On The King Bucks, and The Importance of Really Connecting With an Audience...

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Sarah Jane Semrad
The King Bucks

Take The King Bucks, for example.

Nothing wrong with their music, and they have chops. They're good lookin'. They have some fine ironic facial hair.

But I don't like 'em and I'll tell you why: Because they don't care about me. Not me personally, but me as a member of the audience.

The couple of times I've seen the King Bucks, they've played skillfully but put out no sparks. Occasionally one or the other muttered something unintelligible into the mic, but mostly they didn't bother with patter. They seemed to be looking at something deep in their own heads rather than at the full-house crowds that had shown up to commune with them. They didn't show us any love.

Ergo, fuck 'em. I'm not interested.

This is show business. Gimme a show. Put some energy into it. Send some energy out. Gimme some patter, some razzle-dazzle. Prove to me that you want it. Entertain me.

A lot of bands I've seen in recent years don't seem to know that they're in show business. They seem to think they're just taking it out of the living room onto a stage. And I'm not just talking about shoegazers.

You don't need dancing monkeys, rings of fire or levitating drummers to put on a show. You just have to care, really care, that your audience has a good time.

Sammy Davis Jr. put on a show. (Yeah, I've seen him. He was greatness.) Jerry Lee Lewis puts on a show. (And is one of the most terrifying people I have ever seen close up. The Killer, indeed.) Prince puts on a show. Mick Jagger, at 137 years old, can still put on a show. Los Straitjackets put on a show. Guided by Voices put on a show, even though I spent much of it wondering who on stage would be first to hurl. Emmylou Harris put on a show the other night, creating an intimate, porch-swing experience for her audience. It was quiet, but it was a show.

Boys Named Sue are shticky, but they put on a show. Ditto Brave Combo. The "o" in The O's stands for "overexposed," but they put on a show, too. They talk to the audience, they kid around. I feel like they care, so I care back. I've seen Binary Sunrise just once but I'd see them again. Their show spattered a kind of weird energy all over the small room and I dug 'em.

I'd mention other bands that don't put on a show, but who the hell remembers them? Most people leave their sets early.

Perhaps the problem is that we are now deep into generations of musicians whose early experiences of music were mediated by screens. Maybe some of them don't know the importance of looking an audience in the eye (literally and metaphorically) because their introduction to music was on TV or a computer, where you can't feel the heat no matter how many smoldering looks bands give the camera.

I'm old and crotchety and have high expectations.

My family tree includes vaudevillians, movie stars and musicians. I grew up in New York City when $5 bought a standing room ticket to any show on Broadway. I saw lots. My formative musical years were spent at CBGB and Max's Kansas City, when punk was new and right up in your face.

The Ramones put on a show that blew your hair back. Klaus Nomi put on a show. The Dead Boys put on a show. Tuff Darts put on a show. Suicide put on a show. A weird one.

My strict personal rule is that I applaud any performer on stage, no matter how sucky. I applaud their willingness to take the risk of performing, and believe applause is part of the contract between audience and performer.

But a band that doesn't put on a show gets my "yeah, whatever" applause. A few feeble claps and out. The equivalent of a five percent tip.

Want the full, hand-hurting, slightly-longer-than-necessary applause, maybe even some over-the-head-action, or, the holy grail, a shouted "WHOOOOOOOO!" and you've got to work for it. Gimme a show. Entertain me.

If you want me to love you, baby, you gotta love me back.

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143 comments
Daniel Rush Folmer
Daniel Rush Folmer

the king bucks - god bless their souls.unless we're talkin about roy rogers or wilf carter or some old school "brought to you by brillo pads" shit. their job was to yodel-ay-hee-hoo and show all of you yankees what the fuck we do down here.

edited for posterity

Charles Shurtleff
Charles Shurtleff

You should start a Sammy Davis Jr. Cover Band, Sophia, with all of your keen recognition of talent and "grand experiences.". I really want to see the King Bucks since you trashed them. I have read your website and you seem like an intelligent and articulate person but I see alot of self promotion in your article and to say "fuck em" and to rag on someone's "ironic facial hair" was just a way of antagonizing them. You probably got the blasting you deserved in their response. I will be watchful for your articles so I guess you acomplished the results you had in mind.

