We Asked Writers to Review Bands They’d Never Seen Before at Hot Summer Nights

Going into the unknown with TV's Daniel, xBValentine, Holy Death Trio, Frederico7, and Los Kurados

TV’s Daniel at Cheer Up Charlies on Friday (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

TV’s Daniel

TV's Daniel is a meaningful artist, a giving person, a talent who we are lucky to be in the presence of ... or so he'll tell you.

"I always outdo myself," he bragged to the audience at Cheer Up Charlies on Friday night. "Because just when you think it can't get any better, it gets better and better and better."

It's an over-the-top schtick: this conceited, pompous entertainer in a burgundy suit whose self-aggrandizing rants resemble Andy Kaufman doing intergender wrestling promos. Pure character invention, perhaps, or commentary on the puffed-up pretentiousness of musicians.

"What a prophetic man I am!" he gloated ahead of prescient 2019 single "Maybe We'll All Die," a mid-tempo power-pop cut well handled by his backing quartet including bassist Lisa Alley (the Well) and guitarist Jason Smith (ex-OBN IIIs). TVD, actually prolific singer/instrumentalist Daniel Fried (Bad Sports, Wax Museums), exuded a punk presence, wrapping a mic cable around his neck while dancing on a speaker for "Life of Crime" and striking a classic pose for the anthemic "Another Time."

The material's solid, though sometimes the in-song vocal delivery seemed muted in comparison to his amusing ranting.

Before closing with the intense "Human Error," which felt akin to the modern UK post-punk scene's output, the frontman didn't engage in the customary stick-around-for-the-next-band civility, instead telling attendees "You all have to go home and Google photos of me." – Kevin Curtin


xBValenine at Mohawk on Saturday (Photo by Jana Birchum)

After the full-band creative displays of hometowners Blakchyl and Bomani Ray Barton, Dallas-based xBValentine pivoted to showcase energy with a backing track and industry intrigue. While it wasn't the most memorable set of Mohawk's Saturday evening hip-hop bill, consistency and a polished presentation of personal narrative may go far where she's headed. Since signing with longtime DFW booker/manager Smooth Vega in March, their game plan has matched the subtle, downcast pop-R&B vocalist with legacy rap acts like Baby Bash (remember "Suga Suga"?) and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony on new singles.

"I've been doing this since I was 15 years old – I'm currently 24, going hard," the Georgetown native shared onstage, introducing a new track featuring Houston legend Paul Wall, out tomorrow.

Continuing a penchant for short, oscillating hooks over lightly sweetened trap production, her latest hinges on the very contemporary adjective of low-key (rhymes with lonely, trophies). Bite-sized melodic ear worming – which would have been nice to hear xBValentine belt rather than just accent live – helped "Vibe With You" gain notice on TikTok as a queer love song. The poised emcee asked for stage lights down and phone lights up for her finale, adding: "This is the first song I wrote putting myself out there as an LGBTQ artist. I wrote this for us, because I know how hard it is." – Rachel Rascoe

Holy Death Trio

Holy Death Trio (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Kudos to the genius who booked a band called Holy Death Trio for a midnight slot at Valhalla. It proved auspicious that the boisterous unit ushered Hot Summer Nights through the Sabbath in a space named for Norse mythology's afterlife haven for fallen warriors.

Themes of doom permeated both storyline and sonics, but the six-song set signaled new life for the metal upstarts. Unreleased cut "Gotta Give" delivered the initial jolt with riffs reminiscent of classic Ozzy – cacophonous, yet catchy – and the following thrash-infused march of "White Betty" built to the canter of "The Killer."

"I don't need no weapons, I'll just use my hands," sang guitarist John P. Rosales on that tune, before shifting to a punk roar: "I ain't got no heart, just rock and roll!" He demonstrated all that by expounding on the song's blues stomp while careening through the crowd, never missing a note even as he planted a kiss on his partner.

Drummer Trey Alfaro's double pedal pummeling and Jonathan Gibson's sludgy bass barrage brought closer "Black Wave" crashing ashore, a fitting finale for a band poised to ride the tide of upcoming debut album Introducing ..., handpicked by long-time Ozzy Osbourne bassist Blasko for California imprint Ripple Music. – David Brendan Hall

Frederico7 and Los Kurados

Los Kurados (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Reeking of kush and endtimes, Sunday night on Sixth Street also bristled Latin American omnipresence. Past the black ops security armed from Afghanistan and a military-grade pat down, Mala Vida throbbed hundreds on its Waller Creek patio vibing to a Southern Continental beat bacchanalia and throwing down on tacos, tequila, and Modelo. Masks, pandemic – nah.

Inside, crowded by the men's john, local Portuguese/Spanish speakers Frederico7 fought cross-current DJ algorithms and patron inebriation valiantly, injecting frontman Frederico Geib's Brazilian ebb into fourpart, two-guitar soul rock. "Premature waxploitation!" he yelped simpatico when the house PA tore party music through one song. Dirty Sixth, alive and ... well?

Sheer safe haven, Flamingo Cantina just up the block flexed no less rock Latinate, but chill, safe, distanced. Los Kurados skank such self-preservation concepts into the ground musically, the two-horn septet and luchador mask throwing raw ska accelerant on the couple dozen delighters present during the witching hour – harder and faster, like a proto-garage Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. Name your audio origin spot: Mexico City, Monterrey, Austin.

Secret Mexican handshake, "Sergio el Bailador" felt secure in their MC chant rock and dub. Blissfully, Flamingo Cantina also felt inviolable, preserved, undamaged. In the ruins, the temple's intact. – Raoul Hernandez

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TV's Daniel, xBValentine, Holy Death Trio, Frederico7, Los Kurados, Mohawk, Cheer Up Charlies, Valhalla, Flamingo Cantina, Mala Vida, Frederico Geib, Lisa Alley, Jason Smith

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