To finish off the list-giving so I can go back to doing whatever it is I do, I’ve come to humbly offer you HearSay’s (Very Loosely Ordered) Top Five Local Shows of 2011 (and by “local,” of course, I mean “performed by a local artist in a local venue”). Defining an outstanding show pretty much comes down to two criteria: sound quality and energy. But a couple of shows on my list are noteworthy for their uniqueness and historical import.
Call me tacky, but I would be shoving my open palm in truth’s face if I didn’t include in my list at No. 5 our 2011 Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards Festival, a free daylong concert in June, with nearly 50 Fort Worth bands in eight venues in the West 7th corridor. Of what I did see, the action at Lola’s Saloon was pretty wheels-off. The band that went on last, EPIC RUINS, was loud and spectacular, the stage loaded with local badasses and the dazzling smoke and light show underlining the heavy, psychedelic mood. I saw a lot but not all of the sets by the three previous bands, Burning Hotels, Stella Rose, and Whiskey Folk Ramblers, and I can sum up the experience in three words: energy, booze, and sweat. However, I apparently missed the show of shows: The Hanna Barbarians at The Grotto. Weekly folk on the scene said the place was so jam-packed you could barely lift your beer to your mouth without elbowing someone in the face, and at one point Barbarian Christopher Luther lit a guitar on fire. Rock. And. Roll. No. 4. The debut of Gunga Galunga at The Where House on some random summer Wednesday night. Not a lot of people were in the house when this amazing improv-jazz super-group began what is now a bi-weekly residency at the Near Southside venue. What everyone missed was a tight outfit stretching out in semi-funky grooves accented by very light solos. No. 3. The Hanna Barbarians at The Moon on some random April weekend night. Not to take anything away from the venerable TCU-area venue, but pretty much every Barbarian show is an event, full of head banging and hip shaking. Back in April, drummer Matt Mabe (Stella Rose, Quaker City Night Hawks, Jefferson Colby), one of the most well respected musicians in North Texas, described the Barbs to my alter-ego Anthony Mariani. “The Barbs just wanna make you do your embarrassing white-boy drunk dance moves.” That gig at The Moon was no exception. The sound was great, and the Barbs hit every note. And they looked good and happy doing it. No. 2. Brandin Lea and Telegraph Canyon’s Chris Johnson at Lola’s on some random Tuesday night a couple of months ago. Not to say one guy’s old and the other young, but one’s a veteran who’s been through the major-label wringer and has survived and the other’s a relative newbie who has yet to be confronted by the beast. Lea’s Broadway-style voice was as strong as ever, and Johnson proved that he’s definitely no slacker in the reach-the-rafters vocals department. At one point, Johnson with only his acoustic guitar and no microphone sat atop the bar and played to the seven of us there (including Lea and the bartender), even getting us to sing along with him. Only at Lola’s. No. 1. Calhoun at First Friday on the Green in June. For another installment of the Weekly’s and Fort Worth South Inc.’s monthly, seasonal, free outdoor concert, Calhoun was spot-on, firing up the normally reserved First Friday fans to the point of –– gasp! –– rushing the stage. The band plowed through all of its hits, and hearing about a third of the couple-thousand people there sing along to “Kick Drum Mind” had to make frontman/co-songwriter Tim Locke, multi-instrumentalist Jordan Roberts, and the rest of the band feel pretty effin good.
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