Sturgill Simpson Gave Country Fans Reason to Believe at Club Dada on Saturday

Categories: Show Reviews

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Mike Brooks
Sturgill Simpson played two sold-out shows at Club Dada on Saturday night
Sturgill Simpson
With Cris Jacobs
Cub Dada, Dallas
Saturday, November 15, 2014

There are many of us who are deeply concerned about the future of country music. These are likely concerns that our parents had, and theirs before them. Every generation always thinks that the one after their own is going to fuck everything up, but when it comes to the current state of country music, this concern is scarily prescient. At this point it probably sounds pedantic, but there is nothing country about the music that Nashville is cranking out without thought today.

Nearly fifteen years after "Murder on Music Row," it's hard to argue that George Strait and Alan Jackson weren't entirely clairvoyant. They saw what money-grubbing record executives had in store for country music as it rapidly gained mainstream appeal, and what it meant not only for the Hag, the Possum, and Hank, but also for artists like Sturgill Simpson. And they were right: When's the last time you heard one of his tracks on country radio? My guess is never.


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Arctic Monkeys Proved They're the Best Band on the Planet at Verizon Theatre Last Night

Categories: Show Reviews

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Image via Domino Records

The Arctic Monkeys
With Mini Mansions
Verizon Theatre, Grand Prairie
Tuesday, October 29, 2014

Earlier this year, the up-and-coming punk and garage rock band the Orwells spilled the beans on their experience opening for the Arctic Monkeys. They weren't impressed. Guitarist Matt O'Keefe called the band a "hip Backstreet Boys," and claimed that if you saw a show once, then that's fine, nothing ever changes. It's Groundhog Day up there. It's hard to believe, but the Arctic Monkeys are kind of the establishment, or the Man, in the eyes of some young guns from Chicago with the fire of five billion suns in their belly.

It hasn't been a decade since their debut album hit shelves and none of the band members are over 30 (all either 28 or 29). They're the old guys in town now, which hasn't slowed them down a bit. Ever the one with the sharpest tongue in the Western Hemisphere, Arctic Monkeys' frontman Alex Turner, responded to his criticism by saying, "They should have been out trying to get laid instead of watching us every night."

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Kacey Musgraves at Granada Theater, 10/1/14

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Amy McCarthy
Kacey Musgraves came home to Dallas last night for an appearance at Granada Theater

Kacey Musgraves
With John and Jacob
Granada Theater, Dallas
Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Kacey Musgraves and I come from similar backgrounds. Musgraves grew up in East Texas, Mineola to be exact, and I come from a little town just about 75 miles north of there. Musgraves' debut album, Same Trailer Different Park, is largely about her disillusionment with the expectations of living in East Texas, something that anyone who grew up in a two-stoplight town can identify with.

Last night at the Granada Theater, it seemed like just about everybody in that sold-out house was a small-town transplant who was ready to shake off the city and revel a little bit in Musgraves' irreverent takes on small-town self-righteousness. For an artist with a relatively mid-to-downtempo body of work, the Granada buzzed with anticipation as the crown princess of country music took her stage.

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The Both at Kessler Theater, 8/12/14

Categories: Show Reviews

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Amy McCarthy
Aimee Mann + Ted Leo = The Both

The Both
With Lemura
Kessler Theater, Dallas
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

To be completely honest, I have been an Aimee Mann fangirl since I first heard her work for the Magnolia soundtrack years ago. When the news broke last year that she was planning to join up with Ted Leo to form the Both, I was disappointed -- if only because I thought that it meant that she wouldn't be touring or putting out new solo material for the foreseeable future. After seeing Mann and Leo's performance at The Kessler Theater last night, I am happy to admit that I was completely wrong to feel that way.

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Loretta Lynn at Bass Performance Hall, 8/8/14

Categories: Show Reviews

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Courtesy the artist
Loretta Lynn
Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth
Friday, August 8, 2014

It's safe to say that the golden age of country music is long over, and we've lost so many formative artists in the last several years. Based on the current state of country, it's clear that fans are in dire need of a history lesson from the people who made it great. So when someone like Loretta Lynn comes into town, you get your ass in the car, you drive to Fort Worth, and you appreciate a country music history lesson in the form of some of the genre's best written songs.

