Sci Fi Music Fest Dazzled Deep Ellum’s The Ruins with Sound and Vision

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5th Element Band performance at The Ruins in Deep Ellum | Photo Credit: David Fletcher

By David Fletcher

Dallas’ brightest stars shined out for Sci Fi Music Fest at Deep Ellum’s newest music venue, Ruins. The concept was simple enough: five groups of four musicians and a visual artist were given the task of bringing one assigned sci-fi film to life in a true audio-visual experience.

The musicians were hand-selected by King Camel’s Jeff Brown who has become well-known in the Dallas music scene for finding the freshest local talent and giving them a space to perform–most often at his free Locked & Loaded Music Series every Saturday night at Armoury D.E.

Reaching into his database of local talent, Brown teamed up artist that had never worked on music together as a kind of musical experiment, and for the last two months, these musicians got together weekly to hone their vision of their assigned film

5th Element, 12 Monkeys, Alien, Blade Runner and Terminator were all given the multimedia treatment for this one-time only event, and the results of two-months of labor and love came together as a well-wrought spectacle challenging eyes and ears in a completely different kind of concert experience.

Things kicked off with Team 5th Element, who according to Party Static’s Brett Michael decided to call their band “Boron”–the chemical element with the atomic number of five. The music began as a kind of ethereal intro with clips from the film echoing the dissonant sounds and quickly descended into a kind of alt-electric chaos with Sealion’s Sam Villavert giving the whole thing a vibe not unlike The Breeders with an electronic back provided by Squanto’s Rickey Kinney.

Visual artist Chloe Stan provided imagery filled with blood and aggression for Team 12 Monkeys who performed what Loafers guitarist Taylor Smith described as a “Circus Groovecore” take on the film. Though before the show Stan said, “It’s the first ever big project I’ve ever worked on. So I’m pretty nervous,” by the end of the night she felt that everything synced up well and she was pleased with the results.

Taking the award for most original performance of the night, Team Alien saw Stephanie Burns of Lizzie Boredom wearing a Ripley jumpsuit and Jim Branstetter of Schmeckelhead running visuals and playing his handcrafted string instruments from the back of the venue.

The lyrics Burns provided were sparse yet powerful, Burns stating that they all came from Ripley’s lines in the film. And what Branstetter provided playing the strings with bows, mallets, and a even a vibrator sent the intense performance into the darkest regions of outer space.

Things got mellow with Team Blade Runner, who chose to turn their 25-minute set into a single-song, instrumental performance with Evan Henry matching the jazz-influenced production with a kind of improvisational visual experience created with complex patching using an LZX video synthesizer system.

Team Terminator was the absolute best choice for closing out the show with all the discordant energy of the film itself. As the night went on, whispers circled from sources close to the band that we were all in for something that sounded like Fugazi, and the band did not disappoint those expectations.

With Sealion’s Hunter Moehring, Upsetting’s Kevin Adkins and Fogg’s Brandon Hoffman all trading vocal duties and shredding along to Dead Mockingbird’s Matthew Crain’s pulse-thumping drums, the performance exploded like a pipe bomb. And though these were only one-off performances, the chemistry seen on stage can only make one hope that a future project may come from this collaboration.

Looking back at what had been accomplished that night, Jeff Brown simply called the spectacle “mind blowing.” This is the second concept show of this kind that Brown has put together (the first one based on characters from Twin Peaks).

Seeing the success of these two concept shows, we can expect more to come, but what the concept will be remains to be seen. Whatever the concept, one can be sure that when sound and vision come together like this, it will not be something to miss.


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