Monday, June 28, 2010
Concert review: Fort Worth Weekly Awards concert (June 27)
The Burning Hotels were the best performers of the night – and the best we've seen them so far.
FORT WORTH The lineup for Fort Worth Weekly's Music Award Festival is impressive. I was excited -- like school-girl-jumping-up-and-down-hand-claps excited. The nominees this year truly are the best of the best Cowtown has to offer. Thirty-six bands, including Josh Weathers, The Orbans, Whiskey Folk Ramblers, The Burning Hotels, and Calhoun played in six venues. So I embarked on a quest (a 50-minute, 278-move Mapquest-directed quest) from Richardson to the 7th Street corridor for stellar tunes and a little heat exhaustion. Here's the diary of my travels:
5:01 p.m.: Touchdown at Fred's Texas Cafe for our first show of the day -- Jason Worley. It's sweltering outside. I heard the shows would be indoors, but alas, I find myself struggling for shade on the picnic-tabled patio with the rest of the glistening and tomato-red Fort Worthians. Worley's Dylan-style harmonica and acoustic guitar dressing was a nice mellow start to the experience, as was his spoken-word lyrical rhythm. But unfortunately, my sweat ducts decided to work with hurricane-like fervor, so my festival partner and I head for cooler thoroughfare.
5:27 p.m.: After venturing a few blocks and seeing a heat-waved mirage or two, we reach Lola's Saloon on 6th and catch the tail end of Pinkish Black, Fort Worth's answer to all things experimental. It's a few degrees cooler inside so we stick around. Pinkish Black's fodder is marked by two guys with a drum set, a droning guitar, slick New Wave synth sounds, and a frontman with a voice like She Wants Revenge's Justin Warfield, only moodier. The over-40 folks look confused.
5:30 p.m.: Down two cups of ice water. Much needed.
5:45 p.m.: I spot a brave soul in a black long-sleeved sweater and a knee-length black wool skirt. First thought is she's crazy. Second thought is she must have an intricate cooling mechanism in unitard form under her clothes to keep from passing out. Third thought: Nah, she's just crazy.
6:05p.m.: Stella Rose has the floor at Lola's now. Their song "Everybody's Looking for Love" is nominated for Best Rock Song of the Year. The heat must have gotten to the garage-rock revival trio early, because their cranky antics aren't doing them any favors. My guess is yelling "F**ck you! Most of you never come to our shows so I don't care what you think!" is not going to win you more ballot votes. Frontman Stephen Beatty complains they've been around for seven years and haven't won anything yet. Might I suggest more rock and less eye roll?
The Burning Hotels — Boy or a Girl
6:20 p.m.: Down two more cups of ice water.
6:55 p.m.: The Burning Hotels start sound checks. Co-frontman Chance Morgan promises he's not a prima donna. As the crowd packs in, the temp (and tempers) start to flare. One employee turns on two overhead fans. Tempers back to chill mode.
7:04 p.m.: The quartet dives into "Stuck In the Middle" and blazes through the next 40 minutes with style and finesse. This was the best set I'd heard thus far, and turned out to be the best of the entire night. Drummer Wyatt Adams pushed the tempo as fast as his hands could move, and the rest followed suit in a wave of succinct harmonizing and peppy guitar plucks. They toasted Lola's and the rest of the 7th Street venues with "Boy or a Girl," a song Morgan said was written about his hometown hangouts.
Quaker City Nighthawks at Lola’s 6th (June 18)
7:58 p.m.: The Pour House should be called heaven. Air conditioning is on full-blast. Hallelujah! It's time for a beer.
8:11 p.m.: Quaker City Nighthawks are the perfect blues-driven swamp rock to groove to. Heads are bobbing, hips are swaying, and I've stopped sweating.
9:12 p.m.: After QCN's last song, we skip over a couple blocks to The Backyard at Capital Bar for the last set of the night. The smells-like-new venue that just opened recently is host to a hefty patio and an even heftier outdoor stage. The sun is down and pretty ornamental lights are strung overhead. We missed The Orbans set, but Calhoun plays to a wistful, relaxed crowd.
Calhoun at Music Awards (June 27)
9:30 p.m.: Calhoun's normally full, chamber-pop mantras sound a little sparse, but the overall atmosphere is pleasant. The quintet plays a few from their yet-to-be-released new album and a few from their undeniably good ol' bag of tricks. "Dead Days" floats through the amps and speakers as the enthusiastic bunch up front belts the chorus.
9:45 p.m.: I'm startled by a sudden wave of "Pop! Pop! Pop!" I look up as pops and fizzles ring out in the night air, followed by a wave of fireworks in sparkling whites, silvers, and reds.
10:01 p.m.: I embark on my trek back to D-town thinking nothing beats a day of good tunes, fireworks, and a city full of music lovers supporting their own. To all the talented nominees of the 13th Annual Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards: Good luck to you. You're already winners in my book.