Author Archives: Jenna Simard

TVD Live: MisterWives at House of Blues, 3/22

PHOTOS: AMANDA DEERING | The saying is true: everything is bigger in Texas. Everything. If MisterWives didn’t know that before Saturday night, they do now as Dallas gave them one of hell of a big surprise—more than 1,600 fans showed up to a show that was originally scheduled for 400, at most. 

Currently on their first headlining tour around the U.S., the New York City-based band was scheduled to perform in the House of Blues’ Cambridge Room, a small-cap space usually hosting younger, emerging acts. Instead, the group drew a loud and sweaty crowd so large it completely filled the venue’s main hall. “I heard, like, Taylor Swift tweeted about them and then people went crazy,” I overheard some lady claim. (Note: Despite any influence that Ms. Swift’s Twitter may or may not have had here, Saturday night’s performance proved that the big leagues are undeniably where MisterWives belong.)

If you haven’t heard of MisterWives, you’re not in the minority—yet. The indie pop band got its start only a few years ago around the talents of lead vocalist Mandy Lee, bassist William Hehir, and percussionist Etienne Bowler. The trio garnered some buzz across the indie wire with tracks like “Coffins” and “Kings and Queens”—two impossibly catchy yet thoughtfully written pop gems—eventually leading to the low-key release of their first EP in 2014.

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TVD Live: Seryn at
The Live Oak, 2/25

PHOTOS: AMANDA DEERING | It was a happy homecoming for Seryn last week. Nashville transplants originally from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the band has experienced its fair share of challenges in recent years—from leaving its label to acquiring new management, to losing several members, adding several members, and moving to the fiercely competitive Music City itself. And with a new album in tow, their first record in four years, the sextet might have a lot to prove.

But despite change, and fans’ high expectations, one thing was certain to the Fort Worthians who packed into The Live Oak on Wednesday night—these hometown heroes we know and love are still very alive and well.

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The thing to know about Seryn is you can’t truly grasp the mystical nature of their sound through headphones. With members articulating a vast range of instrumentation—from guitar to ukulele, banjo and violin—and harmonies composed of all six voices, the band wields the rich sonic power of an orchestra, more than a folk group. Songs rise and fall like tides, sending you out to sea one minute and pulling you back to shore the next. Impassioned shouts and hard-hitting percussion build up and billow over one moment into ethereal harmonies and subtle strings the following—swelling and exploding and then finding peace all over again.

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TVD Recommends: Seryn at The Live Oak, 2/25

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from Seryn. Originally based in Denton, the band was once one of the most promising acts to come out of the Dallas-Fort Worth region. Their 2011 debut This Is Where We Are amassed fans both locally and nationally, even perking ears over at NPR and Paste. And then, at what felt like the onset of the band’s prime, growth seemed to stop. Fans were left waiting for a next move that didn’t come—well, until now.

So it only took four years, but Seryn is finally back (praise!) and more promising than ever. Over the past several years, the band has changed their location, lineup, label, management, and sound. For many other bands, this kind of transformation might only lead to demise. But for Seryn, adversity and the turbulence of major shift has ultimately strengthened the group’s core vision.

With a newfound focus, the band recently released their long-awaited sophomore album Shadow Shows last month, recorded in Denton with producer McKenzie Smith (Sarah Jaffe, St. Vincent, Sondre Lerche, Regina Spektor). Whereas the harmony-laden vocals and acoustic instrumentation in This Is Where We Are may have defined Seryn as a folk band, Shadow Shows feels much more progressive. Yet, the record retains the expansive, uniquely Seryn sound and atmospheric vibes we fell in love with from the start.

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TVD Video Premiere:
The BoomBachs at Sofar Sounds, “In the Morning”

One of Dallas-Fort Worth’s best-kept secrets knows all of Dallas-Fort Worth’s best-kept secrets. In other words, Sofar Sounds did it again last month.

A global music movement bringing unplugged, intimate concerts to cities around the world, Sofar Sounds took root here in DFW just a few years ago and since then has introduced the region to some of the area’s most buzzed-about talent. Many Sofar alumni like Luke Wade, Leon Bridges, and Tony Lucca, have gone on to become nationally-acclaimed artists on and off the indie wire—proving that these folks know talent when they see it.

