Year in Review
I asked our esteemed group of music writers to comment on events and developments — significant, happy, sad, or just plain entertaining — this year, regarding local bands or shows at local venues, and here’s the result. — Anthony Mariani
When Lance Yocom, the visionary behind Spune Productions, summoned 88 local and national acts to the Ridglea Theater in April, the local attendance was awfully disappointing, considering the two days packed full of serious indie talent on tap. Maybe no one wanted to spend the weekend inside a dark and smoky cavern, but where else could you listen to such a broad range of stuff, from The Burning Hotels to The Starlight Mints? A strong block of Fort Worth bands, even if relegated to the upstairs stage, represented the town proudly. Bolstered by the non-localized distribution of the internet, Yocom showed independent music is capable of flourishing, if only more people were paying attention.
— Caroline Collier
For me, trying to sum up the best live moments of 2006 takes two words: Def Leppard. Earlier in the year, Sheffield, England’s finest delivered an album of cover songs worthy of their writers (Thin Lizzy, The Kinks, T. Rex, Electric Light Orchestra, and others). Even better, when Def Lep played the Smirnoff, they put on the best best-bang-for-your-buck show of the year. When are people gonna realize that arena rock isn’t a dirty word? Numerous other classic rock bands did it this year for me too. The Who proved they’re still the best live band of all time; Aerosmith, in sub-freezing weather, kept the train a-rollin’, with guitarist Joe Perry finally taking his rightful place over Steven Tyler as the leader of the band; and, of course, Slayer went off like a bomb. — Justin Press
Listen: I know the Warped Tour sucks. Most of the bands have more in common with the Backstreet Boys than with Bad Religion. Moreover, at 28, I have about as much business getting into a Warped Tour mosh pit as I do getting into a prom limo. But I don’t really give a shit, because I went and I got to see NOFX for the first time. Yeah, roll your eyes, but I’ve been listening to them for over a decade, so it’s about friggin’ time. I know a lot of people got boners over the Widespread Panic concert that Wilco gave at Will Rogers, but hearing Fat Mike proclaim, “That’s Jefe, and he’s the richest Mexican in Texas” was absolutely priceless. And then they opened with a Herb Alpert instrumental. And they played in the rain. And they ripped on Underoath. It was totally worth enduring the hordes of emo weenies sweating rivulets of guyliner.
And here are the Top Five Shows You Totally Missed Out On.
The Mathematicians at the Moon: Think of Devo backing the Beastie Boys, and you’ve got The Mathematicians. Oh, and their songs are about math.
The Sword at the Ridglea: In days of yore (Nov. 5, 2006, anyway), The Sword appeared from a hellish pillar of smoke and out-Sabbathed Sabbath. Faces melted.
The Me-Thinks inaugural c.d. release at the Wreck Room: They were loud. They had the smoke machine. And they didn’t have their c.d.’s to hawk. Total Haltom City burnout perfection.
Oliver Future at the Ridglea: If you came to see Slider’s Fault, you probably left before OF went on. Totally your bad, bro. They unveiled a bunch of new stuff, and they made a funny joke about a yacht raffle. (Inside stuff.)