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Da Mafia 6ix at Club Dada Showcased Everything Outsiders Hate About Rap

Categories: Show Reviews

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"Three 6 Mafia" by Jay West (Flickr profile

In case there's any confusion: Da Mafia 6ix (formerly Three 6 Mafia) are not conscious rap. Twenty-three years into the crew's storied career and it remains one of Three 6's only constants. Lineup shifts, name changes, reunions, even death haven't changed that, but just in case, on new release 6ix Commandments, co-founder DJ Paul reminds us, "This is that straight street, hood shit." Well, there you have it.

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BREAKING: 311 is still 311'ing.

Categories: Show Reviews

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Alice Laussade
311 will not die. They will continue making their happy-white-dude-reggae whether you fist pump or not. But, it is likely that you will fist pump. Fist pump peer pressure is real.

311 released a new album in March. To answer your question: Yes, they're still doing that. They played a concert last night at South Side Ballroom. To answer your second question: Yes, people actually still go see them play. In fact, many, many people were in line at South Side anxiously waiting to see 311. They were in their 311 shirts, having their 311 conversations, grabbing their 311 girlfriend's butt and smoking their 311 e-cigs.

And they were all so exceedingly happy and nice. There has never been a happier, nicer crowd at a concert. Ever, ever in the whole history of shows.

The happiness caught me off guard. The hard core 311 fans of my youth were not this smiley. The guy who would wear 311 shirts to school was most certainly not the same guy who would be seen in show choir. But this crowd was 100% show-choir happy.

Maybe people were so nice because half the crowd was 30-something Dads who were just ecstatic to be getting a beer night away from their toddlers. Maybe everyone was so happy because there's just something about a buncha white dudes singing in harmony and hopping on stage to reggae that cannot not make you happy. Or, maybe the nice fellow in the Snapple-knock-off-logo-ed shirt that read "Snatch" had the right explanation for me: "It's the drugs."

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Swans' Sensory Overload Even Blew Out Michael Gira's Amp at Trees

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Photo courtesy Filckr user weeklydig

It sounds like cathedral music at first. Then, like modern classical. A drone of swinging chimes and rumbling gong is Swans' overture. Each tone is so exactly measured that, initially, it sounds like stock music pouring forth from the venue speakers. Look closely though, there to the back-left of the Trees stage, and you can see him, or it: a dark figure chipping away at a spectrum of percussion instruments. He looks slight at first, then the shadows slip off his back, revealing a muscled creature like human skin wrapped tight across the frame of a bull. This is a man named Thor, Swans' famed percussionist. He must've been cut from the same cloth as mythology's Hector.

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James Taylor Played the Classics and Told Dad Jokes At Verizon Theatre

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Courtesy the artist
I was not alive when James Taylor and his self-reflective brand of folk music were most popular. For my entire life, Taylor has been touring the country playing songs that are as familiar to my grandparents as they are to me. My own first experience with James Taylor was finding an old copy of Sweet Baby James amongst my grandma's records and noticing that the writer of these sweet and mellow songs also happened to be a total babe.

Sunday night, a much older James Taylor, one who's somewhat more balding than babely, played everyone's favorite relaxing, folky classics to a sold-out crowd of mostly middle-aged men in Hawaiian shirts at Verizon Theatre. After almost 50 years on the road, Taylor's stage presence is almost as vibrant as it was in 1966, and he brought some of the best musicians in the country to share in an intimate and musically brilliant performance in Grand Prairie.

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George Strait Rode Away at the Top of His Game at AT&T Stadium

Categories: Show Reviews

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Mike Brooks
George Strait
The Cowboy Rides Away Tour
AT&T Stadium, Arlington
Saturday, June 7, 2014

Last Saturday night, a massive crowd of dedicated country music fans crammed into AT&T Stadium to say goodbye to the king of country music, George Strait. After 30 years of making some of the best music in the genre, recording more number one hits than the Beatles, and making every woman south of the Mason-Dixon swoon, there could have been no more fitting farewell for King George.

All of North Texas was paying attention to this show. You couldn't tune your radio to a country station within 50 miles of the metroplex on Saturday without hearing a George Strait song. Twitter and Facebook were clogged with excited updates from people who had tickets and envious posts from those who didn't. Strait may still continue to perform and record after this tour, but his most dedicated fans weren't willing to risk missing out on seeing the legend one last time.


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