DJ/producer Calvin Harris tonight at Zouk in Uptown

Nothing comes between you and your Calvin

DJ/producer Calvin Harris is one of the hottest guys in music right now. He’s only had three hit albums, worked with big time acts like Kylie and LMFAO and gay dance clubs can’t get enough of his and Rihanna’s “We Found Love.” Neither can the rest of the world as its topped the charts all over the globe. So, to see him up close and personal do what he does best should be a major treat, if not simply awesome.

DEETS: Zouk, 703 McKinney Ave. 10 p.m. FullAccessDallas.net.

—  Rich Lopez

Halcyon live at Sue Ellen’s tonight

For the girls

Deb Hunseder and Steph Callahan are kind of a big deal. As acoustic rockers Halcyon, they’ve opened for big time names such as Joan Osborne, John Mayer and Wynonna Judd. But they headline this weekend. The Florida-based band comes to Dallas with their harmonies intact and a taste of their queer indie rock.

DEETS: With Bad Habits. Sue Ellen’s, 3014 Throckmorton St. 9 p.m. SueEllensDallas.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Sia tonight at the Granada Theater

‘Clap your Hands’ and say yeah

Even though Sia hasn’t quite made into the big time on the pop charts, she’s developed a strong following. The lez singer recalls the vein of Robyn, with smart pop music that keeps us coming back. She’s sold out here, but the venue has been releasing tickets so keep an eye out.

DEETS: With Oh Land and Ximena Sarinana. Granada Theater, 3524 Greenville Ave. 8 p,m. $24. GranadaTheater.com.

—  Rich Lopez

‘4’-telling

In her latest, Beyonce tries on new hats while relying on old tricks

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

…………………..

3 out of 5 stars
“4”
Beyonce
Columbia Records

…………………..

Fans might be scratching their heads with Beyonce’s new album, 4. Where is the explosive power? What is it with all these ballads? But she might be having the last laugh. Her fourth solo album (duh) might not have as many potential hit singles, but by dabbling with different formulas she delivers a respectable package — or at least a fascinating one.
Beyonce has proved she can churn out major pop and R&B hits that are smart, fun and have a certain sass, but she holds back big time on 4, setting a mellower tone with a collection of slower tempo tunes.

She croons old-school on the opener “1+1,” her foray into deeper soul. The song is elegant and a surprise, but the second track, “I Care,” makes a far stronger impression. The more mid-tempo ballad is restrained in her verses, but goes way lush in her chorus. The build-up to an emotive guitar solo feels a tad Michael Bolton-ish, but pulls back to a definitive groove.

DROP DEAD DIVA | Beyonce channels ‘80s adult contemporary in ‘4,’ but delivers impressive surprises.

Beyonce slyly fuses her R&B vocals over an ambient electronica beat on “I Miss You.” Is it weird this recalls Haddaway’s 1993 song by the same name? She smartly works with the tune to offer the song as a package rather than showing off her voice and results in a lovely moment. Why she has to rhyme I miss you/like every day/wanna be wichu/but you’re away is beyond me. We get it, B — you’re street and glam.

We’re already getting the impression that she’s given the album a top-heavy atmosphere of ballads that might lose listeners, then comes “Best Thing I Never Had,” co-written by Babyface, which doesn’t dispel this. The pace is picked up slightly but the song recalls those overly polished ‘80s “soul” hits found on lite radio stations (echoed later with “Rather Die Young” and “Love on Top”). She’s channeling her Patti Austin-Regina Belle with cheesy background choruses and keyboards. Let’s not discuss the Dianne Warren penned “I Was Here,” which is ready for movie montages and hackneyed trailers.

Sometimes I wondered if Beyonce was trying to get into some serious soul a la Leela James or Sharon Jones, but kept missing the mark with these smoothed-out tunes that don’t lend much to her attempts. With previous ballads like “Halo,” “Listen” or “Irreplaceable,” we could hear her distinct voice — literally and figuratively. Here, she gets lost and although she’s co-written most of her songs, there’s not a unique sense of the diva.

As if she realized that, she pumps up the jam in the final quarter of the 12-song collection. There’s a relief when the beat-heavy “Countdown” hits at track no. 9. Although disjointed, it’s a welcome reprieve from all her emoting. She does far better with her immediate follow-up “End of Time,” by which time she seems obsessed with drumline beats. She’s pulled it since Destiny’s Child with “Breathe” and most recently with “Single Ladies,” but the horns and that Beyonce swagger we’re used to recall the infectious sounds of Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.”

