Now that the music portion of SXSW is getting underway, the North Texas music lovers can start indulging in all the talent that’s traveling south (and making pit stops along the way). And for that, the booking entity that is Parade of Flesh has everyone covered, with a lot of great stuff coming down the pike this week.
Perhaps the most buzzworthy and intriguing show they have will be taking place at Club Dada on Wednesday, when Parade of Flesh will give the folks of Dallas a taste of The Pizza Underground.
You can tell by the name alone that they are a bit of a comedy act, and the New York based quintet spoofs songs from The Velvet Underground, one way or another making them all about pizza.
Surprisingly, as odd, and even awful as that sounds, it actually looks and sounds rather good. In fact, in watching some of the live videos that can be found on Youtube, there’s a slight entrancing quality to this band who gets their percussion by beating a pizza box and plays an assortment of other seldom used instruments, such as a kazoo and a glockenspiel.
People will no doubt be out in droves, if for no other reason than just to experience firsthand what The Pizza Underground is like. Aside from that, how many times are you ever going to see Macaulay Culkin (yes, the actor) singing and playing songs about pizza?
(Listen to The Pizza Underground’s demo HERE)
Sure, The Pizza Underground will be the band everyone is talking about when the night’s over, but there’s some other great talent on the bill, like Moving Units.
The Los Angeles based outfit, which is led by Blake Miller, mines a more poppy genre and classifies themselves as being Nu Disco. They pull of said disco vibe without over-saturating it in electronic elements, though. Instead, it’s a nice blend of all the computerized effects with a cool and fun pop/rock sound that is bound to have most of the crowd at Dada this night dancing and moving around.
(Listen to “Until She Says”)
Starting off the show will be singer/songwriter Toby Goodshank, who has released over a dozen records in his career thus far, with his newest one due out next month. His folk stylings may differ a bit from the other acts on the bill, though he sounds to be a solid musician in every regard; and I imagine his set will prove an excellent way to start of the night.
(Listen to “Truth Jump Fall”)
So, come out on this Wednesday night and see what Parade of Flesh has cooked up for you. It’s gonna be a memorable show from start to finish, and one you’ll most likely be telling your friends about (you’re friends who aren’t lucky enough to be here, that is).
Wednesday, March 12th @ Club Dada
Doors @ 8
$13 to $15 (purchase advanced tickets HERE)
Now that the music portion of SXSW is getting underway, the North Texas music lovers can start indulging in all the talent that’s traveling south (and making pit stops along the way). And for that, the booking entity that is Parade of Flesh has everyone covered, with a lot of great stuff coming down the pike this week.
If you’ve heard of King Camel Productions (run by Jeffrey Brown) lately, it’s probably because of the Local Education shows he been presenting, having put on six in a little over a month (and, of course, they typically take place on Hump Day).
However, with SXSW coming up, those are momentarily taking a backseat so he can focus on the touring bands coming through. For example: the SW ForeplayFest that’s coming up at the Double Wide on Tuesday.
The Nashville based Pujol will be the headliner of this epic bill, and with a new album (the bands second LP) due out in just a couple months, you can expect to hear a bunch of new songs from them. I can’t say I’ve seen Pujol before, though I have heard good things about their shows, and their music, which they classify as Southern Gothic Rock, has a good sound. It’s often sludgy, which could largely be attributed to the semi-coarse voice Daniel Pujol has, which, in turn gives the music a lot of character.
(Listen to “Black Rabbit” & “Mayday”)
(Photo credit: Alison Eden Copeland)
There are some slick punk sounds mixed in with the power pop (which at times sounds rather dreamy) style of music Nightmare Boyzzz make. The result is something that you can really get in to and surely several people will be thrashing about to the Hunstville, Alabama quintet this night.
(Listen to “Problem Child” and “Badvibes”)
(Photo credit: Alison Kaylor)
One of several bands adding some diversity to this show will be Cobalt Cranes, which is led by Kate Betuel and Tim Foley. I’ve never been a real fan of the shoegaze genre, and while Cobalt Cranes incorporates that style into their sound, they’re aren’t one-dimensional in the sense that, that is all they are. They bring a lot of rock to the table, too; and the Tim and Kate periodically layer their voices over one another, which makes for some lovely harmonies. Intoxicating, that’s the word I’d use to sum up this band.
(Listen to “Head in the Clouds” & “Indigo”)
Honest and raw songwriting is the trait that makes Communist Daughter, which is fronted by John Solomon, such a standout act. They have more of a folk/Americana sound to their music, but can be fairly intense when they want to be. There are some gorgeous male and female harmonies woven into some of their tracks too, sounding rather ethereal at times. I have to say, out of all the great talent on this bill, it has to be Communist Daughter I’m most interested to see.
(Listen to “Speed of Sound”)
The Great American Canyon Band from Baltimore, Maryland is yet another act on the bill, and they’re more somewhere in between the two previously mentioned acts. Paul and Krystal Masson lead a group that isn’t quite shoegaze, yet has the gauzy elements of the genre sprinkled about in every aspect of their sound, and while there’s some folk styles thrown in, it can’t truly be classified as that, either. Instead, those genres are married together in a way that creates something extremely original; and the often melancholy vibe so many of their songs possess allows their music to be pretty striking with the listener.
(Listen to “Lost at Sea” & “Young Lady”)
(Photo credit: (Sarah Sunderman)
There’s a very fuzzed out sound to Douglas & The Furs, much like you would expect from a California rock trio. It’s some pretty trippy and untamed Rock ‘n’ Roll they play, and they sound to be some very proficient musicians to boot. This won’t be their first show at the Double Wide either, so they’ll surely have some fans out supporting them, while they make more along the way.
(Listen to “You’re Itching Into My Mind”)
(Photo credit: Vishal Kumar Malhotra)
The lone North Texas (or even just Texas) band on the bill is Fort Worth’s The Longshots. They’ve been busy since releasing a new album just a few weeks back, and have toured through a few states since then, and this stop in their home area will be a short one, before they travel down to SXSW and then end the month with some shows out in Los Angeles. There’s a certain garage rock style to their fun, yet intense rock tracks, making it obvious as to why they’ve gotten so much buzz surrounding them lately.
(Listen to “The Chase”)
So, if you are going to make the trek down to Austin for SXSW, come get warmed up for it, and if you’re not, at least you’ll get to experience a portion of what you’ll be missing out on. I’d also be willing to bet that King Camels’ SW ForeplayFest will wind up becoming an annual thing, so not only will you be a part of history if you attend it, you’ll also be able to brag to your friends one day that you were at the first one, before it was a big deal.
Tuesday, March 11th @ Double Wide.
Doors @ 8
$10 (purchase advanced tickets HERE)
Lately, if I have made the trip across the D/FW metroplex to Fort Worth, the destination has been Billy Bob’s Texas.
It was more of the same this night, when the venue that is known for being the “world’s largest honky-tonk” was hosting one of the best bands in the state, The Dirty River Boys.
There was an opening band this night, and that was Crooks from Austin.
Admittedly, I didn’t keep up with their set as far as what songs they did, but I’ll hit the highlights of what I do remember.
They were playing the smaller Honky-tonk stage, and had already started by the time I got there.
They finished the song they were doing, at which point singer and acoustic guitarist Josh Mazour regaled the audience with a story about how it’s not a good idea to decide to pick up a stray cat and pet it. Evidently, that was something he had tried recently and learned the hard way why it’s not wise.
They had a truly authentic country sound, from the twang in his voice, to the upright bass Joey McGill played, and even had an accordion and trumpet thrown into the mix, which were played by Anthony Ortiz Jr. and Doug Day, respectively.
They did at least one cover during their time on stage (I don’t recall what famous country singer they covered, since country music is not my forte), but it was good. Their original stuff was even better, and you could tell the audience was liking by all the people that swarmed the dance floor and danced with their special someone’s.
Even the slower “Pull Up Your Boots” got some movement going, while a song that stood out to me was “My First Gun”. Granted, that was probably because of the story that accompanied it, which was Josh informing everyone that he wrote it about five years or so ago, when he was dreaming about killing his boss at the time. “…I never did anything to him or his woman, but I thought about it… A lot.” he said before they started the track.
Some of their final songs where just the core group of Josh, Joey, lead guitarist Ryan Goebel and drummer Rob Bacak, before Anthony and Doug rejoined them for their final few songs.
They were quite good. I can’t say I liked them to the point that I’d feel like I have to see them the next time they come through the North Texas area, though I am contemplating buying their record. So yeah, overall, I did enjoy Crooks.
They have plenty of shows coming up across Texas, including a return trip to Billy Bob’s on May 8th, plus a gig at Hat Tricks in Lewisville on March 28th. For their full tour schedule, go HERE. Also, you can find their LP on either iTUNES or BANDCAMP.
They were a good little warm-up act, but the real show was going to come when The Dirty River Boys took the main stage.
There was a thirty-minute break in between bands, which gave most of the people plenty of time to be shown to their seats at the sea of tables that cover the floor in front of the main stage.
By the time 10:30 rolled around and one of the staff members at Billy Bob’s came out to introduce the band, there were a surprising amount of people there. I saw surprising given the fact that The Dirty River Boys are still by all accounts a local band. They may do shows all over the country, but they’re widely known yet. However, the healthy fan base they do have is also a dedicated one, which was proved this night.
At 10:32 bassist Colton James, drummer Travis Stearns and the two singers and acoustic guitarists Marco Gutierrez and Nino Cooper stepped on stage.
“How we doing Billy Bob’s Texas?!” Marco asked, while Travis went ahead and gave the crowd some percussion by slapping his hands against the cajon he sat on.
Having seen them just barely a month before; I was expecting the same setlist, since most bands don’t switch things up that often. Then again, The Dirty River Boys aren’t most bands, and when Nino grabbed the mandolin, it became obvious that this wouldn’t be the exact same show I had seen last month, and that had me excited.
They wound up starting with “Boomtown”, and Nino jumped about at the start while he strummed the mandolin. The fans responded well to it, and it was an excellent opener, not only being one of their tracks that really gets people pumped up, but also one that shows how much talent resides in this band, as they handled some of the words in rounds, with Marco and Colton singing and harmonizing along with Nino. There was even a cool moment after the second chorus where Colton spun his upright bass around, while the feathers and raccoon pelt that hang from it twirled right along with it.
Once it was done, Marco led them right into the title track from their second EP, “Train Station”, which is another song with breathtaking harmonies. “…I fear I’m losing her again. My head’s on the horizon, my heart’s wherever the hell she sleeps!” Marco belted as the track sprang to life. It’s a song that blend beauty and heartache with some Rock ‘n’ Roll moments, and there was even a part where Colton played his bass with a bow, similar to how a violinist does.
Those were two of the older songs they did this night, and while more would come, their primary focus was on the material from their forthcoming album. They had worked in a few more new tracks than they were doing the last time I saw them, and Travis counted them in on the first new one of the night, which was sung by Colton.
“Billy Bob’s, what’s going on?!” Marco asked, seeming gleeful to even be there. The fans did their part at making some noise, while he went on to say they’d be playing a lot of new songs this night. “…This one’s an old one.” he finished, as they tackled the lead track from “Science of Flight”, “Dried Up”. Apart from doing lead vocals, Marco also played the harmonica when it was called for, but that wasn’t the only add-on this song got.
They’ve been known to throw in portions of cover songs into their music, and while I’ve heard them do one of Bob Dylan’s songs before, it hasn’t been on this specific song before. “…Everybody knows that baby’s got new clothes…” he sang during the lull that came before the final chorus, then moved along to the chorus of that Dylan hit “Just Like a Woman”. “She takes just like a woman. She makes love just like a woman. And she aches just like a woman.” Marco crooned, softening his voice as each sentence ended, before getting louder when he sang, “But she breaks just like a little girl.” The crowd was roaring at that point, as they got back to their original and finished it up, before moving directly into their next number.
“This song’s about a union painter that Nino met several years ago.” Marco informed everyone, while Travis played some soft, though sad notes on his harmonica. “…I’m surrounded by others, but I’m always alone. When the paint and time comes, I jump back on the train. Spend all my green dollars just to poison my veins…” Nino sang rather somberly on “Union Painter”, which sounded like it was even a little more low-key than the album version. That’s to say it just sounded like it was more acoustic. Nino also made a little change to one of the lines, catering to where they were this night as he sang, “…I’m still searching for freedom beneath Fort Worth skies…”
Afterwards, it was time for them to bust out another new one. They might be an Americana band, with dashes of country, but above all, The Dirty River Boys are a rock band. This song was a fine example of that, and it packed a punch; while also being one of the songs that Colton used an electric bass on. Speaking of that, his playing on it was pretty slick, particularly on the chorus, as he quickly moved his hand up and down the fretboard.
“…This is what we call a Chinese fire drill.” Marco stated before leaving his post and sitting on the cajon. Travis took up the mandolin, while Colton grabbed a banjo, as Nino began to play some soaring notes. “…The louder you get, the crazier this bad boy gets!” shouted Travis as they had some fun before their next song. Marco just added a bit of drums to the start, before taking over on the upright bass for the short sing-along that is “Lookin’ for the Heart”. “But I’m just growing old with a whole deep in my soul. Won’t you give me back that heart you took from me?” sang Nino on the track that is far more upbeat than you would guess just based on the subject matter.
They reverted to their normal positions when it was done; and Marco started setting up their next song, saying on their last album they had covered a Townes Van Zandt song. “…We don’t do it too much these days…” he said, noting they had decided to this night, though. The song they covered is “Lungs”, and it’s a favorite of mine from “The Science of Flight”. They give it a real dark, ominous quality, which in turn puts a good spin on it; and while they might not play it much anymore, I’m glad they did this night.
Another new one was due now; but first Marco mentioned how lucky they were to come across Colton James and add that fine talent to the band. He [Colton] again assumed the role of lead vocalist on this one (which was one I don’t think I had heard before), though it sounded pretty good. “Take it away, Nino!” he said at one point later on in the track, as Nino ripped into a guitar solo. I have to say, acoustic guitars were not meant to sound like that. At least I’ve never heard another band make them sound the way Nino and Marco do. The guitar solo he did was amazing, and it was more electric sounding than most electric guitars are.
The audience went to clap, but had no time to, because as the final notes rang out, Nino started singing “My Son”. “I don’t know where you’re going my son. Taught you to walk, but you learned how to run.” he sang before all of his band mates joined in, again forming some incredible harmonies. “How you gonna find your way back home? The roads you knew they’re paved and gone.” Sang Nino on the first chorus, changing it slightly before sticking with the chorus from the album version the second time around, “How you gonna find your way back home? The maps you drew they’re burned and gone.”
“…The only way that you can be found is through your footsteps in the cold, dead ground.” the four guys sang, before Nino went into another brief guitar solo, which only made the song even better.
They gave a quick shout-out to their friends in Crooks for getting the party started, before firing up an instrumental piece. It was soulful and bluesy sounding, and I highly enjoyed it. I assumed it was the intro for another one of their new tracks; and they amped it up, sounding like they were about to break into whatever it was, before pulling back on it. Then the chords for “Draw” came into being; and since that was a song that was absent from their last show I caught, I was ecstatic.
It was a bit of an alternate version, and was more toned down than what their fans have to come to know from the album. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t still a great song, though. “If you’re alive, make some noise!” roared Travis during one of the breaks, as he made sure everyone was still feeling very much a part of the show/experience.
