Dallas This won't be a full-on review, so much as a few observations about Saturday's spectacular local music showcase at the Granada Theater. For one thing, it wasn't possible to zero in on the musicians and tune out the crowd. It was like old home week: it seemed nearly everyone having anything to do with music in North Texas was on hand and, in particular, those from Fort Worth were out in force at the Granada. I must've spoken with two dozen people, almost one right after the other, all of whom made it a point to be on hand for the inaugural "Local Edge Presents" showcase, overseen by the weekly program's mastermind, DJ Mark Schectman.
The turn-out was impressive -- estimates put the crowd at around 800 people -- and the musicians did not disappoint. I didn't arrive in time to see either Menkena or Air Review, but buzz in the crowd was positive. I got inside the main room just before Mon Julien took to the stage for its inaugural performance; lead singer Cory Watson was fairly vibrating with nervous energy in the moments before Mon Julien lit into Punchline, its opening number. Over the course of its 40-minute-ish set, Mon Julien made the smooth transition from the late Black Tie Dynasty's moody synth-pop toward something bigger, more exposed and slightly less angular. It was a confident first showing, moving through much of the band's just-released, self-titled debut album. The band will make its Fort Worth debut Feb. 18 at Lola's Saloon.
The night's headliner, Burning Hotels, more than met its challenge of captivating a nearly full Granada Theater, employing a mess of lasers to augment its already retina-scorching light show and irresistible songs, like Always, which kicked off the band's genuinely great performance. (A brief aside: Although I didn't hear anything sustained, Twitter grumbling suggested there was some light booing when the Hotels were introduced as being from Fort Worth. C'mon -- really? That sort of provincial attitude -- the cities are separated by less than 40 miles -- seems awfully thickheaded in 2012. Everyone is pulling for everyone, regardless of where they make their home. To rant and rave about one city's superiority over another just makes you look like a narrow-minded buffoon.)
Confirmed for this year's South by Southwest and with a tune earmarked for future broadcast on a MTV show, the Hotels are capitalizing on the momentum generated by last year's self-titled sophomore LP. More over, they've comfortably ascended from sweaty, jam-packed club shows in their hometown to triumphant, sweeping sets on a higher profile stage.
Moreover, the groundswell of support for these four bands was truly heartening. Often, it seems like many people in the North Texas area are loathe to roll the dice and give something untested a try. But a night like Saturday proves that, indeed, there's a sizable audience out there for great local music and while Schectman cagily suggested to me more showcases like this one may be in the offing, it's crazy to think the Granada, Schechtman or the bands would pass up a chance to get this music in front of an engaged, intrigued audience. Here's hoping this is the first of many such memorable nights in Dallas -- and elsewhere.