The bands of the Dallas/Fort Worth music scene have been banding together a lot lately for various causes, from the fertilizer plant explosion that destroyed the town of West, to the tornado that ripped through Moore, Oklahoma, which is fantastic. It’s great to see people come together for stuff like that, but it’s even better to see bands unite for a cause that isn’t also a major news story, and that’s what was going on this day before Memorial Day.
This night was in support of a 7-year-old boy, Micah Creed, who has a rare brain tumor, with the proceeds of this night going to benefit his family to help with the expenses incurred by his treatments.
Over a dozen bands had been assembled to play three clubs, The Curtain Club, the Liquid Lounge, which hosted several acoustic artists, and the Boiler Room.
The Curtain Club was my first stop of the night, where Mara Conflict was getting ready to rock the stage, and it had been a few years since I had last seen them.
Their 39-minute long set began with a sample track, a speech rather. It was the “Mad as Hell” speech from the 1976 film Network, making them one of a few bands I’ve seen recently who have used that speech at some point in their show. Perhaps that says something about the state of our country right now.
The five-piece then ripped into their first song, and they were a lot more hard rock than what I remembered, especially with these first couple of songs, where front man Joshua often let out some brutal screams, something I’m not always a fan of, but I didn’t mind it.
“How the fuck are y’all doing?!” he asked the handful of people after finishing their second song. He then went on to say they have been working on some new stuff and had with them a demo they would be handing out later with two new songs, and the next one was one it. It was “Broad Brush”, which in my opinion was their best song of the night. It’s borderline metal, with Dylan rapidly firing off the beats from his drum kit, while Ben and Jarrod roamed about the stage, quickly hitting the strings of their guitars, giving an energetic performance to accompany this killer song.
They moved on to what I assume is another newer one, “You Sleep”, then did another track, which had a very lengthy instrumental part, allowing bassist Charlie, Dylan, Jarrod and Ben to show their prowess as both musicians and performers. They lightened things up ever so slightly with “Closure”, which didn’t seem to have quite as much screaming as their previous songs and made clear what a great singer Joshua is, and his voice has got a nice range to it. Make no mistake, though, this was still a song you could headbang to. They cranked out one more before ending with a track from their self-titled EP released in 2009, “The Fault is Mine”, which gave a strong finish to their set.
It was a good show, and despite the lack of fans they still hold back, and gave it their all. They’re an awesome band, and I had forgotten how entertaining their stuff is, especially their new songs, and if you’re a fan of hard rock music, than you definitely need to give Mara Conflict a listen.
You can buy their three song EP in iTUNES and they do have another show lined up for June 30th at Wit’s End in Dallas.
As soon as they finished I headed over to The Boiler Room to see what was going on there.
A band by the name of As Above, So Below was rocking out, a little ways into their set, and for a Sunday night they were playing to a very sizable crowd. They definitely had the largest draw out of any of the bands that I saw.
The group was fronted by Jacob Pierce, perhaps best known from the defunct band Faint the Fiction, who made a name for themselves, even if it was mainly just here in the D/FW music scene.
He and the rest of his band mates, bassist Johnny Reeves, guitarist Max and drummer Joey Payow were putting on a real performance, which was enhanced by the lights they had brought with them, which set up the amps as they shone all over the stage. “This next song’s called Paint it Red” Jacob told the audience, who was soaking in every little detail of the show. They followed it with the single from their upcoming debut EP “Built to Fail” as well as a few other songs, one of which was a cover, before ending with “Truth be Told”.
Their music was heavy and loud, with a bit of a sharpness to it, which alone was more than enough to get people engaged, but the stellar performance made sure they held everyone’s undivided attention.
That’s what really captivated me, the primal attitude they had towards the show, giving it their all and letting it be very raw and real. Oh, this also happened to be their first ever live show, and they managed to make a big impression on people, both old and new fans alike, and as soon as they finished almost everyone in the club was talking about what they had just seen.
It may be a little different from what I typically like, but they instantly made me into a fan, and I look forward to seeing them again, and many other times at that.
They have a show coming up at Trees in Dallas on June 22nd and from the way they talked this night, their debut album should be out in the near future (say a few months from now) so stay tuned for that as well.
I stuck around for the next band, which happened to be Red Angel Theory, whom I had last seen on this same stage about a month and a half prior to this.
One of their newer tracks, “Psycho”, got their show going, right after an intro song played, and they tore into the song with a fury, in particular Phil Sahs who thrashed about and rocked out on his bass, and later in the song guitarist Brandon Deaton let loose some sweet riffs on his axe. Next they got into their older, fan favorite stuff with the heavy “It Often Lies”, which was immediately followed by “Shattered”. They experienced some technical difficulties on that one, and while drummer Nick Sarabia was singing the backing vocals throughout the song, his voice went unheard by the crowd. He didn’t stop singing, though, but without his voice the song lacked the fierce punch it usually has. That’s not to say it was a disaster either, though, as Monica Koohi can muster an equally as vicious sound to her voice, so it still sounded great, even if it was silent for a second or two here and there.
Afterwards, they wound things into another new song, before doing the song I was most hoping to hear before heading back to the other venue. That song was “Inception”, which Monica set up by saying it was “…About starting over and new beginnings…” That masterpiece song was a definite highlight of their set, and I stuck around for the one after it, which happened to be another newer one, “Suffocate”, during which Brandon owned a brief guitar solo.
It’s not that I didn’t want to see the rest of their set, but I’ve seen Red Angel Theory more than a few times, and I couldn’t say that about the other band.
As for their set night, sure there was a little technical hiccup, but aside from that it was great, especially in terms of energy. They seemed like a completely different band than the one I had just last month, appearing more dedicated than ever, like they were on a mission and they weren’t going to stray from it. Presumably that mission was to put on as spectacular a show as possible, and they accomplished just that.
You can find their three song EP in iTUNES and they do have a few shows coming up over the next months, beginning with June 29th at Hailey’s in Denton. On July 12th they’ll be at the Curtain Club in Dallas and then on August 3rd they’ll be in Greenville, TX at Hartline’s.
I ducked out and headed back to the Curtain Club. Hazeland was getting ready to rock the joint, and I had been wanting to see them for months now but just hadn’t been able to. Actually, I had seen them once before with their original vocalist, and with all the screaming they were too hardcore for my musical tastes, but they had a new singer now and what I had heard online I really liked.
The band began right about the time I got over there
The rhythm section of bassist Mike Hayes and drummer Clay Wise got them going on their first number, “Look Here”, which was made to be an opener. “Hey, hey, hey turn on the gas and kick a little ass…” sang front man Brad Amos on the chorus, before formerly introducing each member during the instrumental break, which was ruled by Robert “Ozz” Veliz, who did a wicked guitar solo. They followed it with another track from their newest EP, the rhythmic “Hustle”, which had Mike and Brad singing most of the song in unison, their voices combining together to make a very interesting sound, and a fantastic one at that. And when he wasn’t singing, Brad was often seen jumping about center stage, obviously getting into the music they were making.
The next song they did was a new one, a brand new one, and Brad mentioned they would soon be heading into the studio to work on a new record due out in the fall, and this song “Control” would be on it. I found it to be one of the best songs of their set, maybe even the best, and it was the furthest away from their old material, and there was even a noticeable difference between it and the bands current music, with “Control” sounding much more solid. It wasn’t all new music, though, and next they did the slightly older “Killer of the Year”, which was a very tune, both in terms of the song and performance that went along with it, making it easy to get into.
Upon finishing it then Ozz started having some problems with his gear, when one of his pedals messed up, then a sample track began to inexplicably play, causing all four of them to look around wondering what was going on. That got resolved (well, somewhat) quickly, and they carried on with their next song, a track from 2011’s “Carnival of Dreams” record “Backstabber”. It did sound better with Brad at the helm, and I liked the funkiness of the first half of it, before it turned into a full-blown rock song near the end with dazzling guitar riffs, some pulsating bass lines and thunderous drumbeats.
They had saved the best for last, and “Empty” started to close out their set. “You never loved me, you used me like a toy… but I won’t be fooled again, I know it’s just all one big empty LIE!” Brad sang on the songs bridge, or rather spoke part of before belting out that last line. That’s definitely the best song in their arsenal, but they weren’t quite done just yet, closing out their 28-minute long set with a cover song that had reggae vibe to it, and they owned it.
I hate that it took over six months for me to see the band with their new lineup, but it was worth the wait, and they put on a great show.
There was a bit of theatrics to their show, with Ozz wearing a hockey mask of sorts, though it was painted blue with some black mixed in on it making a very cool pattern that was very attention getting. Then you had Mike, who looked kind of Slash-esque with the hat he sported, but not in a copycat sort of way.
All around I really enjoyed it, Brad’s a great singer, it was good seeing Clay back on the drums, even though he has been with the band for a few months now, and they all made for a very entertaining show. That’s all the more reason I’m glad I was able to see this show, because this would be the final time that Brad and Ozz would perform live with Hazeland, and one short week later they both announced that they had resigned from the group, and with Ozz gone that makes Mike the only original member left.
Hazeland shows no signs of stopping, still going into the studio to record, and it will be interesting to see how the reforming process goes. Best of luck to everybody involved, both current and now former members. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for everybody.
If you’d like to purchase their music, you can find both records in their store on REVERBNATION. They also have a show scheduled for July 12th back here at the Curtain Club, but I guess that could all depend on if they can solidify a new lineup by then or not.
Part of wished they had played a little longer, but on the flip side I was alright with the shorter set, because when they finished I hightailed it over to the Boiler Room to see The Circle.
I think they were still on their first song when I walked in, and being the headliner here at the Boiler Room coupled with the fact that it was still so early (they started around 11:30) that afforded them a rare opportunity to play as long as they wanted to.
After their first song (or at least the first one I caught) the band wound things right into their next song, but first singer Don Mills raised a toast to all bands that played this night, commending them for coming together in support of this worthy cause. They then tackled one of my favorite songs of theirs “406”, which is raw and brutal in the best possible way with Don screaming on some parts of the track and singing on others, like the chorus, “Can you bring me back to life, ‘cause I’ve been dead for so long…”. The song didn’t go off without a hitch, and not too far into it Kenneth Henrichs started experiencing some trouble with his bass.
To kill some time Don said he had tried to see all of the bands that played, but pointed out there was no way anyone could and again praised everyone who partook in the event, from the organizers to the bands and of course the fans for coming out. The bass still wasn’t up and running, but they weren’t going to wait around anymore, and Don plainly pointed out they weren’t the first band to ever have something like this happen, and sometimes all you can do is push on. They did just that, and while “Beggars Can’t be Choosers” lacked the full rhythm section, Marc Berry was able to compensate for it with his massive drum kit, and guitarists Craig Nelson and Alan Sauls didn’t seem affected by it, still rocking out on their axes.
Kenneth rejoined the band sometime on their next song, and to solve the problem„ the bassist from Enamored (who played earlier) set up his rig and let Kenneth use it. He seemed to be making up for last time, instantly getting into the song and just dominating things as he slapped the strings of his bass. The gritty “I Am” came next, and around the final chorus Don asked everyone to give them a thumbs up or thumbs down to let them know if it was good or not. “I hope you liked it.” He said, adding it would be one of the cuts on their debut EP. They kept things moving with a couple more songs, and after the first one Alan rolled them right into the next with some great guitar chords, while Don counted them in to it.
“Skeptical” was another personal highlight of mine, and by this time they were all operating in perfect synch with one another, becoming a true force to be reckoned with. After finishing it, Don glanced at his watch to check the time, then remarked, “I don’t know why I keep looking at my watch, it’s dead.” That led them into another song, during which Alan broke a string on his guitar, though he continued to play it, switching to another one before doing “My Trip to the Desert Sucked”. Near the start of it Craig leapt into the air at the same time Marc pounded out a beat on his drums, which was pretty cool to see. Then at other times, mainly on the chorus, Kenneth added some backing vocals to the song with his loud, vicious scream, complementing Dons’ voice nicely.
They dusted off one of their oldest songs, “Somewhere”, and later in the song Craig owned it, shredding on his guitar during his little solo. That led them to their final song of the night, which was of course their current single, “Sleep On It”. It has something different than any of their other songs, making it standout even more than their other stuff already does, and was (and is) the perfect way to end their set. Before getting to the bridge, Don brought Kenneth’s nephew, Tyler, to the stage and the young kid helped in the singing/screaming, and did a great job.
That seemed like the end, but the final notes had barely finished resonating when someone shouted for one more, then the sound guy joined in, in egging the band on for one more. Don told everyone there was one song they had decided to cut from the set this night, and that ended up working out rather well, because they were now able to do it for the encore of their nearly hour long set.
The set was one of the best I’ve seen them do, even with the small technical issues, and they’re clicking better now then even, at least out of the year that I’ve been seeing them. They’re definitely improving with each show, and then I think their time in the studio has helped them excel even further. So, if you want to see an amazing live show from a band that writes killer music, then go see The Circle. You’ll be glad you did.
Head over to their REVERBNATION PAGE to download some live cuts of their songs, and buy “Sleep On it” in iTUNES for a mere $.99. Hopefully that will hold you over until their EP is released. Also, they have a show coming up on July 12th in Dallas, at, you guessed it, The Curtain Club.
They were the perfect end to what had been an excellent rock show, and I enjoyed seeing a band I was unfamiliar with, a few I was but can never see enough, and then one I had been wanting to see for some time. It was a fantastic night, and it was great seeing people come out to support such a worthy cause.
The bands of the Dallas/Fort Worth music scene have been banding together a lot lately for various causes, from the fertilizer plant explosion that destroyed the town of West, to the tornado that ripped through Moore, Oklahoma, which is fantastic. It’s great to see people come together for stuff like that, but it’s even better to see bands unite for a cause that isn’t also a major news story, and that’s what was going on this day before Memorial Day.
The Levitt Pavilion. I had heard of it before, probably around this last year, but I had never been there.
What is the Levitt Pavilion? It’s an outdoor concert venue located in downtown Arlington. It’s also a park that takes up a whole city block, with the massive stage located on the East end of it, and they bring all sorts of bands in to play the stage, from local and regional bands that frequent the clubs of the D/FW area, to bigger national touring acts, such as the headliner this night.
The concert season at the venue had just kicked off the night before, and this night there were two openers on the bill, the first of whom I missed completely, while the other was Calhoun.
I had seen the band once before, a few years ago, and didn’t really care for them much, but I was certainly up for giving them another chance.
I only caught their last 20-minutes or so, but I must say I enjoyed their music. I don’t remember much about them from that first occasion, but I think they’ve changed their sound up a little since then, and it works well for them. I really enjoyed it, and wouldn’t mind seeing them again, and getting the experience of a full set.
After them was the headliner, The Polyphonic Spree, who began their set a little after 8:30, but not before some of the workers at the Levitt name dropped the sponsors and also encouraged everyone to donate some money when they came around collecting it, reminding everyone that while the concerts are free to attend, they aren’t free to put on.
It had been two weeks to the day (and almost even to the exact time) since I first experienced The Polyphonic Spree live, and after seeing they were doing this show, how could I pass it up, especially at the low cost of free?
The show this night was very similar to that other one, including the beginning, where a large banner stretched across the stage, covering all of the band members, while the nineteen-piece band/choir proceeded to play a light piece.
As that was going on, the twentieth member, singer Tim DeLaughter, began to use some spray paint on the banner, having to write backwards so it would be readable by the audience. The message this night was different, reading, “This nite is for you”. He then grabbed a pair of scissors, cutting through it, but not in a straight line, cutting off small pieces of it and throwing them out the fans, before finally cutting all the way through it, and as the banner dropped to reveal the band, the music rose to its height.
Suddenly, it stopped, and as the instruments fell silent, the band froze, not even moving a muscle for a few seconds, before diving back into the instrumental track, which they eventually wound into their first song, the vibrant, upbeat “Section 22 (Running Away)”. The six-piece female choir, the guitar and drums were on full display on that song (among other instruments) as Tim bounced about the stage, singing in his cheery voice.
Upon finishing it, he talked about having “weathered the storm”, as it had rained late in the afternoon, and thanked everyone for sticking around. “…I see a lot of you who were out here earlier…” he said, then basically promised to make this a night that wouldn’t soon be forgotten. I think they next did “Section 7 (Hanging Around the Day Part 2)”, after which Tim again expressed his excitement about the night, saying it was “…Gonna be a hootenanny tonight.” His voice acquired a real southern drawl when he said that, sounding more country than he really is, or at least acts. They next did a track from the “Together We’re Heavy” album “ Section 14 (Two Thousand Places)”. It was a highlight of their set, as Tim marched about the stage giving everyone what could be considered some words of advice, crooning “…You gotta be good, you gotta be strong, you gotta be two thousand places at once…”.
The energetic front man conducted his band at the start of their next song, thrusting one of his arms out in the air and as he did so, the cello player, violinist and multiple other musicians plucked and or struck a string on their instrument. That went on for quite a few times, and there was only once where the band jumped the gun and struck their instruments ahead of his cue. Like I said, this show was similar to the one I had seen a few weeks prior, that includes the setlist, which wasn’t a bad thing, and I was getting pretty excited at this point knowing what was coming next. The band soon tore right off into “Section 23 (Get Up and Go)”, with Tim singing the first line of this amazing rock song, “You’re satellite cover’s blown…”
The crowd was diverse, with people coming from all walks of life, and if any them hadn’t been feeling the band yet, then that song surely did the trick, because it’s hard not to be reeled in by its catchiness. “…Did y’all know it’s been seven years since our last record…” Tim said to the audience, seeming to be in a state of disbelief about that himself. He mentioned that, that will soon be changing when their new record comes out on August 6th, and that set up a new song from it, “Hold Yourself Up”, which I foresee as being my favorite track from the forthcoming record. It’s classic Polyphonic Spree, mining the same vein as many of the songs they performed this night, and has what I think is a wonderful line, “…She’s got roller coaster eyes…”, which is also periodically sung by the choir, all whom harmonize on it.
They were definitely on a roll, and after doing one of their new songs, Tim told everyone to store the next one away in their mind. “…This is for you Arlington, you won’t forget it!” he exclaimed, as the band created the gorgeous textures that make up their medley of The Who music, first doing a bit of “See Me, Feel Me”, which was slower, then stepped it up as they suddenly did a bit of the true classic, “Pinball Wizard”. Tim wasn’t lying, that really was a moment worth filing away in your mind. They didn’t let up either, patching things seamlessly into “Section 11 (We Sound Amazed)”, which they then eventually bridged into “Section 2 (It’s the Sun)”, doing it all so flawlessly that you might have thought it was one massive long song if you were unfamiliar with their music.
They had one last new offering for everyone and that was “You Don’t Know Me”, another fantastic song that elevated the mood by sending the message that you can’t let anyone bring you down. “…This is our night!” Tim excitedly said when he addressed the crowd after that song, mentioning that everyone had “shared a moment” from that little rainstorm earlier, adding that everybody was now connected for having stuck it out, and while there set was winding down, they still had quite a bit left to do. One of those still left in the chamber was big choir and sing along number “Section 8 (Soldier Girl)”.
Afterwards, Tim tried to evoke more of the raw Rock ‘n’ Roll spirit from everybody, asking, “Can I get a hell yeah?!” There was an audible response of that, though he also got something unexpected which he called attention to, and that was a peace sign. “…Only at a Polyphonic Spree…” he said laughing, truly loving it. The laughs weren’t over yet, though, and out of nowhere Tim suddenly began singing the theme song to the old children’s show The New Zoo Review, humming over the parts he couldn’t remember, but that was only a few words. It was completely random and had more than a few people cracking up.
“This song’s called Tripping Daisy!” he shouted, throwing in a reference to his legendary Dallas based rock band, then pointed out they didn’t have a song by that name. “We do have one called Light and Day, though.” He added, leading them into the dynamic “Section 9 (Light and Day - Reach for the Sun)”. That same word could also be used to describe the performance that went along with that spectacular song, which would have been a fine way to end the show, but they still had a little left in the tank. Tim again began a conversation with the crowd, speaking in his southern voice, finally saying, “…I’m sorry, the country comes out when I get excited…”. He had reason to be excited, as he spoke about Tripping Daisy, mentioning there’s not a day of his life where he doesn’t think about that band. I knew what was coming next, though frankly I hadn’t been expecting it to happen, despite wanting to.
At that other show of theirs I caught they had dusted off a Tripping Daisy song, and now they were going to do it again. “My Umbrella”, which sounded like a true rock song, even with instruments like a harp, French horn and an array of other instruments being played, and that track brought their 70-minute long set to an astounding end.
That could have been a fitting end to the night, however the stage lights stayed on, turning a nice shade of blue, giving the impression that there would be more. Sure enough, they weren’t quite done yet, and all twenty members soon walked back out on stage and resumed their posts for the 13-minute long encore.
They kicked it off with the bright “Section 12 (Hold Me Now)”, which is another personal favorite of mine, and I was ecstatic to hear them do it live. There next and final song was another cover, and before starting it Tim mentioned it was by a band that really influenced him in his younger days. “…No, it’s not Soundgarden…” he said, though he professed his love for that band, too. He built up some suspense as to what it might be, finally dropping the band name Nirvana, which the crowd seemed pretty excited about.
The song was “Lithium”, and they did a killer rendition of it, putting a different twist on it, yet still keeping it fairly close to form. They all made sure to give it their all, making one final push, and the harp player even picked up his harp near the end of the song, holding it out over the crowd, a move that amazed me.
That was the end of the show, but as the massive group huddled around one another to show their appreciation to everyone, Tim started into one final speech, thanking everyone for coming out and being a part of the night, sounding absolutely sincere about it.
It was a stunning performance they delivered, and while not everyone stuck around for the whole thing, they did all seem thoroughly captivated by it while they were there. Bear in mind that does include all age ranges, from some preteens to even a few people who appeared to be in their seventies, and everything in between. That just goes to show that the music that The Polyphonic Spree makes and the lively, high-energy show they put on don’t have a targeted age range, rather, it can and does appeal to everybody.
The show was just as much of a spectacle as it was the first time I saw them, and while the entire band will dazzle you, just in the way that such an array of instruments are able to fit together sound-wise and create such rock sound. However, it definitely is Tim DeLaughter that will capture and hold your attention more than anyone, and this night he was constantly moving around the stage, often running, and mingling with his band mates, or looking out at the audience and doing everything he could to make sure the people were fully enthralled by the show.
They seemed like they were, and I can’t imagine a single person left here disappointed this night.
Be sure to check out the bands TOUR DATES, of which they have some around the U.S. and even various parts of the world. Also, head over to their store in iTUNES to find their older records, and mark your calendars for August 6th, when the band will release “Yes, It’s True”, their first original album in seven years. And do be sure to come out to the Granada Theater in Dallas on August 9th for the bands official hometown CD release show.
As for the Levitt Pavilion, it’s a wonderful venue and I love what they’re doing, not only by putting on free concerts, but there making a town that isn’t a real destination for live music (at least not like Fort Worth and Dallas are) into one, even if it is for a few months out of the year. Actually, a lot of other cities in the D/FW metroplex could take a cue from them in my opinion. For example, I know Plano has a venue similar to this, but as far as I know it’s barely used, and I’m sure there are other cities that are the same way, yet here’s Arlington, one-upping everybody else.
They have a lot of great acts coming through the Levitt, and they are as follows:
June 19th – The Lone Star Circus
June 20th - Chubby Carrier
June 21st – Sara Hickman
June 22nd – The Light Crust Doughboys
June 23rd – Snarky Puppy
June 26th – Vocal Trash
June 27th – Carabali
June 28th – Monte Montgomery
June 29th – Jason Eady
June 30th – Billy Joe Shaver
July 3rd – Atlanta Rhythm Section
July 5th – Del Castillo
July 6th – The Quebe Sisters Band
July 7th – Terry Hendrix & Lloyd Maines
July 11th – Girl in a Coma
July 12th – The O’s
July 13th – Ruthie Foster
July 14th – Radney Foster
Those above concerts are all free to attend, then there will be one they charge for on September 14th which will feature Foreigner. So, go check out one or several of those, and starting in late August they will also have another concert season starting up.
Great night, and best of all it was over with early.
Wednesday, June 19th
Thursday, June 20th
-Dallas (Deep Elum)
Music @ 10
-Dallas (Lower Greenville Avenue)
Music @ 11
Friday, June 21st
- 26 Locks, Solice, Fallen From Aether and more will perform at O’Riley’s for a night of all female fronted bands.
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)
- Nothing More will headline Trees to celebrate the release of their newest album, with Little Sisters of the Poor, Ursa and The Last Place You Look opening.
Doors @ 7
Doors @ 8:30 / Music @ 8:50
ALL AGES (under 17 MUST be accompanied by an adult)
21+ $10 / 21- $15
Doors @ 7 / Music @ 8
-Dallas (Oak Cliff)
Music @ 9
- Always the Alibi will be one of many bands rocking Andy’s for a show that will benefit Moore, Oklahoma in their recovery from the tornadoes that hit the town.
- Hares On the Mountain will headline Rubber Gloves with an amazing band from Austin, Madisons opening.
Doors @ 9
21+ $3 / 21- $5
- Import/Export, a band based out of Seattle, WA, is on tour in support of their latest album and will be stopping by The Grotto for a performance.
Saturday, June 22nd
-Dallas (Deep Elum)
Doors @ 8:30 / Music @ 9
ALL AGES (under 17 MUST be accompanied by an adult)
21+ $10 / 21- $15
Music @ 10
Doors @ 10
-Dallas (Lower Greenville Avenue)
- The Dirty River Boys will headline The Granada Theater with Mike and the Moonpies and others opening.
Doors @ 7 / Music @ 8
-Dallas (Oak Cliff)
Doors @ 7:30 / Music @ 8:30
$20 to $30
Music @ 9
Sunday, June 23rd
- The Raven Charter, Criminal Birds and many others will perform a Third String Productions showcase at Hailey’s.
Doors @ 7
21+ $8 / 21- $12
The House of Blues was hosting another one of their Dallas Rocks! concert series, and this one seemed to come together rather last minute. But when a show is free (if you get tickets from the bands in advance), it doesn’t matter how last minute it is, and even if does happen to be at the start of a holiday weekend, people are going to show up.
The first of the five bands was the Fort Worth based Animal Spirit, who did the shortest set of the night, clocking in at 22-minutes.
“We’re here to remind you that your beautiful and that you matter and that we can spread love through music!” said bassist Joe Prankster after the band took the stage. It was quite the statement to begin a show, and definitely got your attention, even if there were only several handfuls of people scattered about the venue this early on.
During their short time on stage they played a few tracks that will presumably be on their debut record due out this year, and guitarist Andrew Stroheker did most of the singing on their first song, though he was occasionally aided by front woman Sam Wuehermann . With some riffs on the guitar, Andrew wound them right into their next song, after which they did a new single of theirs. “This song’s called House on a Hill.” Joe said, viciously slapping his as they started up the song.
If I’d heard the song before, I didn’t recall it, but it certainly left an impression on me this night. It was another song that was co-sung, though the best part of it was the lengthy instrumental portions. Drummer Parker Anderson, Andrew and Joe rocked out on their instruments, all the while Sam was kind of dancing along to the music and shaking a tambourine. It’s a very well written song, in every aspect, and it’s guaranteed to get your attention.
I think they did one more after that, and then got to what is probably their lead single, the highly original “The Planets a Lie”, another song that finds both Sam and Andrew singing together, though not quite harmonizing, and each of their distinctive voices mesh well together. And that was that.
Their set seemed to pass by too quickly, but so long as you’re enjoying a show it doesn’t matter how fast it goes by, I guess.
They are a rock group, but they are very creative with their music, and if you see them there will be at least one song they do that’s sounds unlike anything you’ve heard before. This was the third time I’ve seen them, and they are growing on me more and more each time, and you should check them out while they are still a relatively new band.
Keep an eye on their CALENDAR for upcoming concert announcements, as well as their FACCEBOOK PAGE for any info in general, like the progress of their record. In the meantime, head over to their BANDCAMP PAGE to download their single of “House On a Hill” for free.
It wasn’t even 8:30 and the first act was already done and the next band was getting setup, and around 8:45 the next band was ready to go, and that was Denton’s The Gypsy Bravado.
Lou Anderson pounded away at his drum kit, kicking off the first of many newer songs they did this night, “Make a Man”. “…Did you feel it, tell me did you feel it?” Mo Myles belted, while banging away on his keyboard. That powerful rock number was more than enough to instantly reel in the ever growing audience, and in my opinion it was one of the best songs of their set.
To make sure everyone was on the hook, Lou swiftly wound them into the lead track from their “Through the Rabbit Hole” EP, “Swagger”. There was even more of a Southern Rock vibe on that one, complete with some soulful and bluesy sounding guitar chords courtesy of Shawn Bratton, and both he and Mo handled the singing of that track. That’s the thing about this band, they have two incredibly capable singers, and even bassist Jeff Dacus throws his voice in from time to time, making some solid three-part harmonies. That was a nice warm-up for their next song, another new one from their forthcoming record, which at one point they mentioned would be out soon. The next number was called “Into the River”, and it had what seemed like an even longer instrumental break then their previous song, where the four instruments wove together harmoniously, and it was set off with fiery blues solo from Shawn.
They kept the music coming, going straight into “Mountaintops”, another track that Mo did the singing on, and during it Shawn got to rocking perhaps a little too hard, breaking one of strings, and upon finishing the song he simply switched to another guitar. “This song’s called Dreams!” shouted Jeff, setting up another song from their debut EP, which is also called “(Through The Rabbit Hole)”. That was one of their longest songs of the night (clocking in at nearly seven minutes on the album), but then again, most of their songs are lengthy, being at least close to six minutes, if not over. Anyway, on that song, almost all of them had their chance to shine, from a drum solo to a keyboard and guitar solo, while Jeff played some strong bass notes while he thrashed around to the music.
The got back to the newer stuff with “Josephine”, and before starting it Mo said, “I guess you could say it’s kind of about animal instinct?“, phrasing it more as a question as he glanced at his band mates to make sure that was an accurate description. They agreed. Shawn took back over vocal duties on that, and Jeff finally got a true solo, throwing down on his bass. To close out their 50-minute long set, they did a favorite from the “Through the Rabbit Hole” EP, “Dillinger (Rebel Son)”. At one point during it, almost as if to make sure they would leave an impression on all their potential new fans, Lou stood up from his stool for a few moments, still playing some beats on his kit, before sitting back down. During their instrumental jam, Shawn again broke a string on his axe, which he quickly fixed by getting yet another replacement, and they finished in a very strong fashion.
I had only seen them once before, at least recently, and while they were good then, you could tell they brought their A-game here at the House of Blues. They were on fire, bolting right out of the gate, and with each song they just became more of an unstoppable force and I don’t see how anyone in attendance could not have had their eyes glued to the stage, soaking in the pure rock sounds they were churning out and enjoying the lively show that accompanied it.
Honestly, when they were done I found myself wondering, “If they’re like this all the time, why don’t I see them more often???”
I’m gonna have to try to fix that, I guess.
They’ll be back here at the House of Blues on July 6th for a battle of the bands style show, where the winner will perform at this years BFD, opening for acts like Megadeth, Slash and many more, so go support them. Also, while you’re waiting for their new record to come out, go into iTUNES and check out their old one, it’s well worth picking up.
After them was the headliner, even though they were going on at almost ten o’clock. The band was Ducado Vega, a duo who incorporates multiple genres into their sound, though they predominately consider themselves a funk outfit.
I’d heard great things about them, though I was a bit skeptical, since it is a genre I’m not a huge fan of, nevertheless, I was curious to see them live.
“Seven” was their opening number, a heavily synthesized track where most of the vocals had been pre-recorded and were playing as part of the sample track. I wasn’t too fond of that, and even though singer and guitarist Ducado Vega and keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Zenya Vi were doing some singing, it was overpowered by the backing track. Things did get better with the next song, one of many new tracks they unleashed on their fans this night, which I believe was titled “Define Beautiful”. It still wasn’t my cup of tea, but I did find it a little more appealing.
Zenya took over singing on their next song, and while Ducado was tearing it up on his guitar, he broke a string, which caused a bit of a delay.
