Blue. the Misfit, 2014. Photo: Andi Harman

2014 in Review Part III: Dallas Arts Facilitators Speak

A staggering amount of opinions on the arts from the people who run the show and get the message out.

For our year in review, we asked over 55 Dallas artists, musicians, radio personalities, and general arts facilitators to weigh on their favorite concerts, records, and events from 2014. Some people gave it to us straight and some pondered at length what the year meant to them. I enjoyed the diversity in responses so they’re all included here, mostly uncut. These are the people who make it happen and/or chronicle what they see and hear—from journalists and writers to social media promoters to those doing the actual booking:

Trang Nguyen

(The Granada Theater)

Five Concerts:

1. Caribou & Jessy Lanza, The Mohawk
I had Our Love on repeat for about 2 months before seeing it in live form. I nearly missed Jessy Lanza’s set because of standstill Dallas to Austin traffic down I-35S. Nonetheless, the show was fantastic and when Dan Snaith did a recorder solo, I lost it.
2. Blood Orange, The Ace Hotel
In addition to kicking off our FYF weekend at this gorgeous venue, the show was quite the spectacle, which was a forecast of how the rest of the weekend would be.
3. Anamanaguchi, UT Dallas
This was the last show I’d put together on campus before I bid adieu to Radio UTD, something I deemed as my “bae” and a major part of my life for 4 years. This was also the second time I crowdsurfed. We ended the night at 6AM eating GAPCO pizza where I deliriously saw a cloud that was in the shape of Lisa Simpson’s head.
4. Sophie, Vulcan Gas Company
So. Much. Dancing.
5. Disclosure, House of Blues
Also. So. Much. Dancing.

Honorable mentions: Le1f, Moogfest; Gorilla vs. Bear 4, Granada Theater; Angel Olsen, Three Links; Brand New, Verizon Theatre; Tinariwen, Fun Fun Fun Fest.

Five Records:

1. Future – Honest
2. Hundred Waters – The Moon Rang Like A Bell
3. Caribou – Our Love
4. Arca – Xen
5. Rich Gang – Lifestyle
(If you’ve hung out with me once in the past 2 months, this song would’ve popped up in the conversation somehow).
Honorable mention: Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Events:

1. Anamanaguchi, UT Dallas
The rain that day fatefully led us to move the show to the Art Barn, my favorite gem of a building on campus. To our surprise, the event helped prompt the beginning of the #SaveTheArtBarn movement among the campus and Dallas communities, which has so far prolonged the life of the space indefinitely.
2. Second City 55th Anniversary Show, Dallas City Performance Hall
3. Serial Listening Party, Sundown at Granada rooftop

Jessica Roberts

(At&t Performing Arts Center, Writer)

2014 – Five (Okay, Seven) Concerts of the Year

2014 felt like the year of lessons. That temperature can be a tad bleak for day-to-day life but it’s fertile for cultural output. Thankfully, Dallas rarely saw a weekend that didn’t host a cultural icon of some kind – in some cases more than once throughout the year. From underground house show to Clear Channel pin-up queens the cathartic experience live music can provide meant Dallas music audiences had more than one place to process all that 2014 brought with it.

The most cathartic experience, for me, came via Killer Mike and El-P’s rap duo Run The Jewels stop at Tree’s in November. Trees held the capacity crowd but could barely contain the energy of an audience being reminded just how articulate, and maybe even fun, rebellion can be. Standout single, Lie, Cheat, Steal takes on an unfortunately prophetic tone as we end the year but good on those who got to hear the message direct from the prophet’s mouths.

New York rapper and producer Le1f ‘s stop at the Double Wide via Red Bull Sound Select was a satisfying lesson in living up to your hype. His deep bass voice sounded like it was melting out of the sound system and his ability to start a party was undeniable. Dallas party kids jumped on stage more than once and were met with barely a blink as he easily made friends and delivered tongue-twisting phrases simultaneously. It was a rowdy night, but I can’t remember a show I attended in 2014 that felt more joyful.

The spotlight on excellent producers continues to grow brighter and many touring their own work and remixes as openers are very quietly stealing the show altogether. LA producer and DJ TOKiMONSTA did just that as opener for Chromeo at House of Blues. Previewing tracks from her September release Desiderium in addition to her earlier work and remixes proved that you don’t need more than your decks to be more compelling than the headliner.

Another opening set that left me wanting more this year was Dallas-based producer John Congleton and The Nighty Nite’s recent November appearance at Dan’s Silverleaf. An alluring counterbalance to Sarah Jaffe’s strong headlining performance, Congleton provided a startling reminder of his singularity. Intense and almost unsettling; treat yourself to Congleton’s lovely brand of darkness whenever you get the rare opportunity. This bill was a treat.

Other notable evenings include MØ’s October performance in the intimate Cambridge Room where she brought the kind of youthful physicality to her live show that makes adults nervous. tUnE-yArDs at the Granada was an impactful reminder that having perfect pitch is better than not having it.

Lastly, the DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist Renegades of Rhythm September stop was part lecture, part time travel and part vinyl exhibition as they presented a stirring set utilizing Afrika Bambaataa’s original vinyl collection. Bambaataa’s role as a pioneer has already been qualified but in Shadow and Cut Chemist’s hands we were all reintroduced to the muscle music has to hearten revolution, connect us to parts of the world we can hear, even when we cannot see and the immediate intimacy that only comes from dancing together.

2014 – The Albums and The Singles

In our current climate, the single rules; in this state, a strong coherent album stands out. The album must have context, the commitment from its creators to bring something long-form to fruition so that the sum is greater than it’s individual parts.

Which should not take away the use of the single, the single is concise and to the point. Timely.. I’ll assume you have heard what they say about time and place.