Jake
Jake

"Gimme a show. Entertain me."?? It seems like you need to go see the american idols

Regan Russell
Regan Russell

Dear dear Sophia.... They played at my wedding particularly because how they interact with the audience. They are the most kind hearted humble talented group of men, and I was so blessed to have them for my reception!

My guests did not come to be entertained, but to their surprise they found so much joy in Mr. Chad's banter about "the delicious cake". Mr. Chad, Joe, Chris, Keith, and Danny had their own room they could have holed up in their between sets... But they danced and chatted with my guests. So much for your theory on them not caring about their audience!

Shame on you Sophia... You could not have written a more off base article

Richard Crossland
Richard Crossland

The music speaks for itself.  Did you ever watch John Lennon?  Bob Dylan?  Joni Mitchell?You don't have to jump around like a dancer in a Vegas chorus line to create a compellingmusical experience, to "connect" with the audience.  All of what you seem to want is peripheral fluff, which, I'm sorry to say, is the perfect way to describe your piece.

Michael
Michael

I see a self absorbed tirade more than anything resembling professional journalism or even a high school students desperate attempt at intrigue. Try harder next time.

Pecos_Drifter
Pecos_Drifter

I like the King Bucks because Danny wears shoes with live goldfish in the heals......they put on a good musical show and that's enough.....

Just sayin'
Just sayin'

You all just need to calm down.  I've seen many bands who had a great sound that I appreciated listening to at home but let me down w/ their stage presence once seen live.  I like to see enthusiasm, inclusion and comradery in musicians, athletes and all other performers. And all of it is part of the performance and enjoyment for me. If anything else, take the constructive parts of the criticism and put your egos aside.  I'd be willing to bet that people who never thought about coming to a show will show up at future events just to see what all the fuss is about.  There is no bad publicity, right? And props to Joe for keeping it civil.  I can't say the same for what I've read of Danny's reaction. As a matter of fact, his comments will preclude me from ever knowingly seeing a band he participates in.  When you put yourself out there, there will always be someone who doesn't appreciate what you do.  Consider yourselves lucky that so many people do appreciate you!

Sally
Sally

Well said, Sophia! I couldn't agree more.

sc
sc

kingbucks are a country cover band.  as long as they play music and the beer is cold thats all that matters.  

Ron Bulla
Ron Bulla

I have never seen the King Bucks perform. But I can say unequivocally that I have never seen a better live showman than Keith Killoren in Budapest One. GREAT effin music too.

Eam0061
Eam0061

This whole thing was really annoying to read. Just everything. Especially the band getting in the comments and saying how much they don't care what people think, yet try to goad people into banter. ITS THE DALLAS OBSERVER NOT FUCKING ROLLING STONE. And if I didn't see Danny call Sophia a fat bitch I probably would have never even bothered to read the article. And now I am just left with a sour taste for TKB for not being able to handle any sort of criticism.  

Paul Burrough
Paul Burrough

Anyone want to start a country band with me named Two Tons of Stool?

Matt P
Matt P

I like the King Bucks even more now.

Dub Taco
Dub Taco

I still love the King Bucks, and Tacos(homade picadillo) FTW!

Kimberly Duncan
Kimberly Duncan

Ok, boys. The jig is up. And it was well done. Obviously you created this "Soph-eye-ah" persona yourselves. You took the time to write an incredibly boring blog and credited it to your own creation. Then you got the Observer to publish your rant against yourselves. Stop, already. We will come to your show.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Can't read this narcissistic screed much longer.  It's called a generation gap.  You might best understand it as the Nirvana effect.  I don't want to see KISS--they suck and they pander to their audience--I guess that's what you want.  I guess you like Def Leppard too, even they pander to adolescents, that's the only thing you understand about the not so much younger generation--hell I'm a man, I'm forty!

Spunkyjazz
Spunkyjazz

I got a fever and the cure is more Sammy Davis, Jr. covers.  You hear me King Bucks ?  How about some Candy Man ? 

Mikemusic
Mikemusic

I just read the article in question, and am a bit flummoxed. As a working musician in DFW and a loyal Observer reader, I am amazed at what little respect (in this piece alone) is payed to people who have cultivated a life long talent and passion for an art form. On the whole, I find the Observer to be a true local voice for locals, calling us out on our successes and failures. That being said... Do I come to your place of work making drunken and often rude requests for a soft shoe number when you deliver your TPS reports? Do I scream at the top of my whiskey laced voice,"Play some Skynnard,man!" as you consult your editor?  Do I, brandishing my newly discovered faith, nestled betwixt my ridiculouslly enhanced chesticles proclaim,"Play something so we can dance?" As a writer, do you enjoy criticism from those who know little if anything of what you do, who you are or how you do it?

I understand that a patron and owner of said club/bar wants the most bang for their collective buck, but the performance is a conversation requiring a modicum of effort by all THREE parties.  God bless the 'Bucks for paying homage to a literary and musical tradition that has been supplanted by the tawdry affectations of labels and the hormonally driven pre-pubescent market.

The 'Bucks are very transparent about what it is they come to do. Sustaining a viable, historical and very appropriate regional art form that has influenced countless others around the globe. Feel free not to like "it". That is your perogitive. Questioning artistic integrity without the benefit of your subjects response is not.

In your next article, I would appreciate more "razzle-dazzle", preferably in the form of; underline, bold type, italics, capitalization and maybe an audible.com version featuring the narrative vocal talents of Morgan Freeman. He has a real star power  that will really connect me to the real story.

Cogburn
Cogburn

Way to go Rooster. Let's piss of one of the few great talents that's still farting around town. Quite enjoyed them playing at the Oak Cliff beer festival and folks out dancing to their tunes, whether they play there or in Deep Ellum. And Chad's banter, if you pay attention, is gold. Just agree that your comments were misplaced, for the rest of us.

Dub Taco
Dub Taco

I love the King Bucks and Tacos!

BoarSmith
BoarSmith

Sophia I loved your Book on the greatness of Dr. Phil, can I have a copy for my Boar friends?

Jesse Scroggins
Jesse Scroggins

The King Bucks members' posts in the comment section are much more entertaining than this article. Now that's ironic.

BoarSmith
BoarSmith

 Oh Sophia , The Boars have been unleashed.

Drewadams83
Drewadams83

You go see music to listen. If you need a "show" go see the effing flaming lips or disney on ice. You people are missing a chromosome.

John
John

You (Dembling) obviously haven't got a clue.  Move back to New York and get one!!!!

Billy Bones
Billy Bones

anyone ever seen the DSO? WOW THEY SUCK SO HARD. TERRIBLE SHOW.

Guest
Guest

Why would the Observer use what little clout they have to try and pursued people to NOT go see a local act?  It seems like a terrible use of a public forum which could do a lot to help the local scene but instead they use it to pull this name dropper bullshit.  At the risk of sounding whiny, it's pretty fucking mean.  And for the record, I don't know the King Bucks.  I just hate seeing a band get dissed for the wrong reasons.                           

Here's a suggestion:  Why not just change the music section to the "performer" section?  Since we're now going to judge bands on stage antics and pizzazz ......In this section you could highlight magicians, dancers, vaudevillians, mimes, musicians (only those with great stage shows), comedians etc.  That way you could just totally ignore bands that put musical performance ahead of everything else and you wouldn't have to write pieces like this that call out one single band by name for not living up to a standard that the writer developed in 1977.

