Category Archives: TVD Dallas

TVD Live: Washed Out at Granada Theater, 9/8


PHOTOS: AMANDA DEERING | Experiencing Washed Out in the flesh is like tripping on some really righteous stuff. Like drifting out into an alter-world of pretty colors and sparkly things and deliciousness. Or at least what we’d imagine that to be like, of course.

When Ernest Greene released his first recordings as Washed Out in 2009, he had by that time been involved in numerous music projects. But as Washed Out, he became famous for his obscure style of ambient pop, a new wave in shoe gaze marked by retro-inspired synths, airy beats and lush, reverberating vocals. Five years and a large following of Portlandia fans later, the band’s music is just as luscious and dreamy as ever, but much brighter in tone than before. And this Monday, it cast its magic spell on Dallas, at a nearly sold out show at the city’s historic Granada Theater.


Well, the cloud of herbal fumes gathering above Granada’s colorful crowd could have been a factor, but Washed Out’s performance that night was no doubt dope as hell.

Playing before a decently, ahem, “spirited” crowd, Greene et al led the audience to even higher heights with a hypnotic, ethereal performance. Opening with “It Feels Alright,” the intro track on the band’s 2013 daydream-like album, Paracosm, the group progressed through a set of songs spanning their entire discography. The set list included fan favorites “Amor Fati,” “All I Know,” and of course, “Feel it All Around,” the cult chillwave prototype also typically known as “the Portlandia song.”

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Sofar: So good

Pardon the following mini soapbox.

If there is one thing avid music lovers dread more than hearing their newest obscure indie “find” on the radio—because then, naturally, said indie band must be shunned—it’s “those people” at concerts. The ones with phones for hands. Yes, we all know the type: Heads bowed down and eyes glued to micro screens, fingers texting and Instagramming away at super sonic speeds, phones or iPads (yes, freaking iPads) raised high when that one song that’s infiltrated the radio starts to play. Somehow, “those people” always end up standing directly in front of us, obstructing the view at every show we attend. It’s because they’re everywhere, I tell you—and sadly, they’re not going anywhere any time soon.


It’s true, modern technology has changed the way we consume music so that for many, especially younger generations, experiencing live music isn’t simply about sitting still and enjoying the artform any more. It’s about documenting that #awesome experience on no less than five social media platforms, while simultaneously texting both your grandma and your ex, Googling the nearest Taco Cabana, and maybe even catching up on that episode of Parks and Recreation you missed two years ago. This is what the world is coming to.

And yet, at the Sofar Sounds event in Dallas this past Sunday, you’ve never seen a more captive, less irritating crowd: Fifty to seventy-five people all present for one reason and one reason only, music.

Alas, there’s still hope for us all.

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To haunt, to startle: Austin’s Penny and Sparrow

There’s something incredibly haunting about Austin’s Penny and Sparrow. Maybe it’s the bold, oft heartbreaking honesty behind the lyrics they write. Maybe it’s the union of two voices that sound destined to harmonize with one another. Maybe it’s the fact that these guys are so scary good with little but a guitar and a couple sets of vocal chords—and the thought that they don’t need anything else to make sincere, effortlessly stunning music. 

Whatever it is that sends shivers down your spine, it works. Weaving beautifully crafted melodies and gorgeous harmonies with acoustic instrumentation, Penny and Sparrow’s Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke produce a raw, strikingly honest sound that feels just as authentic through headphones as it does live. It’s art stripped down to its very core. Bare-boned and human. And for that, it’s unbelievably refreshing.

Though both originally from different parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, as Penny and Sparrow the duo originates from Austin, a city whose intense support and wealth of live music provides a natural environment for musicians exploring and honing their artistic talents. And, perhaps, challenges in standing out in a city where, well, everyone is exploring their artistic talents.

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TVD Recommends: Clearfork Festival
at Panther Island
Pavilion, 8/30

You’ve heard the saying, “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” It’s true. The boots. The hair. The belt buckles. The conservative population. The beer bellies. And, no exception, the music festivals.