That said, we always love the introduction to under-the-radar artists Sofar features at their local concerts. Like these guys.

Meet The BoomBachs, the eclectic, Denton-based hip-hop outfit who made their Sofar debut last month at Audacity Brew House in Denton. Melding funk, hip-hop, rock, and jazz with clever rhymes, smooth vocals, and groovy beats, the group gave a performance unlike anything we’ve seen come out of DFW.

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TVD Recommends: The Nightowls at Magnolia Motor Lounge, 1/9

Funkytown is about to get a whole lot funkier.

This Friday, Austin, Texas-based group The Nightowls are bringing their old-school soul stylings to Fort Worth. Set to perform at Magnolia Motor Lounge, the 10-piece band faces the challenge of squeezing onto Magnolia’s quaint stage. But with modern-day Motown tunes bigger than the Supremes’ hair, and synchronized dance moves to boot, their performance promises to be anything but small.

Since the 2013 release of their debut LP, Good as Gold, The Nightowls have risen to critical acclaim for their retro, straight-off-the-needle sound and horn-backed, dance-worthy grooves. The crew ranks highly among other celebrated revivalists—like St. Paul and the Broken Bones and Allen Stone—but bring to the stage a distinct, authentically vintage look and feel unmatched by their contemporaries.

It’s no secret that Austinites have jumped on The Nightowls’ neo-soul train, inviting the band to play at the 2014 Austin City Limits Music festival and commissioning them to write and produce the city’s official theme song, “Nobody Ever Wants to Leave.” But it won’t be before long that America climbs aboard as well.

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TVD Recommends: Rebecca Roubion’s Christmas Lights Tour
in Dallas, 12/5

Now that December is in full swing, it’s totally acceptable to play Christmas carols on repeat. ‘Tis the season, right? Well, if you’re in Dallas, you’re in for a special treat with Rebecca Roubion’s Christmas Lights Tour—a fresh spin on timeless holiday tunes.

Roubion’s new holiday EP, “Christmas Lights,” began years ago when the Nashville-based songstress starting recording demos of her favorite holiday classics. Infusing gospelesque elements with spellbinding vocals and folky instrumentation, the collection features the artist’s innovative renditions of popular songs, as well as enchanting, original tunes that bring to life the joy of the season.

An emerging artist in the Nashville scene, Roubion has been praised as a talented songwriter and seasoned performer. She has spent the past month on her Christmas Lights tour, bringing all the warm fuzzies we love about this time of year to audiences through intimate performances within homes and quaint venues.

This Friday, Roubion is set to perform a barn concert in Dallas, for what promises to be a lovely, extra warm ‘n fuzzy evening. If you love the unconventional, the holidays, and the thrill of unearthing new talent, check it out.

For more info about Roubion’s Dallas show, check out the event page or visit the artist’s website.

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TVD Video Premiere: Tony Lucca at Sofar Sounds, “Imagination”

You gotta hand it to the folks over at Sofar Sounds. They never fail to bring the best in indie talent to living rooms around the globe—from young, untapped artists to industry veterans still working to find their big break. Last month’s Sofar event here in Dallas-Fort Worth was no exception.

If you’ve never heard of Tony Lucca, you’ll wonder at how. The singer-songwriter boasts a robust resume spanning the entertainment spectrum, from beginning his career at the Mickey Mouse Club alongside Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, to assuming a leading role in an Aaron Spelling teen drama series, writing and producing eight full-length albums, performing as a contestant on NBC’s The Voice, landing a record deal with Adam Levine, and touring with major pop acts like Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson.

But with Lucca’s latest efforts, it’s back to basics. Set for debut in January 2015, the artist’s eighth album is his first self-titled and entirely self-produced record. It’s more personal and more honest than ever—and worth a spotlight all its own.

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With a new EP, James Bay steps into his own spotlight

James Bay’s headlining performance in Dallas last month was somewhat of an accident.

On tour with fellow U.K.-born singer-songwriter Hozier, Bay was supposed to open the night for everyone’s new favorite artist. So when Hozier fell ill, upsetting and even outraging hundreds of ticket holders, Bay could have cancelled his set as well. Instead, the show went on, for free—with the young Brit assuming the headlining spot.