They were still far from being done, and while Colton again swapped over to his electric bass, Nino mentioned that the next song they would be doing was one that The Ranch (95.9FM) in Fort Worth had been playing, and thanked them for it.
There’s a reason why “Desert Wind” is their newest single, and one they’ve already released for public consumption (i.e. on iTUNES), and it’s made known every time they play it. “Lately, I’ve been thinking, and I just can’t seem to get you off my mind… Lovely lady, where you are. I hear your voice and I feel your scars…” he sang on the sweet and powerful track. The drumbeats are mixed in perfectly, giving the song as much kick as possible; and he got so into his drumming on this one that – for the second time this night – he knocked his hat off.
“If you know it, sing it.” Marco told the fans as he moved things right along to their next number.
“Carnival Lights” got one of loudest reactions from the fans, as well it should. It was another song they put an alternate spin on, doing a slow version of it. Actually it was pretty much just Marco until after the first chorus. “…With her poison inside medicine bottle, filled with nothing but her own shortcomings. She leans her head back; she puts ‘em down and they taste alright…” he softly sang, before Travis interrupted the pause. “Y’all still with us?!” he asked. Of course, everyone was. Marco then continued, “Please, just try to stay conscious tonight.”
Now the full band came in, just in time for the even more emotional second verse of this spectacular tune. “Billy Bob’s, this is your time to shine.” Marco told everyone before the final chorus, making the song into a genuine sing-along. It was cool moment to say the least, but they weren’t done yet.
That Dylan cover has been tacked onto this song in the past, but with it having already been done, I was wondering what, if anything, they might add to “Carnival Lights”. They did have something planned, and Colton took his cowboy hat off and hung it on the scroll of his bass for it.
“…Now I’m so happy, no sorrow in sight. Praise the Lord, I saw the light.” Marco added, which was just one of several lines they did from Han Williams’ “I Saw the Light”.
They went right into another new song; again one that was sung by Colton, before Marco took over on the next one. In between those, they chatted with their fans, though.
“Are y’all having a good time so far?” Marco asked, before saying he couldn’t stress enough what an “honor” it was to be on this stage (this was their first ever headlining show at Billy Bob’s). Then, upon finishing that song he did, he shifted the focus to their new album, which they recorded during this past December and January. “…We can’t wait to get this new music out to you all…” he said.
They only had a couple of old songs left this night, and rather surprisingly, the balled-esque “Riverbed Wildflowers” got one of the loudest reactions from fans. I mean, it should because it’s a fantastic song, even if it deals with the heartache of having feelings for someone who doesn’t feel the same. “…Well, these riverbed wildflowers are dying now; and I’m through waiting around on you…” Nino sang towards the end, before they added a little extra something to the song, repeating part of the chorus an extra time or two at the end, adding some truly lovely harmonies to it.
“This song’s about life on the road.” Marco stated, after he had again thanked everyone for making it out to the show, during which time Colton switched back to his electric bass. This song is easily the best one from their new batch of music, and even just in general. It does depict the life of touring musicians (“…Well, we work all night just to drive all day…”) and it’s more rock sounding than most of the true rock music that you hear.
They made something special with that song, and the same can be said about their next one, which Nino dedicated to the man they co-wrote it with, Ray Wylie Hubbard. “…It’s about the violence south of border.” he said, as they began to sing about how their hometown of El Paso, as well as those towns over in Mexico, have changed.
“You cross that dirty river and you never come back.” Marco sang at the end, then Colton and finally Travis, before Nino took back the reins. His band mates harmonized with him on the last line, “If you cross that dirty river then you’ll never come back.”
After one of their earlier songs (“Draw”), Marco mentioned it was just one of a few songs they had about whiskey. Well, now they got to another, which was yet another new track. “…There’s nothing like a whiskey drunk on a Friday…” he sang on the cheery tune, which will surely become a sing-along once they get their new album released.
The end was in sight now, and while Nino went over to stage left and grabbed the mandolin, Travis spoke to the crowd.
“After four and a half to five years of being a band, our van finally hit two hundred and fifty-thousand miles!” he exclaimed (a moment that was documented with the footage being posted on the bands Facebook page).
He then asked how many people had seen them before. Most everyone in attendance had, though there were still plenty of first timers. “Y’all know how we like to do it!” yelled Travis, speaking to those who were familiar with them. “…So, are y’all ready to raise some hell?!” he bellowed.
Moments after that, he got everyone to stand up. I have to say, the seats were detrimental to the energy out in the crowd. Not that everyone wasn’t enjoying the show, but you just can’t really get into the music (or at least I can’t) when you’re sitting.
With that said: once everyone rose out of their seats and began clapping, singing and stomping their feet along to “Raise Some Hell”, the mood changed immensely. In that moment every fan was one, as they were completely immersed in the song and were having the time of their lives.
That was how their 88-minute long set ended, but the celebration wasn’t done yet.
They never left the stage. Instead, Travis mentioned that they’ll celebrate fans birthdays every time they can, but there are only, at most, four chances a year that they can do shows and celebrate the birthday of one of their own. Tonight was one of those nights.
Nino Cooper was genuinely surprised when a birthday cake was brought out and handed to him, and everyone in Billy Bob’s helped in singing “Happy Birthday” to him.
“Are y’all ready to rock out another one or what?!” Travis asked after a few minutes went by.
“Crooks, we need ya.” Marco said, calling on their friends, who soon joined them on stage. Then Nino appeared, having traded his cake in for an electric guitar.
It was very appropriate for their final song, which was a cover of The Rolling Stones “Honky Tonk Woman”. I stand by what I said about their rendition of the song the last time I saw them; they do it better than The Stones; at least in comparison to the recorded version.
Think what you will of that statement, but it’s the truth, and once the song came to an end, Travis stood up from the cajon, tossed one of his drumsticks in the air, caught it and then struck right through the skin of one of his drums. Because if you’re going to end a show, you might as well end it in style, right?
This may have been their first ever headlining show at Billy Bob’s, but I don’t think it will be their last.
Okay, the place wasn’t sold out like some of the other acts that come through are capable of doing; but there were a lot of people out, and they were loving every second of the show.
Then again, how could you not? There are so many layers to The Dirty River Boys, from the harmonies, to the emotion-filled lyrics, to the awesome rock numbers, of which there are plenty.
I absolutely love this band. I may be a new fan, but they won me over from the start, and each time I see one of their shows (this was the fourth one I’ve caught), that love I feel grows.
They are, without question, one of the best bands that resides in Texas, and it’s not going to be long before the world takes notice.
They have plenty of tour dates scheduled up through July, and they can all be found HERE. That includes show in Texas, Oklahoma and even Louisiana. As far as North Texas shows go, they’ll be up in Denton on March 27th at Dan’s Silver Leaf. They’ll be at the Iron Horse Pub in Wichita Falls on March 29th, and then April 25th will find them at the Granada Theater in Dallas. They’ll also be back in Fort Worth on July 24th.
Go see ‘em if you can, and if you can’t, check out their music in iTUNES.
It was a great night of music here in Fort Worth; and while the drive there and back were both long, The Dirty River Boys were more than worth it.
The Austin, Texas based The Clouds Are Ghosts may have started as just a little side gig, but it didn’t take long for the two founding members to realize they were on to something as they began writing and recording some of their song ideas.
Joseph Salazar ended up leaving the band, but Jason Morris stuck with it, bringing five other musicians into the fold; officially giving birth to The Clouds Are Ghosts.
Their debut album came in late 2009, with an EP following a couple of years later, and now, the band has released their anxiously awaited third album, “Fractures”.
Not only is it their newest record, but it’s also their most professional and solid collection of songs to date; and it begins with the atmospheric rocker, “Fifty Four”. The piano and drums at the start create a mix of beauty and force that is astounding, blending the best of both worlds. Jason Morris’s remarkable voice than reaches out of the speakers and grabs you; growing more urgent as the pace of the music increases, ensnaring you and making sure you’re in this listening experience for the long haul.
The best quality “Defense” has is its ebb and flow. You can feel the song building to something, yet it tapers off each time you think it’s about to make its move. That highlights the more subtle elements of the track, like the smooth guitar lines, which complement one another, before it jumps into action during the final minute. It’s edgy in a way, and it’s a track not to be overlooked (or unappreciated.)
After reeling you in with those first two songs, the members of The Clouds Are Ghosts are ready to show off their softer side, and do so with “Leaman”. In comparison to those first tracks, it mines a little more of the ambient genre that the band classifies itself as. More though, it’s a serene track that’s designed to make you think. “…Now we fight, we kill, we don’t seem to know how to rise above. We think we do, so we blind the eyes of the young…” Jason croons, demonstrating a whole other side and range of his voice, often hitting some gorgeous falsetto notes.
After that little detour, the band brings things back up with eerie and dark sounding “Marionettes”. It doesn’t even take twenty seconds for them to make and establish the mood; while the semi-hushed vocals fit well with it. At least until it roars to life. That’s when it truly grabs your attention: when the guitars soar into action, and a solo is worked in nicely and at just the right moment to add some extra emphasis.
Things get al little more tender and heartfelt with “Angelface”, which, at almost six minutes, is the longest track from the album, before they get into one of the most attention getting songs.
“…There is no time for hesitation, for everyday we’re growing old.” goes a line from “Blue”, which is a song that focuses on how short life really is, and the need to live and experience it to the fullest. It’s a song that washes over you and resonates in your soul, particularly the line, “They say the road before you is long. They say that life is too short. So run…”
The dreamy, pop landscapes are back in “Singularity”, which is a rather soothing track, at least until its abrupt, vicious swell, when it transitions into one of the most intense offerings from “Fractures”, before waning as it leads into “Lavender House”. Just because the bass isn’t as noticeable or the drums aren’t as heavy doesn’t mean that latter one isn’t an impactful song, though.
Perhaps the most intricate track on the album is “Running Dream”. The guitars, bass, drums and yes, even the piano, all get their moment to shine and work in fine harmony with one another. It’s all carefully woven and acts as a nice setup for the tenth and final track on the album, “Decimeters”.
Of course, there can always be different meanings to the songs than the one each listener may interpret, but it strikes me as being a track about the impending end of a relationship. It’s not gloomy or done as a desperate plea, though. It’s actually a beautiful song filled with acceptance and a “light at the end of the tunnel” perspective.
To sum up “Fractures” in just one word: perfection.
The production quality on this thing is superb and deserves a major commendation in its own right. I mean, this thing is on par with what many of the most famous and wealthiest musicians crank out in terms of how polished and well mixed it is.
Aside from that, “Fractures” just has a very fluid feel to it; while the songs all mesh with one another, in the sense like this is more of a concept album rather than an assorted collection of songs they wrote.
While the six-piece outfit may identify as a mix of ambient, electronic and pop styles of music, they are really so much more than that. It’s all in the way they fuse those different genres together, taking the best parts of each one and creating something that is entirely their own.
When you hear pop, you probably think of the generic and increasingly mind numbing stuff you hear on the radio, but that’s not the part that The Clouds Are Ghosts brings in. It still manages to be catchy, yet creative. It’s more or less the same for the other genres, too. There is a definite electronic vibe, but there music isn’t drenched in the sound, and they balance the ambient side of things in there just right.
With all the bands that are out there, I can’t say I’m shocked that I’ve never heard of The Clouds Are Ghosts before, though I am surprised they managed to avoid my radar for so long.
In listening to this album, it’s readily apparent that they are one of the shining stars in the Austin music scene, and “Fractures” should be the album that starts really taking them places.
The Clouds Are Ghosts are:
Erin Fillingame - piano
Jason Morris - vocals
Steven Paul – guitar and synths
Michael Parker - guitar
Earl Bowers - drums
Jon Klekman- bass
Download the album for free on: BANDCAMP / Purchase in iTUNES
Visit The Clouds Are Ghosts websites: Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Youtube
Current Shows: The band will be performing at SXSW this year. Dates include 3/11 @ Guero’s 5PM / 3/11 @ Soho Lounge 8PM / 3/13 Symphony Square 5PM. Visit their TOUR PAGE for full details.
Photo credit: Ashley Treat
The only Local Education show of King Camel’s that I caught was the first one, which was just a little over a month ago.
The concert series has been successful, though. Well, that or the guy just cares so much about trying to expose people to good local music he’s going to keep putting the shows on regardless. I guess it’s probably some of both (more so the latter one).
Anyway, the fourth installment of the series was happening this night, taking place at Three Links. It was quite the lineup that had been put together too, and in its own right, it was every bit as solid as the first Local Education was.
A fairly new band from Dallas by the name of International Bitterness Unit got the show going this night; starting their 33-minute long set at 9:06.
They were a rock band through and through, and began with a gritty number that embodied the Rock ‘n’ Roll spirit. “…I don’t give a fuck, obviously.” sang singer and guitarist Britt Tucker on that first song, which was my personal favorite of theirs this night.
They brought the noise level down just a little on their next song. For the most part it was slower, but still had some hard hitting moments, while some the guitar riffs Britt and fellow guitarist Chris Ehrmann played made it pretty catchy. Afterwards, Britt started them into their next track with some sweet guitar licks; and they again showed off a different style with it. There was a little more kick to this one. That’s to say it was pretty intense, and Britt did some screaming on it. I liked it, though, and in just three songs the band had quickly displayed how versatile they were.
“That goes out to anybody who sits in a fucking cubicle.” Britt said when that song was done, then remarked, “It’s not fun.” He went on to inform everyone of who they were, before going into a cover song.
I missed who he said at done it, but he took a backseat on it as bassist Andrew Magilow stepped up to the center mic he had periodically been doing. He was the one who wound up singing lead on it; proving he was more than just a a bass player, ‘cause he had a solid voice.
That wouldn’t be the only song Andrew would sing this night, though it was the only one for now, as they knocked out a couple more songs. One was a semi-heavy number, while the other highlighted the awesome drumming chops of Brandon Byrd. There short bursts on that where he was able to let loose, often crisscrossing his arms as he violently banged around on his kit.Great skill set, for sure.
Again, Britt mentioned that they were “IBU”, then noted that they were “hateful motherfuckers”. Andrew blamed it on the beer for making them that way, but Britt added, “…You don’t live this long unscathed.” With that said, I guess I should point out that he is a seasoned veteran when it comes to music.
A song by the name of “Blood for Lube” was played next, and following it was a cool instrumental song. “This is something you could smoke some weed to.” Britt said, while Andrew joked that it was “about math”. It was an excellent jam they did, and you could tell that all four of them were completely in their element while performing it. Closer towards the end of it, Andrews’ bass strap did come undone, though he didn’t let it bother him. In fact, it made is playing look even ore badass as he held the bass up by its neck.
“…It’s a good stoner jam; or drinking.” Britt stated when they were done. They moved on to another song that had Andrew doing the lead singing; before Britt once again told everyone who they were, keeping it shortened to “IBU”. They then ended with a song that was similar to how they had started, as well as how much of their other stuff had been. It was a rock song, pure and simple. One of the lines in it was also something like “…It gives you an itch…”, and as he sang that, Britt took one hand and lightly scratched his crotch, before placing it back on his guitar.
They were one of two bands on this bill that I hadn’t seen live before, not to mention I had never even heard of International Bitterness Unit until this night. That said, I don’t think this show could have gotten off to a better start than what they gave it.
Considering they don’t have much experience under their belt as this outfit, they were surprising tight on stage and had some good chemistry.
As for their music, as I said, it’s Rock ‘n’ Roll to the core. It’s easy to listen and get into and may even have you banging your head along to it. So basically, it’s all-around good stuff.
