This past weekend was filled with plenty of fine options, but for me, the best two choices were at the Cavern. I started out Friday night expecting to see Villains, but for whatever reason, they were not able to play. The music therefore got a late start, with Rose County Fair going on at 11. This is my first full show to see of the band since Rob Schumacher joined the band, and perhaps it was my imagination, but the group seemed to have a new found energy in their performance. Don’t misunderstand me; Rose County Fair has never put on a weak show. It’s just that their songs seemed more energized tonight than usual. There wasn’t a large crowd for the band, but they did not appear to faze them in the least and played as if the house was full. They busted out such great songs as “Gettin’ By”, and the band did more than get by; they are thriving musically.
For as good of a performance as RCF delivered, however, the night belonged to THe BAcksliders. They played several songs from their upcoming CD, You’re Welcome, such as “Typically I Don’t Mind”, “Wedding Day”, and my personal favorite, “Fat Girls”. Guitarist and vocalist Chris Bonner not only busted out some impressive finger work on the guitar, he also was apparently having a good time, coming out into the audience while playing on more than one occasion. Kim Pendleton’s voice was, as usual, divine. Her voice can range from sounding energized to heartbreaking, depending on the song. Her vocals on “Pour Another Glass” were so intense you would think her heart had just been broken seconds before performing the song. I know, I know, it seems like I’m always raving about this band. Trust me, there’s a reason, and Friday night was a vivid reminder of why I love this band so much.
Saturday night teamed up another favorite of mine (the cut*off) with two other bands I had never seen perform (The Felons, Somebody’s Darling). As usual, the cut*off rocked my socks off with favorites of mine like “Adults We Know” and “Hold Me Down”. The recent addition of keyboardist John Chapman has enhanced the songs without overpowering them with unnecessary keyboard solos. Jenn Nabb also joined the band for a couple of songs, and well, Ms. Nabb could sing the telephone book and I’d be entranced. Don’t take that too seriously, guys. I’m not looking for any duets between lead singer Kyle Barnhill and Ms. Nabb entitled “Dallas White Pages”.
The Felons set started a little rough for me, simply because of sound difficulties. I’m not sure if it was issues with the sound guy or if I was too close to the speakers, but once I moved, the sound improved. Once I got through that minor glitch, it allowed me to see all that was right with the band, which is plenty. First and foremost, Dave Hickmott is more than just a vocalist; he is a singer. And in case you’re wondering, there is a difference. Dave is one of the stronger male singers I’ve heard in these parts in quite awhile. It is obvious that he has put a lot of work into his singing voice. The songs are reminiscent of what was played on The Edge during its heyday when alternative music actually mattered. It is refreshing to hear a rock band that harkens back to that period without sounding clichéd. And last but certainly not least, Fred Holston gives the band some great keyboard parts that help make the songs even catchier. The Felons may be a young band that has only been together for a year, but they already show more musical maturity than a lot of bands that have been playing for years.
Saturday night concluded with what I could only describe as an explosive set from Somebody’s Darling. You may have read the Dallas Observer article and wondered if former editor Jonanna Widner got it right. She absolutely did. This time you can believe the hype. Lead singer Amber Farris gave such a passionate performance that if it had been any more intense, I would have thought Janis Joplin had been resurrected from the grave. She sang to a packed house that was energetic and ready to dance to such catchy tunes as “Give Me Time” and her cover of Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee”. If Amber’s vocals don’t move you, check your pulse to see if you’re alive.
These five artists show that the Dallas music scene is doing more than surviving; it is thriving. Whether it be a band like Rose County Fair filled with local music veterans or up-and-comers The Felons, there is plenty to music to be excited about. My hat goes off to each and every one of the bands that played at The Cavern those two nights. Well done guys, well done.