A happy accident it was, indeed, as Bay quickly proved that the spotlight is where he belongs.

“We met with the venue a few days before the show, and they’re like ‘Do you want to headline?’ So, I said sure,” says Bay. “Everyone got online and on Twitter and told some local press that Hozier had cancelled, but the opening act James Bay is going to play, so come down; it’s a free show. Which is cool, and totally fair. And still, all those people came down. It was really cool.”

Bay is referring to the 100 or so people who came out to the Kessler Theater that night. Not exactly an ideal sized audience for an artist who, back home in England, is headlining—and selling out—shows for 700 or more.

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TVD Live:
Noah Gundersen at
The Loft, 11/16

PHOTOS: AMANDA DEERING | In the deep pauses between lyrics, The Loft was so quiet on Sunday night you could hear only the slightest rustle of a jam-packed crowd and the subtle creaking of the venue’s wooden floor. Nary a chuckle, nor a bout of side chatter, nor even a clank of bar glasses—only the silence of an audience completely transfixed by Noah Gundersen.

At the age of 24, Gundersen has already mastered the art of live performance. Of connecting so deeply with his audiences, drawing us in and quieting even the most fan-girlish among us. On a wintry Dallas night, hundreds cozied up together in the second story of The Loft to see the musician and his sister, Abby, perform a sold-out show. Yet, it still felt like the most intimate performance you’ve ever seen.

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Opening with “Isaiah,” the Gundersens progressed through songs both new and old throughout the set—tracks spanning two EPs and a recent LP, as well as brand new songs yet unheard.

Through the ebbs and flows of songs like “Cigarettes” and “Family,” the brother-sister duo’s perfectly harmonized voices transcended from gorgeous, goosebump-inducing bellows to a barely-there whisper and back again. The contrast between his raw and weathered tone and her crystalline one, between highs and lows, sound and silence, dark and light: it all felt unsettling. But then, that, that is artistry—inspiring people, yet at the same time making them feel mildly uncomfortable.

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TVD Live: Untapped Fest Dallas at Gilley’s, 11/1

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PHOTOS: AMANDA DEERING | Here in Texas, few things go better together than beer and music. Well, except beer and more beer. Thankfully, Untapped Fest does all three very, very well.

This past Saturday, Untapped brewed its third installment of the Dallas festival—and without a doubt the biggest one yet. More than 80 breweries showed up at Gilley’s Outdoors to serve up an assortment of 300+ craft brews, quenching many a beer nerds’ thirst. But even more refreshing? The hoppin’ music scene: three stages, seven hours of non-stop jams, and a robust lineup to please any sonic palate.

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Though historically known for featuring artists erring on the indie side, the festival made bolder moves this year with its headlining act: CAKE. The move proved to be a smart one, as the festival was completely sold out by night’s end, bringing in a more colorful audience than ever before—not only young D-Town hipsters looking to support their favorite obscure indie acts, but veteran CAKE fans on site to see, well, CAKE. You could say the event welcomed a diverse crowd.

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TVD Recommends: Untapped Dallas at Gilley’s, 11/1

Attention, Dallas-Fort Worth: Beware of getting too carried away this Halloween. You’re going to want to make it to the better part of the weekend—Dallas’s Untapped Festival.

Melding the best in craft beer and the most interesting acts in music, the multi-city festival is back in D-Town this Saturday, tastier and more eclectic than ever. With more than 300 beers from 80 plus breweries and a lineup including both nationally touring and regional acts, both emerging talent and age-old favorites, the festival offers tricks and treats for every palate.

Now in its third run in Dallas, not counting several Untapped Festivals in Fort Worth and Houston, the event has roots deep enough to bring in a host of big-name acts this year—and, even better, ones that span the musical spectrum. From ironic geek rockers CAKE, to the early 2000s’ hip-hop supergroup Deltron 3030, folk and bluegrass duo Shovels & Rope, and 20-piece symphonic group The Polyphonic Spree, the festival’s lineup features a diverse, cross-genre mix of talent from past and present.

