When Parade of Flesh began putting on their Spillover Music Festival, the last two words of the title probably weren’t applicable.
Only four bands were part of the inaugural event in 2008, but everything has to have humble beginnings, and since then the Dallas based entertainment company has been striving to grow to their event, giving the North Texas music fans that can’t make a trip down to Austin a taste of what they’re missing.
Their annual showcase, which occurs on the Sunday after SXSW, quickly achieved a festival status, though, and this year’s installment boasts one of the largest lineups they’ve assembled (23 bands total). Some bands have played the festival in years past, others will be making their first appearance at Spillover, which will be happening both inside and outside at Club Dada, with Three Links providing the third stage.
Here’s a few of the bands I’m looking forward to catching…
Diarrhea Planet has played Dallas many times over the years; amassing a loyal following that grows with each time they grace a stage in this town. No, I haven’t seen them, though I’ve heard nothing but praise about their live shows, which can get pretty intense. Then again, you’d expect that from a band that has such a forceful rhythm section and uses not, two, not three, but four guitars. That’s what’s rather surprising to me, the fact that so many guitars doesn’t even begin to sound like overkill. Instead, even when they’re almost deafening, they complement one another.
(Listen to “Kids” & “Separations”)
(Photo credit: James Orlando)
“Too True” dropped not even two full months ago, so you can expect Dum Dum Girls to play a good dose of new material this day. It’s perhaps the best album that singer/songwriter Dee Dee Penny has written thus far. There’s a more mature sound to it, not just in the songwriting, but the music, too. There’s no questioning that it’s quite poppy, though many of the tracks are shrouded in a certain degree of darkness, which adds to the intrigue, and even creates a bit of mystique.
(Listen to “Bedroom Eyes” & “Coming Down”)
Ty Segall will no doubt be one of the biggest draws on this event, and he is one of the main headliners at Club Dada. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the lo-fi style of music, which is the one constant Segalls’ tracks have, while he traverses an array of different genres, with some songs that are more psychedelic rock, to very gritty garage punk sounds, yet he can also pull of the more low-key singer/songwriter type stuff. Style-wise, this may not be quite my cup of tea, though I am interested to see what the live show is like.
(Listen to “Goodbye Bread”)
(Photo credit: Annie Powers)
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart were a pretty last minute addition to Spillover, and a great score. The indie pop/noise pop music the band produces is infectious, and they’ve crafted a masterful collection of songs about love and heartache. Based on that, some may call their music emo (but really, doesn’t all music focus on emotion of some type), but there are more layers to it than that, and Kip Bermans’ often raspy sounding voice adds a lot of character to it. It has been almost three years since their last record came out, and with a new one just about a month away, it would probably be safe to assume you’ll hear at least a couple of new songs, like the new single, “Simple and Sure”, which will surely get the audience dancing and clapping along.
(Listen to “Heart In Your Heartbreak” & “The Body”)
Being self-described as Flower Punk, The Orwells sound more like a group who would hail from California instead of Elmhurst, Illinois. Not that geography plays a significant part in any of that anyways. Their debut full-length (“Remember When”) captures that sound the best, as they alternate from a more aggressive style of rock and punk, to some more soupy sounds. The core sound has remained the same on the two EP’s they released last year, though you can already tell the growth and hear the expansion on this new batch of material, and the outfit as already devolved a more mature style, while maintaining their essence. I get the impression you should expect a fun and lively show from them, so get ready.
(Listen to “The Righteous One” and “Who Needs You”)
That barely even scratches the surface of the acts I’m excited about catching, but I’ll stop there.
There’s too much great talent on this year’s Spillover MF from Parade of Flesh, and I’m looking forward to sampling as much of it as I possibly can. You should be, too.
Sunday, March 16th at Club Dada and Three Links
Doors @ 1PM / Music @ 2PM
$19.99+ (Purchase advanced tickets HERE)
It can’t be argued that most metal these days is fairly angry (most of the times at least) and often filled with incoherent screams. I mean no disrespect to it, but personally, none of that (particularly the screaming) is something I’m a fan of.
Enter Psychostick, who has been making music for a well over a decade now, and they put a fun twist to the metal genre. Literally.
The band, who now resides in Chicago, has been gaining a dedicated and passionate following since they started cutting their teeth in Texas and Arizona in their early days, before having one of their tracks (“Beer”) become a hit on XM Radio in the mid-2000’s, which helped catapult them to fame.
Their music covers a variety of topics, from their latest single, “Obey the Beard”, which is about how glorious beards are and how growing one will make your life exponentially better, to “Two Ton Paperweight”, which chronicles the trials of having an old, worthless car, and how badly you want to see it die.
All topics are potential fodder with this four-piece outfit, and another hysterical song they have is “#1 Radio Single”, which makes a mockery of how easy it is to write a radio hit (at least what we are told should be hits), by replicating every element one has just to poke fun at it.
They’re not just a comedy band trying to masquerade as a metal act, though. They’re legit, and the music beds for all of their songs will have you doing some serious head banging, and you’ll be laughing along at the lyrics while doing so.
The band is gearing up for another run across a few different parts of the country, including a couple of big shows in Texas.
On Saturday, March 15th, they will be one of the four dozen or so bands playing the 7th annual South By So What?! music festival at Quiktrip Park in Grand Prairie. Headliners for that night include Bring Me the Horizon and Of Mice and Men, just to name a few.
They also have a SXSW show in Austin at the Dirty Dog Bar on March 13th.
(Listen to “Because Boobs”)
Saturday, March 15th @ QuikTrip Park
Purchase tickets HERE (link to Day 2 ONLY ticket)
Untapped Festival 2014
Panther Island Pavilion (Fort Worth, Texas)
- Words by Jordan Buford // Photos by Ronnie Jackson -
It didn’t take long for Untapped Fest to establish its dominance, beginning (and soon expanding) in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, with Houston jumping on as…
I must admit, I was partially expecting Hayes Carll’s show at The Kessler Theater this night to be a full band performance.
Sure, I knew these series of shows he was doing around Texas were acoustic duo shows, but in the announcement regarding them, there was also mention that there would be some full band gigs sprinkled in certain places. Then take into account that this was his fifth and final straight night in D/FW. This was also his second sold out Dallas show of the week (the first had been Wednesday at the Double Wide), and he had also played Denton, plus made a two-night stand in Fort Worth (and if those shows weren’t totally sold out, I’d bet they were close to it.)
There aren’t many musicians who can play the same area that much so close together and still bring people out; which was why I thought this might be a full band show, because after four nights in the metroplex, I figured he’d be doing something bigger to still get the fans out.
Upon walking into the showroom after the lone opening act started it was obvious there would be no band. The stage was barren of all the amps and instruments that are typically set up, and that had me very intrigued.
After all, how good a musician really is all comes down to what they are capable of in a stripped down environment.
Sure, Hayes Carll may mine an Americana genre of music, but he has plenty of loud rock songs that hold the crowd’s attention with ease. Would he still be able to do that basically all on his lonesome? I honestly didn’t know, though I would soon find out just how good of a singer/songwriter an all-around musician he really was (or wasn’t).
The opening artist was Scott Nolan, who was on his first song when I walked in, and at first, I could have cared less for him.
That opening tune didn’t do much for me, though the night would get better; and this guy was a storyteller through and through.
I believe it was after that first song that he mentioned he had made a long drive from his hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba. He mentioned he drove about two hours, while his girlfriend drove sixteen or so. He joked about that and several other things, including saying he had cleaned up his appearance a bit, getting a haircut and trimming his beard (which was still fairly long) after hibernating for the winter, saying he figured he should look a little more decent to try to get by customs.
As soon as he stopped the on-sided conversation, he began his next song, which was “Shake it Loose”. The bluesy number still wasn’t my favorite of his, but it certainly had my attention, especially when he softened his guitar playing and almost dryly gasp into the mic, “Shake it loose. Come on baby, shake it loose…”
He told as many if not more songs than he did play songs; which I enjoyed. It’s always nice getting some back-story to songs, and even if you don’t know them, it allows them to connect with you more. For example, a lengthy story he shared about his late tour manager, who he said had been the tour manager for a few other bands before he and Scott crossed paths. Those few other bands (at least the ones mentioned) were The Guess Who and BTO.
“…Then he ended up with me, and you see how that turned out…” said Scott, who playfully joked that he has often thought he was the man who (unintentionally) killed Ernie Blackburn. He went on to tell everyone that Ernie owned a backline company, clarifying for those who might not know that, that was company for “lazy musicians” who wanted to rent gear instead of haul their own around. The motto he had for the company was “You Rock, We Roll”.
Since he left this world, Scott said he had played this song every time he did a show, and always did it for his dear friend. I think you can figure out what it was called.
“’Cause you rock, we roll. That’s what you told me, brother. We can do it together, you can’t have one without the other…” he sang on that incredible song, which was the one that won me over. Considering it was just him, his guitar and harmonica, it was loud and it was rocking; and knowing that story behind it made it pretty deep.
Another story he told was about Folsom Prison, where he was invited to a singer/songwriter workshop a few years back. He mentioned his cousin spent most of the last twenty years of his life in that prison, and he was the first person/inmate to mix all of the cultures of the inmates into one room, finding a common ground in music.
Scott noted what a really amazing thing it was, seeing Bloods, Crips, members of the Mexican Mafia, white supremacists and others co-existing together and getting along while they played music. It goes to show what true power music does have, and even now you could tell Scott was humbled and amazed by his experience there.
That may have been the neatest story he shared, but the best one came when he said he came home one day to his girlfriend and one of her friends drinking red wine. They had been doing that for awhile, and shortly after switched to something else (tequila maybe? I don’t remember for sure.) “So I did what any sensible man would do.” he said, “I joined in.”
His girlfriend’s friend brought up the game of Twister, which he pointed out was apparently responsible for a lot of the divorcees in the 70’s, “Including my own parents.” he said, making it hard to tell if he was being serious or perhaps joking.
To make a Twister board he got several albums and placed them on the floor, while a corkscrew acted as the spinner. I don’t remember what the albums were, though he said he put a lot of thought into it, naming some of them and even where he placed them.
One was an album by Bobby Bare, and Scott mentioned he had made friends with Bobby Bare Jr., whom he told this story to. “…And eventually I got a note from Bobby Bare (Sr.) that just said, ‘You’re welcome, kid.”
Aptly, the song was titled “Twister”, and it was as hilarious as you would expect. “For my Christian neighbors, I pull the curtains tight. If this is wrong, I don’t want to be right…” he crooned on the short track.
I might not have been sure at first, but Scott Nolan was a great singer/songwriter, and his 36-minutes on stage seemed to pass by too quickly.
If you get a chance, go see one of his shows. He’s highly entertaining, and in more aspects than just being a talented musician. At the very least, check out his music in iTUNES (also HERE). You’ll be glad you did, especially if you’re a fan of the singer/songwriter genre.
With his set being done, all that was left now was to wait for Hayes Carll to take the stage, which happened about half an hour later.
It was 9:06 when the lights dimmed and Scott Nolan returned to the stage; this time to backup his friend Hayes Carll. All the fanfare went to Hayes Carll, of course. A lot of it may have been because the room at The Kessler is more intimate, but the noise level earsplitting. I mean, I had been to a show a couple nights before this at a venue and a crowd that was much larger than this, and that specific band didn’t even get near the reaction Mr. Carll did this night.
Like I said, part of that surely has to do with the size of the room, but on the other hand, he is just that loved.
It was anyone’s guess as to what would come first, either a song or a story. It wound up being the former, as he picked up his acoustic guitar and lightly plucked the strings, eventually starting the chords for “Beaumont”, which was greeted with almost as much applause as Hayes had gotten.
“The night was feelin’ lucky, so I asked you to dance, and the way you looked up at me made me think I had a chance. When I put my arms around you, I knew you weren’t given in. I hope it will be different if I pass this way again.” he sang on the second verse of this tale of semi-heartache, while the fans acted as his backing vocalists, singing every word along with him. It was never overpowering of what he was doing, but more just added a nice echo effect to it all.
“Welcome to The Kessler…” he said once that classic had concluded. His talk quickly turned to Scott Nolan, who sit on the seat he had earlier, with a guitar in hand and keyboard at his side. “I’m sure Scott already told y’all about the long drive he made…” Hayes said, before the conversation took another turn, this time to Winnipeg. “…The last time I was there, it was forty-two degrees below…” said Hayes, which made me shiver just hearing about temperatures that cold.
“When you have to go, you have to question the safety of it…” he added, putting his own unique perspective on things, reminding everyone that even in when it gets cold in Texas, that’s never a real concern. “I mean, there are lots of guys walking around as eunuchs up there, and you’re like, ‘Well, what happened?’ and they say, ‘Well, I had to take piss and it took longer than expected.”
A few minutes was all it took for the comedy portion of the show to get into full swing, and there was still plenty of it to come.
“So, this is night ten of my Pub Crawl Tour…” said Hayes, joking in his dry sense of humor that he was just “getting lazy” since he was doing these as acoustic duo gigs. “Basically, I just pick one town and then play five shows there.” he quipped, pointing out he had done five shows down in Austin, before bringing it up here to North Texas.
He then mentioned his Double Wide gig, specifically speaking about the venue when he said it was “similar” to The Kessler. That other venue is great, and it’s the best of the best as far as dive bars go, and I was curious how he was going to draw a comparison between it and the elegant listening room that is The Kessler. He paused for a second after saying it was “similar”, then carried on, “In almost no way at all.”
He had already been talking longer than he had played music thus far (not that anyone minded it), but he was due for another song now, and busted out another from 2008’s “Trouble In Mind”, “Wild as a Turkey”.
Afterwards, came a block of new songs. In fact, the only new songs he did were all strung together here, and Hayes made clear that the first of these new ones “wasn’t for everyone”. “Actually, I don’t know if it’s for anyone.” He added, saying he could handle any criticisms people might have.
“I used to want to get with you.” he sang at the start; taking a strategic pause to let the crowd react. Nearly everyone was cheering over the subject matter, and then he continued with the next line, “But now I want to get with your daugh-ter.” he crooned, again pausing afterwards. Some people still hollered back at him, liking the lyrics even more now that he had said that, while others quietly laughed and shook their heads. “Yeah, that’s usually where I lose people…” he remarked, his dry sense of humor again coming in handy.
It was classic Hayes, having moments like that where you couldn’t help but laugh, and others that were flat-out honest. I’m sure I’m paraphrasing this, but part of the chorus was something like, “Maybe you should just stop asking questions to things you don’t want to know.”
