GIVEAWAY: Win tix to see MEN with Romy on Friday night at The Loft

We had a comment on our Facebook page about what a waste SXSW was because “you’re spending all this money to see a bunch of bands no one has ever heard of” and “why not promote gay friendly artists like Rufus Wainwright?” The thing is, that’s where most of the legitimately LGBT bands are — in the folds of the indie and the obscure, and those festivals are ideal for actually discovering new sounds and not relying on being spoon-fed by the radio.

MEN didn’t play SXSW this year, but the indie avant-popsters, headed by Le Tigre’s J.D. Samson, are doing it for themselves with their own tour and stop in Dallas on Friday night at The Loft. We first mentioned the show way back in December. So if you want to discover a band you’ve never heard of, but are a little reluctant to shell out the 12 bucks, well, we got tix. How about five pairs? Just email me with “Gimme some MEN‘ in the subject line and we’ll get your name on the list.

And thanks for your bravery.

—  Rich Lopez

DEALING with it

A LEAGUE OF OUR  OWN | Flirting can be used to your advantage when playing poker in a gay league. Just ask Pocket Rockets founder Jeff Teller. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Even with Lady Gaga’s advice, poker face does nothing to help the couch potato know when to hold ’em and fold ’em in gay traveling card tourney

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Playing for money without really playing for money is my kind of betting. With gas at three bucks a gallon, my wallet is screaming for help, but Pocket Rockets turns me into one high roller. All I really have to dole out is a couple of bucks for drinks and put on a poker face for some Texas Hold ‘em action at three clubs around the gayborhood. The best part — total exhilaration — comes even when my ass is handed to me by my opponent’s full house.

“We go out of our way to make sure people are comfortable in poker setting,” says owner Jeff Teller. “It’s just about fun.”

At Sue Ellen’s on a recent Tuesday, I got my game on. Activities that involve sitting while partaking of alcohol are ideal for the dedicated couch potato. The cardio behind it is just my speed at the deal … but seriously, poker is stressful. Thinking it would be all drinks and laughs, the “fun table” was just as serious as the tournament final table dealing across the dance floor. I’d played Texas Hold ‘em once before at some friends’ loft. Once. And that was three years ago. Without Cliff’s Notes in hand, I was about to be “that guy.” But once people figured I was the speed bump, they all pitched in to help.

“Lots of people are intimidated by poker, but we’re really friendly,” Teller assures. “[My partner, Aaron Ahamed and I] were nervous our first time. The one thing we do at our league is, we emphasize good sportsmanship. I really feel that enables us to bring in new players.”

By day, Teller is a yoga teacher and licensed massage therapist, but his interest in poker got him started on the path with his new company.

Poker isn’t new to Dallas gays: The Round-Up Saloon hosts a Wednesday tourney that goes on hiatus for a while after each championship. Pocket Rockets, however, runs continuously, offering prizes each night (which I didn’t win).

Teller says up to 45 players will play on any given night, which (as of now) takes place four times a week. Along with Sue Ellen’s on Tuesdays, Pocket Rockets hosts poker tourneys at TMC: The Mining Company on Thursdays and at the Brick Saturdays and Sundays. Teller and Ahamed plan to keep players going at each of those venues while adding more.

“We’re making an effort to get out there, be involved,” he says. “We started going and went to a couple of other leagues and thought how nice it’d be to put emphasis on gay community.”

My night of play, despite my half-hearted efforts in true CPAJ style, left me a total loser. My first plan of attack wasn’t working: Fold and never bet until people fell out of the game. This was not a good idea. Confusion led to checking which led to unfortunate bets. When I looked down I had less than 10 chips — just over a $1,000. This was the inevitable “fuck it moment” and I went all-in with a hand that I felt confident about … too confident as it turned out.

With an ace and a queen in hand and an ace and queen on the table, I had a strong two pair hand. I was edging, trying not to jump ahead to do my “in your face” dance. Something about a side bet would have put me back on track but another player won with his ace and king, also mirrored on the table. One other player had his ace but a weaker hand. It was climactic and the table rallied with “ohhhs” as each hand revealed.

“Yeah, there’s that drama because queens are playing,” Teller says. “ Some people take their game so seriously that you’d think the Super Bowl was going on. You can’t help the drama.”

I have no idea what he’s talking about.

Going in as a novice, margaritas and beers obviously did not affect my judgment, but Teller still gave me tips on how to be ready for the next time.

“Sense you’re players and if they are cute, that could work in your favor,” he says. “You can distract with flirtation and then all of the sudden take him out. And glute exercises, because sometimes you’re sitting for hours at a time.”

Wait, exercise? Ugh.

For more information, visit PocketRocketsDallas.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 25, 2011.

—  John Wright

SHOW CANCELED: Win tix to Free Energy on Tuesday at the Loft

UPDATE: I just received word that due to the weather, tonight’s Free Energy show has been canceled.

The peeps at The Loft offered us two pairs of tickets to give away for Philadelphia indie rockers Free Energy show on Tuesday night. Yes, we know, random. But it turns out the band is super gay friendly and even recorded the song “Hope Child”, below, for the “It Gets Better Project.” We like when those straight allies go above and beyond.

But the giveaway is a bit different. Instead of e-mailing, you gotta tweet in. They just wanna try something new and personally, more of you need to get on the Twitter bandwagon. Just saying. First follow @dallasvoice and then tweet to enter by 3 p.m. Tuesday for your tickets. Good luck!

