Florence + the Machine tonight at Palladium Ballroom

Grace against the machine

Florence Welch has been riding high ever since she and her band have released their debut 2009′s Lungs. Which we really liked a lot. Grammy nominations, VH1 Diva status and even a spot on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve are all high-profile honors the band has received in a short time. But FATM passed the true test of following up with the equally impressive Ceremonials from last year. FATM is all about big. Big voice, big drums, big music which should all fill the mega-big Palladium quite nicely.

DEETS: With Blood Orange. Palladium Ballroom,1135 S. Lamar Road. 7 p.m. $39.50. GilleysDallas.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Getting tested at Level on July 16 will earn you a free ticket to the 4th annual Hip Hop for HIV show

Auntjuan Wiley

Although National HIV Testing Day has passed and we’ve already marked the 30th anniversary of AIDS, that’s no reason to drop attention from it.

HIV testing will take place at Level, 3903 Lemmon Ave., on Saturday, July 16 from 2-10 p.m.

Organizer Auntjuan Wiley said those who get tested will receive free tickets to the fourth annual Hip Hop for HIV concert. The concert — featuring T. Cash, Yung Nation, B Hamp, Dorrough, Doughski G, BMC Boyz and more — is set for Sunday, Aug. 21 at the Palladium Ballroom,

“Our young black MSMs are leading the charge when it comes to the infection rate in Dallas County and it’s time to step up and take responsibility of our own,” Wiley said.

A September 2010 report from the Centers for Disease Control showed HIV infection rates among black gay and bisexual men in Dallas are among the highest in the country. Wiley’s goal is to test 1,000 people on July 16 and he’s asking other individuals and groups to spread the word. Testing is open to everyone.

“Hip Hop for HIV is an innovative way to provide free testing, education and treatment services to the most impacted communities in a safe environment,” he said.

—  David Taffet

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

WATCH: Vampire Weekend last night at the Palladium Ballroom

After my conversation with Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, I looked forward to reviewing the concert since they get consistent high praise for an outstanding live show. Review tix never happened which kinda stung, but whatevs. I hear it was great.

I did find this video of the song “M79″ which, for what was likely an iPhone or Flip, was pretty great. Props to YouTube poster Mccaslint for keeping a steady hand and great quality. Only made me wish I was there. But I’ve moved on.

Take a look.

—  Rich Lopez

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

REVIEW: Semi Precious Weapons at The Loft, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at the Palladium

Justin Tranter
FOR MORE PICS OF THE SHOW, GO HERE.

Suffice it to say, I did not see Semi Precious Weapons go on stage. I was downstairs in the Palladium Showroom catching Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings do their thing. But more on that later. Walking upstairs into The Loft, I could immediately hear the band jamming out its punk glam rock to a raucous crowd.

Sure enough, a tight crowd pressed against each other and the stage with hands in the air like they just didn’t care. Although SPW is a band, the show is really about its frontman Justin Tranter. Perhaps he’s waiting for his Beyonce moment to break away from the band and become the star he should be. Tranter owned both the band and the crowd. His presence is huge with his mop top of blond hair and heavy eye make-up, but also with his inherent diva qualities. With fey hand gestures and funny “fuck yous” to the crowd, he actually bonds with his audience. It’s all so punk rock.

SPW’s fans are a breed unto themselves. They knew every word to the songs and responded with haste when Tranter commanded them to. When he told people to take off their clothes, garments immediately started flying to the stage. His antics made for a worthy show. He made sure everyone was “Sticky With Champagne” as he pretty much jacked off a bottle and sprayed the bubbly load all over the audience. He then bore his ass, and one guy suggested there might have been balls involved. I missed that photo opp. Maybe it was a good thing. He promised sexual favors if the crowd bought his merch and a spray of water was a cool bath amid the sweaty hot crowd.

Sharon Jones

Just don’t think he’s all shock value and schtick. The band (especially the guitars) was sharp and each instrument came off lush but sharp and beautifully loud. The music was matched by Tranter’s strong voice — especially in “Fucking Gorgeous” — which at times was reminiscent of The Clash’s Joe Strummer — powerful with the slightest tint of delicacy that gave him extra pizzazz. Tranter also didn’t sacrifice his voice for an outlandish rock persona. He belted out a few vocal runs complete with vibrato but kept it under the cheesy radar.

The energy SPW had here to a crowd of maybe 150 was exponentially better than their opening gig at Lady Gaga this summer. I almost would hate for them to get bigger because SPW was on top of their game and clearly at home in a tinier venue like The Loft.

Downstairs in the Palladium Showroom, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings was performing her soulful gig. And just like Tranter, Jones captivated with frantic dancing and those beautifully rich and gritty vocal chords — that is when you could hear her.

I’m not sure how this worked, but being up close, I could barely hear a word she said, much less sang. The Dap-Kings however were crisp and clear — especially the horn section. I had to leave for SPW and then came back and from the rear of the standing audience, Jones was a whole lot clearer.

Jones has unique appeal. The gays weren’t out in force but a few were in the audience grooving along with the mostly 20-something hipsters who seemed to have genuine appreciation for her music rather than just jumping on some nostalgic trend recycling its way through. And regardless of who was in the audience, young or old, Jones and the Kings had the crowd dancing, which was kind of a shocker in Dallas. Audiences here tend to just watch. It’s weird. But last night, this Dallas crowd grooved, shimmied and shook through each song.

I do wish they had peppered more ballads in. Jones’ voice is something to behold but it seemed like 95 percent of the show was overly upbeat. That’s never a bad thing but heck, we needed a break, too! Regardless, Jones and her very able Dap Kings gave one of the most satisfying shows of the year so far.

Grace Potter and the NocturnalsFans of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals should have been equally satisfied if not ass-kicked. Despite opener status for Jones, Potter and the gang went for broke with her raucous performance. Her dirty roots rock pretty much tsunami-ed the room. To top it off, she went from guitars to piano to tambourine and struck a pose each time. Drag queens should look her up as influence, if she hasn’t already done that vice versa for her onstage presence. In an almost peek-a-boo short, shimmery dress, she was feminine but rocked out like many a male rocker from the hair-teased 80s. Her set began to go just a little too long, mostly because it felt the energy in the room was buzzing for Jones. But Potter played like she would for a sold-out crowd at the Cotton Bowl and it ruled.

So, all in all, it was a pretty good night for a concert — even two.

—  Rich Lopez

Semi Precious Weapons at The Loft on Sept. 23

—  Rich Lopez

Lambert glams Dallas

Adam Lambert in Dallas
GLITTERATI | Gay pop star Adam Lambert brought his Glam Nation Tour to Dallas on Tuesday, Sept. 8, thrilling the cross-generational crowd of fans that packed the Palladium Ballroom with a 75 minute set. After the concert, Lambert headed to BJ’s NXS! to continue the party. See more photos of the concert here and photos of Lambert’s visit to BJ’s here. (Chuck Dube/Dallas Voice)

—  Kevin Thomas

Adam Lambert at the Palladium Ballroom

Photos by Chuck Dube/Dallas Voice

To see even more of Chuck Dube’s photos from the show, go to http://marcelomedia.com/adamlambert and type in password “dallasvoice.”


 

—  John Wright