He mentioned the guitar was a pretty new addition, being very proud of it and the furry pink strap he had on it and asked if one of the other musicians could restring it for him so he could continue using it. “…I don’t even know what string broke…” he said, letting everyone in on a “secret” that he can’t read music, pointing out he just plays it. Eventually a stagehand came and got it from him, and after Ducado grabbed his spare guitar, he told everyone that he and Zenya were going to do something a little different for Ducado Vega.
Different, indeed. The song was “I Dare You”, another new one, and it was performed more as a rap. For what it was, I guess it was good, though I was unable to get into that. They kept the music flowing with “Love Freak”, which found Zenya playing some beats on the drums, before again singing on the following song, and during that one Ducado collapsed to the floor, picking at his guitar while he lay there, completely engulfed in the moment.
Things proceeded to get a little more funky with “Sex in Da Club” and “Help Me”, with another song being sandwiched in between those two. On the next song, they again switched things up, with Zenya playing the guitar (by this time Shawn of the Gypsy Bravado had brought out one of his guitars as Ducado’s replacement, adding the pink strap onto it), while Ducado added some bass lines, and about halfway through it they traded off. However, it was their final song that was the most interesting and fun, especially when Ducado jumped into the crowd, saying beforehand that he wanted everyone to “make a train” like they used to as kids in elementary school. He led, and quite a few people joined in as this train/conga line wound its way through the crowd, eventually breaking up as Ducado climbed back on stage to finish out the song and their 65-minute long set.
Performance wise it was a really good show, filled with energy, and considering they were just a two-piece they managed to own the massive stage. Even technically it was great, and Ducado has some serious chops as a guitarist.
However, it’s just not the type of music that appeals to me, being mostly a mix of funk, electronic and rock, and I was never completely drawn into it. Would I mind seeing them again? No. Would I go to a show specifically to see them? Doubtful.
They have a couple EP’s you can pick up in iTUNES, and with the music they played this night it sounds like another record is on the horizon, even if they are just currently writing material for it. As for shows, check out their REVERBNATION PAGE to see when they will have future gigs.
Thus far the night had been fantastic, and now, a little after eleven, it was time for the band that was the primary reason I was there, and that was The Orange.
The bands three core instrumentalists, bassist Jason Jessup, drummer Cody Waits and guitarist Kirk Livesay launched the band into their 45-minute long set, creating a music bed that was somewhat recognizable as the fan favorite “Teleprompters”. Soon Scott Tucker bounded out on stage and song truly got underway. It’s about as explosive as a song can be and I’m loving it being their current opener, as it just gets things off to a sensational start, and throughout it Scott was running about the stage, singing to the audience and making sure to pay equal attention to all sides and sections of the stage.
“This song’s called I Want a Girl!” he declared after getting his guitar, as they moved on to one of their best new songs. They seemed in perfect synch on that one, particularly on the chorus, when Scott, Jason and Kirk plucked the strings of their instruments in exact time with the heavy beats Cody was cranking out. Early on in that song Scott broke a string, though he carried on and paid it little attention until the song was over when he switched to another.
Cody started them off on another newer track, the trippy sounding “Valium”, which was followed by one of their most epic songs, “Cityscapes”. Jason and Cody definitely pulled their weight on that one, and out of all their songs I believe it was that one that had the loudest rhythm section of the night, and a very cohesive one at that. There are some long instrumental pieces on that song where the group rocked out, and near the end Scott dropped to the floor and shredded on his axe, in true rock star fashion.
They invited one of their friends on stage for their next song, and, as Scott said, it was a man who came all the way from Chicago, Chicago Dan. “What do you want to do for ‘em, Dan?” Scott asked him while he tuned his guitar. Dan, who stood at stage left mic, already had his weapon of choice, a harmonica, out. “How about some doomsday.” He said. They did just that, busting out one of their classics, “Doomsday for Mr. Denton”, which seemed to be a real crowd pleaser. Some of that might have had something to do with the fact that the fans seem to love Dan in general, but all the same, that’s a killer song.
The number of people on stage grew as blues guitarist Buddy Neighbors joined the mix, as did Scotts’ sister Melissa Tucker who played a tambourine. Scott informed everyone that this next song was the single from their forthcoming album, which they are working on with producer Eric Delegard, whom Scott shouted out, saying he had seen him walking around this night. The song was “Mr. Moneymaker”, which is extremely catchy and upbeat, definitely worthy of being the lead single for their long awaited full-length record.
Everybody stayed pretty much where they were, well, for the most part, as Cody and Scott swapped places. “…I never imagined I’d be playing drums on stage at the House of Blues…” Scott stated, evidently still finding this to be a surreal experience. Cody did the singing on this one, and while there’s a completely different sound from his voice and Scott’s, it still sounds great, growing on me each time I hear it, and it’s especially appropriate for the song he wrote, which I believe was “Dead Nation”. Afterwards, they returned to their normal posts and the quartet, along with the three essentially honorary members of The Orange, ended with the most dynamic song they could have, “Blow Up”.
It was another extraordinary show by The Orange, one of the best I’ve seen them do, even though Scott was a little more subdued and didn’t jump onto the drum kit this night.
All joking aside, they were phenomenal this night, and you could tell they were not only wanting to make an impression on the crowd but also the higher ups who could bring them back as an opener for future big shows at the House of Blues. I definitely think The Orange accomplished that.
They gave it 110% on stage, both wowing old fans, and from some of the chatter I overheard, won over some new ones, too.
They have at least one show on the books for the summer, and that will be on July 5th at the Kessler Theater in Dallas. They’ll be headlining that one, so don’t miss it. Also, head over to iTUNES to pick up their first EP, especially since they are sold out of hard copies of it, so online is the only place to get it.
There was one final band up this night, Nerdface, whom I didn’t stick around for. Sure, it was still relatively early, but the ticket I got for the parking lot I parked in expired around midnight, and here it was about ten minutes after, so, to make sure I didn’t get a ticket or anything, I went ahead and called it a night.
I can’t say I really regret leaving, though, because after the show The Orange put on I don’t see how this night could have gotten any better. Besides, it had already been an amazing night anyway.
This night found what has become one of my favorite Canadian bands, Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk, returning to Dallas in support of their new/old record, “Over Land and Sea”. Their third Dallas show found them back at the Prophet Bar, the same venue they did their first Dallas gig at, and this was almost the halfway point for their North American tour, which boasted an impressive 70+ shows.
Opening up this show was a Dallas singer/songwriter whom I’ve heard a lot about, even having listened to some of his music, but had never seen live. His name is Kirk Thurmond, and he was doing a solo acoustic set this night.
It seems like it’s been awhile since I saw a musician whom I hadn’t heard seen before that wowed me with an acoustic set, but Kirk blew my mind this night, and amazed the handful of people that were in the venue.
He played a lot of stuff from last year’s “Only Love” album, at least I presume he did. He mixed in a new song or two as well, saying when he was about three-fourths done with that most recent record he had already began writing some songs for his eventual next release.
His next to last song seemed to be the audiences favorite of the night, and definitely was mine, as the slower, more tender song really highlighted is smooth, soulful voice and he packed that tune full of emotion.
Not many musicians are able to get up on a stage and captivate a crowd with merely their voice and an acoustic guitar, but Kirk Thurmond is one of them, and nearly everyone there seemed completely enthralled by his 30-minute long set (give or take a few minutes).
Hurry on over to iTUNES and check out his records, which include one EP and a LP. Also, keep an eye on his FACEBOOK PAGE for future show updates.
The good thing about starting with an acoustic artist was that the next band was already set up, and within five minutes after Kirk left the stage, Sean Michel and his band were ready to rock.
They were one of two touring bands on this bill, but this trio was a little closer to home, hailing from Little Rock, Arkansas.
“Truth, Soul and Rock ‘n’ Roll” That was a phrase I had noticed on one of the shirt designs at the bands merch table, which piqued my interest to say the least, and I was wondering if that would be an accurate description of their sound, or merely a slogan that just sounded good.
Much of their 33-minute long set this night came from the “Electric Delta” album, and I believe they opened with the albums closing track, “Lord I Wait”. The bands namesake, Sean Michel, had an impressive beard that stretched down most of his torso and hair nearly as long, and if you happened to see him on the street and judge his appearance, you’d most likely guess he was in a heavy metal band. It couldn’t have been further from that.
His voice immediately pulled you end, having a very soulful quality, but also had some blues and southern characteristics to it, making it unlike anything I had heard before. The stage become more of a pulpit as he and band mates Seth Atchley and Bradley Batterton, the bassist and drummer, respectively, proceeded to play their music that dealt with all sorts of religious aspects, and very bluntly at that.
They continued bringing everyone into the music by stepping things up a bit with their second song, then got more upbeat with “He Is The One”. It was, to an extent, about Seans’ experience of being saved, as he shouted the chorus in his strong voice, “…He is the One, He is the first born Son of the God you cannot see, now plain as day to me…” It was great song, especially live as they went all out during it, and it was one of a few highlights of their set.
Upon finishing it, Sean mentioned they had some albums for sale at their merch table. “…We got vinyl for the hipsters and CD’s for the normal people…” he joked, before he started them into another cut from the album, “Unbelievable”.
It was a knockout song, and secured the attention of the small crowd who watched from a distance, but seemed in complete awe. Sean setup their next song, saying it hit radio airwaves back in 1958, adding, “…I like to think that was one of the first times anyone ever heard Rock ‘n’ Roll… And now we’re gonna try our hand at it.” My knowledge of ‘50’s era music is horrible at best, and I don’t know what they covered, though it did sound familiar. Regardless, they did a stellar job on it, giving it a real Southern Rock vibe, with a heavy rhythm section and some in-your-face guitar licks.
They brought things down with a seven-minute long (give or take) number called “The River Song”, which was gospel rock at its finest, and told a full story to boot. The best part was one the second chorus, and when he was signing a line that a preacher in the song was saying, Sean adapted a character voice that fit the part. I believe it was on the next verse that Sean added some additional lines, speaking to the audience, in short telling everyone that when the world tries to get you down, or there are people saying it would be a better place without you to not “listen to the devil’s lies”. Overall, the message that everyone has a purpose here.
I was loving it, but already it was time to bring their set to an end, and they did so the lead track from “Electric Delta” which is hands down the most intense song in their arsenal, “Mississippi Mud”, and Seans’ Southern Rock voice sounded better here than it had all night, which is saying a lot.
“Truth, Soul and Rock ‘n’ Roll” that’s not just a good saying to slap on a t-shirt, it also perfectly describes this amazing trio.
They have some killer chops, with both Bradley and Seth holding their own on stage, whereas some musicians can fall into the background, especially when the front man as is overpowering as Sean was. Speaking of Sean, he was as good a guitarist as he was a singer, and shredded on his axe with absolute ease.
As for their music, yeah, it deals with God, Christ and all related things, topics that I realize can be off-putting to some, depending on personal beliefs. I want to say though, that Sean is simply singing about what he’s passionate about, which is what makes the show so enthralling, because he’s able to get behind it wholeheartedly. And for the record, there isn’t a single song that comes across as being “preachy” to the listeners, in the sense of him trying to impress his beliefs on anyone. So, take it for what it is, which is incredible music that needs to be heard.
To pick up his music, head over to iTUNES to find the two records he has available. You can also purchase physical copies in both CD and vinyl format in his ONLINE STORE. As for shows, check him and his band out at the Lifelight Festival in Worthing, SD on August 31st.
If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought no band could out do that, but I had seen Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk a few times before, and knew it was certainly possible.
Once they had everything setup and ready to go, Jay Christman counted them in on the drums, soon joined by guitarist Josh Akin, with the rest of the band following suit, too. It was a brief instrumental piece, a prelude of sorts, and moments after finishing it they began their first full song, “Let’s Make Our Escape”.
Musically it served to ease everyone into the show, being a bit of a slower song, but the group had instantly flipped the switch into performance mode, and Zoltan Szoges was multi-tasking. He played a keyboard with one hand, a tambourine with a kick pedal he worked with his foot and also alternated between a xylophone and an extra tom, flipping the drumstick in the air at the end of the first chorus, during one of the few breaks he got.
After finishing it, Lauren Mann announced their next song, before getting right back to striking the keys of her piano as they began what is one of their best and most beautiful songs, “A Traveler’s Anthem”. “…We-e-e-e-e-e could sail to new frontiers and le-e-e-eave behind all that we hold dear…” she sang on the chorus of the song that really fits this touring band, and the enunciation of some of those words is part of what makes it such a breathtaking track.
Those first two songs came from their 2012 album “Over Land and Sea”, which was re-released this year on a record label, but with their next song, they tapped their 2010 debut record, “Stories From Home”. It was the more tranquil “When I Feel Lost”, though it seemed a little more amped up for the live version, with Zoltan switching out instruments and rocking a keytar.
No sooner had they finished it then he took a seat behind the piano, which Lauren had just vacated. “…Don’t trust computers…” he said into the microphone, making fun of the technical issues that arose during those first few tracks with the laptop, which was presumably adding some sample tracks to the music. There were no devastating results from that, though, at least not as far as I could tell.
He continued talking at a rapid pace, making sure they could stick to their allotted time, and he kindly asked everyone to dance along to the next song if they felt like it. “…We’re from Canada and dancing is our national pastime.” He said, then added, “I’m just kidding…”
I didn’t see many dancing along, but before getting the song underway they did manage to get quite a few people clapping along to the beat. Then Lauren proceeded to pluck the strings of her ukulele, and Josh and bassist Jessica Christman finished fleshing out “How It Goes”, an infectious number that found Zoltan adding some extra percussion as he steadily beat on the floor tom. Lauren then wound it right into the lead track from their current record, the at times eerily beautiful “Fragile”. There were also a few lines here and there that Jessica chimed in on, harmonizing with Lauren, creating a lovely mixture of the two voices.
With some mangled guitar chords, which was more like feedback, Josh transitioned them into their next song, another oldie and favorite of mine, “The West Coast”. Upon finishing it, Lauren took a few moments to thank the crowd and such, as well as talk about a charity they’ve partnered up with, Charity Water, which helps bring clean drinking water to people in developing countries. It’s a cause they obviously feel strongly about, and it’s rather nice to see a touring band, who needs all the financial help they can get, promoting a worthy cause like that and trying to raise some money for them.
They resumed playing some music with another instrumental piece, the title escapes me at the moment, but it was a rendition of a more classical piece, with a very modern twist on it. That segued them into another standout song of their set, “Love, I Lost”. “…And we’ll find the place where we first embraced. Beginning and the end, could we begin again?” Lauren crooned at the end of this rather triumphant sounding track.
Josh swapped out to an acoustic guitar for the first part of the enchanting “Dance With Me”, switching back to the electric as the music began to culminate, and that led them to their final song of the night. Zoltan made one final bid to get people engaged in their set, saying he was going to be throwing some instruments out to anyone who wanted them. While Lauren whistled into the mic, the signature beginning to the single “I Lost Myself”, Zoltan was tossing out various percussion instruments to anyone and everyone. He started with some small shakers, then a few tambourines, but it was the last instrument that really surprised me.
Their massive bass drum had been setting to the right of the drum set, and aside from a few taps by Jay here and there, it had gone unused this night. Actually, the last time I saw them Zoltan even played it on a song or two, but not tonight. Instead, he hoisted the thing above his head to get it out of its tight spot, bringing it to the edge of the stage and then laying on the floor, rolling it out in the midst of the audience. He then threw out multiple drumsticks, enough that at least six people could have played if they wished. Everyone loved it, even though most had most likely never even heard of the band before, you could tell they gleefully excited to be a part of the performance, and that made for an excellent way to end their 37-minute long set.
Definitely the best band of the night, and out of the three Dallas shows Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk have done, I can say without hesitation this was the best.
With the exception of Lauren and Zoltan (who do happen to be husband and wife) and rest of the Fairly Odd Folk is often a changing cast, made up of whoever is able to join them at the time they need to tour. However, with Jay, Jessica and Josh I think they’re starting to get some more stable band mates, and they are definitely solid together.
A lot of that can probably be attributed to all the time they’ve spent on the road, doing a tour of Canada earlier this year, while I believe Zoltan said this was the thirty-third U.S. show on this tour, which boasts more than a whopping seventy shows. Yeah, all that time on the road has done them good, as they all operated in perfect synch with each other, having everything down to a tee, but kept it all spontaneous enough that you felt like you were watching something rehearsed. Rather, everyone here this night was getting their own experience of the band, as this show was different than, say, the one they had done the night before in San Antonio, or the one they would do after in Kansas City, MO.
They play a mix of folk/indie/pop music, with some touches of rock here and there, but don’t think they’re like any of the folk bands that are currently dominating mainstream music. Their sound is much different, and in my opinion it’s the lyrics that are more folk sounding, and they also have a lot of depth to them.
If you have chance, do go see Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk. Their live shows are a spectacle to watch, and their passion for what they are doing is constantly on display. Find all their tour dates HERE, and they do include some more throughout parts of Canada through June, with a West Coast tour starting in early July. Also, head over to iTUNES to find both of their records.
Robert Baker was the final band this night, and the band was a duo, consisting of Robert on an acoustic guitar as well as drummer. I stayed for probably about 20-minutes or so, but his music never clicked with me, so I just decided to leave.
Well, part of it was because I wasn’t feeling the music, but it also because after the show Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk put on, it was impossible to top.
Still, it was an excellent night of both homegrown talent and some amazing bands from abroad. I’m fortunate to have been able to see all three shows LM&TFOF have done here in Dallas thus far, and I’m looking forward to their next trip through town.
The music scene here in North Texas is a little more of a community, and of course many of the bands are connected one way or another. And today at the Richardson Wildflower Festival, several local and national touring acts were taking over the MetroPCS stage, all of whom had some deep-seated connections.
While bands had been playing since noon, I didn’t arrive until around four, which was when 76 was setting up, prepping for their 4:15 start time.
It was a few minutes after that scheduled start time when they actually began, and drummer Taz Bentley led them into their first of many polarizing classic sounding rock tracks. They didn’t let up at all either, and while singer and rhythm guitarist Terry Glaze was telling everyone who they were, Taz rolled things right into their next song, eventually joined by Kinley Wolfe who laced some bass lines over the beat. The song was one of my favorites of theirs, “The Drill”, which lead guitarist Brian Harris shined during as he cranked out a truly wicked solo. They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.
“We are now sufficiently warmed up and lubed…” said Terry once the song was finished, with his banter being the best thing about their show, right after the music of course. He then invited everyone over to Kinleys’ place after the show to eat some pancakes, and while he was saying that, Taz was adjusting the cowbell on his kit, because, as Terry said, they wanted to give it “optimum sound”. “This song’s called Try!” he shouted as they launched into the song, which was then followed by the fast paced adrenaline rush known as “Another One”, which loud and thick rhythm section and some stellar guitar riffs.
Their audience had been growing continuously, and if the fans hadn’t been “warmed up and lubed” before this, they most certainly were after that last song.
The witty banter continued as Terry jokingly informed everyone that they had written this next song while watching Honey Boo Boo and wishing they could be famous like her. He was setting up “I Want to be Famous”, which is about exactly what the title suggests, and it’s another very solid rock song. Afterwards, most of the band cleared off the stage, leaving Kinley up there alone to tear it up on his bass solo. It had been so long since I had seen the band, I had forgotten he even did this, but I hadn’t forgotten how amazing the solo was. The sounds he slaps out of it don’t even sound like a bass, instead being more comparable to that of a guitar as he attacked the four strings.
That lasted around a couple minutes before his band mates made their way back on stage, with Terry informing the audience that their next song was called “Meathead”. They kept the rock flowing with a song “about enabling your child” titled “Leave Me Alone”, where Terry screamed some of the lines in a higher falsetto voice, reminiscent of what you hear in some of the classic rock songs from the 70’s. “That’s what you say to your child the next time they ask for something reasonable.” He said to everyone, seeming dead serious. “Red Dress Woman” was their next song, and one I don’t recall hearing before, though it sounded great, and then they ended things with “Don’t Know Why”… Or at least that’s how it seemed.
“Do you want to play a song from that band on your shirt?” Terry asked Brian, who responded with a hesitant, “I guess.” It was no act, they were definitely going off track with this one.
The shirt he wore was a Thin Lizzy shirt, and he asked what song they should do, with Terry telling him to pick. Brian slowly strummed his guitar, while Terry admitted they “don’t usually do this”, adding, “But this is our last show, we’re breaking up after this…”, which was hopefully a joke. The song they choose to do was “Cowboy Song”, doing a great rendition of it, and with it their 42-minute long set came to a close.
What a show this was. They’re all old school musicians and the music they create is pure, straight up Rock ‘n’ Roll, similar to that of the 70’s and 80’s, you know, before so many mainstream rock bands of today lost their way. Their live show is filled with stage presence and they pack in a lot of energy, too, while knowing how to work the crowd and make sure they’re getting the most out of the experience.
Unfortunately, 76 doesn’t play too often, but when they do, you better make sure you see the show, and to make sure you don’t miss out on their next gig, go throw them a like on their FACEBOOK PAGE.
So, how is 76 connected to the other bands that would follow, well, Taz played drums for The Burden Brothers, which was the band Vaden Todd Lewis formed after the Toadies initial breakup in 2001.
Next up on the stage was my local favorite, Descender.
“We’re Descender and we’re from The Colony.” Said singer and rhythm guitarist Casey Hess, using one of his go-to jokes. He then added, “This is our first show ever. We’re nervous” Their fans knew otherwise, but any new listeners may well have thought that was true.
With the release of their new EP on the horizon, they’ve been working all the new stuff into the live show, beginning with two of the heaviest and most intense songs, the first of which I believe was “Silver Lightning”. They patched it perfectly into “The Language”, which is more of a guitar rock track, with some killer lines from both Casey and lead guitarist Jeff Gruber. The always awesome “Spinning On the Surface” followed, before they finally got into some of their older material, but first, Casey had some more banter for the audience.
He asked for a Platinum Miller Light, saying “…There are some afternoons you just need one.” but he couldn’t contain his laughter for long, adding, “I’m kidding, there are never afternoons like that.” Good think Miller Light wasn’t a sponsor of this stage. The only way to follow that assault of intense songs was with a fan favorite from the “Dark Water” EP, “Hats Off To Your Reflection”. Jeff was constantly jumping around stage left on this song, all the while shredding on his axe, while Zack Busby took a few liberties with his bass lines on the songs chorus, changing them up slightly, which worked to make the song even more incredible than it already is.
There were only a couple of new songs left, and now they did the title track from the forthcoming EP, “Slow and Gold”. Somehow, this song continues to grow on me, despite it already being one of my favorite Descender tracks. It’s the way Duncan Black’s forceful drum beats weave with the lyrics, particularly at the start, giving the song almost an eerie vibe, before it soars to life, then ends with a unique sound created by Jeff repeatedly tapping a string with a slide on his finger.
“I’m feeling the power of Richardson…” Casey said, before they cranked out another newer track, “I Will Help You Find the Darkness”. He then introduced their next song as being “about the human heart”, leading them into the title track from their first EP, “Army Of Elephants”. That long song, which has a lengthy and dynamic instrumental break, is typically their closing song, and it seemed like it would be this day, but after finishing it they had a band discussion, quite possible deciding to add a couple more songs to their set.
“This song’s about divorce.” Casey said, offering the simple explanation to their tune “Armor”, which they immediately jumped into. Being such a personal song is what makes it their song, and there’s an abundant amount of emotion packed into to it, as they tore through the song. They weren’t done quite yet, though, tacking one more song on to their 50-minute long set and I’m pretty certain that out of all the times I’ve seen them this was the first time I’ve heard them cap things off with “Dark Water”.
The thing about their show, while it may have been just short of an hour, it didn’t seem like it, and passed by all too quickly, which in the long run is a good thing.
They were phenomenal, and at the very least the second best act I saw this day, though I think they kinda tied for first. They’re all amazing musicians in their own right, and with each show, even after being a band for years, they’re still tightening up and becoming even more of a well-oiled machine. However, I feel they’re one of Dallas’s most underrated bands, not receiving the recognition they really deserve.
Come check them out on July 27th at Three Links in Dallas. It’ll be the album release show for their split vinyl album with fellow Dallas act Here Holy Spain, and I imagine that will be a night not to forget. Also, visit their store in iTUNES and check out their first two EP’s.
As far as the connection between Descender and at least one of the other bands, well, Casey and Zack also played in The Burden Brothers.
So far, even before I got to the Wildflower Festival, this stage had been dominated by rock acts, but now it was time for a change of pace as a Texas favorite, Eleven Hundred Springs, got ready to take the stage, bringing with them their sound of Outlaw Texas Country music.
After greeting their large audience, the quintet kicked off their 62-minute long set with a cover of ZZ Top’s “Thunderbird”, which immediately caught everyone’s attention, and at the end they wound it right into one of their originals. “Roll up another joint…” sang the bands singer and guitarist Matt Hillyer, the opening line of “Thunderbird Will Do Just Fine”. There was a little crowd participation on this one, with many of their diehard fans shouting the backing vocals on the start of the second verse, “Trying hard not to fall.” They kept things moving right along with a track from 2011’s “Eight the Hard Way” called “We’re From Texas”. It’s a classic, especially for any Texans, and one this song Burton Lee got to demonstrate his skills on the pedal still guitar, doing a solo, which was then followed by Jordan Hendrix rocking out a solo on his fiddle.
Matt took a moment to chat with the crowd at this point, speaking almost as fast as an auctioneer does, mentioning, among other things, how glad they were to be on this bill, saying it was “a perfect storm of friends”. He was talking about all the other amazing bands on this bill and how they had all known each other for many years, noting it was great to finally be sharing a stage together.
Soon enough, they launched into a single from the “This Crazy Life” record, “Show me The Money (Or I’ll Show You The Door)”. Near the start of it, drummer Arjuna Contreras had a short break from banging on the kit, so while he was waiting to re-enter the song he was twirled one his drumsticks, continuously, spinning it about between his fingers for several seconds. They next did another song from that record, “Great American Trainwreck”, before doing one of many covers they tackled this night. It was a rendition of George Jones’s “Nothing Ever Hurt Me (Half as Bad as Losing You)”, which they gave a fuller sound to, complete with a pretty strong rhythm section from bassist Steve Berg and Arjuna. The wind was blowing a lot this day, and early on in the song it lifted Matts’ cowboy hat right of his head, sending someone who was back stage watching the band racing to catch it. Matt barely even acknowledged it, though, and really didn’t even break eye contact with the audience as he continued to sing.
They got back to their original material with another single of theirs, “This Ain’t the First Time (But it’s the Worst Time)”. “I came home loaded again… We all know how the story ends, D-I-V-O-R-C-E…” begins the song, being just another example of witty their songs are, telling an actual story that also happens to be laced with comedic elements. They picked up the pace a little more with “Every Time I Get Close To You”, and that quicker song had a lot of people moving around, even dancing along to it.
Afterwards, Matt took a few seconds to address country music and the two main topics that all real country music is about. One of those was cheating while the other drinking, “…Or sometimes a song’s about both of those together…” he said, then added a few more acceptable topics, kind of like they were sub-genres. That served to set up “Hard Working Just Ain’t Working Anymore”, a song that touches on the current economic situation that a lot of people could probably relate to, at least in some aspect. Upon finishing it they did another quick cover, which truly began the cover portion of their set.
Once it was done, Matt again exclaimed how happy they were to be on this bill, before they launched into what was a highlight of this show, “Why You Been Gone So Long” which was done by Carl Perkins, and their version appears on the “Bandwagon” album. Matt’s good about shouting out all his band mates, especially before they do a solo, giving it up to Burton before he did another solo on his pedal steel. “Matt Hillyer on guitar!” he shouted not long after Burton finished, when Matt did a little solo. He began laughing right after he did it, glancing over at Steve, who was also laughing and shaking his head over what his friend and band mate had done. Just for the record, it was all in good fun, and certainly not done in a conceited way.
Their covers continued with a song originally done by Terry Fell, “Truck Drivin’ Man”, which ended up being another personal favorite of mine this night. “Whose Heart Are You Breaking Tonight” came next, and the more serious song offered a break from the covers, as did the catchy “Stuff You Can’t Refuse”. They resumed playing some stuff from other various country greats with a song by Ronnie Dawson, “Rockin’ Bones”, which was a good fit for the guys of Eleven Hundred Springs. They also tried their hand at a track made famous by Waylon Jennings, putting a very upbeat take on “I’m a Ramblin’ Man”.
They kept the music going, though brought it down some so Matt could address the crowd, giving a little speech basically acknowledging that while we all come from different walks of life, we’re really all the same. You could feel the fans excitement grow, knowing they were about to do “Long Haired Tattooed Hippie Freaks”. Perhaps the best part came when Matt sang the line, “Well, it’s been some time since I cut this long ass hair…”, shrugging as he sang it. It was funny because since the last time I had seen them (July of the previous year) he had cut his hair, a lot. His appearance may not have matched the lyrics, but regardless of what he looks like, he’ll always be a “long haired tattooed hippie freak” at heart.
They had been going for awhile at this point, probably playing a little over their allotted time actually, but no one minded a bit, and to wrap things up they did one more fan favorite, “Raise Hell, Drink Beer”. It’s almost more of a rock song, just because it’s so loud, and it offered a perfect note to end on.
There are still great country acts out there, and Eleven Hundred Springs is one of them. The music they play does justice to the true country sound created by the most iconic musicians of the genre, in regards to both the music and lyrics. Their songs predominately are about the two subjects mentioned earlier, cheating and drinking, as well as some other fun topics like heartbreak, smoking weed and many other things.
Their shows are incredibly fun, and you’ll find yourself glued to each of the band members at various points throughout their set, and really, how many bands have an entire lineup so riveting they can do that?
They have plenty of records that you should definitely check out in iTUNES. They also have a plethora of gigs coming up, and for the full schedule, go HERE. Some include a show in Austin on June 21st at the Broken Spoke. June 22nd at the June Bug Festival in Ben Wheeler, TX, June 28th at Three Links in Dallas, July 4th at the City Park in Lake Dallas and many, many more.
And really, do check out EHS in some capacity. I know a lot of people don’t like country music, and to an extent I’m one of those people, but I love Eleven Hundred Springs, even if I do only see them a few times a year.
So, you’re probably wondering how a country band is connected with all these rock acts. Well, the most notable connection again goes back to when the Toadies broke up and drummer Mark Reznicek was without a band, eventually finding a home with EHS.
The one remaining act before the main course was another Dallas based band, the rockabilly/psychobilly outfit known as the Reverend Horton Heat.
A few years back I had seen a bit of the bands set, leaving then because personally, I didn’t much care for them. But tonight leaving was not an option, so I went and found a place to sit to rest my legs and prepared to see if they could change my opinion of them.
They opened with their song “Psychobilly Freakout” from 1990’s “Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em” album. Upon finishing it, singer and guitarist Jim Heath mentioned that, that song came from “album number one” and now they were going to do something from album number two. They continued this unique trend, tackling one song each from their albums in chronological order.
They kept it pretty straightforward, going from one song almost right into the next, but once they got to the fifth record, they took a timeout of sorts while Jim mentioned that “Space Heater” is widely regarded as being their worst album. Now, I might not be a fan of the bands, and granted, I haven’t actually listened to the album in full, but just judging from the song they played, it wasn’t that bad.
A track from their six release came next, and then seventh, which I believe was the track “Galaxie 500” (if it wsn’t played then it was played sometime in their hour plus long set), and by the time they got to their eighth song, Jim added some humor to it, saying, “Y’all are probably wondering how many albums we have.” The answer to that question is ten, though some are compilation albums, and I believe it was after the track from album eight, “Revival”, that they began to deviate from the established pattern.
Along with some more originals, they also did a few covers, during which Matt “The Cat” AKA Matt Hillyer of Eleven Hundred Springs joined them for, and he even sang on one of them.
At one point in the show they even did a song that found Jim taking over the upright bass played by Jimbo Wallace, while he picked up guitar duty and sang a song, having a pretty good voice. While a highlight of their set, and one even I enjoyed was “$400”.
In the long run, no, I didn’t much care for their set, and I have never been able to get into the rockabilly or psychobilly genres. They just don’t appeal to me, and in the case of the Reverend Horton Heat, while it would be unfair to say all their music sounds the same, there were several songs that sounded awfully similar to me.
If you’d like to see the Reverend live, visit their TOUR DATES page, as they have a ton of shows on the books. And of course you can find their records in iTUNES.