—  Rich Lopez

Concert Notice: MEN at The Loft in April

Back in 2007 when their band Le Tigre was on hiatus, members JD Samson and Johanna Fatemen created the side project MEN. The magazine Sentimentalist describes them best: “Anthemic, synth-heavy dance beats team up with fiery topics from sexual freedom to wartime economies to both queer lifestyle and pleasure politics in MEN’s cathartic songs like ‘Who Am I to Feel So Free?,’ making them the perfect band to open tours for The Gossip and Peaches in America, in addition to doing their own headlining stints in the U.S. and overseas.”

And headlining they will be come April 1 touring in support of their upcoming February release Talk About Body. Fatemen is less a member and more a contributing writer to the band, but the out Samson, center, holds down the fort and brings her activist gay party perspective to the alt-dance pop side project. I mean, just check out this video for the single “Off Our Backs.” Pretty gay … and hot.

Tickets are $10 now and $12 at the door.

—  Rich Lopez

WATCH: Brannan and Himan at The Loft

Last night’s show with Jay Brannan and Eric Himan offered a mix of oil and water. Both armed with acoustic guitars, Himan rocked the venue while Brannan soothed the almost sold-out crowd. With such a spectrum, the ovations for both were loud and blatantly appreciative.

Brannan croons like no other and he confessed onstage to being sick and vomiting the whole day prior to the show. He showed no signs of that as he sang with crystal clarity. His voice was pristine and you almost think you’re listening to a CD. He performed a healthy set also, for being so sick. “Housewife” may be his most popular song and it was well-received, but I’d have to say “Beautifully” and “Charleston,” his cover of a friend’s song, were fantastic highlights. He captured the exquisiteness of each melody nicely in both. Although his work is on the mellower side, at times the set needed a slight jolt and the ballads began to run into each other. Brannan was never tepid, but came oh-so close.

On a side note, he talked about how he loved returning to Texas as he can find really good Mexican food here. But when he cited Pappasito’s as his taco destination, we nearly choked on the ice in our drinks.

Himan, on the other hand, killed his set. With a playlist of about six songs, he took us up and down with the stirring “Protest Song” to a decent cover of Journey’s “Faithfully.” He’s a lot grittier live than he is recorded and it was a revelation. Where Brannan’s set was like a zen meditation, Himan’s bit was bombastic.

Last night was one of those special shows where the headliner met expectations nicely and the opener left a strong and exciting impression.

—  Rich Lopez

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

GIVEAWAY: We have two pairs of tix to Jay Brannan and Eric Himan on Tuesday

The Loft has given us two pairs of tickets to Jay Brannan’s show on Tuesday to give away. It’s a double-bill of sexy. Not only does the pretty-faced indie folkster headline, the hunky and tatted Eric Himan, below, opens the show with his brand of folk-pop. Kudos to The Loft peeps for booking a perfectly matched pair of gay musicians.

E-mail us here by noon Monday with your first and last name and “I wanna get folked up” in the subject line for your chance to win. Good luck!

—  Rich Lopez

WATCH: Big Freedia at The Loft on Saturday

Walking into The Loft at a little after 11 p.m., I was stunned how empty the place was. With the DJ at full throttle onstage playing some nice high-energy hip-hop, I had high hopes that Big Freedia had more of a following outside New Orleans. The crowd dug the DJ and bounced to the tunes and it was pretty much just a night at a dance club. Before Freedia was about to go on, the place began to fill up. Although I’m not sure all were totally Freedia fans, it was definitely a hip-hop crowd.

The gay contingent was hard to decipher. I loved how JW Richard of the new Groove Loves Melody music blog described some of the hard-to-read peeps as “undercover candy.” So true. But otherwise, a mixture of gay and straight, white, black, Latino, old and young — although definitely more young.

With just a handful of songs, Freedia threw down one pretty sweet party. Despite the fans being outnumbered by non-fans (because fans knew the words and responses),  his music is infectious and the crowd didn’t care about his frankness of being the Queen Diva of Bounce (they applauded, actually) among other things. Freedia had energy to spare and worked his dancehall calls to no end. But really, I learned a Freedia show is about that ass shaking and when the boys were besting the girls up there, it was a sight to behold. Some of the straight peeps had the “what the hell?” look, while everyone just went with the party flow and whooped and hollered.

It’s funny, because there wasn’t anything overly spectacular about the show. Freedia showed up, rapped, dance and that was it. But it was him and his music’s pumped up vibe that just flung its energy across the small venue and everyone caught it. I would dare to say that he probably won a few new fans that night who, like me, had no idea what to expect.

Here’s a glimpse of the show.

—  Rich Lopez

GIVEAWAY: 4 pairs of tickets to see Big Freedia bounce it out at The Loft on Saturday

In Friday’s Dallas Voice, you can read about my little chat with gay sissy bounce star Big Freedia on what the hip-hop subgenre means to the LGBT community. But for now, you can win a pair of tickets to Saturday night’s show at The Loft. Courtesy of the venue, we have four pairs of tickets to give away to the show which will also feature Rusty Lazer, DJ Sober and Dayta.

E-mail us here with “Gimme that bounce” in the subject line, and your full name for your chance to snag tickets. Winners will be announced at noon Friday. Good luck.

Here’s a clip of Big Freedia performing his song, “Azz Everywhere.” It might also make for some good practice.

—  Rich Lopez

Himan to join Brannan for Loft set next month

About a month ago, we blogged that Texas-born Jay Brannan — whom we profiled last year — was coming back to Gilley’s Music Center (The Loft) in December. Well, now we hear who his opening act will be … and it’s none other than our friend Eric Himan. We profiled Eric, too  ealier this year, and just reviewed his new album. We’re fans of both these out artists, though sometimes if feels like Jay’s not all that fond of us, but that’s OK.

The concert is on Dec. 14.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones