CLUB DADA — 5/3/14: Every January, I start the new year by trying to find my new favorite bands that will be playing at South by Southwest. This year brought me several candidates, but in the end a UK band named Temples won the crown.
I saw them the first night of SXSW at a free unofficial show, then again at a day party the next day, and finally, I went to their official showcase at the Latitude 30 club. No less than David Fricke himself was there watching the band, so it was obvious that they were gaining momentum in the US. After they played their official showcase, I made my way back to the alley behind the club (no backstage at Lat-30) and thanked singer James Bagshaw and keyboard/guitarist Adam Smith for their music.
I left the club (and Austin) after they were done playing that Saturday at SXSW, because I didn’t want to hear another band — I was full. After SXSW, Temples became the band that I bugged friends to listen to. They became my go-to band on Rhapsody. I bought their vinyl (and no, the US version wasn’t good enough; I had to buy the UK import!).
Finally, after what seemed like forever, they returned to Texas. Ha ha! It was only six weeks later! This time, they were slated to play Austin’s PsychFest, but I didn’t want to see them play another festival showcase. I wanted a full concert with them as the headliner. Luckily, they’d scheduled a show in Dallas the day before their Austin festival appearance.
Even luckier for me, my friends in Denton band Midlake were playing a Dallas festival (Suburbia Fest) the next day. I managed to talk my way into two festival passes and a photo pass for both events. It’s days like that where you realize all the work you’ve done up to this point is all worth it.
It took me forever to write this review, because I just can’t put into words how much I love this band. James Bagshaw and company write songs that will take you back to the heyday of ’60s Pink Floyd-style psychedelia, but with a slight nod to ’90s Britpop. Once I started raving about them, other people told me they sound somewhat like Tame Impala. Yes, I see the connection, and Tame Impala are fantastic, but I prefer Temples all the same.
They write music that makes me happy. I used to have a principal at my school that would say, “How is everybody doing today?”, and all the kids would reply “H-A-PP-Y!” That’s how Temples makes me feel. Despite the fact that worthless-mindless-boring pop songs rule the airwaves, life is still good, because we have bands like Temples. Don’t give up hope! People are still making great music! You just have to find it — or rely on Space City Rock to find it for you. Can’t you tell I love being a “tastemaker”? — ha ha ha — that’s a good one…
Back to Dallas for the Temples show at Club Dada. On the way to the venue, the evening started fortuitously with a chance meeting with James outside their tour bus. By chance meeting, I mean he was standing outside his tour bus having a smoke, and I ran up to him and introduced myself. I once again thanked him for their music and told him to have a great show.
Next up was a line down the block to get into the venue. Wow! The word had definitely gotten out about these guys. Once inside the venue, I realized Dada had changed a lot since the days when my old band played Dallas. They now have a stage outside, and that’s where tonight’s show would be. Since there was no photo barrier, it was decision time: where to stand? I was able to get within about two people from the front, so photos wouldn’t be a problem, but I’d only be able to get close-ups of Bagshaw and bassist Thomas Walmsley.
The two opening acts, Brazil’s Boogarins and NYC’s Drowners, were entertaining and fun, but they didn’t make much of an impression on me. I was mostly trying to get through them and on to Temples. I was a kid having to eat Brussel sprouts before getting my dessert. Nothing against Brussel sprouts — they’re great — but this is Temples I’m talking about!
At long last, the band took the stage. And just as I had remembered in Austin, they were even better live than on the record. The way I figured it, they’d written a lot of their early songs in the studio. I don’t even think they played many gigs before recording their debut album, and that album was recorded in James’s home studio. Now that they have played them all a hundred times live, the songs are finding breathing room. On record I hear that ’60s feel. It’s live where I begin to hear that modern Britpop sound coming out, and I love it.
Beginning with “Colors to Life”, the band played most of the songs in their repertoire, including two B-Sides, “Prisms” and “Ankh”. Highlights for me were “Sun Structures”, the title track from their debut album, and “Keep in the Dark”, which, like most Temples songs, turns me into a swooning and happy 13-year-old girl. Fortunately, we also got two songs for an encore. After playing their first single, “Shelter Song”, it was time to say goodnight to Temples. Even though it was a full concert, it still felt too short for fanatics like me.
What else can I say? You all need to experience Temples for yourself. Lucky for you, they are coming to Houston (and Austin) in October. END
(Photos [top to bottom]: James Bagshaw; Adam Smith; Thomas Walmsley. All photos by Jason Smith.)
[Temples plays 10/7/14 at the House of Blues, along with The Districts.]