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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A Night of Racism, Patriotism, and Homophobia with Hank Williams Jr.

Categories: Show Reviews

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Amy McCarthy
Bocephus in all his conservative glory.

Driving up U.S. 75 toward Durant, part of me was excited about seeing Hank Williams Jr. live. I knew that he was an arch-conservative, a bit of a racist, and probably too old to be any good, but there is always something exhilarating about seeing and hearing songs from your childhood performed live.

There was also a naive part of me that thought he would just play the good old classics and stay away from his entirely terrible work from the last 15 or 20 years. Such hopes, however, proved more fantasy than reality.


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James Murphy at It'll Do, 4/24/14

Categories: Show Reviews

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Thursday night in a disco club in East Dallas, the DJ spun one record into another, floating the desperate lyrics of Ace's "How Long" over a slick beat that bumped right into sexy European saxophones. As the music washed over the crowd, hundreds of people dusted off their souls and danced with a tribal vigor you don't often see in Dallas. Elbows clinked, girls with red lipstick kissed the cheeks of strangers, and sweat dripped as the disco ball twinkled over head.

It was beautiful mayhem. It was the It'll Do Club. And oh, it was all courtesy of James Murphy -- not just your average DJ.


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J. Cole at University of North Texas, 4/24/14

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J. Cole

It might seem that J. Cole kind of rehashed the whole university tour thing, but after headlining a few tours dedicated to his degree-seeking fan base, the guy's a pro at it. Headlining the University of North Texas' spring concert, Cole along with his live band brought a minimalist experience that can't be classified as your typical school sponsored show.

Normally, spring college concerts fall into two categories. The first, a craptastic event where fat stacks of campus cash get thrown at musical acts clutching their 15 minutes of undeserved fame. The second, a techno laser show starring dehydrated co-eds, book bags filled with Jello shots, and fire hoses spewing neon body paint at 50 miles per hour.

But from the moment the self-professed Born Sinner touched the stage, it was clear a new category was about to be created at UNT's Colliseum.

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Final Four: The Killers Were Hot, But the Weather Was Cold

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Mike Brooks

Maybe I hang out with extreme cynics or maybe my friends don't appreciate free, outdoor concerts like I do, or heck, I probably just don't have enough friends, but convincing someone to tag along with me to the Final Four series of concerts at Reunion Plaza proved tricky.

Everyone told me it would be a hot, sweaty mess, the weather would be too miserable, or you know, children.

All of that was so untrue.


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The Bradford 4: A Rare Gift for Dallas

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Jonathan Patrick

Something special happened in Dallas last night.

For a brief flash, our city was the center of free jazz--jazz's most uninhibited form. A quartet named The Bradford 4 performed at an intimate project space (Beefhaus) put on by local artist collective Art Beef. The Bradford 4 is fronted by legendary trumpeter/cornetist/composer Bobby Bradford, a man that can name Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Eric Dolphy and Charlie Haden as former co-workers. The other three members aren't exactly lightweights either - Frode Gjerstad (saxophone/clarinet), Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten (bass), and Frank Rosaly (drums) - having individually and collectively had a hand in some of the most exciting music in contemporary jazz.

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The Rules of Scott Stapp

Categories: Show Reviews

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Alice Laussade
Scott Stapp sweats. All the white ladies swoon.

"Why on earth would you want a ticket to see the guy from Creed?" Gavin Cleaver asked me, after I asked if there were still tickets available for the Scott Stapp show at House of Blues. As it turns out, he wouldn't be the last one to ask that question. Even my plus one only agreed to come because she thought Scott Stapp was a comedian. I wasn't sure why everyone was hating on Scott Stapp so much. Dude's hair is amazing. And he makes all kinds of one-syllable words into two-syllable words.

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Angel Olsen's Missed Connection Victory Lap Comes to Dallas

Categories: Show Reviews

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Mike Brooks

On Monday night at Three Links, Angel Olsen began her set with two rolicking numbers, "Forgiven/Forgotten" and "Hi-Five," the second and third tracks on her outstanding new record, Burn Your Fire For No Witness. Olsen's opening choices were auspicious because the songs let her show off her solid four-piece band, her dexterous voice and her serrated songwriting.

Singing and playing rhythm guitar, Olsen was supported by Stewart Bronaugh on lead guitar, Josh Jaeger on drums, and Emily Elhaj on bass. Together the mates created music that harkened to Spector's wall of sound and Sun Records' shuffling, strutting rhythm patterns. On "Hi-Five" Olsen rumbled from a Roy Orbison warble to an Emmylou Harris near-yodel in a single line, while Elhaj and Jaeger kept the rhythm solidly on Memphis time.

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