Sunday, May 23, 2010

Deep Ellum Rising: Trees

(Above video taken from papalokey at youtube)

So on May 22, I met up with some of my friends from Lubbock to go see Coalesce and Converge at Trees.

This was an important event for me. I have been listening to Coalesce, at least, for over 10 years. My friends who were with me had even longer history than that. In Lubbock we all learned about our music by word of mouth back then. My friends would drive on pilgrimages to Austin to go see bands and would return to Lubbock preaching the gospel of awesome they saw on the road. Then our music scene would be affected by this memetic experience.

Coalesce and Converge were like that. We never booked them in Lubbock, but anyone who was worth a fuck listened to them.

I never thought I'd get to see Coalesce play. They were some part of rock and roll history that I had totally missed.

Not so.

I have mixed feelings about Deep Ellum. Once upon a time Deep Ellum was the destination for Lubbock Rock and Roll pilgrimages. Then it declined.

My friends who are locals here will tell stories about Deep Ellum that rises Dallas's street cred well above Austin. But its not like that right now.

On Tuesday I went on a walk in Deep Ellum, and it was like a ghost town.

There were as many panhandlers there as there where businesses open.

The whole reason I was down there is because I was looking for the Dharma Punx meditation group, which is what it sounds like, a meditation group for punk rockers. Old Deep Ellum would have had this. New Deep Ellum had an address posted on myspace that doesn't exist.

In fact my failure to find the Dharma Punx is analogous to many of my disappointments with Deep Ellum. I hear about cool stuff being there, and then I can never find it. I find only a skeleton of something that used to be cool.

Last night it was different. Saturday night and Deep Ellum had veins.

My buddy and I got drunk in his car so we wouldn't have to pay the steep prices at the bar. Though I did buy two whisky-diet cokes at Tree's for $8. Which, all things considered, is actually a pretty reasonable price.

We went to the Deep Ellum 7-Eleven to get more beer and to use the bathroom. The bathroom had a sign that said "out of order" on it. I knew this game. I used to work at a 7-eleven in Lewisville and in Lubbock. The panhandlers are the cause for this sign not the bathroom. I went in the bathroom and tested it, worked just fine. Thats how common panhandlers are in Deep Ellum, but you take the bad with the good right?

More booze in the car.

Trees is a rock and roll club. Its like the Granada in Lower Greenville. Its a place to see the bigger bands for a self-respecting seasoned rock and roller. I don't go to arena concerts. I need to be close to the band. I need to connect with them emotionally. This was definitely doable at Trees and I was very, very close to Coalesce as they played.

That was the best thing about the show, it was the level of intimacy I felt like I was able to achieve with the band. Coalesce is a band I love and respect, so is Converge. Both of these bands invented so many musical techniques that are now common place in metalcore, hardcore, metal and other genres that I love. To be able to be so close to them, and to be around an audience that had such a deep appreciation for this kind of music was inspiring.

I rocked out. I rocked out like I was 15 years younger than I am. I had bruises and scratches on me when I went home, and they feel just like they did when I was a kid. Bad ass!

I joked when describing Coalesce to my friends that they make Pantera sound like Journey.

Converge was great and their pioneering contribution to hardcore and its current streams of musical experimentation were clear to me seeing them live at this awesome bar.

The service was great, even with the poor guy who was working in the bathroom when I vomited all over the place.

This vomit was like my scratches and bruises, all part of the epic glory of a tantric rock and roll experience.

I should probably add that the above bands are Straight Edge bands and would probably disapprove of my use of the mind altering substance known as Ethanol (EtOH in chemistry) otherwise known as common booze.

It was my first time hearing Gaza, they totally fucking rocked balls.

I am hating myself for writing this review because it is overwhelmingly positive.

I pride myself, as my regular readers know, on talking shit when I feel it is well placed. It just so happens that my experience was overwhelmingly positive.