If that sounds like something you’re into, go see one of their shows sometime. They’ll be at the Crown and Harp in Dallas on March 8th.
Up next was the Fort Worth block of bands.
The Royal Savages were one of the acts. I had heard of them fairly recently (I think on Facebook), and was looking forward to seeing what they were like live.
The one common factor between both them and the other band from Cowtown was that each had a male and female vocalist in the band. In the case of The Royal Savages that was frontman/guitarist Addison White and vocalist Lauren Moore.
“What’s up Three Links?” she asked, going to say that they were “Gonna play some songs…” for everybody.
For most of their songs, she and Addison sang in unison, which I don’t imagine is the easiest thing to do, but they kept up with one another perfectly this night.
Their first song was a sweet rocker with some nice and soft pop elements thrown in, resulting in a sound that had you (or at least me) swaying back and forth to it. It swelled to a great rock song at the end, and lead guitarist Josiah Hunter got really into it, shredding something fierce on his axe once the track exploded into action.
“We’ve got some more coming up.” Lauren told everyone, announcing their next song as “Racing Tears”. In listening to the two EP’s they have to download; that’s become my favorite song of theirs, and it was even better live, being just the right mix of the indie, pop and rock genres.
“Thanks for coming out and supporting some local music…” Addison said to everyone before they launched into their next tune. It was a real fun sounding number, and towards the end had a moment where it bordered on being a rap song, as Addison spit out the words quite rapidly.
“That made me sweaty.” Lauren remarked when the song was over, right before they moved right along to what I thought was their best track of the night. I can’t say exactly what made me enjoy it so much, aside from the fact that it just sounded incredible.
A much deserved shout-out to International Bitterness Unit came during the next break, after which the quintet knocked out another catchy, pop-infused tune. “This next song’s called Bobblehead.” Lauren stated, as they continued moving right along with their lengthy 42-minute set.
The one that followed was another standout from their set. The notes Josiah played gave the song a nice texture, and then there was a brilliant moment towards the end when Addison and Lauren were singing almost a cappella, with the exception of the very light plucking of the guitars. It sounded like that would be the end of, but then they built it back up; drummer Ben Coker and the rest hitting it strong, as the song came a powerful close.
Bassist James Hughes got them going on the next one, segueing them into it from the previous one, and had a wicked little bass solo before his band mates joined in.
It was after it that Lauren pointed out that they were “retarded” and had forgot to bring their CD’s and other merch to sell. She did note their music could be gotten on Bandcamp, though. She then mentioned that their next song was one they had just recorded.
It was a truly gorgeous song with the most delightful harmonies at the start of it, before escalating to a hefty rock number, which eventually just faded out. Nice structure all the way around and that led them to their final of the night, which I assume was another semi-new one.
They were fantastic. In fact, the impartial critic side of me would say they were perhaps the best band of the night.
Having two singers that did full-time singing was a lot, but it never seemed like an overload, and in the end, it certainly worked to the bands advantage.
You just don’t hear that, which makes it easy for The Royal Savages to be set apart from the pack. Then you have the often-infectious music beds their songs possess, which only makes them more of a powerhouse group.
I’m glad I finally got to see them, and out of all the good things the Fort Worth music scene has going for it at the moment, I’d have to say The Royal Savages are probably one of the best.
They have a couple of EP’s you can snag for free over at BANDCAMP, so check that out. Also, keep tabs on their FACEBOOK PAGE for info about future shows.
Continuing the Fort Worth sound was one of the bands on this bill whom I had seen before, Animal Spirit. It had been awhile, though. In fact, I hadn’t seen them since they released their debut album last summer.
Music from their self-titled release was still in full-swing this night, and they began their 43-minute long set with the lead track, “Wolves”.
It set a very haunting mood for their show, even though it was limited to just that song. “..The house began to flood.
It’s not a bad thing because it washed away his blood. So, I grabbed a can of gas and poured it on his ass…” sang singer and guitarist Andrew Stroheker, as Sam Wuehermann added her voice to the mix, backing him up softly.
At the tail end, it makes the jump into a full-blown rock song, and Andrew, bassist Joe Prankster and drummer Parker Anderson brought them right into the subsequent track from the album, “Hey, Girl”. That duet proved to be a heavy-hitter; being absolutely irresistible to those who were paying attention to the band, and was just killer from start to finish.
“Thanks Three Links. We like you.” Sam said, as they continued working through their album in order, now doing the somewhat thought provoking “Telescopes”, which deals with death and ass, “…what death with will bring?” As it ended, Andrew started to bridge them into their next song, before his band mates joined with him; creating a fairly long instrumental piece to take them into “House On A Hill”.
They were done playing the songs in order now; and at almost six and a half minutes on the album, that track’s the longest. It’s also their best (well, at least in my opinion). It’s easy to get wrapped up in it, especially the instrumental portion in the latter half, where Joe and Parker really let loose. Then you have the sudden change at the end, as it transitions from a rock number to sultry tune, as Sam sings, “The sun is hot; that’s nothing new. I’d Rather Spend My Nights with you…”.
That interesting end made for a good setup for their next one, “Sam’s Song”; which one could say is experimental. Joe played a tambourine on it, while Andrew traded his guitar in for a bass drum, which he hung around his neck via a strap. Sam then picked up the empty wine bottle that had been sitting at the front of the stage, removing the drum stick from it, which she used to strike the bottle.
It’s fascinating to say the least, and out of the times that I have seen them, it’s always been a favorite of mine, simply because it is so original; and tonight, it sounded the best I’ve ever heard it.
They got back to their standard instruments after that, while talking about a new batch of songs that they had just gone and tracked demos of the past weekend. “…I really like ‘em, and I’m the last one to like anything.” Joe told the crowd. “That’s true…” responded Sam, as they briefly discussed how he can be somewhat of a critic, I guess you could say. “I’m just picky.” Joe said in closing, coming across more like he’s just his own worst critic and wants to ensure everything is as good as it can possible be.
They played one of those new songs now, and it was a great one. It was pretty fast paced, and also rather long, though never to the point that it seemed tedious. It was yet another song they cut loose on, especially Joe, who could be seen slapping his bass at the end.
“I hope you’re having as much fun as I am.” Sam remarked when the song came to an end. She also dedicated this final song to one of their fans who was out. “…She requested this, like, literally two seconds ago.” said Sam, in advance of “Move To The Air”, which found her and Andrew doing a good bit of co-singing.
Maybe part of it was because I was finally a little familiar with their music; but this was definitely the best Animal Spirit show I’ve seen (in fairness it was probably only the fourth or fifth show).
Like I said, that might have been part of it, but they’ve also tightened up a lot on stage since I last saw them. The result is a stellar band that successfully brings the rock while keeping a nice ratio of being polished, yet raw.
You can download their album for free (if you desire) over on BANDCAMP, so take advantage of that. Also, check them out on FACEBOOK to stay up-to-date with their future shows.
This little Fort Worth block of the show was highly enjoyable. It was also interesting in the sense that while there aren’t that many miles separating Dallas and Forth Worth, the difference in style of (some) of the bands is drastic. I mean that is a good thing, because it shows that the D/FW (and Denton) area is filled with diversity.
Sure, there are plenty of your standard rock and even metal bands that call Fort Worth home, too; but you just don’t hear bands like Animal Spirit and The Royal Savages coming out of Dallas too often. It just goes to show that while the area is a collective, each city still has its own identity.
That said, the final band of the night was from Dallas; and I was looking forward to the good ol’ rock sounds Dead Mockingbirds would be cranking out.
They had a beefy looking setlist planned for the night, beginning with a song called “Smile” (I’ll go ahead and admit that I stole a setlist after the show, hence why I know most of these titles.)
“…We’re just drunk enough.” stated singer and guitarist Kenneth Pritchard, who then added, “We hope you are all drinking heavily…” He then faced the drum kit of Matthew Crain, jumping up and down, while bassist Trinidad Diaz filled the room with some excellent bass riffs, as he got “Systematic” underway. At the end of it, he and Kenneth stood next to each other, facing one another while shredding on their bass and guitar. It was after it came to an end that Kenneth went off into an interesting little tangent.
“Do you have a boat? Can we live on your boat?” he asked. It was impossible not to laugh at it, while also wondering, “Where did that come from?” He wasn’t done, though. “Kenneth, this is the voice of god, Kenneth. Shut the fuck up and play another song.” he then said.
He listened to the voice, but after quickly playing a note or two, he stopped. “Kenneth, this is the voice of god. Learn to tune your guitar.” He again heeded the advice, hastily tuning his guitar. The beginning of “White” sounded much better now that it was in tune, and it was one of, if not the best song they did this night (or maybe I just feel that way because I like the song so much.) “I see it in your eyes, you’re something special. Others, they see it too, they treat you like a star.” he sang on the second verse of that blistering rock song.
“We wrote that out in the parking lot.” he remarked upon finishing the song. He seemed dead serious, too, and even pointed across the street to the parking lot. That was the first song off their 7-inch record they released last year, and it only made sense to follow it with the other track, “Omega”. In some ways, it’s even better than that previous one. It’s just an impeccable rock song and you get to see just what a tight band they are while they perform it. It’s even complete with a marvelous guitar solo. Then again, that last part can be said of more than a few of their songs.
During the break that followed, Kenneth took a moment to thank Jeff Brown (AKA King Camel) for putting the show together, as well as Animal Spirit, The Royal Savages and International Bitterness Unit for opening up. He said all that at a lightning fast pace, and afterwards exclaimed, “I got through it!”, before adding, “Let’s all get fucking drunk.”
With that, the trio tore into another song, this one being “She Helps Me”. Like the last song, it too had a guitar solo, and for this one Kenneth dropped to his knees and proceeded to rock out. “We wrote that after losing all our money at a shitty casino in Santa Fe.” He said to everyone after the song was over. “We take donations.” he then said, though no one seemed that eager to fork over their cash that easily.
“Pele” came next, and as Trinidad and Kenneth tuned their instruments afterwards, Matt filled the silence with some percussion. He laid into the snare drum, as well as some cymbals, doing not only a drum solo, but also creating a lead in to “Alone”.
“Can y’all work for us tomorrow? Can one of y’all get my shift?” Kenneth asked after “Alone was finished. “Sure. Where do you work?” one patron asked, going along with it. “I don’t know.” Kenneth replied, as he turned his attention to the next song. It again fell to Matt to start it, and he gradually built up the noise level, before they ripped into the tune.
They deviated from the setlist slightly at this point, doing whatever song that was but axing one of the others. Instead, they cranked out the up-tempo version of “Munich”, which opened with Kenneth swinging his arm in a circular motion and swiping at the strings of his guitar.
With a drum roll (on the snare), they exploded into their final song of the night, “Flight Plan”. Matt was killing it there at the end; his drumming resolute, and he was completely absorbed in it.
That would have been a fine way to end the show, and Kenneth seemed ready for it to be over, as he walked over to his amp and laid his guitar down. Trinidad had other plans, though, and they included the one encore they had potentially planned.
He kept on from that last song, laying down the bass lines for the next one, as Kenneth walked back towards the mic with his guitar in hand. “Fuck you.” he said rather solemnly while looking at Trinidad, who could have cared less. So, they went on with the encore, quickly knocking out “So You Want to Be” and bringing their 35-minute set to an end.
Timewise, it may have been somewhat short, but they put on a jam-packed performance, and they filled those 35-minutes with more rock than some bands do in twice that amount of time.
Aside from that, they just put on a fun and enjoyable show, while still having songs that you can really get into and bang your head about to.
Hell, they were even better this night than they had been two short weeks ago when I last saw them; and this night made e want to start catching them a lot more frequently, or at least try to.
They have a few shows coming up this month, including March 8th at The Crown and Harp in Dallas. After that they have a gig at SXSW in Austin on March 15th at Quantum Lounge, and then they’ll be playing another King Camel show on March 17th at The Doublewide. March 29th will find them at The Grotto in Fort Worth. They also have another Crown and Harp show set for April 10th, which will serve as their tour kickoff.
In regards to their music, you can get four free downloads over on their REVERBNATION, and if you want to hear “Omega”, go buy it in iTUNES.
Okay, I’ve only seen two out of the now six Local Education shows that King Camel has put on, but out of those two, I’d have to say this one was the best. The talent was solid from start to finish (not that it wasn’t on the first one), and I liked being introduced to a couple of acts that were new to me, as well as seeing some ones I knew I liked.
So, kudos to King Camel for doing his part (and then some) at trying to make people aware of the great music scene North Texas has going on and trying to get people out to shows. If you’d be interested in any future events he has planned, go HERE.
You may not have heard of the San Antonio based rock outfit Nothing More, but there’s really no valid excuse for having not.
The band has been around for about a decade now, and has gone through a few different incarnations before finally arriving at their current – and strongest – one.
After the departure of their current singer at that time (say late ’07 to ‘08), the band was left at an impasse. They were starting to gain some pretty good momentum around Texas and now had to search for a new vocalist.
They wound up not having to search far though, as Jonny Hawkins decided to try his hand at singing. The result was something they all approved of, so he made the transition from their drummer to frontman.
Those like myself, who were skeptical about this, weren’t for long; and 2009 saw the release of their first record with that lineup, “The Few Not Fleeting”.
Turns out, Jonny had been hiding a monstrous voice for all those years, but it wasn’t just that. They had also stepped up their songwriting, making raw and emotional rock songs, like “Gone”, which chronicled the fight Jonnys’ mother was having with cancer at the time, while he was at times out on the road touring with his band mates.
It would be four long years before they would release another album, but just because they weren’t releasing any new material didn’t mean things weren’t going to happen for them.
They toured various parts of the country many times over, and just in the past year played a leg of Adrenaline Mob’s tour. I saw the Dallas stop of that one, and I can say honestly in just thirty minutes Nothing More upstaged those famous musicians (which included Mike Portnoy, Mike Orlando and more).
They also played the inaugural Aftershock Festival in Sacramento, CA last fall, where they were so well received they were invited back the next day to play the main stage.
While on the subject of their touring accomplishments, they are also gearing up for a run with Chevelle, and will be a part of pretty much all of the bands currently listed shows, and they’ll also be one of the bands playing Rocklahoma in May. All of that’s just barely scratching the surface.
Armed with a new collection of songs from their self-titled album, songs that span a variety of social and political issues, from religion (“Christ Copyright”) to infidelity (that song, “Sex & Lies”, boasts what may be one of the most clever lines ever, “I want to hear it from the whore, horse’s mouth.”). They even discuss consumerism and society’s obsession with, well, just about everything (“Mr. MTV”) and even tackle drug addiction and the struggle of helplessly watching a friend battle their demons (“Jenny”). There’s even a track that continues the story “Gone” started, as Jonny sings about his mother’s final days in “God Went North”. (They actually do have some fun songs, too, like “Fat Kid”.)
Maybe you won’t agree with some of the content in a few of those songs, but it’s things that need to be said, and Nothing More is bringing a substance back to music that has been severally lacking in recent years.
They’re not just great songwriters, though. They put on the best live show of any band that’s ever walked this earth and they have an overwhelming stage presence. Seriously, they are unparallelled when compared to just about everyone, and personally, I’ve only seen one other band who elicits such excitement from me at a live show.
They get everyone moving and singing along during their heavy rock anthems, and make sure the crowd is as involved with the show as they can be, so it becomes a real experience for everyone.
“Nothing More doesn’t take the stage, they storm it.” That’s a line from their current bio, and it’s worth quoting. Oh, they also do a sweet little bass solo that is pretty atypical and unlike any bass solo you’ve ever witnessed before. Actually, it’s one of the highlights of their show.