Rising to the Texas occasion is yet another new music fest in the Lone Star State, Fort Worth’s Clearfork Music Festival, which is set to make a dynamic second run next Saturday, August 30. After last year’s successful, albeit more quaint debut, the event is back and resoundingly bigger in 2014 with appearances from popular Austin-based acts like Bright Light Social Hour, The Black Angels, and Wild Child, as well as local favorites and up-and-comers Burning Hotels and Larry G(ee), all taking place alongside the Trinity River in the heart of downtown Fort Worth. A new location and a larger, not to mention pretty impressive lineup—that’s what you call beating the sophomore slump, folks.

While last year’s festival hosted acts almost entirely from the 817, highlights of this year’s lineup include headliners Bright Light Social Hour and The Black Angels, two Austin-bred psychedelic rock bands recently making waves with their quirky, innovative takes on rock n’ roll. Both have spent recent years touring nationally, on stages as large as Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, promising a fine-tuned set and a super-charged show.

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Better Than Ezra,
The TVD Interview

When you’re as “Good” as Better Than Ezra, producing hits and selling out shows comes pretty naturally, really.

Shortly after 1988, the year BTE took root on Louisiana State University’s campus, the band went from college circuit stardom to national fame with their platinum-selling single “Good,” almost overnight. And with later smashing successes “Desperately Wanting” and “Juicy,” among other radio-ready anthems, the New Orleans-based outfit has since become a staple in the early millennium pop rock scene.

The band was among countless similarly styled acts to rise to popularity in the late ‘90s—Semisonic, Third Eye Blind, Matchbox Twenty, to name a few. But twenty-five years, seven albums, and several chart-toppers later, Better Than Ezra has continued to maintain a lively presence in the music community and a large base of loyal fans, outlasting many if not all of their contemporaries.

After recently debuting “Crazy Lucky,” their first single since 2009’s Paper Empire, the trio announced the impending release of a new album and tour. In this TVD Interview, founding member, lead vocalist, and guitarist Kevin Griffin tells us about the story behind BTE’s new single, the band’s decision to return to recording, and their commitment to evolving—to becoming a better than ever Better Than Ezra, and keeping fans smitten.

You released your new single, “Crazy Lucky,” last month. What’s the story behind the song?

I was writing it with [producer and composer] Nolan Sipe, and he came in with the idea of a song called “Crazy Lucky.” At first I was like, that sounds a little too kind of “generic pop” of a title to me. But I was like, it rolls off the tongue well, so what if we use the title to talk about this serendipitous nature of love and life. For this song it would be about love, about how random the things that bring you together are.

I went online and Googled how many people there are in the world; it’s 6.78 billion people. So suddenly we made our first line of the song: “There six and three-quarter billion people in this world.” Really we were just sort of Googling different questions and trying to illustrate how random life is, and how happenstance it is, the things that bring you together. Once you’re together it feels like you’re meant to be, but in reality it was just pure luck, or serendipity as they say. But yeah, I knew if I had a title like that, I wanted to have some clever lyric in the song, and I love the way it came out.

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TVD Recommends:
St. Paul and the Broken Bones at Club Dada, 4/12

Up-and-coming neo-soul megastars St. Paul and the Broken Bones are coming to Dallas this Saturday, and you can bet for one hell of a hair-raisingly-good show. Recently praised by Rolling Stone and Esquire as the “best soul revivalists at SXSW 2014” and “your new Southern soul band,” the young Birmingham-based sextet hones a retro yet remarkably fresh sound that—combined with charisma and classic Southern charm—provides for one of the best live performances among emerging artists today.

Formed in 2011 around the powerhouse vocals and gospel-inspired stylings of lead singer Paul Janeway, St. Paul and the Broken Bones isn’t your average, run-of-the-mill 21st century band. In fact, you’d swear they hailed from another time. Joined by the talents and matching bow ties of members Browan Lollar (guitar and vocals), Andrew Lee (drums and percussion), Jesse Phillips (bass), Allen Branstetter (trumpet), Ben Griner (trombone and tuba), and Al Gamble (organ and piano), Janeway and crew manage to unearth the old-school essence of ’60s-era soul bands while crafting a mature sound relevant for today’s listeners. Consider it revivalism at its finest.

