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.
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.
Fans 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.