MISH MASH MAGAZINE

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Dallas Based Fair To Midland
Intoxicates Concert Goers at The Whiskey

By David Crockett

When System of a Down frontman and head of Serjical Strike Records Serj Tankian first caught Fair to Midland live, he quickly moved into action, signing the eclectic band to his label. On Tuesday, December 12, Fair to Midland took to the stage at Sunset Boulevard's legendary Whiskey A-Go-Go, taking their sound from the Lone Star State to the Golden State and, with an energetic performance, communicated to the crowd what all the hype surrounding them has been all about.

Mysteriously beginning their performance with background music playing, and with no microphone on stage, the band started playing and lead singer Darroh Sudderth emerged from behind the monitors and began flailing madly, darting to and fro like a hummingbird. Throughout the show, either to rest or to convey a sense of drama, Sudderth would collapse on stage and curl up. He frequently poured water on his head as well.

Rounding out the quintet with Sudderth are: John Dicken, bass; Cliff Campbell, guitars; Matt Langley, keys/electronics; and Brett Stowers, drums.

The members of the idiosyncratic Fair to Midland consider their personal musical tastes to differ greatly, yet they exude a certain chemistry and tightness in a live setting that belies the assumption that such a diverse group could form such a cohesive unit. Their musical talents as well as Langley's electronical wizardry give the alternative-progressive rock band an atmospheric feel. Langley would frequently play the keyboard with the keys facing downward and at the crowd, a stunt in the same league as guitarists who play with their teeth. Between songs, seemingly random background tracks would play (including one using an auctioneer's voice...go figure), and then the band would launch into their next song, the unusual background noise finally making sense.

The wide array of musical influences the five band members bring into the fold is evident not only by their songs, but by the look each member brings. Whereas many bands dress similarly, sport equally freakish hairdos or appear to even be from the same family, such is not the case with Fair to Midland, the Dallas-based performers, who came together in 1998. Drummer Brett Stowers looked like a perfect fit for a hippie jam band. Lead vocalist Sudderth was clad in a spooky all-black ensemble with dyed black hair. Guitarist Cliff Campbell was sporting a crazy mane of curly hair, rocking the show shirtless. Despite the individual eccentricities of the band, they dexterously managed to pull off a well-rehearsed and effective performance.

The band is currently working on a full length album they plan on dropping in the spring of 2007. The Drawn and Quartered EP that they are currently promoting, their first official recording for a label, includes songs such as "Orphan Anthem Ô86" and "Kyla Cries Cologne," songs with lead-heavy riffs and imaginative arrangements. "Soaring Seafarer's Knot," another song they performed at The Whiskey, is a soaring piece of music that captures their impossible-to-define style. Prior to the release of The Drawn and Quartered on Tankian's Serjical Strike label, Fair to Midland independently released two other albums - the 2001 EP The Carbon Copy Silver Lining and the 2004 album inter.funda.stifle.