After releasing an EP in 2012, the group debuted their first full-length record this past February, and to critical acclaim. Produced by Ben Tanner of the Alabama Shakes and recorded to tape at the Nutthouse in the South’s legendary Muscle Shoals, Half the City combines high-voltage vocals with classic instrumentation and thoughtful songwriting, providing for gritty, grandiose soul straight off the needle.

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Up next: The mysterious Conner Youngblood

Conner Youngblood is really rather fascinating. The Dallas-born, Nashville-based musician is only 24 years old, and yet he has already become at least somewhat practiced in some-odd 30 or 40 different instruments, has performed at SXSW three times, and has succeeded in crafting a sophisticated sound reminiscent of—but distinct from—indie greats Bon Iver and James Blake. What’s more fascinating: somehow, the unsigned Youngblood has managed to remain relatively unknown.

And yet that it is exactly why he is so interesting. Conner Youngblood is a mystery. A one-man-show inspired by the falsettos and atmospheric sound qualities of his idols, the wispy folk of Ray LaMontagne and the breezy beats of Gorillaz, he self-produces an obscure, understated sound matched only in ambiguity by his vague online persona. But as an artist with a knack for masterfully layering electronic synths and acoustic instrumentals with gorgeous, transcendent vocals, Youngblood proves he has talent—and a creative vision—worth talking about.

Youngblood’s story isn’t exactly typical. In fact, he didn’t even know he could sing until a few years ago. “I thought, hey, that doesn’t sound half bad,” Youngblood said of the first time he recorded himself singing. Having practiced guitar since his youth, he spent his college days experimenting with different instruments and schooling himself in music history. “I’m just now finally getting caught up,” he said. “Now I’m trying to find as much new stuff to listen to as I can.” Don’t misunderstand, though: despite being inspired by various artists and genres, Youngblood’s sound carves a niche in modern music all its own.

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TVD Live: Untapped Fest at Panther Island Pavilion, 3/8

PHOTOS: CAITLIN STOWE | At 6:00 this Saturday evening, Dallas-Fort Worth was already drunk and partying like it was 1999. If you were anywhere near Fort Worth’s Panther Island Pavilion around that time, you might have heard what sounded like a ‘90s themed rager clamoring from under the Henderson Street bridge. Actually, not so far off, it was the sound of Los Angeles’s underground hip-hop outfit People Under the Stairs, rallying Untapped Festival-goers in unified fist pumping and lively chanting. Brewskis in hand and emboldened by Double K and Thes One’s humor and bouncy beats, the crowd sang along, “If you don’t like beer, get the fuck outta here!”—lyrics to the duo’s appropriately-named party anthem “Beer,” but moreover, a motto gloriously summing up the Untapped experience.

You could say, then, that Untapped Fest was once again victorious. After debuting only last year, the festival made its return to Fort Worth this weekend. Despite an unfortunate bout of wet, wintry weather—a serious matter of concern for us Texans—the evening’s events proceeded through the toe-numbing cold, bringing festival attendees more craft beer and even bigger, bolder acts than before.


While its selection of more than 200 beers inevitably drew many to the event, Untapped’s rich, rather diverse lineup of indie talent gave them reason to stay. Over the course of six hours, eight local, national and international acts took place on the festival’s two stages, providing non-stop music to pair with the non-stop drinking that inevitably ensued.

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TVD Recommends: Untapped at Panther Island Pavilion, 3/8

With a selection of more than 200 beers from 65 breweries, a diverse lineup of emerging acts featuring both regional and international artists, and offerings from a slew of local food vendors and artisans, Paste’s Untapped Fest is a Hipster’s Paradise. A true testament to DFW’s rapidly growing music scene, the festival makes its sophomore debut in Fort Worth this Saturday, once again bringing the best in indie talent and craft beer to the Metroplex.

After the festival’s successful 2013 premiere, the event returns to the area boasting a buzzworthy, significantly more colorful lineup this year. From eclectic alt-rock trio The Joy Formidable and revivalist folk band The Felice Brothers, to L.A.’s underground hip-hop duo People Under the Stairs and Fort Worth’s own Southern rockers Quaker City Night Hawks, the schedule for Saturday’s event neglects to appeal to very few musical palettes.

