Black Friday (Fallout Lounge)
Beth Orton (Dan’s Silverleaf): I noticed that Beth Orton’s music has been described as “Folktronica,” and all this time I thought it was Dallas’ own Ishi that invented that amusingly-titled genre. Of course, Orton is the truest example of this dubious distinction. She has toured with Lilith Fair and working with the phenomenal finger-picking Bert Jansch, and she has also collaborated with The Chemical Brothers and William Orbit, while releasing albums on Astralwerks. Ishi, on the other hand, has very little to do with the tag, and after catching some news recaps of this month’s Super Bowl, I realized that Ishi is actually Dallas’ answer to The Black Eyed Peas. You’re welcome.
Kidding aside, it will probably be a thrill for many die-hard fans to see Orton in such a small venue.
Diamond Age/The Flowers Of God (Pastime Tavern): Aptly booked show featuring many seasoned veterans; or active musicians with histories that predate even the now seemingly hoary blog era. Indeed, I occasionally get nostalgic for the days when a sound guy at Trees would make fun of a band like Mandarin for not showing up on time and claiming that people from Denton were “too indie to have cell phones.” Those were different times.
The Flowers of God has had an understandable amount of attention paid to them, since they include at least one member of Lift To Experience, and North Texas has grappled with its musical identity ever since Josh Pearson started hanging out in Europe and coming off as if he spent more time in an open pasture or barren desert as opposed to Quick Trip and Cool Beans. Europeans often still have a laughable understanding of Texas, so they provide rather easily wool-able eyes. But this isn’t about Pearson, or even Lift To Experience, and that’s probably for the best. It’s time to let go and start the healing process.
Whatever cosmic aspirations Andy Young’s former group had have all been abandoned with a sound that is extremely grounded. This is a project much more prone to strumming clank as opposed to swirling guitar-pedal effected molestation. There is a personal and direct feel to tracks like “Tunnelvisionary” which seemed to get just as play in the press for the inclusion of Sarah Jaffe’s guest vocal as much as any of Young’s associations. Jaffe is tellingly better here, blended in without upsetting any of the song’s overall balance. But it’s often impressive how much better singer-songwriters are in the context of having to work with others.
Young sometimes sounds a little like Bill Callahan and that’s probably due to the fact that they are likely influenced by similar rock records featuring weary protagonists. So far The Flowers Of God is a pleasant surprise, one that reflects the maturity of its principal songwriter, rather than, like so many credentialed musicians, simply out-of-touch.
The always interesting Matt Leer (formerly of the previously mentioned Mandarin) will be also be performing in his complex one-man project, The Diamond Age, and this clip from a performance at the Kessler demonstrates just how much trouble he goes through to pull the music off live. Leer is also a contributor to the intelligently discerning Bird And Whale blog, and his mixes are a good way to either gain insight into why he’s one of the elite musicians not making terribly predicable music in DFW, or to smirk in recognition if you are already own much of this stuff. Perhaps that’s why I’m slightly biased.
Sebadoh/Quasi (The Granada): It’s a disappointing revelation that the most recent Sebadoh lineup doesn’t include Eric Gaffney, which only means that none of the flawless material he wrote for the group will be represented. That makes this a somewhat less essential and less significant trip for the trio, and Dallas has hosted plenty of those over the years. This tour is in support of the respective reissues of Bakesale and Harmacy, which are the two records that watered down the band’s sound while simultaneously ensuring at least a few appearances on after-hours MTV rotation, essential to any above-ground prominence at the time. But this tour and these reissues may bring a sinking feeling to some older music fans. I’ll sum it up with this: Q: “You know how to tell when you’ve spent too much time as a music fan?” A: “They start reissuing albums that weren’t even that great.” Both records have their moments, and the once-quiet Jason Lowenstein tends to dominate both albums with plenty of convincingly furious rock songs, but Sebadoh is stuck between never being as weirdly messy and cool as they were after 1993’s Bubble and Scrape, and though they developed a pretty fanatical following, they were never as cutely smug as Pavement, something that endeared that group to a stronger audience over the decades. It’s fitting that they’re playing the same weekend as one of their biggest inspirations, in the Swans, but it’s a shame that Sebadoh never quite achieved the same consistency as some of their influential peers.