One connection between them and the other acts is Taz Bentley, who spent some time as their drummer from the very late 80’s until the mid-90’s. Also, at live shows The Burden Brothers were known to cover “$400”, while the Toadies featured a recording of the track on their 2012 album, with the song being available exclusively through iTUNES.
Speaking of the Toadies, the time was drawing ever closer for them to start, and no sooner had the Reverend Horton Heat finished their set than the Toadies fans began to fill in what few spaces became available, staking out the best possible spots they could get.
10:30 came slowly, and it was even after their scheduled time before Richardson’s Mayor pro tem stepped on stage, thanked all their sponsors, then finally gave it up to the Toadies. It still wasn’t quite time yet, though, but luckily their intro track seemed rather short.
They didn’t bust right into a song after assuming their spots on stage, instead, Vaden Todd Lewis asked everyone how they were doing, waiting for a response, which was deafening. Really, how could everyone not be doing well and excited, knowing that the Fort Worth rockers were about to unleash all their hits and then some.
After Todd and lead guitarist Clark Vogeler made some final adjustments to their guitars, they suddenly ripped into “I Come from the Water”, much to the crowds delight. Sticking to tradition, Todd shouted at everyone to “Sing it!” right before hitting the chorus, and just about the entire mass of people yelled it at the top of their lungs. I’ve said it before, but those moments where everyone is singing along in unison makes for one of the best concert moments I’ve ever experienced, and I’d even say it’s an experience every music fan needs to have at least once.
There was just enough pause after that song to allow some applause before Todd began “Push the Hand”, really taking off once Mark Reznicek and Doni Blair entered in, on the drums and bass, respectively, along with Clark, and with that track the energy they were exuding continued to mount, and drastically so as the song neared its explosive end. No sooner had it ended and then Clark wailed on his guitar, jumping and doing a 360-degree turn. There was a moment of silence after the notes rang out, before they dove into one of the best tracks from last year’s “Play.Rock.Music.”, “Animals”. The song seemed to fit best here, verses being played later on in the set like the more recent times I’ve seen them. The primal song really added to what they had been building on with their first two.
The thing about their new stuff though, is while performing it (or at least most of it) everyone around me started blankly ahead at the stage, as if they had suddenly started singing in Chinese or some other language no one knew. They were enjoying it, but no one really knew it, making me feel slightly out of place that I was singing along.
I guess that goes to show that, at least to the majority of fans, where it’s at is with the Toadies old stuff, and the throng of fans went wild when they moved on to their next song, “Backslider”. I get it, 94’s “Rubberneck” is as solid a record as a band can make, and it’s pretty iconic at that. But on the flipside, their newer stuff from the last five years can be every bit as great, and with their next song, a single from their current record, the crowd showed they have embraced some of the Toadies new music.
“Summer of the Strange” is one of the most unique songs the band has done, from the bass riffs that get it going to the odd ebb and flow it has, and there were quite a few fans singing along to it. Sometime around this point Todd mentioned he had no banter, as he had used it all on Abilene the night before when they played out there. So, instead of making small talk with the audience, they just focused on the music, which is what they are best at after all, and no sooner had that previous song ended, then Todd proceeded to play the hypnotic notes of their next track. “Peel away your skin, just a little more. You can let me in, just a little more…” he sang, the opening line of one of my favorites, “Sweetness”. They weren’t done with the constant onslaught of rock, though, winding that song right into another classic, “Happy Face”.
After a break just long enough to fit some applause into, Mark got their next song going by producing some steady beats on his kit, leading them into “Waterfall”, the only song from the “Feeler” record they do these day, but is much as I love that song, things really got good with their next one.
There’s one of their hits that I haven’t heard much of the last few times I’ve seen them (granted that’s only a couple shows a year usually), and all day, hell, all week I had been wondering to myself, “I wonder if they’ll do Quitter.” Well, guess what they pulled out now. It’s arguable one of the bands most intense tracks and aiding it is the at times eerie mood it creates with the lyrics, for example, the last verse, “In the coming days the dust will cover all the evidence of your first lover. I hope wherever you are now you’ll wake up…” It was a three and a half minute long (give or take) thrill ride, and a definite highlight of the show.
“No Deliverance” came next, a song where Todd really put his bullet microphone to use, and afterwards there was a break while he switched to another guitar. I heard someone around me telling a friend to “get excited” and that, that was a good sign, and indeed it was, as Clark ripped into his guitar, using his whammy bar a bit to create the opening of “Away”. The fans participated a little on this one, too, shouting out “When I’m away!” a few times on what is somewhat the bridge of the song.
From here on out they rotated between tracks from their 2012 record and their 1994 major label debut, first doing one of the most gripping songs from “Play.Rock.Music”, “Magic Bullet”, which again had people looking dumbfounded in a way, though you could tell they were digging the tune. “That’s off our fifth record?” Todd began to state, before it turned into a question. He looked at Clark who confirmed he was right, “Yeah, our fifth record.” He said. “Here’s an old one.” he then said as they broke out “Possum Kingdom”, which got the loudest roar from the crowd. It goes to show how music can truly stand the test of time, since that was a radio hit nearly two decades ago now, and still to this day it’s the song all their fans are dying to hear.
The slow(er) and dark “Sunshine” switched things up a bit, though they kicked it back into high gear as they bridged the end of it into “Mister Love”. They weren’t quite done yet, either, and after things got set up, they cranked out the lead track and single from their newest release, “Rattler’s Revival”. It’s a rock song through and through and the Toadies at their finest while playing it, easily holding its own against their older music.
That could have been a perfect way to end the main set, but they had something even better in store, bringing to the stage Taz Bentley and Arjuna Contreras, who set up some small partial drum kits. Well the roadies were taking care of that, Doni’s younger brother Zach Blair also walked on stage, adding a third guitar to the mix. To kill time Todd mentioned that Zach played in Rise Against. “…I don’t know how he managed to get in…” he joked. Once everything was set up, they kicked off the final song of their 71-minute long set, “I Burn”. “We got stupid!” shouted the crowd after Todd sang the line “Through the ages…”. Shortly after was when their guest drummers joined in as the song truly sprang to life. It was the perfect way to end the show, but of course they weren’t done just yet.
After a minute or two of the audience chanting for more, the four members returned to the stage, starting their 11-minute encore with “Hell In High Water”. The heavy percussion is where it’s at with that song, with Mark owning his drum kit, which resulted in many of the fans thrashing about to the beat. Once they finished it, Todd again thanked everyone for coming out and spending the night with them, saying they only had one left. Everyone had to know “Tyler”, but they were still elated to hear it, and celebrated the amazing song that ended what was one of the best Toadies shows I’ve seen.
Since last year’s Dia de los Toadies music festival the band has been on fire, and that show and the one they did in Fort Worth last October found them reaching new heights, at least out of the time I’ve seen them, and their performance this night was pretty close up there with those two.
It’s kind of amazing that now five years into their second coming the band is still tightening up their live shows, but they are, and they pushed themselves to a whole new level. Believe me, after all, it was this very festival and this very stage where I first saw the Toadies four years ago. It was a great show and I’ll always remember it fondly since it was the first time I saw them, but the difference between that show four years ago and the one this night is like night and day.
Part of that’s probably because they now have two more albums to draw from, and then the show staples just seemed enhanced, and have reached new heights.
The bands show calendar is somewhat empty at the moment, but they do have a few shows coming up. One will be on July 6th at Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels, which has been the home of their music festival for the last three years, but not this year. This year the sixth annual Dia de los Toadies will be held at the Panther Island Pavilion in their hometown of Fort Worth. The almost acoustic show will be held on September 13th and the next day, the 14th, will be the day long rock fest featuring several different bands. And also, do check out their records in iTUNES.
This was a fun day at the Richardson Wildflower Festival, and even if I went just for some of the bands, the it’s much more than just a music festival. It focuses heavily on the arts, too, with several vendors setting up shop for three days. It’s a great festival, and I’m already looking forward to what acts they’ll get to play it next year.
It was a bit of a somber night here in Denton at Dan’s Silverleaf this night.
The reason was because the Denton based Spooky Folk, who have made a name for themselves not just in the college town, but the whole North Texas music scene, was calling it quits. At least temporarily. The bands singer and rhythm guitarist Kaleo Kaualoku was getting ready to move to Denver with his fiancé, meaning it’d be basically impossible for the band to play regularly anymore, and this was a sendoff show for him, and even the band in a way.
Only one band was opening this show, and that privilege went to Tony Ferraro and the Satans of Soft Rock, who kicked off their set a little after nine.
Lead guitarist Ryan Thomas Becker jumped into the air, strumming his guitar as he did so, and as soon as he landed drummer Justin Collins and the rest of the band started “King Run-a-Thon”. It was an electric opener and seemed even more vibrant than the recorded version, or at the very least Tony Ferraros’ voice grabbed your attention more here in the live setting.
Their set had an excellent flow to it, as they smoothly transitioned from one song to the next, and as soon as they finished that first song Ryan proceeded to play some different notes, leading them into “Satanic Verses”. Out of all their material, it arguable has the best music bed, being very catchy with the bass lines that David Howard plays, the piano notes provided by Chris Gomez, as well as the guitars and drums intertwining incredibly well with one another. They work in some nice points of crescendo, too. As soon as they finished it, they whipped right into “Children In Fur Coats”, where Tonys’ distinctive voice shined as he sang the chorus, “You will always have a home here…”
They did two more songs afterwards, doing both in rapid succession, and finally they took an actually break where Tony again thanked everyone for coming out for this special night. “…Let’s do Children In Fur Coats.” He said, before his band mates pointed out to him they had already done it, causing Tony to laugh at himself. I guess that just goes to show how truly excited he was about this gig. Instead, they did the last remaining track from the “Friend of Man and Beast Alike” EP, “I Am The Engine”, which was a true highlight of their set.
They were really on a roll now, and didn’t let up as they cranked out “Assemble The Bitch Wolves”, which may be a slower song, but it’s still loaded with rock, and both Tony and Ryan skillfully plucked the strings of their axes, proving themselves to be masters of the craft, or at the very least experts. They stepped things back up with the rip-roaring “Diaspora”, then did one more non-album track before showing off a couple of surprises.
Tony invited Kaleo and Petra Kelly of Spooky Folk on stage with them, saying they could use their help singing along. He then extended the offer to the other three members of the group, which Jesse Perry took them up on, and Tony apologized, saying they were just “afterthoughts”. “That’s terrible, who would say something like that?!” Ryan said to him, just giving him a hard time. The song was “No, We Can’t Be Friends”, which was a true sing along, with many of the fans joining in with the collection of musicians on stage, all belting out the chorus, “No, we can’t be friends, we can’t be friends…” It made for an awesome moment, and typically, I believe that’s how they end their shows, but this was a special night after all, and they had one last trick up their sleeve. They covered a song by one of music’s greatest icons, John Lennon, putting a more rock spin on “Instant Karma”, with Tony, Ryan, Jesse, Petra and Kaleo all singing on the chorus.
It was an amazing rendition they did, and given the circumstances of this night, it was a perfect way to conclude their 45-minute long set.
This was only the second time I had seen Tony Ferraro and his Satans of Soft Rock, and I thought they were even better this time around. Everything was very on point and they were all in perfect synch with one another, being one collective unit that dominated.
Unfortunately, this was a bit of a sad night for these guys too, because David Howard is also moving to Denver, making this his final show with the band. Each band is different in how they handle a band member leaving, but I hope his departure doesn’t result in a big change in the bands dynamic, because they have something great going on.
You can download all of their music for FREE by going to their BANDCAMP PAGE, so do check that out, and to keep up-to-date with the future of the band and what shows they might have coming up, go give their FACEBOOK PAGE a like.
As it approached time for Spooky Folk to start, the intimate venue began to fill up quickly. It may have been a Monday night, but that hadn’t stopped their fans from all over the area coming out in droves to experience the last Spooky Folk show for some time.
They had promised a lengthy show for this night, saying they were even going to do some songs they hadn’t done in quite awhile, however, as they got going, their focus was on their newer material from their forthcoming album, segueing their first two songs into one another and doing one more after that. At this point singer and rhythm guitarist Kaleo Kaualoku took a moment to inform everyone that over at their merch table they could pre-order a copy of the new record, which would in turn help them pay for it. Violinist and backing singer Petra Kelly then chimed in with her own commentary by saying that everyone should “cry tears of sadness” over Kaleo moving and leaving them there. I think she was trying to make light of the situation, despite the fact that she looked like she could burst into tears at any moment.
The barrage of new stuff continued with another song, before they slowed things down, doing a short track from their debut album, “Diddle”. Live the song was overwhelmingly beautiful, especially the final lines as Kaleo and Petra harmonized, crooning, “Looking for love in all the wrong places seems to be common these days.” Their voices mixed magnificently, and that song was almost more of a prelude in a way, because shortly after they finished they started in on another newer one, “Kicking and Screaming”, which was greeted warmly by the crowd. It’s the band at their best with a constant ebb and flow, and Kaleo is constantly changing up his voice to match Chris Brown’s drumming, going from almost a whisper to full on shouting and then back down again all in mere seconds.
They finally touched some stuff from their self-titled debut record (or at least full songs from it) by doing the mostly serene “Modern World”, then picked things back up with a fan favorite, “Polaroid”. The crowd and the band livened up on that one, especially in the speedy final minutes of the song, which saw Jesse really start to throw down and race about the stage, while Scarlett Wright got a little faster in playing the bass in order to keep up with the beat, but still maintained that traditional calm swagger bassists have.
Upon finishing it the band asked everyone to raise a glass to Grady Don Sandlin, because the well known area musician who also produced and recorded Spooky Folk’s first record couldn’t be here this night because he was on his honeymoon. “…He’s busy having sex…” Jesse added, a blunt comment that got a laugh from just about everybody. Things then turned back to their music, and while Jesse was taking over on Scarletts’ bass, and she in turn was readying her melodica, Petra played a petty solo on her violin, which set them up for “Resurrect!”. It was one of the few songs that had nearly everybody singing along, shouting the chorus right back to the band, “…Everything is wrong when you know that’s right, reach down, deep down somewhere inside, let me know that one day everything is gonna be just fine.” Since first hearing that’s always been a favorite Spooky Folk of mine, and I’d even say it’s one of the most interesting songs in general, due largely to the unique sound the melodica gives it.
They unloaded one more new song on their fans, before doing a golden oldie that, as Petra said, they hadn’t “played in years”. It was one of the longest songs from their album, “Stars”. “Now it’s time for us to rest our heads, watch the stars go up and go to bed…” crooned Kaleo when the song hit its lull, and at that part Jesse mimicked the words, as he placed his hands together to make a pillow and rested his head on them, pretending to sleep. As serious as they are about putting on a good show, they’re also all about having a good time, and that proved it.
Thus ended their 48-minute long set, or at least the first one, as they told everyone they were going to take a little break and then get back up there to rock some more.
Sure enough, a little over an hour after they started their first set, Petra and Kaleo again took the stage, performing a song as a duo, and I believe that song was “Darkest Shade Of Gray”. Chris, Scarlett and Jesse then returned to do the song that used to begin their shows, “My Niagara Heart”.
The pulse-pounding track made it obvious they had saved most of the best for last, even if it was followed by the rarely played gem “I Am A Ghost”, which may be slow and rather gloomy for most of it, but it has some very poignant lyrics. They followed it with “This Sleep”, which worked well and bridged from them back into a full blown rock mode.
Once they finished it, someone bought some shots for them and they were handed out to the band. “…Scarlett is a heavy drinker and you should all pray for her…” Said Jesse, right after Scarlett had said that she doesn’t drink.
At this point in the show, Kaleo had broken a string on his guitar, and he had to borrow one from one of the earlier musicians, namely Ryan Becker. Once he said something about it Petra noted how appropriate that was. See, it was appropriate because they next covered an RTB2 song, specifically “Bottle The Bees”. They put an interesting twist on it, part of which was probably due to them having three more instruments than RTB2 does, but it was a killer cover all the same. They kept things going with what I believe was another newer track of theirs, following it with another tune from their first record, “Rare Bird”, which I’m pretty certain was the song that before starting Petra told everyone it was okay if they cried during it. I don’t think anyone did, but if they had than this song about love and loss would have been the perfect song to shed a few tears to.
As the show began to wind down, Kaleo again informed everyone that this was not a goodbye or a final farewell, saying that once the record was done he would come back to Denton in order to do a CD release show, making it sound like it would be much like this night with multiple sets involved. He also made sure to let the fans know that the new record was nearing completion and is going to be released one of these days. With that they ripped into yet another new song, before doing their final three tracks.
The crowd was elated to hear “Disheveled”, which, in its relatively short existence has already become a hit, and rightfully so, because it’s just a step above their other stuff, being catchy and aggressive, and also features some wicked guitar notes from both Jesse and Kaleo.
All night, on stage right there had been a pedal steel guitar, which I wondered when they were going to put to use, and now Burton Lee, who is best known for playing the pedal steel in the Texas Outlaw Country group Eleven Hundred Springs, joined them on stage and took his seat behind the instrument. The first song he helped them with was a bit of a shock, as they covered Garth Brooks classic, “Friends in Low Places”. Mind you, their rendition wasn’t nearly as country as the original, in fact it was quite electrifying and they did a delightful version of it, with most of the band singing on each chorus.
Then it was time for their final song, which Burton stuck around for. Kaleo knew everyone here knew their final song, and he requested that all the fans join in, saying if they didn’t they’d break up right here and now, noting it wouldn’t be a pretty break up, either. Everyone gladly obliged, though I think they would have sung along to “Bible Belt” even it hadn’t been made into a requirement. “I was born on the bible belt, give me something sharp so I can kill myself, because I can’t go on living this way…” the crowd roared each time on the chorus. The five core members were obviously having the time of their lives performing that song, with Petra happily shaking the tambourine she had swapped out with her violin. In all this second set lasted 57-minutes, and those 57-minutes seemed to pass by too quickly.
The band didn’t just exit the stage, instead they all surrounded Kaleo, hugging him and surely telling him what a fun ride it has been. They then showed their appreciation to everyone by taking a bow and then posing for some group shots, and once they were done Petra quickly left the stage, noticeably wiping away a few tears that she had been holding back all night.
Even if the other members didn’t show it so easily, I imagine they felt the same, and you really can’t blame them, because after all this is the end of a near in a sense. No, they aren’t breaking up and yes, they will do more shows, but they’ll never again (or at least not for a long time) be playing multiple shows a month around the Denton/Dallas/Fort Worth area. Sadly, things will probably never be the same, for them or their fans.
Personally, I can’t say I’m too torn up about it, because as much as I love Spooky Folk, I never saw them on a very regular basis. Still, it was nice knowing I had the option to go see them.
As far as this show goes, it was the eighth time I had seen the band, and hands down it was the best. You could tell they put a lot of work into it with rehearsals and such to make sure it was as big a spectacle as possible. Not only that, but they poured their souls into it, even more so then usual, and left it all on the stage.
They might still be a band, but nonetheless, North Texas lost one of its best, most original, unique and even somewhat quirky bands this night.
According to the talk this night, they are hoping to release their new album sometime this summer, so maybe a few months down the road they’ll be back for another party to mark the release of it. In the meantime, you can listen to/buy their first record on their BANDCAMP PAGE.
What a night and what a show this was. I’m glad I was able to bear witness to it and the drive to Denton was more than worth it.
NOTE: All photos are courtesy of Geoffrey Ussery and all rights belong exclusively to him. Visit his BLOG to see all the great pictures he takes of the various bands he sees. For the full photo set of Tony Ferraro & the Satans of Soft Rock go HERE. For the full photo set of Spooky Folk go HERE.
A few different venues throughout Dallas were hosting what they billed as Homegrown after parties, and the one I most wanted to see was at Three Links, the new venue that has moved into the old LaGrange space.
The venue is essentially the same, though it has undergone some aesthetic changes, which were all for the best. A luxurious looking red curtain now hangs on the wall behind the stage, with the same fabric acting as trim around the stage. It makes things look pretty classy.
As for the music, it was an interesting mix this night, with a couple punk rock bands opening, while the electronic group Ishi was headlining the show.
The first act up was PVC Street Gang, who was almost done by the time I arrived.
I’m kind of glad all I saw was their final song, because I didn’t much care for their stuff. It was just too rough around the edges for me, with the bands singer/guitarist doing more screaming than I care for.
The second trio of the night mined a similar vein as the first, but the one big difference was I knew I liked The Phuss, and it had been far too long since I last saw one of their shows.
The aggressive punk rock act began their set with “Something to Die For”, which seemed especially fierce this night. In fact, during one of the instrumental breaks when Joshua Fleming was slinging his guitar (and body) about the stage, he knocked his mic out of the stand, resulting in a loud sounding thud. A fan tried to fix it, but he didn’t have enough time before the next line of the song, so instead he held it for Josh while he shouted into the microphone.
Eventually it got put back in place and stayed, and mere moments after finishing that song than Josh started them in on their next one, “One for Now Three for Later”. As usual, during the brief silence before the second verse the fans helped out by shouting “BITCH!”, as did band members bassist Forrest Barton, drummer Trey Alfaro and Josh, all off mic. Already they were seeming more driven than usual and their raw, primal energy had everyone’s full attention in the packed venue.
“Are you fucking ready, Dallas?!” yelled Josh as he tuned his guitar. The audience roared to signify they were, while his response was, “Yeah, I fucking doubt it.” It was also during this time that some of the fans were asking for things to be turned up louder, and Josh told the sound guy to “blast everyone out” ‘cause it was what they wanted. It nearly did too, and from “Stupid Girl” on out you could feel the bass lines Forrest was cranking out as they shook several internal organs. Now that’s rock at its best.
Afterwards, Josh mentioned to everyone they had been in the studio for just a few days and were about to go back in the next week or so for a few more and try to finish recording. That was the segue into some of their newer material, the first of which, if I heard correctly, was called “Straight-line Impala”, and it was pretty badass. I favored the next song even more, though. They then did some more stuff from last year’s self-titled record, with Josh saying they had been having fun so far, but they were about to get serious for a minute, as they tore into “Bleed”. It’s filled with pain and anger, and both emotions are apparent in Josh’s singing, as he angrily yells, “…You’re gonna bleed me dry…” It was also during that song that Trey broke one of his drumsticks, hurling what was left of it to the crowd, quickly replacing it and barely missed a beat.
Their onslaught of rock continued with the gritty “The Romantic”, and at the end of it they wound it right into another one of their newer songs, which is my personal favorite of their new stuff, as it evokes the true spirit of Rock ‘n’ Roll. They began to wind things down with their song about being young, sorta, “21 Ain’t What It Was”. That led them to their final song, as Trey started laying down the beat, tossing his drumsticks up in the air one at a time, then barely flipping them again once they got into his left hand as he hit one of his toms. That’s one of the most entrancing moments of “Preacher, Preacher”, but the song didn’t’ fully take off until the bass and guitar roared to life and the fans started shouting along to what Josh was singing.
It creates a wonderful concert moment, and that song alone is an experience. Josh again encouraged everyone to come buy some of their merch, which they had on sale, before leaving the stage, but he didn’t get far before the crowd started chanting for an encore and the request was undeniable. “..>We’ll do one more…” he said after returning to the stage, “But it’s gonna be a short one god dammit!” It wasn’t short, at least not my definition of short, but it was a kickass tune and brought their set time to a lengthy 46-minutes.
The last couple of Phuss shows I saw, which were at the end of last year, they had pushed themselves to a whole new level in regards to their performance, and they’ve only built upon that since.
They’re more precise and in synch with each other than a lot of bands will ever be, and their live show is a raw, violent explosion of rock, just like it should be, and that makes them one of the best bands in the D/FW area that you could see right now.
Pick up their self-titled album in ITUNES, and expect a new release from The Phuss sometime later in the year. Also, they’ll be headlining Club Dada in Dallas on June 14th, with some great talent opening for them.
Now it was time for the headliner, and just eight short days after Ishi had done their monumental CD release show, they were giving their hometown another dose of love, and Dallas was more than ready for it.
The fans packed in tighter than sardines as they got ready to start, and for the first time in my few short years of being an Ishi fan, I was going to see them as a three-piece, sans the backing female vocalist, a role which has been filled by Becky Middleton for the last few years.
Right before they got going, singer John Mudd left the stage, making a few additions to his wardrobe, as he returned looking very similar to how he did at their CD release show. He wore a mink stole of sorts draped around his shoulders and sported a hat that was covered with reflective pieces of glass, like what a disco ball has.
Much of the audience sang right along with him as he made something of an “Ooooooh” sound to start of their opener, “Mirror Ball Sky”. It also didn’t take anyone long to succumb to the music, as much of the crowd started dancing and even jumping around, fully engulfed by the peaceful sounding song.
They threw the songs out quickly, and they had barely finished it when drummer Jonathan Merla, who was also in charge of the computer and sample tracks, started the one for “Our Time”, resulting in a massive cheer when they realized what track it was. Since this is one song that typical uses the female singer, I was curious as to how that part would be done, if it was at all. It was, with John singing the bridge, giving it more of mystical feel, before he jumped back into action with the final verse, “Don’t let go of who you are…”
They got back to focusing on their new material, as Rocky Ottley plucked the strings of his guitar as “Moon Watcher” began to build. Despite it being a slower song, it’s still one of their best in my opinion, and certainly didn’t slow down the dancing that was going on, and at the end of it John bowed to the crowd, in perfect time with the music. “Emotional Hard Drive” was another tune that sent the audience into somewhat of a frenzy, grooving to the infectious beat. Various moves were made on this song to correspond with the lyrics, looking at his imaginary watch on the line “…I look at my watch wondering when…”, or making a move like he was flexing his arm as he sang “…As you strut you stuff, looking so tough, well I don’t buy it.” All the while, the stunner shades he wore were lighting up colors of neon red and lime green.
They followed it with “Touch The Future”, yet another song that had some fans singing along, aiding in the backing vocals. Near the end of the song, once Jonathans’ drumming and Rockys’ guitar playing got a little more intense, John grabbed the mink, slinging it in the air as he twirled it about, sending small bits of the fur flying around the air. That made it apparent they were starting to step things up this night, and they only kept pushing themselves with “Slowly But Surely”. Shortly before the first line, John and Rocky, who were standing on opposite sides of the small stage, ran towards the center and leapt into the air, each landing on the side the other had started out on. It was neat to see, and very well calculated on their part. Things only got more interesting though, and closer towards the end John fell to the floor and began to hump it, as if there was woman there only he could see. It’s far from a new move, but it is one I hadn’t seen him do at a show in awhile, and this night I think it earned him some looks of disbelief, while other people just couldn’t keep from laughing.
They switched up the mood with the almost eerie “Digital Wounds”, and after finishing it, Rocky had to ask his band mates what was next. “I.S.H.I.” you saw Jonathan say to him, but then John decided they needed to deviate slightly from the setlist, and instead do their new song, which, to the best of my knowledge hard first been debuted eight days before. I liked it even more this time around and it’s an incredible song that I think will, in time, become the bands next anthem.
A sign that their set was coming to an end was one of the singles from the “Digital Wounds” record, “Disco Queen”, because after all, you need to save your best songs for last. “Rocky Ottley!” John shouted at one point in the song, giving him the spotlight for a bit as Rocky cranked out his killer solo. Before carrying on with their next song, John reached behind an amp and pulled out his Native American headdress, complete with neon elements adorning the feathers which are constantly lighting up. Everyone knew what was coming, and they eagerly awaited the start of “Mother Prism”. It’s a song that truly is something else and it promotes a real feeling of camaraderie. In fact, for the six plus minutes the song spanned, everybody seemed like they were one, and as a unit everyone was fully engaged by that masterpiece.
With the two singles from their new record out of the way, it was time to focus on the remaining highlights from the “Through the Trees” album, and with “Pastel Lights”, this dance party was kicked into high gear. Every single person in there was doing some type of moving around on that one, even if it was as simple as swaying about. “This is our last song of the night, Dallas.” Said John as the track for “Shake Your Dandelion” started, and he again thanked everyone for coming out and supporting them two weeks in a row. There’s a real seductive quality to the song and it left everyone satisfied as it concluded their 58-minute long set, however, my favorite part of the song was a brief guitar solo Rocky embarked on, taking some liberties with it, which resulted in something amazing.
No, the show wasn’t nearly the spectacle they had made their CD release gig into, and the setlist this night wasn’t as beefy either, but the performance was still every bit as good.
Ishi isn’t much different as a trio as they are as a four-piece, in fact, with it just being the core members this night, I thought they seemed even a little more cohesive. It was all top-notch in every aspect.
And in regards of the turnout, that speaks to what a force Ishi currently is. I can’t think of any local band right now that could do a big event like a CD release show, then turnaround eight days later and do another concert in the same town, and come awfully close to selling out both. Especially when practically all of their fans were at the show the week prior, which would mean the only reason they’d want to see the band again is sheer love for their music. And really, that’s more than enough reason, and just goes to show how much the music fans of Dallas (and beyond) have embraced Ishi.
June will be a fairly active month for Ishi, with shows in San Antonio at The Korova on the 7th, then Fitzgerald’s in Houston on the 8th. On the 21st they’ll bring the part to the Wild Rooster in Fort Worth, while the following night they can be seen at the Grand Stafford Theater in Bryan, TX. Also, be sure to check out both of their albums in ITUNES.
It had been a great night. Hell, it had been an amazing day, but at this point I had been listening to live bands for over thirteen hours, and I was ready to call it a day.
In three short years the Homegrown Music and Arts Festival has established itself as a Dallas institution, and is arguable the festival that takes place not only in Dallas, but even the entire North Texas area.
A large part of the appeal (well, besides the music) is that it takes place in the urban oasis that is the Main Street Garden Park, a vibrant park, which occupies a full city block, that is usually a good place for people to walk their dogs in or bring their children to play on the playground equipment. However, this one day out of the year two stages are set up, one on the East end and the other on the West, as the park is transformed into a music lovers paradise.
The first two years the festival focused exclusively on North Texas based bands, before expanding in their third year, allowing bands from all over Texas to play. Only a handful of North Texas bands performed during the 2012 installment, but now in its fourth year, Homegrown was getting back to basics, and out of the fifteen bands lined up to play, only four hailed from outside the Dallas/Fort Worth region.
Kicking off this glorious day was Ross Edman, who is better known by his stage name as the electronic act, Datahowler.
His start time was 11:30 that morning, which was about thirty minutes before I got there, making Datahowler the only act I missed this day. It was surely an interesting show, though, since he was supposed to be playing his music alongside a yoga instructor who was in turn leading some individuals in a yoga routine.
I imagine that took him out of his comfort zone a little, but he was one of a handful of musicians pulling double-duty this day, and in a few hours he’d get back to what he specializes in.
I can’t say I’m too upset that I missed his set, since what he does is a style of music I’m not really into. However, you can check out his “The Crystal Gazers” EP in iTunes, if you are into some more ambient, electronic stuff.
Some stop and go traffic resulted in me getting there a little later than I wanted to, arriving right at noon, which I knew meant I was cutting it close, as that was when Madison King and her band were scheduled to start.
Sure enough, as I hurried out of the parking garage, the music crept into earshot, revealing they were in the midst of their presumable opener, “Whiskey In the Morning”.
During my trek over to the other side of the park where the Chevy stage was located, I was surprised by all the people that were already here. Sure, it might not have been a ton, but considering the festivities were just getting underway, there were a lot. Perhaps it’s as simple as they just have excellent taste in music and didn’t want to miss even one of the many great bands playing this day.
But I digress…
Upon finishing that song, they did another from Madisons’ “Darlin’, Here’s to You” record, “Here In Arms”, which is still one of the best songs in their repertoire and tells a great story. Songs from that nearly two year old album were few and far between this day, though, like their next one, which she announced to everyone was titled “Me and You”. Chris Carmichael launched them into the song with some awesome beats in what was essentially a brief drum solo, before electric guitarist Michael Smith and bassist Wade Cofer jumped into it. It’s a love song, and a very good one at that, that had a great flow to it and out of handful of new songs they did during this around 30-minute long set, it was one of my favorites.
During a break after that song, Madison started talking about what a great day it looked like it was going to be, and briefly mentioned that she had already had to duct tape her high heels, laughing as she said, making it sound like at the very least it had been an interesting day for her thus far. They then moved things along with another new tune, “Ghost of the One that Got Away”, and then another song which she dedicated to someone, resulting in two women running up towards the stage and somewhat dancing along to the song.