But to live up to my reputation I should point out that sometimes Trees schedule is a little off on its website. For example if one goes to the website for the Psychotica show coming up on June 2, the time is correct. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. But if you follow through to purchase the ticket, the time changes to 7:00 am. I know, I know, its nitpicky, but I had to find something negative to say.

If Trees can just spread its style a little more, then I feel optimistic for the future of our legendary neighborhood: Deep Ellum.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The New Fumes at the Ridglea Theatre

On a Ship, Under a Bus from daniel huffman on Vimeo.

I the F.W. in DFW is for Fort Worth, it turns out.

Just kidding. Please don't accuse me of Dallas prejudice. At least not yet.

I just don't know the rest of the Metroplex as well, but this Friday I got some Ft. Worth on the bottom of my shoes.

The experience met with my approval. Ft. Worth is Conan the Barbarian strong.

My friend and I endured the 30 mile one way drive to the Ridgelea Theater in Fort Worth. We saw the Ft. Worth skyline like a forest of penises on the side of the highway. The band Joy Division loaned us some angst for the drive.

The Ridgelea was pleasantly sketchy. Maybe Reno's Chop Shop could take some hints.

We were lead to the front door by a friendly bouncer through a hole in the fence. Like going out the snatch of destiny.

We emerged on the other size. Dimly lit Ft.Worthery embraced us as we went in the club. The second deity we passed in the Ft. Worthean book of the dead was a biker type with a mighty mullet. And we were shown some stairs.

We ascended into a lovely purgatory, a small dive bar playing the finest of metal to my heart. Pantera, Slayer, Megadeth, Danzig and the Misfits were all cherubs on this slightly cyberdelic journey.

When we arrived good noise rock was playing. It included a three piece band, guitar, drums and violin. Good trio.

The names of these bands are lost to me.

They were never emphasized.

The next two bands were pure noise. Sound effects with electrical interference. It was tough. Mind numbing. Fucked up. And a little boring.

The second band did it with throwing furniture.

Bouncers came down like Judge Dredd and escorted the cultural trouble makers.

Then one of my favorite DFW deities emerged.

The cat-headed New Fumes plays a kind of music that I can only describe as pure unrefined 21st century rock and roll. It washes me like the blood of Shiva. I am purified in its ultra-dimensional afterbirth.

The New Fumes is Frog Boy. Film maker freakazoid from heaven who puts strange cyberdelic movies and molestations on a projector screen while playing guitar and interfacing with his Mac Book Pro and other digital friends. The outcome is a pure rock and roll.

The kind that defies genre.

The best kind.

I am always honored and happy to see this act.

I was not alone in my adoration. Everyone was happy after such a strange Twilight Zone of art night. People demanded an encore, as they should.

I patted his back, hopefully not leaving the poor bastard feeling sexually abused.

I left with a smile on my face, and wishing this motherfucker could get some cash to record an album.

Did Any One Teach You, We are the City of Bonnie and Clyde

There is a true and deep power in Dallas TX.

This power has the strength to make youths take up guns and make whatever they want theirs to own. It has the power to cut through fear and make one truly free.

This power is found in good locally brewed country music.

I saw such music at the Goat. A east dallas bar, last Sunday night.

The Goat looked to me like it could be part of Patrick Swazie's movie Roadhouse.

I came here to see one thing.

Saddletramp, a band I know has the power of ancient Dallas rebellion in spades.

This power made Comanche's eat the flesh of their enemies, and it loaded Bonnie and Clyde's guns.

This power was found in the string bending fury of Saddletramp last Sunday.

The patronage of the Goat was a perfect ratio, like the Fibonacci sequence, true locals: bikers: people who look like they know who Jesus Lizard is.

Rock and Roll was thick here, thick enough to power a light saber. But rock and roll was not played, homage was paid to an elder god: Country.

