Concert Picks for Tuesday, September 3: Botany, Prisons, and “Free Week”

A few quick notes before we get into the events worth attending this evening:

If you haven’t perused what was posted on FrontRow earlier today, then you missed another insightful review from Dick Sullivan. This time the subject was the Denton-based Satans of Soft Rock, a band fronted by Tony Ferraro, formerly of Eaton Lake Tonics. Yes, Ryan Thomas Becker is in this band as well, but Sullivan’s reviews are often better than the music he’s writing about, so I always look forward to them.

In the piece, Sullivan also mentions that some local blog cited a Satan of Soft Rock demo as one of its fifty best songs of the year, or some other equally arbitrary designation, and as insular and pointless as that all sounds. I just want to say that Sullivan’s opinion is enough for me in this instance. You can hear Satans of Soft Rock’s music here.

Next up, have you heard local rapper, Lord Byron? I hadn’t until I was bothered multiple times—by at least more than one trusted music-minded friend—about how I must do so at once. I was trying to do nothing over the holiday weekend related to work, but I eventually got around to this. A lot of the more ubiquitous hip hop in Dallas over the past five or so years has been indebted to the biggest acts of the early 2000s, whereas this sounds extremely current, more like the unfinished mixtapes and referentially strange social media rap of right now. There’s never a moment where I’m thinking that Lord Byron seems inspired by Outkast, who today seem like distant legends more than a recent force, great as they may have been. He even quotes Kafka:

Unsurprisingly, my favorite track so far is “Art Class,” where Byron boasts that he could:

“Toss bones in art class, while the teacher was watching/he ain’t give a f***, long as we leased him some dollars.”

Well, as a guy who was thrown out of art classes many times over the course of a decade, it is with great envy and admiration that Lord had such an easy time with his professor. I should have thought of bribing my instructors. Why didn’t I think of that? You can hear more from this upcoming artist here.

Finally, earlier today, local act, Son of Stan was featured on MTV’s MTVU site, whatever the heck that means, but I’m assuming it’s something targeting college-aged music fans. Well, how novel. They showcase the track, “Corsica (Hatchback Edit),” and just like the Fader did in regard to a sample by local artist, Botany (who we will get to later in this rundown), they compare the artist’s music to Depeche Mode. I don’t hear any Depeche Mode at all. Look, just because something has electronic beats and synths doesn’t mean it sounds like Depeche Mode, okay? They also go on to say that the track is “weird” and that “you can dance to it.” That’s a little vague but I won’t argue.

Son of Stan’s principal member, Jordan Richardson gets a lot of credit for having drummed as part of Ben Harper’s backing band, which is a decent brag if you’re at Bill’s Records (whose owner is an enormous fan), but he also drummed for Ringo Starr according to the same MTV article. Now that’s something you can be a real jerk about. Have you played bass for Paul McCartney in your lifetime? I didn’t think so.

 Here are tonight’s concerts:

Terminator 2/Ascites/Prisons/Apochrypha (Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios): If you’ve ever attended “Free Week,” you know that it can often be so rowdy and well-attended that it doesn’t really matter who is even performing. Tonight is an exception, as these groups won’t be politely asking for your attention, and will instead be the sonic equivalent of a foot on your throat, or any of the awful occurrences that reviewers use to figuratively describe music. Some people pay very good money for that, however, and these various gangs understand that perfectly. I would say don’t miss Prisons, but then again if you’re in the same building, I doubt you’ll “miss” any of this. 

Botany (Sundown at Granada): A couple of weeks ago, I talked to Botany’s lone member, Spencer Stephenson, about his upcoming full-length, as well as how that music therein might not ever be exactly what the audience will hear when he performs in the flesh. Stephenson explained his live process thusly:

“It doesn’t have to be the album, verbatim,” Stephenson said. “I prefer the live set to be its own creative, organic thing.”

Botany is seldom heard in the live setting period, so you should try to catch this rare appearance to see what the differences actually are between the recording and the performance at Sundown tonight. People still talk about his opening slot with Grizzly Bear from 2011, and I respect the fact that Stephenson isn’t consistently wearing out his welcome the way some of his peers have. His music is delightfully less direct than much of the weeknight fare at Sundown, with more emphasis on beats, samples, and effect manipulation than much of the straight-ahead rock bands who play here. This is a welcome move from both the restaurant venue and Blake Ward, who booked the show as part of his “Showdown” weekly.





Image: Botany, at the Dallas Children’s Aquarium, August 2013. Credit: Sally Glass.