My favorite song of their set ended up being the next song, which was a slower, hauntingly beautiful number, with one of the lines being, “…We make evil inventions from the best of intentions…” All of those offered a nice glimpse at what Madison has been writing, and they give the impression that her next record will in all likelihood outdo her first, which is saying a lot. Speaking of that first record, they next played the gorgeous, “Nazarene”, during which Madison intricately plucked the strings of her acoustic guitar with just her fingers. “…This next song is called Saved By a Son of a Gun…” Madison told everyone, but almost immediately after starting it, she brought it to a stop. She thought either something was off or that her capo was on the wrong fret, but upon realizing all was right, they started it again, and this time this catchy song went off without a hitch. That brought them to the final song of their set, which was “Darlin, Here’s To You” and it was a fantastic song to end on, especially with the fiery guitar notes and even solo, which Michael rocked by the way.
Okay, so technically Madison King and her band didn’t get the day started, but since they were the first act I saw, they got it started for me, and what a way to begin.
Madison is one of the best singer/songwriters in the D/FW, a fact that everyone who saw her this fine afternoon would surely attest to. And it’s not just that the music and lyrics are great, but it’s also the fact that she so obviously pours her heart into the performance.
If you haven’t seen her yet, you should, and luckily she has several shows coming up in Dallas in June, one of which will be on the 5th at Three Links, then the 14th at the Belmont Hotel and finally the 20th at Sundown at Granada. Also be sure to check out the “Darlin’, Here’s to You” album in iTunes.
The next band was getting ready to take the Shiner stage, but, like all the bands this day, they were introduced by the events MC. “…Have you ever seen a wolf play drums?” the MC asked everyone, then added, “You’re about to.” before introducing the another country band, J. Charles and the Trainrobbers.
I had seen the band once before, and that had been over a year ago, so I was looking forward to finally seeing them again.
Steve Visneau was already sitting behind his drum kit, and after the three remaining members filed on stage, he and singer and guitarist Jeffrey Charles Saenz fired up the first song of their 40-minute set, “Mercy Killing”. They quickly commanded everyone’s attention, specifically when J. Charles’s voiced surged as he belted out, “There’s a bullet here for me, a bullet here for you. Only problem is we love each other too damn much it’s true…” It’s one hell of a song, and only got better when the sounds from Justin Youngs’ bass and Daniel Creamers’ keyboard became more prominent. They soon followed it with the subsequent track on their “Upon Leaving” record, the gritty, “Letter to a Thief”.
“This next song is called My Year.” J. Charles quickly told the crowd as they tore into another amazing song. Towards the end of that one there’s a little lull, during which both Jeffrey and Justin walked back by the drum riser. Then, as the music began to swell, the two marched back up to their respective microphones in perfect synch with each other, where they both sang, “My heart’s been on fire all year long…” I believe it was followed by a non-album track, after which J. Charles made some small talk with the audience, admitting he wasn’t “…good at talking…” That’s alright, not every band needs to have banter, especially when the music is as good as this was. He did use that time though to promote the merch they had for sale, which included their new album, and he used that as a segue into their next song.
It was the single from their debut album, the gripping, “Something Wrong”, which at times is almost a sing along, as the chorus is catchy enough it could easily have the fans shouting along to it. “Three Shades of Black” brought the noise level down slightly (at least for a bit), but not the intensity of their playing was still there, especially in Steve’s drumming.
They changed things up a bit for their final two songs, as Taylor Rea joined them, walking over to stage right. J. Charles grabbed his mic stand, moving it where he could face her, saying something to the effect that they were going to have a standoff, and she moved her mic stand to look at him. They did the lovely duet “Ain’t So Blue”, and they had a lot of chemistry going on as they sang back and forth to one another, even on occasion getting some amazing harmonies going. They had one final song planned after that, and that was their longest song yet, “Tennessee Roads (No Moon)”, which often had Taylor singing some backing vocals, word-for-word with what J. Charles was singing.
I remembered them being a great band the first time I saw them, but nothing on the scale of what they were this afternoon.
They’ve tightened and polished things up a lot in the last sixteen months, and it shows in their performance. They were very coordinated in their stage performance and operated like a well-oiled machine.
It was quite the performance they put on, too, overflowing with energy. More than once during the instrumental breaks of some songs J. Charles worked his way up on the drum riser, shredding on his guitar while banging his head to the heavy beats Steve was laying down.
They may be a country band, but they have the perfect blend of a rock and country sound, and between that and J. Charles’s rich, distinctive voice, they are sure to reel you in. So, if you haven’t yet experienced J. Charles and the Trainrobbers, you are truly missing out.
You should give their “Upon Leaving” album a listen, and buy it in iTUNES if you like it. If you’d like to see them live, they’ll be at the Magnolia Motor Lounge in Fort Worth on June 15th.
The next band of the day was one of the out-of-town bands, the Houston based, The Tontons.
They got another good introduction from the MC, who mentioned that last year Eisley played the festival, noting they used to be called Mos Eisley, before George Lucas asked them to change their name. So, after introducing The Tontons, he added, “…Or as George Lucas calls them, The Tons.”
The quartet, led by front woman Asli Omar, had several newer songs to play for the ever growing crowd, though to a lot of people I’m sure they all were new.
Their opener was one of those newer songs, and was a prime example of what the band is about, with a captivating music bed that could easily pull you in, and it made perfect use of Aslis’ soulful, rich and even at times slightly raspy voice. They may be a indie rock band, but with that song I think everyone knew they were in for one of the most unique and original performances of the day.
Asli aided drummer Justin Martinez in the percussion field on their next song, as she shook a tambourine throughout it. Afterwards, Adam Martinez started them on a fan favorite from the “Golden” EP, “Vietnam”, with the infectious guitar chords that at the very least should have you swaying along to the song, if not inciting some full on dancing. Once it was finished, Asli addressed the crowd, urging everyone to enjoy this day they had, before summer arrived making it so hot we wouldn’t even want to step outside. “…By the way, this hair is like a oven.” She added, referring to her afro.
They got back to business with one of the two songs from their recently released 7’’ vinyl record, “Bones”, and the song was simple named “Bones 1”. It carried a more rock sound with it, with some, at times, blistering riffs from Adam, and while Tom Nguyen’s bass lines were often more subtle on some of their other music, they were anything but during this song, creating a very cohesive and solid rhythm section. Yet another new song came next, which took them to the emotion filled title track of their most recent EP, “Golden”. “You’re shallow and silly and oh so conniving. I’d say you were stupid but that’d be denying you were ever smart enough to date me, ever strong enough to break me…” Asli sang on the chorus while dancing along to the song.
During another short break in between song, Asli encouraged everyone to check out their Austin friends Quiet Company, who were playing right after their set, as well as Zhora, who was set to be the next band playing here at the Chevy stage. “…That’s the best part of Texas…” she said, “…We are all family…”
Another barrage of new material followed, as they cranked out three more songs, one of which was another where Asli again played the tambourine. They had been up there for about half an hour at this point, and to wrap up their 34-minute long set, they did the lead track from their self-titled album, “Leon”.
Having only see them once before this (which had been over a year ago), I had forgotten how amazing The Tontons really were.
They are incredibly versatile, owning the more rock style of music they play, but also pulling off the slower, almost jazz like songs, which is reminiscent of something you would have often heard in a lounge setting in say the 60’s.
The interesting music and superb vocals made them one of the most unique bands of the entire day, which in turn made them one of the most memorable.
Between ITUNES and BANDCAMP, you can purchase every single one of the bands releases, even getting a few singles for free download over on their bandcamp page. As for shows, their schedule is currently empty, and word is they are going to be working on a new record.
Three bands in and it had already been an amazing day, and while there were plenty of bigger name bands yet to come, I was most looking forward to the next band on the Shiner stage, the Austin based rock outfit, Quiet Company.
Opening their set was “And You Said it Was Pretty Here”, a bonus track from their new/old record “A Dead Man On My Back: Shine Honesty Revisited”, which is a re-recording of one of the bands first album. This cheery sounding tune found the band looking a little out of place, as Cody Ackors was playing one of the guitars, an instrument he’s actually quite great at, leaving the heavily bearded Thomas Blank to focus on his keyboard. It was the first time I’d heard them open with that song, and despite the drastic differences between it and some of their past openers, it worked every bit as well, as more and more people gathered around the stage to watch the spectacle that was starting to unfold.
Cody gave up the guitar to Thomas, while he assumed his spot on stage right, surrounded by his numerous instruments, which included the trombone, a floor tom and a keyboard. The sample track for “It’s Better to Spend Money Like There’s No Tomorrow Than Spend Tonight Like There’s No Money” began to play while the band got ready for it. “…You better stop and smell the roses. You better love the life you live. You better take note of when it’s killing you…” sang singer and guitarist Taylor Muse on the chorus, and after the second one the music gave way to Thomas and his solo on the melodic. It wasn’t just the standard instrumental break, though.
“…We all have regrets.” Taylor said to the crowd, noting he regretted “eating at the Great Wall of China Buffet in Bryan, Texas.” “But one thing I’ve never regretted is dancing at a rock show…” he added, as he proceeded to encourage everyone to cut loose, have fun and dance to the rest of the song, to which some people did.
Those two songs got them off to a fierce and dynamic start, and it was only about to get better as they prepared to do a few songs from what is arguably their best record, 2011’s “We Are All Where We Belong”.
“So you say you got peace about it, I purpose you could live without it…” sang Taylor at the start of “Preaching to the Choir Invisible, Part I”, which had Cody, at least at first, accompanying drummer Jeff Weathers in the percussion field, as he tapped some drumsticks on the rim of the tom. The deep meaning, multilayered song culminated with the guitars, drums and bass, played by Matt Parmenter, soaring to life, as the four members at the forefront of the stage shouted in their singing voices, “We belong!” over and over again, a cry that even their fans who were in attendance joined in on.
Upon finishing it, Taylor again told everyone who they were. “…We’re Quiet Company, a metal band from Austin, Texas…” he said, which caused much of the crowd to laugh, because metal, they are not. He also took this time to point out their merch booth they had, telling anyone who wanted to buy something to go visit the guy in the purple shirt. There happened to be two guys wearing purple shirts, and the one who was not the merch guy said something like, “Who are you talking to?” in the spirit of being funny. Actually, it was funny, but Taylor has a quick and clever wit about him, and instantly had a comeback. He jokingly said he was talking to the guy who didn’t know he was selling the merch, telling everyone, “…But he does have that nice dog, go try to buy it from him.”
As they entered the tail end of their 32-minute long set they did another favorite from their 2011 album, “Everything Louder Than Everything Else”, which they then wound right into the single from the record, “You, Me, and the Boatman”, with some simple guitar feedback followed by Jeff tearing it up on the drums. That amazing rock song, which is really set off by the trombone, soon led them to the final song of their show, which was the more serene “On Modern Men”. That track grows on me each time I hear it, especially in the live setting, and it’s undoubtedly at its best when they all croon and then shout, “Make way for your modern man, we fought to exist. We crawled from the water to the dry land and our hands are the dirtiest.”
It may be an older song, but it fits well with the themes from the songs on “We Are All Where We Belong”, and offers the perfect way to cap off a show.
There may have many bigger name bands left to play this day, but Quiet Company was every bit as astounding as those others were. For the record, they were every bit as professional, too.
They are truly one of the best live bands I have ever experienced, putting on an energetic performance that never ceases to amaze, and their greatest quality, their musicianship, is constantly on display and always shining. If you haven’t seen them yet, you are truly missing out.
This little 32-minute performance instantly became the highlight of my day and was the moment to beat, and while a few bands came close, in my opinion, none surpassed what Quiet Company did.
As for their upcoming shows, on June 7th they’ll be in Chicago, IL at Schubas. They’ll also play the Horseshoe in Toronto on June 11th. And do be sure to check out their music on either iTUNES or BANDCAMP. If you like straight up Rock ‘n’ Roll, you’ll love what they do.
So far, the genres played had included some country and a few varieties of rock, and now, it was time for the only electronic band of the festival, Zhora.
It was a different Zhora than had been seen before, though, because a little over a week before the show, half of the band split, leaving just vocalist Taylor Rea and drummer Ross Martinez. So, in order to do this show, they had enlisted the help of Michael Smith on guitar, while Ross Edman worked the electronic aspect of things, and there was also a musician playing a keyboard.
Right before starting their set, Taylor grabbed a futuristic looking visor (think something out of Star Trek), placing it over her eyes, and then they were off.
One of their newer tracks, which will presumably be on their forthcoming full-length, began their set as they started to take the crowd on an adventure through vivid, sonic soundscapes. “The Hold”, a song from their debut EP, came next, followed by “Futuristic Land”, a song where Taylor really put her vocal effects pad, which was mounted on her mic stand, to use. She changed it to where her voice had a distant sound to it, with just a hint of reverb while she sang, with one of my favorite lines of the song being, “…If I’m seeing stars, pull me to your constellation…”.
This short set consisted of another newer track, which had an excellent dreamy quality to it. It was also with that song where the bands show really seemed to take off. Taylor had been swaying and dancing about to the music thus far, but it was on that song where she got a little more forceful, moving about the stage as she really began to entrance, and even command the crowd. But no sooner had the behavior started, and then it was time to end their 26-minute long set. “Sunset”, which oozes with thick sounds from the synthesizer, was their closing number, and was undeniably the highlight of their show.
Zhora is another band I had only seen once before this day, and honestly, the show was kind of lacking from what I had experienced before.
I can’t really fault them, after all, three of the members on stage this day aren’t even official band members of Zhora. They made it work well, and considering they probably didn’t get much practice in, they came across as being pretty cohesive, bust still it was a little lackluster.
That doesn’t mean they’re not a great band, though, and they are one of Dallas’s best electronic bands, at least out of the ones that I’ve heard. Their songs have a nice texture to them, and their newer material is fantastic. But as far as the live show is concerned, while all the members obviously play a key role, it’s really all about Taylor Rea, who, even on what I felt was kind of an off day, still easily managed to make herself the main focal point of the show.
Keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE for upcoming show dates, which they will no doubt have coming up in the future, once the band is reassembled. In the meantime, download their four song EP on their BANDCAMP PAGE, plus some other stuff.
Now, most times at concerts, things are always running behind, but oddly enough, they had actually gotten pretty ahead of schedule at this point. So, in order to get things back on track everyone had to wait for a bit, as The Burning Hotels set time wasn’t until 3:20.
Now, it had been quite some time since I last saw The Burning Hotels, and the few shows of theirs I had seen I had never managed to get into their music, so I was curious as to if they would change my opinion of them this day, or if it was going to be more of the same.
This indie rock bands 36-minute set focused largely on their 2011 self-titled record, as they kicked off their set with the infectious “Always”, and exerted a lot of energy throughout it. They quickly followed it with a song from the “Novels” album, “To Whom it May Concern”, which found the four-piece getting more into the performance, as lead guitarist Matt Mooty and the bands bass player moved about the stage, and even Chance cut loose when he didn’t have to be stationed in front of the microphone. They changed pace bit with their next song, the at times soupy sounding “Days Are Gone”, which also found Matt singing just as much of the song as Chance did.
They followed it with another track, which if memory serves correctly was one where Chance kind of put his keyboard to use, and next did a tune from the “Eighty Five Mirrors” record, “Lovely, Lovely Lady”. “Sound City” was another song they did, though the biggest crowd pleaser seemed to be their single “Beard”, which had Matt taking over the main vocal duties, and not only was this song the biggest crowd pleaser, it was also the one that had most of the audience dancing along to it while Matt sang the chorus, “…Why did I love you?… Why did I ever love you at all?” Afterwards, they had one more song planned for everyone, before getting to the slightly electronic inspired track, “To You with Love From Me”, which brought their show to a close.
Being objective, it was solid set. I believe I had only seen them twice before this, and I did enjoy the overall show much more this time around then my previous experiences. It’s a little inventive and very alluring. They’re also great musicians, especially Chance and Matt, and that’s evident in watching their live show.
However, on the subjective front, I still wasn’t won over as a fan. Chance sings the majority of their material and in the live setting, his voice is constantly on the verge of cracking. Mind you, it never did, but he has a rather high pitch to his voice, and it’s incredibly shaky and unsteady. And for someone like me, who basis if I like a band or not solely on the singer’s voice, I just can’t overlook nor get past that.
As of right now, the only show date on the bands calendar is their September 14th gig at Panther Island Pavilion in Fort Worth, where they will be one of many bands playing the Toadies annual music festival, Dia de los Toadies. They will no doubt be playing some gigs between now and then, though, so keep an eye on their SHOW CALENDAR. And to purchase the bands records, go HERE and HERE (they have two different pages in iTunes, hence the two separate links.)
Now, it was time to get to the country music portion of the day. Sure, a few country bands had played earlier, but the next three bands were bigger names, with all three being routine headliners.
One of those acts was the Dallas duo, The O’s, ho received another memorable and noteworthy introduction from the MC’s, which now included Dallas musician Grant Jones.
The other MC said he recalled the days the band was a four-piece outfit, calling themselves “The Hoe’s”, but when they lost two of their band mates, so too did they lose a couple letters.
It made for a good joke, and before even starting their first song, multi-instrumentalist John Pedigo mentioned he was glad to know how they came up with their band name. That’s the thing with this duo, they’re pretty humorous, though they had little time to let that side show this day.
The O’s were still pretty fresh off the release of their third album, “Thunderdog”, and they began this set with the lead track from it “Outlaw”, as John started strumming his banjo, while Taylor Young supplied the beat with his bass drum while simultaneously playing his acoustic guitar. It was a surprisingly uplifting song, creating a pleasant, hopeful mood amongst the audience, but not only that it also seemed to summarize all the years of work and effort these two have put into the band, specifically with the line, “…We all fight the good fight, we all know what is right. We worked too hard to have nothing change…”, which was mainly sung by John, though Taylor added some backing vocals for most of the song.
Afterwards, John found a clever way to work in all the sponsors of the event, saying something along the lines of he had driven his Chevy truck down here and drank a Shiner Bock beer, but only after having a Red Bull to help him get going (the Red Bull ten was where the beverages were being sold at). Taylor was even impressed by it, but he quickly told John they needed to cut it, reminding him they only had a limited amount of time. “I’m sorry, we like to talk…” he told the crowd, before saying their next song was about the fine city they call home, which was appropriately titled “Dallas”. John plucked the strings of his pedal steel guitar for that one, while Taylor did the singing, essentially professing his love for the city, even saying “…This is where I’ll die…”
I’ve never considered myself a true fan of The O’s (at least not before this day), and even though their newest album at been out nearly a month now, this was the first time I had heard anything from it, and I loved those first two tracks from it they had played. It was a step (or two) above their previous material (which is saying a lot) and made it very clear they had outdone themselves on their newest effort.
This show wasn’t all about their new stuff, though, and next they ventured into their sophomore record, “Between the Two”, by doing a song about what else, but the city of Dallas. At least that was the subject matter according to John, who kind of laughed when saying something like it gets hard to find new things to write about. The song was “We’ll Go Walking”, which may be set in Dallas, but it’s more of a love song than anything.
“…This next song is called Kitty…” Taylor told everyone, as they tackled the final track from “Thunderdog”. That song took them almost completely out of their comfort zone, and was very atypical of them, as it had more of a rock sound and the way Taylors’ voice flowed on the song was superb. It was the banjo that really stole the show, though, as John often ran it through an effect via a pedal, and with the help of that, his banjo made a gritty, distorted sound that could rival that of any guitarist from the many rock bands that had played thus far.
It was an excellent departure from their roots, though they soon returned to their folk/country roots with a couple more tracks from their second album, one of which was the rather beautiful “Pushin’ Along”. That led them to the final song of this short 28-minute long set, which was the upbeat “Everything’s Alright”. In setting it up, John announced to everyone the song title, than added, “…Because it is…”, almost reassuring everyone that things were alright.
Each time I’ve seen this duo over the years I’ve become a little more of a fan, and the performance they gave this day, coupled with the brilliant setlist, solidified me as one. They were extraordinary and put forth a show that stands out as being another very memorable one from this amazing day.
You should definitely head over to iTunes and check out their three albums, particularly “Thunderdog”. As for upcoming shows, from June 7th through the 15th they’ll be over in the UK, so check out their REVERBNATION PAGE for their calendar and specifics on where they’ll be. Come July they have a couple dates in Arlington, TX, one at the Grease Monkey on the 5th and the other at Levitt Pavilion on the 12th. On the 13th they’ll play at Hank’s in McKinney and they have many other dates immediately beyond that, all throughout Texas.
That set seemed hard to follow, but one of the few bands that would have no trouble with that was Somebody’s Darling.
It had been several months since I last saw the band, but their opener hadn’t changed, and as soon singer and rhythm guitarist Amber Farris sang the first line of “Weight of the Fear”, you could tell the throng of people were entranced. As well they should have been, because her voice, which has an especially soulful quality to it on that song, was in rare form. Her voice certainly wasn’t the only gripping aspect to the song, though, and one of the others was lead guitarist David Ponder’s stellar solo.
Drummer Nate Wedan started them on their next song, doing a little bit of a solo at first, while keyboard player Mike Talley clapped along to the beat, before Amber eventually crooned the first line of “Back to the Bottle”, “Well, I believe God made a lover for me…” It was another stellar number, albeit in a different way than their first song, particularly at the end when Mike really got to show off his skills on the keys with some fiery notes. Next up, they had a little treat for all their fans, both the old and new ones alike. They usually have at least one cover song in their set, and now they did one that I had never heard them do before, and that was the classic from the band Faces, “Stay with Me”. They put a slight country twist on it, but Somebody’s Darling is still pretty close to a rock band, allowing them to pull the song off with ease and make it entirely their own.
The crowd definitely seemed to love it, and they followed it with a few more originals, as Amber informed everyone that the next song was “Cold Hands”, which is one of the singles and the lead track from their latest release, “Jank City Shakedown”. The guitars soared to life on this occasionally bluesy track, and were rounded out by a solid rhythm section, of course including bassist Wade Cofer, who effortless and methodically plucked the strings of his bass, with that certain swagger that most bass players seems to have.
“We’re gonna slow things down for a minute.” Amber told the crowd upon finishing the last song, saying it quite quickly, as they seemed in a hurry to finish their set to make sure they adhered to the allotted amount of time they had. The slower song she spoke of was “Pretty Leaves”, which is arguably the most beautiful song they currently do, and it tells a real story, with its lyrics packing a huge emotional punch. After Nate’s drum outro, Amber took a minute to banter with the audience, reminding everyone that the next day was going to be Mother’s Day. Her recommendation to anyone who was out here at Homegrown with their mom was simple; “…Get mom plastered today…”
After her sage advice, they did another cover song, and this one was my personal favorite that they do. It’s a rendition of Jack White’s “Love Interruption”, and not only to they own it completely, but it my opinion, they also upstage the original. They had one song left for everybody after that, and they had saved one of the best for last, finishing with the very well orchestrated and intense, “Wedding Clothes”. As it wound down, Amber had the idea to jump off the stage, which was probably about five feet off the ground, give or take a little, and she told everyone of this. Sure enough, after playing her final notes on the guitar, she leapt into the air, rolling onto her back after she hit the ground, and still clutching her axe. “I had to.” She could be heard saying, making it sound like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Their 35-minute long set was a sensational one, and out of all the bands that played this day, Somebody’s Darling is another one that comes to my mind first when I think back on it. Hell, this show they did this afternoon was almost every bit as good as their CD release show last October, which is hands down the best SD show I’ve personally seen.
They’re a band with an overabundance of talent, with David, Wade, Mike and Nate having phenomenal talent on their respective instruments, and Ambers’ voice alone is enough to leave you in complete awe. And no, she’s not too shabby on the guitar, either. However, the best part is they don’t wield any of that talent in a flashy way, and are instead pretty modest, simply doing their thing while they’re on stage.
They have two LP’s available, both of which can be bought via iTUNES, and they also have quite a few shows lined up. They’ll be at the Hunt County Fair in Greenville, TX on June 11th, then the next week, June 18th, at the Wherehouse in Fort Worth. June 20th will find them down in Austin at Stubb’s BBQ, and the 21st they will be in Tyler, TX at Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ. They’ll be stopping in Shreveport, LA at Bear’s on the 22nd, then on the 27th they have a free show going down at Sundown at Granada in Dallas. A couple Oklahoma gigs are lined up for late July, and then on August 31st they will be headlining the famous Granada Theater in Dallas for the first time ever.
Concluding the country music portion for the festival was another Austin band, The Band of Heathens.
I had listened to their music before, and while I didn’t hate, I didn’t love it either, and I was curious as to how it be conveyed live.
I was able to find a modicum of shade near the guardrail by the stage, but in taking it I was only able to see four of the five members of the band, and their bassist was not in my view, though I don’t think that made much of a difference in the long run.
The lead track from 2009’s “One Foot in the Ether”, “L. A. County Blues”, began their 42-minute long set, and what a way to start. Both Gordy Quist and Ed Jurdi served as the guitarists, and the latter of those two did the singing on this song. Except on the chorus, when Gordy chimed in, creating some amazing harmonies as they crooned, “We’re burning down Las Vegas, half asleep by noon…”. At times they were even aided by pianist Trevor Nealon, who helped them achieve true vocal perfection. It was such a good opener because it highlighted exactly what the band was about, which is a nice blend of country and Americana music with some smooth, soulful and passionate singing.
Their next song, “Shake the Foundation”, also demonstrated those qualities exceedingly well. Gordy handled the lead vocals this time around, but Ed was often adding his deeper, more blues sounding voice to the mix, while Richard Millsap kept a steady and solid beat going throughout the song. “Right Here With Me” showed off a different side of the band, and I thought the song had more of a minimalist sound to it, at least in comparison to the previous songs. It was more simple, and Ed and Gordy, who each sang a few lines before passing things off to one another, often merely plucked the strings of their guitars, though they still put quite a bit effort into it, making it appear more complex than it really was.
It’s already been a couple years since the bands last studio record, and at this point in the show, they offered everyone a taste of their next album. At least hopefully it was a taste, because after finishing it Ed clarified that it might be on their next record, which he added would most likely be out later this year. I sure hope it makes the cut, because out of the seven songs they did, this one was my personal favorite. All I remember is the final line of the chorus, “…Riding shotgun through the past.”, and the song created somewhat of a solemn atmosphere as they recalled times that have come and gone. It was just a fantastic number, and while I can’t say I really can relate to it, it still stirred some type of emotion in me, and really, isn’t that what any great song should do?
They again slowed things down with “Jackson Station”, which was the only song they did off their first studio album, leaving them with just enough time to do a couple from their latest effort, “Top Hat Crown & The Clapmaster’s Son”. One of those was “Should Have Known”, which is catchy enough it could easily get people dancing along to it, and from what I saw this day, there were a small handful of couples who were doing just that. The best thing about this song, though, was when they proceeded to rock out. They had added some instrumental portions to a few of their previous songs, but they went into a full on instrumental breakdown during this one, which took up at least a couple minutes. I’ve said many times before that I’m not a real fan of instrumental music, and that does apply to breakdowns, but in this case I loved it, and not only did it add a nice layer to the song, it also showed off the chops that Trevor, Richard, Gordy and Ed have.
By this point, more than a few fans were shouting requests for a fan favorite song (“Cornbread”), and had this been a headlining set, they probably would have done it, but it wasn’t, and they brought things to a close with the single from their newest record, “Medicine Man”. Gordy’s voice had been nothing short of impressive before, but it was downright astounding during this song as he belted out some of the later lyrics.
I was hoping I’d like their music and show, and I ended up enjoying it all much more than I thought I would. The music they churn out is almost an homage of sorts to the classic country acts, though it’s certainly modernized. The best part of their show however, was the harmonies. It’s done on their records, but it doesn’t even come close to sounding the same as it does in the live environment. In my opinion, that’s a lot of what made their live show so incredible, because both Gordy and Ed are more than capable lead singers, and when their voices mix in the various ways they did this day, they sounded unbelievable.
I think that helps set them apart, because I don’t think there are many country bands like this that utilize two male vocalists, and I also think that is why you need to see The Band of Heathens live, so you can experience that for yourself.
They tour quite a bit, and on June 8th they’ll be in Pagosa Springs, CO for the Pagosa Folk ‘n Bluegrass Festival. The Tap Room in College Station will host them on June 27th, then the next night they’ll be at the Magnolia Motor Lounge in Fort Worth and the night after that they’ll be in Bee Caves, TX at Hill Country Galleria Amphitheater. They have several more dates scheduled in July, including another North Texas show at Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton. As far as the bands records, you can purchase their stuff (which is a mix of live and studio records) in iTUNES, as well as get a free download of some of their stuff on NOISETRADE.
The next act up was a very big change of pace from the previous acts, as it was the hip-hop group A.Dd+.
I’ll admit, I was ready to write them off long before they even started, because I’m not a fan of hip-hop and rap in the least, but then again, the hip-hop act from last year’s Homegrown at surprised me, so there was a chance A.Dd+ could do the same.
The duo of Paris Pershun and Slim Gravy’s entire 32-minute set consisted of songs from their new album, “DiveHiFlyLo”. They did a CD release show for their hometown fans awhile back, but it has yet to drop on the national scale, so I can’t even attempt to run through what tracks they did.
The two men rushed onto the stage, announcing, “…We in the house…” during their first track. What really surprised me was the tremendous stage presence they had, and even my eyes were glued to the stage. They followed it up with a ton more tracks in quick succession, some of which were handled mainly by Slim Gravy and others by Paris Pershun, while of course others they both rapped on, and those were the tracks where they were nothing short of being a well-oiled machine.
Before one track, Paris Pershun asked everyone to put their middle fingers in the air. “Put your peace signs up.” Slim then instructed, creating a conflicting and rather funny moment. They did some more stuff from “DiveHiFlyLo”, which they said would be released soon, and at one point during the show Paris took time to address the band’s name to everyone who was unfamiliar with them. Basically, the “.” And the “+” sign are just in the written name and not said in their actual name. So basically, you just say each letter individually to get their name, and that seemingly lengthy explanation eventually led to a rap about their name.
As their set neared the end, Paris threw in some more humor as he asked everyone to them on Twitter, saying something to the effect of, “…You’ll see us and be like, ‘That’s those two black guys who wear backwards pants.” By this point in the show they had, had a friend of theirs come up and rap on one song with them, and now for their final track, he returned as Slim and Paris jumped off the stage into the area used by the photographers, pacing about as they really got the crowd riled up.
I might not have cared for it much personally, but you have to give credit where credit is due, and after experiencing this A.Dd+ show, I can see why a few years ago the Hip-Hop scene in Dallas was exploding, and why these guys were at the forefront of that.
They are exceedingly talented at what they do, and while I won’t be buying their records and probably won’t be seeing another one of theirs shows, for 32-minutes this day they had me enthralled, and even enjoying the music to an extent.
You can find their first release in either ITUNES or BANDCAMP, and in the not too distant future their sophomore release should be available in both of those outlets, too. As for shows, keep an eye on their FACEBOOK for updates.
The day was getting closer to an end now, and it was time for another change in musical styling’s, as two soul acts would be the next performers.
The first of the two was Larry g(EE) and his rather large band, which was comprised of Beau Bedford and Daniel Creamer, both of whom played the keys, and Beau even dabbled with the guitar at times. There was also a choir, featuring three women and a man, and along with the bassist and drummer, there was also a saxophonist, trumpet player and another like instrument used.
This new age man of soul and his band kicked tings off with “Game”, a track from Larry’s debut EP, “Weekends”. If you were unfamiliar with Larry g(EE), then you were probably both surprised and impressed by the powerful and soulful voice that came out of him, as they wove together a mix of soul, funk and even some R&B on that song. The crowd loved it, and they enjoyed the next song, which was one of Larry’s newer tracks, just is much, and a highlight of that song was the mini choir, who added quite a bit of backing vocals to the tune.
However, it was their next song that truly had everyone mesmerized, as Beau first told everyone they wanted to take them somewhere, and then Larry said essentially the same thing. The audience screamed with delight, obviously more than willing to go along for the ride. They wanted to take everyone “higher”, and to do that they did an amazing cover of the Sly and the Family Stone classic, “I Want to Take You Higher”. There probably aren’t many bands that can pull that song off, but Larrys’ band has all the right parts to do it, and I dare say his voice can give Sly Stone’s a run for its money. That one definitely seemed like the crowd favorite of the night, yet Larry and his group were still just getting warmed up, as they did another newer song, which was dedicated to the city of Dallas.
