by Robert Bell
FAIR TO MIDLAND
7:15 p.m. Downtown Music Hall. $11 adv., $13 d.o.s.
Sometimes you encounter something that many people seem to dig but that, for whatever reason, you simply cannot comprehend in any way. This is the case for me with the Dallas band Fair to Midland. I can't even make a value judgment about this band because I'm so thoroughly dumbfounded by every single thing about them.
Among the things about Fair to Midland that I do not understand: first, the name — a pun on the term "fair to middling." Whether this band is amazing or awful I cannot say, even — no, scratch that — especially after listening to several of their songs. But whichever it is, it is nowhere near the middle of the quality spectrum. This band is playing either the most incredible, mind-blowing, game-changing shit ever, or the worst, most incalculably terrible songs ever even imagined. And I absolutely cannot tell which one it is, though I'm leaning slightly toward the former after checking out the band's "Violitionist Sessions" on Bandcamp.
If I had to guess, I'd say they were just being cheeky with their name choice, and that they're actually well aware that their bewildering and potent synthesis of Rush, Tool, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Van der Graaf Generator, Tim Buckley, System of a Down, Bob Dylan circa the Rolling Thunder Revue and probably like 47 other bands is in no way typical or "middling." This seems like the most likely scenario.