The lineup features several noteworthy acts, including R&B-inspired singer songwriter Allen Stone—known for powerhouse vocals and soulful tones beyond his young years—and our favorite indie-pop outfit Lucius. While Kate Nash was originally slated to headline the event alongside The Joy Formidable and Stone, Lucius will take Nash’s place. As the band’s vivacious leading ladies give quite arguably one of the best live performances among emerging artists today, we can’t say we’re disappointed with the change.

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TVD Live: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. at Trees, 2/20

PHOTOS: NATHAN PARDEEFolky hip-hop indie pop. Carnivalesque lights. Bubbles. Wacky hair. Nintendo on a giant white orb. What do any of these things have in common? By the sound of it, nothing. Unless you were at the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. show at Trees last Thursday.

While their quirky performance was probably one of the more erratic acts to grace the venue’s stage, the duo succeeded in giving Dallas one hell of a show. Because when you’re Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s Josh Epstein and Dan Zott, you can do whatever the fuck you want—and rock some worlds doing it.

Despite a somewhat awkward start to the night, what with the opening act Chad Valley commencing an hour late, the Brit’s atmospheric, R&B-inspired electro stylings got the audience moving. While Valley a.k.a. Hugo Manuel, formerly of Jonquil, gave a relatively low-key performance, his ambient pop set the tone for Epstein and Zott’s trippy, high-octane set.

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Jamestown Revival: Striking gold in Utah

With little but raw talent and Southern charm, Jamestown Revival and their approach to music are a breath of fresh air. In a world where contemporary music is saturated with jaded pop lyrics and synthesized instrumentals, the folk duo strips away the tech and the glitz to expose music at its most vulnerable, most honest level. With Utah, their harmony-driven autobiographical debut, the pair gets back to basics, proving that good songs—and good stories—can still exist standing on their own.

Jamestown Revival’s story traces back to the small town of Magnolia, Texas, where long-time friends Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance grew up together, bonding early over a shared love of the Southern rock and blues greats. Stevie Ray Vaughan. Guy Clark. Creedence Cleerwater Revival. It was through these artists’ records, among others, that both musicians came to develop their own styles as solo artists, Clay fashioning a singer-songwriter Matt Nathan-esque niche and Chance channeling a folkier, more bluesy vibe.

Now, as Jamestown Revival, the two craft a sound based in their acoustic beginnings but resoundingly richer and far more impactful than ever before. Backed by solid songwriting, Clay’s gritty tones in tandem with Chance’s airier timbres—and effortless coolness—are a match made in heaven. The result: quality songs and earnest, perfectly harmonized execution. No synths needed.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., The TVD Interview

When Detroit natives Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott met in 2009, they began what Epstein says was merely “a recording project,” two guys with equally diverse tastes in music messing around in a basement studio, with little intention of going public with their music.

What started as an artistic project became Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., the quirky albeit brilliant duo with a knack for layering atmospherics and breezy melodies for a sound at times indie pop in nature, at times hip-hop or folk, a sound both organic and synthesized, both peculiar and, somehow, relatable.

It’s the sound of Generation YouTube: a product of the millennial generation’s ready access to the internet and the realm of artistic possibility that lies within it.

Since their basement studio days, Epstein and Zott have garnered national and international attention and released two LPs, the latest of which came out last year via Warner Bros. Records. Both records exhibit the band’s obscure, cross-genre stylings, backed by dance-worthy beats but ultimately fortified by solid songwriting and thoughtful harmonies.

While on tour promoting The Speed of Things, the band recently produced a hip-hop mixtape featuring Slim, Biggie, Asher Roth, and King Chip, among others. Some may look at what is easy to consider an “indie pop” duo and label the move experimental, adventurous even. But for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., a band who refuses to confine itself to any singular category, it’s just what they do.

Before their show in Dallas this Thursday, we had a chance to chat with band about their recent mixtape project and what’s next for the pair. In this TVD Interview, Josh Epstein tells us about the music inspiring their sound, the art of collaboration, and the “indie pop” box two artists refuse to limit themselves to.

