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.

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