A couple more tracks from the EP came next, one of which was the more tender love song “I’m Your Fool”, which had Larry scaling back on his singing, showing off a softer side to his voice, and showing that he’s not all about belting out the lyrics with a fiery passion. For the record, though, the passion was still more than evident on that number. Larry set up the fan favorite “Camera Phone” by first saying he wanted his picture taken with the crowd, pulling his phone out and handing it to the drummer, who snapped a shot of him and the massive amounts of people in the background. It’s a bit more soulful than some of his other originals, and it also has a serious groove going on, making it one you can really get down to.
No question that Larry had been the main focal point thus far, even with all of his band members constantly doing something, they were almost more of an afterthought in a way, except on the next song, when Larry exited the stage, giving it all to his band mates. It was another cover song, and I’m fairly certain it was “Rock Me Baby” by B.B. King. There was a little more umph to their version, and the three female singers had a moment to shine, as they each sang one of the verses, working their way down the line, eventually reaching the guy, who also sang. By this point Larry was back on stage, completely consumed by the music, soon taking back over the vocal duties as they brought it to a close.
They had a couple songs left for everyone at this point, and one was another non-album song, “I Don’t Know” or rather, “IDK”, which he set up as being about “making bad decisions”. The horn section really got put to use on the final number of their 32-minute set, “Yo Mama”, which was nothing short of electrifying. Towards the end, Larry hopped off the stage running about the grassy area, before eventually racing back up onto the stage, bringing the show to an extraordinary end.
It was an incendiary set, plain and simple.
For the record, I’m not big on the soul genre of music, either, but it’s almost impossible to deny the talent that flows in and subsequently out of Larry. He’s a beast when it comes to singing and has an aura about him that pulls you in and will hold your interest for the entire time he and his band are on stage.
Go experience a show for yourself, either on July 6th at Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI, or in Dallas on August 6th at The Belmont. You can also purchase his EP in ITUNES.
That new wave of soul was excellent, but now it was time for a classic taste of the genre, as The Relatives were getting ready to take the Shiner stage.
They were introduced by Jeffrey Liles, who works at the Kessler Theater, and a high-up at the Dallas Morning News, and both men piled on the praise about The Relatives. The gentleman from the DMN mentioned that the band had disappeared for awhile, “…But I often said they needed to save their voices so they could save the world…” he said, shortly before they left the stage.
Drummer Matthew Strmiska, bassist Scott Nelson and guitarist Zach Ernst were already on stage, and soon five older gentleman filed on stage, Head Deacon Earnest Tarkington, who took his spot on stage right behind some congas, Reverend Gean West, Tony Corbitt, Tyron Edwards and Reverend Tommie West, all of whom stood behind some microphones.
This gospel/soul ensemble played several songs from throughout their career, but the main focus was on their recently released record ”The Electric Word”, and they opened with a song from it called “Let Your Light Shine”. The Reverend Tommie West led them on it, doing a majority of the singing, though they all participated, creating all sorts of divine harmonies, with Tyron Edwards even employing the use of his insanely high falsetto voice, which definitely got your attention. That ended up being merely the start of a 47-minute long sermon of sorts, as the gospel aspect of their music radiated forth from every song, creating a very spiritual atmosphere.
They won a lot of the crowd over with that upbeat song, and next brought things down with the slower “Your Love is Real”, as they continued giving praise. Tommies’ voice flowed so smoothly throughout the song, soothing in a way, though it was the few lines that Gean sang that seemed to steal the show. “One of these mornings, it won’t be long, you’ll look for me and I’ll be gone…” he crooned in a rougher tone that was filled with character. They wound it seamlessly into their next song, and upon finishing it, Gean took a moment to promote their new album, encouraging everyone to go over to their merch table and pick up a copy. He mentioned that before this show a friend of his told him not to beg the crowd to buy their CD, and he then said to everyone, “…So y’all don’t tell him I begged…”, creating a rather comedic moment of their set.
“Speak to Me (What’s Wrong with America?)” was one of the songs they did from their initial run back in the 70’s. It dealt with racial discrimination, which was obviously a much bigger problem back when they wrote it, but while it may not carry the same weight now as it did then, at least in that regard, it’s message about acceptance I imagine was just as strong now as it must have been back then. At least that was what I took from it, and it further enforced that you shouldn’t judge anyone based on their looks (and not just skin color, but also tattoos, piercings, etc.)
“Don’t Let Me Fall” was another track from the groups early years, and while it may be a short song on the album, it was anything but live. They got the audience to interact with them on that song, from things as simple as clapping and singing along, the best, though, was when Tommie asked everyone to “drop it down”. He and many of his band mates formed a cradle of sorts with their arms, then lowered their arms down a little below their waist, and much of the crowd followed suit. That went on for several times, with the old and newly converted fans happily obliging the band. Right before it ended, Tommie told everyone they were going to do it one more time, “…And I want you to drop it down real low!” he exclaimed, as he lowered his arms so much they were almost scrapping against the floor of the stage. The fans again obeyed, and did so with a huge smile on each of their faces.
Beforehand, they made it seem like that would conclude their set, but thankfully, it did not, as Gean proceeded to tell everyone of a book he read from every morning, mentioning different things it said to do to praise God, “…You praise God to dance…” he said, sounding like a pastor as the stage became his pulpit. That last sentenced I mentioned he said was a fitting one, because the song they then did had even more people swaying and dancing along to it than their previous songs had. They were able to squeeze one more song in after that, to bring to a close what had, at least for me, been the most surprising set of the day, and I say that simply because I was not anticipating the action that ensued during their show.
As great as the act before them was, The Relatives proved that the classic brand of soul mixed with gospel and funk is far superior. Mainly because they just don’t make bands like The Relatives anymore.
Actually, I’ve never cared for a choir like group like this before, and while I’d stop short of saying I’m now a true fan of The Relatives, I am a true believer in what they do.
What really amazed me was the voices of the five of them. It’s clear just by looking at them they aren’t any spring chickens, and I mean that in the most sincere way possible. When they just spoke and talked with the crowd, their voices matched their looks, sounding pretty worn and old, but when they sang, they sounded like a group of twenty something’s who were in the prime of their singing careers. It was mind boggling, but in the best possible way.
Aside from their heavenly voices that intertwined in the best ways imaginable, another standout quality to their show was their demeanor, and you could tell they were all just as happy as they could be being on that stage and performing for everyone.
They have a couple shows coming up over the next few months, beginning with one at the Solid Sound Festival in North Adams, MA on June 21st. They’ll also be Albuquerque, NM on July 20th at the Route 66 Summerfest. As for their albums, visit their pages in iTUNES either HERE or HERE. One of those is their new album, while another is their older one.
The festival was now in its final hours, and as soon as The Relatives finished I headed over to the Chevy stage, where a ton of people had already gathered all around the stage.
Headlining this one was the mighty, The Polyphonic Spree. I’ve heard a lot of good things about them over the years, whit many people even saying the band puts on the best live show they’ve seen, but during my seven plus years of being active in the local music scene, I had never seen one of their shows, and was excited to finally experience one firsthand.
A large white banner stretched across the stage, and was tied to both sides of the stage, and while the band prepared, all you could see was some silhouettes as they walked back and forth across the stage, oh, and band members’ feet.
Finally a figure, who ended up being front man Tim DeLaughter, appeared, and spray painted several letters on the backside of the banner. “Yes It’s True” it read when things were all said and done, and that is the title for the bands upcoming album. He then cut the banner at the center with some scissors, revealing the massive, almost cult like looking group.
I say cult like simply because the whole band (which is twenty plus members strong) wear essentially the same attire, with the men sporting robes with bright pastel colors on them, while Tim wore a shirt of the same pattern, and the women in the band wore white robes with simple horizontal blue stripes on the top of them.
“Hi Homegrown, we’re Tripping Daisy!” Tim gleeful exclaimed, referencing his storied Dallas rock band that started over two decades before. It seemed like just a joke of sorts at the time, but by the end of their show that comment would make much more sense.
I was immediate awe, mainly in how twenty plus people were able to fit so well on the stage, still allowing enough room to move around. The band quickly launched into their first song, which was “Section 22 (Running Away)”, the lead track from their most recent original record, “The Fragile Army”. This upbeat, poppy love song was so chipper it was impossible for your mood not to be influenced by it. My mind was quickly taken off the fact that my legs were starting to feel like jelly as I took in the completely brilliance of that song and the band in general, and in those few short minutes they more than lived up to all the hype that has surrounded them.
They gave their show a very fluid quality, often transitioning one song flawlessly into the next, and such was the case here, as they wound things into a song from “Yes, It’s True”. Tim stated that afterwards, saying it was just “a taste” of what’s to come, and at one point later in the show he even pointed out it had been six years since their last release, as if to say this was long overdue. They then got back to some stuff all their fans would now, with Tim announcing their next song was “Two Thousand Places”, or as it appears on the “Together We’re Heavy” record, “Section 14 (Two Thousand Places)”.
Tim toned his energy down to fit the slower mood of the song, and instead of frantically running about, he more paced around, while singing, “You gotta be good, you gotta be strong, you gotta be two thousand places at once…”. Accompanying him on it, at least in parts, was the six-piece all female choir, who stood on some risers at the back of center stage. Upon finishing it, a fan shouted out a request to him, which was inaudible from where I stood. “What?” Tim said, as he leaned out towards the crowd to try to hear better. “Oh, you want some of this?” he said in a second, suddenly turning towards stage right and thrusting his arms out towards his bane members, conducting them. Right on cue the violinist, cello player and many of the other musicians made one quick pluck of the strings on their instruments. It happened another time or two, and they maintained perfect synch with Tim’s movements, before several of the musicians led the charge into the explosive “Section 23 (Get Up and Go)”.
They next did another new song, “Hold Yourself Up”, and out of the small batch they of new material they did this night, that one was by far my favorite. They followed it with what everyone thought would be their only cover of the night, doing a medley of Who songs, starting with “See Me, Feel Me”, which was so harmonious, it often sounded otherworldly. It soon grew into more of a rock song, though, as they moved along to “Pinball Wizard”, where their lively performance once again ensued. They didn’t let up with their next song, either, which Tim said was yet another new song, but not in a true sense, as they had already leaked it.
He was talking about “You Don’t Know Me”, which was slightly different from their other original songs, having a stronger rock vibe, where the guitar, bass and drums where much more prevalent, though the choir, French horn, trumpet and the rest of the plethora of instruments were still put to use.
Tim left the stage for their next song, getting up close to the guardrail as they did the first of two songs from their debut album “The Beginning Stages of the Polyphonic Spree”, “Section 8 (Soldier Girl)”. Everyone seemed truly saddened when he said the next song would be their last, but the curiosity was piqued when he noted they might have a surprise after it. They ended things similarly to how they began, with “Section 9 (Light and Day - Reach for the Sun)”, which is another incredibly glowing song that exuded happiness and positivity.
That may have been the end of The Polyphonic Spree’s music for the night, but they still had one spectacular trick up their sleeve, as Tim began to reminisce about Tripping Daisy. “…There’s not a day of my life that goes by that I don’t think about the band…” he said, adding those were some of the best days of his life.
“No, they’re not seriously about to cover a Tripping Daisy song, are they?!” I thought to myself, and I guarantee you anyone even remotely familiar with that legendary band was thinking the same thing.
Tim continued by recounting the band’s early days, from playing venues I had heard of, like Club Clearview, and more than a few that must have shut their doors long ago. He even recalled how the bands first gig was at an open mic night at Club Dada. Soon enough, he mentioned that Josh Florence, one of the masterminds behind Homegrown, was a big Tripping Daisy fan back in the day, and that this song was for him. “…I busted a nut on this song all over town …” said Tim.
I had never even heard a Tripping Daisy song before this, so no, I couldn’t appreciate this as much as I would have liked to, but that still didn’t mean I wasn’t anxious to hear what they had planned.
“My decision, your decision, there’s no common ground…” Tim suddenly belted out, as the instruments, including the harp, sprang to life. The song was the first track from their first album, “My Umbrella”. It was certainly different from Tripping Daisy’s original, but it was amazing all the same, and by the time they finished it their set clocked in right at 60-minutes.
The things that surprised me the most about The Polyphonic Spree was that, despite all the things going on, on stage, it never once seemed like a sensory overload. All the instruments worked in perfect harmony together, and while many of the instruments may typically be stereotyped as being used in classical orchestras, The Polyphonic Spree certainly broke that mold.
And while much of their music was very poppy, it was also very in-your-face, even downright vicious at times, and that was all thanks to Tim. His voice has one of the most unique sounds I’ve ever heard, and what you hear on the recordings is essentially what you get live. Probably even a little better. He’s also a sensational front man who had seemingly limitless supply of energy, constantly running about and doing everything he could to pull the audience in and get them engaged in the show, which wasn’t too hard for him. Just astonishing, and I’m pretty sure he could run circles around front men that are half his age.
First off, their new record will be released on August 6th, so just a few months away now. But in the meantime, check out their other records in iTUNES, and between live cuts, holiday records and such, there are plenty to choose from. They have several dates throughout the U.S. in June and July, hitting up the states of Alabama, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Massachusetts and New York. They’ll also be doing shows in the countries of Australia, South Korea, France and the UK. For specifics on all of those, go to their TOUR PAGE.
Some people left after that. Actually, some even left before The Polyphonic Spree was finished, but there was one band left, and closing out the day over on the Shiner stage was a super group based out of Austin/Los Angeles, the Divine Fits.
Despite some people calling it a day, the band still had a very healthy sized crowd, all of whom were anxious to see what I believe was the bands first ever show in Dallas.
The four-piece rock outfit, which is made up of guitarist Dan Boeckner (Handsome Furs), bassist and multi-instrumentalist Britt Daniel (Spoon) and drummer Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks), as well as Alex Fischel who worked several keyboards, took the stage a little after their 9:30 scheduled start time, and to much fanfare I might add.
The band is only barely into their second year as a group and only had one album to draw from, as they quickly got down to business, opening with “Neopolitans”, which is the final track from “A Thing Called the Divine Fits”. While repetitive, the key(s) Alex continuously struck were infectious, though the level of excitement spiked when the rest of the band ripped into the song and Britt began to fully sing the song. I don’t mean to undercut it, but it was simplistic in a lot of ways, which in turn made it somewhat of a haunting opener.
Dan took over on vocal duties as they kicked things up a few notches with one of their singles, “Baby Get Worse”. “…My heart was beating in, in and out of time…” he sang on the chorus, as the song seemed to burrow deeper into everyone’s head with each passing second, as a lot of people were moving around to it, which resulted is some loud cheers and applause when they finished it up. Britt handled the next song, and before starting their love song titled “Like Ice Cream”, Alex left his keyboard station, picking up a guitar, which he rocked on the song.
Upon finishing it, he returned to his original post, while Dan and Britt swapped out instruments, as Sam started them into “Would That Not Be Nice”, a song that really showcased their skilled musicianship, especially Britt, who had some more subtle, yet intricate riffs, which he cranked out like the pro he is. Upon finishing it, the two again switched out instruments, though this time Britt exchanged his bass for a guitar, as they did another album track, “Civilian Stripes”, which was one of my personal favorites of the night.
“We’re gonna do some Frank Ocean…” Dan informed the crowd, which got a nice reaction, as I heard some people start asking their friends what song they thought they would be covering. The song was “Lost”, but if you weren’t familiar with it and if they hadn’t just said who they were covering, you wouldn’t have known it. Obviously they made some changes to it to better fit the style of music they play, and in all fairness I’m personally not a fan of Frank Oceans’ music, so I thought their version of it was much better, mainly because it sounded much more lively. I think a lot of that was due to the full live band rounding out the sound and making it so lush, rather than the sterile sound the (I assume) drum machine gives the original song.
Britt got back to his trusty bass once that song was done, and while tuning it, he asked Dan to tell everyone about their next song, which was a new one they’ve worked up. Dan summed it up by saying, “…It’s about heartbreak and drinking…” Classic. It really was a killer song, though, and one of my favorites from their set. Next up they had another cover in store for everyone, and this time it was a more classic song, coming from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The song was “You Got Lucky”, which Dan sang, with Britt adding the occasional backing vocals. It was another knockout cover, and one that really fit their style, both musically and lyrically, exceedingly well.
They were nearing the end of their 48-minute long set at this time, and next did “Flaggin a Ride”, which was followed by the subsequent song on their record, “What Gets You Alone”, which was the most intense song they did. Judging from it, they had saved the best for at least close to last, and to cap off this show, they had one last cover, one that can be found on their record. The song was “Shivers”, originally done by The Birthday Party, and for it Alex added the bass lines, leaving Britt to take up the rhythm guitar. The song teemed with emotion, particularly with the opening line, “I’ve been contemplating suicide, but it really doesn’t suit my style…” His singing gave it a very melancholy vibe, as well as sounding very apathetic.
The crowd somewhat dispersed after that, though droves hung around in hopes of an encore. It didn’t happen.
Surely no one was disappointed in that, though. After all, they had played almost everything from their record, and certainly hit the highlight tracks and then some.
They put on a great show that seemed to pass all too quickly, and I loved the dynamics they had going on. For instance, the vocals. Both Dan and Britt are amazing singers with very unique voices, and switching up who did the singing like they did ensured things never got stale (though I doubt that would have been a worry in the first place).
However, it’s really all about their musicianship. It’s clear each of them have spent many years doing what they do, damn near, perfecting it, as they each played their respective instruments with ease, making it appear so effortless that any non experienced person from the crowd could have joined them and been just fine. Their talent was a true thing of beauty, and something to marvel at.
Pick up their debut album in iTUNES, and they have several shows on the horizon too, which can be viewed HERE. They’ll be doing gigs in New York, Illinois, Tennessee, Ohio, California, Oregon and Texas, as well as a few around Canada.
As the crowd lingered, hoping for one more song from the band, they instead saw Josh Florence rush onto the stage. His speech was short as he thanked everyone for coming out and also promised that the fifth annual Homegrown Music and Arts Festival would be even better.
That’s a bold statement, and one they’ll be hard pressed to accomplish. But then again, I didn’t think there would be any topping last years, yet they managed to.
I liked the fact that they returned to focusing predominantly on the Dallas music scene, while the few bands from out of the immediate area were a nice way to switch things up, especially since they were scattered about the lineup.
As far as I’m concerned, Homegrown IS the best music festival in the North Texas area, and this year solidified it as that. So, go ahead and make sure you keep your Saturday’s in May 2014 free, ‘cause most likely it will be one of those days when they do the sixth edition of the festival. At the very least it’s a fun way to spend the day, and you can be a very casual music lover and still enjoy it.
It didn’t seem it, but it had been a long day, and it wasn’t quite over yet as I made the very short journey to Deep Ellum for one of the Homegrown after parties…
The suburbs of the Dallas area don’t usually come to mind as a place to go see live music, and the few venues that I’ve known of over the years have never been able to make a real run out of it. However, the one venue that has lasted is one I had never been to before this night, and that Love and War in Texas, which is primarily a restaurant.
They get some pretty notable Country/Americana/Folk acts through, but since those typically aren’t the genres I go for, I had seldom had a real reason to go there, until this night, when Ronnie Fauss and his band were playing.
Opening up for him was a band out of Austin called Greg Mullen and the Cosmic Americans, who was starting their final song when my dad and I arrived and stepped out onto the nice and spacious patio where the stage is located.
It’s hard to get a feel for a band in just one song, but I liked what I heard in that one song. You can listen to and buy both of the bands records on their BANDCAMP site, so check that out, as well as their FACEBOOK PAGE to keep up-to-date on their goings on.
Ronnie Fauss and his band missed their 9:30 start time by a bit, due mainly to some guitar issues, which were finally fixed by Ronnie replacing the battery in his acoustic guitar.
“I’m Ronnie Fauss and this is my band The Chupacabras.” He told the crowd of a little over a dozen, as they then embarked on a 71-minute long set.
They played a majority of his newest album, “I Am the Man You Know I’m Not”, which is also his debut on New West Records, beginning with the song, “The Last”. “…I’ve seen your future, baby, and it looks a lot like your past. I was your first, oh let me be the last…” Ronnie sang on the chorus, while Chris Norwood plucked at the strings of a lap steel guitar, a traditional instrument in country music, that, oddly enough, wasn’t used much this night. Then again, it’s not like they really needed it.
They picked the pace up immensely as Ronnie belted out the opening line of their next song. “Well, I’m driving this rig up to Oklahoma City…” he sang, as drummer Bill Spellman, bassist Rocky Garza, and electric guitarist Chad Hannon ripped into “I Don’t See You”, which is one of my personal favorites song of his, and was one of the catchiest of this entire night.
Chris switched to keyboard/piano for the next few songs, as Ronnie announced to everyone that the next song was called “Tia Maria”, a song that was originally found on the “Mulligan” EP. It’s a true country tune, telling a story of a wife and her cheating husband, and by the end of it, Tia Maria” has “…shot herself right through the head…” It may sound sad, but there’s actually a certain amount of humor thrown into the song.
“…This next song is called Pistols In the Air.” said Ronnie, leading them into another track from the new album. There was a brief instrumental breakdown during that song, and Chad stole the spotlight for a moment with some nice riffs that comprised a guitar solo, which was his first, but far from last of the night. They then pulled out another older song of Ronnies’, and while Chris was readying his mandolin, Ronnie asked everyone if they enjoyed a “good revenge song”, as that was what their next song was about. It was “One Eye Open”, and while it appeared to go off without a hitch, Ronnie copped afterwards that he forgot to do his harmonica solo, mainly because he forgot to pick his neck rack up before the song in order to do it.
No harm, no foul is what I say, especially since Ronnie pointed out that Chad picked up the slack by doing another solo. Chris again switched instruments, going back to the keys this time, but mere seconds into the more melancholy “Answers You Already Know”, Ronnie brought things to a stop. “…I didn’t learn from my mistake…” Ronnie told everyone, before reaching down and picking up his harmonica, before starting the song again.
It’s a song that shows off what a truly brilliant songwriter Ronnie is, with a line from the first verse being, “…Children are nothing but grownups who have not had their hearts broken yet…”, which soon gives way to the chorus, “And the stars shine brighter in Texas than they do in Colorado…”
They followed it with what Ronnie said was mostly an autobiographical song. I got almost giddy at that, knowing it was my favorite song of his, “It’s a Long, Long Way”, which I had not heard live since the first time I saw Ronnie, when he was just a solo artist, about two years or so ago. The song does take you through his whole life, right from the opening line, “Well, I was born in the year that Nixon resigned…” The song came to a sudden end, though, which Ronnie noted, saying it was a “impromptu end”, and sadly that happened before the final verse, which includes the line, “…Said life is not about riches, but then Snoop said it’s nothing but money and bitches…” Regardless, excluding that certainly didn’t ruin the song, and it was still a standout.
Before doing the single and lead track from the newest album, “The Night Before the War”, Ronnie plugged local radio station 95.3 The Range, saying he was lucky enough to get some airplay from them, telling everyone that the song might sound familiar if they too listened to the station. Afterwards, they did a the final remaining tracks from the new record, which were “A Pretty Nice Night for Houston”, and “This Year”, during which the mandolin was again put into action, .before going back to the keys for another utterly outstanding song, “Good Enough”.
That left them with just a few more songs from Ronnie’s back catalog, all of which came from 2010’s “Mulligan” EP, but can now be found on the compilation album, “The Sun is Shining Somewhere, but Somewhere isn’t Here”.
One of those was “Just Another Tuesday”, while another was a song that finds Ronnie wishing that multiple characteristics were different, aptly titled “Wish”, and both of those songs again called on Chris to play the mandolin. “To Ease My Mind” seemed like the perfect song to end on, especially with the killer outro they gave it, where Bill, Rocky, Chad and even Ronnie rocked out. Actually, in most cases that probably would have been the end of it, but given the show and the longer set time they had to fill, they had worked in a couple of cover songs.
One of those covers was a much more up-tempo version of Merle Haggard’s “Swinging Doors”, but it was their next song that really captured my attention, almost as much as their original stuff had. Ronnie invited Greg Mullen on stage with them, who brought his acoustic guitar with him, despite not knowing where to plug it in at, and the sound guy was unable to help them, since he was MIA at the moment.
Ronnie again thanked Greg and his band for playing the show with them, mentioning they crossed paths doing a show in Austin and also encouraging everyone to buy Gregg’s new album, “There are America’s Beyond This America.” “…And I thought my album titles were confusing…” said Ronnie.
The song they did to end it all was “Please Don’t Bury Me” by John Prine, and even though I hadn’t heard the song prior to their rendition of it, they still did an amazing job with it. Like their other cover, this one had a faster pace to it, but that’s what made it so good, as it was really catchy and offered a very fun way to end what had been an incredible set.
Both of those songs were really a fitting end to the show, because it is the more classic country music spirit, like that of Haggard and Prine, and Ronnie embodies.
He’s a storyteller through and through, a fact that is constantly radiating from his music, and his voice has a distinctive twang that sets his sound apart from anyone else’s.
Now, I’m not saying there aren’t other country musicians and bands taking some pages out of the original playbook like he does, but all the same, I always find it refreshing when a singer or band focuses on what country is (or was) about. Rather than going with the glitz and glamor sound of the pop influenced brand of country that Nashville currently breeds. You know, the stuff that populates (or rather pollutes) the airwaves of all major radio stations.
So, if you want to hear some good ol’ fashioned country music with a bit of a modern vibe to it, check out Ronnie Fauss and his extremely talented band and listen to/buy his records in ITUNES. Better yet, go see a live show. He’ll be back in Plano on June 6th at the Courtyard Theater, then the following night, the 7th, he’ll be opening for Gary P. Nunn at the Granada Theater in Dallas. He and his band will then return to Love and War on June 23rd to open for Micky and the Motorcars.
Very fun night, and I just might need to get out to Love and War a little more often.
I was familiar with the annual Cinco de Mustache event, which took place at various Dallas venues since 2009, even though I never attended any of the concerts that always took place close to Cinco de Mayo. However, I was not familiar with the man who orchestrated the event, Clint Waycaster.
Sadly, Clint passed away sometime last year, though his annual Cinco de Mustache party was continued, this year spearheaded by Roland Rangel, as a way to honor Mr. Waycaster.
The Curtain Club was the host venue for this, and several great bands had been tapped to play it, some of whom I knew, others I didn’t.
The first band up was called At Night, and despite arriving early (around 8:40), I had missed most of the bands set, hearing only a handful of their songs.
I loved what I heard, though, as this four-piece rock outfits music featured a lot of their keyboard player, giving it a more distinct sound than most bands.
This proved to be a rather eclectic night when the next band, Cord, got on stage, and one of the instruments they had set up was a pedal steel guitar. It’s not often you see one of those on that stage, a stage ruled predominantly by rock and hard rock bands.
Before beginning, the bands singer made a brief speech about Clint, reminiscing about how he used to play songs for his friend. He talked about how Clint was always honest with him, telling him if a song was either terrible or great, then added a third response. “…Sometimes, I’d play a song and he start crying, and I’d think, ‘That must be a great song.”
They then started what was an extraordinary set, and while their first song didn’t strike me as being too country sounding, they quickly eased into it with the next song in their 30+ minute long set. They weren’t just traditional country music, though. There was a real rock flare to their music, too, even on the few songs where the lead guitarist took a seat at his pedal steel guitar.
Their stuff was impressive, with great music and well-written lyrics, which helped their set pass rather quickly, leading to their final song which the bands singer said he had written as part of another band many years ago.
I wish I could be a little more detailed with their set, but I can’t seem to find much about the band. Nevertheless, if you ever see the name Cord on a venue’s website, make a point to try to see them.
The night got more rocking with the next band, Meridian, who hadn’t done a show in about two and a half months. Making things more special was the fact that this show marked the return of an old friend to the lineup, as Moe Martinez was returning to drum for the band.
Almost as a way to celebrate his return, they opened their 35-minute set with “Nights Like This”, a track that hasn’t kicked off one of their live shows in quite some time. If Mark Sims and Shannon Nedved’s roaring guitars didn’t get your attention, then Moe’s drumming should have, as he tore into his kit. He had an obvious renewed passion for it, and even though I couldn’t see much of him this night, you could tell his heart was fully in it and he was savoring every moment of being back on stage. All that resulted in the entire band clicking more than I’ve seen them click in a long time. Throughout each chorus, vocalist Tim Ziegler often made a ripping motion with his as he sang the line, “…On nights like this, people will be ripped apart…”
There was no pause or awkward silence between songs, as they quickly moved on to “All Hands”, which, coupled with the other song, made for a killer way to start things off, and together those songs packed quite a wallop. And just an interesting side note, that was another song where Tim slightly changed up the lyrics, instead of signing “…I’ve found the next best silhouette to take the place of you…” on the chorus, he switched the latter part to, “…She’s got the shape of you…”.
Things kept moving right along with one of their newer songs, and during an instrumental break while bassist Chris Gentry, Shannon, Mark and Moe were throwing down, Tim shouted out Moe, asking, “Does anyone recognize Moe Martinez?!” Afterwards, Mark started them in on another track from their self-titled debut EP, the poppy sounding “Starts & Ends”. That one is still my favorite Meridian tune, and the newer version of it (new from the original demo at least) grows on me more and more each time I hear it.
Another older gem of the bands came next, a song that they’ve been doing since their inception and whose chorus goes, “…This is war, the city is going to burn tonight…” Hopefully, it will make the cut for the next album (whenever that may happen) because it is one of their best, and I love how it’s even eerie in a way. “Lazy Eye” was their next song, and is another standout new one they’ve created, and after it, they slowed things down a bit, but first Tim shouted out to a fellow singer/songwriter who he said helped him out on writing the tune.
It was Paco Estrada, who was headlining this night, and Tim said while he was struggling writing lyrics for the song “Train”, he went to Paco for help, spending a few days with him to get it written. While he was praising the man who is one of the best singer/songwriters Dallas has, Tim realized Paco was nowhere to be seen. “…And I’m saying all this and he’s not even here, so fuck him.” He declared, in a joking manner, of course. “Train” is always is a sign that the bands set is almost over, but this softer song wasn’t the next to last tune like usual. Instead, they picked the pace right back up with a song I was afraid they weren’t going to play this show, “Redigress”.
Tim had been goofing off throughout the show, thrusting his pelvis around at one point earlier, but during this song, he turned his back to the crowd and preceded to shakes his ass. It offered a great deal of comic relief so to speak, especially on what’s more of a serious song that ended with Tim propping a leg up on the center monitor, surveying the crowd while singing the final line, “…Fuck all your politics. Fuck all your stupid tricks. Fuck all the things you say. Words only get in the way.” That then brought them to their final song, which, as any Meridian fan knows was of course, “Hey Lover”.
They almost got through their set without anything happening, but near the end of that song, and coincidentally right at the line, “…When everything is broken…”, Shannons’ guitar went out on him due to some technical issue. You could see it all on his face, as he suddenly realized his guitar wasn’t making any noise, and while tried to fix real quick, there was only about thirty seconds left of the song, so eventually he just gave up, laughing it off and watching his band mates as they thrashed about.
Really, that can’t be held against them, not just because it was a technical issue, but it was only for the final bit of their show.
Overall, this was the best Meridian show I’ve seen in a long time, like, probably over a year. I attribute a lot of that to the return of Moe, since he was one of the founding members of the band, and was the missing component that honestly, I never knew was missing into this night.
The drummer they had to fill his shoes was great, but in hindsight, he never truly meshed with the band. And after being gone from Meridian for around a year and a half to focus on family, you could tell Moe was not only glad to once again be following his passion, but also playing some great rock music with his friends.
It’ll be interesting to see what lies ahead of the band now that their original lineup is back intact, and with them firing on all cylinders like they were this night, there’s shows will be something you want to witness firsthand.
Currently, they don’t have any shows booked, but you can find their debut EP in ITUNES, and by all means, you should purchase it.
After them was another Dallas band who I had heard a lot of good things about recently, and that was Dead Flowers, who was fresh of the release of their debut album.
