Weekly Best Bets

Saturday 01.29

Guess that’s why they call it the blues
While KERA is holding their pledge drive, KNON is trying to raise money of their own. The station, home to Lambda Weekly and The Jesse Garcia Show, hosts its 12th Annual Bluesfest with a hefty lineup. But really, you haven’t lived until you see R&B legend and Dallas native Bobby Patterson throw it down old school style. That’ll change your life.
DEETS: Poor David’s Pub, 1313 S. Lamar St. Through Sunday. 3 p.m. $10. KNON.org.

Sunday 01.30

Talk about ‘Ovo’ the top
In Cirque du Soleil’s new show Ovo, they create a colorful ecosystem of insects. Only these bugs do crazy acrobatics and contortions. Only Cirque can think so out of the box to make a “world of biodiversity” centered around a mysterious egg and a love story between a ladybug and neighborhood bug.
DEETS: Dr. Pepper Arena, 2601 Avenue of the Stars, Frisco. Through Feb. 27. $45-$250. CirqueDuSoleil.com

Tuesday 02.01

‘Faces’ in the crowd
Photographer Jorge Rivas’ Faces of Life was such a hit at last year’s Pride that the campaign is being relaunched during ilume Gallerie’s Super Week. With new photos and an exclusive jewelry line, the gallery extends its hours so everyone can take a peek and sign up for their own photo session.
DEETS: ilume Gallerie, 4123 Cedar Springs Road. Through Saturday. FacesofLifeProject.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28, 2011.

—  John Wright

Jay Brannan and Eric Himan perform tonight at The Loft

A double-dose of sexy

Indie rocker Jay Brannan returns to Dallas tonight. Not only might he remind you of our national anthem, Brannan isn’t half-bad when it comes to lyrics. Quirky, original and at times even delightful. With an acoustic set, The Loft is the ideal setting for his music as it was last year. Fellow gay musician Eric Himan joins the bill tonight. He’s not doing too bad himself. He just released his piano-based solo album Out With the Old and hits the pavement pretty often according to his Twitter and Facebook feeds.

These boys are working it for all they can and if past shows say anything, tonight should be an acoustic set of awesome.

DEETS: The Loft, 1135 S. Lamar St.. Doors at 7:30. $17. GilleysMusic.com

—  Rich Lopez

Have a heavy metal holiday with Halford at House of Blues

Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford makes one stop in Dallas

Last year, some of us (OK, one of us) were excited about Rob Halford’s eponymous-named band releasing a holiday album. Metal and Christmas? And with the lead singer from Judas Priest? It was gonna be awesome. But since then, Halford has released the album, Made for Metal, and the tour makes one stop in the whole state of Texas — and it’s here. The band stops at House of Blues tonight with Philm supporting. We’re hoping since it is December, the gay metal icon will whip out some Christmas carols as only he can. At the very least, we know he should be rocking the leather daddy look. We’re hoping anyway.

DEETS: House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St. 8 p.m. $20–$35. HouseOfBlues.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Bouncin’ wit’ it

When Big Freedia sissy bounces, everybody listens

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

MAN ENOUGH Big Freedia brings a whole lotta shakin’ to The Loft Saturday.

BIG FREEDIA
with Rusty Lazer. The Loft,
1135 S. Lamar St.. Dec. 4. at
7:30 p.m. $12–$14.
GilleysDallas.com.

……………

Sissy bounce. The two words either say it all — or say it all wrong.

But Big Freedia says it’s just a party to him. Relying on heavy samples and jagged dance beats, the sound is having a resurgence just as its home, New Orleans, is, too. And for Freedia, right now is the time for the world to get onboard. The gay performer plans to show Dallas on Saturday just how New Orleans gets down.

“At the end of the day it’s all bounce music,” he says. “That category just separates us from other rappers, but I’m totally fine with it.”

“Bounce music” has its roots in Southern rap and is characterized by party beats, sexualized chants and call-outs. Add a queer slant to it and it becomes “sissy bounce.” Outside its Deep South roots, sissy bounce takes on a more underground flavor.

And people are taking notice. Articles have been appearing more in recent years featuring Freedia and his gay bounce contemporaries, Katey Red and Sissy Nobby. But the music and musicians may have gotten their most rewarding exposure when Jonathan Dee’s impressive piece in the New York Times, “New Orleans’ gender-bending rap,” came out this summer. When the Times takes notice, people follow.

“It’s not a new thing going on, just right now,” Freedia says. “The music has been around for 20 years, but it’s new for a lot of people all around. There’s a boom and I’m just excited to be one of those artists.”