So, come out to Trees for NoMo’s first Dallas show since their CD release gig here last June, and witness a great local rock lineup. All of the opening bands will rock your socks off, and then it will culminate with a band who is right on the cusp of stardom; and if it doesn’t work out for them, then there’s not a chance of any independent band ever striking it big.
Friday, March 7th at Trees
Doors @ 7 / In Memory of Man @ 9 / Werewolf Therewolf @ 10 / The Raven Charter @ 11 / Nothing More @ 12AM
21+ $10 / 21- $15?
Three Links was my second destination for the night, where a truly killer bill had been assembled.
I hated that I had missed my friends in Vinyl (who are spectacular), and Mothership was just starting their final song when I arrived (it had been awhile time since I had seen them, but they sounded better than ever). A band called Crypt Trip also got the night started, but all three of them were nothing more than appetizers.
Not that the place wasn’t already packed for Mothership (and assumingly the other bands); but the most exciting thing about this show was that The Virgin Wolves were coming out of their hibernation. They hadn’t played a show since last summer; and they had been greatly missed.
Of course, it took a bit for them to get set up, though the sound check was swift. “It’s been eight months since we’ve been on stage!” declared rhythm guitarist Carson Coldiron. The guitar and bass chords swelled as he spoke, pumping up the crowd, leaving everyone wondering what their opening number would be.
I’m not gonna lie, I was hoping for “Slick Shoes”, and for a few moments it seemed like that classic from the “Bad Blood” EP might be what they burst into, but it was not.
Instead, they broke into “Black Sheep”, which was equally as good. It may have been eight months since they shared a stage together, but it didn’t even take a second to reignite their energy and chemistry on stage, as Carson, lead guitarist Chase Ryan and bassist Kristin Leigh began throwing down. “I bet you look good, I bet you look good, I bet you look good in the morning light…” sang Jaimeson Toon; Chase backing her up on most of the verses, giving the song a nice one-two punch.
I’ll go ahead and say this: if they had accumulated any dust over those eight months, they made sure they shook it all off during their rehearsals.
Drummer Steve Phillips quickly led them into another gritty rock number, “Crawl”, as they started making their way down the tracklist of their “Pretty Evil Thing” LP. “…Gave you just one hour to show me how bad you can be. I gave myself three cigarettes and whistled just like a bird.” Jaimeson sang in a more sultry voice on the second verse; grabbing her hair and pulling it down over her face as she did so.
As usually, they had little transition pieces worked up between most of their songs this night, stretching it out here as Carson took a moment to thank all the bands who had opened for them. He also pointed out that this Jaimesons’ place of employment. Chase then semi-slowly plucked the strings of his guitar, bringing them to my personal favorite track, “End Of The Line”. It’s arguably their catchiest song, and shows off a little different side of The Virgin Wolves, while still retaining that raw rock vibe that makes them standout. There were some issues with the microphone towards the end, which led to Jaimeson and Chase sharing his mic, while Kristin used hers as they all sang, “I can’t sleep, I can’t breathe, I can’t find the door…”.
Steve kept on delivering the beats until they were ready for one of their slightly blues infused numbers, “What You Want To Hear”. Some banter with the crowd took place afterwards, while Chase also took time to thank everyone for coming out this night. Surprisingly, the show wasn’t sold out, though there were a lot of people there, and they were all transfixed on the band.
They kept running thorough “Pretty Evil Thing”, though they did skip track five and moved on to “Lies” when they got back to business. That (at times) showed off the bands softer side, which is something that doesn’t even really exist, and they kicked things back up with their next song.
However, they first took a moment to wish one of their fans a happy birthday. “…She’s good looking. I’m just saying. Get ya some.” Jaimeson said of the birthday girl. It was after that, that they did the darker sounding “Crooked Smile”. It’s another one of their best songs, and tonight it was a highlight of their show, as Chase and Kristin stood facing one another near the end of the song, tearing it up on their guitar and bass, respectively. Then, as it drew to a close, Jaimeson approached Chase, as the two grinded against each other.
“The amount of people in here makes me happy.” Jaimeson stated after that one. They marched on with “Oh, Sugar”, before again skipping over a track on the album, because, well, you’ve got to save the best for last.
“I like it when you don’t leave.” Jaimeson said, before encouraging everyone who might want to, to buy their merch. “…We have stuff you can wear. Stuff you can listen to. Stuff you can smell in your house.” she said, then added, “That’s right, I said smell…”
“ Vagabonds” was the final, somewhat slow song they did, and from it, they jumped right into “Bad”, which was an electrifying way to end what felt like an all too short 36-minute set.
“Surely that’s not it?” I thought. Though the band did a legit job at making it appear that they were done. Then the cries for an encore started, and eventually Chase and Carson retook the stage, saying they thought they might could do one more.
“Carson, how’s my hair look?” Chase asked. “Shitty.” Carson replied. They had a friend join them on stage for this next song, and that was Chris Breland. He sings in the band Black Habits – whom I’ve seen once before – and evidently has something else going on, because Carson mentioned he was in a band. “…I don’t know if I can say what band or not, yet…” he said, seeming to catch himself before he let it slip.
Their little encore segment started with a cover of Danzig’s “Mother”, and stylistically speaking, it fits The Virgin Wolves perfectly.
Jaimeson and Chris were a force to be reckoned with as they shared the vocal responsibilities. They killed it on the song, and as it came to an end, some guy suddenly began to crowd surf, and soon took a fall that looked like it could have been way worse for him than what it wound up being.
That wasn’t it, though. Remember, I said they skipped over one of their songs so they could save the best for last, and, without question, their best is “Virtue And Vice”.
A small mosh pit even broke out during the song (something I haven’t personally seen at one of their shows before), while both Chase and Kristin shouted the line on the second verse that they’ve revamped for live shows, “I rode all night through the motherfucking rain!” “And I wound up standing at his grave.” Jaimeson chimed in.
Towards the end, Carson even grabbed a beer can from one of the fans up front, sliding it across the neck of his guitar a bit before handing it back.
That, was the perfect way to end this show, and that song allows all five of them to unleash any energy they have left, ensuring everything gets left on the stage.
I had missed seeing The Virgin Wolves more than I knew I had, and I’m glad I at least caught them a few times close together leading up to their little hiatus.
Hopefully it won’t be another eight months before they grace a stage somewhere in the metroplex, ‘cause they’re just too damn good.
They play rock music the way it was meant to be played, and they’re live show is a must-see, especially if you haven’t seen them before.
Pick up “Pretty Evil Thing” in iTUNES (it’ll be $9.99 well spent), and throw ‘em a like on FACEBOOK so you’ll know when they have another gig.
Well, I managed to catch not one, but two fantastic shows this Saturday night. I’d call that a win.
Wednesday, March 5th
13th Floor Music presents The Birds of Night and Texas Gentlemen at the Gas Monkey Bar & Grill this night. FREE
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)
Ultimate Local Music presents Lord of the Lost, Murder FM, Designed In Kaos and Vannah Red at The Curtain Club. AGES 17+
Doors @ 7:30
21+ $10 / 21- $15
Friday, March 7th -Arlington Waking Alice will be headlining Arlingtons’ newest music venue, The Chuggin’ Monk, with Chastity and The Confounded opening.
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)
Nothing More will return to Trees for the first time since their epic CD release show last June. The Raven Charter, Wherewolf Therewolf and In Memory of Man will open. ALL AGES
Music @ 9
The Orange will headline The Curtain Club for this month’s edition of Deep Friday. Memory Shivers, Party Static, Slumber Buzz and The Pillars will open. The Orange is also said to be doing an epicly long set at this one, so it will probably be one not to miss. AGES 17+
Doors @ 8
21+ $10 / 21- $15
The West Windows will be rocking the Double Wide for their first show since releasing their debut album back in January. Things of Earth and Dumb Waiter will open. AGES 21+
Doors @ 10
Three Links is celebrating their 1-year anniversary with a killer show featuring The Black Dotz, The American Fuse and The Phuss. AGES 18+
Doors @ 9 / Music @ 10
-Dallas (Lower Greenville Avenue)
The Wheeler Brothers will headline the Granada Theater with Bravo, Max! and Telegraph Canyon serving as the support acts. ALL AGES
Doors @ 7 / Music @ 8
$15 to $29
The Spring Standards will stop by Dan’s Silver Leaf on their way down to SXSW. Kaela Sinclair will open. Music @ 9
Saturday, March 8th
- Revolver Magazine’s Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock Tour will be making a Dallas stop at the Gas Monkey Bar & Grill. Sick Puppies will be the main act of the night, on a bill that will also feature Lacuna Coil, Eyes Set to Kill and Cilver.
Doors @ 6 / Music @ 7
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)
- 26 Locks will be celebrating the release of their debut EP with a show at The Curtain Club. Alterflesh, Daylight Industries, Shapes and Faces and Charge will be playing alongside them.
Doors @ 8
21+ $10 / 21- $15
Doors @ 10
- Three Links 1-year anniversary will continue with a daylong show. Off With Their Heads, Pinata Protest, Svetlanes and Sealion will be some of the bigger drawing acts, though bands will start mid-afternoon.
Doors @ 4 / Music @ 5
Music @ 10
-Dallas (Lower Greenville Avenue)
- Street Arabs will be celebrating the release of their new album with a show at the Crown and Harp. Dead Mockingbirds, Jack Thunder & The Road Soda and International Bitterness Unit will also be playing.
-Dallas (Oak Cliff)
Doors @ 7 / Music @ 8
- Abacu5 will not only be debuting some new music at The Rail this night, but also their new singer. Be sure to check it out. Idler, The Forgeries, Zativah Kid and others are also on the bill.
- The Circle will make their return to Tomcats West, with Awake in Theory, Generation Wasted and Red Angel Theory also playing on this stellar local rock bill.
Sunday, March 9th
- The Giving Tree Band will be doing a free show at the Gas Monkey Bar & Grill. The Spring Standards will open.
Doors @ 8 / Music @ 9
- The Royal Savages, Neptune Locals and King and Nation will all be taking the stage at Queen City Music Hall for a show put on by Green Audio Productions.
Music @ 9
I must confess, until just a few weeks prior to their show at the Granada Theater, I had never heard of White Lies.
That’s probably a good thing, because that meant that I haven’t spent the past few years anxiously awaiting the British band to tour through Dallas. Instead, I became a fan rather last minute and only had to wait a couple weeks.
That’s not to say I wasn’t excited, though. In fact, I was probably every bit as excited as any die-hard, longtime fan of the six-year old rock outfit.
The only opening act on this was the Brooklyn, NY singer/songwriter Frankie Rose.
I’ll preface this by saying I had trouble figuring out what songs she did, and by trouble I mean even after spending time listening to her music I couldn’t pinpoint the specific songs, which is a personal fail in my book.
But I digress. She and her band (which consisted of a drummer, lead guitarist and bassist) delivered a great 31-minute set.
I didn’t know what to expect, but I wound up liking her music far more than I thought I would.
The first song had a nice build to it, before the drummer suddenly broke into the song, which had me quickly trying to figure out where he was. See, the kit was on far stage left – out of my line of sight – and until that first beat I had overlooked it. They carried on with several more songs, and periodically Frankie would chat with the crowd in the already packed Granada Theater.
“…This is a Saturday night. Is it a late night town?” she asked, following it with another question, “Are you going to go out after the show?” You could tell she was just looked at as the opening act, because the response was almost nonexistent, and I know full well the party was continuing for more than a few people after this show (and I was one of them).
They ran through a few more songs, including a “romantico one” as Frankie put it. In my opinion, it wound up being one of their best songs of the night. The rhythm section was in full effect on it, and even though I was standing near the back of the venue, I could still feel the floor shaking beneath me; and really, that’s always a fantastic feeling.
With only one song left, Frankie mentioned that they were heading to Houston the next night, unknowingly committing one of the biggest faux pas you can make in Dallas.
To say I hate or even dislike Houston would be inaccurate, but most Dallasites do and they were vocal about it this night. She appeared baffled by the reaction, and just moved on and concluded their set.
Their time on stage flew by, and I mean that as a compliment, because that’s how much I enjoyed it.
The music was great, with some nice electronic and synthesizer touches thrown in, but more to the point to accentuate the guitars, bass and drums rather than overpower them. Frankie has quite a set of pipes on her too, fitting both the more rock sounding songs as well as the dreamier landscapes they had going on others.
If you’d like to check out her music, she has two records available that you can find in iTUNES.
As ten o’clock neared, the patrons began filling back in from their trips to the bar, or to go outside and smoke or whatever else, as they settled in for White Lies.
Five minutes before they hit the stage I got offered to go up to the balcony (which is typically reserved for staff of either the venue or the bands crew) and of course took it.
I mention that simply because it transformed this entire concert experience.
The sound up there was superb, far exceeding that down at the lower levels. As expected, a roar of fanfare filled the venue when the three core members; singer and guitarist Harry McVeigh; bassist Charles Cave; and drummer Jack Brown took the stage, along with Tommy Bowen and Rob Lee, who add the keys/synthesizers and an extra guitar to the mix.
They quickly launched into the title track from their 2009 debut album, “To Lose My Life”, and the sound—at least up in the balcony—was ten times better than even their albums sound.
It was pure ecstasy from the start, as Harry sang the lovely chorus in his strong, unique tone of voice, “Let’s grow old together and die at the same time…” That was a stellar song to open with, and for part of it I was glued to Charles, who was an exceptional bass player from right out of the gate, and was crushing it as he quickly plucked the strings of his bass.
With that old classic out of the way, they turned their attention to the barely six-month-old album “Big TV”, getting the first single off it, “There Goes Our Love Again”, out of the way early. It seemed to be just as much of a crowd pleaser as their first song had, and afterwards Harry addressed the crowd.
“Dallas, how’s it going?” he asked; the clamorous applause and cheers continuing once he spoke. He noted that this was the first time they had been to this “beautiful city”, and that they had enjoyed walking around and seeing part of it earlier in the day.
Overall, that was one of the few times they talked with the crowd which I liked. Even though it was kept at the bare minimum, it was still more than enough to form a connection with the fans, though the main focus was on the music. It suited them. Another I liked was that despite having a new album to promote, they also drew heavily from their past two albums; resulting in a great mix of old favorites and new classics.
As good as those two songs were, it was their next one where things really exploded. They pushed themselves to new heights on “A Place to Hide”, which was completely irresistible, and even though I was seated I felt a pretty strong urge to get up and start moving around. It was just intoxicating. But then again, that could be said of much of White Lies’ music.
They were continuously switching between albums, never doing two consecutive tracks off one album, and now got back to the new material with “Mother Tongue”. Whether they had been wanting (or waiting) to or not, the crowd got a chance to participate on this one. After the second chorus, the band got a clap along going. It was merely the first of a few this night, and I have to say it was pretty cool to see a sea of people throw their hands up in the air, clapping in unison. Especially since I had such a unique perspective of it.
“This is one of our favorite tracks from our second album…” Harry told everyone in advance of their next number. “It’s called Streetlights.” he finished, as they finally got around to doing a track from “Ritual”. I can’t say that it’s also a favorite of mine from that record, though it is a good tune, and there was something entrancing about the steady drumbeats and keys of the verses.