The next new song was about his ten-year-old son. “He’s a magician. Not a musician, a magician…” Hayes pointed out, making sure everyone heard him correctly, saying it’s kind of hard as a parent when your child tells you they want to be a magician. “He’s also into cake decorating.” he said, as if to say it only got worse.
He talked about when his son first started trying all the tricks that he would quickly call him out on it and tell him he could see what he was doing. “He has tiny hands.” he suddenly said, sending the audience into a roaring fit of laughter, which only intensified when he thought about it for a second and admitted, “…I was a dick about it.”
There’s a silver lining to the story, though, and it’s that his son stuck it out, never paying attention to any discouraging words, and has gotten pretty good at it. So good in fact, that he got asked to join the Austin Association of Magicians (or something like that). The audience applauded that feat. “Oh, you’ve heard of them?” Hayes answered surprisingly. “They’re an ancient, mystic society that meets every other Monday at the International House of Pancakes.”
The song is called “Magic Kid”, and not only is a lovely song that a father wrote for his son, but it’s also an uplifting song for anyone, with a core message of just being yourself, finding something you like and enjoy and sticking with it, regardless of what anyone says or thinks.
With those two out of the way, Hayes mentioned that these new songs were going in the “reverse order of life”. The first one being about when your older, while “Magic Kid” was about a young kid. Now, the focus was going to shift to something a little more serious, and Hayes set up the next one as being a song about “losing your significant other to someone else”.
“I don’t know all the words, but we’ll get as far as we can.” he mentioned right before starting the track that sounded like it be another classic Hayes Carll song. It was, but not in the way everyone had first thought.
The first line of the second verse was something like, “Things have changed since he moved in…”, and he continued singing, “…He poots, you think it’s cute. I poot, you leave the room…”
Are you getting this yet? Yes, Hayes Carll has again proved his songwriting genius by crafting a track about losing one’s wife to the child y’all had together. “My baby took my baby away…” went a line from the chorus.
I was in near tears on that one from laughing so hard and I think more than a few people were in the same boat, because bursts of laughter could be heard all throughout the song, while he sang it with a straight face. I’m being dead serious when I say that song was genius (it’s on the same level as that old hit “She Left Me for Jesus”), and if it doesn’t make the cut on his next album I’ll be very upset, because it’s one of the greatest things that has ever been written, and not just by him.
“I’m realizing three of these songs won’t be popular with ladies.” he confessed after that one. “I have songs for ladies…” he continued, but noted those were more for the guys, or any woman who might have a sense of humor for situations like that. (That’s possible for two of those songs, though I don’t imagine many, if any woman would find a song about wanting to basically “upgrade” from her to her daughter funny. Maybe I’m wrong, though.)
So, now that those three stage of live had been covered there was only one left: conception.
Hayes mentioned that subject matter of this next song was something that has never happened to him “I’ve played this song one hundred and seventy-four times…” he said, making a point as to how rare an event this is.
I already knew what song this had to be, and I was excited, because the only other time I had heard him do it was the first show of his I ever say, almost two years ago at the Homegrown Music Festival in Dallas. He then mentioned the name of the song which was “One Bed, Two Girls, Three Bottles of Wine”.
Apparently, he didn’t want Scott Nolan being the only guy who did a song about having a threesome.
“…I’ll be your boy, your toy to torture, touch and teach me. So, Sandra tied me up as Sally laid me down…” he sang, before getting to the brilliant chorus, “…While I’m kissing hers, the others loving mine. If the devil is watching, he thinks I’m doing fine…” It only got better on the second verse “…Whoo-wee, someone’s chewing on my knee… Oh flip, they’re playing with my…” he stepped back from the mic at that last part, leaving it up to the audience to infer what the next word would have been.
Things slowed down on the instrumental break, as Hayes stated he kept hoping that “life will imitate art”. He then elaborated on that. “I write songs about beer. People bring me beer. I write songs about drugs. People will sometimes slip me drugs. I write a song about a three-way. Nothing.” he said, acting perplexed by it all.
As funny as the song is though, the best part is the realistic approach it takes, with the hero of the story more or less cracking under the pressure. “…For five minutes I was king of all I see, and then the end came sooner than expected…” Hayes sang, going on to mention he wished he had paid more attention to adult movies during his teen years, so he’d know how to handle such a “unique and surprisingly complicated situation”, and which point he’s left to watch as the girls continued without him.
Man, that was great. I have to say, I liked the way the show started, but I was still on the fence as to how it might play out, but those new tracks squashed the doubt I had.
After those few fun(ny) songs, it was time to bring the mood back down, and “Chances Are” was the perfect song to do that. “…Every heart has got a story, mine just has a few more scars. But they could heal if you would hold me and tell me what my chances are.” sang Hayes on the somber tune, a tune that bleeds heartache with every word and every note, which is precisely what makes it so good.
It was time for another story now, as Hayes mentioned that it was Scott Nolan who wrote this next song, a staple of his. “…I try to give credit where credit is due whenever I can…” Hayes said, as he went on to relay a story Scott had told him about some of his more recent shows where he opened up with this song that he wrote, and later had people from the crowd come up to him and ask, “Why did you open with a Hayes Carll song?”
“And you shouldn’t. You should never open with a Hayes Carll song.” joked Hayes. The conversation than took a different turn, when he went into a little tale about being up in Canada with a friend (I don’t remember who he said he was with) and his friend got invited to the “Canadian equivalent of the White House”. Hayes tagged along with him, and mentioned there were all these intimidating armed guards outside the place, when he happened to realize he had forgotten his passport.
“…So I grabbed one of my CD’s and was like, ‘This has my picture on it. This is me…” he said, as he attempted to get them to let him in. He said they stared at for just a second, then looked at him, said “Okay. Go on.” and motioned him in.
“Canadians.” Hayes simply said, sounding amazed by their kind and trusting nature.
By that time, I had almost forgotten they had even talked about a song that Scott had written. Apparently, I owe Mr. Scott Nolan a big thank you, because he wrote what is my favorite Hayes Carll song.
Hayes played some notes on his harmonica and plucked at his guitar, before singing, “Arkansas; my head hurts. I’d love to stick around and maybe make it worse. I’ve got a girl out in Henrietta, and her love is like tornado weather…” Hays sang on the slowed down version of “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart”. “Indian summer: Oklahoma sunset. If there’s a nicer place I haven’t been there yet…” sang Scott, who handled the second verse of his song. The added a nice dynamic to it, especially since Scott has such a standout and unique sound to his voice. The fans then took it upon to help out on the last verse, lightly singing along with Hayes who had taken back over. “…Doesn’t anybody care about truth anymore? I guess maybe that’s what songs are for. You’re the wind, and I’m on fire. In this line of work no one retires. Come in clean, leave torn apart. A bad liver and a broken heart…” everyone sang.
Little did the fans know, they weren’t done singing along just yet. “Drunken Poet’s Dream” is another fan favorite, and the crowd got a little riled up upon hearing. Hayes even added a few extra lines to the start of the second verse, one of which was “…She tastes like pills and cheap cologne…”
That’s one song he co-wrote with his friend and Texas music legend Ray Wylie Hubbard, whom he spoke of now, mention what a huge admirer he is of Mr. Hubbard and followed him around quite a bit in his younger days before befriending him.
For their first co-write together Hayes said he got to Ray’s place and asked him what he had been writing about lately. “Farm animals.” Hubbard answered. Hayes noted that, that was an “unexplored” style of songwriting for him. “…I usually write about drugs and alcoholism…” he said, rattling off several other topics that his music has covered, none of which had been farm animals.
“And Ray Wylie Hubbard was just killing it with farm animal songs. Let’s see, he’s got songs about goats, cows, pigs…” he said, listing off a whole menagerie of creatures. He even mentioned Ray’s song “Snake Farm” and sang a line or two from it.
“…Now, you can call me a sellout… but I’m paying my bills…” said Hayes, talking about all the companies that used that song.
Well, none of that actually happened (the being rich part at least). With that, he and Scott started the final track from his “Little Rock” album, “Chickens”, which was the only song he did from that record this night. Scott stole show during it, tearing into an incredible guitar solo that left everyone’s mouth agape, while they cheered his prowess as a guitarist.
Afterwards, Hayes went even further back than that 2005 album. He mentioned that this next song was one of the first he ever wrote, and it was the first one of his songs that someone ever covered.
The band he said that covered it was a duo with a female singer, while the guy played a flute; making them sound like they were an interesting act to say the least. Also, to stick with “artistic integrity”, the woman sang the song from a “lesbian perspective”.
He then started the tune and the fans cheered with glee. “I have another song that starts like this.” Hayes quickly stated. That’s a line I’ve heard the last three times I’ve seen him, and he always plays the song that everyone new and was expecting. Tonight, it was a different story.
He did the title track from his debut album, “Flowers and Liquor”. It has held up well against his other, newer music, and one line, “…I’m getting excited, I hope I’m invited. I want to spend the night with you.” is still pure Hayes, even twelve years after that debut album dropped.
He rolled the end of that one right into the title track from his current LP, “KMAG YOYO”. It’s a song you would think would sound good acoustic, but surprisingly, it did. Actually, it was great in this format. Lyrically it’s closer to being a rap (really) and given the fact that he was setting his own pace on it this time, Hayes seemed to do it just a hair quicker than it’s performed at the full band shows.
He made a switch to an electric guitar for the next couple of songs; playing some notes as the fans wondered what was coming next. He played a brief lead in to the song, before finally getting to the all too recognizable notes of “I Got a Gig”, a song that chronicles his adventures of starting out as a musician and all the dive bars you have to play while paying your dues.
Upon finishing it, Hayes pointed out it had been something like five years since he and Scott had played together like they were at the moment, and he congratulated him for being so great “on the fly”. Now that impressed me, because I figured there had been some type of rehearsal done. Nope, he was just winging it, and you never would have guessed it.
“…Drinking beers is about the only thing I can do anymore without practice…” Hayes said, again using his deadpan delivery of humor. But to make sure Scott didn’t feel signaled out by that, Hayes told everyone he was going to put himself in similar shows and do a song he seldom plays.
“Don’t Let Me Fall” was the song he did, which is a solid little track from “Trouble In Mind”, and I enjoyed getting to hear it live.
After switching back to his acoustic guitar, Hayes announced he was going to do a song by his friend. Everyone already knew what was coming, but Hayes confirmed it by saying it was a song about why it’s a good idea for traveling musicians to carry a Bible on their dashboard. Aptly, the song is called “Bible On the Dash”, and it tells a very entertaining story about how you can get out any trouble you might run into (i.e. police officers, border stops, etc.) by simply having a copy of the good book with you.
How good the night get any better than that? Well, there was still the greatest duet ever written to do, though I skeptical how this might turn out.
Hayes said at some of these shows he had done both the male and female parts, but opted to start bringing fans on stage to sing with him to give it more of a vibe. When he did this is Dallas for his Holiday Hangover Tour, it was a disaster (see HERE), hence why I was skeptical as to how this might go.
He then went into a story about one of the Fort Worth shows he had played a night or two before, where there were “five thousand people” out in the crowd. He asked for a volunteer, and one woman was almost “falling over the barricade” as he put it, trying to be picked.
“…Will you put your lips to the microphone and sing clearly?” was one of the questions he asked her, and she said yes to all of them.
“…Minutes are going by. I mean I have a cigarette and a beer in my hand just waiting. Five thousand people there, all waiting for her to get up on stage. So, she gets up there… and her name’s like, Sally or something like that. So I’m, ‘Sally, are you ready?” “Ready for what?” she responded. “To sing!” Hayes said he told her. “We just talked about when you were right out there!” “Oh, I’m not gonna sing or nothing.” she answered.
Granted, some of that was probably slightly embellished, but it made for one helluva story. So, when Hayes did chose a woman to join him, he made sure to tell her that if this didn’t go well he’d have to ask that she ;eave the show without a refund. “No pressure or anything.” he added.
It seemed like it was going to be a disaster when she got on stage and was in a slight state of disbelief when she realized she didn’t even get the lyrics “like at karaoke”. “This song’s about the great political divide in America.” Hayes said, still starting “Another Like You” regardless of what direction this might go.
He, of course, nailed his part, while the moment of truth came when it got to the first female part of the song, and the woman (whose name I sadly don’t remember) looked pretty sheepish up there. “You were falling like the Alamo. Drinking fast and talking slow…” she sang; instantly sending the sold out crowd into a deafening roar as they let her know how much they liked it.
I’m assuming she is by no means a professional singer, and given that, she had an astounding voice. I mean, wow! She sang it all very well too, and I think there were maybe just a few words at one point she forgot, but sung something else that still fit before getting back on track.
They even had a good chemistry going on the back and forth part as Hayes and her looked at one another. “Well, you’re probably a democrat.” she sang, as he remarked while they kept alternating, “Well, what the hell is wrong with that?” “Nothing if you’re Taliban.” “Well, I bet you slept with half the south.” “Oh, don’t you ever shut your mouth?”
This was redemption for that other Dallas show I mentioned, and she sang the song flawlessly.
Soon after she left the stage, Hayes started another song that was nearly unrecognizable as an acoustic song, and that was the closer for his 88-minute long set, “Stomp And Holler”. It still had a nice kick to it, though, and was still a fitting final song. “…From all I’ve seen, you only get one shot at what you’re gonna do in this life…” he sang, before getting to the line that was on the shirt I happened to be wearing, “I’m like James Brown only white and taller…”, which is followed with, “And all I wanna do is stomp and holler.”
The fans were taking the song title to heart, stomping and hollering right along with him, before some of those who were seated gave him a standing ovation as he and Scott left the stage.
That couldn’t be it, though; surely not. Okay, there were some songs that he probably wouldn’t do this night because they wouldn’t best fit the acoustic vibe, but I could think of at least one more he had to play.
He wasn’t gone anytime when he returned to the stage. “I say this every night. I would do this every night if people showed up or not, but it’s a helluva lot more fun when people do.” He told his fans, being truly humbled that this many people had come out to see him this night.
He was alone for this one, and soon began the 7-minute long encore portion with a song I was expecting, “Grateful For Christmas”.
Sure, he had sung plenty of gloomy songs this night about unrequited love or having your heart broken by one circumstance or another, but the most poignant song of the night was this one.
It still has that certain Hayes Carll charm, like in the line, “Lord, what I’d give for one good looking cousin.” but it’s far from being a happy song. Instead, it goes through all the stages of Christmas you have in your life. When you’re a kid, the holiday is (usually) a big family affair, probably traveling somewhere (in this case Waco) where your grandparents live, surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins galore. Then you lose a grandparent, and the get together gets a little smaller; more with your immediate family.
“Hey mom, how you doing? Yeah, I miss him too…” he sang on the final verse, which deals with the loss of a parent, along with having to share the holiday between your family and your spouses.
It really brought a little tear to your eye, and while I don’t listen to it often on the record, it is a song that cuts right to the bone. It’s a good thing, though, because it’s a song that reaffirms a way of thinking I’ve had for many years now: savor the small things in life and enjoy every second you spend with anyone you care for. Be it family, friends or whatever, because they won’t always be there, and just because something has been one way for most of your life (like Christmas), doesn’t mean it always will be. Point is, there is a lesson in this song, and it’s one that should be taken to heart.
So, after killing the happy mood with that one, it was time to end on a positive note.
Scott rejoined him for this last number, which again had fans ecstatic when they heard the opening chords. Remember that song earlier where I said Hayes mentioned he has two songs that start the same way. Well, “Girl Downtown” is the one that everybody knows and loves (and the one he typically plays). It created another sing-along moment, and the fun, happy song about love was a wonderful way to wrap-up the night.
Yeah, I had my doubts about how god this show might be, but Hayes Carll proved just what an excellent musician he is this night.
“Beaumont” ensnared the fans from the get go, and by the time he got to those brand new songs I was enthralled, while he finished strong with the last several tracks of the main set.
If I had to pick, I’d still say the full band shows are better overall, but the band isn’t necessary to him putting on a memorable show.
His witty banter is one part that ensures that, while the songs still sounded fantastic, even if they lacked the punch they usually have.
Basically, Hayes Carll is a true entertainer, because he can hold your attention and keep you invested in what he’s doing no matter what the setting is.
I’ll finish by saying this: this was the fourth straight night I had been out at concerts for the week. I had seen some great local rock bands, a killer national touring electronic/pop band from Detroit, and one of the best rising stars in the Texas music scene. However, this show, this acoustic show by one of the most prolific (and underrated on a national scale) singer/songwriters who’s currently in the game was the best show out of those four.
If you haven’t heard of Hayes Carll, you’re really missing out, and you remedy that by going over to iTUNES right this instant and checking out his music. (Don’t use, “Oh, but he’s an Americana musician and I don’t like Americana.” as an excuse, because his music is as much rock as anything.)
By now, the Pub Crawl Tour is over, but he still has some shows coming up here and there. His full schedule can be viewed HERE.
It was a phenomenal night here at The Kessler, and in just six days it would all be repeated (well, with different bands, at least.)
Monday, March 10th
Doors @ 7 / Music @ 8
Tuesday, March 11th
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)
Doors @ 7:30
21+ $10 / 21- $12
Doors @ 8
-Dallas (Lower Greenville Avenue)
Wednesday, March 12th
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)
Doors @ 8
$13 to $15
-Dallas (Lower Greenville Avenue)
Doors @ 2
Music @ 11
Doors @ 7
Thursday, March 13th
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)
Music @ 7:30
Friday, March 14th
Doors @ 8 / Music @ 9
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)
Doors @ 10
Doors @ 7
Doors @ 8
21+ $10 / 21- $15
Doors @ 8
Doors @ 8 / Music @ 9
-Dallas (Lower Greenville Avenue)
-Dallas (Oak Cliff)
Doors @ 7 / Music @ 8
Saturday, March 15th
Doors @ 9
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)
Doors @ 7
Doors @ 7:30
21+ $10 / 21- $12
-Dallas (Lower Greenville Avenue)
Doors @ 7 / Music @ 8
$19 to $30
Sunday, March 16th
Music @ 2:30PM
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)
Bands start @ 2PM
-Dallas (South Side On Lamar)
Music starts @ 1 PM / Nat Osborn Band @ 8
Now that the music portion of SXSW is getting underway, the North Texas music lovers can start indulging in all the talent that’s traveling south (and making pit stops along the way). And for that, the booking entity that is Parade of Flesh has everyone covered, with a lot of great stuff coming down the pike this week.
Perhaps the most buzzworthy and intriguing show they have will be taking place at Club Dada on Wednesday, when Parade of Flesh will give the folks of Dallas a taste of The Pizza Underground.
You can tell by the name alone that they are a bit of a comedy act, and the New York based quintet spoofs songs from The Velvet Underground, one way or another making them all about pizza.
Surprisingly, as odd, and even awful as that sounds, it actually looks and sounds rather good. In fact, in watching some of the live videos that can be found on Youtube, there’s a slight entrancing quality to this band who gets their percussion by beating a pizza box and plays an assortment of other seldom used instruments, such as a kazoo and a glockenspiel.
People will no doubt be out in droves, if for no other reason than just to experience firsthand what The Pizza Underground is like. Aside from that, how many times are you ever going to see Macaulay Culkin (yes, the actor) singing and playing songs about pizza?
(Listen to The Pizza Underground’s demo HERE)
Sure, The Pizza Underground will be the band everyone is talking about when the night’s over, but there’s some other great talent on the bill, like Moving Units.
The Los Angeles based outfit, which is led by Blake Miller, mines a more poppy genre and classifies themselves as being Nu Disco. They pull of said disco vibe without over-saturating it in electronic elements, though. Instead, it’s a nice blend of all the computerized effects with a cool and fun pop/rock sound that is bound to have most of the crowd at Dada this night dancing and moving around.
(Listen to “Until She Says”)
Starting off the show will be singer/songwriter Toby Goodshank, who has released over a dozen records in his career thus far, with his newest one due out next month. His folk stylings may differ a bit from the other acts on the bill, though he sounds to be a solid musician in every regard; and I imagine his set will prove an excellent way to start of the night.
(Listen to “Truth Jump Fall”)
So, come out on this Wednesday night and see what Parade of Flesh has cooked up for you. It’s gonna be a memorable show from start to finish, and one you’ll most likely be telling your friends about (you’re friends who aren’t lucky enough to be here, that is).
Wednesday, March 12th @ Club Dada
Doors @ 8
$13 to $15 (purchase advanced tickets HERE)
If you’ve heard of King Camel Productions (run by Jeffrey Brown) lately, it’s probably because of the Local Education shows he been presenting, having put on six in a little over a month (and, of course, they typically take place on Hump Day).
However, with SXSW coming up, those are momentarily taking a backseat so he can focus on the touring bands coming through. For example: the SW ForeplayFest that’s coming up at the Double Wide on Tuesday.
The Nashville based Pujol will be the headliner of this epic bill, and with a new album (the bands second LP) due out in just a couple months, you can expect to hear a bunch of new songs from them. I can’t say I’ve seen Pujol before, though I have heard good things about their shows, and their music, which they classify as Southern Gothic Rock, has a good sound. It’s often sludgy, which could largely be attributed to the semi-coarse voice Daniel Pujol has, which, in turn gives the music a lot of character.
(Listen to “Black Rabbit” & “Mayday”)
(Photo credit: Alison Eden Copeland)
There are some slick punk sounds mixed in with the power pop (which at times sounds rather dreamy) style of music Nightmare Boyzzz make. The result is something that you can really get in to and surely several people will be thrashing about to the Hunstville, Alabama quintet this night.
(Listen to “Problem Child” and “Badvibes”)
(Photo credit: Alison Kaylor)
One of several bands adding some diversity to this show will be Cobalt Cranes, which is led by Kate Betuel and Tim Foley. I’ve never been a real fan of the shoegaze genre, and while Cobalt Cranes incorporates that style into their sound, they’re aren’t one-dimensional in the sense that, that is all they are. They bring a lot of rock to the table, too; and the Tim and Kate periodically layer their voices over one another, which makes for some lovely harmonies. Intoxicating, that’s the word I’d use to sum up this band.
(Listen to “Head in the Clouds” & “Indigo”)
Honest and raw songwriting is the trait that makes Communist Daughter, which is fronted by John Solomon, such a standout act. They have more of a folk/Americana sound to their music, but can be fairly intense when they want to be. There are some gorgeous male and female harmonies woven into some of their tracks too, sounding rather ethereal at times. I have to say, out of all the great talent on this bill, it has to be Communist Daughter I’m most interested to see.
(Listen to “Speed of Sound”)
The Great American Canyon Band from Baltimore, Maryland is yet another act on the bill, and they’re more somewhere in between the two previously mentioned acts. Paul and Krystal Masson lead a group that isn’t quite shoegaze, yet has the gauzy elements of the genre sprinkled about in every aspect of their sound, and while there’s some folk styles thrown in, it can’t truly be classified as that, either. Instead, those genres are married together in a way that creates something extremely original; and the often melancholy vibe so many of their songs possess allows their music to be pretty striking with the listener.
(Listen to “Lost at Sea” & “Young Lady”)
(Photo credit: (Sarah Sunderman)
There’s a very fuzzed out sound to Douglas & The Furs, much like you would expect from a California rock trio. It’s some pretty trippy and untamed Rock ‘n’ Roll they play, and they sound to be some very proficient musicians to boot. This won’t be their first show at the Double Wide either, so they’ll surely have some fans out supporting them, while they make more along the way.
(Listen to “You’re Itching Into My Mind”)
(Photo credit: Vishal Kumar Malhotra)
The lone North Texas (or even just Texas) band on the bill is Fort Worth’s The Longshots. They’ve been busy since releasing a new album just a few weeks back, and have toured through a few states since then, and this stop in their home area will be a short one, before they travel down to SXSW and then end the month with some shows out in Los Angeles. There’s a certain garage rock style to their fun, yet intense rock tracks, making it obvious as to why they’ve gotten so much buzz surrounding them lately.
(Listen to “The Chase”)
So, if you are going to make the trek down to Austin for SXSW, come get warmed up for it, and if you’re not, at least you’ll get to experience a portion of what you’ll be missing out on. I’d also be willing to bet that King Camels’ SW ForeplayFest will wind up becoming an annual thing, so not only will you be a part of history if you attend it, you’ll also be able to brag to your friends one day that you were at the first one, before it was a big deal.
Tuesday, March 11th @ Double Wide.
Doors @ 8
$10 (purchase advanced tickets HERE)
Lately, if I have made the trip across the D/FW metroplex to Fort Worth, the destination has been Billy Bob’s Texas.
It was more of the same this night, when the venue that is known for being the “world’s largest honky-tonk” was hosting one of the best bands in the state, The Dirty River Boys.
There was an opening band this night, and that was Crooks from Austin.
Admittedly, I didn’t keep up with their set as far as what songs they did, but I’ll hit the highlights of what I do remember.
They were playing the smaller Honky-tonk stage, and had already started by the time I got there.
They finished the song they were doing, at which point singer and acoustic guitarist Josh Mazour regaled the audience with a story about how it’s not a good idea to decide to pick up a stray cat and pet it. Evidently, that was something he had tried recently and learned the hard way why it’s not wise.
They had a truly authentic country sound, from the twang in his voice, to the upright bass Joey McGill played, and even had an accordion and trumpet thrown into the mix, which were played by Anthony Ortiz Jr. and Doug Day, respectively.
They did at least one cover during their time on stage (I don’t recall what famous country singer they covered, since country music is not my forte), but it was good. Their original stuff was even better, and you could tell the audience was liking by all the people that swarmed the dance floor and danced with their special someone’s.
Even the slower “Pull Up Your Boots” got some movement going, while a song that stood out to me was “My First Gun”. Granted, that was probably because of the story that accompanied it, which was Josh informing everyone that he wrote it about five years or so ago, when he was dreaming about killing his boss at the time. “…I never did anything to him or his woman, but I thought about it… A lot.” he said before they started the track.
Some of their final songs where just the core group of Josh, Joey, lead guitarist Ryan Goebel and drummer Rob Bacak, before Anthony and Doug rejoined them for their final few songs.
They were quite good. I can’t say I liked them to the point that I’d feel like I have to see them the next time they come through the North Texas area, though I am contemplating buying their record. So yeah, overall, I did enjoy Crooks.
They have plenty of shows coming up across Texas, including a return trip to Billy Bob’s on May 8th, plus a gig at Hat Tricks in Lewisville on March 28th. For their full tour schedule, go HERE. Also, you can find their LP on either iTUNES or BANDCAMP.
They were a good little warm-up act, but the real show was going to come when The Dirty River Boys took the main stage.
There was a thirty-minute break in between bands, which gave most of the people plenty of time to be shown to their seats at the sea of tables that cover the floor in front of the main stage.
By the time 10:30 rolled around and one of the staff members at Billy Bob’s came out to introduce the band, there were a surprising amount of people there. I saw surprising given the fact that The Dirty River Boys are still by all accounts a local band. They may do shows all over the country, but they’re widely known yet. However, the healthy fan base they do have is also a dedicated one, which was proved this night.
At 10:32 bassist Colton James, drummer Travis Stearns and the two singers and acoustic guitarists Marco Gutierrez and Nino Cooper stepped on stage.
“How we doing Billy Bob’s Texas?!” Marco asked, while Travis went ahead and gave the crowd some percussion by slapping his hands against the cajon he sat on.
Having seen them just barely a month before; I was expecting the same setlist, since most bands don’t switch things up that often. Then again, The Dirty River Boys aren’t most bands, and when Nino grabbed the mandolin, it became obvious that this wouldn’t be the exact same show I had seen last month, and that had me excited.
They wound up starting with “Boomtown”, and Nino jumped about at the start while he strummed the mandolin. The fans responded well to it, and it was an excellent opener, not only being one of their tracks that really gets people pumped up, but also one that shows how much talent resides in this band, as they handled some of the words in rounds, with Marco and Colton singing and harmonizing along with Nino. There was even a cool moment after the second chorus where Colton spun his upright bass around, while the feathers and raccoon pelt that hang from it twirled right along with it.
Once it was done, Marco led them right into the title track from their second EP, “Train Station”, which is another song with breathtaking harmonies. “…I fear I’m losing her again. My head’s on the horizon, my heart’s wherever the hell she sleeps!” Marco belted as the track sprang to life. It’s a song that blend beauty and heartache with some Rock ‘n’ Roll moments, and there was even a part where Colton played his bass with a bow, similar to how a violinist does.
Those were two of the older songs they did this night, and while more would come, their primary focus was on the material from their forthcoming album. They had worked in a few more new tracks than they were doing the last time I saw them, and Travis counted them in on the first new one of the night, which was sung by Colton.
“Billy Bob’s, what’s going on?!” Marco asked, seeming gleeful to even be there. The fans did their part at making some noise, while he went on to say they’d be playing a lot of new songs this night. “…This one’s an old one.” he finished, as they tackled the lead track from “Science of Flight”, “Dried Up”. Apart from doing lead vocals, Marco also played the harmonica when it was called for, but that wasn’t the only add-on this song got.
They’ve been known to throw in portions of cover songs into their music, and while I’ve heard them do one of Bob Dylan’s songs before, it hasn’t been on this specific song before. “…Everybody knows that baby’s got new clothes…” he sang during the lull that came before the final chorus, then moved along to the chorus of that Dylan hit “Just Like a Woman”. “She takes just like a woman. She makes love just like a woman. And she aches just like a woman.” Marco crooned, softening his voice as each sentence ended, before getting louder when he sang, “But she breaks just like a little girl.” The crowd was roaring at that point, as they got back to their original and finished it up, before moving directly into their next number.
“This song’s about a union painter that Nino met several years ago.” Marco informed everyone, while Travis played some soft, though sad notes on his harmonica. “…I’m surrounded by others, but I’m always alone. When the paint and time comes, I jump back on the train. Spend all my green dollars just to poison my veins…” Nino sang rather somberly on “Union Painter”, which sounded like it was even a little more low-key than the album version. That’s to say it just sounded like it was more acoustic. Nino also made a little change to one of the lines, catering to where they were this night as he sang, “…I’m still searching for freedom beneath Fort Worth skies…”
Afterwards, it was time for them to bust out another new one. They might be an Americana band, with dashes of country, but above all, The Dirty River Boys are a rock band. This song was a fine example of that, and it packed a punch; while also being one of the songs that Colton used an electric bass on. Speaking of that, his playing on it was pretty slick, particularly on the chorus, as he quickly moved his hand up and down the fretboard.
“…This is what we call a Chinese fire drill.” Marco stated before leaving his post and sitting on the cajon. Travis took up the mandolin, while Colton grabbed a banjo, as Nino began to play some soaring notes. “…The louder you get, the crazier this bad boy gets!” shouted Travis as they had some fun before their next song. Marco just added a bit of drums to the start, before taking over on the upright bass for the short sing-along that is “Lookin’ for the Heart”. “But I’m just growing old with a whole deep in my soul. Won’t you give me back that heart you took from me?” sang Nino on the track that is far more upbeat than you would guess just based on the subject matter.
They reverted to their normal positions when it was done; and Marco started setting up their next song, saying on their last album they had covered a Townes Van Zandt song. “…We don’t do it too much these days…” he said, noting they had decided to this night, though. The song they covered is “Lungs”, and it’s a favorite of mine from “The Science of Flight”. They give it a real dark, ominous quality, which in turn puts a good spin on it; and while they might not play it much anymore, I’m glad they did this night.
Another new one was due now; but first Marco mentioned how lucky they were to come across Colton James and add that fine talent to the band. He [Colton] again assumed the role of lead vocalist on this one (which was one I don’t think I had heard before), though it sounded pretty good. “Take it away, Nino!” he said at one point later on in the track, as Nino ripped into a guitar solo. I have to say, acoustic guitars were not meant to sound like that. At least I’ve never heard another band make them sound the way Nino and Marco do. The guitar solo he did was amazing, and it was more electric sounding than most electric guitars are.
The audience went to clap, but had no time to, because as the final notes rang out, Nino started singing “My Son”. “I don’t know where you’re going my son. Taught you to walk, but you learned how to run.” he sang before all of his band mates joined in, again forming some incredible harmonies. “How you gonna find your way back home? The roads you knew they’re paved and gone.” Sang Nino on the first chorus, changing it slightly before sticking with the chorus from the album version the second time around, “How you gonna find your way back home? The maps you drew they’re burned and gone.”
“…The only way that you can be found is through your footsteps in the cold, dead ground.” the four guys sang, before Nino went into another brief guitar solo, which only made the song even better.
They gave a quick shout-out to their friends in Crooks for getting the party started, before firing up an instrumental piece. It was soulful and bluesy sounding, and I highly enjoyed it. I assumed it was the intro for another one of their new tracks; and they amped it up, sounding like they were about to break into whatever it was, before pulling back on it. Then the chords for “Draw” came into being; and since that was a song that was absent from their last show I caught, I was ecstatic.
It was a bit of an alternate version, and was more toned down than what their fans have to come to know from the album. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t still a great song, though. “If you’re alive, make some noise!” roared Travis during one of the breaks, as he made sure everyone was still feeling very much a part of the show/experience.
They were still far from being done, and while Colton again swapped over to his electric bass, Nino mentioned that the next song they would be doing was one that The Ranch (95.9FM) in Fort Worth had been playing, and thanked them for it.
There’s a reason why “Desert Wind” is their newest single, and one they’ve already released for public consumption (i.e. on iTUNES), and it’s made known every time they play it. “Lately, I’ve been thinking, and I just can’t seem to get you off my mind… Lovely lady, where you are. I hear your voice and I feel your scars…” he sang on the sweet and powerful track. The drumbeats are mixed in perfectly, giving the song as much kick as possible; and he got so into his drumming on this one that – for the second time this night – he knocked his hat off.
“If you know it, sing it.” Marco told the fans as he moved things right along to their next number.
“Carnival Lights” got one of loudest reactions from the fans, as well it should. It was another song they put an alternate spin on, doing a slow version of it. Actually it was pretty much just Marco until after the first chorus. “…With her poison inside medicine bottle, filled with nothing but her own shortcomings. She leans her head back; she puts ‘em down and they taste alright…” he softly sang, before Travis interrupted the pause. “Y’all still with us?!” he asked. Of course, everyone was. Marco then continued, “Please, just try to stay conscious tonight.”
Now the full band came in, just in time for the even more emotional second verse of this spectacular tune. “Billy Bob’s, this is your time to shine.” Marco told everyone before the final chorus, making the song into a genuine sing-along. It was cool moment to say the least, but they weren’t done yet.
That Dylan cover has been tacked onto this song in the past, but with it having already been done, I was wondering what, if anything, they might add to “Carnival Lights”. They did have something planned, and Colton took his cowboy hat off and hung it on the scroll of his bass for it.
“…Now I’m so happy, no sorrow in sight. Praise the Lord, I saw the light.” Marco added, which was just one of several lines they did from Han Williams’ “I Saw the Light”.
They went right into another new song; again one that was sung by Colton, before Marco took over on the next one. In between those, they chatted with their fans, though.
“Are y’all having a good time so far?” Marco asked, before saying he couldn’t stress enough what an “honor” it was to be on this stage (this was their first ever headlining show at Billy Bob’s). Then, upon finishing that song he did, he shifted the focus to their new album, which they recorded during this past December and January. “…We can’t wait to get this new music out to you all…” he said.
They only had a couple of old songs left this night, and rather surprisingly, the balled-esque “Riverbed Wildflowers” got one of the loudest reactions from fans. I mean, it should because it’s a fantastic song, even if it deals with the heartache of having feelings for someone who doesn’t feel the same. “…Well, these riverbed wildflowers are dying now; and I’m through waiting around on you…” Nino sang towards the end, before they added a little extra something to the song, repeating part of the chorus an extra time or two at the end, adding some truly lovely harmonies to it.
“This song’s about life on the road.” Marco stated, after he had again thanked everyone for making it out to the show, during which time Colton switched back to his electric bass. This song is easily the best one from their new batch of music, and even just in general. It does depict the life of touring musicians (“…Well, we work all night just to drive all day…”) and it’s more rock sounding than most of the true rock music that you hear.
They made something special with that song, and the same can be said about their next one, which Nino dedicated to the man they co-wrote it with, Ray Wylie Hubbard. “…It’s about the violence south of border.” he said, as they began to sing about how their hometown of El Paso, as well as those towns over in Mexico, have changed.
“You cross that dirty river and you never come back.” Marco sang at the end, then Colton and finally Travis, before Nino took back the reins. His band mates harmonized with him on the last line, “If you cross that dirty river then you’ll never come back.”
After one of their earlier songs (“Draw”), Marco mentioned it was just one of a few songs they had about whiskey. Well, now they got to another, which was yet another new track. “…There’s nothing like a whiskey drunk on a Friday…” he sang on the cheery tune, which will surely become a sing-along once they get their new album released.
The end was in sight now, and while Nino went over to stage left and grabbed the mandolin, Travis spoke to the crowd.
“After four and a half to five years of being a band, our van finally hit two hundred and fifty-thousand miles!” he exclaimed (a moment that was documented with the footage being posted on the bands Facebook page).
He then asked how many people had seen them before. Most everyone in attendance had, though there were still plenty of first timers. “Y’all know how we like to do it!” yelled Travis, speaking to those who were familiar with them. “…So, are y’all ready to raise some hell?!” he bellowed.
Moments after that, he got everyone to stand up. I have to say, the seats were detrimental to the energy out in the crowd. Not that everyone wasn’t enjoying the show, but you just can’t really get into the music (or at least I can’t) when you’re sitting.
With that said: once everyone rose out of their seats and began clapping, singing and stomping their feet along to “Raise Some Hell”, the mood changed immensely. In that moment every fan was one, as they were completely immersed in the song and were having the time of their lives.
That was how their 88-minute long set ended, but the celebration wasn’t done yet.
They never left the stage. Instead, Travis mentioned that they’ll celebrate fans birthdays every time they can, but there are only, at most, four chances a year that they can do shows and celebrate the birthday of one of their own. Tonight was one of those nights.
Nino Cooper was genuinely surprised when a birthday cake was brought out and handed to him, and everyone in Billy Bob’s helped in singing “Happy Birthday” to him.
“Are y’all ready to rock out another one or what?!” Travis asked after a few minutes went by.
“Crooks, we need ya.” Marco said, calling on their friends, who soon joined them on stage. Then Nino appeared, having traded his cake in for an electric guitar.
It was very appropriate for their final song, which was a cover of The Rolling Stones “Honky Tonk Woman”. I stand by what I said about their rendition of the song the last time I saw them; they do it better than The Stones; at least in comparison to the recorded version.
Think what you will of that statement, but it’s the truth, and once the song came to an end, Travis stood up from the cajon, tossed one of his drumsticks in the air, caught it and then struck right through the skin of one of his drums. Because if you’re going to end a show, you might as well end it in style, right?
This may have been their first ever headlining show at Billy Bob’s, but I don’t think it will be their last.
Okay, the place wasn’t sold out like some of the other acts that come through are capable of doing; but there were a lot of people out, and they were loving every second of the show.
Then again, how could you not? There are so many layers to The Dirty River Boys, from the harmonies, to the emotion-filled lyrics, to the awesome rock numbers, of which there are plenty.
I absolutely love this band. I may be a new fan, but they won me over from the start, and each time I see one of their shows (this was the fourth one I’ve caught), that love I feel grows.
They are, without question, one of the best bands that resides in Texas, and it’s not going to be long before the world takes notice.
They have plenty of tour dates scheduled up through July, and they can all be found HERE. That includes show in Texas, Oklahoma and even Louisiana. As far as North Texas shows go, they’ll be up in Denton on March 27th at Dan’s Silver Leaf. They’ll be at the Iron Horse Pub in Wichita Falls on March 29th, and then April 25th will find them at the Granada Theater in Dallas. They’ll also be back in Fort Worth on July 24th.
Go see ‘em if you can, and if you can’t, check out their music in iTUNES.
It was a great night of music here in Fort Worth; and while the drive there and back were both long, The Dirty River Boys were more than worth it.
The Austin, Texas based The Clouds Are Ghosts may have started as just a little side gig, but it didn’t take long for the two founding members to realize they were on to something as they began writing and recording some of their song ideas.
Joseph Salazar ended up leaving the band, but Jason Morris stuck with it, bringing five other musicians into the fold; officially giving birth to The Clouds Are Ghosts.
Their debut album came in late 2009, with an EP following a couple of years later, and now, the band has released their anxiously awaited third album, “Fractures”.
Not only is it their newest record, but it’s also their most professional and solid collection of songs to date; and it begins with the atmospheric rocker, “Fifty Four”. The piano and drums at the start create a mix of beauty and force that is astounding, blending the best of both worlds. Jason Morris’s remarkable voice than reaches out of the speakers and grabs you; growing more urgent as the pace of the music increases, ensnaring you and making sure you’re in this listening experience for the long haul.
The best quality “Defense” has is its ebb and flow. You can feel the song building to something, yet it tapers off each time you think it’s about to make its move. That highlights the more subtle elements of the track, like the smooth guitar lines, which complement one another, before it jumps into action during the final minute. It’s edgy in a way, and it’s a track not to be overlooked (or unappreciated.)
After reeling you in with those first two songs, the members of The Clouds Are Ghosts are ready to show off their softer side, and do so with “Leaman”. In comparison to those first tracks, it mines a little more of the ambient genre that the band classifies itself as. More though, it’s a serene track that’s designed to make you think. “…Now we fight, we kill, we don’t seem to know how to rise above. We think we do, so we blind the eyes of the young…” Jason croons, demonstrating a whole other side and range of his voice, often hitting some gorgeous falsetto notes.
After that little detour, the band brings things back up with eerie and dark sounding “Marionettes”. It doesn’t even take twenty seconds for them to make and establish the mood; while the semi-hushed vocals fit well with it. At least until it roars to life. That’s when it truly grabs your attention: when the guitars soar into action, and a solo is worked in nicely and at just the right moment to add some extra emphasis.
Things get al little more tender and heartfelt with “Angelface”, which, at almost six minutes, is the longest track from the album, before they get into one of the most attention getting songs.
“…There is no time for hesitation, for everyday we’re growing old.” goes a line from “Blue”, which is a song that focuses on how short life really is, and the need to live and experience it to the fullest. It’s a song that washes over you and resonates in your soul, particularly the line, “They say the road before you is long. They say that life is too short. So run…”
The dreamy, pop landscapes are back in “Singularity”, which is a rather soothing track, at least until its abrupt, vicious swell, when it transitions into one of the most intense offerings from “Fractures”, before waning as it leads into “Lavender House”. Just because the bass isn’t as noticeable or the drums aren’t as heavy doesn’t mean that latter one isn’t an impactful song, though.
Perhaps the most intricate track on the album is “Running Dream”. The guitars, bass, drums and yes, even the piano, all get their moment to shine and work in fine harmony with one another. It’s all carefully woven and acts as a nice setup for the tenth and final track on the album, “Decimeters”.
Of course, there can always be different meanings to the songs than the one each listener may interpret, but it strikes me as being a track about the impending end of a relationship. It’s not gloomy or done as a desperate plea, though. It’s actually a beautiful song filled with acceptance and a “light at the end of the tunnel” perspective.
To sum up “Fractures” in just one word: perfection.
The production quality on this thing is superb and deserves a major commendation in its own right. I mean, this thing is on par with what many of the most famous and wealthiest musicians crank out in terms of how polished and well mixed it is.