This year there are three artist’s works I keep returning to in their entirety:

St. Vincent – St. Vincent
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels and Run the Jewels 2
D’Angelo – Black Messiah

These albums sonically have little in common, but I love the same things about each of them. Each artist sounds more distinctive and less like their influences than ever before, all carving themselves an artistic space that no one else could dare occupy. St. Vincent and Run the Jewels 1 & 2 largely take me to places of contemplation without getting me down, both artists seem to be reacting to a world they largely see before the rest of us.

D’Angelo’s Black Messiah is the ideal final act to that listening experience as he brings listeners back to our imperfect earth. Black Messiah’s political stamina married with its ability express the healing power of love and epiphany begs me to wonder what could occur if more artists put more time between their releases.

These albums and their cohesive statements will stand on their own beyond 2014; it is the singles from the year that excite me about the places we may see pop music go aesthetically in the short-term future.

Spacey, avant-garde R&B has been evolving at a steady pace with artists like Little Dragon (whose 2014 contributions are notable themselves) long leading the charge. This evolution largely hit an apex with FKA Twigs release of her stylish single “Two Weeks.” Notable companions in this movement include MØ’s dreamy and wise “Pilgrim” and Mapei’s addictive, “Don’t Wait.”

Filtered through a more palatable and radio-friendly filter Tinashe takes my prize for most addictive single with “2 On” a collaboration with Schoolboy Q. Plus, Tinashe regularly withstands my personal test of making me feel cool while driving in my (uncool) car.

In terms of palatable female R&B voices none got more recognition than Jhené Aiko, appearing on countless hooks and releasing a fine, if predictable, album amidst her recent rise in popularity. If, however, you were sometimes bored by the prettiness of Aiko’s sound, her sister Mila J released a confident single with “Smoke, Drink, Break-Up,” a swagger-y meditation of the hot and cold of a doomed relationship. Mila J’s producer and Night Slugs co-founder, L-Vis 1990 continues to shape artists in this genre and with Mila J hits a pleasing cross section of pop appeal and the grimy, futuristic sound he continues to shape.

I’d also just like to state my public support for Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj collaborations. And I hope they become a rap duo in 2015.

Five (or so) Miscellaneous Art Events I’ve Enjoyed this Year

House of Plates
House of Plates has still not conceded much in the way of mystery. The House of Plates website is updated infrequently, all of their events are very dimly lit and there has yet to be a succinct answer to the question, “What is House of Plates?”

This doesn’t stop them from throwing the most memorable parties in the city, year after year. This Summer’s House of Plates‘ Hideout: Discotheque & Market took over the under-utilized Bath House Cultural Center for an evening of music, shopping and food. As attendees made their way to the underground entrance they were faced with a grass beach butting up against White Rock Lake and a hazy view of the Dallas skyline. Here, we all wondered why hadn’t met at the water before? Bathed in moonlight and a steady breeze we realized how much we were, perhaps, taking our little lake for granted.

This fall the House of Plates team continued to satisfy curious fans at Nighthawks, a Blade Runner inspired dinner party in collaboration with chef Chad Houser’s Café Momentum. Two hours before dinner, guests were sent directions to meet at the top of the Bank of America tower downtown. A path of masked dancers, candlelight and the tight-lipped staff paved the path to an interactive three-hour dinner.

Mystery is not underrated. The proof is in the plates.

The Eye Ball + That That Afterparty

The Eye Ball was a surreal ending to 2014’s Dallas Art Fair. Those who found their way to the home base lawn of Tony Tasset’s sculpture The Eye were greeted by beautiful models with eyes covered in fringe and bartenders painted in cubist forms. Artist and DJ Andrew Kuo kept the music in a groovy wheelhouse, The Eye’s maker Tasset roamed the grounds along with Richard Phillips, Kenny Goss and a guest list of artists, designers and out-of-towners taking in the bombast of it all. A gallerist from New Mexico introduced himself to me in the Joule’s sculpture garden to wonder, “Why are there so many cars in front of your galleries?” I didn’t dare tell him all the other places cars are displayed.

From the outside, binoculars perched in the garden wall separating the party from Main Street took the voyeurism theme to its most tremendous extreme. After a week discerning the paintings, sculptures and installations of other’s works, The Eye Ball was a fitting place to book end all the observing. Like some sacrifice to the senses, after a week spent looking, it felt proper to finish the week being unmistakably looked at.

Later, Erin Wasson would host an after-party at That That, where Samantha McCurdy, one of That That’s curators and founders was the picture of hospitality as she welcomed one and all into her and artist Alexander Dejulio’s studio space. We were there for a party but it did feel clever to end the Dallas Art Fair in the studio of McDurdy and Dejulio; in a place of creation.

Liz Trosper

(CentralTrak, Artist)

  • The Black Keys at American Airlines Center
  • Morrissey at The Majestic
  • Arctic Monkeys at Verizon Theatre
  • Jamie Scott with Fox and the Bird at KXT’s Barefoot at the Belmont
  • Valerie June with Doug Burr at KXT’s Barefoot at the Belmont

The Barefoot at the Belmont concert series is my favorite event of the year. I volunteer for KXT, so I may be biased, but they always find a way to blend solid national artists with local gems like Fox and the Bird, whose performative presence was one of the more special experiences I had all year.

  • The Tallest Man on Earth – 1904
  • Cole Porter – It’s Too Darn Hot
  • Anything by Jib Kidder
  • Dead Air with The O’s (Radio Show)
  • Finale to Orfeu Negro (The Sunrise)

I look mostly to the past to find new sources of music — classical composers, film scores – and low- to high-brow sources like 95.3 The Range or public media. It isn’t necessarily the newest, most cutting edge place to find music, but there is a never ending supply of new-to-me subjects of interest.