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TVD Live: Lucius at
Club Dada, 1/28

PHOTOS: HANNAH AMBROSE | There are bands that put out a pretty good record. There are those that put on a pretty good live show. Then there are those that blow your mind with the way they kick ass at both.

On that note, Lucius might just be one of the most kickass groups to come along in a while.

Their sound is both high-energy pop and wispy folk, both resoundingly modern and refreshingly vintage. Imagine a cross between Tegan and Sara and Fleetwood Mac, but inspired by the pop rock of the Beatles and the soul of Sam Cooke, laced with infectious hooks and spiked with killer ‘60s-era vibes—and wardrobe. Delicious.


Since the October release of Wildewoman, Lucius’ debut LP via Mom + Pop, the Brooklyn-based group has taken no precautions in turning some pretty important heads and proving themselves a force to be reckoned with. Their magnetic pop has received glowing reviews from the likes of Rolling Stone, Paste and NPR, among others. Heck, even Bob Boilen himself is a fan. Disclaimer: this review is, clearly, no less laudatory.

That being said, Lucius’ performance at Dallas’s Club Dada this Tuesday was nothing short of brilliant.

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TVD Live: The
Wild Feathers at
Gas Monkey, 1/24

PHOTOS: NATHAN PARDEE | “They’re like if Led Zeppelin and The Band had a baby in Joshua Tree that grew up listening to Ryan Adams covering the Stones’ ‘70s country-influenced songs.”

Take a gander at the The Wild Feathers’ Twitter page, and you’ll find quite the bio. And if you’ve never heard of these guys, you’re likely confused by it. Or maybe a bit skeptical. Or, probably, both. Let’s face it, those are some lofty comparisons there.

But go to a Wild Feathers show and, trust me, you’ll get it.


All apparent pretensions aside, in reality The Wild Feathers are simply a modest group of musicians with a shared passion for classic, true American rock n’ roll. And this Friday night in Dallas, Texas, the band ensured that rock n’ roll was alive and damn well.

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The Wild Feathers:
The TVD Interview

Whatever happened to good ole-fashioned American rock n’ roll? To raw, wispy-one-minute-raucous-the-next, hand-clappin-feet-stompin-or-hangin-loose-with-a-brewski goodness? To grit and soul and pure, quality songwriting? As modern technology has allowed musicians to diverge from our roots, it’s become easy to look longingly at the organic properties of 20th century rock, to label its authenticity a thing of the past, eclipsed by our alt-rock subgenres and revived only by The Band and Bob Dylan records.

Then a force like The Wild Feathers comes along and reminds you that true, American rock n’ roll is still alive and kickin’. And that there’s hope yet for our kids’ kids long after today’s Dylan fans are no longer here to pass on good, unadulterated music.

The Wild Feathers fuses the distinct talents of five musicians—that is, Ricky Young, Taylor Burns, Joel King, Preston Wimberly and Ben Dumas—with a common passion for vintage rock and a shared desire to preserve it. When the band came together in Nashville in 2010, all they wanted to do was make “good songs and good classic American rock n’ roll.” They envisioned a group in which no one member held the lead, but rather each figure would contribute to producing a quality of music greater than one could alone. The result: a warm, multi-faceted sound firmly rooted in the past yet propelled forward by modern tones.

Since signing with Warner Brothers Records, The Wild Feathers have been steadily gaining momentum. After touring with Willie Nelson and ZZ Ward earlier this year, the band released their eponymous debut album in August and are now preparing for their premier headlining tour. Their first show takes place in Austin this Wednesday, in front of an already sold-out crowd, before they arrive here in Dallas on the 24th.

Before hitting the road, Texas-born vocalist and guitarist Taylor Burns took the time to chat with us. In this TVD Interview, Taylor talks with us about his cherished vinyl collection, the driving forces behind The Wild Feathers’ sound and the challenges and rewards of the band’s collaborative approach to rock n’ roll. Some seriously solid rock n’ roll at that, if you ask us. 

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