Aside from that, “Fractures” just has a very fluid feel to it; while the songs all mesh with one another, in the sense like this is more of a concept album rather than an assorted collection of songs they wrote.
While the six-piece outfit may identify as a mix of ambient, electronic and pop styles of music, they are really so much more than that. It’s all in the way they fuse those different genres together, taking the best parts of each one and creating something that is entirely their own.
When you hear pop, you probably think of the generic and increasingly mind numbing stuff you hear on the radio, but that’s not the part that The Clouds Are Ghosts brings in. It still manages to be catchy, yet creative. It’s more or less the same for the other genres, too. There is a definite electronic vibe, but there music isn’t drenched in the sound, and they balance the ambient side of things in there just right.
With all the bands that are out there, I can’t say I’m shocked that I’ve never heard of The Clouds Are Ghosts before, though I am surprised they managed to avoid my radar for so long.
In listening to this album, it’s readily apparent that they are one of the shining stars in the Austin music scene, and “Fractures” should be the album that starts really taking them places.
The Clouds Are Ghosts are:
Erin Fillingame - piano
Jason Morris - vocals
Steven Paul – guitar and synths
Michael Parker - guitar
Earl Bowers - drums
Jon Klekman- bass
Download the album for free on: BANDCAMP / Purchase in iTUNES
Visit The Clouds Are Ghosts websites: Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Youtube
Current Shows: The band will be performing at SXSW this year. Dates include 3/11 @ Guero’s 5PM / 3/11 @ Soho Lounge 8PM / 3/13 Symphony Square 5PM. Visit their TOUR PAGE for full details.
Photo credit: Ashley Treat
The only Local Education show of King Camel’s that I caught was the first one, which was just a little over a month ago.
The concert series has been successful, though. Well, that or the guy just cares so much about trying to expose people to good local music he’s going to keep putting the shows on regardless. I guess it’s probably some of both (more so the latter one).
Anyway, the fourth installment of the series was happening this night, taking place at Three Links. It was quite the lineup that had been put together too, and in its own right, it was every bit as solid as the first Local Education was.
A fairly new band from Dallas by the name of International Bitterness Unit got the show going this night; starting their 33-minute long set at 9:06.
They were a rock band through and through, and began with a gritty number that embodied the Rock ‘n’ Roll spirit. “…I don’t give a fuck, obviously.” sang singer and guitarist Britt Tucker on that first song, which was my personal favorite of theirs this night.
They brought the noise level down just a little on their next song. For the most part it was slower, but still had some hard hitting moments, while some the guitar riffs Britt and fellow guitarist Chris Ehrmann played made it pretty catchy. Afterwards, Britt started them into their next track with some sweet guitar licks; and they again showed off a different style with it. There was a little more kick to this one. That’s to say it was pretty intense, and Britt did some screaming on it. I liked it, though, and in just three songs the band had quickly displayed how versatile they were.
“That goes out to anybody who sits in a fucking cubicle.” Britt said when that song was done, then remarked, “It’s not fun.” He went on to inform everyone of who they were, before going into a cover song.
I missed who he said at done it, but he took a backseat on it as bassist Andrew Magilow stepped up to the center mic he had periodically been doing. He was the one who wound up singing lead on it; proving he was more than just a a bass player, ‘cause he had a solid voice.
That wouldn’t be the only song Andrew would sing this night, though it was the only one for now, as they knocked out a couple more songs. One was a semi-heavy number, while the other highlighted the awesome drumming chops of Brandon Byrd. There short bursts on that where he was able to let loose, often crisscrossing his arms as he violently banged around on his kit.Great skill set, for sure.
Again, Britt mentioned that they were “IBU”, then noted that they were “hateful motherfuckers”. Andrew blamed it on the beer for making them that way, but Britt added, “…You don’t live this long unscathed.” With that said, I guess I should point out that he is a seasoned veteran when it comes to music.
A song by the name of “Blood for Lube” was played next, and following it was a cool instrumental song. “This is something you could smoke some weed to.” Britt said, while Andrew joked that it was “about math”. It was an excellent jam they did, and you could tell that all four of them were completely in their element while performing it. Closer towards the end of it, Andrews’ bass strap did come undone, though he didn’t let it bother him. In fact, it made is playing look even ore badass as he held the bass up by its neck.
“…It’s a good stoner jam; or drinking.” Britt stated when they were done. They moved on to another song that had Andrew doing the lead singing; before Britt once again told everyone who they were, keeping it shortened to “IBU”. They then ended with a song that was similar to how they had started, as well as how much of their other stuff had been. It was a rock song, pure and simple. One of the lines in it was also something like “…It gives you an itch…”, and as he sang that, Britt took one hand and lightly scratched his crotch, before placing it back on his guitar.
They were one of two bands on this bill that I hadn’t seen live before, not to mention I had never even heard of International Bitterness Unit until this night. That said, I don’t think this show could have gotten off to a better start than what they gave it.
Considering they don’t have much experience under their belt as this outfit, they were surprising tight on stage and had some good chemistry.
As for their music, as I said, it’s Rock ‘n’ Roll to the core. It’s easy to listen and get into and may even have you banging your head along to it. So basically, it’s all-around good stuff.
If that sounds like something you’re into, go see one of their shows sometime. They’ll be at the Crown and Harp in Dallas on March 8th.
Up next was the Fort Worth block of bands.
The Royal Savages were one of the acts. I had heard of them fairly recently (I think on Facebook), and was looking forward to seeing what they were like live.
The one common factor between both them and the other band from Cowtown was that each had a male and female vocalist in the band. In the case of The Royal Savages that was frontman/guitarist Addison White and vocalist Lauren Moore.
“What’s up Three Links?” she asked, going to say that they were “Gonna play some songs…” for everybody.
For most of their songs, she and Addison sang in unison, which I don’t imagine is the easiest thing to do, but they kept up with one another perfectly this night.
Their first song was a sweet rocker with some nice and soft pop elements thrown in, resulting in a sound that had you (or at least me) swaying back and forth to it. It swelled to a great rock song at the end, and lead guitarist Josiah Hunter got really into it, shredding something fierce on his axe once the track exploded into action.
“We’ve got some more coming up.” Lauren told everyone, announcing their next song as “Racing Tears”. In listening to the two EP’s they have to download; that’s become my favorite song of theirs, and it was even better live, being just the right mix of the indie, pop and rock genres.
“Thanks for coming out and supporting some local music…” Addison said to everyone before they launched into their next tune. It was a real fun sounding number, and towards the end had a moment where it bordered on being a rap song, as Addison spit out the words quite rapidly.
“That made me sweaty.” Lauren remarked when the song was over, right before they moved right along to what I thought was their best track of the night. I can’t say exactly what made me enjoy it so much, aside from the fact that it just sounded incredible.
A much deserved shout-out to International Bitterness Unit came during the next break, after which the quintet knocked out another catchy, pop-infused tune. “This next song’s called Bobblehead.” Lauren stated, as they continued moving right along with their lengthy 42-minute set.
The one that followed was another standout from their set. The notes Josiah played gave the song a nice texture, and then there was a brilliant moment towards the end when Addison and Lauren were singing almost a cappella, with the exception of the very light plucking of the guitars. It sounded like that would be the end of, but then they built it back up; drummer Ben Coker and the rest hitting it strong, as the song came a powerful close.
Bassist James Hughes got them going on the next one, segueing them into it from the previous one, and had a wicked little bass solo before his band mates joined in.
It was after it that Lauren pointed out that they were “retarded” and had forgot to bring their CD’s and other merch to sell. She did note their music could be gotten on Bandcamp, though. She then mentioned that their next song was one they had just recorded.
It was a truly gorgeous song with the most delightful harmonies at the start of it, before escalating to a hefty rock number, which eventually just faded out. Nice structure all the way around and that led them to their final of the night, which I assume was another semi-new one.
They were fantastic. In fact, the impartial critic side of me would say they were perhaps the best band of the night.
Having two singers that did full-time singing was a lot, but it never seemed like an overload, and in the end, it certainly worked to the bands advantage.
You just don’t hear that, which makes it easy for The Royal Savages to be set apart from the pack. Then you have the often-infectious music beds their songs possess, which only makes them more of a powerhouse group.
I’m glad I finally got to see them, and out of all the good things the Fort Worth music scene has going for it at the moment, I’d have to say The Royal Savages are probably one of the best.
They have a couple of EP’s you can snag for free over at BANDCAMP, so check that out. Also, keep tabs on their FACEBOOK PAGE for info about future shows.
Continuing the Fort Worth sound was one of the bands on this bill whom I had seen before, Animal Spirit. It had been awhile, though. In fact, I hadn’t seen them since they released their debut album last summer.
Music from their self-titled release was still in full-swing this night, and they began their 43-minute long set with the lead track, “Wolves”.
It set a very haunting mood for their show, even though it was limited to just that song. “..The house began to flood.
It’s not a bad thing because it washed away his blood. So, I grabbed a can of gas and poured it on his ass…” sang singer and guitarist Andrew Stroheker, as Sam Wuehermann added her voice to the mix, backing him up softly.
At the tail end, it makes the jump into a full-blown rock song, and Andrew, bassist Joe Prankster and drummer Parker Anderson brought them right into the subsequent track from the album, “Hey, Girl”. That duet proved to be a heavy-hitter; being absolutely irresistible to those who were paying attention to the band, and was just killer from start to finish.
“Thanks Three Links. We like you.” Sam said, as they continued working through their album in order, now doing the somewhat thought provoking “Telescopes”, which deals with death and ass, “…what death with will bring?” As it ended, Andrew started to bridge them into their next song, before his band mates joined with him; creating a fairly long instrumental piece to take them into “House On A Hill”.
They were done playing the songs in order now; and at almost six and a half minutes on the album, that track’s the longest. It’s also their best (well, at least in my opinion). It’s easy to get wrapped up in it, especially the instrumental portion in the latter half, where Joe and Parker really let loose. Then you have the sudden change at the end, as it transitions from a rock number to sultry tune, as Sam sings, “The sun is hot; that’s nothing new. I’d Rather Spend My Nights with you…”.
That interesting end made for a good setup for their next one, “Sam’s Song”; which one could say is experimental. Joe played a tambourine on it, while Andrew traded his guitar in for a bass drum, which he hung around his neck via a strap. Sam then picked up the empty wine bottle that had been sitting at the front of the stage, removing the drum stick from it, which she used to strike the bottle.
It’s fascinating to say the least, and out of the times that I have seen them, it’s always been a favorite of mine, simply because it is so original; and tonight, it sounded the best I’ve ever heard it.
They got back to their standard instruments after that, while talking about a new batch of songs that they had just gone and tracked demos of the past weekend. “…I really like ‘em, and I’m the last one to like anything.” Joe told the crowd. “That’s true…” responded Sam, as they briefly discussed how he can be somewhat of a critic, I guess you could say. “I’m just picky.” Joe said in closing, coming across more like he’s just his own worst critic and wants to ensure everything is as good as it can possible be.
They played one of those new songs now, and it was a great one. It was pretty fast paced, and also rather long, though never to the point that it seemed tedious. It was yet another song they cut loose on, especially Joe, who could be seen slapping his bass at the end.
“I hope you’re having as much fun as I am.” Sam remarked when the song came to an end. She also dedicated this final song to one of their fans who was out. “…She requested this, like, literally two seconds ago.” said Sam, in advance of “Move To The Air”, which found her and Andrew doing a good bit of co-singing.
Maybe part of it was because I was finally a little familiar with their music; but this was definitely the best Animal Spirit show I’ve seen (in fairness it was probably only the fourth or fifth show).
Like I said, that might have been part of it, but they’ve also tightened up a lot on stage since I last saw them. The result is a stellar band that successfully brings the rock while keeping a nice ratio of being polished, yet raw.
You can download their album for free (if you desire) over on BANDCAMP, so take advantage of that. Also, check them out on FACEBOOK to stay up-to-date with their future shows.
This little Fort Worth block of the show was highly enjoyable. It was also interesting in the sense that while there aren’t that many miles separating Dallas and Forth Worth, the difference in style of (some) of the bands is drastic. I mean that is a good thing, because it shows that the D/FW (and Denton) area is filled with diversity.
Sure, there are plenty of your standard rock and even metal bands that call Fort Worth home, too; but you just don’t hear bands like Animal Spirit and The Royal Savages coming out of Dallas too often. It just goes to show that while the area is a collective, each city still has its own identity.
That said, the final band of the night was from Dallas; and I was looking forward to the good ol’ rock sounds Dead Mockingbirds would be cranking out.
They had a beefy looking setlist planned for the night, beginning with a song called “Smile” (I’ll go ahead and admit that I stole a setlist after the show, hence why I know most of these titles.)
“…We’re just drunk enough.” stated singer and guitarist Kenneth Pritchard, who then added, “We hope you are all drinking heavily…” He then faced the drum kit of Matthew Crain, jumping up and down, while bassist Trinidad Diaz filled the room with some excellent bass riffs, as he got “Systematic” underway. At the end of it, he and Kenneth stood next to each other, facing one another while shredding on their bass and guitar. It was after it came to an end that Kenneth went off into an interesting little tangent.
“Do you have a boat? Can we live on your boat?” he asked. It was impossible not to laugh at it, while also wondering, “Where did that come from?” He wasn’t done, though. “Kenneth, this is the voice of god, Kenneth. Shut the fuck up and play another song.” he then said.
He listened to the voice, but after quickly playing a note or two, he stopped. “Kenneth, this is the voice of god. Learn to tune your guitar.” He again heeded the advice, hastily tuning his guitar. The beginning of “White” sounded much better now that it was in tune, and it was one of, if not the best song they did this night (or maybe I just feel that way because I like the song so much.) “I see it in your eyes, you’re something special. Others, they see it too, they treat you like a star.” he sang on the second verse of that blistering rock song.
“We wrote that out in the parking lot.” he remarked upon finishing the song. He seemed dead serious, too, and even pointed across the street to the parking lot. That was the first song off their 7-inch record they released last year, and it only made sense to follow it with the other track, “Omega”. In some ways, it’s even better than that previous one. It’s just an impeccable rock song and you get to see just what a tight band they are while they perform it. It’s even complete with a marvelous guitar solo. Then again, that last part can be said of more than a few of their songs.
During the break that followed, Kenneth took a moment to thank Jeff Brown (AKA King Camel) for putting the show together, as well as Animal Spirit, The Royal Savages and International Bitterness Unit for opening up. He said all that at a lightning fast pace, and afterwards exclaimed, “I got through it!”, before adding, “Let’s all get fucking drunk.”
