The Dexateens, not at White Water.
Thursday night, beneath the banner of the Arkansas state flag on the back wall of White Water’s stage sat Brian Gosdin, drummer for the Dexateens
, BAMA emblazoned across his T-shirt, attending his houndstooth-adorned drum kit, just in case there was any confusion about where these boys hail from.
Typically, the Tuscaloosa country-rockers’ lineup has featured three guitarists, but last night, founding member John Smith was nowhere to be found. Pre-set, front man Lee Bains III admitted that Smith had abruptly split from the band not days ago, this just before their first showing at the Austin City Limits music festival. It was clear Smith’s exit had rocked them, but luckily for us, as musicians are wont to do, the Dexateens managed to unload all that anxiety into their show.
Though the band comes critically acclaimed in the rag trade, its Southern rock defies album format; see them live. The obvious camaraderie, the cheek-to-cheek huddle-harmonies, the shameless joy in bassist Matt Patton’s face all speak to such sincere devotion to their craft you might mistake them for a teenage garage band giddy to finally take to the stage. Dueling guitars and vocals allow some improvised choreography, wherein front men Elliott McPherson (a co-founder) and Bains meet at their mics for harmonies, then roll backward during licks in perfect unison like redneck Temptations.
Allow for a little toe-to-toe guitar banter, and at times, ill-fated rockstar stunts (there was an incident with a tumbling microphone that could have been breathtaking). It doesn’t matter how timid the audience might be; every Dexateens’ set ends in grinning, hooting and stomping.
After the show, Patton, also a founding member, admitted that a decade-old band life is not immune to devastating changes, not only in reference to Smith, but the group’s struggle to adapt as they age and settle down, while the band remains just this side of big. Here’s hoping the cheer scrawled on McPherson’s Gibson, R.T.R. (Roll Tide Roll), propels the Dexateens a little further yet