Joseph Butcher
Joseph Butcher

All this being said, please come see us as we look deep into our own heads and not give a shit about the audience this saturday at Adairs, where for some reason they keep booking us at least once a month for 4 years in a row.

Ryanpanties
Ryanpanties

I've always heard the exact opposite of this about these guys.  Strange.  I look forward to seeing them and forming my own opinion. 

Opinions on the band aside, this was a horrendous read.  This starts off initially as if to be a show review, but doesn't focus on any particular show, or even mention what shows the author has seen (not by the band being written about anyhow).  It then proceeds into a list of completely unrelated and incomparable acts that the author has seen and deemed admirable (complete with "yes, i saw/met him" boasts in parentheses).  After some rambling about television we get to the really masturbatory part, where we learn about the authors family (which includes movie stars!!!), and "back when punk was in your face" in Kansas City.  Time for another list of unrelated and incomparable acts that the author has seen, before we end with a reminder that you've gotta show love to get it.  Hahahahaha.  Awesome.

Meeee
Meeee

Ughhh this is the worst! First, they're one of the bands that draw a crowd because they typically do work with the audience and put on a show. I've seen them get off the stage and dance with people, and there are many more examples I won't bother going into. BUT, ughh, I go to see the music personally. I don't expect a dancing monkey. While I appreciate a James Brown act, I can also appreciate a show in which it's simply some guys (or gals) who are just out to play their music. Why? Because they're musicians, not Cirque du Soleil. In fact, I really appreciate watching musicians who are so into playing the music, they don't have time to hold up a cane and shake their leg across the stage.

Ricky
Ricky

One more reason to not give a shit about the Observer.

Darin Robinson
Darin Robinson

 Wow, shades of 94..... People gettin' pissed over something written about a local band.... It's The Observer. These things happen. I kind of almost feel like it's a set up. The meeting was "find writer (not from staff) pick beloved band, write something non positive, wait for reaction"  For the record Butcher wins, for a number of reasons, but in this particular case for the comment "My biggest beef with this article was that Sophia called my facial hair "ironic."-

Nicely played sir, nicely played indeed!

b.
b.

there are a possibility of 2 things going on here.... either you saw the wrong band, or you have poor taste in music.

only 2 conclusions i can come to.

Brian Smith
Brian Smith

Sounds like this writer just doesn't like bands for the actual musical content they offer.  And she's probably secret lovers with The Rooster.

Fuckoff
Fuckoff

This is some classic observer horse shit. Let's bash one of the coolest local groups in order to get the viewer count and comment section up on the site! If the only way to attract readers is by giving a narrow minded and unnecessary opinions someone needs to reconsider who they're hiring to run this blog.

Philipcreamer
Philipcreamer

Come see my band, Dovetail. If you want a show, come out.

Dylan
Dylan

I will say that i tip my hat to Joe for holding up well and remaining classy and peaceful for the most part in the face of both constructive and scathing criticism.

Beau Patrick Bedford
Beau Patrick Bedford

You don't know one thing about the Bucks till you've visited Adair's at 1am on a weekday, twirled two girls around at once as Danny B sings a boot-knockin' 70s-esque real ass GD country song, meanwhile, Joe and the rest of the Buck-a-roos play til the cows come home... stick around for an after hours drink too, someone from the band is liable to have a flask on 'em.

And Rooster, I'd quit stirring the pot and just answer Joe's straight ahead questions. I wouldn't want to mess around with the Butcher and his 'iconic' stache.

As far as performance goes: Lights, smoke and mirrors are the last thing you'll see at a Bucks' show. It seems ironic to love both the flamboyance of the Stones, yet at the same time have a special place in my heart for a King Bucks' concert. But as a faithful listener to each and a performer myself, I admire what each of them does. What I most want to see from an artist is authenticity. If they don't feel like talking, I don't want them to, and neither should you as a listener. I don't need a jerk off at the end of a song. Too Cool for School? That ain't the Bucks. There's about 100 other bands in Dallas that come in before them on that train.