She weirdly placed “I Was Here” in between the happening upbeat songs and kills the mood. But she closes out with her misfired hit “Run the World (Girls).” Again with the military beats, the song didn’t take the world by storm like she probably hoped, but it puts the energy of the album in overload. I couldn’t stand hearing it at award shows or Oprah’s farewell, but after mellowing out for over half an hour, the song saves the album, ending it with a bang. The girl-power message seems passé but that doesn’t make it less fun.
I applaud Beyonce’s efforts not to deliver the obvious. Face it: We all want another “Crazy in Love,” but instead, she opted to stick to her guns and try something new, even if some of it sounded like it was three decades old. Despite its stumbles and confusing paths, 4 could be the one album we look to as her most daring.   •

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 8, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

America’s next top (role) model?

‘A List Dallas’ casting stuts out one gay couch potato even before getting started. You might be luckier

RICH LOPEZ  | lopez@dallasvoice.com

cpj
GETTING DOUCHEY WITH IT Wanna know how to go from d-bag to A-list? This writer may not know, but he’ll get you started. (Arnold Wayne Jones Dallas Voice)

Using my connections, I could get into most snazzy events in Dallas if I, you know, tried. I know enough highfalutin’ types to be able to drop a few names. This all comes with the territory of working for a newspaper — kinda A-list, right?

Maybe not so much. Along with all that comes a journalist’s salary, a nine-year old Ford Escape without a radio and a gym membership that rarely gets used. I might call it more D-list, though even Kathy Griffin is a rung up from me.

So when I heard The A List, Logo’s new reality series, was casting in Dallas, it was without question I’d need to apply. TV stardom could be my way to the big time, and since I can’t find a reliable Amazing Race partner, this could be my ticket. Already, thoughts of an auto-tuned dance album filled my head.

The first step was the online application, where I saw these words in the intro: “…presents the unprecedented invitation to the ‘A List’ in the age range of 20–mid 30s…” At 38, I might already be out of the game before filling in the first blank. But audacity is an A-list quality, so I proceeded. But I was gonna need help.

“Anyone can apply online, and if you fit what the network’s looking for, we’ll interview you,” said Chad Patterson, casting agent for the Dallas version of the show. “It’s my job to make each applicant an individual and stand out on their own.”

Patterson is in town this week through Dec. 19 doing follow-up interviews after an initial cut, but don’t think you can crash the sessions. Only those with stellar applications are invited to meet. (But you can still apply after he’s gone.)

As I filled in my name, occupation, etc., I halted at the blank for a MySpace/website address. Um, MySpace was A-list like five years ago. Hello! Maybe this is a list I don’t wanna be on.

The inevitable body image complex came up. The app asks for height and weight, which I get. Then it asked for my body type and waist size. Despite what Patterson told me, there seemed to be a specific response needed here.

“There are no wrong answers when applying to a reality show. This is all to uncover the reality of you,” he said. Yeah, but I needed more convincing that anything above a 31 inch waist wasn’t an immediate cut.

The app went on to ask about my relationship and if I have children; my personality type and why I think I’m fabulous — all easy enough. Then it listed celebs like Brad Pitt, Anderson Cooper, Madonna and Rachel Maddow as “dream date” choices. For some reason, Stone Cold Steve Austin wasn’t an option. This actually excited Patterson and he kinda made me believe I could be on the show. He’s that good.

“See? This is where your unique personality shines through,” he said. “You might be what we’re looking for, this anti-establishment guy who doesn’t buy into all the bullshit.” It was like he was looking into my soul over the phone.

What he doesn’t want, he said, is the self-entitled queen who thinks he’s fabulous just because. Patterson is looking for specifics as to what makes an applicant A-list material. A heavy helping of personality goes a long way, though he admitted he wouldn’t mind stereotypes.

“We do want to make it specific to Dallas so I’d love to find a gay boy who’s parents are in the oil business or even a gay cowboy. Stereotypes in certain regions will make it unique.”

Oh, that’s another thing: Patterson used the term “boy” a lot. This worried me.

