Tuesday, April 12, 2005

WALL OF SOUND #1 by Spune Productions


@ Hailey’s - April 9, 2005

WALL OF SOUND, Spune Production’s 27 band amalgamation of the best area musicians took over Hailey’s for a 14-hour endurance run. Billed as “a music and arts festival dedicated to the genres commonly known as shoegaze, dream pop, experimental/avant garde, no-wave, neu-wave, lo-fi & noise pop,” the Wall of Sound was exactly that. It began at noon and ran without interruption until 2AM. Two stages were set up across the room from each other, facing each other. Immediately after one band finished, the drummer from the other hit the kick drum, and the whole crowd pivoted 180 degrees. Too funny. There was no silence, all day. Not kidding- two minutes between sets and the whole thing ran on time, all day. Lance Yocum, Spune’s mastermind, is one driven man, managing this thing late into the night and giving the bands something to think about. I heard more than one band say, “No, no, we can’t right now! We’ve got to load in/load out/get moving or Lance’ll be pissed!” This was a dream bill, with some of the best of our regional acts. Bands from Austin, Denton, and DFW filled the lineup. It was relaxed, but loud. It was, well, a wall of sound that didn’t stop. Here’s the list, in order of appearance:

Fra Pandolf
Until They Arrive
Shiny Around the Edges
The Black Lodge

OK, I’ll fess up, I wasn’t there for every band, just most of them. I missed the above, so I’ll leave it to others to comment on the breakfast crowd.

AM Syndicate (Austin)

I hate to begin with a bad review, but AMS did nothing for me. Dreamy, rock-y pop with a cute Asian girl on keys, I wished they wouldn’t be quite so loud. So far, not enough bodies in the crowd to break up the wattage.

The Chapters (Austin)

Up from A-town, they rated a ‘doesn’t suck’ with me. Maybe it was the early time, but I couldn’t yet get into the music. Grooving in the bright light of day is a bit intimidating. Not too exciting, not too bad, they played to a mostly industry crowd, but put on a solid show.

Red Monroe (Dallas)

I love this band. Despite a few technical glitches, these guys do know how to groove in daylight. Jazzy, dark, tonal melodies with hot riffs and all-out rocking songs, they brought people out of the woodwork. Any venue that introduces these guys to a new audience is alright with me. Snap up their ‘Sin City Serenade’ on CMJ’s New Music Monthly comp CD this month.

Bellaparker (Austin)

I had heard about Bellaparker from all my Austin connections and this was the #1 ‘Can’t Miss’ band on my list. They were exactly what I had heard; dance-y, fun, swinging rock that drew and kept the crowd. Granted, the crowd all seemed to be related to them somehow, but this was 3:30 in the afternoon, remember. Now I really, really want to see them at a dancing hour. ‘Cause I’m gonna.

What Made Milwaukee Famous (Austin)

Another of my favs since I caught them at the Double Wide. This is the most schizoid band I know. I looked away for a moment and thought there had been a stage switch, but then I saw that John had taken over from Michael as lead singer. They change styles radically. Punk? Gotta be John. Pretty ballad? Must be Michael. And you know what? They rock them all. Excellent live band. Don’t miss them.

Student Film is from Norman, but they didn’t show, car problems, I heard.

The Golden Falcons (Dallas)

What do you get when you combine a 7-foot-tall lead singer, a bald guitarist, and the strangest group of misfits to ever grace a stage? Peeling guitar tunes. Golden Falcons must freak people out the first time they see them and then they blast that power rock they do and blow everyone away. Disco balls are not safe with Rob around. I’m sure it took all his willpower not to boot that thing off the stage.

The Hourly Radio (Dallas)

Ever since The Lord Henry left, THR has taken over the title of ‘Most Beautiful DFW Band.’ These guys should have been billed immediately prior to Black Tie, and then the pretty crowd could have stuck around between sets. The club had some mixing issues, with Aaron Closson’s vocals a bit too out there, but it was fun hearing them, as always. They played new songs, and the thirty minute set for once seemed too short.

The Danes (Dallas)

This was a reunion gig for The Danes with Brandon Carr coming back from England and The Earlies for the festival. They made excellent tempo changes from free-floating melodies to hard-hitting tunes proving that no talent has been lost in the interim. A treat for everyone there to catch it.