  • Whitney Biennial in New York City
  • Josh Smith in the Dallas Biennial
  • Isa Genzken at the DMA
  • Trenton Doyle Hancock’s Lecture at Richland College
  • “If Your Really Want to Know,” Shawn Mayer’s MFA Exhibition at CentralTrak

In 2014, Andy (my fiancee) and I saw extraordinary work in Dallas and other locations, like Chinati Weekend in Marfa and exhibitions in Houston and New York City. Other exhibitions encompass the amazing things happening in Dallas right now, such as Deep Ellum Windows and John Pomara’s exhibition at Barry Whistler Gallery. The shows I’ve mentioned represent very personal experiences.

2014 has been really good to me. I’ve sold some work and had some shows. It’s loved being a grad-resident at CentralTrak with Heyd Fontenot as director. I could go on and on about the network of incredible artists who I’ve gotten to know better during my time there. I’ve also had the good fortune to study with amazing artists like John Pomara, Greg Metz and Dean Terry at UT Dallas.

Evan Henry

(Dallas Distortion Music)

Favorite concerts:

Froth // Corners // Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel // Wyatt Blair // Sealion – Doublewide
This might have been the most perfect blend of gooey garage and pop music all year. Froth’s saw-like 12 string guitar and hazy organ tones atop the groovy doors-esque growl of Mr Elevator took things over the top for me. What about Sealion? Don’t even get me started.

Camilla Sparksss // iill // Lily Taylor // moth face – Oliver Francis Gallery
The threat of heavy downpour and intense thunderstorms this night only heightened the thrill each of these acts presented. Moth Face’s first show was utterly beautiful and soothing. With Lily Taylor and iill, this was total score.

Street Gnar // Shy Boys // Fungi Girls // Dripping Wet // Prism Cloud – J&J’s Pizza
Fungi Girls remains my favorite band in all of Texas. Hands down. Every performance is absolutely phenomenal. Headlining this one at the closing moments of the Denton pizza parlor made for a very intense performance.

The Memories // Fungi Girls // Sealion // Prism Cloud – Two Bronze Doors
From Los Angeles, California is lo fi pop quartet The Memories, who in every incarnation manage to audiences a daze with catchy riffs and unforgettable hits. Packing out Two Bronze Doors in May was no exception.

Ssleeperhold // Itasca // Steve Gunn – Las Cruxes – Austin
Just about everything in Austin during the annual SXSW music conference is chaotic and completely unnecessary, except on this given afternoon at Las Cruxes on Cesar Chavez, where Austin’s own Ssleeperhold and his grizzly beats fit snug with the acidic warmth of Itasca and Steve Gunn; very much needed.

Annette Marin

(Spune Productions)

In a nutshell, 2014 was an extremely busy year with non stop concerts and back to back festivals. It has been incredibly exciting to watch concepts such and Untapped and Index grow alongside the music community in DFW. After laying a good foundation in 2014 I’m looking forward to continued growth and a successful 2015. Cheers.

 Concerts

– Charles Bradley at Trees – Do214 Launch (April 27) Charles Bradley is one of my favorite artists because he takes the time to connect with people on and off stage. His performances are always extremely moving and emotional and this show was no exception.

– Neutral Milk Hotel at Majestic Theater (Feb 15) First time to see NMH and it was nice to watch at The Majestic Theater where I’ve seen some of my favorite concerts in Dallas. I hope the Majestic hosts more concerts in 2015.

– Local Natives at Index Fest (Sept 28) Local Natives is very special to me so watching this show from back stage and hanging out with the band at Twilight Lounge was a perfect way to close out Index this year.

– Future Islands at Index Fest – with all the buzz around this band it was nice to finally see what everyone was talking about. They did not disappoint.

– St Paul & the Broken Bones at Club Dada (April 12) This show sold out so quickly it was moved to the patio at Club Dada. Good thing because people needed room to dance! Ps. You can see the band in Dallas on Feb 7, 2015 =)

Albums

Perfume Genius “Too Bright” – Spune booked Perfume Genius back in 2011 and the show turned out to be one of most genuine performances I’d seen in a long time. I’m glad his new album has received such critical praise and he’s drawing bigger crowds to his music. I think this album is absolutely beautiful.

Hurray for the riff raff – it’s rare I listen to albums on repeat anymore. Alynda is rare talent.

Future Islands – I was late to the game with this band but this album is great. Went back and listened to their first album which is equally as good.

P Rhyme “P Rhyme” – I’m trying to listen to more hip hop. Was really into it when I was younger but haven’t connected with anything current. This album seems nostalgic to me which is probably why I like it. Lyrically solid.

Sylvan Esso – this was my candy for the year.

Art events

Float exhibit by Rhombi Survivor Photi Safaris – Unfortunately I didn’t have much time for anything outside of concerts and festivals but I was able to see Rhombi Survivor Photo Safaris “Float” exhibit at Kettle Art Gallery in January. Eric is a good friend so I was very proud to see his amazing collection of photography on display.

Christian Yazdanpanah

(Commit)

Five Concerts

1) Outkast @ACL on October 10th. It was great watching the show with the friends I
grew up singing the lyrics with but my favorite part was singing alongside my 16 year old nephew. Realizing that Andrea 3000 and Big Boi’s lyrics are just as relevant to him today, as they were to me at that age was one of those musical experiences I’ll never forget.

2) This year’s line up at the free Patio Sessions at AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Sammons Park was unbelievable! Yells at Eels, Zhora and Home By Hovercraft were just a few of the local bands that graced the stage in 2014! It’s hard to find a more unique backdrop for an outdoor concert than our Arts District so be sure to come out in 2015!

3) Jay Z & Beyonce’s On The Run Tour at AT&T Stadium on July 22nd. I’ve never been to a show that used that much money, creative energy and people to make every second of the performance unbelievable. The best part was getting to watch the show with students from the All Stars Project of Dallas who were rewarded with tickets for producing student talent shows in their neighborhood.

4) Drake hosted Houston Appreciation Week in June and included a free concert at Warehouse Live. Tickets were only available to those who volunteered at special service projects that week proving once again that music can in deed make the world a better place!

