Last Friday night, I was looking to encounter a band that I hadn't heard of before. Such bands aren't very hard to find, but it can be a challenge to find a new band that's actually worth seeing. Enter the Moon Bar, which has a reputation for careful booking, and which had placed the Gypsy Bravado out of Denton on its Friday-night bill. With the Hanna Barbarians and the Backsliders also set to play, this seemed like a show worth checking out.
For some time I've noticed a psychedelic revival going on in these parts. North Texas has long been a breeding ground for singer-songwriter folk musicians, and the natural evolutionary (or intelligently designed, depending on your belief system) progression from folk is toward psychedelic rock. If you were to map out a phylogenetic tree of hippie music, you'd go from Pete Seeger to Bob Dylan the acoustic artist, to Dylan the electric artist, to the 13th Floor Elevators, the Grateful Dead and so on. The Gypsy Bravado fit right into that tradition.
The band consists of Michael Todd (guitar and vocals), Lou Anderson (drums), Jeff Dacus (bass), Shawn Burgandy (lead guitar) and Mo Myles (keys). When I arrived, the crowd was just starting to form, but you could tell the audience was feeling the groove the band was putting out. The synth work was tasteful, the guitar work was spot-on, and the vocals had a strong edge (even if they were, occasionally, a little strained). The music ranged from harder tunes to more spacey offerings, with a healthy dose of feedback when needed. The Gypsy Bravado definitely held its own against the more well-known acts that followed -- and made me grateful that I had taken a chance on a new act.
Next in the lineup was Fate Lions. These guys have a solid band and quite a following, but they came across to me as a mix of Gin Blossoms, Neil Diamond and a good bowl of oatmeal. Everyone loves a good bowl of oatmeal, but you don't go to work the next day and talk about that bowl of oatmeal you had.
To get us back on track, we next had the Dallas powerhouse Backsliders. This band consists of Kim Bonner (vocals); her husband, Chris Bonner (guitar and vocals); his brother Jason Bonner (bass); Nathan Adamson (keyboard); and Earl Darling (drums). Kim Bonner has an amazing stage presence and a voice that is pure rock 'n' roll. The band's blend of punk and hard rock brought a bit of the CBGB vibe to Berry Street, and I'm thankful for that. The band even gave out free CDs.
The Hanna Barbarians closed out the night, and they didn't disappoint. By the time they took the stage, the crowd had grown considerably. This band has been blowing up in Funkytown, and if you have been living under a rock and haven't got a chance to see them yet, you need to. If Fort Worth is making a move overall to psychedelic rock, then these guys are some of the primary instigators. And a small, intimate venue like The Moon is the place you want to see it happen.