Sick of Sarah show at Prophet Bar canceled

Queer rockers Sick of Sarah will not be performing this weekend, dangit. The all-female band was touring with Now, Now and Deas Vial as part of the Oh, Christmas tour which was set to stop in Dallas on Dec. 17 at the Prophet Bar. “I guess no show,” said SOS publicist Jim Merlis when he learned that their tour van died and had to cancel the rest of this tour, according to the venue’s site.

Ouch.

This sucks because Sick of Sarah is pretty bad ass on stage. I’ve seen them before at Sue’s and they kinda melt your face off. In a good way. How apropos that I post their “Bittersweet” video below.

—  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

B’way: ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’

In the old days, cutting the original Broadway cast recording of a new musical was always expected — even if the show closed immediately. Economics have made that less of a given (the Tony-nominated flop Cry-Baby closed without a CD of the score being made). But when your show is called Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and it gets reworked during nine months of previews, who even knows what the score will sound like by the time it opens?

On the other hand, you have something unique in the score by Bono and The Edge: A built-in audience of rockers who couldn’t give a shit about a B’way musical but who are addicted to U2’s music. Thus was born this CD, carefully titled Music from Spider-Man. The implication: These are some of the songs, but maybe not all of them. And some tracks are even demos performed not by the cast, but by Bono and The Edge himself. “For fun,” the liner notes claim. More like for economic necessity.

Musical purists may sniff, but the songs are undeniably the product of some rock gods who are trying to create their version of The Who’s Tommy. Not all of the numbers work; “Bouncing Off the Walls” is both too literal and too corny exposition, with a dull, repetitive riff, and “Pull the Trigger” tries too hard. But there are the bones of some hits. The show itself might be a disaster, but at least some of the music swings.

— A.W.J.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Immigrant Punk & SuZanne Kimbrell perform at Pizza Lounge

No Palin/Trump slice tonight

Local lesbian rockers Immigrant Punk, pictured, and SuZanne Kimbrell turn up the volume on dinner tonight. They perform a double bill in Exposition Park tonight. It’s a tough call between them and the Mavs, but a win-win either way.

DEETS: Pizza Lounge, 841 Exposition Ave. 8 p.m. Facebook.com/ImmigrantPunk

—  Rich Lopez

Fishing with Juan

‘CRUSH’ ON YOU | Abe Vigoda ventured into electronica territory with its new album ‘Crush.’ Gay member Velasquez, second from right, hopes this might increase fans for the band — especially gay ones.

As indie band Abe Vigoda tours the country, lone gay bandmember Juan Velasquez sometimes just wants to settle down with a boyfriend

GREGG SHAPIRO  | Contributing Writer
gregg.shapiro@gmail.com

Juan Velasquez has been with Abe Vigoda since the beginning. No, he’s not the lover of venerable Fish and Godfather star Abe Vigoda, but the indie band that co-opted the actor’s name.

Velasquez is one of a growing number of out musicians who play in cool indie bands including Grizzly Bear, The Soft Pack and These Arms Are Snakes and Vampire Weekend. Crush, Abe Vigoda’s new disc, might take some of their existing fan-base by surprise, considering the (welcome) use of synthesizers and dance beats. At the same time, the band has definitely increased its potential for a larger LGBT audience.

Velasquez spoke about being the only gay in the vill… er, tour bus, and whether the actor knows about his eponymous rockers.

Dallas Voice: Were you and the other members of Abe Vigoda listening to different music than you ordinarily would have prior to recording Crush? Juan Velasquez: No, not really. It had been two years since we wrote music together. Influence-wise there’s different music that we like, stuff that we’re interested in and enjoy. I think it was a natural thing that happened. There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. We don’t all communally love one thing.

You said that it was a natural thing, so would you say that the sonic difference of Crush was a conscious decision or did it occur organically? Definitely organically, but it took a while. We write sporadically, usually when we’re practicing. Our drummer [Dane Chadwick] really likes dance music, so he introduced electronic elements to the band. We toyed around with them as a thing that we would be able to use and then we realized how much we liked it. It’s fun because you’re not restricted to guitars and drums. There are more things that you can use. I think we were finally more comfortable using synths.