With that, the trio tore into another song, this one being “She Helps Me”. Like the last song, it too had a guitar solo, and for this one Kenneth dropped to his knees and proceeded to rock out. “We wrote that after losing all our money at a shitty casino in Santa Fe.” He said to everyone after the song was over. “We take donations.” he then said, though no one seemed that eager to fork over their cash that easily.
“Pele” came next, and as Trinidad and Kenneth tuned their instruments afterwards, Matt filled the silence with some percussion. He laid into the snare drum, as well as some cymbals, doing not only a drum solo, but also creating a lead in to “Alone”.
“Can y’all work for us tomorrow? Can one of y’all get my shift?” Kenneth asked after “Alone was finished. “Sure. Where do you work?” one patron asked, going along with it. “I don’t know.” Kenneth replied, as he turned his attention to the next song. It again fell to Matt to start it, and he gradually built up the noise level, before they ripped into the tune.
They deviated from the setlist slightly at this point, doing whatever song that was but axing one of the others. Instead, they cranked out the up-tempo version of “Munich”, which opened with Kenneth swinging his arm in a circular motion and swiping at the strings of his guitar.
With a drum roll (on the snare), they exploded into their final song of the night, “Flight Plan”. Matt was killing it there at the end; his drumming resolute, and he was completely absorbed in it.
That would have been a fine way to end the show, and Kenneth seemed ready for it to be over, as he walked over to his amp and laid his guitar down. Trinidad had other plans, though, and they included the one encore they had potentially planned.
He kept on from that last song, laying down the bass lines for the next one, as Kenneth walked back towards the mic with his guitar in hand. “Fuck you.” he said rather solemnly while looking at Trinidad, who could have cared less. So, they went on with the encore, quickly knocking out “So You Want to Be” and bringing their 35-minute set to an end.
Timewise, it may have been somewhat short, but they put on a jam-packed performance, and they filled those 35-minutes with more rock than some bands do in twice that amount of time.
Aside from that, they just put on a fun and enjoyable show, while still having songs that you can really get into and bang your head about to.
Hell, they were even better this night than they had been two short weeks ago when I last saw them; and this night made e want to start catching them a lot more frequently, or at least try to.
They have a few shows coming up this month, including March 8th at The Crown and Harp in Dallas. After that they have a gig at SXSW in Austin on March 15th at Quantum Lounge, and then they’ll be playing another King Camel show on March 17th at The Doublewide. March 29th will find them at The Grotto in Fort Worth. They also have another Crown and Harp show set for April 10th, which will serve as their tour kickoff.
In regards to their music, you can get four free downloads over on their REVERBNATION, and if you want to hear “Omega”, go buy it in iTUNES.
Okay, I’ve only seen two out of the now six Local Education shows that King Camel has put on, but out of those two, I’d have to say this one was the best. The talent was solid from start to finish (not that it wasn’t on the first one), and I liked being introduced to a couple of acts that were new to me, as well as seeing some ones I knew I liked.
So, kudos to King Camel for doing his part (and then some) at trying to make people aware of the great music scene North Texas has going on and trying to get people out to shows. If you’d be interested in any future events he has planned, go HERE.
You may not have heard of the San Antonio based rock outfit Nothing More, but there’s really no valid excuse for having not.
The band has been around for about a decade now, and has gone through a few different incarnations before finally arriving at their current – and strongest – one.
After the departure of their current singer at that time (say late ’07 to ‘08), the band was left at an impasse. They were starting to gain some pretty good momentum around Texas and now had to search for a new vocalist.
They wound up not having to search far though, as Jonny Hawkins decided to try his hand at singing. The result was something they all approved of, so he made the transition from their drummer to frontman.
Those like myself, who were skeptical about this, weren’t for long; and 2009 saw the release of their first record with that lineup, “The Few Not Fleeting”.
Turns out, Jonny had been hiding a monstrous voice for all those years, but it wasn’t just that. They had also stepped up their songwriting, making raw and emotional rock songs, like “Gone”, which chronicled the fight Jonnys’ mother was having with cancer at the time, while he was at times out on the road touring with his band mates.
It would be four long years before they would release another album, but just because they weren’t releasing any new material didn’t mean things weren’t going to happen for them.
They toured various parts of the country many times over, and just in the past year played a leg of Adrenaline Mob’s tour. I saw the Dallas stop of that one, and I can say honestly in just thirty minutes Nothing More upstaged those famous musicians (which included Mike Portnoy, Mike Orlando and more).
They also played the inaugural Aftershock Festival in Sacramento, CA last fall, where they were so well received they were invited back the next day to play the main stage.
While on the subject of their touring accomplishments, they are also gearing up for a run with Chevelle, and will be a part of pretty much all of the bands currently listed shows, and they’ll also be one of the bands playing Rocklahoma in May. All of that’s just barely scratching the surface.
Armed with a new collection of songs from their self-titled album, songs that span a variety of social and political issues, from religion (“Christ Copyright”) to infidelity (that song, “Sex & Lies”, boasts what may be one of the most clever lines ever, “I want to hear it from the whore, horse’s mouth.”). They even discuss consumerism and society’s obsession with, well, just about everything (“Mr. MTV”) and even tackle drug addiction and the struggle of helplessly watching a friend battle their demons (“Jenny”). There’s even a track that continues the story “Gone” started, as Jonny sings about his mother’s final days in “God Went North”. (They actually do have some fun songs, too, like “Fat Kid”.)
Maybe you won’t agree with some of the content in a few of those songs, but it’s things that need to be said, and Nothing More is bringing a substance back to music that has been severally lacking in recent years.
They’re not just great songwriters, though. They put on the best live show of any band that’s ever walked this earth and they have an overwhelming stage presence. Seriously, they are unparallelled when compared to just about everyone, and personally, I’ve only seen one other band who elicits such excitement from me at a live show.
They get everyone moving and singing along during their heavy rock anthems, and make sure the crowd is as involved with the show as they can be, so it becomes a real experience for everyone.
“Nothing More doesn’t take the stage, they storm it.” That’s a line from their current bio, and it’s worth quoting. Oh, they also do a sweet little bass solo that is pretty atypical and unlike any bass solo you’ve ever witnessed before. Actually, it’s one of the highlights of their show.
So, come out to Trees for NoMo’s first Dallas show since their CD release gig here last June, and witness a great local rock lineup. All of the opening bands will rock your socks off, and then it will culminate with a band who is right on the cusp of stardom; and if it doesn’t work out for them, then there’s not a chance of any independent band ever striking it big.
Friday, March 7th at Trees
Doors @ 7 / In Memory of Man @ 9 / Werewolf Therewolf @ 10 / The Raven Charter @ 11 / Nothing More @ 12AM
21+ $10 / 21- $15?
Three Links was my second destination for the night, where a truly killer bill had been assembled.
I hated that I had missed my friends in Vinyl (who are spectacular), and Mothership was just starting their final song when I arrived (it had been awhile time since I had seen them, but they sounded better than ever). A band called Crypt Trip also got the night started, but all three of them were nothing more than appetizers.
Not that the place wasn’t already packed for Mothership (and assumingly the other bands); but the most exciting thing about this show was that The Virgin Wolves were coming out of their hibernation. They hadn’t played a show since last summer; and they had been greatly missed.
Of course, it took a bit for them to get set up, though the sound check was swift. “It’s been eight months since we’ve been on stage!” declared rhythm guitarist Carson Coldiron. The guitar and bass chords swelled as he spoke, pumping up the crowd, leaving everyone wondering what their opening number would be.
I’m not gonna lie, I was hoping for “Slick Shoes”, and for a few moments it seemed like that classic from the “Bad Blood” EP might be what they burst into, but it was not.
Instead, they broke into “Black Sheep”, which was equally as good. It may have been eight months since they shared a stage together, but it didn’t even take a second to reignite their energy and chemistry on stage, as Carson, lead guitarist Chase Ryan and bassist Kristin Leigh began throwing down. “I bet you look good, I bet you look good, I bet you look good in the morning light…” sang Jaimeson Toon; Chase backing her up on most of the verses, giving the song a nice one-two punch.
I’ll go ahead and say this: if they had accumulated any dust over those eight months, they made sure they shook it all off during their rehearsals.
Drummer Steve Phillips quickly led them into another gritty rock number, “Crawl”, as they started making their way down the tracklist of their “Pretty Evil Thing” LP. “…Gave you just one hour to show me how bad you can be. I gave myself three cigarettes and whistled just like a bird.” Jaimeson sang in a more sultry voice on the second verse; grabbing her hair and pulling it down over her face as she did so.
As usually, they had little transition pieces worked up between most of their songs this night, stretching it out here as Carson took a moment to thank all the bands who had opened for them. He also pointed out that this Jaimesons’ place of employment. Chase then semi-slowly plucked the strings of his guitar, bringing them to my personal favorite track, “End Of The Line”. It’s arguably their catchiest song, and shows off a little different side of The Virgin Wolves, while still retaining that raw rock vibe that makes them standout. There were some issues with the microphone towards the end, which led to Jaimeson and Chase sharing his mic, while Kristin used hers as they all sang, “I can’t sleep, I can’t breathe, I can’t find the door…”.
Steve kept on delivering the beats until they were ready for one of their slightly blues infused numbers, “What You Want To Hear”. Some banter with the crowd took place afterwards, while Chase also took time to thank everyone for coming out this night. Surprisingly, the show wasn’t sold out, though there were a lot of people there, and they were all transfixed on the band.
They kept running thorough “Pretty Evil Thing”, though they did skip track five and moved on to “Lies” when they got back to business. That (at times) showed off the bands softer side, which is something that doesn’t even really exist, and they kicked things back up with their next song.
However, they first took a moment to wish one of their fans a happy birthday. “…She’s good looking. I’m just saying. Get ya some.” Jaimeson said of the birthday girl. It was after that, that they did the darker sounding “Crooked Smile”. It’s another one of their best songs, and tonight it was a highlight of their show, as Chase and Kristin stood facing one another near the end of the song, tearing it up on their guitar and bass, respectively. Then, as it drew to a close, Jaimeson approached Chase, as the two grinded against each other.
“The amount of people in here makes me happy.” Jaimeson stated after that one. They marched on with “Oh, Sugar”, before again skipping over a track on the album, because, well, you’ve got to save the best for last.
“I like it when you don’t leave.” Jaimeson said, before encouraging everyone who might want to, to buy their merch. “…We have stuff you can wear. Stuff you can listen to. Stuff you can smell in your house.” she said, then added, “That’s right, I said smell…”
“ Vagabonds” was the final, somewhat slow song they did, and from it, they jumped right into “Bad”, which was an electrifying way to end what felt like an all too short 36-minute set.
“Surely that’s not it?” I thought. Though the band did a legit job at making it appear that they were done. Then the cries for an encore started, and eventually Chase and Carson retook the stage, saying they thought they might could do one more.
“Carson, how’s my hair look?” Chase asked. “Shitty.” Carson replied. They had a friend join them on stage for this next song, and that was Chris Breland. He sings in the band Black Habits – whom I’ve seen once before – and evidently has something else going on, because Carson mentioned he was in a band. “…I don’t know if I can say what band or not, yet…” he said, seeming to catch himself before he let it slip.
Their little encore segment started with a cover of Danzig’s “Mother”, and stylistically speaking, it fits The Virgin Wolves perfectly.
Jaimeson and Chris were a force to be reckoned with as they shared the vocal responsibilities. They killed it on the song, and as it came to an end, some guy suddenly began to crowd surf, and soon took a fall that looked like it could have been way worse for him than what it wound up being.
That wasn’t it, though. Remember, I said they skipped over one of their songs so they could save the best for last, and, without question, their best is “Virtue And Vice”.
A small mosh pit even broke out during the song (something I haven’t personally seen at one of their shows before), while both Chase and Kristin shouted the line on the second verse that they’ve revamped for live shows, “I rode all night through the motherfucking rain!” “And I wound up standing at his grave.” Jaimeson chimed in.
Towards the end, Carson even grabbed a beer can from one of the fans up front, sliding it across the neck of his guitar a bit before handing it back.
That, was the perfect way to end this show, and that song allows all five of them to unleash any energy they have left, ensuring everything gets left on the stage.
I had missed seeing The Virgin Wolves more than I knew I had, and I’m glad I at least caught them a few times close together leading up to their little hiatus.
Hopefully it won’t be another eight months before they grace a stage somewhere in the metroplex, ‘cause they’re just too damn good.
They play rock music the way it was meant to be played, and they’re live show is a must-see, especially if you haven’t seen them before.
Pick up “Pretty Evil Thing” in iTUNES (it’ll be $9.99 well spent), and throw ‘em a like on FACEBOOK so you’ll know when they have another gig.
Well, I managed to catch not one, but two fantastic shows this Saturday night. I’d call that a win.
I must confess, until just a few weeks prior to their show at the Granada Theater, I had never heard of White Lies.
That’s probably a good thing, because that meant that I haven’t spent the past few years anxiously awaiting the British band to tour through Dallas. Instead, I became a fan rather last minute and only had to wait a couple weeks.
That’s not to say I wasn’t excited, though. In fact, I was probably every bit as excited as any die-hard, longtime fan of the six-year old rock outfit.
The only opening act on this was the Brooklyn, NY singer/songwriter Frankie Rose.
I’ll preface this by saying I had trouble figuring out what songs she did, and by trouble I mean even after spending time listening to her music I couldn’t pinpoint the specific songs, which is a personal fail in my book.
But I digress. She and her band (which consisted of a drummer, lead guitarist and bassist) delivered a great 31-minute set.
I didn’t know what to expect, but I wound up liking her music far more than I thought I would.
The first song had a nice build to it, before the drummer suddenly broke into the song, which had me quickly trying to figure out where he was. See, the kit was on far stage left – out of my line of sight – and until that first beat I had overlooked it. They carried on with several more songs, and periodically Frankie would chat with the crowd in the already packed Granada Theater.
“…This is a Saturday night. Is it a late night town?” she asked, following it with another question, “Are you going to go out after the show?” You could tell she was just looked at as the opening act, because the response was almost nonexistent, and I know full well the party was continuing for more than a few people after this show (and I was one of them).
They ran through a few more songs, including a “romantico one” as Frankie put it. In my opinion, it wound up being one of their best songs of the night. The rhythm section was in full effect on it, and even though I was standing near the back of the venue, I could still feel the floor shaking beneath me; and really, that’s always a fantastic feeling.
With only one song left, Frankie mentioned that they were heading to Houston the next night, unknowingly committing one of the biggest faux pas you can make in Dallas.
To say I hate or even dislike Houston would be inaccurate, but most Dallasites do and they were vocal about it this night. She appeared baffled by the reaction, and just moved on and concluded their set.
Their time on stage flew by, and I mean that as a compliment, because that’s how much I enjoyed it.
The music was great, with some nice electronic and synthesizer touches thrown in, but more to the point to accentuate the guitars, bass and drums rather than overpower them. Frankie has quite a set of pipes on her too, fitting both the more rock sounding songs as well as the dreamier landscapes they had going on others.
If you’d like to check out her music, she has two records available that you can find in iTUNES.
As ten o’clock neared, the patrons began filling back in from their trips to the bar, or to go outside and smoke or whatever else, as they settled in for White Lies.
Five minutes before they hit the stage I got offered to go up to the balcony (which is typically reserved for staff of either the venue or the bands crew) and of course took it.
I mention that simply because it transformed this entire concert experience.
The sound up there was superb, far exceeding that down at the lower levels. As expected, a roar of fanfare filled the venue when the three core members; singer and guitarist Harry McVeigh; bassist Charles Cave; and drummer Jack Brown took the stage, along with Tommy Bowen and Rob Lee, who add the keys/synthesizers and an extra guitar to the mix.
They quickly launched into the title track from their 2009 debut album, “To Lose My Life”, and the sound—at least up in the balcony—was ten times better than even their albums sound.
It was pure ecstasy from the start, as Harry sang the lovely chorus in his strong, unique tone of voice, “Let’s grow old together and die at the same time…” That was a stellar song to open with, and for part of it I was glued to Charles, who was an exceptional bass player from right out of the gate, and was crushing it as he quickly plucked the strings of his bass.
With that old classic out of the way, they turned their attention to the barely six-month-old album “Big TV”, getting the first single off it, “There Goes Our Love Again”, out of the way early. It seemed to be just as much of a crowd pleaser as their first song had, and afterwards Harry addressed the crowd.
“Dallas, how’s it going?” he asked; the clamorous applause and cheers continuing once he spoke. He noted that this was the first time they had been to this “beautiful city”, and that they had enjoyed walking around and seeing part of it earlier in the day.
Overall, that was one of the few times they talked with the crowd which I liked. Even though it was kept at the bare minimum, it was still more than enough to form a connection with the fans, though the main focus was on the music. It suited them. Another I liked was that despite having a new album to promote, they also drew heavily from their past two albums; resulting in a great mix of old favorites and new classics.
As good as those two songs were, it was their next one where things really exploded. They pushed themselves to new heights on “A Place to Hide”, which was completely irresistible, and even though I was seated I felt a pretty strong urge to get up and start moving around. It was just intoxicating. But then again, that could be said of much of White Lies’ music.
They were continuously switching between albums, never doing two consecutive tracks off one album, and now got back to the new material with “Mother Tongue”. Whether they had been wanting (or waiting) to or not, the crowd got a chance to participate on this one. After the second chorus, the band got a clap along going. It was merely the first of a few this night, and I have to say it was pretty cool to see a sea of people throw their hands up in the air, clapping in unison. Especially since I had such a unique perspective of it.
“This is one of our favorite tracks from our second album…” Harry told everyone in advance of their next number. “It’s called Streetlights.” he finished, as they finally got around to doing a track from “Ritual”. I can’t say that it’s also a favorite of mine from that record, though it is a good tune, and there was something entrancing about the steady drumbeats and keys of the verses.
“This is a beautiful venue. The kind you dream of playing…” Harry remarked after that song. Strong words from a band who has headlined the historic Wembley Arena in London. He piled on the very genuine praise about the Granada (it’s more than deserving of it), before Jack eventually led them into their next song, another oldie, “Farewell to the Fairground”. Harry worked the crowd over during the slow part after the second chorus; just motioning at everyone, encouraging them to make some noise. He had complete control over everyone as he did so.
“I wish no harm to come of you; split bottles in shopping aisles…” he sang after the applause subsided, as they went right into another one of their love songs, “Be Your Man”. It was their next song, another from their first album, that really got the spectators excited, though.
From the first note on the keyboard the crowd was screaming with glee, having already deduced the song was “E.S.T”. Most were giddy when it too turned into a clap along; and personally, I thought it really was one of their highlight songs of the night, as there was a type of magic aura in the air while they played it.
However, “The Power and the Glory”—which is one I’m partial to—outmatched it. “…I was empty handed leaving as I was when I came…” crooned Harry while the audience clapped along to the steady drumming. Live it was everything I hoped it would be, and was extremely infectious; and during it, they continued to expand upon their stride, which they had hit long ago.
With their show in its final stretch, it was time to bust out a couple more singles, the first of which was “Getting Even”. “This is the first single we ever released…” Harry informed everyone, setting up the next song. “We hope you like it.” he added. To say everyone simply liked “Unfinished Business” would be an understatement, and that leads me to one point I’ll go ahead and make.
It’s really remarkable that these guys were able to make their first album as high caliber as it is. From start to finish it’s a completely solid album, the likes of which every band hopes to release one day, though most will never even come close. Then, they managed to (at the very least) maintain that same level of skill and craftsmanship over the course of their next two albums, again coming up with products that are superior to most out on the market.
It just comes down to that solid consistency, and it’s a shame more bands don’t have that.
But I digress.
They were still far from done with the “Big TV” album, but now did one more gem from it, “Goldmine”, before changing gears a bit.
Rob and Tommy exited the stage, leaving just the founding members of White Lies, as Harry ditched his guitar for their next song. Instead, he used a little synthesizer, while Jack got up from his kit, manning a keyboard as well as a xylophone (yeah, you read that right). Charles was the only one who didn’t switch instruments, and Harry took just a moment to talk about the song, which happened to be a cover.
It was a very different take on Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U”, being a pretty stripped down rendition from how Prince did it. That was good though, because they made the song completely their own with a very unique spin put on it. Harry got to show a gorgeous falsetto tone on it, and lyrically, it was a perfect fit with the bands original stuff. “You’re just a sinner I am told. Be your fire when you’re cold, make you happy when you’re sad, make you good when you are bad…” he sang; making it sound like this song had been written just for them.
They returned to their standard lineup, doing what’s really the only song of theirs I’m indifferent to, “First Time Caller”. I will admit though, that live it got me a little more engaged than the recording does. Afterwards, came the final song of their set, “Death”, which had another clap along moment, and ended an astounding 69-minute set.
No one (well, almost no one) moved after the band retreated to the green room, though, as they anxiously awaited the encore.
The cheering was perhaps even more loud when the five guys returned to the stage than it had been when they first started.
They talked with the crowd for a moment, mainly expressing their gratitude, before finally getting to the title track from their 2013 release, “Big TV”. Again, the crowd was encouraged to clap along on it; and as they hit the brief instrumental bridge, Harry strode to center stage, throwing his arms up in the air, silently egging the audience on, and they again erupted with cheering and applause.
“…We have one more…” Harry stated, again thanking everyone who was there for coming out to see them. The urgent sounding and electrifying “Bigger Than Us”. “Thank you so much!” Harry shouted in the final seconds of the song, which concluded their 10-minute encore.
The applause started while the final notes were still being played, and only grew stronger once the five guys stood next to one another at the forefront of the stage; bowing to everyone for the love they had been shown, as well as basking in it. I’ve got to say, seeing the kind of reception they got was a cool moment.
As it stands, I’ve seen several hundred concerts at this point, and this White Lies show is one of the most spectacular I’ve witnessed.
I’ll be the first to admit the seats had a lot to do with that, because the whole atmosphere changed up in that balcony. But that wasn’t the only reason.
I feel like I already used a lot of my praise earlier when talking about their albums, but they also put on a splendid show.
From stage presence to musicianship, Harry McVeigh, Jack Brown and Charles Cave were to full package. Not only that, but they have a very distinctive sound, with mixes of 80’s era British acts thrown in to their more modern rock style, which results in a sound that is completely theirs.
It was easy to see why they’ve opened for bands like Coldplay and Snow Patrol, because the talent is definitely there. I’d even go as far as saying that there’s no reason why White Lies couldn’t be as popular as Muse is here in the U.S.
Okay, White Lies doesn’t use any theatrics at all; while that’s a key element to Muse’s shows. In the other aspects though, it’s a dead heat; and if the American audience latches on to these guys, there really is no reason why they couldn’t be playing arena’s over here in a few years time.
They have plenty of dates booked around the world, including several more in North America. Check out their full schedule HERE; and also be sure to add their music to your iTUNES library.
This was a fantastic way to spend the night. Many thanks again to the Granada and certain people who work there for all the hospitality. It made a great night truly unforgettable.
However, the night was still young. It wasn’t even 11:30 when they finished, and with several other shows going on this night that I would have liked to have seen (counting this one there were seven total), I could at least make one other…
The only good thing that comes from the demise of one beloved band is the prospect that a new project(s) will hopefully follow, and that was precisely what was on my mind last May when Vinyl Pilot announced they were disbanding.
It didn’t long for a couple of members from the band (Jeff Lowe and Patrick Hunter) to get to work on a new project, calling it Pseudo Future. And while those two guys may have come from the same band, they didn’t bring any remnants from their previous sound along with them.
The short, 13-minute long EP gets going with a bang, in the form of the song “Loss Of Light”. It’s dynamic and even alluring, and I enjoy how prominent the bass is in comparison to other songs (by any band), when it tends to get drowned out by the other instruments. It’s a very nicely mixed song, and even features a killer, ever so slightly soupy sounding guitar solo towards the end.
“Drawing Board” is easily the heaviest song on this sampling from Pseudo Future, with some pulsating drum beats on the chorus, matched by some blaring guitar and bass lines, as singer and guitarist Jeff Lowe fiercely sings/shouts on the chorus, “We take all that we make and throw it all away!” There’s a certain tinge of venom to it, too, found primarily in the frustration and anger Jeff packs into the lyrics.
A short piece, “Remnant (Interlude)”, acts as both a way to break up the album, as well as a transition into the next song, bleeding flawlessly into “All My Friends”. At a little over four and half minutes in length, it’s nearly twice as long as most other songs on the record. They gave it an excellent rise and fall, and best of all; it’s all done very fluidly and with relative ease, roaring to life on each chorus, before tapering back off.
The final song is the customary, slow, soft love song that nearly ever album from any band has to have. In Pseudo Future’s case, that song is “Love Of My Life”, a more acoustic based song done solely by Jeff. It’s a gentle and sweet song, as he croons about having found “the one”, and is more about him professing his love than being overly sappy. All in all, it makes for a great closing note for this EP.
It’s quite a solid EP, and I like the fact that this trio cut to the chase on all of these songs, not adding anything that seems unnecessary, while still having all the parts that are key to a song and managing to convey a message in a (very) timely manner.
And as a bonus for anyone who was a fan of Jeff and Patricks’ previous project; you get to hear a whole different side to their abilities.
Jeff taps into a previously unheard part of his voice, and like I said, does some fiery screams that are quite rock sounding, while his tone still has that certain pop/rock tone to it, resulting in a forceful mix. As for Patrick, he demonstrates complete mastery over the bass. His skills ooze out of the speakers and make it noticeable by simply listening to this EP, and he and drummer Justyn Gomez combine to make an exceptional rhythm section.
Pseudo Future is:
Jeff Lowe - Guitar & Vocals
Patrick Hunter - Bass & Vocals
Justyn Gomez - Drums
Get the album for FREE at BANDCAMP
Visit Pseudo Futures’ websites: Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Youtube
February 22nd @ Liquid Lounge in Dallas
(Photo credit: Wettengel Photography)
Of course, Valentine’s Day is supposed to be spent with the ones you love, and for me that meant spending it with live music at the venue I love more than any other, The Curtain Club.
Ultimate Local Music had put together a stellar rock show there this night, including bringing a band from Charlotte, North Carolina through. Four great local acts had been added on in support, though, and starting the night was Awake in Theory.
It had been quite awhile since I last saw the alt/rock group; last June to be exact. That meant it had been long enough that I had forgotten some of their song titles. So, after their intro – which is the “Mad as Hell” speech from the 1976 film Network – I was left racking my brain as to what their opener was.
The catchy, occasional riffs guitarist Terry Kimmel cranked out by stepping on one of his pedals before letting it back up were all too familiar, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember the song. It was only towards the end when I heard frontman Eric Hawkens sing, “…You’re playing the victim…”, with the name of the song being “Playing the Victim”.
The whole band didn’t waste any time getting down to business, especially bassist John Skenesky, who was all over the stage; tearing it up. “How the hell you doing?!” Eric asked all the early birds who had made it there for their 8:46 start time. As he did so, Raymond Chambers brought them right into their next song, which was “Dangerous”. “…You’re like a devil with an angels touch. I want to love you but you’re dangerous.” belted Eric on the chorus. After the second one, he signaled out guitarist Brad McCain, who launched into an incredible guitar solo; sounding even better life than it does on the recording.
They continued to barrel through their 31-minute set as Raymond again led them into their next song. Brad aided him, lacing some soft guitar notes around the beats while Eric set up their next track. “This one goes out to anyone who had to do what I had to do in the last year, and that’s take someone you love to rehab and say ‘No more! No more!” he told the audience, shaking his finger back and forth as he said that last part. He was speaking of “Let Go”, which is just one of more than a few heavy-hitting songs they have with very real life themes worked in. The end had been tweaked from what I remembered (or perhaps had just forgotten).
Raymond counted them in on one of the many cymbals of his massive drum kit; but it wasn’t a bridge to their next number. Instead, they cranked out an instrumental outro, which saw John getting on the drum riser before leaping off it as the song drew to a close.
“Anyone who has ever played in Deep Ellum knows it’s a band of brothers and sisters…” Eric said. He thanked Deaf Angel for being one of the bands they were playing with, along with the handful of other band members and people who were there who had just come out to see them. It was nice to hear him say that, too, because it really is a community down here. It may not be the biggest or strongest community it has ever been. but there is a lot of loyalty and dedication among those who are part of it.
“…Do y’all want to hear a new one?” Eric asked before they moved on to a song called “Monday's Dawn”. It struck me as being a little heavier than their other songs at times. I mean that solely as an observation; and actually, I really enjoyed it, because it was a slightly different sound for the guys. A sound they pulled off well.
“We wrote that for Terry’s best friend, who five years ago died in his arms.” Eric said as soon as the song was over, making the mood a bit heavy. His band mates were already easing into their next song, while Eric noted that if anyone had seen them even once before that they had to know that his brother is a Ranger in the Army. “…He fights our battles so we can do stupid shit like this…” he told everyone; setting them up for “Hero You Hate”.