The band mixes several different genres together, including rock, with some country and blues undertones, all of which were on display in their first song, “No Tragedy”. I’d say it was more of a country song, but the rapid beats Ed Chaney was supplying, along with the with the heavy and fast paced guitar chords lead guitarist Vince Tuley and singer and rhythm guitarist Corey Howe were playing made it more of a rock song, and one that instantly pulled you in. The country flare, at least in my opinion, came through on the lyrics, with part of the chorus being, “…Oh, my darling, I hope you see, even though we’re fucked up, we’re meant to be…” Definitely a good an impressive opening number, and they continued on with the following song on their “For You” record, “You’re Wrong”, which has more of a loud, fiery blues vibe to it.
“Were any of you at our CD release show here a few weeks ago?” Corey asked as some of their fans cheered to say they were. “Not here…” he then said, correcting himself and mentioning the right venue. He also asked if anyone had bought their album then. “Well, this song isn’t on it.” He finished as he, bassist Evan Winston Johnson, Vince and Ed broke into this non-album track, which was one of the best of their set. Near the end of it a string on Coreys’ guitar broke, resulting in him having to change guitars after finishing the track.
While plugging the guitar in, he took a moment to say how bad the brand of strings were. “…But I bought ten of them, so…” he finished. That then led them to a wonderful that told a story, a story of murder, and was aptly called “Murder Shuffle in a (Minor)”. “…Lay your hands on a woman be the greatest sin…” wailed Corey on one of the lines closer to the end of this explosive song, which ended up being my favorite of their set.
They did a few more songs, two of which I’m not sure of the titles, but sandwiched in-between those two was the soulful, bluesy track, “I’m A Man”. They then closed their 38-minute long set with the lead track and longest song from their album, “I Won’t Go”, which was just another one of their many great songs, and left me wishing they could play a little longer, because I was desperately wanting to hear more. And after all, isn’t that how a band should leave the crowd?
I don’t know why I hadn’t checked out Dead Flowers before this, even if it was as simple as listening to their music online, but I’m regretting not now, because they were amazing and lived up to all the positive stuff I had heard about them.
Corey has an amazing voice, that can even sound a little rough around the edges at times, which makes their sound that much better, given all the genres they roll together. He and his band mates also deliver a killer show on top of that, and even though they aren’t your traditional rock band, their show was every bit as intense as the band before them.
They’re a band you must check out, at the very least by previewing their music on ITUNES, and if you’d be interested in seeing a show, they have a couple coming up in Dallas, one of which will be on May 31st at Club Dada, the other at Three Links on June 14th.
You don’t often see nights like this where every band from start to finish is about the same caliber of talent, but so far they all had been, and there was never a moment where things seemed to dip, nor would there be as Paco Estrada and his band got ready to close out the show.
They embarked on their set with “American Girls”, which has become the new standard opener, and out of the newer music Paco is playing these days, this one is hands down the best of them all. It has a more simple rock sound to it, in the classic rock sense, though much softer, since Pacos’ acoustic guitar is the most prevalent instrument, despite being surrounded by a full band. “…From the Jersey girls to the Southern belles…” he crooned at one point in the song, in his soulful and rich sounding voice. They continued with another new song, which I believe is titled “The Way I Love You”, and it’s Paco’s specialty, a beautiful love song with great lyrics, while Scotty Isaacs piano playing and the softer, yet thick bass lines Joel Bailey was cranking out perfectly accented the song.
The songs about love continued, as the band tackled one of Paco’s more recent hits, “When We Were Made”, from the “Definite and Indefinite…” record. It had all of his fans caught up in it, some of whom were even swaying side to side while he sang the chorus, “…That’s when we were made for each other.” Another classic of his followed, and before starting it Paco joked, saying something to the effect of it being a cautionary tale of why not to play with shovels. He was setting up “Breaking Down”, which begins with the line, “You grab your shovel and your digging axe, ‘cause you have to be the first in line to bury the past…” However, that is not the message of one of Paco’s more personal songs, where he later sings, “My father had a heart attack at fifty-eight, I never thought that man was built to break…” Still, I find the best part of this song to be the latest cover he has mashed it up with.
After one of the last choruses, the band, which was rounded out by drummer AJ Blackleaf and an electric guitarist, continued the music bed, and after a musical break, Paco began singing the classic song from U2, “One”. He started at the line, “Did I disappoint you, or leave a bad taste in your mouth?”, however it was when he got to, “…And I can’t be holdin’ on to what you got, when all you got is hurt.” where it really sprang to life. You could see the emotion and passion Paco was putting into his singing bleeding out onto his face, then, and it was glorious.
Even if it is but a partial cover, he and his band own it, making it entirely their own. That wasn’t the only cover of this show, though, as next they did a song I had never heard Paco play before, and that was Modern English’s “I Melt with You”. It was slower than the original (or even the various covers that I’ve heard of it), transforming the song from a rock track to more along the lines of easy listening, so to speak. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and he was able to pull it off in a way that made it seem like one of his own songs.
Afterwards, the band started talking amongst themselves, and during that a female fan ran and jumped on stage, whispering into Paco’s ear. She then approached the mic and asked everyone to give it up for Paco. “It’s like I have my own personal cheerleaders.” Said Paco once she had left the stage and he retook the mic.
He informed everyone he had promised that woman he would play a song she had requested, and his band mates filed off stage, meaning this next song was going to be a stripped down acoustic.
I wondered what it would, because in his decade plus long career, he’s written countless songs that are fan favorites. I was anxiously awaiting the start of the song, when he suddenly sang, “New York down to Mexico, Seattle to the Oklahoma. Your ghost will always haunt my soul. Los Angeles to Baltimore…” That’s the opening lines of “I Will Follow”, a song I had not heard in years. It was wonderful getting to hear it again, though Paco did something he seldom did during this song, and that was stumble through the lyrics, at least at one line.
In his defense, his singing abruptly gets quicker as he sings, “…No I’m not telling you lies, I’m not telling you this so that you’ll be surprised. I’m just telling you this to get shit off my chest, it’s the only way that I have learned to survive…” Early on in that he said the wrong line, skipping ahead in the song a bit, which threw him completely off, as he shook his head like, “I can’t believe I did that.”, then giving himself a second before picking back up where he was supposed to be.
The slipup didn’t affect the song much, and is easily forgivable in my opinion, besides, it was just so fantastic hearing that oldie again.
That put them at the tail end of their 45-minute long set, and after the band rejoined Paco, they performed the gorgeous, “I Will Never Let You Go”, which really highlight Scotty’s talent as a pianist. That then took them to their final song of the night, which Paco dedicated to a friend and legend of the North Texas music scene, Matt Slider, best known as the singer of The FEDS, a band that had a nice thirteen plus year run. He happened to be in attendance, and earlier in the show, while talking to Slider, he told me he hoped Paco would play a certain song, and it was the song that usually ends his sets, “Haunting Me”. It’s another song that is done as a mash-up, and after finishing it out, Paco tacked on some lines from Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” to conclude the song.
This was a fine way to cap of an incredible night, and I’ll say it once again, Paco Estrada is one of the best singer/songwriter’s in the area, and this band he now has backing him is one of the best he’s had in some time.
If for some reason you haven’t heard of him yet, head over to his BANDCAMP PAGE to find, listen to and buy most of his releases. Also, keep a check on his FACEBOOK PAGE for upcoming show dates.
It was another incredible night at my favorite Deep Ellum haunt, especially since everything this night was done in memory of Clint Waycaster, and the money from the raffles and auctions they were doing went to benefit a charity. Fun was had by all, and even though I didn’t know Clint, I imagine he would like the fact that his event was being continued and that people were having fun at it, instead of being saddened by his early passing. So, here’s to hoping the Cinco de Mustache celebration continues next year with a sixth edition.
Lastly, I have a random piece of info. This show took place nearly seven years to the day that I first walked through the doors of the Curtain Club. Who was playing here the night of May back in 2006? Well, one band was SouthFM, and the other was Darby. The former was the rock band Paco used to front, while the latter act was led by Tim Ziegler. Point is, after all these years, I find it neat that those two singers are still sharing the stage with each other in their respective current projects.
Tonight was a monumental night for Dallas’s premier electronic band, Ishi, who, after spending at least the last year and a half working on their sophomore record, were finally ready to release it to their fans. Well, at least in physical format, since the album had been available online for a few weeks at this point.
Still, everyone knows that a bands CD release show is typically one of the best shows they ever do, so it seemed almost a sure bet that by the end of the night, Ishi’s fans would have one of Dallas’s finest venues, the Granada Theater, packed.
The lineup for this show wasn’t your typical lineup, and Ishi was the only true band on the bill, and the first opening act was The Nikki Trash Burlesque Experience.
As the name suggests, it’s a burlesque show, and the person at the helm of it, Nikki Trash, is a drag queen.
It wasn’t a drag show, though , and when I got to the Granada just shortly after eight, the handful of people who were already there were huddled up close to the stage, cheering and applauding as one of the dancers slowly disrobed.
They went through several dancers, covering a wide spectrum, with a couple of the ladies being plus sized, while a couple others were more my definition of alternative, and one even sported a mohawk.
After each performance Nikki Trash could be heard asking everyone to give the dancer at the moment a round of applause, at one point saying something to the effect of, “That’s some weak applause for such amazing titties!”
After the next to last performer, she introduced her own “god damn self” to the stage. Like the others, Nikki did a choreographed performance to a song, though she (he?) lip-synched along with it. The most noteworthy part of her show, though, was what she later referred to as her slave girl, which is exactly how I would have described her.
Nikki “drug” the girl around by her hair, making her lick her boot at one point, and even set atop her as they appeared to go at it.
Yeah, it was a different opening act, but it was actually fun to watch, and it’s a shame no more people were there to see it.
Would I see them again? Probably not, that is to say I wouldn’t go to a venue just to see Nikki Trash, but if you are into that kind of thing, than you should definitely check out The Nikki Trash Burlesque Experience.
The main support was Booty Fade, which is a collaboration between two Dallas are DJ’s, one of which is DJ Sober, and the other is Picnictyme.
I’m not a real of fan of stuff like this, and I really don’t know what to say about it, since practically everything they did was scratch some records, play some samples and stuff like that (sure, I know it was a little more involved than that, but that’s what I took away from it.)
Not being a fan of that style, it all sounded more or less the same to me, the good thing however was that their 54-minute long set seemed to pass by rather quickly, which was good, because I was afraid it would drag on an on.
The one thing I do remember from it is at one point around halfway through their set, Picnictyme said they realized that today was James Brown’s birthday, and they decided to do a tribute in honor of the Godfather of Soul.
“…Everyone’s sampled.” He said, adding, “Sober’s sampled him. I’ve sampled him…” They then sampled a portion of one of Brown’s songs, with Picnictyme singing part of it, too.
If you’re in to DJ’s, check out Booty Fade, as well as the individuals that make up the act.
I was glad when they finished up, though, not just because I was starting to grow weary of it, but because it meant it was getting close to time for Ishi to take the stage.
At 10:22, the lights went out as the screen in front of the stage raised up, revealing frontman John Mudd, guitarist Rocky Ottley, drummer Jonathan Merla and Becky Middleton, who was singing some backing vocals, along with a additional musician who was behind some keyboards over on stage left, and he played various instruments throughout the night.
They were all about using visuals to entice the crowd this night, and began with a large area of light on the horizon, which was broadcasted on some large totems of sorts that were set up on either side of the drum kit, and it looked as if you were traveling through space towards the light.
Despite some dapper attire, which included a vest and a jacket, John looked as eccentric as usual, with what appeared to be a mink stole (or some sort of similar animal) draped across his shoulders while he sported a hat that had reflective tiles, much like a disco ball, all around it. You can get a better idea of what I’m talking about by watching their music video for “Disco Queen”, and he had his face painted like it is in parts of the video to boot.
There was just enough time to take all of that in and John welcomed everyone to the show, then the sample track to “Mirror Ball Sky” kicked in, as they began their set with the lead track from the “Digital Wounds” album.
Accompanying the song was two disco ball, or generated images of them, broadcasted on the Granada’s screens on the left and right of the stage, which helped in giving the show more of a party atmosphere.
The fans at this nearly sold-out looking show cheered and applauded the band, almost as much as they had at the start of their set, and after subsiding briefly, the noise from the rabid fans again rang out as they fired up a hit from their “Through the Trees” record, “Our Time”.
John had certainly been mobile during that opening number, but he really cut loose now, dancing about the stage and providing all sorts of moves while signing, “Don’t let go of who you are. You came too far to be the one left standing on a falling star…” The chorus, “This is our time…” seemed especially appropriate this night, since the band hopes to push themselves into a bigger national spotlight with this new release, making this show a staging point of sorts for all of that. However, the best parts of the song came when Becky grabbed her mic approached the center stage for one of the few lines out of all of their songs that belonged solely to her. “…Wash your fears in the crystal river moonlight.” She belted out with her fiery voice that packs a punch, before retreating to her spot on stage left as John again took the spotlight to finish up the song.
He removed his jacket after that song, but put the stole right back around him. “Dallas, we will never stop loving you.” He said, obviously grateful to all the fans who had come out to celebrate and support his band and its newest release.
They returned to doing songs from their new album, including the serene and dancey tune, “Moon Watcher”, which seemed to place everyone in a state of bliss as they watched in awe. “…I’ll be riding the waves of our sweet, sweet memories.” John sang on the chorus, making the motion of a wave with his left arm, very fluidly I might add. He also did a little more hip shaking on that song, and is it came to an end, he crossed his arms, one hand on each shoulder, and bowed in perfect synch with the music. There was almost no downtime before their next song, the more electronic and even somewhat techno sounding, “Emotional Hard Drive”.
It was around this time where their show got elevated to the next level, as the laser light show began. The totems had small holes in them where some laser devices were housed, as the beams shot out at the crowd, waving about seemingly inches above the heads of those at the back of the venue. Not only is it a highlight track on their album, but it also was a highlight of this show, infecting the audience while Rocky bounced around, shredding on his guitar, as John, who had taken off his stole by this point, roamed around the stage.
They almost immediately got their next song going, which was “Touch The Future”, and as Becky added some “ooooh’s” to it, two people stepped through the stage door, bringing with them a couple of massive balloons, big enough a person could have fit in them if possible (though they might have had to hug their knees to fit). They were thrown out to the crowd, one of them busting nearly right away, while the other was bounced around all over the front part of the venue, almost ending back on stage before John hit it back out to the crowd. Eventually it too popped, and the audience let out a collective, “Ahhh” of disappointment. It was also during that song, which finds John singing in an incredible high falsetto voice, where he put on his stunner shades, with some parts glowing a neon red, while others were green.
Over the course of the next several songs, it would get so dark on stage that those shades were the only things truly noticeable, at least from where I stood at the back, and they seemed to be gliding through the air on their own accord.
They kept things moving swiftly along as Jonathan started them in on their next song, which was the title track of this new record, “Digital Wounds”. The song evokes an eeriness of sorts, yet it’s beautifully captivating. The upbeat “ISHI” came next, which has a sing along ending of “I.S.H.I. We’re rolling high on our own dreams tonight.”, and is another song that hints at the bands drive for success.
They still showed no sign of letting up, as they continued to tackle one song right into the next, though here John started everyone on a clap along, while again thanking everyone for showing up. The clapping went on for at least half a minute, with no one actually knowing what is was leading to, nor did they seem to care, they were just following instructions and enjoying being completely caught up in the moment, enjoying this brief escape for the drudgeries of everyday life.
Suddenly, the track for “Disco Queen”, the first single from this new album, started to play, and the crowd got ecstatic. The rather suggestive song was one that everyone had been anxiously awaiting, singing along with the chorus, “When I look into your eyes, the beat drops and we collide to the rhythm of the night…”
John disappeared to stage left as they song came to an end, while Jonathan and Rocky fired up the next song, though they kept their playing pretty light. Also joining them was the additional musician, who was shaking some maracas, or some type of similar instrument.
Rocky chatted with the crowd for a moment, thanking everyone for coming out. “Dallas, this one’s for you!” he declared while raising a toast to everyone. Soon, John returned to the stage, having donned his now customary attire for the song, which is a large Native American headdress and a luxurious red rope that nearly touches the floor. To top it off, each feather on the headdress has a neon element on it, with the designs and color varying from feather to feather.
They then truly got “Mother Prism” underway, with John crooning the first line, “Don’t be too hard on yourself, there’s enough love to go around…”, while making a circle with his left hand. It’s one of the most positive, upbeat songs I think I’ve ever heard, and it exudes an overwhelming amount of joy. “So let’s create the dance where we celebrate each other…” John sang as the song continued, and soon after Becky and Rocky chimed in, chanting the chorus, “Aiyah ayay, aiyah aiyah ayay!” It wasn’t just them, though, as the room was filled with a throng of fans shouting along with them on this anthem that is all about uplifting peoples spirits.
That could have been the show right there, simply because it would have been a perfect note to end on, but then again, there were still several fan favorites left, and even a few more new tracks, like “Naked Blur”. It slowed things down a little, and they got progressively got slower with the final song on “Digital Wounds”, the beautiful, more acoustic based track, “Diamond Door”.
Their 56-minute long set came to a quiet end. At least it kind of ended. While the band left the stage, they were replaced by two dancers, both of whom had what looked like hula-hoop’s fashioned to the waist of their tights, so they just hung there, moving around as they twirled about the stage.
It was very nicely though out intermission, making sure the show didn’t stop just because the band members were taking a breather.
Soon, Rocky and Jonathan returned to the stage, adding some light notes and beats to the track. Becky and John then made their way back out, and he had undergone another wardrobe change, this time wearing a white robe, or something similar to one, plus a piece over it that covered most of his upper arms and then a majority of his torso (watch the video that was mentioned earlier to see what I’m talking about.) It was a cool and very futuristic look.
Thus began their extra songs (at other shows John has made it clear they don’t like doing encores, instead just taking a break and then doing the rest of the stuff their fans want to hear), and the first of those was another oldie, “Make It”. It had been a long time since I had heard that one live, and it was quite nice getting to experience it again.
They had almost played “Digital Wounds” in its entirety, sans two songs, and somehow, I had failed to notice that “Slowly But Surely” was absent from the first set. While his band mates got it going, John climbed off the stage and into the massive crowd, climbing atop one of the partitions just in time for the opening line, “I’m coming for my love.” He moved about throughout the song, winding his way through the crowd, who obviously enjoyed the closeness, as you could see everyone who was around him at the different times pulling out their phones to snap a picture.
Getting back on stage was no easy task for him, but he eventually did once the song was over, disappearing on stage right while Becky took center stage as two dancers walked onto the stage. They busted out their cover of The Bangles “Walk Like an Egyptian”, with the dancers performing the dance moves and walking like an Egyptian. When given the chance like this, Becky really steals the show, and has an incredible voice. John eventually returned to the line of sight, hiding behind Rocky for a few moments as he outstretched his arms with the robe/cape waving behind Rocky. He then walked more towards center stage, co-singing the song as he again forced his voice into a higher register, which he pulls off with ease, and his voice doesn’t even come close to cracking.
The rest of their set would be the hits, well mostly so, and one of those which got greeted by a strong reaction from fans was “Come Closer”. “…Take my hand for the ride…” John sang at one point in the song, making a motion with his hand like he was driving a car.
Their next number was a bit of a surprise, as John said they had a new one for everybody. “And only for you.” He added, as they began a track that hopefully will make it on their third record, even though that is years away at this point.
If I were to compare it to any other Ishi song, I would say it most resembles “Mother Prism”, in the sense that it was more peaceful. It even had a chant that I can see catching on just like the one of “Mother Prism” has. It was another spectacular Ishi song, and it’s nice to know they are already looking ahead to the future.
This additional 33-minute long set started to wind down with “Pastel Lights”, which really got the fans moving around, though it was “Shake Your Dandelion” that received the most fanfare any of their songs had gotten since their show first began. “You know what time it is, Dallas. This is our last song of the night.” John stated as the track led them into the seductive and suggestive song, which was the perfect way to cap of what had been one of the best concert experiences I had ever had.
If there has been a better Ishi, it was one I was unable to attend, but I kind of doubt that, because the band was in rare form this night.
The stage show was amazing and everything was perfectly coordinated, though not to the point of seeming over rehearsed where it had all been planned to a tee. Then you have the energy, not just from the band, but the fans, as they fed of each other’s energy for the full 89-minutes they were on stage.
In regards to their set pieces, they served to only enhance the show experience, making it an even more memorable show than it would have been with just the band. And for anyone who read my posts regular, you’ll know lately I’ve been tough on some bands who have used different visual aspects and such, but Ishi is one of the bands doing it right, because they do it to enhance the show, not to seem like they’re a bigger deal than what they are. Besides, they already are a big deal.
That leads me to this, what I saw this night, is easily capable of becoming an arena-sized show. And let’s be frank, even though there are other bands in Dallas whom I’m a bigger fan of, simply because I’m more of a rock person, I can’t, at least at this moment, think of any band who even shows signs of one day being capable of playing an arena.
Ishi could, though, because the energy is there. Between Rocky running around the stage, Jonathan’s aggressive style of drumming, which often found him standing up from his kit and banging about the cymbals, while John is a mesmerizing frontman who will always command 100% of your attention.
The aesthetics are every bit as good, too, and already a few notches above most bands, and I can only imagine what they can do once they get an even bigger budget.
The band has truly found itself by fully embracing the electronic sound with this new album, and that was made very obvious this night.
Like I said earlier, they are hoping to do big things this year as Ishi, a fact John made sure to point out multiple times this night, which is all the more reason to get in to the band now, because this thing could blow up at any moment.
They have a couple shows coming up in Colorado, one on May 24th at Casselman’s in Denver, the other at State Bridge in Bond on the 26th. They’ll also perform at Stubb’s in Austin on May 31st. And do be sure to pick up their albums in ITUNES, which consist of not only their two full-length records, but also some remixes.
This was an amazing night, definitely one of the best shows of the year, and it was great seeing a Dallas band headline of of Dallas’s best venues for the first real time, and I doubt it will be the last, either.
I hadn’t originally planned on going to Trees this night. In fact, I wasn’t even aware the venue was hosting a show this night, until about a week before when a friend forwarded an email along to me from the PR guy for one of the bands. Long story short, I offered to go to the show to review it and got guest listed to do just that.
The only hometown act on this bill was the first act, Sinsect, who started their set at 8:20.
They were a duo, and set up like a DJ would be, with both James Ashley and Joe Virus operating a few synthesizers. Their first few songs were all instrumental, as cranked out their electronic pieces with various sample tracks intertwining with them. Things got even worse with James began singing on their last two songs, doing some full on singing for their final number, while he just added the occasional line on another. His voice was essentially auto-tuned and had a very digital sounding effect to it, which I disliked it because you couldn’t tell what he was capable of on his own.
All of that resulted in me not liking their set a whole lot, and at least it was short, even though it felt like it lasted forever.
I guess I should say I’m not a huge fan of the kind of music in the first place, but still, I have seen a band or two who are completely electronic like this, and then their singer has blow my mind with his voice. That wasn’t the case with Sinsect, though, and not only did their music do nothing for me, but James, or rather his voice, hid behind all the effects. Who knows, maybe that was for the best, but then again, what does that say about you as a singer?
If you’re curious to listen to their stuff, well, they do have an album, “A Broken Hero”, which can be purchased in ITUNES.
Well, at least the night was bound to get better with the next act, and that was The Rabid Whole from Toronto, Ontario.
This was the band whose PR guy I had been in contact with, and after listening to their stuff online, I was ecstatic to see what they were like in the live setting.
As the curtain opened on them, a cloud of smoke engulfed stage left, then slowly billowed out towards the crowd, making it easier to see bassist Oscar Anesetti. The band bills themselves as a 21st Century Alternative Rock outfit, and they definitely looked the part with their jackets and other attire which had a futuristic look to it.
They waited on the sample track to lead them in to their first song, while Chalsey Noelle laced some beautiful piano notes over it via her keyboard. It was the calm before the storm, though, as guitarist George Radutu, drummer JJ Tartaglia and Oscar soon ripped into “Stargazer”. “I’m still expecting you to break my fall, assuming everything goes wrong…” belted out frontman Andreas Weiss on the chorus, who was racing about the stage and often propping one leg up on the monitors, gazing out at the crowd while he sang. Before the final chorus, he placed the microphone back in the stand, picking up his guitar, shredding on it while signing the remainder of the song. That was the extent of his guitar playing, at least for the time being, though, and he placed it back in its stand once the song concluded.
With that one song they had pulled almost everyone up to the front of the stage, even if everyone was only about two dozen people, and after allowing just enough time for the crowd to applaud and cheer for them, they fired up “Delusion”. It was followed by another song from their “Refuge” album, “Corporate”, which was a infectious and powerful number, partly about chasing your dreams. “…It’s the day that my friend turned corporate. Hard to think that this shell was once a man…” Andreas sang on the chorus. There were also some moments of the song where he softly whispered a few lines, giving it somewhat of a chilling tone.
They let up after that one, at least long enough for Andreas to mention that this was their first ever time in Dallas and that they were excited to be here. He of course also noted that they had some stuff for sale back at their merch table, and then they got back to it with a song from their 2009 debut album, “Autraumaton”, called “Selfish Nature”. Afterwards, Chalsey left her keyboard station which had kept her slightly out of view, joining her band mates at the front of the stage with what I will call a keytar. There was no real neck to it, so instead it looked like just a keyboard with a strap on it.
“We have a video for this next song. It’s called Future.” Andreas said hastily, as they started the lead track and single from their latest album. Maybe it’s because in listening to their stuff online it had become my favorite song of theirs, but I found it to be the best song of their set. It’s just a perfect blend of sheer rock with more electronic tones that can put you in a mood to dance, and Andreas and Chalsey’s voices fit well together as they each sang a few lines on the chorus, his having a more forceful, raw quality to it, while hers was more delicate and had a very pretty tone.
Following it was a slower song, at least slow by their standards, and that was the title track from their 2012 record, “Refuge”, which was another song that saw Chalsey doing a fairly good bit of singing. Once they finished it, Andreas walked up the stairs at the back of the stage, while Chalsey disappeared in the shadows of far stage right, as JJ took the spotlight, doing a killer drum solo. Really, a lot of drum solos are less than awe-inspiring, but he played a great piece that held your attention throughout. As it wound down, Chalsey got back behind her keyboards, while Andreas descended the stairs. He informed everyone they had one song left, maybe two, depending on if they had enough time.
In case this was their last song, they were going to go out with a bang with the aggressive, “Metro”, which featured a thick and heavy rhythm section. As luck would have it, they were able to do one more after that, and they chose to close their 38-minute long set with another older song, “All The Same”. Andreas again thanked everyone for coming out to the show while he put his guitar on. Near the end of it he asked everyone to help them out and repeat after him. “What does it take to make you bleed?” he sang, with only a few people shouting it back at him afterwards. He wasn’t too impressed, saying it was even worse than what the people of Portland did to try to entice everyone to get more into it. It worked, and the shouting grew stronger and louder as a few more people joined in. After the sing-along portion was over, Oscar proceeded to attack his bass, viciously slapping it as they finished up the song.
Their set was phenomenal, and even though there was a VERY sparse crowd at Trees this night, it still speaks volumes about The Rabid Whole that they were able to pull nearly everyone up to the stage and get them actively engaged in the music.
Speaking of their music, that’s what initially drew me in. It’s fun yet serious with a nice space rock sound, and while I wouldn’t say it’s original in the sense that what they are doing has never been done before, it is more unique, and I doubt you’ve heard many bands that pull of this musical style as well as they do. Aside from the music being easy to get into, you also have the lyrics, which are very well written and come across as telling fairly personal stories, which makes it easier for them to get behind it.
As impeccable as their music is, though, and as well as their energy translates onto the recordings, it’s their live show where it’s all at.
From the moment they started, they were going ninety miles a minute, never letting up for even a moment. They didn’t care that they were only playing for about thirty people, and I have a feeling they could have only had an audience of three and they still would have been putting on the same show. Why? Because they were obviously all having fun on that stage, and I think everyone quickly picked up on and was reeled in by that.
The only complaint I have is more of a technical issue, and that was that the main mic could have been a little louder out in the crowd, because at times I had trouble hearing Andreas while he was singing.
Aside from that, everything was perfect, and The Rabid Whole ended up stealing the show right out from under the headliner, as unintentional as it was.
Their current tour may be over, but keep an eye on their tour dates, either on their OFFICIAL WEBSITE or their FACEBOOK PAGE, especially if you live in Canada, since that is the bands home territory. You can also find their two albums in ITUNES, plus a remix of their first album. I would highly urge everyone to check out the “Refuge” record, as it’s one of those rare albums where every song is exceptional.
The headlining band for the night was Dope Stars Inc., who had traveled all the way from Rome, Italy to be here, and despite having been around for ten years now, this marked the bands first U.S. tour.
Traditionally, the band is evidently a five-piece, however, on this tour they were a trio, consisting of singer and guitarist Victor Love, bassist Darin Yevonde and drummer Mark Madhoney.
Oddly enough, they entered the stage to a good deal of fanfare, and evidently, most of the people were here for Dope Stars Inc.
I didn’t know what to expect, because I hadn’t even listened to their music beforehand. They had a real industrial rock sound, and were even alternative rock, and like the two bands that opened for them, they did have an electronic sound to an extent, even though that was all supplied through sample tracks.
Honestly, after their first song, I contemplated leaving, because I just didn’t care for it a whole lot, but I decided to stick around at least through the next couple of songs.
“…This is next one is called Vyperpunk!” Victor shouted, which resulted in some members of the crowd cheering with excitement. Like most of their songs, there was almost a techno sound to it, but in the most rocking way, and I found myself getting a little more into the music. Before starting their next song, Victor dedicated to Michael J. Fox, or at least that’s what I thought he said, but his accent was so thick (both when he was and wasn’t singing), I thought surely I had misheard him. Turns out I had understood him well enough, as they stared “Save the Clock Tower”, from their newest album, “Ultrawired”, a song that is a bit of an homage to the Back to the Future film series.
“It’s Today” was what did it for me, as it piqued my interest and ensured I’d stick it out for the rest of their set. It’s a riveting song, an anthem in a way, with Victor encouraging everyone that, “It’s today that we have to wake up all the energy we own…”, which is the first line of the course, before ending with, “…Our time is dead. Our time is now. And now is past.” They really seemed to hit their stride with that song, too, Darin pacing around the entire stage while he effortlessly tore it up on his bass. Actually, I had to look several times to make sure it was a bass he was playing, because as quickly as he was strumming the strings, it looked like it was a guitar. Aside from that, Mark was devastating it on the drums, often standing up from time to time as he continued to lay into his kit, while Victor was shredding on his guitar.
“It’s hot here in Texas.” Victor proclaimed, before they started their next song. They followed it with “10,000 Watts of Artificial Pleasures”, which got the biggest rise from their little fan base, as Victor first told everyone the song title, than asked something like, “Are you ready for the pleasures, Dallas?”. The aggressive “Bang Your Head” came next, which found Victor often snarling and yelling the words, and once it was over he set things up for Mark to do a drum solo, as he and Darin left the stage. The drum solo didn’t impress me to the extent the other one from the other band did, but it was still a great solo.
Once he put the finishing touches on it, Victor returned to the stage, with Darin eventually following suit, as they continued their barrage of songs, first with one I wasn’t able to figure out, and then doing what I believe was “Banksters”. They kept moving right along with “Make a Star”, from 2005’s “Neuromance” album, and then another track from their latest record, “Blackout”. Those songs weren’t slow by any means, but they really picked things back up with “Self Destructive Corp.”, while “Defcon 5” began to wind things down. At the end of that latter song, Darin, who resting a leg on the monitor, let his bass dangle in the air as he plucked one of the strings, then Victor announced they had one last song left. It was the title track of their 2009 album, “21st Century Slave”, which ended their 69 –minute long set. Now, a lot of their songs make statements in one way or another, most of which seem more social or political, but this one is probably the most notable. It deals with being a slave to the corporate world and being “brainwashed” by various forms of “propaganda”, with the message being that technology is the key to freeing our minds and bodies from all of that.
Yeah, there’s songs carry a message with them.
While watching them play, I wasn’t all that crazy for their actual music, and was more watching them for their performance, which is definitely an area they’ve perfected in their ten-year existence. However, after listening to their stuff a little more, like while trying to identify the songs they played this night, it has really grown on me.
