Jones and Sebastien Tellier. And with two names as wildly different and yet reliably good as those, that’s all you need to know, at least as far as curatorial purposes are concerned.
Rotting Out/Focused X Minds/Power Trip/Hands of the Few (Queen City Hall): You know what’s great about the underground? Occasionally you send a call for help out into the wider world, and sometimes the call is answered. Los Angeles band Rotting Out needed a place to shower this morning, as they were driving all night to Texas after their performance in Gallup, New Mexico. Within two minutes, the call is heeded, and the group is clean enough to “rage” in Midland this evening, ahead of their Dallas show. It kind of makes you feel a little less alone out there, doesn’t it? Come rage with the group and offer them a place to shower on Friday night.
Frankie Rose/Dive/Lonesome Ghost/The Vliets (Club Dada): Having done time in garage pop acts such as Vivian Girls and Dum Dum Girls, Frankie Rose sounds pretty much liked you’d expect from a solo artist with that specific of a track record — like a slightly cleaned-up version of the sounds on which those groups made their name. It’s probably a bit too obvious of a comparison, but the transition that Holly Golightly made out of Thee Headcoatees comes to mind. Then again, Rose has kick-started her solo phase with a single called, “Thee Only One,” so perhaps the comparison isn’t entirely unfair. What is it with garage-rockers and the word “thee?”
School of Seven Bells/Air Review/Calhoun/The Angelus/Skeleton Coast (Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth): It’s good to see the Angelus on this bill, as Air Review and Calhoun must be a little worn-out as safe go-to acts for any event that’s expected to draw well. Their moodiness is also an appropriate accompaniment to the headliner, that would be School of Seven Bells, who surprisingly won me over at last year’s Homegrown fest in Downtown Dallas. I had the following to say about the band at the time:
Now was I expecting to be hanging out high above the Main Steet Garden Park in the Indigo Hotel, watching some hard working band pre-game it with some plastic cup Mexican Screwdrivers (courtesy of the Homegrown staff) while the sounds of School Of Seven Bells bounced off of the skyscrapers downtown? I was not. “Sounds just like the Cocteau Twins,” someone noticed. But that quickly turned into a joke about how the Twins must have recorded all of their albums outdoors, in between enormous buildings. And though it was a joke, a point was inadvertently proven as well; this seemed to be working. I’m not necessarily the world’s biggest School Of Seven Bells fan, but they were aided and abetted by the surroundings and format of the festival…
So it sounds like the group’s charms were magnified by Homegrown setting. While that may be true, it looks like they’ll still have the same advantage on this trip, since the Modern is pretty much the perfect environment in which to see a film, see an exhibition, have a meal, or watch a band. So, they got lucky again. Never underestimate the power of a hotshot booking agent.
Finally, Fort Worth’s Skeleton Coast made me feel pretty threatened in their press release, by stating the following regarding the meaning of a particular song:
Some of the tunes have a barbed message –– “A Critic Not a Writer” is about hipsters (and possibly some music scribes) who diss music they know nothing about…
Easy, fellas! One at a time, one target at a time. Do you hate “hipsters?” You don’t want to attack them, or at least the idea of them. After all, who do you expect to buy your records or actually attend your shows? You think your sensitive shoegaze band can make it to the top on fratboy dollars alone? That’s not how music works. Or do you hate “critics?” Would-be “writers?” All of the above? We work with what we have, and that’s up to you. So what do we have? We have a band that mentions both Roy Orbison and Modest Mouse in their press-kit, and I’ll give you one guess as to whom Skeleton Coast has more in common with. Actually the one track featured on their page, entitled “Young,” is completely unoffensive indie guitar rock, mid-tempo and with a haze over the instruments and vocals that adds to rather than diminishes the overall effect. These guys should give themselves a break, as they certainly don’t have much to preemptively strike their potential critics over. Their music is already better than most of their competition.
Garuda/Venomous Maximus/Akkolyte (Double Wide): This is the first time that twin hardcore powers Garuda and Akkolyte have shared a stage in some time, and since then, they have both done their respective cities proud (Garuda from Fort Worth, and Akkolyte from Dallas) by not embarrassing their hometowns. So, make it out to show them a little appreciation. I would much rather claim these two bands than so many others when I’m in say, Austin, or Chicago, or New York. Actually, let’s not even get into that canned-worm conversation. It’s too early.
Waters (Good Records): Free event starts at 2 pm.
Erykah Badu (Rio Room): Even with a premium ticket price, I still get the feeling this will easily sell out. It’s a private performance that acts as the after-party to the DMA Art Ball. Does anyone need a “plus one?”
Cursive/Cymbals Eat Guitars/Conduits (Trees): It’s been a huge month for post hardcore/emo era nostalgia, so why not keep it going? Well, I can think of plenty of reasons, however, Cursive has at least been active for most of the past seventeen years, and that’s probably a big factor in why their sound has never suffered from the same sort of shelf-life decay that has afflicted their histrionic-prone peers.