“This is a beautiful venue. The kind you dream of playing…” Harry remarked after that song. Strong words from a band who has headlined the historic Wembley Arena in London. He piled on the very genuine praise about the Granada (it’s more than deserving of it), before Jack eventually led them into their next song, another oldie, “Farewell to the Fairground”. Harry worked the crowd over during the slow part after the second chorus; just motioning at everyone, encouraging them to make some noise. He had complete control over everyone as he did so.
“I wish no harm to come of you; split bottles in shopping aisles…” he sang after the applause subsided, as they went right into another one of their love songs, “Be Your Man”. It was their next song, another from their first album, that really got the spectators excited, though.
From the first note on the keyboard the crowd was screaming with glee, having already deduced the song was “E.S.T”. Most were giddy when it too turned into a clap along; and personally, I thought it really was one of their highlight songs of the night, as there was a type of magic aura in the air while they played it.
However, “The Power and the Glory”—which is one I’m partial to—outmatched it. “…I was empty handed leaving as I was when I came…” crooned Harry while the audience clapped along to the steady drumming. Live it was everything I hoped it would be, and was extremely infectious; and during it, they continued to expand upon their stride, which they had hit long ago.
With their show in its final stretch, it was time to bust out a couple more singles, the first of which was “Getting Even”. “This is the first single we ever released…” Harry informed everyone, setting up the next song. “We hope you like it.” he added. To say everyone simply liked “Unfinished Business” would be an understatement, and that leads me to one point I’ll go ahead and make.
It’s really remarkable that these guys were able to make their first album as high caliber as it is. From start to finish it’s a completely solid album, the likes of which every band hopes to release one day, though most will never even come close. Then, they managed to (at the very least) maintain that same level of skill and craftsmanship over the course of their next two albums, again coming up with products that are superior to most out on the market.
It just comes down to that solid consistency, and it’s a shame more bands don’t have that.
But I digress.
They were still far from done with the “Big TV” album, but now did one more gem from it, “Goldmine”, before changing gears a bit.
Rob and Tommy exited the stage, leaving just the founding members of White Lies, as Harry ditched his guitar for their next song. Instead, he used a little synthesizer, while Jack got up from his kit, manning a keyboard as well as a xylophone (yeah, you read that right). Charles was the only one who didn’t switch instruments, and Harry took just a moment to talk about the song, which happened to be a cover.
It was a very different take on Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U”, being a pretty stripped down rendition from how Prince did it. That was good though, because they made the song completely their own with a very unique spin put on it. Harry got to show a gorgeous falsetto tone on it, and lyrically, it was a perfect fit with the bands original stuff. “You’re just a sinner I am told. Be your fire when you’re cold, make you happy when you’re sad, make you good when you are bad…” he sang; making it sound like this song had been written just for them.
They returned to their standard lineup, doing what’s really the only song of theirs I’m indifferent to, “First Time Caller”. I will admit though, that live it got me a little more engaged than the recording does. Afterwards, came the final song of their set, “Death”, which had another clap along moment, and ended an astounding 69-minute set.
No one (well, almost no one) moved after the band retreated to the green room, though, as they anxiously awaited the encore.
The cheering was perhaps even more loud when the five guys returned to the stage than it had been when they first started.
They talked with the crowd for a moment, mainly expressing their gratitude, before finally getting to the title track from their 2013 release, “Big TV”. Again, the crowd was encouraged to clap along on it; and as they hit the brief instrumental bridge, Harry strode to center stage, throwing his arms up in the air, silently egging the audience on, and they again erupted with cheering and applause.
“…We have one more…” Harry stated, again thanking everyone who was there for coming out to see them. The urgent sounding and electrifying “Bigger Than Us”. “Thank you so much!” Harry shouted in the final seconds of the song, which concluded their 10-minute encore.
The applause started while the final notes were still being played, and only grew stronger once the five guys stood next to one another at the forefront of the stage; bowing to everyone for the love they had been shown, as well as basking in it. I’ve got to say, seeing the kind of reception they got was a cool moment.
As it stands, I’ve seen several hundred concerts at this point, and this White Lies show is one of the most spectacular I’ve witnessed.
I’ll be the first to admit the seats had a lot to do with that, because the whole atmosphere changed up in that balcony. But that wasn’t the only reason.
I feel like I already used a lot of my praise earlier when talking about their albums, but they also put on a splendid show.
From stage presence to musicianship, Harry McVeigh, Jack Brown and Charles Cave were to full package. Not only that, but they have a very distinctive sound, with mixes of 80’s era British acts thrown in to their more modern rock style, which results in a sound that is completely theirs.
It was easy to see why they’ve opened for bands like Coldplay and Snow Patrol, because the talent is definitely there. I’d even go as far as saying that there’s no reason why White Lies couldn’t be as popular as Muse is here in the U.S.
Okay, White Lies doesn’t use any theatrics at all; while that’s a key element to Muse’s shows. In the other aspects though, it’s a dead heat; and if the American audience latches on to these guys, there really is no reason why they couldn’t be playing arena’s over here in a few years time.
They have plenty of dates booked around the world, including several more in North America. Check out their full schedule HERE; and also be sure to add their music to your iTUNES library.
This was a fantastic way to spend the night. Many thanks again to the Granada and certain people who work there for all the hospitality. It made a great night truly unforgettable.
However, the night was still young. It wasn’t even 11:30 when they finished, and with several other shows going on this night that I would have liked to have seen (counting this one there were seven total), I could at least make one other…
The only good thing that comes from the demise of one beloved band is the prospect that a new project(s) will hopefully follow, and that was precisely what was on my mind last May when Vinyl Pilot announced they were disbanding.
It didn’t long for a couple of members from the band (Jeff Lowe and Patrick Hunter) to get to work on a new project, calling it Pseudo Future. And while those two guys may have come from the same band, they didn’t bring any remnants from their previous sound along with them.
The short, 13-minute long EP gets going with a bang, in the form of the song “Loss Of Light”. It’s dynamic and even alluring, and I enjoy how prominent the bass is in comparison to other songs (by any band), when it tends to get drowned out by the other instruments. It’s a very nicely mixed song, and even features a killer, ever so slightly soupy sounding guitar solo towards the end.
“Drawing Board” is easily the heaviest song on this sampling from Pseudo Future, with some pulsating drum beats on the chorus, matched by some blaring guitar and bass lines, as singer and guitarist Jeff Lowe fiercely sings/shouts on the chorus, “We take all that we make and throw it all away!” There’s a certain tinge of venom to it, too, found primarily in the frustration and anger Jeff packs into the lyrics.
A short piece, “Remnant (Interlude)”, acts as both a way to break up the album, as well as a transition into the next song, bleeding flawlessly into “All My Friends”. At a little over four and half minutes in length, it’s nearly twice as long as most other songs on the record. They gave it an excellent rise and fall, and best of all; it’s all done very fluidly and with relative ease, roaring to life on each chorus, before tapering back off.
The final song is the customary, slow, soft love song that nearly ever album from any band has to have. In Pseudo Future’s case, that song is “Love Of My Life”, a more acoustic based song done solely by Jeff. It’s a gentle and sweet song, as he croons about having found “the one”, and is more about him professing his love than being overly sappy. All in all, it makes for a great closing note for this EP.
It’s quite a solid EP, and I like the fact that this trio cut to the chase on all of these songs, not adding anything that seems unnecessary, while still having all the parts that are key to a song and managing to convey a message in a (very) timely manner.
And as a bonus for anyone who was a fan of Jeff and Patricks’ previous project; you get to hear a whole different side to their abilities.
Jeff taps into a previously unheard part of his voice, and like I said, does some fiery screams that are quite rock sounding, while his tone still has that certain pop/rock tone to it, resulting in a forceful mix. As for Patrick, he demonstrates complete mastery over the bass. His skills ooze out of the speakers and make it noticeable by simply listening to this EP, and he and drummer Justyn Gomez combine to make an exceptional rhythm section.
Pseudo Future is:
Jeff Lowe - Guitar & Vocals
Patrick Hunter - Bass & Vocals
Justyn Gomez - Drums
Get the album for FREE at BANDCAMP
Visit Pseudo Futures’ websites: Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Youtube
February 22nd @ Liquid Lounge in Dallas
(Photo credit: Wettengel Photography)
Of course, Valentine’s Day is supposed to be spent with the ones you love, and for me that meant spending it with live music at the venue I love more than any other, The Curtain Club.
Ultimate Local Music had put together a stellar rock show there this night, including bringing a band from Charlotte, North Carolina through. Four great local acts had been added on in support, though, and starting the night was Awake in Theory.
It had been quite awhile since I last saw the alt/rock group; last June to be exact. That meant it had been long enough that I had forgotten some of their song titles. So, after their intro – which is the “Mad as Hell” speech from the 1976 film Network – I was left racking my brain as to what their opener was.
The catchy, occasional riffs guitarist Terry Kimmel cranked out by stepping on one of his pedals before letting it back up were all too familiar, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember the song. It was only towards the end when I heard frontman Eric Hawkens sing, “…You’re playing the victim…”, with the name of the song being “Playing the Victim”.
The whole band didn’t waste any time getting down to business, especially bassist John Skenesky, who was all over the stage; tearing it up. “How the hell you doing?!” Eric asked all the early birds who had made it there for their 8:46 start time. As he did so, Raymond Chambers brought them right into their next song, which was “Dangerous”. “…You’re like a devil with an angels touch. I want to love you but you’re dangerous.” belted Eric on the chorus. After the second one, he signaled out guitarist Brad McCain, who launched into an incredible guitar solo; sounding even better life than it does on the recording.
They continued to barrel through their 31-minute set as Raymond again led them into their next song. Brad aided him, lacing some soft guitar notes around the beats while Eric set up their next track. “This one goes out to anyone who had to do what I had to do in the last year, and that’s take someone you love to rehab and say ‘No more! No more!” he told the audience, shaking his finger back and forth as he said that last part. He was speaking of “Let Go”, which is just one of more than a few heavy-hitting songs they have with very real life themes worked in. The end had been tweaked from what I remembered (or perhaps had just forgotten).
Raymond counted them in on one of the many cymbals of his massive drum kit; but it wasn’t a bridge to their next number. Instead, they cranked out an instrumental outro, which saw John getting on the drum riser before leaping off it as the song drew to a close.
“Anyone who has ever played in Deep Ellum knows it’s a band of brothers and sisters…” Eric said. He thanked Deaf Angel for being one of the bands they were playing with, along with the handful of other band members and people who were there who had just come out to see them. It was nice to hear him say that, too, because it really is a community down here. It may not be the biggest or strongest community it has ever been. but there is a lot of loyalty and dedication among those who are part of it.
“…Do y’all want to hear a new one?” Eric asked before they moved on to a song called “Monday's Dawn”. It struck me as being a little heavier than their other songs at times. I mean that solely as an observation; and actually, I really enjoyed it, because it was a slightly different sound for the guys. A sound they pulled off well.
“We wrote that for Terry’s best friend, who five years ago died in his arms.” Eric said as soon as the song was over, making the mood a bit heavy. His band mates were already easing into their next song, while Eric noted that if anyone had seen them even once before that they had to know that his brother is a Ranger in the Army. “…He fights our battles so we can do stupid shit like this…” he told everyone; setting them up for “Hero You Hate”.
“…I can be your sinner. I can be your saint…” Eric sang, using one of his hands to draw a halo around his head. He then continued, “I’ll be anything you want, because I’m the hero that you hate.” That was the only song of the night he actually used his mic stand for the majority of it. He ditched it near the end, though.
“The setlist says to work the crowd.” he said after that fan-favorite; then asked everyone quite sincerely, “So, how are you doing?”
Eric killed some time while Terry and Brad tuned their guitars, and once they were ready he dedicated the next song to “everyone celebrating with significant other”. He skipped over the explanation of “Innocence”, only seeing that it was a very personal song to them. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and since they recorded it, it has grown on me with each listen. It really is a special song.
Their time on stage was almost up, and Eric bantered with the crowd one last time before their final song. He mentioned he had just finished a 60-hour workweek. “…I’m exhausted but I’m here. ‘Cause if you’re gonna do it, you do it big, right?” he said.
That’s just one of the many reasons why I love these guys; because that’s their mentality. Eric mentioned this final song has gotten some airplay on 97.1 The Eagle over the last several months, saying it be “cool” if anyone wanted to call in and request it. They then fired up their first single, “Daddy’s Little Girl”. John and Terry stood back-to-back for a bit at the start of the second verse, before digging back in as the song exploded on the chorus, the two of them along with Brad and Eric covering every spot on the stage.
I know it been awhile since I had caught an Awake in Theory show, and perhaps I had just forgotten how fantastic they are live, but they really seemed better this night than any other time I had seen them.
Last time, John was still a pretty new addition to the band, but even then meshed well with the group and more than held his own on stage with them. Tonight, at times, he was the one to watch on stage.
That’s not to undercut the other guys, though. Brad, Terry and Eric didn’t slow down for a second, and were doing everything they could they keep the onlookers glued to them. They accomplished that with ease, and they’re one of those bands who works to build an honest rapport with the crowd for the night. Not only that, but they clearly have so much fun on stage, it makes it easier to get into their music and performance.
Point is, if you have a chance to see them, do it.
They have to shows at Tomcats West in Fort Worth in March. One will be on March 8th, the other the 22nd. Pick up their 3 song EP at either of those shows, or you can preview their music on REVERBNATION.
Second up was one of two bands who I hadn’t seen before. Since the other band was a touring act, that’s understandable. But Generation Wasted is a hometown Dallas band. A band who just a few weeks prior played the Curtain’s 16th year anniversary weekend; where they received a plaque that now proudly hangs on the Wall of Fame.
I had heard of them before, but just never seen them. I was interested to see what they were like, though.
“Happy Valentine’s Day.” Frontman Larry Bates stated as soon as the curtain opened on them.
They then quickly tore into “Eyes”, which began their 41-minute set. It was a powerful opener, and it called me to the pit area to have a better view of what was going to transpire.
“I didn’t think you were going to make it tonight.” Larry said once the song was over, talking to his significant other. He then walked over to the stairway that leads on stage; returning with a heart shaped box he handed to his lady.
They continued with a food little tune called “Curtain Call”; after which bassist Mark Efros walked over and slapped lead guitarist Wes Mayes on the ass. “Good job!” he could be heard shouting, before laughter from the crowd and the band filled the room.
“…This next one’s called Tailspin.” Larry informed everyone. That song was where I thought they really found their groove. They weren’t as mobile as the band before them, but they still commanded the attention of their fans with their music, and that tune was truly one of their best.
After some shots, Larry again wished a happy Valentine’s Day to everyone. “…This is a cover we like do…” he then said. Their fans rejoiced in cheers, while I was left with a feeling of curiosity as to what it would be. “It’s called Mad World.” Larry added.
They put their own spin on the Tears for Fears classic, turning it into a heavier rock song. It was an excellent rendition of it, and it’s always nice to see a band who doesn’t merely cover a song, but they put the effort into making it all their own.
They followed it by doing a new one. So new in fact, that upon finishing it Larry joked that it was simply titled “new one” for now. “I don’t know if that will change or not.” he added.
“Illiterate Love” was another great song of their set. It was one of their fairly heavier songs, with some slight screams thrown in here and there.
They marched on with a couple more songs, one of which was titled “Control; Alt; Delete”. During it, guitarist Ernest Fruge, who had been adding some awesome backing vocals throughout the show, left the stage. He worked his way out amongst the people, walking up to some fans who were standing there, as well as other patrons who were seated at the tables, giving them a good look as he picked away at his axe.
