Despite A Late Start and An Early End, Preteen Zenith's Live Debut At GVB Fest Still Impressed

Categories: Last Night
preteen zenith live.jpg
Mike Mezeul
Dallas' Preteen Zenith make their live debut at GVB Fest. For more photos from the event, check out the slideshow.
It's impossible to extricate the actual Preteen Zenith, a distorted-pop sextet with all of a week's worth of full-band practice under its belt before its first gig, from the hype that was inevitable from the moment Tim DeLaughter announced that he was getting back together with latter-day Tripping Daisy guitarist Philip Karnats for a new project.

Add The Crash That Took Me's Dylan Silvers and former The Paper Chase drummer Jason Garner into the mix and schedule them as the penultimate act of the impeccably curated inaugural Gorilla Vs. Bear Festival, and the expectations were bound to be out of control.

Particularly outrageous was any notion that the band would start on time. It takes a while to set up smoke machines and more than a dozen multi-color disco balls and laser arrays, you know. Anticipation for the band's set continued to build as a screening of "The Adventures of Rubbleguts and B-B-Eye, Part One," a meandering short video starring Karnats and DeLaughter in dapper Butch Cassidy-style Old West drag, began more than a half hour after the band's scheduled start time.

Just what the fuck this quiet, shuffling, sleepy video had to do with the raucous, candy-colored explosion of sensory overload that followed still isn't clear. Because what came once the curtain rose was something else entirely.

Spinning lights! Smoke! Candles! Lasers!

Overwhelming as the visual bombast was, the music was perfectly suited to it. And while an overhead projection of swirling liquid color may have been a nod to the early days of DeLaughter's first band, this was definitely not Tripping Daisy revisited.

With Spree-ers Evan Hisey and DeLaughter's wife, Julie Doyle, at times both playing bass, the rumbling low-end converged with distorted synths and overblown guitars to create a maelstrom of noise that often drowned out DeLaughter's vocals.

Yet, chaotic and loud as it got, the ear-candy melodies were always discernable. Dynamic, too: Songs would build up from DeLaughter's solitary plinking of pretty piano melodies and burst into chest-thumping, head-pounding storms of noise.

DeLaughter sprang around the stage with as much exuberance as he did in Daisy's glory days, clearly overjoyed to be at the center of a psychedelic pop spectacle once again. The energy may not have been as concentrated as it was in the rehearsal video posted on the new band's website last week, but it was nonetheless truly impressive for a debut performance.

He kept up his enthusiasm even as a solitary shout of "White Denim!" between songs began to spread throughout the theater after five or six songs. Preteen Zenith's set -- plus their extended set-up time (not to mention the in-retrospect-perhaps-unnecessary video screening) -- had eaten well into the supposed headliner's time slot.

"Friends and family!" DeLaughter responded to the chants after Preteen Zenith's seventh song. DeLaughter strapped on an acoustic guitar for another number. But after a White Denim member came out onto the stage for a word with DeLaughter, he conceded over the microphone that yes, White Denim had friends and family present as well.

Preteen Zenith appeared all set to launch into a closing song -- the performance of which, DeLaughter told us in a post-show interview, would have included something "wonderful" and never before seen -- when the venue dropped the video screen in front of them, essentially kicking them off the stage. "My goodness!" DeLaughter exclaimed into the still-live mic.

For better and for worse, the debut was unforgettable.

And with the promise of a future unveiling of this wonderful surprise that was pre-empted by the curtailing of the band's set, the intrigue -- and the hype -- can only continue.


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21 comments
2x40x80
2x40x80

Or, you could read the point of view of the everyday joe, not up front and not having any particular reason to ingratiate themselves with Tim DeLaughter.

http://2x40x80.blogspot.com/

Ensiform
Ensiform

It was an awful, awful show, and only some hipster afraid to be the first to admit that he didn't like the "cool guy" would write such a fawning article about such a debacle.

Wordb
Wordb

people always wanna whine. It was Tim's new project! Of course he wanted to debut with all the bells and whistles! Everyone has had to wait for a band to set up at some time. I really don't think you can judge a man and his ego by the time it takes to set up fog and lasers. Stop your crying and smile.

