Huge thanks to @TaylornPrater for a great review & great photos!
Also thanks to @SandyHibbard over at Lyric Marketing for use of some great photos!
Deep Ellum rocked hard, synth-ed hard and jazzed hard Saturday evening for the long-awaited Dallas Observer Music Awards showcase, giving locals eight-plus hours of quality area music and an easy means of seeing just how widespread the DFW music scene really is.
The whole shindig was put together to give showcase-goers a face-to-face example of the artists nominated in the Dallas Observer Music Awards, a yearly ceremony celebrating the DFW music community.
More than 60 bands were featured Saturday night in venues like Trees, Club Dada, The Prophet Bar, Reno’s and LaGrange, serving up an eclectic mix of local music fans, city characters, up-and-coming musicians and big names alike.
We at GoodBAMMSho decided to kick off our night at Club Dada with our very own Sarah Sellers, setting the bar high for all performers after her and immediately grabbing the attention of the room, even just from her warm-up before the set.
Sellers’ classic, jazzy vibe, combined with the intimate setting Club Dada proudly boasts, the emotionally-striking red feature lights, a fantastic band and the sheer number of people flocking into the venue set up the ideal environment for the start of the local showcase.
And Sellers herself brought forth her bright energy, infecting the crowd with her paired-up power vocals and vivacious dance moves that I heard murmurs behind me lamenting the end of the set – one hour just wasn’t enough. People had their phones out voting for her for Best Female Vocalist before the last chord faded away.
|Sarah Sellers and Band Post Show|
After that Club Dada was all riled up, show-goers releasing the pent-up energy from anticipating the night and ordering rounds of drinks, excitedly customizing their schedules and chattering about the next performer – folk artist Clint Niosi.
Niosi’s set was fantastic and certainly not lacking in depth or talent. Take Niosi’s newest LP, For Pleasure and Spite (released in August), and you’d see for yourself how much he stands out as one of Fort Worth’s brightest singer-songwriters (the name of his 2008 release, The Sound of Dead Horses Beaten Against Cold Shoulders, exemplifies that in itself). Niosi’s set and sound called for a setting even more intimate than Club Dada – a setting like Lola’s Saloon or The Aardvark in Fort Worth, where fans are really in their element and engrossed in Niosi’s quirky, intelligent lyrics paired with the deep-reaching acoustic guitar/violin duo.
The mood in Club Dada just seemed too sporadic and unfortunately focused on the wrong side of the room – those of us with the experience of being up close during the set were lucky enough to witness a truly genuine set.
I made the trek over to The Prophet Bar for the next performance – My Wooden Leg, another example of the unique sound and talent coming from Fort Worth.
My Wooden Leg’s most recent release, June’s The Jealous Disco, has easily been one of my favorite albums of the year because of the band’s ability to juxtapose different styles so smoothly while still remaining true to their folk-ish, gypsy style.
Front man Michael Maftean flew solo for this performance, and for intriguing reason – the band’s other half, Joshua Jones, was literally up in outer space, according to Maftean himself. So while Jones was orbiting the earth, Maftean was holding down the fort and serving up a fun acoustic set, capturing the attention of the whole room (perhaps with some good space vibes on his side).
At that point I felt overwhelmed – so many fantastic local sets to catch, so much good intention to see them all, but a downing realization that doing so was simply impossible.
Luckily for me, Datahowler began setting up at The Prophet Bar, giving me due cause to stay right where I was.
Although when I think about it, it would have been difficult trying to leave in the first place (not that I had ever even considered it – Datahowler could be considered one of the most popular local acts of 2012). The bar was packed before he even brought out his projector screen. People began trickling to the front to catch the full extent of the performance, even sneaking in from behind the stage to grab a primo spot.
And boy, did Datahowler deliver as always. His preface of “things are gonna get weird” and the psychedelic projection behind him created an outstanding live experience that’s hard to put into words – my biggest suggestion would be to find him wherever you can, get as close as you can and just succumb to the music.
The bass was so loud at the end, I nearly fell over with every pulsation, and that is no exaggeration. It was like experiencing a roller coaster while standing still, and it’s safe to say I wasn’t the only one who thought so.
Back at Club Dada the party was still going, this time with jazz band Mora Collective bringing down the house with some signature dubstep/hip-hop sound worked in. Tenor saxophonist Zach Puchkors caught my eye right off the bat with his dynamic presence on stage – a saxophone might not be the first thing you expect to see in Club Dada during a music fest, but Mora Collective certainly shattered any jazz band stereotypes.
The three guys who make up the band work together in such an interesting way that provides a great parallel to their musical style – you’ve got the saxophonist jamming out up front, bassist serving up the funk on top of a layer of animalistic drumming coming from the back. At one point the dude took off his shirt mid-cadence. The reaction was unreal. So when they brought in the dub the place literally started to shake. Overall, Mora Collective may not have been what everyone would have expected (at least those who didn’t know their music), but definitely was what everyone remembered at the end of the night.
It was time for a change in scenery from there, and GoodBAMMSho was feeling particularly adventurous. Thus came Reno’s for punk rockers The Atomic Tanline’s set, and let me tell you, there could be no better match between venue and artist as there was here (except perhaps Rubber Gloves in Denton, which the duo calls home).
I think the moshing started before the music even did; the anticipation, excitement, rebellion and anarchy was physical, palpable. Within the first 30 seconds the lead singer had her microphone literally in her mouth. People were feeling good, tossing about, taking pictures and even hugging while the band played everywhere but on stage – tabletops, mid-crowd, you name it. A nice interjection among the jazz bands and the synth rockers in a venue a little more tucked away from the others – definitely an act worth catching if you’re ever in the area or around Denton.
And if you checked out the site in late October you would have seen a killer playlist from newfound trio Blackstone Rangers, who was up next on the agenda for a can’t-miss show.
Club Dada was as packed as ever for this set (maybe it never really diminished at all throughout the night), and it was instantly apparent why – Blackstone Rangers were there to keep the ball rolling as the night turned to morning with their feisty, distorted, synth-pop style.
The trio kept the good vibes flowing and not a single foot was left planted on the floor, not even from the group members themselves. And DOMA rocked on as crowd numbers grew with the night. Tonight’s award ceremony at the House of Blues is sure to be a gargantuan hit, if it’s anything like the spirit of the showcase (and coming from the folks at the Dallas Observer, I think that’s a safe bet).