Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Live Review :: Maudlin Strangers + Strange Names :: Club Dada, Dallas, Texas - Nov 12 2015

Live Review

Maudlin Strangers + Strange Names

Club Dada, Dallas, Texas

November 12 2015

Words/Photos: Krystal Garcia

Ten years ago prime parking in front of a venue in Dallas' Deep Ellum wouldn't have been a difficult thing to find on a Thursday night. Fast forward to 2015 where the once desolate art pocket is again bustling with cars and people, thanks to the reopening and rebranding of such legendary hot spots as Club Dada, Trees, and the Bomb Factory among others. A change in the local economy has brought an influx of new residents, from out of town and out of state, injecting a dash of fresh blood in the city's nightlife. It is this change in the scenery that has created the perfect setting for NYC-based Strange Names' gig at Club Dada during their tour opening for Maudlin Strangers.

Not everything has changed in Dallas, namely that token “Southern hospitality” known to be given to those visiting the Lone State State. Fort Worth based locals, the Unlikely Candidates, did their part to welcome Strange Names and Maudlin Strangers by creating a vibe and setting the mood with a fresh update to garage music. Their set was solid and energetic and where there were faults in Kyle Morris' vocals, nobody noticed thanks to his charismatic stage antics. By the time the crowd began singing along to 'Howl' it was evident that Unlikely Candidates brought some of their own fans along for the ride – quite an impressive feat for a band this side of Interstate 35 on a Thursday night.

There is a mass exodus from the stage to the bar as the crowd no doubt needed to recoup after Unlikely Candidates' set but they eagerly return in time for Strange Names to begin. “You guys have been very warm, real toasty,” singer Liam Benzvi exclaims halfway through their set, to a warm and receptive crowd - and for an ever-changing Dallas crowd, that's a compliment. The band formed in 2010 by Benzvi and guitarist Frances Ximenez and immediately released their first EP, 'Five Songs' a year later. In 2014 they relocated, along with drummer Fletcher Aleckson and bassist Lawn Mall, to Brooklyn to be closer to their label, Frenchkiss.

Paying homage to the 90s in both dress and song, the band opened their set with 'Only Boy'. They relied heavily on songs from their full-length debut, 'Use Your Time Wisely', including tracks like the bordering-on-boy-band-but-super-catchy 'I Can't Control Myself' and the Presets inspired 'Ricochet'. The chemistry between Benzvi and Ximinez was evident onstage; the pair having met while staying at the same dorm at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities in 2010. Aleckson's drums were crisp and on point, while Mall's stoic bass playing provided an interesting contrast to the otherwise upbeat music. The crowd kept pace with the music: some, fans of the band, danced and sang along to the songs they already knew; others moved along to the beat, not familiar but definitely interested. Rounding out their set with their most recent single, the glam-tinged, Chvrches-esque 'Trespassing', the band left the crowd satisfied and curious.

California's Maudlin Strangers closed the night with songs from their debut EP 'Overdose'. Their set was well poised and polished, reminiscent to that of Mutemath. It was clearly a delight to the females in the room, many of whom were to be found gathered at the front of the stage by the end of the night.

It was a solid night for the young, modest crowd at Club Dada. With the aid of Maudlin Strangers and Unlikely Candidates, Strange Names made a good first impression. As long as they are able to continue to build on their momentum, several return trips to the Lone Star State are definitely in their future.

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