I'm not writing any of this because I'm friends with the band (I'm not), or because they're my favorite local band (they're not). The King Bucks simply represent something good and pure about music: Great songs that are carefully crafted and dutifully performed every time. They bring excellence to every show, because they realize that every note and lyric matters. That's how 1% of the bands get 76% of the gigs. Tough luck if they don't throw any extra sugar on top of their songs. If you actually listen to what's going on, you'll find that it's sweet enough.

I'm now making the huge Neil Armstrong leap off my high horse. Long live you decrepit music scene in Dallas! One day we will make something of you! One Day.... in the meantime, Love the Bucks.

Fake HP Corby
Fake HP Corby

It's funny that Danny shits all over the Steve Miller's and Eagles of the world for rolling out the greatest hits machine at the AAC, and yet it's not acceptable for this old broad to point that same finger at his dipshit little cover band.  When I say dipshit little cover band, I'm basically quoting the dark cloud himself.  Still, kudos to the Observer for pissing in everyone's soup once again and generating harsh feelings for all parties involved.  Wilonsky, while I'm here can you tell us all again how your 6 year old is just such a huge beatles fan?  That's what I call interesting!

phe_75034
phe_75034

They're a little more than a "cover band". They do have a record out, and it's pretty good.

I have seen King Bucks any number of times and have always been entertained. I'm mostly there for the music, and they kill that part. Chad is hilarious, once you start paying attention. He and Joe have some good interplay. Keith is one of the nicest, most genuine guys you will ever meet, if you get the opportunity to talk with him off stage.

All of these guys have skins on the wall, and I doubt any of them financially have to be playing as frequently as they do - that sounds like a bunch of guys who are enjoying what they are doing.

In my opinion, a King Bucks show at All Good is a bargain for $10, and they play for free all over the place. Don't get the bitching at all.

Guest
Guest

How would you handle someone saying "fuck 'em"? Not exactly constructive criticism.  Seems some have responded in kind (Danny) and some have taken the high road (Joe).  The level of discourse was set by this poor excuse of a blog post.

Paul Burrough
Paul Burrough

ok, then whabbout The Polyester Rustler Farts?  The Menstruating Ghost of Puncak? i get no love.

Ryanpanties
Ryanpanties

it's just not entertainment without a Morgan Freeman involved.

Chadstockslager1
Chadstockslager1

Ryanpanties raises a good point. What show could this possibly be in reference to? The response the King Bucks receives from an audience is always overwhelmingly supportive. If you think for a second we don't express our appreciation for the crowd, you seriously might be thinking of someone else entirely.

The main thing I hear from folks seeing the Bucks for the first time is, "man, I don't even like country music but I love you guys!". This tells me that we surely must have some connection, some sort of exciting element that keeps them engaged. The idea that we don't "kid around" or "talk to the audience" is simply too absurd.

I must say that the mention of Sammy Davis Jr is particularly baffling. We are a country band playing old school honky tonk. What country act do you know that tap dances while singing Candy Man? I'm all for a spirited discourse regarding the nature of live performance, but this article offered a vastly misinformed and needlessly mean spirited introduction to that discussion. Shameful really...

Ryanpanties
Ryanpanties

bottom line, this was far more about the author than it was about the band it claimed as its topic.  i expected better.

Freedomrock
Freedomrock

And you know a band that really does put on a good show? Regatta De Faux, the music of the Police. That's who. Tonight at LBG (7/1/11). Featuring above D. Robinson on guitar...

Just sayin'
Just sayin'

I don't think Danny's response was "in kind".  She critiqued their stage presence and he started personally attacking her appearance. Granted, she commented on their appearance "good looking" but I don't think his response was appropriate at all. He could have called her a hack, said "fuck her"  and that would be "in kind".  Danny seems to be an angry, immature and insecure person and I wish him the best nonetheless. Joe seems to be a well adjusted adult and I hope the author takes him up on a visit over coffee.

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