It’s good rock music with a twist, and something well worth listening to. I’m still not all that crazy about Victors’ voice, which frankly, isn’t the best in the world. I wouldn’t call it bad though, either, which puts it in the spot of being one of the most unique voices I’ve ever heard, and he writes some fantastic lyrics that can be rather thought provoking.
I went from not being sure I’d even stay for their set, to watching it all, and now I’ve gone from not having a real interest in seeing them again, to liking them enough that if they ever get back to Dallas, I’ll most likely be there.
Yeah, they won me over is a fan.
Check out all of their records in ITUNES, and you can even get a free download of the “Ultrawired” record on their OFFICIAL WEBSITE.
It was a fantastic night of music (with the exception of the first band), and I love shows like this where more independent and small time bands tour through, because I like getting a little taste of what else is out there, outside of the local North Texas music scene.
Earlier this year the London based The Joy Formidable released their latest record, “Wolf’s Law”, and this night the band was making a stop at Trees in Dallas as part of their tour in support of the record.
I got there later, missing the only opening act, IO Echo, and at about 9:20 the venue appeared packed almost to capacity, with all the fans anxiously awaiting the bands arrival on stage.
A little over ten seemingly long minutes later and the lights went out as the fans cheered. The main mic stand, which was wrapped in lights and something that looked like tinsel, lit up, while a chilling wolf’s howl filled the venue. There was also a backdrop on the stage, which was a large white sheet, and hanging in front of it was a black silhouette of a wolf’s face, which lit up with LED lights that lined it.
Moments later Matthew Thomas made his way down the stairs from the greenroom, taking a seat behind his drum kit on stage left, which happened to be set up sideways. Rhydian Dafydd followed, picking up his bass when he made it on stage. However, it was Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan who received the most fanfare, as she took the stage flashing a delightful grin at the audience.
There was a little bit of feedback going on over the sample track that was their intro, before Matthew and Ritzy suddenly fired up “Cholla”, much to the fans excitement. Things suddenly fell silent closer towards the end when they took the pause in the song, and I’m fairly certain in those few seconds you could have heard a pin drop, as little noise was made from the crowd. They jumped back into it, though, and after finishing it up, Matthew wound them right into their next song, as he kept laying down some beats. While he was doing that, Ritzy mentioned how “lovely” everyone looked, and also said she was almost certain this was the first time they had ever done a headlining show in Dallas. With that, she and Rhydian began singing in to their mics, “Ohoo, Ohoo…”, again getting a burst of excitement from the fans, who quickly realized it was a song that is featured on their first two albums, “Austere”.
Both of those songs, especially back to back, got them off to an electric start and they were holding everyone’s attention with complete ease. Not only that, but there was also a very fun atmosphere to it, and their gleeful persona’s were rubbing off on the crowd, or at least me, putting me in a pretty happy state of mind.
Hearing the older stuff was great, but this tour was mainly about the music from “Wolf’s Law”, and after a brief break where Ritzy switched guitars (for the first of many times this night), they tackled another song from their latest record.
“THIS LADDER IS OURS!” Ritzy shouted rather defiantly, almost as if they were preparing to go to war and she was proclaiming it to a fictitious enemy. They then started the song of the same name, and that lead track from “Wolf’s Law” was a highlight of their set. The best part of the song though, was seeing them really rock out to it during the instrumental portions, especially Ritzy who just attacked her axe. “The Greatest Light is The Greatest Shade” was another older they song they broke out, and afterwards, while this Rock/Pop outfit regrouped, something interesting was played over the sound system. It was a reading of Henry Longfellow’s poem, “The Arrow and the Song”. “…And the song, from beginning to end, I found again in the heart of a friend.” it finished as Rhydian and Matthew opened up “Little Blimp” with a thick rhythm based intro. That short song little track become the most intense of their set thus far, and was a powerhouse of a song, at least once it took off, and they weren’t ready to let that energy they built with that fade just yet.
They kept things rolling with an instrumental piece, which climaxed with some pulsating bass riffs, roaring guitar notes and powerful drumbeats, before suddenly subsiding. “Come on Dallas!” Ritzy cried during this moment of silence before they launched into “Cradle”. “I can’t say what he means when he says that, I’ll pretend, pretty pretend…” sang Ritzy near the start of this high-strung beast of a song. That one was sure to have everyone’s adrenaline flowing, and I don’t see how anyone who was in attendance couldn’t have been fully engaged by the band at this point.
“I think this is what you call a sweaty rock show.” Rhydian said as they took a break after that song. Ritzy then chimed in, asking everyone if they were having a “sweaty good time” with them so far, to which the fans cheered. Her focus then turned to the weather. “..Fuck me!” she exclaimed, “…I mean, this is April isn’t it, and it’s already this hot. How hot must it be in August?” She continued, “…Do you all just leave for the hills during August? But, where are the hills?”
As a native Texan, I didn’t think it was all that hot, especially not in the club. Then again, I wasn’t up on the stage going all out, and all three of them had worked up quite a sweat now. Maybe it was just the way the lights were hitting them, but it looked like because of all that Ritzys’ makeup had began to run just ever so slightly, which in turn seemed to give her more of a raw Rock ‘n’ Roll persona.
During all that banter, their stage hand moved a keyboard out on the stage, specifically in front of Rhydian, as they prepared to slow things down just ever so slightly.
It’s not accurate to call “Tendons” a slow song, but it has its moments, and is a rock song it was utterly mesmerizing. Near the end Rhydian put the keyboard to use, but only for a few seconds, before tearing back into his bass as the song returned to its rock glory. They really brought things down with their next song, which required Rhydian to play an acoustic guitar in lieu of his bass, while Matthew pretty much set the song out, watching his band mates from behind his kit. The song was “Silent Treatment”, and Ritzy really didn’t even play her guitar during it, and since her hands were free, she used them “talk with” in a way, making all sorts of motions with them while she softly crooned, “…I’ll take a quiet living, but I’m hotwired and quick feeling. So, I’ll take the silent treatment…” It was a gorgeous song and showed off a totally different side of the band, but they were in the homestretch now, and it was time to reinvigorate the crowd once again.
After his little break, Matthew got to put his skills back to work on “Maw Maw Song”, pushing his drumming into overdrive at times on the somewhat chilling number. The most amazing part of it was the instrumental break, where each of them cut loose, allowing the audience to see what phenomenal musicianship they have. Upon finishing it, Matthew patched them right into their next song with some steady beats on his floor tom. It was a heavy hitter from 2011’s “The Big Roar”, “I Don’t Want to See You Like This”, which worked everyone into a frenzy of excitement.
“You’ve got good lungs, Dallas.” Ritzy said, her British accent as thick as good be when she spoke, yet barely noticeable while singing. She was about to move them along to the next song, when she had a request from a fan. “You want me to sign your arm?” she said, sounding surprised. “Should I do it?” she asked everyone else, before deciding to. She bent down at the edge of the stage then leaned out a signed this persons arm, and when she returned to the mic said she didn’t know if she’d ever to that again, but that it was an experience. She chatted with everyone for a moment more, before saying the title of what would be the final song of their 61-minute long set, “The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie”, which brought their set to an incredible close.
Very few people moved after the band left the stage, all awaiting the impending encore, even though it took them several minutes before they eventually returned.
Ritzy asked everyone if they wanted to hear a song or a joke, but quickly reneged on the offer, saying, “Let’s not go there.” Instead, they did two more tracks from “Wolf’s Law”, and beginning this 22-minute long encore was “Forest Serenade”. The song possesses a very upbeat quality to it, and is just another one of the band’s songs that is sure to put you in a more positive place than you were in before hearing it. Afterwards, Ritzy commented on what a “lovely venue” Trees was, again mentioning that this was their first ever headlining gig in Dallas and thanked everyone for coming out and being a part of it. “…So, Dallas, this is Wolf’s Law.” She said, as they started the album’s title track, which wound up being one of the most captivating songs of their performance. For awhile it was the softest song of their set, but it really roared to life, and could be described as beauty personified. No sooner had it ended and then they started the final song of their set, which was of course, “Whirring”. Like some of their songs before, it was the instrumental portion where they really shone, and at one point Rhydian and Ritzy stood back to back, before he playfully began pushing her over a bit. As they got closer to the end, she removed her guitar, then approached the fans , holding it out above them, allowing them to hit the strings, before eventually putting it back on as they brought the show to a spectacular finish.
Ritzy again removed her guitar, looking like she might slam it on the ground, but instead turned it parallel to the ground before dropping it, then waving by as she retreated to the greenroom. Rhydian followed suit, though he set his bass down, and after high-fiving several of the fans who were in front of the stage, Matthew, too, left.
This was about as good as a show can get, and as great as the band was when I saw one of their free shows during SXSW the month prior, what they did at Trees this night was enough to leave your jaw on the floor.
They were going full throttle the entire night, coming out of the gate like that, and even on their slower stuff, they were still giving it their all. That resulted in their show being constantly enjoyable, and there certainly was never a dull moment.
The rapport they had with the crowd was excellent, and I think a large part of why their show was so successful, because the fans fed of the band and vice versa. If you weren’t there, you might not be able to understand it, because The Joy Formidable managed to create one of those rare moments that was complete unique to this show.
As amazing as their music is on the albums, it’s definitely the live show where The Joy Formidable excels, putting on nothing less than a stellar show. Rhydian’s a killer bass player, and while he has a little bit of the typical bass player persona of being all casual and nonchalant about it, he can (and does) throw down. Matthew’s a fantastic drummer, and I liked the fact that his kit was set up on the side of the stage, which made it a little easier to see him and take in his drumming. The you have Ritzy, who, when allowed to focus solely on her guitar playing, will be one of the best guitarists you ever seen, and she has a unique and heavenly voice to boot.
The only complaint I have about the show was the visuals that played on the backdrop behind them. It wasn’t always playing clips, and when it was just the wolf’s head silhouette flashing various colors, it was very cool. That part should stay, but other times, when there was stuff being broadcasted on the screen… Well, I was none too crazy for it.
Sure, some of the stuff can fit with the songs, and for a song or two it was the music videos of the song playing. Was it cool? Some may say so. I however zoned it all out in the first place.
I personally find stuff like that to be a distraction, and prefer to see a band doing what they do best, especially when you have a band like The Joy Formidable.
Their show is in their passion they exude. Their show is in the sheer joy they so obviously derive from performing their music in front of people. Their show is in watching them dominant the instruments they’ve dedicated so much time to perfecting. Their show is not in videos playing behind them.
Now, that was nowhere near enough to make this a bad show, nor even put a blemish on it, I’m just voicing my opinion.
And for the record, all those traits I mentioned that they have are something about 98% of bands could greatly benefit from adopting and trying to emulate.
The band is continuing their tour in support of “Wolf’s Law”, and for a schedule of all their tour dates, go HERE. If you have the opportunity to see one of those upcoming shows (especially if it’s a headlining one) take, because it’ll will be a show you’ll remember for years to come. Also, be sure to pick up their records in ITUNES.
A truly great weekend entails spending a night at the Curtain Club, at least in my opinion, and there were some talented bands playing there this night.
I wasn’t able to stay for the whole night, though, which is a rare event for me, and I didn’t even arrive until the first band was almost done with their set.
I did get there in plenty of time to see the instrumental trio Son of Swan, though.
The sirens of the songs sample track blared before drummer Billy Walker started them in on “SOS”, the opening song of their 30-minute long set. They got right down to business, with Neil Swanson so effortlessly shredding on his guitar, letting loose some shrill notes at times, while bassist Steve Wilson roamed all over the stage with a real swagger to his step. They followed it almost immediately with “Children Of The Night”, which is yet another raw rock song that encompasses some amazing guitar riffs and solos. At this point Neil approached the mic, informing everyone of who they were, before moving on with a couple more songs, one of which was a cover. Now, I’m not familiar enough with all their stuff to know it, but they did another original before tackling another cover. “…If you don’t know this one, well, maybe you should.” Neil said before they began it. I’m fairly certain they followed it with the intricately woven “30K Curse”, and before starting their final song, Neil made a very accurate statement. “…Remember, everybody that is somebody used to be nobody.” Very true, and great final words to speak for the night, before starting what I want to say was “Dog Days”.
Sure, song-wise this probably isn’t as accurate as I like to be, but that doesn’t change the fact that all those original songs plus the rest that comprise their seven song debut record are masterpieces.
Seriously, they are some of the best songs I think I’ve ever heard and when you see the live show that accompanies them, then you’ll love the band even more. Billy’s an incredible drummer, Steve has that casual persona that most bassists have, yet he’s constantly storming around the stage, and I don’t know how anyone couldn’t consider Neil to be one of the best guitarists they’ve ever seen.
He does steal the show with his guitar work, his hands racing all over the fretboard, yet he manages to maintain a more humble attitude in his playing. Whereas some guitarists give you the impression that they are wanting to go all-out and do some ridiculous guitar work that seems like it’s just to show off, Neil doesn’t at all come across that way.
It never seems like what he’s playing is meant to be showy, rather it’s just the natural progression of the song, and he doesn’t, say, hold the guitar in front of the crowd like “Look what I can.” Instead, what you see is simply a virtuoso at work.
I never imagined a day where an instrumental band could hold my interest, yet this was the third time I’ve seen them now and all three times my eyes have been glued to the stage. So if you think you won’t like them just because they are an instrumental act, just give them a chance. You’ll probably end up loving the music, and if you see a show, you’ll be blown away.
So far the only place to pick up their CD is at live shows, and next up on their calendar is May 24th at The Rail Club in Fort Worth, May 31st at O’Riley’s in Dallas and they will return to O’Riley’s on June 22nd.
Up after them was Greysmyth, and this was a pretty big show for the band, and even a bigger one for the singer.
See, this was the groups first show with Justin Ranton fronting the band, and it was also the first time he had performed on stage in over a year, and personally, I was beyond excited to be seeing that guy on stage again.
They opened their set with a song called “Avalon”, which got off to a slower start with some light notes from guitarists, Jerrod Nelson and Spuds Berryman, while Justin held back on his singing a bit. “Come on Dallas!” he roared after a bit, as drummer Brayton Lyons, bassist Kobe Garinger and the others really cut loose on the song, transitioning it into a full on assault of rock. They did several great songs this night, but that was one of my favorites. Before beginning their next song, Justin took a moment to speak to the crowd, mentioning that it had been “a long time” since he had been on a stage as he thanked everyone who was there for coming out. “…This next one’s called Feed the Need.” He said, as his band mates ripped into the song. “Feed the need, my intention is to be close to you…” sang Justin on the chorus of this powerhouse track, which was really driven by the rhythm section. They did one more hefty rock track, “Peripheral”, before slowing things down with “Rose”, which Spuds announced was for his wife. It oozed with feelings, but not in a true lovey dovey way, and it showed off another, more sensitive side to the rock outfit. “…He’s saying he can’t live without you…” Justin said to Spuds’s wife after they finished the song. They didn’t immediately bring things up, though, instead doing another lighter track, “A Way to Love”. Both of those softer songs were really good, but I really liked the latter of those two, and they both pushed the band out of their element a bit, in a good way. They returned to what they do best with a song called “Bloodlines”, before finishing their 34-minute long set with the killer, “Corpse Flower”, which was proof they had saved (one of) the best for last.
It was a great rock show, and I found myself wondering why I hadn’t heard of the band before Justin joined them, even if they hadn’t played too many live shows.
It was fantastic seeing Justin on stage again, and while he began the show seeming a little apprehensive, he quickly warmed up and got into the swing of things, moving about the stage, operating in synch with the music and just being a commanding frontman. And even though it had been so long since he sang on stage, he hadn’t lost any of his stage persona.
Regarding the songs, Spuds, Kobe, Brayton and Jerrod have created some great stuff and put on a good performance, getting better the further they progressed in their set.
The music is different from Justin’s past projects, and compared to those I think it’s more melodic (that’s not to say Greysmyth is a Melodic Rock band by any means), but his voice fits quite well with the music, and even kind of pushes his voice to new heights.
Point is, I loved their set, and I’m eager to see how Greysmyth is going to grow from here on out, like, what their songs will sound like with Justin being a part of the band now, and how much better their live shows will probably be once they get more practice under their belt and become even more cohesive.
Definitely keep an eye on these guys, or better yet go see them with your own eyes. They’ll be playing Wit’s End in Dallas on June 1st, then they’ll be back at the Curtain Club on July 26th.
Not long after they finished was when I left. Junk and Carmeci were probably great this night, but Greysmyth and Son of Swan were well worth the ten dollar cover, and I’m glad I was able to see both of them.
Alex Allred is a singer/songwriter who has been entrenched in the North Texas music scene for a little over a decade now. He’s probably best known for fronting the hard rock outfit, The Aftermath Theory, a band that after five years, decided to go on an indefinite hiatus.
He’s working hard to change that, though, and in the late 2000’s he began writing some acoustic songs, readying himself for a solo career, and suddenly finding himself without band made this a good time to pursue this new musical outlet.
This new music was a vast departure from what he was used to, but it allowed him to test and push himself as a songwriter. A little over a year after his rock band had more or less called it quits, Alex was releasing his first album as a solo artist, and he had also welcomed two other musicians into the fold to back him up.
The album is titled “Born on 4/20”, which is his actual date of birth, and isn’t just a collection of random songs, but songs that chronicle his life.
The album begins with the title track itself, “Born On 4/20”, which is a promising, upbeat song that partly deals with Alex’s birth. It’s driven predominantly by the acoustic guitar, which eventually builds and hits a rather epic climax towards the end of the song. I feel the overall message of the song, though, is about chasing your dreams, regardless of what others may think, best summed up with the line, “…Count all your blessings and never attest to the world that dreams are only for the chosen…”, which Alex sings in his distinctive voice, which has nice, almost soothing quality to it.
The album doesn’t let up any, as it moves on to “Little Warrior”, a very melodic track where Alex continues to tell his life story to everyone, beginning with the (very) early days of his childhood. The drumming is often more simple on this one, often just a steady beat made by slapping one of the skins, but it mixes quite well with the guitar, creating a catchy music bed that will no doubt burrow its way into your head.
Things continue full-steam ahead with “Another One”, which mines a vein similar to the previous track, before offering a glimpse at his softer side of singing and writing with the longest song on the album, “Panic Attack!” which, despite the brief crescendo, is still more of a tranquil song.
“Phase”, which is the shortest offering on the record, comes next and finds Alex returning to his Rock ‘n’ Roll roots, albeit in more of an acoustic way. Sure, it may have a very stripped down sound, but it’s rather intense and could go up against some of the loudest rock songs and hold its own with ease, especially since it boasts a more noticeable rhythm section than previous song.
“I would do it if it takes me a lifetime. Good news, I’ve got nothing but time…” Alex croons at the start “#1 Scenario”, a song where he seems to reaffirm his love and dedication for his music career. It also finds him returning to a more traditional acoustic style of sound, different from the song that came before it, but that’s okay. His music doesn’t all have to be in-your-face to stick with you, in fact, this is one of the highlight tracks on “Born On 4/20”.
One of the cheeriest songs on the album is “Moments”, which emits a rather carefree attitude with its positive vibes, as Alex reminisces about growing up in his suburban neighborhood, before things take a more serious twist with “Biology, Not Chemistry”. “It scares me to say that we share the same DNA…” sings Alex, a line that perfectly summarizes how real and raw the track is.
There’s a slight reggae influence to “Just Breathe”, which is appropriate, given what the song is about. One of the lines from the chorus is, “…I could get used to this, faith, love and cannabis is happiness…”, obviously making marijuana what he is referencing to breathing. It’s not just a song about smoking pot, though, at least not in the sense where he’s simply stating that he does it. Rather, he kind of delves into what he gets from it, making a slightly more complex song than you might think it would be.
Aptly following it is “Young & Dumb”, where Alex bluntly recounts an indiscretion from his later teen years when a police officer caught him smoking a joint while driving down the highway. He’s very transparent about it all, matter-of-factly stating that it happened, though, essentially admitting that it was mistake of his youth, yet not showing any regret about the situation. Like he sings, “…Give it up for the young and dumb…” Oh, and the guitar chords are most excellent on this tune, too.
“Higher Learning”, a song that takes the listeners through Alex’s college years, is a real sing-along track, particularly on the chorus, “…Never said I didn’t do every little thing I wanted to…”, which I could see everyone shouting along with at one of his live shows. It’s just another fun song that “Born on 4/20” has to offer, and is a contender for best song on the record.
“Life & Times” concludes this nearly 40-minute long listening adventure, ending things on a chipper note, and this more love based song finds Alex meeting his (presumably) current girlfriend, and it comes across that he has an optimistic outlook on the future, as well he should.
“Born on 4/20” is a nice concept album of sorts, and it’s refreshing to see a musician write an entire collection of songs where he bares his soul, exposing who he is and informing everyone of what shaped him, rather than writing songs about ex-girlfriends and bad break-ups and such.
It’s also a record that will grow on you, trust me. I listened to every song at least five times each while working on this review, and with each listen, the music, from the beats to the chords, as well as Alexs’ one-of-a-kind voice, became more and more appealing to me.
These days, you don’t often see trios, and you probably wouldn’t think an acoustic one would be all that special, but Alex Allred and his band are one to get acquainted with, and “Born on 4/20” is the perfect introduction to their style.
The Alex Allred Band is:
Alex Allred - Vocals, Guitar
Kevin Broussard - Percussion, Vocals
Clinton Potter - Bass
Purchase the album on:
iTunes / Amazon mp3
Visit Alex Allred’s websites:
Offiical website / Facebook / Reverbnation / Twitter / Youtube
Saturday, June 29th at Liquid Lounge in Dallas, Texas
As usual, there was another great show going down at the Curtain Club in Dallas, featuring an array of bands, some of whom I had seen before and others I hadn’t, but was excited to.
The first band was called Drag the Waters, and by the time I got there they were nearing the end of their set, but what I saw was pretty good. They looked like they could be a Metal band, instead, they were a Heavy Rock group and they made some good music at that and put on a good live show.
I can’t find any info out about them, but I wouldn’t mind seeing them again if they happened to get on a bill with some other bands I’m a fan of.
The next band was the main one I wanted to see, and that was Alterflesh. Actually, they were the main reason I was even at this show in the first place.
I was introduced to the band after meeting their singer, Dayvoh, a couple months back and became a fan of the groups unique style, and I thrilled that I was finally going to see one of their live shows.
The first thing I noticed when the curtain was opened on them was a nightstand over by some of the amps. There were some books on it, as well as a lamp sitting atop it, all of which was rather aesthetically pleasing.
Dayvoh referred to everyone as his brothers and sisters as he welcomed everyone to the show, then said it was time to “…step through the portal…” It was a much more interesting intro than the typical things bands say, and it was very accurate, too, as “Megahub” did seem to open the doorway to another realm. See, the band doesn’t play simple songs, they play music that has a message , and that song deals with various philosophers throughout history, with Dayvoh spitting out the names of dozens of them. Actually, that’s another thing that makes the band so unique. See, Dayvoh is more of a spoken word artist and he brings that skill to the band, performing the songs more in that style rather than singing. “…A stumbling lost humanity. Most will go their entire lives without even understanding it…” he said on the songs bridge, which was just one of many lines in that song that can stimulate the mind.
Just one song in and I was loving it. The music was very engaging and the energy in the performance they were giving was something else. They kept things moving right along with “Toxic”, which makes a statement about the state of the Earth and how we as human beings are continuously destroying it. For those first couple of songs Dayvoh had been playing a guitar, but he set it down for the time being, grabbing the microphone saying, “…We’ve all had are fair share of self reflection…” then announced the next song as being “Imaginary Dreams”, which is one of the tracks they have yet to record. Dayvoh seemed to fit in best on this song and the others that didn’t require him using the guitar, as he could move about the stage, connecting more with the audience while he preached his message. He got his guitar back out for the next song, saying, “The mystics say we all slowly burn…” as he, bassist Paul Kubajak, lead guitarist Ben Schelin and drummer Kevin Mills tackled another “Embers”, another song that they have yet to lay down in a studio.
Upon finishing it, Dayvoh surveyed the large crowd gathered around the stage, giving shout outs to Born and Raised, Solice and The Circle, plus several other bands who had members out representing. That was one thing that was so cool about this show, other musicians were actually out at it supporting these guys. They had a few songs left now, none of which Dayvoh used the guitar on, and the next was his “social rant” known as “Watch Rome Burn”. It was my favorite song of their set and could easily be the most thought provoking song in their arsenal. Aside from that, it’s just one of their most rocking numbers, with Ben shredding on his axe at times, and Kevin really got into his drumming (that’s not to say he hadn’t before, it was just more noticeable now). “Start Over” slowed things down a little, before bringing their 34-minute long set to a close with “New Horizon”.
In my opinion, they were the band to beat this night. Their performance was much more vigorous than I was expecting, with Paul constantly jumping up and down, which was quite a sight to watch. While more contained, Ben was is great guitarist, and Kevin just killed it on the drums, and Dayvoh was a captivating frontman. Together, they were able to hold the crowd’s attention with ease.
As for the music, they are a Rock band, and even harder Rock at times, which makes what Dayvoh does even more interesting. Like I said, it’s not full on singing that he does, and if you’re not paying full attention you may say he’s rapping. Sure, it can sound like that at times, but it most certainly isn’t rap. Rather, it is spoken word. And because he “sings” in that style, it allows him to get away with some things.
See, his voice is rather monotone, something your traditional singer couldn’t get away with. But the way he fires the words off, you don’t care if his voice is monotone or not, because you’re more fixated on the words. And that is what really makes Alterflesh stand apart from most other bands; the lyrics. Overall they have a positive, uplifting message to them, often about changing things for the better.
Really, that makes their show a spiritual experience in a way, and one I can’t wait to witness again.
If you want to hear something new and completely out-of-the-box, then check out Alterflesh, either on their FACEBOOK PAGE or REVERBNATION. Their next show is slated for July 6th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, and if you’re in the area, you should definitely check it out.
Following them was Last Day Living, whom I hadn’t seen in quite awhile, and I was curious to see how their set would go.
I admittedly haven’t been as big a fan of the band since they lost their lead singer (which happened a few years ago now), resulting in them staying a four-piece and guitarist Shawn Pipkin picking up the slack as the lead singer.
The thing is, his voice just isn’t built to really sing, and that was proven during their first song, a slower almost ballad of sorts, where his voice repeatedly cracked. No, their 31-minute long set didn’t get off to the best start, and personally, I was never able to get into it. Shawn ditched his guitar for the next song, which he kind of rapped a portion of, before picking it back up as he, bassist Irish, fellow guitarist Paris Pipkin and drummer Daniel Burpo rocked out “Twisted Smile”, which was the single great moment of their set. Shawn got a little political before another song, asking, “So who’s pissed off at the government for taking our guns and then education from our kids…” A lot of people screamed and cheered in agreeance, and after finishing it they ran through their final three songs. During that last one, Shawn broke one of the strings on his guitar, and as they finished the tune he decided to finish the job, pulling the five remaining strings until they snapped.
Last Day Living writes good music and they put on an enjoyable live show, but in my opinion, they need a fifth member, one that can really sing. That’s the only hindrance that I see.
No, I wasn’t in love with this set, but the vocals were why, and I did enjoy the other aspects of their performance. They just need that one missing component to round things out.
There was one more band to go before the headliner, and that was Idler.
I first saw the band here a couple months before and instantly became a fan, and I was hoping their set this night would be even better.
“Vendetta” opened up their set, a song that finds siblings Micah and Katie Frank co-singing on the verses, while he tore off on the chorus, shouting, “Don’t cross me again. It all comes back in the end…” That song set the tone for the rest of their show in a way, gave the impression that they weren’t going to be holding back at all, and they indeed did not. Upon finishing it, Micah told everyone who they were, as well as the title of that first song and mentioned the next one was “Go for Broke”, another track from their debut, self-titled EP. A cool little instrumental intro set the song up, with drummer Eric Gustafson, bassist Nick Laracuente and Micah, who was the rhythm guitarist, created a nice little piece before Mykey O’Neill started plucking the strings of his guitar, giving the song its full shape. Both of those songs got them off to an explosive start, and “Let Me In” didn’t let up much, as the electric version is much more in-your-face than the acoustic version you can find online is.
They followed it with a couple more newer songs, one of which was titled “Deceit” and saw Micah handing his guitar over to Katie. She predominately strummed rather slowly, and once they finished pointed out that was her first time ever playing a guitar on stage. She seemed proud of the fact, and rightfully so, ‘cause she did a good job. That freed Micah up to roam about the stage a little more, acting like your typical frontman, standing on their boxes that bear the band’s name while he livened up the crowd. At the end of that tune, he even screamed the last few lines in a throaty enough voice he could give even the most hardcore Metal bands a run for their money. They followed it with a song that Katie sang lead on, which I believe was called “Buried”, before doing a couple more tracks from their EP. One of those was “Lose Control”, while the other was my personal favorite song of theirs, “Kings and Queens”, during which Micah laid his guitar down, again gaining some freedom to move about and Katie did the same. They weren’t always the main focus, though, as Eric was pounding out some thick beats that were undeniable, and the short solo, or rather riffs, Mykey plays are stellar. Up next they did another newer song, and afterwards Micah informed everyone that their next song was “Pitchfork”. That’s arguable the best song on their EP, but they didn’t have a chance to do it as their set was cut short at 32-minutes.
See, after he said that the house music came back on, causing everyone band members and fans alike to look around in disbelief.
Personally, I think it was pretty crappy. I mean, I get that things were running behind schedule, but the guys and girl of Idler never even received a heads up warning them they only had, say, five minutes left or anything like that. At least not that I know of.
Something like that can’t affect their overall show, though, at least not in a detrimental way.
I thought they were better than the other time I had seen them. Micah didn’t use a guitar almost the entire show then like he did now, but that didn’t diminish his persona, and even though he was more glued in front of the mic he’s still a mighty frontman. He even has one of the best and more unique voices that I’ve heard, and Katie’s every bit as good, and their voices mix together to create some amazing textures in the songs.
The other guys, Eric and Nick, do a perfect job of rounding things out in the live show aspect, as does Mykey, but I mention him separately because I believe this was his first show with Idler. He’s a great guitarist and on stage he looked like he had been playing with them since their inception.
If you like straight up Rock music, then Idler’s a band to check out. You can find their album on ITUNES, and even get a couple of free downloads (including their cover of “Highway to the Danger Zone”) on their REVERBNATION PAGE. As for shows, their next one is going to be June 29th at Hailey’s up in Denton.
Closing out the night and doing their first live show of 2013 was the Fort Worth based band, Pulse.
Now, I’ve heard a lot about these guys for awhile, but had never seen a show. In fact, I’d never even listened to their music, so I was interested to see how they lived up to the hype that surrounded them. Sadly, I think they may have been overhyped to me…
Like I said, this was the band’s first show of the year, and they used to play/debut a lot of their newer material. Their opening song was one of those new ones. Vocalist Sean Yeaney sang something along the lines of, “…I wish I could just wish you away…” on the chorus, and that was a song I really liked. They then did a track from last year’s “Show Me the Way” record, “Blame”, following it with another new(er) song, and then another album track, “No More Next Time”. That latter one was a good one, especially with the chilling guitar notes at the beginning and end of it, but out of all their songs thus far I wasn’t truly feeling it. Guitarists James Brennaman and Justin Judy, drummer Jimmy Lay, bassist Kelly Robinson and Sean busted out some more new songs, and during the second one of this string of them Kelly encountered some technical issues, resulting in not being an active part of their next couple of songs.
They soldiered on without him, though, and after finishing one that I believe was called “From Here to Home”, things were fixed and Kelly rejoined the action, just in time for what seemed to be a fan favorite, “Think About It”. Their next song found Sean singing the words at a very rapid pace, and afterwards they let the crowd choose which version of a song they wanted to hear. One option was the usual way it’s done, the other was a 420 remix, which Sean noted they were never able to perfect, so it might not be the best. That didn’t stop the fans from choosing this remix, though, which had a bit of a Reggae sound to it. “They Have Arrived” was another good one, and had a killer thick intro with Kelly and Jimmy working in excellent synch with one another. Their show started to wind down with “Won’t Let Go”, and after one more new track they closed their 60-minute long set with “Run Away”.