Out musicians across genres are having a noticeable emergence in music. Beyond mainstream Ricky Martins and Melissa Etheridges, indie rock, neo-folk and pop are genres bursting with their share of LGBT musicians contributing to the musical fabric; gay rappers Drew Mason and Yo! Majesty take on hip-hop to tell their stories in a genre that’s notoriously homophobic. But sissy bounce takes the gay perspective to different levels. The brash aggressiveness of it could be a declarative statement of Pride, but could it also perpetuate stereotypes?

“Bounce music is up-tempo with a heavy bass. It’s party music that’s all about ass-shaking and pussy-popping,” Freedia says.

Note that last part — sissy bounce is highly charged with lyrics on defiant sex and partying. Sometimes this is an image gay men can’t escape. As the profile of sissy bounce grows, it’s easy to ask if mainstream coverage will focus on the actual brilliance of the music as a whole or merely pinpoint lyrics that will be used as a tool against LGBT communities.

Sissy bounce might suffer from “parade syndrome,” where all mainstream media shows are scantily clad dancers and high-heeled drag queens rather than paint a complete picture. and rebuilding both his career and his home, Freedia is on the verge of bigger things and any publicity is good exposure. Besides, he’s got a positive message underneath all that rapping about “Azz Everywhere” and “Gin in my System.”

“My mission is to put bounce music all over the world and teach my culture about growing up with struggles. I firmly stand and believe on encouraging peers and my younger generation. If you believe in anything and move forward, good things can happen. That’s my message — especially in the gay world.”

Non-gay listeners can take heed as well. Freedia’s music has resulted in mixed crowds at his shows. This excites him as a gay performer to break boundaries.

“It don’t matter who it is. [Audiences are] loving what I’m singing and feeling it,” he says. “When I perform, my intention is all about bringing it and making people have a good time. Some people don’t know exactly how to accept it at first, but by the end, it’s a real party.”

Which sounds like a reasonable approach to the music itself for the uninitiated.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Jeffree Star plays tonight at The Loft — you can still win tix

Born to be a Star

Internet-bred Jeffree Star is on the up and up. Pushing himself into self-created Web fame caught enough attention to garner a fanbase. Now that mega-producer Akon has signed him on, the out goth drag artist is downright legit.

Star stopped in Dallas back in May during his 2 Drunk 2 Fuck Tour, but announced a whole new tour for the latter half of 2010 — only this time, he says he’s releasing new music along the way.

We’re giving away tickets. Go here for more info.

DEETS: With Dev and It Boys. The Loft (In the Gilley’s Dallas Complex) , 1135 S. Lamar St. 7:30 p.m. $13–$15. GilleysMusic.com.

—  Rich Lopez

500 days of Samir

Male dancer Samir breaks the chains of Cirque du Soleil to blossom as ‘the guy’ with Bellydance Superstars

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

Samir
GRACE LAND | Samir adds a different flair to bellydancing as Bellydance Superstars’ first and only male dancer.

BELLYDANCE SUPERSTARS
Palladium Ballroom, 1135 S. Lamar St. Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. $20–$39.
BellydanceSuperstars.com

…………………………..

Going by a single name is a ballsy move that usually works more in favor of women: Madonna and Cher. Pink. Charo.

Then throw in Bono. There’s always one guy willing to go against the grain.

Samir is no singer; he’s a dancer. But the solo moniker isn’t the only thing about him that defies convention. He also seeks to prove that a dance traditionally performed by women has room for at least one guy. Samir is part of the harem of Bellydance Superstars, which is in Dallas this week. Just don’t box him into the male label — or even gay. He sees himself in a more primal fashion.

“I don’t identify as a male dancer or female dancer,” he says. “I’m more like a creature and I never had people criticize that. That’s what’s unique about it because audiences are confused and I think they like that.”

Samir is the first male dancer onstage for the Bellydance Superstars show, but it’s also one of the first times in his professional life that he’s felt like his art is blossoming. He first burst onto the public scene as part of Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. That experience looked great on his resume, but Samir wasn’t thrilled come curtain time each night.

“To get to Cirque, I felt something was different,” he says. “It was totally new for me but I was also never a backup dancer. For three years, I basically went out every night to just do these beautiful poses.”

For Samir, Cirque was a grueling process that left little for the Tajikistan-born dancer to be inspired by. He could recognize the art and technique that went with the show, but he says it was not a place for people who create.

“I found myself killing my talent and my time,” he says. “It was just a regular job doing the same thing every night. It was good exposure, being in Vegas at the Bellagio, but Cirque is only for dancers who are retired. They can enjoy their life there until they go to heaven.”

Samir discovered early that this wasn’t where he was supposed to be. Regardless of his excitement, the marriage was doomed from the moment he signed the contract.

“They told me all the good things, but changed it once I started,” he says. “The rehearsal part was all love and sex but the honeymoon ended right after I signed with them.

He applauds Bellydance Superstars producer and creative director Miles Copeland for stepping away from the norm to see the dance as an art. The show gives him the creative outlet he has been searching for.