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TVD Live: Austin City Limits, Weekend Two

PHOTOS: AMANDA DEERING | Austin, Texas is quite the city. Nowhere else in the world can you find people as eclectic, a climate as intense, a menu of Tex-Mex joints as large, or a music scene so ingrained in the very heartbeat of a city as it is in ATX. Nor can you find a festival quite like Austin City Limits—an event that each year fuses all the things we love most about the Lone Star State capital into one giant party.

This past weekend marked the second half of ACL’s two-weekend run at Austin’s Zilker Park. And while the skies, yet again, wreaked stormy havoc on the festival grounds early Saturday morning, ACL goers weren’t afraid to brave, heck embrace, the elements—blistering heat one day, chill winds and giant mud pits the next—to see some of the best acts in live music. Despite weather, artists and fans alike gave Mother Nature a run for her money, and through the mud, sweat and beers, ACL proved triumphant once more.

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While the festival was host to many memorable performances, there were a few contenders that had us talking. Among the ACL class of 2014, here’s who’d we vote for:

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TVD Recommends:
The Crookes at the Foundry, 10/18

You could say that England has bred some of the most iconic figures in rock n’ roll history: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks. More than being united in their taste for nomenclature, these Brits all became legends notorious for shaking the world up, for developing devout followings that still rage on today, and helping shape the face of modern music. The list goes on: The Smiths, The Clash, The Cure. And now, in true British fashion, The Crookes.

Named after a suburb in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, where the group found its roots, The Crookes are leading the decade’s new wave of Brit pop rock and following in the footsteps of their famous kinfolk—not necessarily in sound, but in style. And, God save the Queen, they’re coming to Dallas this weekend for a must-see show.

Since forming in 2008, The Crookes have become known for their cool, intelligent brand of pop rock—dance-worthy and insanely catchy, yes, but not lacking in quality lyrics and musicianship. Though at times sonically reminiscent of The Smiths (clearly an influence on their sound), and stylistically comparable to contemporary indie rockers like Vampire Weekend, The Crookes are talented enough to carve out a niche all their own. Namely, lead vocalist George Waite has a voice that can charm your fucking pants off. His beautifully boyish face is no less charming, I might add. Just sayin’.

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TVD Video Premiere: Edward Hartline at Sofar Sounds,
“She Loves Me Not”

Edward Hartline is pretty extraordinary. The self-taught musician spins lyrics and weaves melodies that’ll quiet a crowded room, claims skill in at least five different instruments, and wields a voice that‘ll sing some gnarly goose bumps across your arms. Even more extraordinary? He’s 18 years old.

Last month, we saw Hartline play an acoustic set at Sofar Sounds’ intimate Dallas show, and were blown away by the singer-songwriter’s raw talent, fearless honesty, and maturity beyond his years.

We’re pleased to be able to debut Hartline’s performance at Sofar DFW, before the video’s official premiere tomorrow. See a sample from his set above, read our full review of this month’s Sofar DFW event, and be sure to keep Hartline on your indie radar.

Edward Hartline Official | Facebook | Twitter

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Beat Connection: Letting go, moving forward, and swinging for the fences

When it comes to sweet beats ‘n good vibes, Beat Connection does the damn thing.

It’s impossible to listen to “Another Go Round,” the Seattle-based trio’s latest sonic gem, without busting a sporadic dance move or two. Spiked with the cross-cultural sounds of sitar strings, hand drums, and tropical-meets-nu-disco grooves, the jam is both feverish funk and new wave electro-pop. It’s like fruity rum punch, but with a secret dose of tequila—breezy and tasty and seemingly harmless, but by the end of the night, bound to put a dangerous bounce in your booty.

Beat Connection debuted “Another Go Round” via Stereogum last week, the second new single previewing the group’s forthcoming LP. Since premiering their glittery, delightful first full-length album, The Palace Garden, back in 2012, the BC guys have been performing gigs around the country, and working on new stuff here and there. But now, with two dazzling new singles, a promising sophomore record on the rise, and plans to perform on major stages like this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival, big things are soon to be happening.

We spoke with producer and founding member Reed Juenger about their latest single, the upcoming record, and impending ACL debut. Beat Connection is growing up, paying rent, and straight up bringing the heat.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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