Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A long time ago at The Kessler–pt 2

Now, on to the show itself:

The Denton electronica four-piece Binary Sunrise kicked things off. Featuring a slightly hyperactive drummer (even by drummer standards, he was slightly hyperactive), a frenetic guitarist wearing Chuck Taylors instead of the de riguer cowboy boots, a disinterested bass player, and a somewhat doughy Robert Plant Starter Kit keyboardist/lead singer, they were not really up my alley. I thought they played well, kept it pretty tight, and did a few songs that had a little something. They might be more fun at a club or somewhere the audience is a little more participatory. I think you have to be pretty musically sound to play a venue like The Kessler, where there’s little interplay with the crowd, and not much opportunity to draw energy from the audience. I imagine it’s tough for newer, rawer bands to really crank it up there.

Next came Austin’s Happen-Ins. All I have to say about this bunch is “Holy effin’ ess”.

Wow.

Four guys from Austin, each of whom came straight from Central Casting – rough-looking, no-BS drummer, slightly awkward, hair-too-long, legs-too-skinny bassist who’s on-stage movements resembled an unfolding beach chair, an Elvis-ish guitarist/vocalist with a bit of a sneer and an awesome white guitar, a slightly androgynous other guitarist/vocalist who, in better light, turned out to have something of a beard and a deep, growly singing voice – these four guys rocked like nobody’s business. Loud, bluesy, dirty, driving, geez, choose your adjective. Thinking back now, I’m not sure why these guys blew me away like they did. They didn’t do anything really unique, nothing you hadn’t seen or heard before. They just did it, I dunno…more? Harder? Something.

Whatever it was, I loved it!

I think The Kessler was probably not the best place to see these guys. I suspect they are FAR more fun in some dingy, beer-soaked dive on Sixth Street. They’d probably kick ass at the Double Wide. The Kessler crowd is a little too laid back for this kind of energy.

Still, I was enthralled. Go see these guys. For the faint of heart, maybe bring some earplugs. They Happen-Ins will melt your face.

And then the headliners took the stage. The Orbans played about a dozen songs, maybe a few more. Almost all of When We Were Wild (do you have this record yet?). “Carolina” off the EP. The same Traveling Wilbury’s cover they’ve been playing for a while – “Handle Me With Care” – perfect, again. And something called “San Francisco Song” that was either a cover I didn’t recognize or something new. It didn’t really grab me, but that may have been because I spent the entire song trying to figure out where it came from.

I’ve run out of superlatives for The Orbans. They are so good in terms of musicianship and songwriting there’s just nothing left to say. Clearly the best, and not by a little bit, in the current local crop. I don’t know how they get past regional success – I don’t know how anyone does it now that radio is useless and media is more corporate than ever.

Next time I see those boys, I do intend to ask them about new stuff, the next record, etc. For this one, I got a chance to talk with Peter, Justin, Cliff, and Kenny (no idea where Blaine was) for a bit before the show. I am embarrassed to admit that I geeked out badly. I turned into a little schoolgirl. I couldn’t believe the crap that was coming out of my mouth. I hope they don’t go running next time I approach them. It was really bad.

Well, in penance, I will do what I can to help these guys get over the hump to the national attention and success they deserve. Go see them. The next Dallas-side (they’ve got some Super Bowl-related stuff coming up this weekend in Ft Worth) show I know about is Friday March 11 at Dada with the more honky-tonk stylings of Dan Paul Balis and more drunken stylings of The O’s, who are releasing their new CD that night. It promises to be a good ‘un.

Go buy the record. Go buy the EP. They’re cheap, and Peter has a new baby to feed. It’s all great.

And stay tuned to CIT for more Orbans news.

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