“[Copeland] doesn’t want to keep you locked away,” he says. “Here you can show your stuff and if he likes it enough, it will be in the show. He respects your talent and that make me want to give more. I feel great here.”

Unlike Cirque, this show offers Samir a family of like-minded individuals — not a mishmash of athletes and artists. For him, everybody here talks the same language and has become one family. Plus, the touring has allowed him to see more of the world. The different places, people and even different dressing rooms each night are a longshot from his former routine.

Samir’s desire for creation is in his blood. Both his parents were involved in the arts: his mother a famous folk dancer, his father a musician. Samir has been dancing since he was 2 and had already tasted fame when he traveled the country with his parents. He fits in naturally to the whirlwind of touring and bringing bellydancing to the masses — even if his audiences are aficionados more than curious onlookers.

“The show is all about bellydancing and Indian and Oriental tradition dance. Only people who are into it and understand it usually come to see the show. But I hope some new people will see how beautiful it is,” he says.

Samir is coy about a few things. He won’t reveal his age but says he’s young enough to finish the tour. However, once the tour wraps up (for now) in February 2011, he teases about his next career move.

“It’s going to be a big surprise,” he says with a likely smile. “Contact me in a year.”

Just like a bellydancer to coyly leave one veil hanging.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 8, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Vampire Weekend plays the Palladium Ballroom tonight

Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij brings your Afro-pop listening pleasure

Hipsters unite! The buzz keeps going for indie popsters Vampire Weekend and they bring their consistently well-reviewed live show back to Dallas today. We spoke with gay memeber Rostam Batmanglij about his place in the band and in the community last week. Thankfully, he gave us quality tidbits of insight before the phone disconnected us twice. Ouch.

DEETS: With Beach House. Palladium Ballroom, 1135 S. Lamar St. Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. $42. Ticketmaster.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Vampire strikes back

Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij could be the new face of gay — if it matters

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

FORGET TEAM EDWARD OR TEAM JACOB  |  Batmanglij, left, and the rest of Vampire Weekend bring their live show back to Dallas Wednesday to win over the city again after their spring show back in April.
FORGET TEAM EDWARD OR TEAM JACOB | Batmanglij, left, and the rest of Vampire Weekend bring their live show back to Dallas Wednesday to win over the city again after their spring show back in April.

VAMPIRE WEEKEND
With Beach House.
Palladium Ballroom,
1135 S. Lamar St. Oct. 6 at 8 p.m.
Ticketmaster.com.

……………………………………………….

Face it: Society is getting kind of used to the celebrity come-out story. Ricky Martin comes out and we applaud; Chely Wright becomes the first out country singer and now we know her name — ho-hum.

But when Rostam Batmanglij talks about being out as part of the big-buzzed indie group Vampire Weekend, nobody seems to notice.

Maybe it’s Batmanglij’s everyman look — he’s handsome but doesn’t smolder like Martin. He’s the understated hipster dude in the funky clothes. He just … is, minus the whole producer/multi-instrumentalist bit he performs for the band.

“I think sometimes there is so much pressure to conform to a straight identity,” he says. “But also, there’s pressure to conform to stereotypes of gay identity. I hope that’s less and less a pressure nowadays.”

Nothing about Vampire Weekend’s vibe is particularly threatening, but their music is innovative enough to stand out. The sound is happy with reggae-ish beats and endearing lyrics. Their scruffy image proffers likeable appeal for college- and high school-aged kids that includes a new generation of LGBT youth unrestricted by labels. Like Batmanglij, they are living a life that doesn’t find the need to thrive on completely gay environments as may have been the case 20 years ago.
“Just like there are different kinds of straight people, it’s the same for gays,” he says. “But now there are various gay role models.”

Batmanglij came out to the media last year, saying it was something he felt he should do. It didn’t have the shockwave impact of other musical coming outs, but it didn’t have to for Batmanglij. Really, he just finds it tough to figure if his coming out had any kind of impact on either the band or himself.

“It’s hard to perceive,” he says. “I certainly believe we had gay fans before I talked about it. I just don’t know if gay people would approach our band based on that fact.”

What does weigh heavy on Batmanglij is not his gay identity, but his Middle Eastern heritage. When asked about the Washington Post’s article where he discussed having issues with “whiteness,” Batmanglij dismisses the condensed version of his life in that article, but also shifts to a troubled tone when talking about his heritage.

“I have a complex relationship with being of Iranian descent and now more than ever,” he says. “There are a lot of things not talked about in America and so much is repressed and kept in the dark. Middle Easterners aren’t represented well. I think that I’ll continue to have an issue with it. There are ways to look at things without the cynicism.”

Thus it’s actually harder to be Middle Eastern than gay, right now?

“Certainly in America,” he laughs.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 1, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

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