5) The JMBLYA Music Festival at Main Street Garden Park on May 2nd was a great example of what makes Dallas unique. The concert sold out weeks in advance even though it was held the day before Plano’s Suburbia Festival. With Chance the Rapper, Purity Ring, ASAP Ferg, and Baauer & RL Grime all performing it was clear that good musicians will get people to come to Dallas. More events like this will get people to move to Dallas!

Five Records (Albums or songs you’ve enjoyed this year)

1) Kendrick Lamar had the Midas Touch! Whether he titled or untitled his songs, sang solo or collaborated, everything he touched turned to gold! Lucky for us his album doesn’t come out till 2015.

2) St. Vincent – St. Vincent has lined up to be Dallas’s next musical ambassador and she couldn’t have chosen a better album to do it with.

3) Sylvan Esso- I was surprised at how many people showed up to their free set at the Chipotle Cultivate festival. Then I heard their song on a Target commercial and realized the best kept musical secret of 2014 had gotten out.

4) J Electronica ft. Jay Z “We Made It Freestyle” put some meat on the bone of this Purp Dog Beat.

5) Buffalo Black: RedPiLLwondrland Part 1 is one of the grittiest and most emotionally layered albums I’ve ever heard. Rarely do you get this depth of content matter with beats that will keep your head nodding!

6) Blue, the Misfit, Buffalo Black, Sam Lao, The Outfit, TX and Booty Fade continue to raise the level of expectation around Dallas Hip Hop! I’m looking for a lot of good albums from these folks in 2015! (Feel free to switch this out for anyone of them but Kendrick)

Five Miscellaneous Art Events You’ve Enjoyed this Year (Theater, art gallery, opera, symphony, spoken word etc)

1) World renowned photographer and TED Prize winner JR brought his Inside Out Project to the Dallas Contemporary. In between sessions with Dirk Nowitzki and Mayor Rawlings, hundreds of people stepped into the mobile photo booth to get their picture taken and displayed in one of the most civically engaging art projects to ever be in Dallas. The best part of the exhibit was neither the opening party nor the lecture by JR, rather it was the private celebration that the Contemporary hosted for over 300 Dallas Art Teachers to give them the opportunity to participate in the project.

2) Dallas Symphony Orchestra continued its free Summer Parks Concerts. My favorite one was at Paul Quinn College on June 10th. Every year they do it here the crowd keeps getting larger and more diverse!

3) On Thursday May, 1st Takashi Murakami held the American film premier for his first feature film, Jellyfish Eyes @ the DMA. The free tickets sold out in minutes and attendees were not disappointed. He not only stuck around for a Q&A session but preceded to take pictures and signed autographs for all who wanted.

4) Dallas Opera’s simulcast of Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” at Klyde Warren Park brought together a crowd of 7,000…in the cold. It’s a great reminder that people in Dallas are looking for inexpensive cultural events, and that they’ll even come downtown for them!

5) Art Con turns 10! This art auction was created by two Oak Cliff artists to raise funds for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, a decade later it’s gone on to donate over $250,000 to local arts organizations. It was fitting that this year’s beneficiary, the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico, was celebrating their 40th anniversary.

6) DJs Sober, Select and Nature reunited for The Party @ It’ll Do Club on Friday, January 24. Many moons ago The Party was uniting and cultivating a lot of the young creative talent in Dallas. Now a days those same people are leading the local art and music scene. This was a night that everyone came back out to reflect on the journey past, present and future! (I’d switch this one out for the Paul Quinn College one, but I leave it up to you)

Diallo West

(Creating Our Future Dallas)

Concerts:

Ishi
Dezi 5
Tunk

Songs of the Year:

Daft Punk — “Doin it right”

Lana del Rey — “West Coast”

Aloe blanc — I’m the man

Tove lo — habits

Kendrick Lamar — I

Art events:

A city under the Influence

Herbbits wizards and borks (Pocket Sandwich Theater)

artist night out

Phillipe Berto theme party

Ishi live at the nasher

Jonathan Foisset

(Two Bronze Doors)

I’ve lived in Dallas since ’92 and I’ve never seen an arts explosion like this. I don’t know if it’s due to the laws of relativity or f*cking zeitgeist, but it seemed a lot of young artists put their economic futures at risk for the sake doing something they loved, or maybe one day, they thought they did. Against disapproving families and an indie/experimental scene that didn’t have a platform to perform, they pressed and pressed. It has been an absolute joy and honor to see some of these greats in all practices in person this year. Whether it is in the confines of our home at Two Bronze Doors or down the street at Kevin, Lee, and Art’s compound (OFG.XXX), and Stefan’s on Mondays (“Outward Bound” at Crown and Harp) this artist community here displayed guts to shake sh*t up in the D and rise above the plastic.

Here are my picks you so graciously asked for:

Five (really two) Concerts You’ve Enjoyed this year
Confession: I’ve only been to two concerts this year; both were gifts for my wife. Of which, we enjoyed.

Tennis (Club Dada): Love when this band comes to town, every time we do, we end up talking to their bassist over a conversation that begins with an request for a light and then turns into rapping East 1999 Eternal lyrics. Every time.

Of Montreal (Trees): Nat loves this band and got me into enjoying them as well. What a show.

Five Records (Albums or songs you’ve enjoyed this year)

Sealion – Heavy Fizz: Who doesn’t like Sealion? Seriously, who isn’t able to see how hard these guys are sweating and puttin’ in; and it shows in their work.

Problem Dogg – Problem Dogg: These Yahoos. Constantly experimenting and constantly deconstructing the definition of sounds. Beth, Rick, etc. push, stretch, and break walls (for real). Somewhere, John Cage is shedding a single tear and cracking a smirk.

Dome Dwellers – Maybe I Should Have Some Pride: I’m such a sucker for prog and this trio from Denton blew minds when I saw them. I relish the Jethro Tull-esque vocals and appreciate the progressions and changes.