How has the response to Crush been from longtime Abe Vigoda fans? It’s very varied. Some people just don’t get it. To me it sounds more “accessible” than other things we’ve done through the years. Some people are not so jazzed on it and some people like it. It’s not what they expected and because of that they like it. Sometimes we’ll play shows and mainly play songs from Crush and people will be like, “Why didn’t you play anything older?” I think people are still getting used to it. Even more important, people that didn’t like us before are maybe not getting into it because it’s a whole new thing and they didn’t know what we sounded like previous to this record. It’s a mixed thing, which is kind of what we expected. It never enters our mind when we’re writing what it’s going to be like on the other side of it. We just want to produce something that we like and then after that, it’s up to unknown forces whether people will be into it.

You run the risk of alienating some people, but you also stand the chance of reaching a whole new audience. Yes. For me it’s more exciting than just doing the same thing that people are going to like. I’m excited when bands change and evolve. We’ve never been a band that sticks to the exact same thing. It’s fun to try new things and push yourself.

The songwriting on Crush is credited to the band Abe Vigoda. How would you describe your role in the process of song creation in the group? It’s different for different songs. Sometimes Michael [Vidal] and I will have an idea or something we’re fiddling around with on the guitar and bring that to practice. Then everyone does their own thing on it. We generally jam together as a band. Everyone is in charge of their own instrument as far as what they contribute. Within the structure of the song, my main part is already there and we’ll work on it together. Sometimes I’m just adding something to what Michael has already laid out. We all edit each other and edit ourselves. It’s pretty democratic way of writing songs, I think.

What’s the best part of being the lone gay member of a band? [Laughs] What’s funny is that some people think everyone [in the band] is. Or they think there is one, and it’s Michael, the singer. When we’re on tour, the other guys in the band aren’t looking for girls. They’re really nice guys, which is awesome. If anyone, I’m probably the one who’s more like on the prowl [laughs]. I get really excited when I find someone else in a band who is gay because there aren’t that many of us in indie rock. Sometimes I’ll venture out (while on tour in a city) and check out the gay bars or if I have a friend in town we’ll go out and do our thing. In a way, I have a little freedom where I can go and do my own thing. I get some space away from the whole touring thing and being in close quarters with everybody.

Because they’re not going to tag along. Sometimes they do. Sometimes we’ll all go out to a gay bar. It’s a non-issue, obviously. I don’t think I could be in a band where it was an issue.

Are you aware of a contingent of LGBT fans among Abe Vigoda’s fans? I’m not aware of one if there is. Not to generalize, but we’re usually playing for kind of a straight crowd. Sometimes, someone will mention that, come up to me and say, “I’m gay, too.” But that’s rare. But I’m sure there are [gay people in the audience].

I’m not even sure people know that there’s a gay member of the band. It’s also not the focus of our music. There are some bands for whom that is the focus of their music, to be in a queer band to give voice to queer issues, even in a fun or punk way.

Like Scissor Sisters. Exactly. Or Hunx and His Punx. They definitely have a gay following, whereas we have a more mainstream indie rock following.

Does being in a touring band make it difficult to maintain a relationship? You betcha! If you would have asked me this at this time last year, I would have said, “No! I have an amazing boyfriend.” I never really until last year had a relationship or somebody that I was really excited about. It was the first time that I legitimately fell in love with someone. Before that it had been more casual. In January of last year, I was in love. We went out on tour with Vampire Weekend and then recorded Crush around this time last year. I was gone and missed him and talked to him on the phone. It felt like a relationship. It was great and exciting. Then I got home and soon after I got dumped. He didn’t enjoy that I was gone for so long. I never saw it that way. Being gone for a long time is rough on relationships, but I’d never really thought about it because I wasn’t in one. You only have a certain amount of time when you’re home to meet someone and once you get started then you have to leave again. Hopefully, I’ll meet someone who doesn’t mind that their significant other has to leave for a while. It’s definitely stressful. I don’t mean to sound like a cry-baby. I’m over it now. At the time, it was pretty shitty. Because it was something I couldn’t control. It’s my job. I’m not going to choose somebody over this.