“Yeah, it’ll be fun to have a few boys that are actually A-list, but we’re not ruling people out if you’re a go-go boy who’s broke but knows how to work it,” he said.

He wanted to offer one piece of advice to all the Dallas men (er, boys) who apply. Because there isn’t a guarantee the show will be cast like New York, there’s no telling the direction it could go.

“You shouldn’t decide it’s not for you before applying,” he said. “Just be open to it. There are no points off for anything.”

Until they read my application; which, at that point, it’s back to finding that Amazing Race partner.

To apply online, visit TheAList Casting.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Attention, design stars and master chefs: Get ready for your reality TV close-up this weekend

Gordon Ramsay

Dallas and reality TV have a big time date this weekend. Two shows are coming to town in search of their next big stars.

First, interior designers and decorators take note. HGTV’s Design Star is having an open casting call on Sunday. They are looking for “someone with a creative point of view, the ability to execute under pressure and a sparkling personality. All level of expertise are welcome — from professional designers and architects to at home ‘do-it yourselfers.’” If you have a portfolio,they recommend bringing it. Plus, a couple of photos of yourself. And if you do really well, then go on to win, be sure and grant us the first interview. The casting call will be held at Westin Park Central, 12720 Merit Dr. from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, go here.

Second, for the non-chef chef, Fox brings its nationwide search “for the best home cooks in America” to Dallas casting for the next season of Master Chef. If you make a mean mac-and-cheese from scratch, you have two options: call me for dinner or head to the casting all weekend. If you make the show, Gordon Ramsay, above, might make you cry, but if you win, then it’s all worth it. Just be prepared going in. The casting website says the following is required for open calls:

    • Your completed application• A current photo of yourself

    • A photo of your plated dish

    • Your one plated dish to impress us!

    • Please plan to be at the auditions all day. We suggest bringing snacks and water. Be comfortable and be yourself!

Got it? Good. The casting call happens at Le Cordon Bleu, 11830 Webb Chapel Road. Saturday from 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sunday from 10 a.m.–3 p.m.

And if you make both casting calls, then we just don’t like you for being so talented. But good luck anyway.

—  Rich Lopez

Cedar Springs Kroger officially upgrades today

Um, have you been to Kroger on Cedar Springs yet? Likely if you’re in the gayborhood you have, but if not, head there today. They are celebrating their official “reopening” after an interior overhaul. And did they do a good job.

Gone is the dreary white space from before. They’ve spruced it up big time from wider aisles to more hot food options and warmer decor. Think Whole Foods, but more affordable. I was pretty excited about the new look so I dragged John Wright out and we ran over and snapped some pics to give you an idea of the new digs. We didn’t however partake in the barrage of samples they were handing out. I hear they’ll be doing that most of the day. And most of ‘em smelled delish. More pics below.

—  Rich Lopez

Semi Precious Weapons play The Loft tonight

The Lady Gaga openers strike out on their own

Most people probably hadn’t heard of Semi Precious Weapons until Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball Tour. They opened for her gaining big-time exposure. But their live act didn’t translate so well in the huge venue of American Airlines Center when they were here this past July. Their indie glam rock isn’t the stuff of sports venues, but definitely for the likes of The Loft. And  “Sexually fluid” frontman Justin Tranter is a must-see in high heels — especially up close.

DEETS: The Loft, 1135 S. Lamar St., Sept. 23 at 8:30 p.m. All ages. $15–$17. TheLoftDallas.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Concert Notice: Lady Gaga openers Semi Precious Weapons come back on their own

Most people probably hadn’t heard of Semi Precious Weapons until Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball Tour. They opened for her gaining big-time exposure. But their live act didn’t translate so well in the huge venue of American Airlines Center when they were here this past July. Their indie glam rock isn’t the stuff of sports venues, but definitely for the likes of The Loft.

SPW is keeping up its Gaga momentum with some tour dates of their own. They hit Dallas (again) later this month and then come back with Gaga next March. Perhaps by then, they’ll accept their growing fame and kick out a bigger show. They work much better in closer quarters. “Sexually fluid” frontman Justin Tranter is a must-see in high heels — especially up close.

The Loft, 1135 S. Lamar St., Sept. 23 at 8:30 p.m. All ages. $15–$17. TheLoftDallas.com.

—  Rich Lopez