Trai Bo – Sigil: Ft Worth represent! Named after a fruit (I could never find out why), this band has ‘Symphonic People’ on heavy rotation during my gallery cleaning hours.

Howler Jr – Getting Somewhere: Spencer is an extremely talented kid and the band’s new-folk sound is progressing through a soul and funk pedal. I can dig it. Also, we both share an absolute love for Songs in the Key of Life.

Five Miscellaneous Art Events

Ex Mus (CentralTrak): There is no equal in Dallas when it comes to curating music. Joshua Westerman has gone on from our doors to expanding his talents to CentralTrak, and hopefully to the rest of Texas. Can’t be more proud of him and his first show at CentralTrak was a great display of his talents.

Poise: Noise and Poetry. The teamwork of our resident artists (Chris George and Willaim Sarradet) was on full display at this event. My favorite moment was of Kiki Ishihara reciting over Joshua’s string set.

Ghostwood Sessions X: He saved his best for last. Joshua Westerman’s final performance was a sublime moment my mind will keep ’til I die.

Viral Fantasy: Willam showed us that online media curation was a valid art form. With it, he was able to become a avant guard force in Dallas.

“Outward Bound Mixtape Sessions” (Crown and Harp): Stefan owns Crown and Harp on Mondays and he shows no signs of stopping. Dallas is lucky to have him.

Gini Mascorro

(KXT)

5 Concerts:

Jimmy Cliff at The Granada — The all-time King of Good Vibes, still showing us how it’s done.

tUnE-yArDs & Sylvan Esso at The Granada — The perfect double-bill to kick off the summer concert season. Marry me, Merrill Garbus.

Lana Del Rey at The Verizon — Love her or loathe her, she’s definitely channeling something that brings to mind the old Doors chestnut, “The men don’t know but the little girls understand.” And how.

Pet Shop Boys at The Majestic — My favorite review of the evening came from my fellow concert-goer, Lisa: “I want to comeback in my next life as one of the Pet Shop Boys’ dancers.”

Neil Young at The Meyerson — Still thanking the Universe for this one.

5 Records:

St. Vincent — St. Vincent

TV On The Radio — Seeds

Spoon — They Want My Soul

New Pornographers — Brill Bruisers

Tie: Sarah Jaffe — Don’t Disconnect & Jenny Lewis — The Voyager

Darryl Ratcliff

(Community Engagement Associate, National Center for Arts Research & Initiative on Arts + Urbanism, Southern Methodist University; Creating Our Future Dallas)

Art:

Nur (The Dallas Museum of Art): With Giovanni Valderas curating.
Circuit 12’s spring/summer run.
Cornel West visiting Lauren Woods public sculpture a drinking fountain;
Xhulong and Cydonia.
db14
Danielle Georgiou Nice and everything else she did

Concerts:

Blue the Misfit (Trees)
Tunk (Crown n Harp)
Quaker City Night Hawks (Three Links):
Everything from the -topic/Simon Phoenix/Epocha camp
Sundays at The Goat
Rocky Horror Show Dallas theater center
Dezi 5 (Trees)

Songs:

Alive by blu the Misfit
oh dear by howler Jr
I’m from Dallas Bitch by Dezi 5
I’m going home by Leon Bridges
apples and cinnamon by Lily Taylor

Scott Horn

(Curator, Artist)

Party Static | Def Rain (Texas Theater, March 2014): Whoever made the call to move the smaller music shows behind the screen at this venue is a genius. Perfect little shotgun spot for this one-two punch. Def Rain is unbridled and mesmerizing, loose but dark in an Italians-do-it-better kind of way. Party Static is pure Adderall; scattershot guitar feedback flying circles around call-and-response vocals, while the rhythm section keeps things rocketing forward. All that aside, the chemistry of the band on stage is what sets it all off.

George Quartz | Merli y Spumante (Vice Palace, April 2014): One to write home about. Raw warehouse, Merli y Spumante posted in front of the open bay doors with the city looming over them, somehow keeping the crowd moving to their discordant, fractured rhythms. On the far end a tropicana hell-scape featuring several tons of real sand, dance choreographed by Danielle Georgiou, and Quartz ready to ascend to heaven as his cult leader persona. I was equally proud of the venue for existing, the artists for their dedication and sophistication, and for the healthy crowd there to eat it up.

Emily Edwards

(Tractorbeam)

Five Concerts I’ve enjoyed are listed below in no particular order:

1. “Smoked” BBQ & Music Festival – I had a really great time this festival. The BBQ was top-notch and the lineup was thoughtfully stacked for a BBQ fest.
2. Frankie Cosmos, Porches, and Laugh Track at City Tavern – Confession: I wanted to attend the Frankie Cosmos show to see what Kevin Kline and the topless friend from Fast Times at Ridgemont High’s kid was like. I did and it was a very lovely show.
3. Twin Peaks at Three Links – I like to see Twin Peaks when they come through town, fun show – good Chicago boys. I like their 2013 stuff more than their new album though, shhh.
4. Mikal Cronin at Dada – Every time I see Cronin I’m always surprised by how different he sounds live and the length of his hair.
5. Any Party Static Show – local party music darlings.

*Honorary mention: White Denim Show at Steven Alan Opening.

Five Records I’ve enjoyed this year:

1. Caribou – Our Love

2. Tei Shi – “Basically”

3. Rosie Lowe – “Water Came Down”

4. Real Estate – Atlas

5. I LOVE MAKONNEN – “Tuesday”

I got really into girly slow jams this year. The “Tuesday” song reminds me of living in Denton.

Five Miscellaneous Art Events:

1. Shakespeare in the Bar (Wild Detectives): This event was extremely entertaining and packed with people. I’m also surprised KWP hasn’t thought of this yet…

2. Vital Yoga (The Eyeball): If you had told me 2 years ago there would be “happy hour yoga” in front of a giant eyeball in downtown, I would have never believed you. I wish this would happen more often.

3. East Dallas Gallery Day (Various locations): A lot of the galleries were in my neighborhood: Deep Ellum. It felt like a block party.

4. 25th Anniversary (Meyerson Symphony Center): Beautiful event and I loved the light up dance floor after the concert.

5. Magda Sayeg Show (Tractorbeam): The first show in Dallas featuring Magda Sayeg, the yarn bomber, and her solo work.

*Honorable mention: Swimming with “The Enigma” at FOE pool

Moody Fuqua

(The Crown and Harp)

I think anything curated by Joel Salazar, Stefan Gonzalez, Arthur Pena, Lee Escobedo, LBJ, TrackMeet, Oliver Sheppard, James Magruder, Lily Taylor, Rick Eye, Thrwd, George Quartz, Jeff Brown, Evan Henry, and Mila Hamilton, off the top of my head, have really made an impact on music in Dallas in 2014. They each have their finger on the pulse of the local music scene. They aren’t afraid to showcase the more avant-garde, next level, new and fresh talent in this city that is often missed. They are true tastemakers. I’m excited to see what they will do in 2015.

Dwayne Williams

(Fashion Art Network)

Our team at Fashion Art Network (FAN) has had quite a fulfilling first year hosting events, producing projects, and networking in our fascinating community. As we strengthened the network, we met many interesting people along the way that shared a similar mission in supporting our community in creative ways. We had the opportunity to network and collaborate with a variety of passionate people such as artists, designers, fundraisers, TV personalities, and public officials. Many of these collaborative projects are slated for 2015, so stay tuned.

One event that stands out unanimously among our team is Night of Superstars DFW.

We had such a great time while being inspired by the courageous Superstars and their ‘I can do anything’ attitudes. It was an honor and a pleasure to support.

We look forward to strengthening the network to collaborate on bigger and better creative projects that will serve our community even more in 2015. We also will be producing more work from our studios providing resources to develop artists, musicians, and other creative people that are driven by their passion to create unique experiences. Thanks to all our supporters and Happy New Year.

Ariel Saldivar

(ArtPrize)

Five Art Events I have enjoyed this year in Dallas

1. Oral Fixation (An Obsession with True Life Tales)
2. Year of the Rooster (Upstart Theater)
3. SunDowner (Circuit 12 Contemporary)
4. DB14 Dallas Biennial
5. ArtCon

Top Five Albums

1.The War on Drugs — Lost in the Dream
2.Mac DeMarco — Salad Days
3.FKA Twigs — LP1
4.Angel Olsen — Burn Your Fire for No Witness
5.St.Vincent — St.Vincent

I would like to add that two of my top five records of the year were produced by local music genius John Congleton (Angel Olsen and St. Vincent). Dallas is lucky to have him here.

Top Five Concerts

1. Phillip Glass (Winspear)
2. Parquet Courts (Club Dada)
3. Beyonce and Jay-Z (At&t Stadium)
4. James Blake (House of Blues)
5. The War on Drugs (The Granada)

Lyndsay Knecht

(KERA)

2014 was emotional. I’ve tried to make sense of the charge by organizing records, shows and events by the collective states of mind that seemed to produce the work, or the night.

Rage that discovers its mother is sadness

The prompt asked for five miscellaneous art events I “enjoyed” this year.

I enjoyed seeing Merritt Tierce’s ‘Love Me Back’ meet wild praise and break new ground with its self-abusing, sex-addicted female narrator. Actually reading the book, however, is to stare down murderous social constructs and the resulting vulnerability that produces numbness until you find yourself weeping. Tierce is a force – she demands the reader express the grief her narrator could not.

Another woman let her voice be openly sad, yet found resolve in a kind of righteous anger. Angel Olsen’s ‘Burn Your Fire For No Witness’ is brimming with frustration that can hum in the listener’s bones. When I heard “Unfucktheworld” bloom over the speakers at Good Records a few days before the album’s proper release, I felt my steps get heavier and move toward the stairs to the back of the shop, suddenly recoiling from the person I was there with. Olsen’s power made the place feel crowded.

Desire to reclaim a place – or, homesickness

Tiles from Cassandra Emswiler's My Dreams Will Pull You Through This Garden Gate.
Tiles from Cassandra Emswiler’s My Dreams Will Pull You Through This Garden Gate. Credit: Lyndsay Knecht.

I’d seen Cassandra Emswiler Burd’s tiles before, at an exhibit in the Texas Theatre’s Safe Room last year. The thing is, they weren’t on the floor. For that highly personal show, called ‘Canticles of Praise,’ the richly-colored pieces were displayed more like art objects than part of a home. The artist did install them in the floor of the Dallas Contemporary this fall for ‘My dreams will pull you through this garden gate’ and even hosted a picnic, asking comers to sit atop her painstaking work and eat their pumpkin bread, no worries about the crumbs. If that’s not enough to challenge conventions of accessibility, she even adapted her designs into coloring books for kids who attended.

 Of all the treasures in the Isa Genzken retrospective at the Dallas Museum of Art, the Ground Zero sculptures affected me most. This has less to do with 9/11’s wider aftermath, though she made them as a series of ideas on what to do with the site of the fallen towers. It’s that the artist felt such pride in her New York City, its neon underground and counterculture, that she could honor it so eloquently in that moment (with shot glasses on a hospital food tray) in the wake of tragedy – it made me wonder where the art avenging a particular Dallas of that time period is, or what particular Dallases there were to avenge.

The Kraken Reading Series is the best thing to happen for Denton’s literary appetite. It’s the last event in general that I was proud to see spring up as a recently-departed ten-year resident of the town. (Worth mentioning here that Layer Cake – more aptly described as an event than simply a band, perhaps  – ranks very high in this regard as well.) Poet David Tomas Martinez read at Paschall Bar from his collection ‘Hustle’ in March. His remembering of life as a young Mexican dad in a Houston gang treats the characters – including himself – with an empathy that could heal. Just read “The Mechanics of Men.”