Do you know if your namesake is aware you named your band after him? I have a pretty strong feeling that he does. One time somebody who wanted to interview us, instead of contacting [the band’s publicist], found his publicity person and messaged them. They got a response saying that it wasn’t the band’s publicist that they had reached, it was the actor’s. If his publicist knows, he knows. And he doesn’t seem to care, which is good.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

SWEET TOOTH: Touring this time holds a lot less pressure for Sugar & Gold’s Philipp Minnig

SUGAR SHOCK | Minnig, left, and Dobbratz bring a different kind of sexy back to the men of Dallas.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

When Philipp Minnig finds downtime between shows on a tour, he mines YouTube. Sometimes the videos serve as a source of inspiration for his music, but mostly, he’s just enjoying his free time. His current obsession is in a video which title translates to “The Doctors.” This prepares him for the next day’s show.

“I’m taking a break today researching,” he laughs. “I do have a hard job: Watching videos. But yeah, when we have any kind of downtime, that’s pretty much it for me. “

The frontman for the duo Sugar and Gold has had a hectic 2011, coming off an already busy 2010. The band toured last year for the disc Get Wet, which garnered the dance-rockers some nice acclaim. They turned around to release the EP Bodyaches and are back on the road stopping at the Jack Daniel’s Saloon this Saturday. Only this time, the two-month tour is less of a job and more of a party.

“When we toured the record we had to do that whole promo push,” he says. “After you just finish a record, there is a lot to deal with. Personally I get sick of my face and the record that goes along with it. But this time, we’ve been having a ball so far.”

While Minnig and bandmate Nicolas Dobbratz emphasize fun in their music, there is work to be done. But with an EP that contains two new songs and remixes from Wet, S&G didn’t have that much pressure with promoting the disc. The tour schedule is short and they planned for the show to be free-flowing.

“This just hasn’t been as daunting,” Minnig says. “We’re having fun with the wardrobe and we’re just loose onstage. The music is still tight but the relaxed feeling allows giving better shows with lots of spontaneous energy. And we’re having more fun with the crowds.”

A lot of those crowds are primarily gay. S&G has come to be closely identified with LGBT audiences due to their electronic dance grooves and a nebulous masculine tone. S&G are in that some dance rock vein as other gay faves Scissor Sisters and Of Montreal. In fact, the band is closely associated with OM in that musically incestuous way. If members of S&G aren’t touring with OM, then members from both are working on their side project Yip Deceiver, which is incidentally the opener for this show.

Minnig, who is straight, can see why LGBT audiences have embraced his band — especially the boys.

“Oh it’s wonderful. We’re big on male sensuality,” he says.

“Our music is about softening the male image and reintroducing sexiness to males. Male doesn’t have to be tough and uptight. It feels freeing when males in the audience are responsive to what your doing.”

Musically, Minnig comes from that indie queer background. He calls that scene his own and he found his music very active in underground gay communities. And that affects how he writes his tunes.

“To some degree, I toy with side projects and play with other musicians, but S&G is its own beast,” he says. “The way we write our music puts an individual spin on things.”

Even though he’s been feeling good about the chill approach to this mini-tour, Minnig is surprisingly anxious to be done with it.

Despite being non-stop the past couple of years, it’s like a drug for him to keep going.

“These shows have affected us positively,” he says. “Just on this leg, it’s such a pleasure hanging out with like-minded, electronically geeky, socially open people and that opens up inspiration. I’m psyched to get to the end of the tour because I wanna write already.”

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

—  John Wright

FREE STUFF: 4 pairs of tickets to Semi Precious Weapons’ show this Thursday at the Loft


If you didn’t get enough of garage glam rockers Semi Precious Weapons when they opened for Lady Gaga this summer, here’s your chance to see them up close and personal. Taking a reprieve from the Monster Ball, they’ve hit the road on their own before getting back to their Gaga gig (we think – we keep hearing they are on, they are off, back on again – oy).

But we know this for sure: Semi Precious Weapons will return to town with openers Breedlove to play The Loft this Thursday. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. And we got tickets. Thanks to The Loft, we have four pairs to give away. All you have to do is e-mail us to snag a pair. E-mail notices@dallasvoice.com with their song title “Rock ‘n’ Roll Never Looked So Beautiful” in the subject line. Please include your first and last name and phone number. Winners will be picked at random.

Good luck! And I should see you there.

—  Rich Lopez