It was also on that song that they all really cut loose, fully giving into the music and rocked out.
Larry now took a moment to shout out the other bands on the bill, before they got to the finally two demos that they currently have recorded.
You can’t argue that they had saved the best for last, as “On My Own” was a spectacular number. One that’s sure to appeal to any rock fan. Then you had “Circles”, which found the quintet truly firing on all cylinders. Ernest again added some backing vocals to this one, repeatedly shouting, “Hate!” on the chorus. Larry worked up a vicious scream of sorts, joining him on the final one of each chorus for a forceful touch.
They put on a really good show. One that just kept getting better the more time they spent on stage, and they have some truly awesome sounding songs.
I became a Generation Wasted fan this night. And it was also nice seeing a Dallas band whom I hadn’t before. Yeah, there are plenty of bands I’m still unfamiliar with who are out there, but I often tend to stick with the tried and true.
Check out their music over on REVERBNATION, and if you like it go see a show. They too will be at Tomcats West in Fort Worth on March 8th. They’ll be down in Austin for SXSW on March 12th, playing the Heart of Texas Rockfest. You can also see them back in Dallas on March 18th at Wit’s End.
Up next, you had As Above / So Below.
I had only seen them once, catching a portion of their debut show back in May.
Since then they’ve released their debut EP, “Year One”, as well as added an extra member to the band, CJ Pierce of Drowning Pool fame, who also happens to the be the brother of frontman Jacob Pierce.
“Come on!” Jacob roared as the curtain revealed them, while drummer Joey Payow, bassist Johnny Reeves, and CJ as well as fellow guitarist Max Snakes fired up their first song, “Last Crusade”. That heavy rock song, which, like most of their other music is on the verge of being metal, got their show off to a great start, easily capturing the interest of everyone who was there.
Jacob quickly encouraged everyone to support the bar and go buy a drink, then added, “Let’s go!” as Joey rolled them into their next track.
They had the adrenaline of everyone there pumping at this point, and it continued with “Painted in Red”. Afterwards, Jacob mentioned it was Valentine’s Day. “…We’re all getting fucked up and having good time!” said Jacob, before informing everyone that the next song was “Built to Fail”.
“We’re gonna slow it down for the lovers.” Jacob said, speaking about the next tune they had in store. I believe it was called “Calling”, and while it was a favorite of mine from their set, it was by no means slow. Perhaps it was just a little more so than their other material, but not by much. They followed it with another song I highly enjoyed, “Erase You”, after which came a new one.
“This is the first time we’ve ever done this live.” Jacob told everyone, noting the song was called “Ritual Birth”.
Even by As Above / So Below’s standards this was a heavy and loud song. It was good though, and saw CJ adding a good deal of backing vocals. Jacob also put the flood lights to good use, which were hooked up to a switch on a box they had on stage. He often stepped on it in synch with the drums too, which added an extra emphasis to it.
“We pulled it off. That was cool.” Jacob remarked once it was over, before they started into the final song of their 32-minute long set.
These longtime musicians were great at their first show, but in the almost nine months since, they’ve further improved.
The show was chocked-full of energy and they put on a great show. Even with their large scrims standing on either side of the stage they still had plenty of room to move around. Then you had CJ, who helps elevate their live show to a completely new level.
They’ll be at the Walter Gerrels Performing Arts Center in Carlsbad, New Mexico on March 8th and March 9th will find them at Jake’s Backroom in Lubbock, Texas. They’ll be opening for Saving Abel on both of those shows.
Though technically it was the main support slot, the Charlotte, North Carolina based Another Lost Year had the prime time slot.
Like most people in attendance, they were new to me, though the band has been around for a little while. Nearly three years, actually, during which time they’ve opened for acts like Sick Puppies, Sevendust and many others.
They got right into it with “Better Days”, which is the lead and title track from their most recent release.
It was quickly evident they weren’t your typical band; and while I had been hanging out at the back of the venue, it didn’t take me long to decide to get closer to the stage.
“Dallas, Texas! How the fuck you doing?!” shouted singer Clinton Cunanan, while his band mates wound them into their next number, “All That We Are”. Their first song add some softer tones to it, and while it sounded good, it was far from the caliber of rock song as this one was. They really came to life on this one, with some driving percussion thanks to Lee Norris and killer guitar riffs from Dave Whitaker and Adam Hall, which included a wickedly good solo.
“So, a lot of cool things have came from Dallas.” Clinton said, as they took a break to connect with the fans. “Like Emmitt Smith.” he added. “I don’t know if any of you got that joke.” he said once no one laughed. Talk then changed to wrestling, when he asked if anyone was a fan of the WWE. “This next song can be heard on Monday Night RAW.” he told everyone. The song was “Broken”, and they were in full swing rock mode with it. It had those who were familiar with them singing along, while those who were just enjoying what they were hearing where banging their heads around to the music.
The banter then continued when Clinton asked everyone to turn to their left and right and introduce yourself to the people next to you. “It’s kinda like church.” he joked, before going on to thank all the bands who were playing alongside them. He was honest, saying he didn’t remember any of their names, though he also mentioned that he had never seen such a “fantastic bill”. “…There’s a lot of fucking talent here…” he told the audience, saying everyone needed to be proud of the fact that they lived in a town with such an amazing music scene.
They mellowed things out a little more with “Last Goodbye”, and now that everyone had gotten a good taste of what they were, Clinton asked a couple of questions. One was “Has anyone heard of Another Lost Year before tonight?” A few hands shot up. The other was for those who were hearing of them for the first time this night, and it was, “If we came back, would you come back to see us?” They didn’t have the biggest crowd, but those who were watching them seemed to all say they would catch another show if they made it to the Dallas area. “We’ll hold you to that.” he stated, as they went directly in to “Writing On the Wall”.
Upon finishing it, Clinton mentioned they were about to do some “new shit”. “…But for most of you, this is all probably new shit.” he joked. He went on to talk about their previous record label. “We had a mutual breakup…” he said, shaking his head no while saying it. “No, that’s not even remotely close…”
In short, their ex-label told them they would never do anything else without them, and the label had evidently lost faith in Another Lost Year. He gave the stats, which I don’t remember, but this next song they had – which was released independently – has gotten some good radio airplay for several consecutive weeks.
That latest single was “End of You and I”, and it was followed by a song they had recorded for possible use during the current Olympic games called “We Are the Chosen”. For one reason or another, it didn’t end up being used, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an awesome song.
It was actually different from anything else they did this night. There were some great harmonies thrown in throughout the song, but the best moment came at the end, when Adam, Jason and Clinton all sang the final few lines pretty much a cappella, which sounded surprisingly gorgeous. Not at all what you’d expect from an alt/rock band, but they pulled it off perfectly.
With that, they got into the songs that “pay the bills” as Clinton said. Though he first pimped out their merch table, saying they’d sell anything, including band members. He then told a story about the first single they ever released. “…I wrote it in shower…” Clinton told the fans, saying he got out and told one of his band mates what he had come up with, who replied with, “That’s horrible.”
If it was horrible then, they certainly made some good tweaks to it, ‘cause “War On the Inside” was one of their best songs yet.
They had one more left, but first Clinton quickly thanked everyone for coming out and supporting live and local music. “It’s not the Justin Bieber’s. It’s not the Miley Cyrus’s…” he said, referring to musicians who aren’t really doing much for music overall. “…Rock ‘n’ Roll lives and fucking breathes on these stages. In these venues…” he said, coming across as truly grateful that those who were there were doing what they could to support this art.
For the final song of their 41-minute set, they returned to the “Better Days” LP, doing the final track on it, “Forget About Us”. Simply put, they destroyed it on that one. Jason was jumping back and forth at the start while slaying it on his bass, and Adam and Dave were also getting very into it, operating along with Lees’ drumming. Speaking of Lee, while I didn’t often have an unobstructed view of him, I could see him pretty well on that song, as he twirled the drum sticks around in his hands; at one point quickly flipping them around before laying into his kit, doing that several times in a row.
If Another Lost Year came back to Dallas, would I go see them? Yeah, in a heartbeat.
For those who like the more radio-friendly style of rock music these guys are perfect, and they just have that quality to their sound that gives it a good appeal.
Then you have the live show, which is, without question, where they excel. They may have only been a band for about three years, but you can tell they cut their teeth long ago, and the show they put on this night – in terms of energy and overall performance - was on par with many of the national touring bands they’ve shared the stage with.
You can find their full tour schedule HERE. Also, be sure to check out their music in iTUNES.
Closing out the night was the Fort Worth quartet, Deaf Angel.
Despite the late start (it closer to 1AM when they took the stage), they still had droves of fans out, who quickly packed the place upon hearing Scott Van Slyke lay into his drum kit.
“Dallas fucking Texas! How the fuck you doing?!” shouted frontwoman Tina Downs as the curtain began to open on them. “I’ve been waiting all fucking night to get up here.” “This song’s called ‘Take Over.” she then added, as their 38-minute long set got underway.
It had only been a few months since the last time I had seen them, but I had already kind of forgotten how great they are live. Tinas’ voice is superb, and the screams Scott and guitarist Duston Daulton added throughout the track (plus just about every other song they did) added a nice edge to it.
“How you doing?!” Tina asked during the few second break before “Directions”. “…It’s my life, so step aside…” she belted out on the chorus, while bassist Matt Harper and Duston raced around the stage.
Once it was over, she mentioned how amazing this show was; and from start to finish it really had been an exceptional night. “Can y’all hear me?” Scott suddenly asked, speaking into his mic. “I don’t think they can.” said Tina after the crowd barely reacted. They did that another time or two, working over the audience, before saying their next song was “Crazy”.
That song title is also a fairly fitting description of the track, which is crazy good. As it neared the end, Matt jumped up on the drum riser, standing behind Scott - whose drum kit was sit up with the side facing the crowd – as they rocked out on the final moments of it.
“This. Is. The. Judge.” Scott said, striking one of the cymbals with each word, as they went right into the beast of a song. They then switched gears a bit, doing one of their songs that’s slightly more melodic, “Let You Go”. The heavier core metal sound of their music is still there in the drums, guitar and bass, just toned down some, which in turn highlights Tinas’ voice even more.
“…Who all’s drinking?” Tina asked when that song had come to an end. Oddly enough, not much noise was made, and only a few hands with drinks in them went up in the air. “Y’all need to drink more. This is what we do in Dallas, go to shows and get drunk.” she said.
While that was going on, one fan started to scream a request, and he only got more vocal about it when Scott announced it was a song they hadn’t done in a little while. They tried to play it off that it wasn’t “Mirrors of Malice”, but in the end, the guy called it. Duston added several more of his deathly screams on that one, before taking a backseat on their next song.
As they neared the first chorus of “Run to Me”, Jacob Pierce from As Above / So Below ran up on stage, taking over the microphone on stage right as he sang along with Tina, “…Don’t be afraid to walk away. Run to me!” He lent his vocal abilities to the song here and there, though it was primarily there on the chorus. Still, even when he wasn’t singing he was rocking out along to the music and pumping up the crowd, asking them to give it up for Deaf Angel.
“Who likes riding bikes? Who likes flying kites?” Scott asked jokingly before what wound up being their final song. Everything they had done was from the “Brutally / Beautiful” album, though their final song was the newest one they’ve written and recorded, “Through the Glass”.
Even though it’s new, it’s Deaf Angel at their best. The drums set up a great pace for the song, and Matt and Duston kept up with it, running about the stage. Well, Duston was when he could break away from the mic. It’s pulsating and hard hitting, and it made for a powerful finish to their 38-minute long set.
I may not see them too often, but Deaf Angel is really a superb band.
From the live show to the music and everything else, it’s clear there’s a lot of talent there. It’s harnessed, but still has that raw Rock ’n’ Roll quality to it.
Like I said, I don’t see them too often, but I really need to change that.
Check out their REVERBNATION page where you can download the entire “Brutally / Beautiful” album for FREE. As for shows, they’ll be back here at the Curtain Club on April 19th. On March 10th they have a hometown gig at Tomcats West in Fort Worth. Then, on March 19th they’ll be back in Dallas at The Boiler Room. Catch ‘em if you can.
To reiterate what Another Lost Year said; this really was a fantastic bill. Kudos to Ultimate Local Music for orchestrating such a great lineup of local talent, as well as bringing a killer touring band through town.
Every band—whether they actively pursue music as a career or not—has the same dream: to make it their full-time career.
Of course, very few independent bands manage this, but the Austin based Band of Heathens is one of the lucky ones.
(Photo credit: Courtney Chavanell)
The band was formed in 2005, after solo artists Ed Jurdi, Gordy Quist and Colin Brooks (who is no longer part of the band) met and started performing regularly at clubs around Austin, eventually combining their talents.
Since then, they’ve released eight albums: four live albums and four studio LP’s, toured extensively (even doing international tours) as well as playing festivals like Austin City Limits, plus scored high on the Americana Music Association charts with each new release (their newest album charted at the number 2 spot).
Clearly, the band is brimming with talent; talent that is at its best yet on their latest effort, 2013’s “Sunday Morning Record”.
The songs are well-written, telling stories of love (“Girl with Indigo Eyes”) and love lost (“Caroline Williams”), as well as other topics; taking you along for the journey as the band performs each track.
Then you have the angelic harmonies. Sure, Ed and Gordy are the two main singers and swap back and forth often throughout shows, but there are several songs—especially newer ones—that feature keyboardist Trevor Nealon, drummer Richard Millsap as well as their bass player adding their voices to the mix. There’s even a song or two where all five musicians are singing in unison.
The result is some of the most amazing music you’ve ever heard; and with such an extensive catalog, you never know what songs you’re going to hear at one of their shows.
So, come catch them at The Kessler Theater for one of their last North Texas shows for a little while, because after another run of a portion of the U.S., they’ll be heading over to Europe to tour for a few weeks.
(Listen to “Shotgun” and “L.A. County Blues”.)
Opening for them this night will be hometown favorites, Somebody’s Darling, a band that is surely destined to wind up in a situation similar to that of Band of Heathens.
Their current record, “Jank City Shakedown”, was released due to a successful Kickstarter campaign, and this roots rock outfit has done more than a few tours of various parts of the country in support of it.
While they’ve been a favorite to many for several years, in just the past couple they’ve become one of the most buzz worthy bands here in North Texas, and a band many would bet money on achieving national fame.
All their touring has produced a live show that is on par with many big name touring acts, and when they are on stage, you can tell this quintet is grateful and privileged to be playing their music for people.
A new album planned for release sometime this year means a lot of new music, which is easily some of the bands best material yet, ranging from rock songs along the lines of what they’ve done in the past, to some poignant songs that will flood you with emotion.
(Listen to “Weight of the Fear” and “The Middle”.)
Friday, February 28th at The Kessler Theater.
Doors @ 7 / Somebody’s Darling @ 8
Cover is $17.50+. Buy advanced tickets HERE. (This may well sell out before the show, so get them early.)
(Photo credit: Melissa Hennings)
Trees (Dallas, TX)
-Words by Jordan Buford // Photos by Ronnie Jackson -
It’s all in a name.
That’s what they say, anyway; and that was probably what Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott were thinking when they formed Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
It’s not only an easy name to remember, but also…
There was a lot going on this night.
More than a few shows in Dallas were calling my name, as well as a couple up in Denton; and for the second straight Saturday, I didn’t really know where I would end up until finally reaching my decision mid-afternoon.
My destination for the night wound up being the Double Wide, where Scott Tucker of The Orange had assembled a truly badass lineup.