Tapes ‘n Tapes (Good Records): Free performance at 3:00 P.M.
Tapes ‘n Tapes/Oberhofer/Les Americans (The Loft): At this point, Tapes ‘n Tapes seems like a relic off a different time, when the entire novelty of blogs and social media had just started to write the new rules of the music industry. Unfortunately for the group, this is could very well be just excessive cultural baggage, and I wouldn’t blame them for feeling like a footnote in the often unforgiving world of New Media’s contemporary history. One of the most remarkable things about going back to review some of the music that made Tapes ‘n Tapes so ubiquitous is how much it doesn’t really reflect any sort of “sound,” because blogs hadn’t entirely become associated with any particular trend yet. They just sound like an average rock band (erroneously compared to the Pixies when they have much more in common with a Frank Black western-themed solo outing); one that could have existed anywhere from 1995 to 2006, but the difference being that many average rock bands that came and went in that time didn’t have a brand new army of advocates whose medium was stealing entire skies of thunder from the message. Which may have been bad for the major labels, but has obviously benefited many of us. Tapes ‘n Tapes are almost martyr-like in this regard, a band that was broadly appealing enough to test the waters of innovative communication, even if it didn’t eventually equal true-star status. Thanks, guys.
Stone Temple Pilots (Winstar Casino): I really want someone to come up with three reasons why they would want to see this show take place here. You can only hope that for one night only patrons can win something from The Scott Weiland Collection in lieu of cash money. See that, Kurt? If you had only stuck around, you too could have your own tacky clothing line. Can we go ahead and start calling the Everlong Blazer in Silver the “Alternatux?” Kurt, you could have had it all.
Swans/Wooden Wand (South Side Music Hall): I previewed this show as “essential” for Front Row last month, and I’m still even anxious with anticipation even though I’ve already seen it. As I mentioned previously I went to New York specifically just to see the Swans “reconstitution,” and now that the experience is over, I know it was the right decision. It was probably the best show I saw for the entire calendar year 2010, and you could probably even through ’09 and ’08 in there as well and the statement would still be true. I’ve been hearing some suggest that this won’t be all that different from Michale Gira’s other project, Angels Of Light, and I can tell you that is simply not true, as the group tore through early material with an intensity that just doesn’t seem possible with Angels of Light, even if they share some of the same members. That’s not to put a value judgment on either act, they are just simply different, which seemed to be the whole point of this reunion in the first place. Here’s hoping that South Side Music Hall can come close to matching the overwhelming acoustic space of where the first reunion show was held, at a masonic temple in Brooklyn; a tall order yes, but Gira’s commitment to detail will probably overcome any physical imperfections from space-to-space. By proving that they are every bit as powerful as they were in 1982, and with a body of work that includes everything from darkly beautiful avant-folk to despairingly ugly No Wave (and uniformly striking artwork for literally every release ), Swans might very well be one of the most complete acts in the history of popular music. Don’t miss this.
Capitalist Kids/The Others/Collick/Special Guest/KO49 (Pizza House located at 1921 Hemphill in Fort Worth): It’s odd to see a space listed with this address since this is obviously right next to 1919 Hemphill, so perhaps this part of South Fort Worth is on the verge of a brand new entertainment district now that it has two venues right next to one another. Though this area is technically Fort Worth’s “uptown,” (though it’s south of downtown) it’s going to need a new name rather than that inaccurate distinction or “The Hospital District” or any other unappealing nicknames. All of the ones I came up with are plays on all-ages shows or anti-DIY in-jokes, so perhaps someone else has a better suggestion. Either way, that entire area is one of the best kept secrets in The Metroplex.
D.R.I./Hoodrat/Secret Soziety/Bombing Ibiza (Trees): I have no idea at the current live quality of Houston’s own D.R.I., but I would make every effort to go if I were promised the show would be half as good as this.
Photo: Aftermath from the Swans show at The Brooklyn Masonic Temple. Photo by Andreas Lenz. Courtesy of Andreas Lenz.