Sierra at the Moon: Singer-songwriter pixie with the most beautifully fucked-up songs I have ever heard. — Steve Steward
The Bass Hall is the one venue in Fort Worth that can regularly offer acts like Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and BB King. And concertgoers definitely benefit from the great acoustics and comfortable, smoke-free environment. But as the Hall attracts more eclectic and accessible acts, it should lower its conservatism level a tad. The saddest sight was in March, when the Soweto Gospel Choir came all the way from South Africa to deliver a soul-shaking performance, and the audience members just sat their in their chairs and nodded politely. When the Hall does bring the funk, the crowd oughta be encouraged to follow suit and get a little loose. — Zack Shlachter
The biggest knock against Nokia Theatre in Grand Prairie is that it gets good acts but lacks character, blurring the line between rock ‘n’ roll and the corporate world. When Bob Dylan rumbled through the Nokia this past April, performing a double bill with Merle Haggard, the venue also didn’t accommodate the audience. The entire event seemed to be one of taunting nature, from the heavy traffic on I-30 to the overpriced concessions, to the concert itself. Ticketmaster charged its usual arm and a leg not only for tickets but also for convenience fees (a misnomer if ever there was one), and the folks at Nokia didn’t make use of the two screens above the stage, so those of us exiled in the nosebleeds had a hard time seeing what was going on. As for Dylan’s set itself: While the band was top-notch, the singing was unintelligible, as expected, but this time it was set to a new musical idiom, and fans were left struggling to catch up. — ZS
We need new blood. Bands need to start getting kids to their shows, kids who want to see cool new music, not kids — like the ones at Green River Ordinance’s and Slider’s Fault’s performances — who seem to go primarily out of a sense of loyalty to their friends onstage. All-ages shows at 1919 Hemphill, The Door, and an Eastside speakeasy are a good start. The more X’s on hands, the livelier the scene’s going to be, IMO. — SS
With West Berry Street torn to gravel bits and decorated with orange barricades for a majority of 2006, it’s a wonder anyone wanted to hang out anywhere near there, much less in the small but ambient Moon. No telling where all the music fans found parking spaces, but constantly overflowing crowds proved Moon owner Chris Maunder could make magic in his tiny, soundboard-less space. On any given night, you might stumble into far-away acts like The Mathematicians, Chris Paul Overall, or Jay Buchanan, or you might find a local darling, like Jeff Price, Sally Majestic (R.I.P.), or Daniel Katsuk. Whether relaxing to jazz or grooving along with the packed crowds that regularly turned out for jam band Catfish Whiskey and party favorites Villain Vanguard, The Moon established itself once again as a reliable place to enjoy a strong mix of local and national talent almost nightly. — CC
The music industry and that shiny silver disc might be lumbering toward extinction, but that didn’t stop some bands from dropping righteous sentiments for the ear canal. Sweden’s Opeth brought their celestial folk/death metal to its zenith on The Ghost Reveries. Killswitch Engage finally helped drive a nail into emo’s coffin with As Daylight Dies, a scorching slab of metal-core that burns to the pit of your stomach. Another Swedish import, Katatonia, delivered a major coup, with The Great Cold Distance, a dreary masterpiece full of big riffs, the kind that if they weren’t so damn epic, commercial radio would have eaten up, no doubt. And master ax-man David Gilmour found his tone again on On An Island, all crystalline and warm, harking back to the ethereal beauty of the Floyd essentials, Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here. — JP
Making music in the new millennium has to be a labor of love; it usually costs more money to be in a band than most musicians can afford. With obstacle after obstacle in the way, it takes a group effort to make the magic happen. Fortunately for us, lots of folks seem willing to work together. Musicians routinely fill in for absent friends or lend their skills to different projects, and there’s not a benefit that goes by that local bands aren’t ready to play. After all, from the musos to the club owners to the promoters to the writers, we’re all in this together. — CC
The Burden Brothers’ latest album, Mercy, proves that even after almost 20 years and several line-ups, Vaden Lewis still has breakout potential. Too bad The Edge does next to nothing to support ’em, at least not as intensely as the dearly departed Eagle did. (Same owners. Same players. But a different attitude toward local music, which doesn’t even make business sense, considering the schizophrenic nature of the airwaves at the moment.) Though some other regional bands do seem poised to blow up, like Black Tie Dynasty, The Vanishing, and Eisley, no one is coming out of the gate and really cementing him- or herself as a force, so the Burden Brothers really do stand alone. As far as the metal scene goes: While it remains small and strong, it still hasn’t found its feet after the last two years of turmoil that followed Dimebag’s passing. What is it going to take for another Pantera-type success to happen? — JP
Coolest Metal-Related Phenomenon: Going to the Fort Worth Music Complex on Jones Street on a weekend night to see all the bands loading their trucks and trailers. It’s like watching a fishing fleet get ready, except that these vessels are out to catch souls. Or weed. Or groupies. Anyway.
Lamest Metal-Related Phenomenon: Having a prepositional phrase or subordinate clause in your band’s name. Par example: Dying in Death, Silence in Sickness, When the Blood Cries. Look at the Ridglea’s marquee any weekend, and you’ll see what I mean. I’m not saying these bands suck. Just that their names categorically blow. — SS