The Conversation: Which of the Three Major North Texas Cities is The Hottest Right Now?
|That red part's us, y'all.|
Still, it seems that seems that when one city's music scene is experiencing a good spell, the other two become mediocre or dry.
For example: The Fort Worth music scene. It's stronger right now than it's been in years -- maybe ever. Meanwhile Dallas carries on at a comfortable pace and Denton is a little dry.
A few years back, though, all those positions were swapped.
So, this week, we invited several representatives from each scene to discuss which city currently appears on top of its game and which is a little cold. Together, Andy Odom of Dentoneer, Cory Graves of Subservient Experiment, Mark Schectman of KDGE 102.1-FM The Edge, Anthony Mariani of Fort Worth Weekly and I each shared our thoughts on the matter. It turned into a pretty interesting discussion about the cyclical nature of each music scene.
Hit the jump to check it out.
Daniel: So, let's cut right to the chase, guys. Which city is hot snot right now and which one is cold buggers?
Andy: I'm not sure any one city is "hotter" than any other at the moment. The Dallas Observer Music Awards nominations released a few mornings ago show evidence of that, I think. Generally speaking, the nominations are pretty evenly distributed between Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton, whereas the last couple of years it's been heavily slanted towards Denton. Pete Freedman -- or maybe it was DC9AtNight -- tweeted a couple of weeks ago that "The Dallas music scene comes in waves." That's true about every scene. Denton, for example, is in a bit of a low period right now, but has always been cyclical. With a few exceptions like Soviet or Bethan, it looks like we're all in North Texas going to be stuck with the same few bands (Telegraph Canyon, The O's, RTB2) for a while. It's just natural.
Cory: I'll go out on a limb and say that I think Fort Worth is pretty hot right now, and the number of Fort Worth bands on the Dallas Observer Music Awards ballot is a testament to that, I think. Personally, I've known very little about Fort Worth's scene despite going out to quite a few shows all over the Metroplex the past few years. But, in the last few months alone, I've not only found myself going to a lot more shows out there, but I'm also discovering a lot of good bands from there (Fate Lions, Calhoun, Orbans, Convoy and the Cattlemen, Luke Wade, My Wooden Leg). Perhaps the issue is not who has the most talent but who does the best job letting everybody know it. Because, far as I know, there aren't really any good blogs or music publications based in Fort Worth. And a lot of these bands don't play as much in other parts of the Metroplex. Their scene is a little more closed off/under the radar.
Mark: I'm going to have to agree with Cory here that crazy Fort Worth is having an especially good year comparatively. But I would argue that it's not really the shear number of good bands (although there are a lot), but that there are a few bands that are releasing some really stellar music right now. The new Burning Hotels record will do a lot to continue their legacy and probably gain them a lot more exposure. I don't know if anyone has released a better album this year than Calhoun. I do think that there is a disconnect in Dallas and Denton, so some of these bands have a hard time getting booked or heard in those cities. There's also the misconception that all bands in Fort Worth are country. But it does seem that bands in the Fort do a better job of getting out of town to tour and build a fan base, whether it be just to Oklahoma or beyond.
Anthony: I can't compare scenes, having been to Denton only once (for my wife's niece's high-school volleyball tournament) and to Dallas twice (for a show by John Price and one by, yes, Flickerstick) in my 10 years in Fort Worth. However, before I move on to supplying anecdotal evidence, allow me to enumerate briefly what's been happening in Tarrant County over the past several months. There's been a dramatic surge in relatively new bands. New good bands is the most obvious phenomenon. Just to name a few: Skeleton Coast, The Cleanup, Fou, My Wooden Leg, Stone Machine Electric, china kills girls, UNRAVELER (formerly Magnus), Wild//Tribe (guys from Tolar and Unit 21), Perdition, Badcreek (ex-Mockingbird Cartel), Tiger of Bengal, Slumberbuzz, The Skeeves, Gonzo City, Constant Seas, Most Efficient Women, Drift Era (helmed by JoCo), producer Phil Ford, Gunga Galunga, The Moonshiners, aneTIX, DJ Hyphy, The Apache 5, and more, plus grossly overlooked stalwarts such as Alan, Barrel Delux, Jody Jones, Joe & The Sonic Dirt From Madagascar, and Jefferson Colby, PLUS new albums by JJ & The Rogues, Tame ... Tame & Quiet, The Apache 5, Secret Ghost Champion, Phantom Caste, Quaker City Night Hawks, Wild//Tribe, Automorrow, Jefferson Colby, Calhoun, Whiskey Folk Ramblers, and EPIC RUINS. Plus, of course, the forthcoming album by Burning Hotels. And the young Hanna Barbarians, who also just put out a new album, a tasty slab of scuzz-rock, will be the cover story in this week's Weekly. Anecdotally, I can say that most weekend and weekday shows at Fort Worth's main indie venues -- Lola's, The Moon, The Grotto, The Where House, and The Aardvark -- have been packed throughout the summer. I also can say that our 2011 Fort Worth Music Festival, with 50 Fort Worth bands in eight different venues in the West 7th corridor on a single day in July drew about 7,000 people. And, yes, I'll let this one slide -- that there really "aren't really any good blogs or music publications based in Fort Worth." Yes, we Weekly folk do a lot of investigative reporting, but we also cover the Fort Worth music scene extensively. Some would say in fashion possibly describable as "good."
Cory: Right, but even with the number of freelancers covering local music for The Observer, they still can't cover every single band or relevant story. But between Quick (RIP) and the dozen or so independent bloggers doing their thing, the scene can be covered more thoroughly. To its credit, the Fort Worth scene has become and remained pretty vibrant and healthy without much blog presence. But it would be nice if it got more of the credit for this it deserves from folks outside the city limits. Just like the zine culture in decades past, the number of blogs in a city at any one time is typically a pretty good indicator at how well things are going. Take Dallas, for example. When Deep Ellum was at its lowest point, there were maybe two blogs covering the scene. Now that things are picking back up, more and more clubs are reopening and foot traffic is greatly increasing down there, well over a dozen blogs/local music sites that focus on Dallas proper can be found.
Daniel: The number of blogs is a good indicator of a scene, indeed. But I agree with Anthony, the Fort Worth Weekly has done a good job of covering Fort Worth bands. It's hyperlocal, though, which is probably why the rest of us aren't aware that it has a finger to the pulse of Fort Worth's music scene -- it doesn't pertain to us. Most other zines, blogs or weekly publications look at all three at the same time, while the Fort Worth Weekly largely ignores acts from the other two cities. I get it, though. It's a Fort Worth publication, so why cover anything outside of Fort Worth? And it is a testament to the Fort Worth music scene that Anthony has something to write about each week. Similarly, though, it really seems like each city's music scene bands together. You'll see Denton-does-Dallas nights, a Fort Worth show in Dallas, and likewise. For the most part, it's all friendly, but do you guys see a sense of competition between the three cities' individual music communities?