Friday, June 17, 2011

10. Calhoun at Club Dada, 6/16/11

10. Calhoun, at Club Dada.

Day Twenty-One.  Back at the Dada for the second time to see Fort Worth band Calhoun at 10:30. There was a $12 cover, with about 50 people in attendance.

Grandsons of Johnny Cash.

Clad all in black, as is their wont, the five-piece (two guitars, keyboard, bass, drums, an occasional accordion) were polished and loud.  The volume was ear-splitting, but not at all muddled.  Singer Tim Locke rightly praised the Dada's improved sound, calling it "really bad ass."  High praise indeed.

Calhoun has an '80s streak to them, hearkening at times to the Paisley Underground scene, to more of a, dare we say it, pop-punk sound on their faster material.  There's a hint of country, but Johnny Cash is only a very distant ancestor of this music. Perhaps they're like the Old 97s brought up on Black Tie Dynasty.  At one point the lyrics cited the Smiths ("shyness is nice and shyness can stop you"), which is a closer relative.

It was immediately clear that everyone in the band is an excellent musician.  The guitars carried the sound; at times we felt the drums were being over-shadowed by the accomplishments of the others. The drummer wasn't bad by any means, just surrounded by very talented guys.  Locke has a great voice for his material, plaintive and urgent.

The energy in the room was good.  The crowd included a lot of enthused fans singing along.  We felt the guys could have peppered things up with a bit of between-song banter, though. They did make extensive use of the handclap.  Our drunk friend S wondered "if they bought matching instruments on purpose, or got a deal at Guitar Center."

We weren't familiar with the material, but we liked the snippets of it we grasped: "I got a kick drum heart." "My heart's a garage band." "It's beautiful and sad, the things you don't want to do, you're going to do."

Friend of the band Dany Balis was there, and pronounced Calhoun "really great," saying he'd been following them for years.  Balis' opinion, of course, should be valued by anyone with an ear.

We meant to try the tacos at Club Dada again to see if we just happened to get some greasy ones last time, but we didn't get around to it.  Frankly, we were put off by the bar being out of both Jack and Coke.  Being out of the first is pretty astonishing but forgivable; but being out of Coke?

A local crazy dude familiar to Dada patrons shambled up on stage and played keys for the last song, which was nice.

Post-show, the band showed little interest in selling merch, which is possibly a virtue, but somewhat annoying and baffling to those who might want to, say, show their support of the band's art and put money in their pockets.

In sum:  Calhoun put on a great show for their fans.  They're talented musicians.  We thought we'd have enjoyed it a lot better if we'd been familiar with the material in the first place, but based on the material we weren't sure that we'd spend a lot of time listening to it.  Though the newer stuff was, to us, clearly the strongest.  However, now we'll never know, because no one was at the merch table.

Oh, and bars shouldn't run out of Coke.

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