Last Night At Three Links, Diane Coffee Warmed Dallas Up To Something Fresh.
Halfway through Diane Coffee's thrilling headlining set at Three Links in Deep Ellum on Wednesday night, the performer born Shaun Fleming raced off stage to ditch the suit he started his set in — a get-up that fell in line with his similarly sartorial four-piece backing band. When he returned moments later, he donned what one audience member accurately, if offhandedly, described as a “bedazzled tamale jumpsuit.”
The costume change was a clear attempt at showmanship. And it was effective enough, I suppose, as a means of reflecting that the androgynous performer is above gender stereotyping. But it also wasn't entirely necessary; by that point, Diane Coffee had already shattered any and all expectations harbored by this rapt audience with an impassioned performance.
Perhaps old habits are just tough to break: Fleming, who also serves in the psych-leaning Foxygen, grew up in show business, working in his younger years on the Disney Channel show Kim Possible as the voice of the titular character's younger twin brothers; and, for sure, the guy knows how to entertain. His body alternately flailed and swayed to the at once psych- and soul-tinged music he and his band performed for just about an hour at this showcase.
But while his antics certainly compelled, they paled when compared to the crack musicianship and bubble-glam songwriting that was also on display. The set was a stop-start masterclass, the band playing things fast and loose at one moment, then tight and crisp just moments later, often in the same song. This live showing wasn't as delicate delicate than the band's recorded efforts, most recently heard on last year's Everybody's a Good Dog, which the band is supporting on this tour; it had harder edges, but somehow still managed to come across as no less intricate. And, vocally, Fleming's years of practice as a voice actor shined in this setting too: His voice was wildly animated and undulating, but still soft and heartfelt when incumbent.
It was the kind of performance that didn't really need any additional tricks. It was a reminder that, when done well, music carries itself.