Better Ears
Better Ears

Gotta chime in and say that this article is full of shit, and another example of how the Dallas Observer can't get it right.  That goes for Pete Freedman and whoever else writes for these lazy music columns.  That Preteen Penis show was weak, annoyingly delayed, the video was stupid and the music was simple in a bad way.  The lights looked cool, but did not justify wasting a lot of people's time (the concert was $30!).  White Denim was KILLING IT, and their set was cut short because Tim Delaughter had to walk around with a candle and act like his was the only band on the bill.  And how can you possibly say that the festival was "impeccably curated?"  Those acts were so boring; it had a lot to do with why I was screaming "White Denim!" so loud during Tim Delaughter's lame keyboard playing.  Why can't you write pieces on some of the great bands in town that never get any press?  You're lazy.  Press your ear closer to the ground or give the job to someone else.  I'm tired of reading these pandering articles and wondering when a certain few bands are ever going to get the recognition they deserve.  

Chris Taylor
Chris Taylor

I just don't understand-- why not play the dumb video while still setting up? Why wait an hour-plus to set up, be finally set up, and then show the video. That detail in itself is indicative of the utter lack of regard for the audience and festival, as well as an ego that can sabotage even the best musical ideas. 

pdiddy
pdiddy

"Yet, chaotic and loud as it got, the ear-candy melodies were always discernable."  Not quite...the sound sucked.  You couldn't hear the vocals for most of the short set and the drums sounded like they were at the Crown and Harp down the street.

Timewilltell
Timewilltell

Either you're friends with someone in the hand or you were paid to write this inaccurate telling of events on Saturday. Most people were annoyed by them and rightly so...they spent more time thinking about the stage show and clearly minimal amount of time writing anything that sounded like a cohesive set of songs. Unfortunately its another band of Tim's that rely more on gimmicks versus just being about good music. Which is sad because a good chunk of the audience were there to see them and many expressed their disappointment with what we saw. Oh and those audience chants during preteen's set...."white denim". You don't try to hijack the headliner's set guys....bad form!

Ensiform
Ensiform

And by the way: in the line  "Anticipation for the band's set continued to build as a screening of "The Adventures of Rubbleguts and B-B-Eye, Part One," a meandering short video ..." you misspelled "Angry impatience" as "Anticipation."

the 00's aren't in anymore
the 00's aren't in anymore

god bless better ears. amen. let this serve as a warning: get with the fucking program, or prepare to go the way of quick. fuckers....  that goes for cuntalini too, if he/it plans on doing this shit again. you suck, muthafugga.

THEBIZARROKIDS
THEBIZARROKIDS

Very well said. I missed white denim playing Is and Is and Is for that bullshit video. While I certainly don't think anyone was paid to write this article, I do think both of you are a little too timid to admit that tim delaughters glory days are over and that set was a complete waste of time.

JesseHughey
JesseHughey

I mentioned the "White Denim" chants in the review, Timewilltell. I'm not friends with anyone in the band. Suggesting I was "paid to write something inaccurate" is so absurd it doesn't deserve a response. I was writing specifically about the band's debut, and Daniel wrote about the lateness and its affect on the overall fest. As for the sound, maybe it depends where you were in the theater. Daniel and I were pretty close and it sounded pretty good. And down front, at least, most of the crowd seemed into it in spite of the tardiness.

Daniel Hopkins
Daniel Hopkins

Actually, I can vouch for Jesse. I was there, and his review isspot on. The songs were interesting and the show was a spectacle. Had they not cut into White Denim's set, I think a lot more people would be singing their praise.

Take out all the nonsense about going on late and cutting into the headliner's set, and judge the music for what it was, and you've got a pretty amazing band.

Ensiform
Ensiform

No, you have a boring band that needs a light show as a crutch.

Better Ears
Better Ears

No, you do not have a pretty amazing band.  You have a pretty light show, but not an amazing band.  

JesseHughey
JesseHughey

I couldn't give less of a shit about what an anonymous asshole calls "dignity." 

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