Every band on this bill was headline quality (in fact, they often are), and the first two acts of the night were Do For It Records bands.
Starting off the night was The Phuss, who got off to a rough start before any music was even played.
Their start time was delayed by a few minutes, as they worked to figure out what was up with Joshua Flemings’ guitar. But, after changing the cord, which was loaned to him by The House Harkonnen, the problem was solved and they were ready to go.
Much like their show I saw a few weeks before; this 32-minute set was mainly about their music they’ve been laying down in the studio.
Trey Alfaro knocked out some hefty drumbeats at the start, spewing water in the air when bassist Forrest Barton and Josh ripped in to “Straight Line Impala”. I know they surely haven’t changed the song since I last saw them, but it sounded even more incredible than I remembered it being. It was venomous this night, and one of the best parts of it came during the instrumental break, which featured a lot of the kick drum, to the point you could even slightly feel your insides shaking.
“This song’s called ‘At the Bottom of it All.” Josh informed everyone, as they almost immediately tore into another new number. As good as those were, though, the fans favorite moment came during the next song, “Something to Die For”.
It was one of only two tracks they did from their self-titled album this night, and by the time it was over, the crowd that filled the sold-out venue had been whipped into a frenzy. The cheering and applause for that classic lasted a good fifteen to twenty seconds. Josh tried to quell it, but it didn’t do much good, and they just had to let it happen.
“…We’ve been recording…” Josh said, once things finally died down. He noted they were going to “play some new stuff”; and what they did next, was possibly the best song of this brief set.
I missed the title of the song, but it was classic Phuss through and through. That gritty, punk/rock sound that defines so much of their music was in full effect on that track, making it a brutally good experience. It also left me on pins and needles wanting to hear a recorded version of the song.
“Who’s here for HK?” Josh asked the audience after they had finished. “How ‘bout The Orange?” he asked. Both bands got some good applause, but nothing too major, which led Josh to ask, “Are you here for us?” That was when the noise level really spiked. “Show of hands: who here hasn’t seen us before?”
A few fans/friends jokingly raised their hands, but for the most part, just about everyone there was all too familiar with The Phuss.
Talk then turned to the setlist, and Josh let everyone know that they didn’t have one. “…We haven’t made a setlist in like, five years. So, why start now?” he told everyone. Saying they instead just play whatever they feel like. And what they felt like playing was another new one, titled “I Don’t Feel Good, but I’m Having a Good Time”.
No sooner had that fun rock number ended, then Josh started them in on their next tune, the vehement, “Bleed”. “You’re gonna bleed me dry!” Josh screamed on the blood-curdling chorus. It had been a little while since I last heard that one live, and as those longtime favorites get pushed backed in favor of their new music, it was good to know they haven’t fully forgotten about those songs.
Speaking of their older tracks, Josh played some random notes on his guitar, which eventually became the first few chords of “One for Now, Three for Later”. He glanced at Forrest and Trey as he played, who just looked at him. Bringing his face back to the mic, he simply said, “Overruled.”
Instead, they pulled out “21 Ain’t What It Was”, which wound up being their next to last song of the night.
“We’ve got a long one.” Josh said, responding to the sound guy, who had told them they had five or six minutes left.
This led to a first. Out of the nearly twenty Phuss shows I’ve seen over probably a four and a half to five year time frame, the one constant in their setlist has been “Preacher Preacher”. Tonight, that song was absent.
I’m not gonna lie, I missed hearing it, as I’m sure just about everybody else did. But there’s a difference between missing a song and being disappointed it wasn’t played, and my feeling was not the latter.
They instead chose to close things out with “Pointed Guns in the House of God”, and they were in fine form as they knocked out the six-minute (give or take) long track. The forceful rhythm section was in full effect, making it impossible to not get into this heavy-hitter. Then, as it came to a close, Josh began viciously striking the neck of his guitar with his fist, bringing it to an epic close.
I swear, this band somehow manages to get better each time I see them, and this show was even better than the one I had caught a few weeks before.
Granted, part of that was probably because of the droves of fans who were out, which gave the band a ton of energy to feed off of.
Aside from that, they just nailed it, and it made it clear to see why they typically do headline, because after what they did, I had my doubts about how the night could get any better.
If you’d like to see ‘em, they’ll be at Three Links in Dallas on March 7th. They have a SXSW gig at The Red Shed in Austin on March 15th, and then they’ll be in Fort Worth at Lola’s Saloon on March 21st. They’ve also been announced as one of the bands playing Homegrown Fest in Downtown Dallas on May 10th.
Also, go buy “The Phuss” in iTUNES.
I was unsure about the next band of the night, which was The House Harkonnen.
They’re pretty much royalty around here, and having been around for about twelve years now; they should be. But the one time I did see them - nearly six years ago, when they opened a show for The FEDS - I wasn’t all that impressed.
They were far heavier than what I like, with far more screaming than I cared to hear. So, for all these years, I’ve stayed away from HK. Even after The FEDS disbanded, which, eventually, led James David Shafer (who is my personally favorite bass player) to become the bassist for The House Harkonnen.
That said, I obviously wasn’t expecting to like their set this night, but I had already decided to stick it out regardless. Little did I know I would end up enjoying it far more than I thought I would.
“This song’s called Beastmode.” singer and rhythm guitarist Alex Johnson told the packed house once they got on stage and were all setup. In turn, the fans met that with excited screams, and were obviously quite giddy about hearing the lead track from “Volume 7”.
I was surprised I didn’t outright hate the song, which still had Alex doing some screaming, but in more moderation from what I remembered, and it was more than tolerable for me. Hell, it was actually even enjoyable.
It didn’t take long to play that short song (it clocks in at a little less than two-minutes on the album), and then they tackled another from their 2013 release. They got more into the swing of things with “Raildriver”, with Andy Grayson doing some dynamic drumming during the track. Actually, that was merely one of several songs to show off his wickedly good chops behind the kit.
There was a short pause in between songs, during which Alex let everyone know what was in store for them next. It was “A Blade to Take the World”, off “Volume 6”.
Yeah, I thought it took them just a little time to warm up, but they found their stride on that one. Dave Shafer was rocking out, quickly banging his head along to the rapid drum beats, while supplying the bass lines, and Michael Doty was tearing it up over on stage left, even doing a killer guitar solo on that beast of a song.
Not only was that the one where their show officially got underway; it was also the song that made me a House Harkonnen fan.
“So, fucking a. Here we are again. We’re happy to be back…” Alex said to the audience. He then dedicated the next song to all the “hammerheads” (one of their shirt designs had a Hammerhead Shark on it, along with the band’s name.)
Their fans got pretty excited about that, seeming to know what was coming next. What they cranked out next was an insanely good instrumental song (allow me to say again I dislike instrumental music… Well, typically.) called “The Standford Torus”. Dave was in magnificent form on that one, and I was reminded why for the past almost eight years I’ve loved him so much as a bass player. Near the end of that one, he was swaying back and forth, then plucked the neck of his bass in a downward motion, then hit another part by picking it upwards, before slapping the strings on the body. It was all so slickly done, with a lot of precision, but it appeared oh so effortless.
Much like on the record, they wound that song flawlessly into the subsequent track, “Tough Fucking News”. As much as the fans had loved that instrumental number; that sent people over the edge, and there was a lot of head banging going on… And not just from the band members.
Their following song got a set up, when Alex let everyone know it was a song about a town called Fort Worth. He said something along the lines about how, while he didn’t used to live in Fort Worth, he did now, and he decided he should write a song about the city.“…It’s called Ft. Worth Body Count.” he said. It was by far the heaviest song they did; being more along the lines of how I remembered them from that time I had seen them. But with just one song like that, it was durable.
“Fucking thank you!” Alex exclaimed when they finished. That led them to a couple of tracks I just couldn’t figure out afterwards.
The first of these two was quite good, and they rolled it seamlessly into the next, which again saw Michael delivering a guitar solo. An earth shattering one at that. Not only that, but they were, collectively speaking, in perfect form while playing that song. You seldom see bands who are even capable of being that tight, and it was something else to watch and take in.
Their 39-minute long set was almost over, and with only one song left, they had evidently saved their best for last (I’m guessing that based on how everyone reacted.) They began “Let Me Get to the Point”, before suddenly stopping twenty seconds or so in. The crowd was ravenous during the silence, before Alex finally spoke. “Was that it?” he asked, pretending like he didn’t know. “…I think there’s more. It goes like this.” he said, as exploded back into the song.
I’ve got to say, they made me into a fan this night. And that’s something I never thought would happen.
They’re a band that most bands should try to emulate; at least in terms of performance.
They’re a band of pros who have a lot of chemistry on stage, and I really don’t know what else to say about them, because I feel like I said everything else during the review.
Point is, they slayed.
It’s been a few years ago I was at another Deep Ellum venue to see one band, then ducked out before HK hit the stage, because I knew (or thought I knew) I didn’t like them. Trust me, that won’t be happening again.
They’re next show is going to be on March 15th at Lola’s Saloon in Fort Worth. If you’re in the area, go check ‘em out. You can also buy Volumes 3, 4, 6 and 7 in iTUNES.
Once they were done, HK was just another band who proved why they usually headline. That was going to be a tough act to follow, and in talking to Scott Tucker of The Orange before hand, he even admitted he felt weird playing after them. But they [House Harkonnen] had opted for the earlier spot, which gave The Orange the headlining slot.
The last time I had seen them was back in the summer. It’s not that they haven’t played since then, but they’ve kept their show schedule pretty sparse, as they retreated into the studio to work on their first ever full-length album.
Not everyone who had been there stuck around for The Orange, but those who did were no doubt glad they decided to.
“Everyone’s looking good tonight!” Scott told the crowd, before they even started. He also asked everyone to make some noise for The Phuss and The House Harkonnen, before they got ready to unleash their fun brand of rock music on everybody. “…We’re The Orange, and we’re here to rock your fucking assess off!” Scott shouted.
“I Want a Girl” began their electrifying 51-minute set. It’s one of their newest songs, and while it has been in the set for awhile, it was still one of those I had sort of forgotten about. Well, at least until I heard it, which was when I was reminded of what an excellent song it is.
They finished it and moved on to their next number, which I think was “Blow Up”. Scott took his guitar off after adding to the instrumental intro, then grabbed his mic; unraveling the cord from the mic stand, before eventually wrapping it partially around himself.
The stage at the Double Wide may be smaller than where The Orange usually plays, but they all made the best of it, and Scott roamed about what space he had, and, at one point, even managed to accidentally unplug the microphone. That made him have to improvise; and he first took up the extra mic that belonged to lead guitarist Kirk Livesay. Seeing as the volume level for it wasn’t turned up that loud, it was hard to hear him, but later in the song, when he switched over to bassist Jason Jessups’ mic, finishing up the track.
Scott even spun the mic around by the cord at one point; hitting Jason, who stepped into the “blast zone” so to speak.
“How the fuck are y’all doing?!” Scott shouted once the song was over. He then high fived several members of the audience, before getting ready to play their next song, only to discover his guitar was out of tune.
He gave a little speech, with the gist being about how different things come with the territory; and when it comes to seeing an Orange show, you have to put up with them “fucking stuff up” and then fixing it. He went on to compare it to driving and all of a sudden a cop turns his lights on and wants you to pull over. “…And you don’t want to pull over. Maybe you’re stoned or drunk, or whatever. But you just don’t want to pull over…” he said, noting that even if you didn’t want to, you still know you have to. It was an interesting comparison to say the least, and once they were ready to move on, they pulled out a song I had never heard.”
“This song’s called James fucking Bond!” Scott roared. “The world has gone to the dogs…” he sang at the start, stretching out some of the words ever so slightly, which in turn gave them a little more emphasis. It was a truly awesome song, and found The Orange completely in their element. It was a rocking tune that had plenty of moments for Jason and Kirk to get down, and Cody Waits laid down some strong drum beats, which were accentuated by Melissa Tucker, who had been shaking a tambourine for all of the songs thus far.
Now that I think about it, it has been a little while since I heard an Orange song for the first time, and have gotten used to the songs they do play. That made “James Bond” a semi-surprising moment for me, and they came right out of left field with that one, making it a great moment.
Cody bridged them into their next song, while Melissa left the stage before “Valium” truly got underway. I guess I’ve never paid too much attention to it before, but there’s a sweet bass and lead guitar break during that one; Kirk and Jasons’ instruments complimenting one another very well.
“Cityscapes” – one of the group’s longest songs – came next. There’s just a special quality to that one, and it’s one you really just need to hear live to fully appreciate it. It’s also fairly beefy on the instrumental sections, and towards the end of it, Scott knelt beside his amp and just shredded.
The four key members of the band had gotten their time on stage, but as they readied themselves for the next song, Melissa rejoined them; while Chicago Dan took the stage for a few songs.
Scott then again thanked the other bands for “kicking our assess”, then announced the next song was “for lovers”. He spoke of what will be one of their singles once the record comes to fruition, “Mr. Moneymaker”. Chicago Dan lent his spectacular set of skills on the harmonica to the song. And with him doing that one, I was hoping an older classic he also plays on would be coming next.
Afterwards, Scott again chatted with all those who were watching them, stating they didn’t have any shirts to sell, because the last time they did a show they “didn’t actually play”. “We still got paid, but we didn’t play.” he said, referring to a show from a month and a half or so before.
Instead, he said they just hung out and sold merch, and where left with only three shirts in their stock. “…Y’all actually came for the show. Supporting the scene as they say…” said Scott, referring to the fans who had come out this night. And really, isn’t what supporting the scene is all about? (Well, at least it should be.)
Chicago Dan’s last second and final song with them was the one I was hoping for, “Doomsday for Mr. Denton”; a song that has been around since The Orange’s first incarnation, and one that I’m glad is still hanging in there.
He left the stage when that was done, and that left the band with one last song to do before calling it a night.
“Turn the lights down.” Scott asked the sound guy (who doubled as the light guy). “Imagine what it’s like to drive out in the desert one night. And you’re lost…” Scott said, speaking figuratively (I think), adding he knew maybe not everyone knew what he was talking about, but he had been there “a couple of times”.
“…Close your fucking eyes and feel the vibes.” he encouraged the crowd to do, as “Thirty Minutes to Midnight” was already well underway.
I hate to sound like I’m repeating myself, but like that other song they had done, this one’s is special. It has its own aura; an aura that consumes you, as the track starts out slow, reeling you in, before growing into an incredible number. And, as it usually is, it was a perfect way to end their 51-minute long set.
I saw these guys several times real close together in the first half of 2013, and I’d have to say the best thing about having gone around seven months without seeing one of their shows, was that it all seemed fresh in a way.
I certainly don’t mean to imply that they had gotten boring to me before; they hadn’t. More, it was simply that I had no clue what was coming next. It’s not like I knew what setlist they were following, which kept things interesting. Actually, considering none of these songs are out on an album yet, I was even having trouble remembering song titles at first.
Anyway, they put on a great show this night. In some ways, I’d even say it was one of the best Orange shows I’ve seen.
No, the stage antics weren’t as off-the-wall as they have been at other shows, but they were just really clicking with one another.
Jason and Kirk – in terms of performance – I thought had improved then even what they were before; knocking it out of the park. I also enjoyed all the background vocals Cody was adding to several of the songs, and his voice mixed with Scotts’ exceedingly well.
In case I was in need of it, I was reminded of why I love The Orange, especially their live shows.