Comfort in Occasionally Punctuated Hypnosis

I arrived late to see  Moth Face (Sandra Davalos) play her first ever set at Oliver Francis Gallery in October. She was alone and barefoot, it was mostly dark in the room, and her songs were sparse, disaffected beats to shroud pleading vocal lines. It was like arriving to find a new wiccan ritual in progress, a moment of possibility that is still happening in my mind.

The short films at VideoFest are something I look forward to all year – especially those scheduled in the late afternoon slots. Robert Hannant’s “I Don’t Understand” ended a block irresistibly titled ‘I Don’t Understanding Love’ on the last day of the fest at 4:45. In the cacophonic drone of electronic sound and abstract images are two women in dialogue with one another who look as if they could be one woman playing two parts at some points, but I was never sure. They say things at each from separate frames – “Hi” “I want to control you”  – and one of the women makes this clicking noise with her mouth at intervals that sent a strange wave of protectiveness for her over me. Psychic engineering, for sure.

Waiting for Grouper’s Ruins was a joy in itself – just imagining what Liz Harris would do after she co-scored a full sleep cycle and mastered the soundscape spiritual with “Heavy Water (I’d Rather Be Sleeping.)” For this record she simply took a piano and all the words to letters never written, holed up during a residency, and made gorgeous structured songs informed by the endlessness of her earlier work.

Chris Sakaguchi

(Transmission Dallas)

Dylan Ross — A Killer with a Crooked Jaw: Somewhere in between the soundtrack of “Go” and cloud rap, the king of the kappa track suit does in fact spit hot fire.

Run the Jewels — RTJ2: As a social catharsis or shining example of what is right in hip hop, this falls short for me, but what it is is a fantastic hip hop album. It bangs and slaps and it has bars from two of the best in the business. Any redeeming value of social commentary or consciousness is simply the fucking cherry on top.

White Lung — Deep Fantasy: Apparently it’s hipster punk. It rips and while it might not rip like previous stuff Mish Way’s vocals make up for any softened edges.

B L A C K I E — Imagine Yourself in a Free and Natural World: This man can do no wrong.

Otto Von Schirach — “Tipo Tropical”: Miami bass broadcast from the Bermuda Triangle. More Caribbean than break core these days, he still has it.

Events are a wash as I’ve only been in dallas for 3 weeks, but Fun Fun Fun Fest is the best time every year.

Jason Reimer

(Texas Theatre)

The New Gatekeepers

‏Ty Segall / War on Drugs / Ariel Pink: I have a feeling all these bands will put out a record a year for some time to come and the gag will get old in about 3 years but until then, I’m game. We buy everything all these peeps put out.

D’Angelo – The Black Messiah: You’ve got to hand it to a guy who returns from a downward spiral of excess with a tripped-out soul record like this. It felt like an instant classic. I’ve listened to it several times and it still makes me dizzy which is a good clue.

Def Rain – S/T: Pour Le Corps consistently put out things I like. Def Rain makes me want to wear roller skates at the mall after drinking a bottle of very good tequila.

Bedhead (Box-set): ‏When I moved to Texas Transaction De Novo was about to come out and I was excited to learn they were from Dallas. I went to see them at the Bomb Factory and the crowd seemed to hate them which was confusing or maybe I didn’t get the joke. When people talk about Stevie Ray Vaughan I counter with the Buck Pets and Bedhead.

Spoon — They Want My Soul: ‏Spoon is my pop dirty secret. The records are perfectly recorded. I don’t want to like them as much as I do, but they’re great. Writing a timeless pop song is way harder than people think. They make it look easy, which is annoying.

5 Events

‏George Quartz (Vice Palace): It’s always good to be a little worried when you walk into a show. I’ve seen George Quartz and former iterations live many times but he always surprises. The added concrete context is something I wish was more prevalent since there’s so much of it in Dallas. This pop up was proof amazing things can happen when you combine a warehouse and smart people. Hopefully land owners see the value in things like this more often.

‏Anything at the Meyerson – conductor Jaap Van Zweden
‏I’m lucky enough to get invited to the symphony at the Meyerson on a semi-regular basis and it’s truly amazing. I’m not sure how many people below the age of 35 realize how impressive the building is let alone what happens inside. Seeing anything in that building is worth the time. Personal favorites of 2014 Beethoven’s 9th and Bluebeard.

Whitney Biennial (NYC): Mecca for art dorks like us and the last one to be held in its current home. It always encourages inspiration tempered with the belief that much of what you just saw was art school bullshit. Any good museum or gallery should make you this confused and excited.

Mario Testino Alta Moda (Dallas Contemporary): Over the last several years quite a few shows have been brought here that surprised me. Mario Testino is very well known fashion photographer but this show was personal and beautifully installed.

‏Jonathan Richman (Make Out Room, San Francisco, CA)
‏I’d watch him sing a phone book, and I’m not certain that’s isn’t what he’s doing now but it doesn’t matter, he’s the Modern Lovers and he can do whatever he wants. I’ll pay for it. We were there shooting a film and got lucky.

‏Centro-Matic – The Final Shows: ‏I wasn’t able to make the last Denton show which will haunt me to the end of my days but caught the Kessler show. They were one of the last kick-in-the-door rock bands left on the planet. The first Denton band I fell in love with and my entrance into everything lil’ D. I’m proud to call them friends.

Found Footage (Texas Theatre): We’ve done several shows with them and each one has raised the bar of expectation. Very few things make you laugh this hard when you get jaded. Being somewhat jaded is a prerequisite for this show.

