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Catch Danny Brown at the Palladium, discover Tampa's Merchandise, city-savers perform at 406 Arts, and more.

Weekender: Dallas Area Concerts for April 5-8

THURSDAY

Bible Thumper/Dead Line/Volkssturm/Completely F*****/Slimelight (Queen City Hall): Quick name review on a couple of these acts: Bible Thumper: How has nobody thought of that one before? Volkssturm: You may want to reconsider. Important note and especially in Dallas proper – show must be over by midnight.

Big Bang (Beauty Bar): Sober and A.Dd+ have finally made it back from tour, and so this will be a special homecoming event. Their friends, fans, and loved ones should be prepared for plenty of road-tested inside jokes and to hear the kind of tracks you can only grow to love by spending countless hours in a van, not to mention all the confidence that comes with it. The good life, really.

Beni (Rio Room): Sydney Australia’s Beni is one-half of the duo, A Riot in Belgium, who remixed Yelle’s “À Caus’ des Garçons” a few years back. That’s reason enough to go.

Wild in the Streets (Amsterdam Bar): Wild in the Streets doesn’t often have guests, but Gabriel Mendoza will be along to help this evening.

White Denim/Soviet/Hundred Visions (Granada Theater): After catching an intimate performance with White Denim at UTD recently, I know fully understand why it was such a crime that their set was cut short at Gorilla vs Bear Fest last summer.

Jimmy LaFave/Slaid Cleaves/Eliza Gilkyson/Terri Hendrix (Kessler Theater): Some of Jimmy LaFave’s radical interpretations of Dylan and even the occasional oldie (The Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee”) make him slightly more interesting than the average singer-songwriter, and though his versions aren’t always graspable in their intent, they are pretty memorable.

I once saw him struggle through a few verses of “Positively 4th Street” (that’s a mouthful of lyrics without a single repeated line and no chorus) at Poor David’s Pub years ago in its old location. The sped-up version was still a good effort. My mom is a huge fan, and I had answered her request to attend a show in my late teens. While I was there, a drunk older woman aggressively and sloppily asked me to dance over and over, my mother’s presence be damned. That’s usually a good indicator you’re at a real roots music show. None of this precious, subversively religious music dressed up in hip clothes that all the kids are into lately, but rather real down home impropriety. It definitely added to the genuine grittiness of LaFave’s performance. The Kessler is considerably swankier than the old Poor David’s Pub, but that doesn’t mean that Graduate-type encounters like the one described above can’t still take place. A boy can dream, can’t he?

The Toadies/The Phuss/Sea Lion/Oddlot (Rockin Rodeo): This is a busy weekend for The Phuss, as this is the first of a couple of shows that will be played in conjunction with the release of their new record, which is produced by Vaden Todd Lewis of show-mates, the Toadies. The front-man also co-wrote the first single on the record, which is entitled, “The Romantic,” and it sounds indicatively like a Lewis composition: trudging, bluesy rock, with a classic “women are evil destroyers of earth and all things good” theme. To be fair, in Lewis’ take on things, he’s usually the evil one. Considering that bluesy rock has made an unlikely comeback in the charts over the past few years, there is strategically no better time for this sort of material. The Phuss also performs the next night at Lola’s.

 

FRIDAY

Ralph White (Taco Heads): What’s not to love about an unconventional multi-intstrumentalist performing in an unconventional setting? There’s everyone else in Austin, and then there’s Ralph White. Anyone can strum an acoustic and cover standards, but how many of the overcrowded scene in the capital city can masterfully play a thumb piano and perform with Jandek?

Summer Twins/Russian History Class/Peopleodian/Aaron Barker (Queen City Hall): Update: Earlier this week, someone on Twitter was coyly trying to provoke a guess as to the identity of a mystery band on this bill (Russian History Class) by “using reasonable deduction.” You can view my somewhat inappropriate response here.

As for the mystery band, I’ll go ahead and guess that it’s Soviet. They probably couldn’t advertise this show since there was also a big opening spot for White Denim in the same week. Venues and talent buyers aren’t always overly excited when a band plays back-to-back shows in the same town. I could be completely wrong about all of this.

Lastly, I want to add that having a band who performs music as breezy and light as Summer Twins, contrasted by the gritty Queen City backdrop should make for an excellent and fascinating way to spend a Friday night.

Merchandise/Vulgar Fashion/Visual Aids/Bloodwitch (Lion’s Den): Someone passed along a video from Tampa’s Merchandise yesterday, and though it was pretty good, it led to an online quest to see what else they had to offer. After stumbling upon the video for “I Locked the Door,” (from their 2010 split-release on Katorga Works) it was quickly apparent that this wasn’t just a band that threw together some easily attainable hallmark sounds from the worlds of the dually abused genres of post-punk and shoegaze. Even typing those two is a chore.