It was nearly two in the morning when they finished, and I figured the show was over and left, However, when I walked out the door, I heard Sean asking the crowd if they were still with them. They most likely came back for an encore, but it was late and I had seen enough.
Like I said, I think the band was overhyped to me I think, because I was expecting something amazing, both in their music and performance. What I saw and heard, though, was honestly rather generic, and even struck me as a little lackluster.
I thought the best part of their stage show came during when song when Sean climbed atop the speakers, staying there for maybe a minute before leaping off back to the stage, but there was just never that one moment where Pulse got their hooks in me and wowed me.
I didn’t really like the fact that they used smoke machines, or cannons that propelled the smoke into the air, because really, bands on this level don’t need stuff like that. I’m kind of prude with stuff like that in the first place, be it with visuals playing behind a band or stuff like this, and I think it subtracts from any bands show. The main focus should be the music and any and every band needs to let their music do the talking, rather than using various things to try to “enhance” the experience. The only exception to this rule is Muse.
Now, it’s also worth noting that I’m basically the only person at this show that felt that way, because they had a ton of fans out, all of whom were shouting along to every song they knew, and listening in awe to the new stuff. I wish I could have been one of them, but they didn’t ignite any passion inside me like some of the other bands on this bill did. And just to be clear, I’m not saying they are bad or that their music is, it just did nothing for me.
Their next area show is scheduled for July 6th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, but before that they’ll be rocking St. Louis, Missouri at FUBAR on May 18th. You can find their album, “Show Me the Way” in ITUNES and you can even get a free download of one song on their REVERBNATION PAGE.
Nonetheless, this was still an excellent night of music, and if you weren’t here, you missed out.
Initially, I hadn’t planned on going anywhere this night, however Daylight Industries announced rather last minute that they had a gig at The Boiler Room in Dallas this fine Friday, and since I hadn’t seen the band in about ten months, it was high time I saw another show of theirs.
It was more of a unique night for me, though, because aside from them, all the other bands were new to me, and anymore, at least with the shows I go to, I’m used to being familiar with all the acts. This was a nice change of pace, though, and I was looking forward to seeing what the other bands were like.
First up was a newer band out of Dallas by the name 26 Locks. So new in fact that this was only their second live performance, an interesting fact I didn’t find out until after their set.
Performancewise, they did start out a little slow, though at that time, I assumed that was just how they were, however I loved the first song they did and they immediately had my full attention. In fact, they seemed to have the attention of everyone who was in the club at the time, even though it was just a handful of people. With a few drumbeats Jeff Fendley patched them right into their next song, and over the course of it and the next two they continued to find their find their groove, loosening up more and more, while Catrina Rincon’s somewhat smoky voice grew more commanding. She set up their next song by saying they were about to take everyone on an adventure. “…A velvet adventure…” she said, speaking of the song which I assume was called “Velvet”, or at least has the word somewhere in its title. The song played out like an odyssey of sorts, starting off a little more serene, and then around the halfway point it exploded. It wasn’t just the song, though, but the band as well, and in this brief moment you saw the whole dynamic change as they hit their stride. Guitarist Jerry Bolden and bassist Brandon Kirkpatrick became a little more aggressive with their playing, while Catrina danced around some during the instrumental breaks. They were an entirely different beast after that song, displaying a little more of a take charge attitude as they cranked out another song before getting to the final one of their 40-minute long set. “…It’s hard to believe, but we already have a song that’s a fan favorite…” said Catrina, who stated the song was called “Danger Dog”. Personally, it wasn’t my favorite of theirs, but it was a badass song nonetheless, and a killer way to end their set.
They were incredible, and I was surprised when I learned this was only their second gig. Sure, they did seem fairly rigid at first, but from my experience that’s not really uncommon, so I didn’t think much about it. But like I said, their whole demeanor changed during that “Velvet” song, and then you saw what they are really capable of.
The music was great, and even though they are a Rock band, there was a refreshing quality to it, almost new in a sense. Also, Catrina has a stellar voice that grabs your attention right away and doesn’t let go, and during the last half of their set it was matched by an equally as good performance from her, which was even a bit sultry at times.
They made a fan out of me, and I think they have a bright future here in the North Texas music scene.
It’s a rougher quality, but go to their REVERBNATION PAGE and download their demo of “Danger Dog”. It sounds even better in the live environment, so if you can, make plans to see them on June 21st at O’Riley’s in Dallas.
Another newer band was up next, though Form of Truth has been around a little longer then the band that preceded them.
They were a no-frills rock band who were all about putting on an entertaining show, and entertain they did. No sooner had they finished their opening song than singer and guitarist Ryan Snipes played some sweet licks to lead them right into their next song. Now typically, if a singer is also a guitarist they’re the rhythm player, but not in this case. Ryan acted more as the lead guitarist, attacking and shredding it like no one’s business, not just on that intro but later on in the song when he had killer solo. The assault of rock continued as they churned out four more songs, one of which featured an excellent solo from Daron Fuller and his bass, while another was about the stereotypical subject of all rock songs; sex. During all those songs they quickly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, playing some knockout songs to accompany their high-energy show, but they ended up saving some of the best for last. One of those songs was “The Beauty of Sybil Vane”, which spun a tale of sorts, before wrapping up their 45-minute long set with “Soul Seclusion”, which came across as being more of a ballad, and switched between being a more sensitive song to strong rocker you could headbang to.
To be a group of younger guys, they come across as being seasoned pros, Ryan, Daron, guitarist Josh Cooley and drummer Nick Braddy now how to put on a show and write some damn good music that will hold you attention.
They seem to play fairly often, and as of right now they have a show coming up on May 31st at The Aardvark in Fort Worth. And if you go to a show, you can also pick up a copy of their debut album.
So far, the bands I was unfamiliar with were two for two, and I hoped I’d enjoy the final act that was new to me, and that act was Gypsy Devil.
Right from the get go they proved to be an interesting band, playing a mix of Rock and Blues with even some hints of Punk thrown in, due largely to the growl that was in singer and guitarist Russell Willards’ voice. It all meshed together well, though, and after their first couple of songs I found myself really enjoying it. After their second song, Russell asked everyone to give it up for their drummer (whose name I don’t recall), as he had only been with them for three days. He was pounding out the beats with ease, and looked like he had been a part of the band for a lot longer than that, so kudos to him. They then continued on with a few more songs, one of which was “Love Junkie”, which was a standout of their set. “…Oh tell me something baby, are you a love junkie?” sang Russell in a throaty growl, his voice being a mix of blues and southern rock, and the unclean sound of his voice gave not just this song but all the others a lot of character. They ran through four more songs before getting to one that Russell said they “…never do live…” The reason they were doing it now was because this show was a birthday show for their manager and he dedicated it to her. He said something lie, “…I don’t have much money to buy you anything…” adding that this song was his and the bands gift to her as they began “Serenity”. I can see why they don’t normally do it live, because it didn’t go with the style they had been playing and was much more acoustic based. Unlike their previous stuff, it had more of a strictly Alt/Rock sound and was more of a ballad, with some fiery guitar chords and eventually the rhythm section of the drummer and bassist Ben Kirkland grew pretty strong. It was a nice change of pace and as good as their music was, it was nice to see they are capable of something else. They got back to the gritty sound they specialize in with “Outlaw Born”, then had one final song to close out their 43-minute long set.
Their set seemed to pass by quick (which is always a good sign) and they’ve definitely carved out a niche that is all their own.
The dirtied up Blues sound is what made it all so distinctive and stand out and this trio pulled it all off exceedingly well.
They are yet another band on this bill that I’d recommend checking out, and over on their REVERBNATION PAGE you can get a free download of one of their songs. You can also catch them live on June 28th at O’Riley’s in Dallas.
So far it had been one fantastic night, but as much as I had liked those first three acts, Daylight Industries was still the band I was most excited about seeing.
Before starting vocalist Logan Gnerlich tried to get some more people in the show room, though most of the crowd had gone to get a piece of the birthday cake that Gypsy Devil had. “…I’d choose cake, too…” he said, basically saying he didn’t blame everybody for not being gathered around the stage. He did say he’d choose them over beer, though, before saying, “No, I’d choose beer, too…”
After that, they got their 35-minute long set started, and it was a much different start than what I was expecting. Logan was wielding an acoustic guitar, something I had never seen before, which gave the impression that they were going to do a slower song. They didn’t though, at least not something soft and mostly acoustic like I was expecting, and in no time at all bassist Barry Townsend was jumping all over stage right, and Brandon Tyner was shredding up a storm on his guitar, even letting out a sweet solo later on in it. After finishing it, Logan placed his guitar in its case, and they soon started another new song, “Junkie Logic”, which features some explosive drum work from Stephen Smith, and even by his standards it’s pretty intense and fast paced. The most noticeable difference in that song was how short it was (it’s under three minutes), since their EP was comprised mostly of songs that were at least four minutes long. Just one of the many changes Daylight Industries has made, and I like it, because it allows them to fit in more music that way. They did another newer song, and Barry showed off his skills on it by playing the fretboard of his bass. Obviously he used one hand to hold the strings down, while furiously slapping the fretboard with his other hand. It was sight to see. They rolled it right into their next song, and after finishing it Logan had some banter to fill the time. “Hey, we haven’t cleared the room yet!” he declared, seeming surprised, then mentioned that their next song was one they had written “…on their way down here…” That’s how new it was, and it was one hell of a song. Definitely one of the best they did this night. The only song from their “Future of an Illusion” EP that made it into the show (or in fact the only one they still play in general) was the lead track from it, “Something’s Wrong”. It would have been good to hear more from it, for old time’s sake, but that was song I most wanted to hear from the EP, so I was happy. During the instrumental break towards the end, Logan left the stage and went to the bar area, but soon returned, joining the crowd as he watched his band mates throw down. It was comical in some ways, in a good way, and it’s something I expect to happen at a Daylight Industries show. They weren’t through with the comedy either, as Logan announced their next song was called “Wandering”, and said it in seemingly every possible way. “Wonder. Wander…” and so on. If you were at this show and still not feeling it for some reason, than that song was bound to engross you and get the adrenaline flowing, as they pushed themselves to the max. They didn’t relent on their final song, which was “Faith Healer”, either. I’ve heard a lot about that one from running into and talking with Barry over the past several months, and the song lived up to the all the hype it had been given, and was a strong finish to what had been an incredible show.
It had been so long since I had seen them I had almost forgotten what their live shows were like, but I was quickly reminded.
The energy all four of them let loose on stage makes for one of the most raw and captivating performances you can see, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a band that can rival their show. And while they may come across as being wild on stage, you’ll also notice how tight they are.
As for the music, or rather the new music, I love the direction their headed. Even though I love their now older stuff, the style they do now is more engaging and more likely to reel people in who aren’t familiar with Daylight Industries. Aside from that, it’s just some of the best Rock music I’ve heard in awhile.
While those songs may not be laid down on a CD, you can download some live cuts of a lot of their new stuff on their REVERBNATION PAGE. Also be sure to check out their “Future of an Illusion” EP in ITUNES. Their next show is slated to go down at the Curtain Club in Dallas on May 31st, and that will be a show you do not want to miss.
This was an awesome night, and I’m glad Daylight Industries got on this bill last minute, because otherwise I wouldn’t have been here and subsequently missed out on these other great acts.
The Dallas/Fort Worth based Euphio Records has been around for a little while now. Five years to be exact, and to celebrate the labels anniversary they were throwing a party this night at Ferralog Studios in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas.
Many of the people who attended this night were invited and put on the guest list, though it was open to the public, and providing the entertainment for everyone was several Euphio bands. Actually, almost their entire roster was performing this night.
The Indie/Rock quartet known as Animal Spirit was the first band up, taking the stage shortly after 7:30.
They may be an Indie/Rock band, but not in the way that probably comes to mind. Their music at times has a dirty sound to it, particularly in the notes Andrew Stroheker plays on his guitar. They kept changing things up throughout their 25-minute long set, subsequently keeping things fresh, as he sang the lead on some song, while Sam Wuehermann added some backing vocals, or vice versa, while others still were performed more like a duet. Their second song was definitely the most interesting of the night, as Sam picked up a wine bottle, removing the drumstick that was placed inside, making that into an instrument for the song. They brought things down a little on that one, creating somewhat of a dark tone that fit rather well. After another song, drummer Parker Anderson started them right into “The Planets a Lie” by tapping on the rim of some of the drums. It’s one that’s done more as a duet and the first half of the song has a very minimalist approach to it, allowing Sam and Andrews’ voices to shine, as they sing every word in unison with one another. It grows into more of a serious rock song during the second half, though, and they all busted loose on their instruments, including bassist Joe Prankster. They had time enough for one more song after that, which ended their set.
I had caught a little bit of the band at a show the month before, but this was the first full set of theirs I had seen, and I really enjoyed it.
They have a very unique, distinctive sound, not just in the music but with the voices as well, and their stuff is often moody. That is to say they take you on more of a journey rather than being monotone.
Visit their FACEBOOK PAGE to find out when they’ll have more shows coming up, and they will be releasing an album sometime this year, so keep your eye/ears peeled for that, too.
Perhaps the best part of the entire night was the set changes and how quick they were (every band used the same drum kit and amps, and at times even other instruments). That meant there was usually five to ten minutes of downtime before the next band took the stage, and next up was The Frisky Disco.
Like most of the bands playing this party, I hadn’t seen them before, but I’d heard nothing but good things, and was excited about finally seeing them.
They cranked out six songs in their 22-minutes on stage, and the only one I can peg was their second one, “A Life After”, which comes from their latest record. I found that to be the best song of their set, but with each track I found myself getting more caught up in the bands show. There’s a serious blues/soul vibe to their stuff, with even a dash of funk at times, and guitarist Tyler Vela did an excellent job at supplying those sounds via some great riffs. The rhythm section was rounded out by Jonnie Mans on bass and Zach Tucker on drums, who can play the kit just as well as he can the bass, which is saying a lot. He also did a pretty good job of keeping his fedora on his head, until one point in the show when he got so into he had to throw it in the crowd so he could bang his head around to his beats. However, the most polarizing member of the group was frontman Hayden Miller. Honestly, nothing he did was all that thrilling, and it’s not like he was darting all over the stage or anything like that. He did though have “it”, which in his case was passion and groove with the music, making it impossible to take your eyes off him, at least not for very long. He just had a real personality and you could tell he was in to every song they did, and that goes a long way in making a show a memorable one.
Not only did they live up to the hype that surrounds them, they surpassed it in my opinion, and I loved the style of Bluesy Rock that they played. Which by the way, Hayden has a voice that fits that sound well.
I would highly recommend seeing a show, and to keep up to date with their gigs just keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE. As for their debut self-titled album, you can find a FREE download of it on their BANDCAMP PAGE.
The bands continued, and keeping in the spirit of highly original names that the Euphio bands seem to have was Captain Mayo and the Phonos.
Fronting the band and serving as the rhythm guitarist was Zach Mayo, who also happened to be a member of the next and final two bands on the bill. He is also of course part of the bands namesake, while The Phonos were Nolan Robertson on bass, lead guitarist Scott Forosisky and drummer Brian Forosisky.
Rock ‘n’ Roll was their specialty, and it shone through best on their second song, which had some super slick riffs from both Zach and Scott, and were some of the most attention grabbing lines I’ve heard in a long time. They went in a different direction with their next song, as Zach announced they were going to do a little Country. There was a definite Country twang to the song, not only in the music but also in Zachs’ voice, though it was more along the lines of Texas Country, which has certain Rock elements to it. They pulled it off surprisingly well, and I’d have no complaints if they wrote more songs like that. They concluded their 22-minute long set with the final track from their EP, “Will the Legend Stick?”, which boasts a catchy music bed and some smooth, yet powerful vocals. It was another awesome song, and the perfect way to end their set.
Out of the four bands on this bill that I had never seen, Captain Mayo and the Phonos were my personal favorite. Their genre was more of what I’m, which was the biggest appeal to me. Aside from that, it was fun and a little infectious at times.
Zach has a killer voice, which did surprise me a bit since I’ve only seen him as the drummer for The Breakfast Machine, and he’s quite good on the guitar, too. Also, his band mates brought a good energy to the show, and at times, Nolan proved himself to be one hell of a bass player.
Throw the band a “like” on their FACEBOOK PAGE, that way you’ll know when they have another show, even though from the looks of it they don’t play all that often. You can also check out the band’s music on their page on Euphio Records.
Now, speaking of The Breakfast Machine, they were the next band, and it was obvious everyone was most excited about them, as everybody huddled around the stage.
Their twenty some odd minute long set was made up almost exclusively of new songs from their forthcoming sophomore record, and the song they opened with I thought was one of the best of the night. Before starting their next song, drummer Zach Mayo stated they had recently released a music video for it, to which the crowd cheered, knowing it was “Getz”. “Fuck the fame, I want my name to be lost in time like immortality…” sang vocalist Meghann Moore, and shortly after guitarists Ryan Sobczak and Chris Mansfield sprang to life on the chorus, tearing it up on their axes. They followed it with “Cloudy with a Chance of the Mondays”, which was the only song from their debut album they did this night. I was okay with that, as it was the one I most wanted to hear from “A Pitch to the Wind”, and it meshed well with the previous song, as they both have a soupy sound to the music and the ebb and flow on each one is really good, too. They powered through four more songs after that, some of which were a little slower and others were more in-your-face. Regardless of the pace of the music, though, they kept pushing themselves, and after a few songs they were working like a well-oiled machine. They didn’t seem satisfied with that, though, and were continuously getting better and more into right up to the end of their set. Bassist Brandon Reynolds, Ryan and Chris were moving all over the rather small stage, doing a fine job of interacting with one another, and if that wasn’t enough to have people entertained, than Meghann ensured everyone was with her unique and highly intoxicating voice.
They wowed me (and from the looks of it everyone else) this night, and The Breakfast Machine made sure that this event was a party, and not just a concert.
They were much better than what I remembered of the last show of theirs I saw, though part of that could be because they had a sound guy that knew what he was doing this night, unlike the previous time I saw them. I don’t mean to take anything away from them, though, because they did come across as being more cohesive, and seemed like a different beast now.
They’re definitely making a name for themselves and are growing into powerhouse here in the North Texas area, as well they should. Their newest album should be released in the coming months, but for now watch the music video for “Getz” to hold you over. You can also get a FREE download of “A Pitch to the Wind” on their BANDCAMP PAGE.
There was one final band for the night, and that was Big Bats, an Electronic/Psychedelia band conceived by Patrick Dougherty and Chris Mansfield. Joining them for their debut live show were members of the other bands, including Zach Mayo, Ryan Sobczak and Meghann Moore, who added some backing vocals.
It took them a little longer to set up, since they had to hook up a laptop and what looked like an iPad (or a similar device) to provide all the sample tracks, but once everything was in working order they got things going with the very catchy “Sarah Childs”. Along with supplying the sample tracks, Patrick was also the bands singer and he had an excellent voice, especially for the trippy style of music they played. They wound the tail end of that song right into “In the Garden”, a song where Meghann acted as the lead vocalist. It was my favorite song of their brief set and it an all around good vibe, resulting in the fans really moving around, and some even danced a bit. So far, they had been playing their debut album “Whomp!” in order, and they continued with the third track from said album, “What is Mine”, which was by far the most psychedelic sounding song of their set. To conclude things, they did an instrumental song, but they had some, or rather a lot of help on it. Various instruments were handed out to the fans that wanted them, mostly percussion instruments like shakers of some type, and those who grabbed them joined the band on stage. Things were so tight that no one could move around, but it didn’t matter, because the fun everyone was having overshadowed anything the band could have done alone on stage. Not only that, but happy energy seeped out into the audience, infecting everyone and making that song the most fun one of the night, and I do mean the most from any of the bands, not just Big Bats.
Now, I had listened to their stuff online and liked it, but it translates so much better live, and considering I’m not a real fan of the genre of music they play, I loved their stuff.
I don’t know how often Big Bats will actually perform live, but you should go see them if they ever do again, and in the meantime listen to their stuff HERE.
This was one hell of a show, at least from that perspective, and also one hell of a party, because all the bands did indeed make it feel that way, and the atmosphere was just different from that of just your regular club show.
So, congrats to Euphio for making it another year, and hopefully this next year will be the best one yet. Also, big props to everyone involved in orchestrating this event and everyone that worked it, you all made it a night to remember.
There were several great shows going on this night in Deep Ellum, but I settled for the most rock filled event of the night, which was taking place at The Boiler Room.
As far as I knew there were only three bands on the bill, but upon walking in I discovered there was a fourth, and it was the Wichita Falls based rock outfit, Twicebroken.
It had been quite awhile since I last saw them, so it was a very pleasant surprise.
A lot of their 37-minute long set was newer material, including their opening song which began a fury of Rock ‘n’ Roll. “This next song is called “Can’t Stop I Won’t Stop.” announced frontman Aaron Mullin, giving themselves just a few seconds of downtime before guitarists Bryan Crowe and Brandt Holmes fired up the intense number. Upon finishing it, Aaron mentioned that they had finished up a tour not long ago. “…It was awful…”, saying that their van had broken down while in Michigan I believe, leaving them stuck there for a few days. He obviously didn’t have good memories of it, and the way he talked it won’t be something they do again anytime soon. They did a couple more songs next, one of which was called “Crawling Out”, and then arrived at a single of sorts from their self-titled debut album, “Already Gone”. You really got to see how tight they are with one another during that one, with bassist Nick Knowles, Bryan, Brandt and Aaron all operating in perfect synch with the beats Billy Pennington was pounding out, thrashing around to them and such. Another song they did from that album was “Walkin’ Away”, which has a more Southern Rock flare to it, then slowed things down with a much more sentimental song. Aaron stated that he wrote it about a friend who died in a crash about a year ago and he wanted to write something in her memory. I think the song was titled “Walk with the Angels”, and there was a duality to it, being both very beautiful and quite sad. They started winding things down with “The Enemy In Me”, and wrapped up their set with what is arguably the best song in their repertoire, “Preacher Man”.
Their set was chocked full of rock and matched with one of the most intense live shows you can see. That was what drew me to them whenever it was I first saw one of their shows, and they’ve only honed their skills since then, making them a true force to be reckoned with.
Hell, on any normal night they would have stolen the show right out from under the other bands on the bill, but this wasn’t a normal night.
Definitely go check out Twicebroken’s album in ITUNES, and while they don’t have any shows lined up at this moment, you really should go see them if you have the chance.
Second up this night was Waking Alice, who had made the trek from Fort Worth to Dallas to do their first show of the year.
They got started with what I think is one of their newer songs, and one I’m quite fond of, then tackled a couple of songs from their newest EP, “Retribution”. One of those was “Treason”, which drummer Jon Levey and guitarist Brandon Brewer got underway with some thunderous beats and roaring notes. “…Come on one more time, play the game with me…” Rus belted out as they reached the songs chorus. It is the most rocking song on their EP in my opinion, and that showed during their performance of it, which was just a little more vicious than some of their other stuff. “This next song is called Scars.” Rus announced, before they started the slightly darker (in a musical sense) sounding song, which has some thick rhythm parts where Brayton Light tore it up on his bass. That’s all evened out, though, by Brandon’s killer solo that closes out the song, however, it was outshined by the instrumental break/jam during “Biggest Lie”. Brandon captured the spotlight during it, just riffing and going with it, but Brayton and Jon certainly added their two cents on it, while Rus took a backseat. They do that at every show, but the most interesting thing is it’s always a little different, so it never gets stale. After that powerful number, they scaled things back ever so slightly with “Fates Design”, which tells the story of Rus meeting his now wife, but not in a cliché way like most of those songs are done in. They got back to the high-energy rock stuff with “Wasting Time”, though I believe it was that song that, before starting it, Brandon cracked a joke. Now, I couldn’t understand what he said, which might have been the same problem other people had, resulting in essentially no laughter. “You better laugh at that, or we’re not gonna play this next song.” he said. Rus chimed in, “I think he’s serious.” He did seem it, but it wasn’t long before they started the song, following it with another classic from the bands catalog, “Chasing Memories”. I love the new stuff they’ve done with Rus, but some of their older material, like that one, are at least every bit of good, and it’s given all new life with the slightly different approach Rus takes to singing it. They had one song left in the chamber, and it was brand new one no less. “…It’s That One…” said Rus, saying it again and pointing out that, that really was the name of the song. I really liked it, and out of the handful of songs they churned out with Rus at the helm, this one now stands out as being one of my favorites and it was great way to end their 42-minute long set.
Which each show I’ve seen, they’ve continued to improve and tighten up, delivering a better show each time, and this night was hands down the best Waking Alice show I’ve seen yet.
It’s a nice lively stage show they put on, and coupled with their music, it should have no problem holding your attention.
Their next show is going to be on June 1st at Andy’s Bar in Denton, and it’ll be one you want to see. And be sure to head over to ITUNES and pick up their albums. Again, the newest is “Retribution”, but they have some older stuff available as well, featuring the bands previous vocalist.
The night wasn’t about to slow down, especially with Red Angel Theory being the next band up.
Their 32-minute long set was kicked off by one of the new songs they’ve cooked up, which is just one of the great things that has come out of Monica Koohi fronting the band. It was clear right from the start they, like all the other bands on this bill, were taking a no holds barred approach to their performance, and tore through that commanding opener. They weren’t about to lose the momentum they had built with that one either, as guitarist Brandon Deaton immediately fired up their next song, “Shattered”. Early on in the song drummer Nick Sarabia could be seen flipping his drumsticks up in the air then catching them, as well as adding some backing vocals during the chorus, adding some extra force to Monicas’ voice (not that she needs it) which is what makes that song stand out so in my opinion. They let loose another newer song on the audience, before taking a breather, as Monica announced who they were and such, also mentioning what they were going to do next. It was “It Often Lies”, another heavy song of theirs with Phil Sahs bass lines and Nick’s drumming working well together. “…Standing tall and proud, fighting till the day we die. Open up yourself, now it often lies…” Monica sang in her one of a kind voice, right before the songs second chorus. They followed it with what is arguable their best song, “Inception”, a true powerhouse of a song, that even comes across as an anthem of sorts. Monica got ahead of herself with the next song, saying it was one, before Nick corrected her. Instead, it was another newer one, called “Suffocate” I believe, and out of the three newer tracks they played this night, it was my personal favorite. Now they got to the song Monica was ready to do a few minutes before, but first she had to introduce it. Her speech involved stating that Red Angel Theory was “not about negativity”; rather they are about taking any negative thoughts and energy and turning them into something productive and creative, like music for example. The song was “The Darkness”, and despite the title, there are some positive, almost uplifting moments of the song. They went for a strong finish, as Nick started them right into their final song, “When the Dust Settles”, which happens to be the title track of their debut EP from last year. He provides some more backing vocals on that one, this time in the form of some ear piercing screams, which gives the song an extra layer of depth. It’s one hell of a song, and served as the perfect way to end their set.
I liked this Red Angel Theory show much more than the previous one I saw with this current lineup. Partly because now I knew what to expect and Monicas’ unique voice wasn’t as foreign to me as it had been before, and partly because they’ve got more shows under their belt now, and that experience showed.
They were awesome when I saw them a few months back at another Deep Ellum venue, but they were really clicking this night.
Monica was often racing around the stage, with a certain urgency to her step and her singing, which made it easy for your eyes to be glued on her. Brandon and Phil were a little less mobile, but they still have a presence about them. Besides, their musicianship speaks for itself, and you can admire it all, from the subtle nuances to the more intricate riffs each one cranks out. As for Nick, well, he’s a beast, plain and simple.
This was the best show I’ve seen them do yet, in either of the bands lineups, and it makes me excited for what they’ll be like down the road.
Go pick up their new EP, “Rise for Something”, in ITUNES. Then, if you want to hear those tracks live, go see them at The Worship Lounge in Colleyville, TX on May 17th. They’ll be up in Greenville on May 25th at the Texas Tattoos and Art Gallery, then on June 29th they have a Denton gig scheduled at Hailey’s. And on July 12th they’ll be back in Dallas rockin’ the Curtain Club.
This had been an amazing show so far with some killer bands playing, and now it culminated with Early Pearl taking the stage.
They ripped into their 50-minute long set with “Get Out”, and as soon as they started it you could practically feel everyone’s excitement as the adrenaline level in the club skyrocketed. As it came to an end, frontman Bishop Booker pumped one of his fists in the air, while he repeatedly shouted the final line, “Get out!”. They kept things moving right along as lead guitarist Chris Jackson wound them into another high-octane track, “State of Affairs”, before slowing things down just a bit with “Breakdown”. The coolest part of that song (and one of the most memorable moments of this show) came towards the end of it, when guitarists Chris and Ryan Maynard, plus bassist Chris Ivey all moved to stage right and formed small circle of sorts. Then, Maynard proceeded to hit the strings of Jacksons’ guitar, while Jackson did the same to Chris’s bass, who in turn played Maynards’ guitar. Like I said, it was cool to see, but above all it was a fun moment, and you could tell the three of them were having a good time doing it. “…This is Hindsight.” Said Bishop after he had talked with the crowd for a moment, which started them on a string of new songs, however, out of all of them, it was one of the best in my opinion. As serious as they were about rocking, there was also some entertaining banter between some songs, like here when it was said that Bishop had once gotten “…someone pregnant just by looking at them.” If I’m remembering correctly that all started because some of his sweat had dropped on a girl at the front of the stage, and he was joking that she couldn’t even talk after that happened.
They got back to the music with “Sooner Or Later”, and after someone bought them some shots, which they of course subsequently did, they tackled “Letting Go”. “Will I see you later, ‘cause I’m letting go? Will you open for me, or will you let me go?” sang Bishop on the chorus, amidst a barrage of drumbeats from Bobby Primm, and shortly after Jackson started his knockout guitar solo. Upon finishing it Bishop went to say something to the fans,but it came out wrong and rather nonsensical. “…I’m sorry.” He apologized, “I’ve been drinking and can’t speak English.” That got a laugh from everybody, and they then set up their next song, a very new song, and Chris asked everyone not to be too hard on them if it sounded horrible. It was only the second time they had done it in front of an audience, but I don’t think they had much to worry about. The song is called “Sure and Jaded Symphony” and it’s a killer song, being almost melodic at times, and others it’s just raw rock, which is exactly what you expect from Early Pearl. For the next song, Bishop announced he was going to do a little screaming, adding, “…I usually only scream if I’m with the right woman.” Chris chimed in at that point, “Or the right man.” “Man, I’m not even gonna talk to you after that…” said Bishop, while Chris just laughed. That led them to “Say It”, a song that is unlike any other of theirs, and even though they hadn’t been holding back in terms of their performance, they certainly didn’t pull any punches on that track.
As their set started coming to an end, Bishop made a brief speech. I don’t recall everything he said, but one thing was along the lines of there are a lot of bands out there who aren’t staying true to themselves. He went on to say that they supported what everyone of their fans was doing, since they support them. “…Early Pearl shows are about wearing funny hats…” he said as he kind of pulled a hat of a girls head. Overall, the takeaway message was to be yourself, which is a good message to send in my opinion. Now, they got back to some stuff from their album, both of which are fan favorites. “Dear lover, I need you to listen one more time. I’ve tried to deny you, but you just slowed my stride…” Sang Bishop, as they got “Turn” going, before bringing things to a close with “This Is”.
The fans were shouting for an encore, even though the two Chris’s were the only members left on stage at this point. “I’m sorry.” said Ivey, “In ten years we’ve only written ten songs.”
The fans, myself included, were eventually okay with that, but I’m not gonna lie, I was hoping they might bust out “Regret” for an encore. Maybe, next time.
As it was, it was still an excellent show, though.
To somewhat repeat what I said about the last Early Pearl show I saw, they put on real rock show. Sure, there are many bands that do that, but Early Pearl is a head above most others. Their music is still some of the best I’ve heard, and the live show is one of the best I’ve seen, and they won’t leave you disappointed.
In a month and a half now I’ve seen Early Pearl as much as I did in 2008 and 2009 combined, and will no doubt see them at least a few more times before the years over with. You should do the same, and while they have no shows scheduled at the moment, keep a check on their FACEBOOK PAGE for future show updates.
Also, head over to their SOUNDCLOUD PAGE to download their entire “This Is” album for free, as well as some live cuts of several of their new songs.
This was one hell of a rock show, and I’m glad I decided to spend my night at the Boiler Room.