Black Lights (Dallas) & The Southern Sea (Dallas)

Sorry guys, but it was time for a break from amp feedback and kick drums. If you’re ever at Hailey’s, the shrimp-bacon-cheese sandwich from the little grill around the corner is amazingly good. Add a little guac, and you’ve got every cholesterol group covered.

Black Tie Dynasty (Dallas)

With tunes so infectious they invade my brain every time I even think ‘Black Tie’, this band has the scene going on. Actual dancing occurred. “Crime Scene,” their foundation song, is one part 80’s retro, one part pop pleaser, and all excellent. These guys are what dancing in the dark is all about. Set to release a split EP with [DARYL], their labelmates and musical older brothers, the two bands will perform at least one song together- all eleven members of both on stage at the same time. Sign me up; that I just gotta see.

Snowdonnas (Dallas)

Beginning with the ever-popular “Edison” just so people would go, ‘Oh, this is that band…’ (Tim White’s words, not mine) Snowdonnas moved on into new songs from their about-to-be released self-produced sophomore CD. More biting, more angular, still a shoegazer’s dream, I can’t wait to hear the polished-up version.

The Silver Arrows (Denton)

The word “Bubblegum” just sticks in my head. It’s part of their lyrics and describes their sound. They were a new band for me, the first I had heard or heard of them. Fun, loud, fast, but not yet a headliner. Especially an interesting pairing because they were followed by…

Pilotdrift (Texarkana)

No interviewing during Pilotdrift! The edict came from TexasGigs that no way could we talk over this band because people would be tuning in just to hear them. That says it all. I’ve seen these guys do their stuff many times, and they never fail to be great. Their winding, elliptical art rock weaves musical landscapes and cinematic grandeur in your head. Let go and listen, and let it take you places. Escape from Texarkana.

Experimental Aircraft (Austin)

Soft, dreamy pop, they would have fit nicely in the morning. Right after Bellaparker, I think. Or with Snowdonnas. Rachel Staggs’ subdued voice is lovely for shoegazing.

Comet (Dallas)

I was interviewing during their whole set.

Jetscreamer (Denton)

Whenever a name so aptly describes a band’s sound it’s serendipity. Screaming guitars and a new drummer who wasn’t quite as intense as the axes required, Jetscreamer blasts guitar rock away. Or should I say rawk? I love taking photos of Will Kapinos; not a boring one in the bunch as he becomes one with his instrument. He and Samantha Moss work it well.

Radiant* (Dallas)

Oh, Radiant*. They come with their own (very polite) groupies, lightshow, and lovely sound. Give me ‘That Girl’ any day over whatever you’ve got and I’m happy. Trippy, melodic rock with that Southern sensibility that just oozes gentility, Radiant* takes a pop song and makes it live deeply. Watch for good things from them soon as their new CD takes shape.

Super Love Attack (Dallas)

Out interviewing, again.

Record Hop (Denton)

I said I didn’t get them. Sam Machkovech made me watch them. Sam was right. Ashley Cromeens is DOMA nominated for Best Female vocalist and she showed us why tonight. A bit angry, a bit animated, she pumped out a good show. Freaked out, manic guitar and a pissed-off girl; what could be better?

The Angelus (Denton)

They enter, walking, with bells. Not little jingly bells; big, ominous bells. Haunting, universal, sprawling, The Angelus is not to be taken lightly. I didn’t see Emil Rapstine smile, not once, the whole day. Maybe he did, I’m just saying, I didn’t see it.

Midlake (Denton)

It’s a tribute to Lance Yocum that this band, the last of 26 in a day of continuous music began their set at 1:06AM. Folks, that’s SIX minutes late. This is rock-n-roll, where normally the opener begins with fifteen minutes, half an hour leeway. Not a Spune production. Even the Oscars don’t run this tight a ship.

The last time I saw Midlake, they were climbing over themselves on a teeny, tiny stage at SxSW. Tonight, they had room to spread, and they took it, literally and figuratively. Whispers flew all night about ‘the best band here’ and Midlake set up their video and let it roll. Movies about babies in presents in the woods, a monocled man in a futuristic bubble-mobile, and searching, searching, searching, accompanied their expansive technical rock. Lovely melodies with meaning bubbling up occasionally, Midlake ended the night grandiosely.

Fourteen hours of indie rock, an excellent club, and much good company, the Wall of Sound was an amazing festival. It was what SxSW should still be; a day to hang out with your friends and hear the best of musical artistry in your area. Cheers to next year! Lance, I owe you a beer.

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