Merchandise has genuine melodic chops, and even if one stripped away the drum machine and the intentionally haphazard-sounding tangle of distortion over it, the songs would still work as a bare and attractive exercise in melodrama. Have a chamber pop group perform this material and it would soar, though the fans that would show up would be unbearable. A wonderfully devil-may-care trio of bands round out the bill.

Dust Congress/Ulna/Cerlean Gaillo (Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios): Opening for the exhibition entitled, “Not Tex Not Mex,” by the Futuro Primitivo collective. Curated by Nevada Hill and featuring a variety of Portugese artists.

Ulna is a new duo featuring musicians Darcy Neal and Lily Taylor. Though Taylor says the band is still in a “gestation period,” she describes the music so far as “Very ambient, textured, dreamy.”

 

SATURDAY

Flatworld/Michael Hightower/Thomas (The Crown and Harp): What’s going on with that recently renovated little strip of Greenville between Billiard Bar and Crown and Harp lately? It just doesn’t seem to be as crawling with nightlife as it used to. When I ask around, I actually hear sentiments such as, “They ruined it.” “It’s too clean.”  “There’s parking now. Ew.”

I actually love the doubly-damned-if-you-do mentality prevalent in Dallas. You have to. That sounds insincere. I promise that it’s not.

So, I’m mentioning this event because I’m curious about a band that plays out locally quite a bit, but one I’ve never really previewed. You see, last week, I thought I was harmlessly joking about what was written on a show flier, and instead, all hell broke loose. The band has a dedicated fan-base. This isn’t an attempt to poke a hornet’s nest with every unturned stone of a band in town. Sometimes the artists that are easiest to see are the hardest to know. Who are the three acts playing this show?

A few listens to Flatworld and one thing stands out: It’s riff after riff after riff. Fast riffs. Slower, sadder riffs. And everything in between. I sometimes forget that there are still bands like this, riffing away endlessly in the clubs of the city. There’s no way to really know, but Flatworld sounds like a bunch of nice guys, even when they’re rocking. Nice guys do what they love and play every club in the city, even on weeknights. Unfortunately we live in times where such workmanlike behavior is increasingly less rewarded. As a great poet once said, “Things done changed.”

Away from the Numbers (Fallout Lounge): Guest this evening is Leslie Smithson.

Alvin Fielder/Yells at Eels (406 Arts): Last September, FrontRow posted about the excellent home movie of jazz drummer Alvin Fielder performing with members of Yells at Eels and had this to say about the collaboration:

So there you have it, just something to revert to the next time you’re tempted to casually write-off Dallas as a cultural wasteland.

Tonight you’ll have an opportunity to see these life-affirming, city-saving forces in the flesh. I noticed last weekend that 406 Arts is just down the block from the Oliver Francis Gallery, which makes one wonder what this area could look like in a few short years.

Childish Gambino/Danny Brown (The Palladium): If novelty rap performed by celebrities isn’t your thing, then get here early for Danny Brown. He pretty much saved that one soggy Saturday at 35 Denton by putting on a performance that we’re all still talking about.

Pontiak/True Widow (LaGrange): There is something to be said for unbridled nerdiness. Pontiak has been active for half-a-dozen years now, and their current bio from the Thrill Jockey website unnecessarily lists all of their instruments down to the make, model, and year. It also reveals that the trio of brothers recorded their newest record in their “farm studio in the heart of Virginia.” Uh oh. “Farm studio” bands on Thrill Jockey could be potential instrumental snore-fests.

There’s also this gem:

They found a Soundcraft 6000 24 track analog mixing board for sale on an exotic animal compound in Arkansas.

Huh? This has to be a parody. But then listening to Pontiak’s music suggests that a lot of the nuance implied by this gear info is unfounded. Thrill Jockey sound like a pretty straight-forward and rhythmically powerful psych rock band, with a hook here or there to keep things from getting too overly cerebral. True Widow is a perfect companion piece for the evening.

Peopleodian/Deep Snapper/Old Snack/Two Knights (Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios): Solid lineup for this benefit show, which is one in a series of events on behalf of Fight for Maddie. More info available here.

SUNDAY

Lost Generation (Arcade Bar): The debate rages on: What’s the best Dallas spot on a Sunday night? It’s been between this and the Goat, according to a completely informal and science-free debate raging via my text messages of late. Which reminds me that you should head here and make your voice heard.

Image: Danny Brown