If I ever gun down my enemies, or go through another divorce, Saddletramp will be my buckler and my sword. I will drink whisky for breakfast and listen to this darkness and take the world by the balls once again. So glorious.

Sometimes its nice to be able to write nice things.

Dragna was the second band that night. These guys are a couple of true rock and rollers. Music for treating the gas pedal on your car like it powered a half ton penis in the highway lanes.

Goddamnit, I swear I don't usually write so nice.

If this is your first metroplexian post, please check another one to see that I am not squeemish about spilling hate for a mediocre experience.

Dragna did not play its great rock music, but stuck to country.

The singer is pretty good at imitating Jonnhy Cash for country vocals, not exactly what I would call a fault. Don't get me wrong he has his own voice, but you get it if you are thinking Cash for pitch and melody.

The music Dragna plaid this night was low key, music to transmute one's liver into gold.

But jamming their CD and their myspace tracks makes me feel more like driving fast with a hard-on.

God, I love Rock and Roll.

Finally Lownesome Losers.

These guys were good. I can tell. But I was so amused by the ambiance, and I had a few comrades from the dayjob with me making great talk as my femme fatale smoked out front.

These bands played with an empty tip jar.

For that, everyone who was in that bar should burn in hell. I was forced to tip by the singer of Saddletramp, like a good samaritan freeing me from sin.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Houlihan's: Why Addison Sucks

Once when I was riding the DART redline I over heard a guy from New Jersey (who had moved here) tell a crowd of tourists that Addison is where its at.

I have a softspot for the Jersey folks, so I assumed he was right.

Over the years I have developed strange and mixed feelings about Addison. I love Dunn's brother coffee there, where I armed myself for many a UTD college exam.

I like the Addison Improv, the comedy club, and have been meaning to write a review of it for a while now.

I like the Flying Saucer, and its beer collection which makes a beer snob like me weep tears of joy. But overall I hate the whole Addison vibe. Perhaps I love-hate it, in the sense that it gives me a weird sense of Dallas snobbery while I reject everything that it stands for.

Addison is a mall. It is a giant fucking mall that happens to be laid out on streets. Namely Beltline, it hugs the Dallas North Toll Road from the 635 to Beltline, and it borders Richardson and Farmer's Branch.

So because people get told on the train that Addison is the best DFW has to offer, I feel like I have to be town crier on this one.

Addison is great for people who are completely out of touch with rock and roll and want to fake it for a night. Addison is great for people who have $50 to spend a night on entertainment.

Addison may have a sexy high society angle, but I see this kind of high society the way I see lawyers and doctors on Harley's :as totally fake!

Houlihans is an Addison bar which truly embodies these failures.

My friends and I went to Houlihan's to celebrate a birthday, which at most bars would have been an excuse to milk us for all kinds of money and festivity. Not at Houlihan's, from the moment we arrived we were treated like the help who had accidently wondered in from the street.

I was already laughing and skeptical from the second I went in, knowing the drinks would be expensive, but then here's where it gets funny.

We go in and ask about happy hour.

It is happy hour, but happy hour is only available at the bar.

So we are given a table for our birthday party, and at this table we pay full price for drinks. Or we can get up and go to the bar and pay half price.

Most of us do go to the bar to pay half price, and everyone should. But I feel the whole time that we are there like the waitress feels like we are a nuisance. This is confirmed when at some point she says that she doesn't think the bar tender will like it if we all go to the bar.

Well whoop-dee-fucking-doo.

The place cost a fortune. Even with happy hour drink prices, and had nothing to offer in return.

No music, no art, just the bourgioise experience of drinking in Addison.

And for the record I am a seasoned drinker in both Hollywood and Manhattan, Addison ain't shit!

DFW is full of great bars.

And if I wanted to have a drinking experience carefully tailored by corporate experience I could at least go to the House of Blues and hear some music while it happens.

This place was like Chilli's, only twice as expensive, and it thought it was a bar which Paul McCartney might show up (but it wasn't).

