The Show: Wednesday, February 27, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Wreck Room

This will probably get me in trouble with the rock-crit Thought Police, but lately it’s occurred to me that high energy, as a musical quality, is vastly overrated. I’ve lost count of the records I’ve listened to in which the kindest thing I could say about ’em was, “Well, it rocks hard.” It’s enough to make a fella feel like some kind of Hanna-Barbera cartoon of a rock fan: “Well, at least it’s loud.”

So I’m listening to Theater Fire’s four-song e.p., over a year old at this writing — a full-length successor in the works almost a year ago still hasn’t eventuated — and the phrase that keeps reverberating in my head is low-energy “acid-folk.”

Of course, categorizing music suxxx; I like the approach to categorizing records taken by Waterloo Records in Austin — alphabetically. (Put all my food on the same plate!) These low-profile Theater Fire folks were together for half a dozen years as Vena Cava before undergoing a name change in late 2001 to avoid a lawsuit by a California band of the same name. Their sound is equal parts folk, pre-Bristol sessions country, and the third Velvet Underground album.

In Theater Fire’s music, languid vocal harmonies float over gently plucked guitars and banjos. Main guy Don Feagin sings murder ballads and angst anthems in a voice as infused with melancholia as Jeff Tweedy at his most Being There-depressive. Weird percussion effects and atmospheric electronic textures abound. Like the similarly minded local band Deadman, Theater Fire employs a pedal steel in a way that doesn’t even think about evoking the spirit of St. Gram and a trumpet that’s about as far from jazz as one can imagine.

Not the feeling-good gig of the year by any stretch, but a worthwhile listen nonetheless. — Ken Shimamoto

Fri at the Wreck Room, 3208 W 7th St, FW. 817-348-8303.


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