Their next gig is going to be a good one, and it will be happening at the Curtain Club on March 7th. As for their new album, which they are finishing up, it will hopefully be out before the middle of the year. But until it does drop, their first EP can be found in iTUNES.
It was yet another fun night spent here at the Double Wide, and it was great not only seeing a couple of bands I knew I loved, but also getting turned on to another.
On this freezing cold night (or actually, slightly below freezing), there was a sweet show going on at Club Dada, and it was all presented by Parade of Flesh.
I’m not gonna lie; the sudden drop in temperature made me reconsider the thought of going out this night. But in the end, it sounded like it was going to be too good of a concert to miss.
For me, the guy who almost exclusively sees local North Texas bands, it was a bit of a different show; since two of the three acts were from out-of-state.
There was one Dallas band on the bill, though, and that was Dead Mockingbirds.
I had only seen them once before, and evidently was so eager to see them I arrived at Dada fashionably early (that’s a thing, right?), about forty-five minutes before what wound up being the start time. In fairness, I did think the show would start earlier than that, but at least it allowed for a good time hanging with the band.
The trio of Kenneth Everette Pritchard, Matthew Crain and Trinidad Diaz hit the stage at 8:41, as the rock music began to flow freely.
They were the odd man out on this bill, at least in terms of sound, but the already decent sized crowd (there were between twenty and thirty people there already. Not bad for the middle of the week) was very receptive to it.
Their opening song, like many of their tracks, had a fun vibe, and when he wasn’t having to do the singing, Kenneth was quickly swaying back and forth. Well, except for the little time he spent on the platform in front of the stage where the monitors set, where he tore it up on a guitar solo, dropping to his knees as he brandished his guitar.
The crowd got a few seconds to applaud them, before Matt laid into his drum kit, setting up their next track. Upon finishing it, Kenneth quickly thanked Parade of Flesh for putting this show together and putting them on it, before taking the conversation in a completely different direction. “It’ll cost five dollars to sniff us after the show.” On a related note; I don’t think anyone took them up on that offer.
They knocked out a couple more numbers, before Kenneth again addressed the crowd. “Y’all are too good looking.” he remarked, though he wasn’t looking at the audience. Instead, he was tuning his guitar. “Where the fuck did all y’all come from?!” he said, shocked by the ever growing number of people.
He then kicked off their next song with some slick sounding notes. A song that was yet another to feature a sweet, more old school sounding guitar solo. Kenneth noted that would be one of the songs on their next record.
Their 31-minute long set continued, as they seemed to pick the setlist as they went, and could be heard deciding on the songs during their breaks. “Fuck Alone and then…” Kenneth told his band mates at one point.
“Fuck yeah! We just went to jail!” Kenneth exclaimed after their next couple of tunes. He then thanked the other bands on the bill, and Club Dada for hosting the show. That brought them to the final leg of their set, which included a couple of songs I actually knew, but only after they did one more from their new(er) batch.
It was one I really enjoyed, and Trinidad and Matt gave it a real cohesive rhythm sound, complimenting one another nicely. Then you had the wickedly good guitar solo, which was just the icing on the cake.
The first of their next two songs was “Omega”, the b-side from their record. A fact Kenneth pointed out after they played it, before pointing over to their little merch suitcase, where they had that 7-inch vinyl record for sale. That brought them to “Munich”, which was a little more up-tempo than the recording is, as they blazed through it. The beginning was extra good, though, as Trinidad and Kenneth stood facing one another as they rocked out the intro.
Clearly excited to be here; Kenneth again thanked everyone who had a hand in putting this show together or was on the bill as the song trailed off. While he was doing that, Trinidad walked over the drum kit, kneeling by the bass drum as they bridged it into their final song of the night.
Like I said, this was only my second time seeing Dead Mockingbirds, and they were better than I even remembered.
It was an onslaught of raw rock music they cranked out this night, and their stage show matches their snappy sounding songs. And along those lines, the quick pace they gave their set this night ensured there was never a dull moment.
You can download a few of their singles –for free- over at REVERBNATION. You can also catch them on February 27th or on March 17th at the Double Wide in Dallas. Both of those shows are being presented by King Camel.
They may not have had the country elements to their music like the next two bands did, but they had something better; pure, quality rock music, in a vein you just don’t hear much in the music these days.
In fact, their show was so great, that after seeing the band that followed them, I found myself wondering if the show had already peaked.
The second band up this night was Promised Land Sound, who hails from Nashville, Tennessee.
They hopped on the bill a little more last minute, after the original booked band jumped off, but after checking out their music online, I liked it. They were certainly the most country-sounding band on the bill, with not as much rock flare to their songs as Futurebirds had, but they still fit.
Their 38-minute long set was made up mainly of songs from their debut full-length, which is self-titled and was released last year; though they threw in some other songs, as well.
Take for instance their first song, which was pretty good, but already had me feeling mixed emotions about the band.
I had only given their record a couple of listens (on Spotify), but there was one song that instantly stuck out to me, and that was “Empty Vase”, which was what they did next. The catchy song was as good live as I had hoped it would be, and it just has a fun vibe, with some strong beats from Evan Scala, and nice riffs from lead guitarist Sean Thompson, as well as Sean Cotton.
Singer and bassist Joseph Scala informed everyone that their next song was a cover, though I had trouble hearing who he said did it, and was unable to figure out what it was. All the same, it sounded quite good. It was followed by “Wandering Habits”, while the song that was billed as their slow one, which came after, was without question their best track of the night.
They were on fire while performing “Make it Through the Fall”. “I can’t keep myself from moving on. I can stand to do you any wrong. There’s a warmer season out there for us all. We’ve got to learn to make it through the fall.” Joseph loudly sang on the chorus of the song that could have easily been a sing-along, if only they had, had any sort of fan base here.
They truly killed it with that one, especially at the end, when the noise level rose up, commanding everyone’s attention. However, that was the only moment of their set where I felt that feeling.
They knocked out a couple more, one of which was “Fadin’ Fast”, before Joseph asked everyone if they wanted to hear a brand new song. Of course, everyone was indifferent to it, but nor did they mind it. It was a good one, one of their top three from this night, in my opinion.
Before calling it a night, Joseph put a feeler out, asking if anyone might have a floor they’d be willing to let them crash on, before going into their final song.
I mentioned I had mixed feelings about these guys, and my main qualm came with their performance/stage presence.
It was rather dull and boring, even lifeless. I hate to even say that, ‘cause even when I don’t like a band, I still don’t like to be negative. But at the same time, I have to be honest.
This isn’t even about their music, as I did like it. It’s just that they never grabbed the audience. They never captivated me, and I never felt any type of connection with the crowd on their part. Rather, it seemed like four dudes just happened to show up there and thought, “I guess we’ll play some music for a bit.”
That just doesn’t work, and I know they’re a newer band, but still, I expected more from a touring act.
All the same, you can find their music (an LP and a EP) in iTUNES. And while I can’t find a page that has their tour dates (otherwise I’d list some), just check out their FACEBOOK PAGE to see when they might be coming to a town near you.
See, that was why I thought the best band of the night may well have been the first one, and I wasn’t sure if Futurebirds would be able to wash that taste out of my mouth or not. Spoilers, they were.
The six-piece outfit got their gear set up, before retreating back to the greenroom to prepare for the show.
It was 10:31 when they stepped back out, and the anxious crowd – which numbered probably 80 people or so, at least - made their way closer to the stage.
They may have put out a brand new record just last year, but their set this night was a nice spread from all of their albums, and getting their show going was “Battle for Rome”, off of “Hampton’s Lullaby”.
“…And the sun it won’t save my life this time.” sang Thomas Johnson, who was one of the groups guitarists; his band mates, guitarists Carter King and Daniel Womack, the latter of whom played an acoustic, backing him with some amazing vocals.
It only took a minute or two to realize what you were watching was something special; from the harmonies, to just the explosive performance they were already putting on, quickly proving that the stage is where they belong.
“It’s good to be back in warm, sunny Dallas.” Carter stated, so sarcastically he seemed dead serious. He then thanked the audience for “braving the cold” to come out to this show.
The lead vocal duties were tossed around a lot this night, though the bulk of it seemed to go to Carter, who sang lead on “Serial Bowls”. The lengthy instrumental section at the end allowed them to really let loose, even Brannen Miles, who I believe was the bassist, and pedal steel guitarist Dennis Love.
At this point, the momentum was flowing, and after some roaring applause, Carter spoke into his mic; “I guess we’ll play another.”
Thomas started jumping up and down as he started “Johnny Utah”, his movements quickly escalating, to the point he was springing around all over his portion of stage right. His vicious shredding on his guitar came at a price, though; it cost him a string. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal however, and they powered through the tune, which had Thomas adding some wonderful backing vocals on the chorus, hitting an extremely high falsetto tone I never would have guessed was within his range.
Towards the end, Carter dropped to the floor and laid back on the stage, quickly plucking the strings of his guitar, and as he gave in to the music, it created one of those perfect concert moments.
Their drummer brought them right into their next song, which finally gave Daniel, who had an American flag bunched up and attached to his acoustic axe, a chance to show off his singing chops. The song was “Happy Animals”, and Thomas was left out of the first few minutes of it, as he now had to worry about repairing that broken string, which was a task he got done quite quickly.
Once he did get that remedied, he returned to the front of the stage, but his strap wasn’t secured. Of course, he wasn’t going to let his guitar fall off, though, and instead held it vertically in the air, picking away at it until he had a break so he could get it fastened. That got him back in action with some time to spare for the epic ending they gave that one, absolutely throwing down at the end. The three singers turned their backs to the crowd as they took the chance to interact a little more with their other band mates, while slinging their guitars around and banging their heads in time to the mighty drumbeats.
The spell had been cast by this time, and everyone in Club Dada had fallen under it, and were completely glued to this band who hailed from Athens, Georgia.
“We’re gonna play a brand new one.” Carter informed the crowd, who loudly cheered in support of the idea. “Don’t cheer just yet. You haven’t heard it…” he joked. True, it might have been premature, but once the song was done, they were still worthy of the cheering they had already received, and got even more now.
“That was hyper speed!” Carter exclaimed, looking at his band mates with a smile on his face; giving the idea that they had done it a little quicker than they should have.
They got back to “Baby Yaga”, their newest album, with the lead track, “Virginia Slims”. Thomas was back in charge on that intoxicating number, which was one of the truest country sounding tracks they did, and at times, Dennis played some gorgeous notes on his pedal steel guitar. As it ended, their drummer kept the beat going, and he and Brannen had a little jam session, filling the gap in between songs.
After those more intense songs, they slowed things down ever so slightly with “Sam Jones”. “This sure brings me down. No one’s here to stay. We’ve got nothing to lose. And we’ll take it to our graves.” Daniel sang on the chorus of the more melancholy song. Despite the sad vibe it has though, it was far from being depressing.
He would continue to sing, but only after Carter thanked Promised Land Sound and Dead Mockingbirds for opening up the show. He also shouted out a printing company, who had printed up some silk-screened posters of the show poster for this show. “…Come buy something and we’ll give you one free.” Carter encouraged everyone.
If their show had a lull, it was the song they had just done, as well as “M J B”. That latter song worked to kick things back into high gear, though, and was just another song of theirs that had a dynamic ending. Carter spun in a circle, only once, his hands a blur as he played his guitar. After doing that, he and Thomas stood back-to-back with one another. They didn’t just lean against each other, though. Instead, they were pushing against one another, quite forcefully from the looks of it, making it look like they were trying to hold one another up.
“Sending you pictures from the naked beach, but all I want is you here naked with me…” sang Carter at the start of what had already become a personal favorite Futurebirds song of mine, “Tan Lines”. A lot of other people seemed to like it too, a few of whom were even singing right along to it.
After finishing it, banter again turned to the cold weather. “We were in Montana few weeks ago and it wasn’t even this cold.” Carter told everyone, again thanking everyone for enduring it.
Continuing with music from “Baby Yaga”, they went on into “Dig”, which, for a majority of the time, was one of the most authentic sounding songs they did, complete with Thomas singing in a very twangy voice. You could tell not everyone was very familiar with their music, because as they eased up at the end, the room was filled with applause. They even held the silence for a moment, before ripping back into the song, delivering one of their most dazzling displays of the night yet.
“I don’t know this song.” Thomas could be heard saying as they prepared for the next one. “Pay close attention to Thomas’s guitar playing.” Carter instructed the crowd, perpetuating the joke. Okay, of course they knew it, but it was one of a few songs they did that I didn’t, nor could I figure it out after the fact. All the same, it was a nice song.
Throughout their set, there had been a woman standing in front of the stage, often shouting out different songs she was wanting to hear. One that had been repeated was one I was also hoping to hear, “Heavy Weights”. “This isn’t Heavy Weights.” Carter informed her, while Thomas added, “Don’t get your hopes up, either.”
Instead, they did another song that required the heavy use of their three-part harmonies, “Death Awaits”. It might not have been that other song, but it was a great one. I’ll even admit, in listening to their stuff, that was one track that didn’t do much for me, but live, live it was something else entirely.
It was again time for some more thanks now, which this time went to Parade of Flesh for putting this show together. They then broke into a cover, and one you probably wouldn’t have expected them to do.
They put their own twist on Stevie Nicks’ “Wild Heart”, which was arguably their best song of the night. And the end, the a capella end where Daniel, Thomas and Carter crooned, “Where is the reason? Don’t blame it on me, blame it on my wild heart.”, that was to die for.
I think they only did one more song after that. I say “think” because a.) it was another I didn’t know, and b.) it sounded like it could have been a few songs mashed together. It made for one helluva way to end their 81-minute long set, especially because the further they got into the song, the more amped up they got. And by the time it was all over, no one was really ready for them to be done.
“Thanks. We’re Futurebirds.” said Carter before they jumped off stage.
Some people went on their way, either leaving, or going over to the bar to get a drink, accepting the show was probably over. Others weren’t ready to believe that though, and the chants of “One more song!” could be heard.
Is what was funny, it happened in small groups. Like, a handful of people would shout it, then, since the band wouldn’t have come right back out, they’d quit. But another group would just be joining in at that time, and keep it going for a moment, before some more people began chanting.
Eventually, it paid off.
“…Aw, shit guys!” Carter exclaimed as they retook the stage, getting ready for one last song. It added about four minutes onto their show, and I’m not 100% what this encore was, but I’m thinking it was “Yur Not Ded”. Whatever it was, it was the perfect way to end this performance, bringing it to a stellar finish.
I don’t really know what I was expecting from Futurebirds, but I wasn’t prepared for what transpired.
Their music may have some more country undertones to it, but they put on as solid a rock show as I’ve ever seen.
Their highly energetic performance made sure you couldn’t pull your eyes off of them even if you wanted to, and having three vocalists to alternate between kept things constantly fresh.
On that note, even though all three of them might have different tones and textures to their voices, they can also all sing. Damn well at that, and they all have just a subtle twang to their voices that serves as a binding characteristic between them all.
I’ll restate what I said when I posted the picture of them I took on Instagram. “This band; this band was something special to watch.”
They, all six of them, impressed me, turning me into a full-fledged Futurebirds fan with ease.
You can check out their tour dates HERE. And if they’re coming to a town near you, you shouldn’t hesitate to go see them. I know I’ll be trying to catch them next time they come through Dallas. Also, right here in iTUNES is where you can find all of their albums.
Couldn’t have been a better way to spend a Wednesday night then this, and I also need to give one more shout out to Kenneth of Dead Mockingbirds for getting my cover into the show. Thanks again, man!