The Telescopes - The Common Table - 4/26/12
Catherine Downes The Telescopes' Stephen Lawrie
The Common Table
Thursday, April 26
Having just recently "discovered" the music of British band the Telescopes, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from last night's set. That it was at the Common Table made it even more of a gamble to take on a Thursday, but how often do you get to see a band that was on Creation Records in Uptown?
First, about the Common Table. It's a beautifully designed bar with a nice patio space and a great selection of beers, but last night the vibe was just off. The bartender was rude, and the mandatory soul-sucking valet that permeates Uptown was in full, soul-sucking effect. The gulf between those sitting outside and the fans of this obscure band inside was noticeable, but I get that very few people in Dallas know who the Telescopes are. I know Common Table's been booking more under-the-radar events as of late, like Dennis Gonzalez, which Uptown definitely could benefit from, but the experience distracted me from what I was there to see.
Back to the Telescopes.They were very loud, and the venue is tiny. There were three guitarists crowding the stage, including DFW's Will Kapinos and Chris Plavidal, plus Dove Hunter's Chad DeAtley on bass, plus a drummer. Singer Stephen Lawrie wandered around the stage, singing into a mic, but, sadly, no one could hear his vocals. When he wasn't exploring the Common Table space, he was kneeling on the floor, sticking the mic into an amp.
The music - or rather, this ensemble's versions of Telescopes songs - was heavy, droning, repetitive. Which was actually nice: You don't want a new backing band to interpret your songs literally. But I think the set could have benefited from a more traditional venue, with better sound. Perhaps the Lola's gig on Wednesday night sounded better, but last night was just a wash of pure noise. And maybe that's what they were going for.
By the way: Contrast that with the heavy, jammy, spiritual reveries of Khaira Arby at the Kessler earlier in the night. Her band was tight, flawless, moving together as one; Arby was positively glowing. They were two sides of a coin, but one was a little shinier than the other.