I shouldn't condemn all of Addison due to the negative experience I had at Houlihan's but it does feed my prejudice.

I go to Addison, and I feel like I am in a 10 square mile mall. And due to my philosophy that a good time in the Metroplex should not be expensive, the ritzy vibe that I get from so many establishments in Addison drive me crazy. For example, I am sure that Fogo de Chao; the Brazilian restaurant in Addison, is fabulous. But at about $30 (and up) a plate its out of range for me. There are many such establishments clustered in Addison and places like Houlihan's have prices that are just as high and nothing to offer.

DFW is generally riddled with places like this.

I could say much the same about the West End or Uptown Dallas.

It just irritates me when I know so many good times, overflowing with art and creativity, are available for much more reasonable prices all over the Metroplex.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Rise of the Amazons at Reno's Chop Shop

Alright, if you are a massive ignoramus and you don't know that the Amazons were mythological warrior women in ancient Greece you have two options : get a library card, or go kill yourself.

So when I call this post the "Rise of the Amazons" it is because I saw a bunch of awesome bands fronted by women at Reno's Chop Shop.

These bands include, One Eyed Doll, Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs, Screaming Red, and I also saw one other band called Eighth Circuit.

Gawd I fucking hate adding links on blogger!

So one more big fat link for you all, all the bad ass pictures from this show were provided by genius rock photographer Scott Hurst, and if you have a band and you want to look good doing it, you need to hire him right now!

So I heard about this show from Scott, who was pretty jazzed about seeing One Eyed Doll. He sent me a cool video from One Eyed Doll and I was sold. Truth is I was sold slightly before because I had read this article in Lit Monthly called "Chicks Reign."
Lit Monthly is probably DFW's best hipster magazine, though my loyalties to the Observer are unquestionable, the Observer's around town is written for people who can thoughtlessly blow $50 a night, which is not me!

Lit Monthly has one problem, all its reviews are positive. But they are also very descriptive and you can kind of figure out what you like if you read the details. Reading this magazine makes me feel like I have a great responsibility to point out shit and problems where I go and with the shows I see. If all the reviews are positive how is anyone to stand out as exceptional?

Lucky for all of you I am going to talk plenty of shit on this post.

Reno's is a biker bar in Deep Ellum. All in all its a cool place, but biker bars make me nervous. Probably due to my own vast arrogance and self doubt. I like to think I am the most macho bad ass that has ever lived, and large crowds of bikers put that assumption in to question.

As my wife and I approached Reno's we overheard some bikers bullshitting in the parking lot, and one sagely barbarian was pontificating to his friends, "Everybody's gotta have someone to hate..."

Indeed. Hopefully tonight it wouldn't be me.

When we got to the show the price $10 per person, all in all, it could have been worse. Apparently One Eyed Doll has a very strong following, and $10 was probably their fault.

When we got in Screaming Red was playing, much to my delight!

Screaming Red are a beautiful bunch of ladies, and a drummer who resembles Uncle Fester, who played with total fury. My unquestionable knowledge of punk rock tells me that this is the real deal and that this genre may well be alive and well. I was very pleased and bought a shot glass and a CD from this beautiful band. Total cost for CD and shotglass was $10, and the CD is in my car (the UFO on the logo) right now. Unfortunately I only got to hear a couple of songs from these ladies (and Fester) and missed out on too much of the live experience.

Screaming Red is fast, furious, provocative, and has good stage presence. Though all in all they were a little upstaged by the theatrics of Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs and One Eyed Doll. Don't get me wrong, I really liked Screaming Red.

I also, having lived in Lewisville for a little while, I have to give Screaming Red some love for being from this scary ass suburb. Lewisville is full of violent kids on xanex who all think they belong to gangs and wonder around among the possums causing much chaos. I worked a graveyard shift at a 7-11 there and could probably write a whole book about the drug addled violence of Lewisville.

