What separates a local act from a national one? Often, it’s all in the voice. As I sat far from the stage, mesmerized by the faux fireplace at Crown and Harp—after taking up my editor’s suggestion to cover music without “covering” it—I noticed the immense difference between Dallas openers Spookeasy and Colleen Green, who is currently based in West Los Angeles. Green records for Sub Pop’s Hardly Art imprint, making her a label-mate of the former North Texas band, Fergus and Geronimo.
Spook Easy almost strains their collective back as they tumble through back-and-forth Bo Diddley progressions (forgive me, I just noticed they have a song called “Bo Deadly“), along with more sophisticated attempts at attitude-heavy, but affected pop (“I’m Tired”). The band fills every space with as much Korg synthesizer and projectively atmospheric yet sensible guitar as they possibly can. The singing, both from Stephanie Burns and Logan Kelson, is a push and a shove respectively. This band is not shy. They are clamoring for your attention, but is that they only way?
Colleen Green takes the stage with scant accompaniment. She is joined by a bass player with sunglasses and a drum machine that doesn’t always do what it’s told. The moment they start to warm up, you hear that special quality that often comes only with touring, and almost never with voice lessons, or playing the same bar too many times in a single summer. It’s this perfectly clear sound that is able to circumvent one of the most notoriously prickly sound-systems in the city. Call it professionalism, but of course, indie rock in its origins is something that is only bettered by subjecting oneself to rather awful dungeons the world over.
By pulling back, Green and her bassist are able to be heard with so much more force than at least two different four-piece bands (the aforementioned Spook Easy and War Party) I saw elsewhere that evening. Here’s hoping that Green never replaces that drum machine with a human being; it’s one of the biggest advantages she has in the uniqueness of her music versus the endlessly dumb thudding of some of her more famous contemporaries.
On the last song, she does away with both the robot and the fellow human, and instead performs alone. It was a moment similar to seeing Greg Cartwright willfully lose some of his band for his final number in Denton earlier this Spring. That’s another artist who knows better than go into a full shout when a whisper will do. It’s a cliche, but it’s wise to embrace the right cliche when it’s well done.
Unfortunately, I missed the Fungi Girls set, so they were spared here. But they already know all of this, and they are always great, so it’s no issue. —Christopher Mosley