Sunday, December 22, 2013
Concert review: Midlake led a grab-bag of stellar local talent at A Spune Christmas
The show at Texas Theatre provided an opportunity to reflect on this year in local music.
OAK CLIFF An all-local Christmas concert at Texas Theatre put Dallas-Fort Worth's homegrown talent proudly on display, giving a single night to the musical movers and shakers that set the tempo in our region.
Denton-based sextet Midlake topped the bill, fresh off the road from stint in the Midwest with Sarah Jaffe and an opening gig in Dallas for Pearl Jam. Looking back, this year was one of the most pivotal in the band’s career, having released the first album since former front man Tim Smith left the band. New disc Antiphon embraces influences from the indie and psych genres while maintaining folk-inspired songwriting. It was the band’s best album yet.
During A Spune Christmas, however, Midlake paid tribute to its roots. Culling from discography spanning the last decade, Midlake reached as far back as “Kingfish Pies,” off 2004’s Bamnan and Silvercork, and played favorites like “We Gathered in the Spring” and “Rulers, Ruling All Things” to a roar of approval.
"Thanks for sticking around the last 10 years," said guitarist and lead singer Eric Pulido, his drink in the air while he toasted the crowd.
Midlake's set was full of candid moments, as members thanked friends and family for support and skipped the obligatory stage exit and re-entrance for the encore. It was an hour-and-a-half of alt-rock bliss, embraced by adoring hometown fans.
And while Midlake's songs were familiar, the show felt like it was a different band: This Midlake had the freedom to rock lengthy instrumental breakdowns and blasted a fuller sound that engulfed every inch of the theater. The band performed Antiphon anthems like “Provider” and the album’s title track with studio-like quality and precision, while also managing to breathe new life into its older songs.
Though Midlake was the evening’s headliner, it was hardly the highlight. Spune’s Christmas show was ultimately a testament to the outstanding capacity of the local scene. And between the two stages — one in front of the movie screen and a second deejay in the lobby — there was never a dull moment. Even if that included the feverishly annoying task of plowing through crowds in the lobby during a performance.
Rapper Sam Lao, one of this year’s breakthrough artists, swooned the crowd with her candor, as she spit hard-hitting lyrics over waves of interchangeably sensual and sassy beats. (She also apparently remembered my description of her debut EP as having an “abrasive feminist tone,” as she mentioned it more than once.)
Indie rockers Air Review closed out the year as strongly as it began, with sounds from 2013’s Low Wishes echoing throughout Texas Theatre. This debut album solidified them not only among the best in DFW, but also on the path to national indie acclaim, according to Paste magazine. The band’s gorgeous harmonies and layered instrumentation swelled inside the venue as patrons took in the power behind the music.
Folk maven Bethan, energetic rapper -topic and electronic producer Datahowler, too, deserve a a ribbon of local excellence for their performances Saturday.
Spune's annual Christmas concert served not only as a reminder of the how alive the local music scene is, but also as proof that DFW musicians are taking it to new heights.
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