Here is some more Screaming Red eye candy for you, remember Scott Hurst is the truth, the way and the life:

Just to give some more texture to the environment at Reno's, while most people seemed very nice and welcoming, there was a tough looking scary old bastard wandering around after Screaming Red wearing a T-Shirt that said "I got this shirt from your girlfriend's floor." He looked like he could walk onto the Set of the Sons of Anarchy and get a part. He seemed capable of only saying one word: "nigger." Which he said over and over again to anyone who paid him any mind.

Now for some of my readers the blatant offensiveness of this act is all the more reason to go check Reno's out. Hell to make friends with this guy, and maybe even make babies with him. But somehow I don't think he was doing this as an act of post-modernist critique so much as he really loved saying "nigger" over and over.

This was also accentuated by the fact that there were lots of scantily clad stripper girls at the show, wearing panties and garter belts, and looking very sexy. I thought these girls were celebrating their sexuality at a show fronted by so many beautiful and strong women. It turns out I was wrong, I will come back to this later.

But if you want hard, fast and real music, you are not going to get it at an art museum.

My favorite act of the night was Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs. They were amazing. They were punk rock alive and well and with a pulse approaching a heart attack. They were sexy and ugly at the same time. They were in your face. They covered the Iggy Pop with perfect channeling of the essence of this Punk rock god.

I am now a totally sold out fan for these 21st century punk rock gods.

Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs have enough of the style of GG Allen to be amazing, but not so much that you have to worry about leaving the show smeared in shit. The energy of this band was impossible to match, and they probably prevented me from being as fully converted to One Eyed Doll as I could have been.

One Eyed Doll followed Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs, which unfortunately for them, is an incredibly hard act to follow.
I want to see Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs over and over and over and over again.

Oh my fucking god I love these guys!

Alright the last band I will have anything nice to say about is One Eyed Doll. But first let me say the things that are not nice.

Everybody in the crowd seems to have seen One Eyed Doll before and loved them. Admittedly the music was very good. At this show it was a two piece band, a beautiful front woman, and a tough looking drummer. Apparently they were short one band member, which at this show was replaced by a stuffed Unicorn with a guitar ductaped to it.

The singer could do and say anything and the crowd ate it up. They loved it. They wanted more of anything she had to offer.

I wish I could have been at the shows that made them act like that. This was not one of them.

This was my first time to see One Eyed Doll, and aside from really liking the music I kept thinking, "Less Talk, More Rock!"

The singer of One Eyed Doll probably monologued minute for minute just as much as she performed songs. That means that if I had missed half the show, I would not have missed a single song. I guess she has enough hardcore fans and doesn't need to impress new comers.

But, with that said. The music was great. She had a vocal style reminiscent of Jello Biafra, the lyrics were dark and psychological, and I really fucking loved the music. When she was giving me music, which is about half the time.

I will go see One Eyed Doll again, I liked it enough for that. But I will be crossing my fingers that music dominates the performance. Or, perhaps she can put spoken word performance on the bill so I can know what I am getting myself into.

The last band was Eighth Circuit. The singer of this band was the only male frontman of the night. He looked like he had spent the last several years of his life trying to perfect looking like both Marilyn Manson and the singer of Korn.

At first I was like, Okay, I need to be open minded. He might surprise me. I have a soft spot for Marilyn Manson.

Then the true purpose of the strippers was revealed as they all got on stage and started dancing to the music.

Which could have been a cool effect. If they were dancing to the music, not the imaginary hip hop music in their minds. Ass shaking Ludacriss would have been proud of was put to what I can only describe as a failed impotent attempt to sound like System of a Down.

The band might have been mediocre if it weren't for the ridiculous theatrics with the stripppers and the front mans Marilyn Korn costume, but the theatrics made me certain that this band had no redeeming qualities.

I will not go see them again, unless they become a completely different act with the same name.

So thats what I did last saturday.

Go Dallas!