Welp, I did it. I managed to stay awake past midnight. Then again, catching some winks would have been impossible. I was at the second of Flickerstick’s two reunion shows. God damn, they loud.
They also good. Except for some shouty, much-needed conversations with dear old friends I hadn’t seen in years, I caught pretty much the entire set. It was an old-fashioned rock show, with lots of multicolored lights bouncing around to the bombastic riffage and melodies, the big screen behind the stage playing random trippy imagery to accentuate the psychedelic sonic flourishes. Flickerstick is one of only a few rock bands I know that does pure pop as well as psychedelia. Tension, community, and passion permeate every note regardless.
Frontman Brandin Lea and company were as good as I remembered them from their days tearing up Berry Street and the Ridglea here in the Fort. And even more people than back then had made their way to the House of Blues in Dallas for the band’s two epic, nearly three-hour-long sets — my buddy and his wife came all the way from Pittsburgh, where they had seen Flick a couple times during tours. The last time I’d seen this many people in one place indoors was at a Stars game a few months ago. The last time I’d seen this many people in one place indoors at a “local” rock show was easily the last time Flickerstick played, which had to have been, oh, nearly 20 years ago.
Which brings me to something that bothered me all night at HOB: Are there any unsigned local bands drawing good crowds here? Like in the 500 range? (Is there even a local venue that size?) And if there aren’t any artists who fit that description, then do we know why?
I’m not asking rhetorically. I’m 51 years old with a family, and for the past six and a half years, I’ve been the editor of a 26-year-old magazine publishing investigations into easily unethical, possibly illegal behavior by public officials every week if not every other day. I have neither the time nor the bandwidth to make it to any more than a couple local rock shows a year. Tell me which unsigned local artists put on a good show and, if not packing in 2,500 souls at one time, could be said to be worthy of drawing that many — if only the music gods would turn down the bro country and party rap and listen.
I can name only a few. Quaker City Night Hawks, BULLS, Uncle Toasty, Arenda Light, Mean Motor Scooter — anyone else? I figure if I can sit in the backseat of an economy rental car for nearly two hours to and from Dallas to see a band whose last studio record was in 2004, I can cruise into the Fort for a kickass show by an active local group more than just a couple times a year.
Staying awake through it is another question entirely. — Anthony Mariani
Contact HearSay at Anthony@FWWeekly.com.