The Interview (Texas Theatre): In the four short years we’ve been a business I think screening The Interview is perhaps the most bizarre moment yet. It was never about how good or bad the film is, but people’s desire to sit in a dark theater and watch something. The irony for us is that people love to tell you how theaters won’t be around much longer. Peoples reaction when it became available was testament to that being false. It’s very rare that art houses can convince a mega giant like Sony to let us do the heavy lifting so there were many anomalies leading up to it. Anyone that thinks this was a giant Sony marketing scheme is just wrong. It was a perfect way for us to close out the year.

Joel Salazar

(Too Fresh Productions)

Five Concerts 

1. DJ Q Bert (The Crown and Harp): How often do you get to see the world’s best and most recognized turntablist in such an intimate setting? That place was beyond packed.
2. Sylvan Esso at The Granada Theatre ­ Technically it was the the Tune­Yards who headlined the event, but for me the duo from North Carolina stole the show and gained a new loyal fan.

3. Da Mafia 6ix (Club Dada): I knew I was a fan coming into this show. I didn’t realize I was such a die-hard fan until I noticed myself singing every song word for word throughout the night. I know more of their music in-depth than any other artist/group out there.

4. Fresh 45s with BreakBeat Lou (The Crown and Harp):­ I am definitely biased on this one, but this show was an accumulation of a wonderful 2014 for the crew. We had just won our Observer award for “Best DJ Night” and the energy was high. At one point BreakBeat Lou and resident JT Donaldson had a sporadic back-to-back DJ Battle that had the place moving. Everyone was moving, and there was nothing but love in the building.

5. Faded DeeJays w/ Bombón (The Crown and Harp): ­ The Faded DeeJays night has been going on for five years around Dallas and when they linked up with the very popular Houston collective known as Bombón, I knew it was going to be something special. Always packed, and always a party, this night had a little extra turn up that kept the people dancing from open to close.

Five Records

1. A.Dd+ — Nawf EP ­ Not sure if there was a more rounded “Dallas” sounding project this year. This one takes the cake as these guys continue to pump out quality music.
2. Blue the Misfit — Child in the Wild ­ The production on this project is insane. But what do you expect from a TDE affiliated producer? There are gems throughout this one.
3.­ Terrance Spectacle — NuDallas:  ­ Maybe the project I was most excited about in 2014 because of the potential. For this young artist to come out with a project like this is impressive. Very excited to see what the future holds for Terrance Spectacle.
4. BeeFeral ­ — EmCee Squares: When this project dropped it instantly hooked me in. I didn’t think younger artists could pull off the organic boom bap sound. This album proved me wrong. Then I learned this was the first music he ever recorded, I was even more blown away.
5. Buffalo Black — REDPILLWondrland: ­ This project was easily one of my most enjoyable from an artistic perspective. Tons of thoughtful beats and raps on this one.

Recap

2014 was something very special. I am very blessed to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who work hard in the community of music and the culture we all cultivate in our city. It honestly starts and ends with the people who support these events and projects and I couldn’t be more grateful. This will be a hard year to top personally and professionally moving forward. I got married, had my second child, made the cover of the Dallas Observer, premiered our movie We From Dallas at the Dallas International Film Festival, and recently won an award with the Fresh 45s crew. A big thank you to everyone that does what they do for the city. We are all very lucky to be living in a diverse city with multiple platforms for us to practice our passion for music and art. I look forward to enjoying the ride in 2015 and beyond with all of you. Cheers.

Stephanie Amate

(Creating Our Future Dallas)

Being a huge fan of the arts with diverse interests, I am grateful to live in a city that offers a wide range of artistic events and functions.

My year started off with an ode to the classics finishing the 2013-2014 season of the Dallas Opera with Death to the Powers, Die Tote Stadt and The Barber of Seville. Death to the Powers, a dark modern opera that gives the audience a glimpse of a possible future, where one can upload their brain onto a computer and continue on living and making decisions. Dark opera went to darker in Die Tote Stadt where the audience is given insight on the insanity of a grieving man after the loss of his wife. Luckily the season ended on a bright note with the light hearted and very entertaining classic the Barber of Seville. The joy of the Barber of Seville left me craving more and so I heading off the Fort Worth Opera Festival Season which never disappoints thanks to General Director, Darren K Wood. He has an amazing eye for young and bright talent and a remarkable ability to put a program together. Needless to say I had satiated my craving for the classics.

A social art project that that left me inspired was Trans.lation at Vickery Meadows. Vickery Meadows is one of the ten living sculpture projects sponsored by the Nasher Sculpture Center with its visionary artist, Rick Lowe. The intent of this living sculpture was to bring a community together through art by holding classes, workshops and markets where the work was presented and sold by community members. This project and inspiration led me to get involved with the group Creating Our Future with its “Art is a Public Good” statement.

Among my favorite experiences this year was the two studio tours I went on this past Spring and Fall. I was able to get an interesting peek into the personal lives and art of local artist in Oak Cliff along the Oak Cliff Visual Speed Bump Art Tour, on May 17. Artists in Oak Cliff opened their living/work spaces allowing their fans to interact with them one on one while letting perfect strangers go through their creative space. Among the most interesting were the artist pair Chuck and George with their very quirky sense of humor which was in every corner of their home. In the Fall, I went to the Cedars Open Studio Tour, on November 22. The Cedars Open Studio Tour was a more complete experience with the option of going on a guided bike tour as well as walking it. Even the rain couldn’t water down the event which was kept lively at Lee Harvey’s with their live music and laid-back atmosphere—one of the stops on the tour. Cedars Open Studio Tour gives a unique view into this artist neighborhood with such a strong sense of artist community.

I could go on and on about the many talented local artists and met this past year, truly great gallery openings I have attended, the many creatives who beyond doubt making a real difference within our community that I am proud to work alongside and support, and amazingly entertaining performers I had pleasure to attend and experience their performances. 2014 was a great year for local Dallas art and I am excited to see what is to come in 2015.

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