“…I can be your sinner. I can be your saint…” Eric sang, using one of his hands to draw a halo around his head. He then continued, “I’ll be anything you want, because I’m the hero that you hate.” That was the only song of the night he actually used his mic stand for the majority of it. He ditched it near the end, though.
“The setlist says to work the crowd.” he said after that fan-favorite; then asked everyone quite sincerely, “So, how are you doing?”
Eric killed some time while Terry and Brad tuned their guitars, and once they were ready he dedicated the next song to “everyone celebrating with significant other”. He skipped over the explanation of “Innocence”, only seeing that it was a very personal song to them. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and since they recorded it, it has grown on me with each listen. It really is a special song.
Their time on stage was almost up, and Eric bantered with the crowd one last time before their final song. He mentioned he had just finished a 60-hour workweek. “…I’m exhausted but I’m here. ‘Cause if you’re gonna do it, you do it big, right?” he said.
That’s just one of the many reasons why I love these guys; because that’s their mentality. Eric mentioned this final song has gotten some airplay on 97.1 The Eagle over the last several months, saying it be “cool” if anyone wanted to call in and request it. They then fired up their first single, “Daddy’s Little Girl”. John and Terry stood back-to-back for a bit at the start of the second verse, before digging back in as the song exploded on the chorus, the two of them along with Brad and Eric covering every spot on the stage.
I know it been awhile since I had caught an Awake in Theory show, and perhaps I had just forgotten how fantastic they are live, but they really seemed better this night than any other time I had seen them.
Last time, John was still a pretty new addition to the band, but even then meshed well with the group and more than held his own on stage with them. Tonight, at times, he was the one to watch on stage.
That’s not to undercut the other guys, though. Brad, Terry and Eric didn’t slow down for a second, and were doing everything they could they keep the onlookers glued to them. They accomplished that with ease, and they’re one of those bands who works to build an honest rapport with the crowd for the night. Not only that, but they clearly have so much fun on stage, it makes it easier to get into their music and performance.
Point is, if you have a chance to see them, do it.
They have to shows at Tomcats West in Fort Worth in March. One will be on March 8th, the other the 22nd. Pick up their 3 song EP at either of those shows, or you can preview their music on REVERBNATION.
Second up was one of two bands who I hadn’t seen before. Since the other band was a touring act, that’s understandable. But Generation Wasted is a hometown Dallas band. A band who just a few weeks prior played the Curtain’s 16th year anniversary weekend; where they received a plaque that now proudly hangs on the Wall of Fame.
I had heard of them before, but just never seen them. I was interested to see what they were like, though.
“Happy Valentine’s Day.” Frontman Larry Bates stated as soon as the curtain opened on them.
They then quickly tore into “Eyes”, which began their 41-minute set. It was a powerful opener, and it called me to the pit area to have a better view of what was going to transpire.
“I didn’t think you were going to make it tonight.” Larry said once the song was over, talking to his significant other. He then walked over to the stairway that leads on stage; returning with a heart shaped box he handed to his lady.
They continued with a food little tune called “Curtain Call”; after which bassist Mark Efros walked over and slapped lead guitarist Wes Mayes on the ass. “Good job!” he could be heard shouting, before laughter from the crowd and the band filled the room.
“…This next one’s called Tailspin.” Larry informed everyone. That song was where I thought they really found their groove. They weren’t as mobile as the band before them, but they still commanded the attention of their fans with their music, and that tune was truly one of their best.
After some shots, Larry again wished a happy Valentine’s Day to everyone. “…This is a cover we like do…” he then said. Their fans rejoiced in cheers, while I was left with a feeling of curiosity as to what it would be. “It’s called Mad World.” Larry added.
They put their own spin on the Tears for Fears classic, turning it into a heavier rock song. It was an excellent rendition of it, and it’s always nice to see a band who doesn’t merely cover a song, but they put the effort into making it all their own.
They followed it by doing a new one. So new in fact, that upon finishing it Larry joked that it was simply titled “new one” for now. “I don’t know if that will change or not.” he added.
“Illiterate Love” was another great song of their set. It was one of their fairly heavier songs, with some slight screams thrown in here and there.
They marched on with a couple more songs, one of which was titled “Control; Alt; Delete”. During it, guitarist Ernest Fruge, who had been adding some awesome backing vocals throughout the show, left the stage. He worked his way out amongst the people, walking up to some fans who were standing there, as well as other patrons who were seated at the tables, giving them a good look as he picked away at his axe.
It was also on that song that they all really cut loose, fully giving into the music and rocked out.
Larry now took a moment to shout out the other bands on the bill, before they got to the finally two demos that they currently have recorded.
You can’t argue that they had saved the best for last, as “On My Own” was a spectacular number. One that’s sure to appeal to any rock fan. Then you had “Circles”, which found the quintet truly firing on all cylinders. Ernest again added some backing vocals to this one, repeatedly shouting, “Hate!” on the chorus. Larry worked up a vicious scream of sorts, joining him on the final one of each chorus for a forceful touch.
They put on a really good show. One that just kept getting better the more time they spent on stage, and they have some truly awesome sounding songs.
I became a Generation Wasted fan this night. And it was also nice seeing a Dallas band whom I hadn’t before. Yeah, there are plenty of bands I’m still unfamiliar with who are out there, but I often tend to stick with the tried and true.
Check out their music over on REVERBNATION, and if you like it go see a show. They too will be at Tomcats West in Fort Worth on March 8th. They’ll be down in Austin for SXSW on March 12th, playing the Heart of Texas Rockfest. You can also see them back in Dallas on March 18th at Wit’s End.
Up next, you had As Above / So Below.
I had only seen them once, catching a portion of their debut show back in May.
Since then they’ve released their debut EP, “Year One”, as well as added an extra member to the band, CJ Pierce of Drowning Pool fame, who also happens to the be the brother of frontman Jacob Pierce.
“Come on!” Jacob roared as the curtain revealed them, while drummer Joey Payow, bassist Johnny Reeves, and CJ as well as fellow guitarist Max Snakes fired up their first song, “Last Crusade”. That heavy rock song, which, like most of their other music is on the verge of being metal, got their show off to a great start, easily capturing the interest of everyone who was there.
Jacob quickly encouraged everyone to support the bar and go buy a drink, then added, “Let’s go!” as Joey rolled them into their next track.
They had the adrenaline of everyone there pumping at this point, and it continued with “Painted in Red”. Afterwards, Jacob mentioned it was Valentine’s Day. “…We’re all getting fucked up and having good time!” said Jacob, before informing everyone that the next song was “Built to Fail”.
“We’re gonna slow it down for the lovers.” Jacob said, speaking about the next tune they had in store. I believe it was called “Calling”, and while it was a favorite of mine from their set, it was by no means slow. Perhaps it was just a little more so than their other material, but not by much. They followed it with another song I highly enjoyed, “Erase You”, after which came a new one.
“This is the first time we’ve ever done this live.” Jacob told everyone, noting the song was called “Ritual Birth”.
Even by As Above / So Below’s standards this was a heavy and loud song. It was good though, and saw CJ adding a good deal of backing vocals. Jacob also put the flood lights to good use, which were hooked up to a switch on a box they had on stage. He often stepped on it in synch with the drums too, which added an extra emphasis to it.
“We pulled it off. That was cool.” Jacob remarked once it was over, before they started into the final song of their 32-minute long set.
These longtime musicians were great at their first show, but in the almost nine months since, they’ve further improved.
The show was chocked-full of energy and they put on a great show. Even with their large scrims standing on either side of the stage they still had plenty of room to move around. Then you had CJ, who helps elevate their live show to a completely new level.
They’ll be at the Walter Gerrels Performing Arts Center in Carlsbad, New Mexico on March 8th and March 9th will find them at Jake’s Backroom in Lubbock, Texas. They’ll be opening for Saving Abel on both of those shows.
Though technically it was the main support slot, the Charlotte, North Carolina based Another Lost Year had the prime time slot.
Like most people in attendance, they were new to me, though the band has been around for a little while. Nearly three years, actually, during which time they’ve opened for acts like Sick Puppies, Sevendust and many others.
They got right into it with “Better Days”, which is the lead and title track from their most recent release.
It was quickly evident they weren’t your typical band; and while I had been hanging out at the back of the venue, it didn’t take me long to decide to get closer to the stage.
“Dallas, Texas! How the fuck you doing?!” shouted singer Clinton Cunanan, while his band mates wound them into their next number, “All That We Are”. Their first song add some softer tones to it, and while it sounded good, it was far from the caliber of rock song as this one was. They really came to life on this one, with some driving percussion thanks to Lee Norris and killer guitar riffs from Dave Whitaker and Adam Hall, which included a wickedly good solo.
“So, a lot of cool things have came from Dallas.” Clinton said, as they took a break to connect with the fans. “Like Emmitt Smith.” he added. “I don’t know if any of you got that joke.” he said once no one laughed. Talk then changed to wrestling, when he asked if anyone was a fan of the WWE. “This next song can be heard on Monday Night RAW.” he told everyone. The song was “Broken”, and they were in full swing rock mode with it. It had those who were familiar with them singing along, while those who were just enjoying what they were hearing where banging their heads around to the music.
The banter then continued when Clinton asked everyone to turn to their left and right and introduce yourself to the people next to you. “It’s kinda like church.” he joked, before going on to thank all the bands who were playing alongside them. He was honest, saying he didn’t remember any of their names, though he also mentioned that he had never seen such a “fantastic bill”. “…There’s a lot of fucking talent here…” he told the audience, saying everyone needed to be proud of the fact that they lived in a town with such an amazing music scene.
They mellowed things out a little more with “Last Goodbye”, and now that everyone had gotten a good taste of what they were, Clinton asked a couple of questions. One was “Has anyone heard of Another Lost Year before tonight?” A few hands shot up. The other was for those who were hearing of them for the first time this night, and it was, “If we came back, would you come back to see us?” They didn’t have the biggest crowd, but those who were watching them seemed to all say they would catch another show if they made it to the Dallas area. “We’ll hold you to that.” he stated, as they went directly in to “Writing On the Wall”.
Upon finishing it, Clinton mentioned they were about to do some “new shit”. “…But for most of you, this is all probably new shit.” he joked. He went on to talk about their previous record label. “We had a mutual breakup…” he said, shaking his head no while saying it. “No, that’s not even remotely close…”
In short, their ex-label told them they would never do anything else without them, and the label had evidently lost faith in Another Lost Year. He gave the stats, which I don’t remember, but this next song they had – which was released independently – has gotten some good radio airplay for several consecutive weeks.
That latest single was “End of You and I”, and it was followed by a song they had recorded for possible use during the current Olympic games called “We Are the Chosen”. For one reason or another, it didn’t end up being used, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an awesome song.
It was actually different from anything else they did this night. There were some great harmonies thrown in throughout the song, but the best moment came at the end, when Adam, Jason and Clinton all sang the final few lines pretty much a cappella, which sounded surprisingly gorgeous. Not at all what you’d expect from an alt/rock band, but they pulled it off perfectly.
With that, they got into the songs that “pay the bills” as Clinton said. Though he first pimped out their merch table, saying they’d sell anything, including band members. He then told a story about the first single they ever released. “…I wrote it in shower…” Clinton told the fans, saying he got out and told one of his band mates what he had come up with, who replied with, “That’s horrible.”
If it was horrible then, they certainly made some good tweaks to it, ‘cause “War On the Inside” was one of their best songs yet.
They had one more left, but first Clinton quickly thanked everyone for coming out and supporting live and local music. “It’s not the Justin Bieber’s. It’s not the Miley Cyrus’s…” he said, referring to musicians who aren’t really doing much for music overall. “…Rock ‘n’ Roll lives and fucking breathes on these stages. In these venues…” he said, coming across as truly grateful that those who were there were doing what they could to support this art.
For the final song of their 41-minute set, they returned to the “Better Days” LP, doing the final track on it, “Forget About Us”. Simply put, they destroyed it on that one. Jason was jumping back and forth at the start while slaying it on his bass, and Adam and Dave were also getting very into it, operating along with Lees’ drumming. Speaking of Lee, while I didn’t often have an unobstructed view of him, I could see him pretty well on that song, as he twirled the drum sticks around in his hands; at one point quickly flipping them around before laying into his kit, doing that several times in a row.
If Another Lost Year came back to Dallas, would I go see them? Yeah, in a heartbeat.
For those who like the more radio-friendly style of rock music these guys are perfect, and they just have that quality to their sound that gives it a good appeal.
Then you have the live show, which is, without question, where they excel. They may have only been a band for about three years, but you can tell they cut their teeth long ago, and the show they put on this night – in terms of energy and overall performance - was on par with many of the national touring bands they’ve shared the stage with.
You can find their full tour schedule HERE. Also, be sure to check out their music in iTUNES.
Closing out the night was the Fort Worth quartet, Deaf Angel.
Despite the late start (it closer to 1AM when they took the stage), they still had droves of fans out, who quickly packed the place upon hearing Scott Van Slyke lay into his drum kit.
“Dallas fucking Texas! How the fuck you doing?!” shouted frontwoman Tina Downs as the curtain began to open on them. “I’ve been waiting all fucking night to get up here.” “This song’s called ‘Take Over.” she then added, as their 38-minute long set got underway.
It had only been a few months since the last time I had seen them, but I had already kind of forgotten how great they are live. Tinas’ voice is superb, and the screams Scott and guitarist Duston Daulton added throughout the track (plus just about every other song they did) added a nice edge to it.
“How you doing?!” Tina asked during the few second break before “Directions”. “…It’s my life, so step aside…” she belted out on the chorus, while bassist Matt Harper and Duston raced around the stage.
Once it was over, she mentioned how amazing this show was; and from start to finish it really had been an exceptional night. “Can y’all hear me?” Scott suddenly asked, speaking into his mic. “I don’t think they can.” said Tina after the crowd barely reacted. They did that another time or two, working over the audience, before saying their next song was “Crazy”.
That song title is also a fairly fitting description of the track, which is crazy good. As it neared the end, Matt jumped up on the drum riser, standing behind Scott - whose drum kit was sit up with the side facing the crowd – as they rocked out on the final moments of it.
“This. Is. The. Judge.” Scott said, striking one of the cymbals with each word, as they went right into the beast of a song. They then switched gears a bit, doing one of their songs that’s slightly more melodic, “Let You Go”. The heavier core metal sound of their music is still there in the drums, guitar and bass, just toned down some, which in turn highlights Tinas’ voice even more.
“…Who all’s drinking?” Tina asked when that song had come to an end. Oddly enough, not much noise was made, and only a few hands with drinks in them went up in the air. “Y’all need to drink more. This is what we do in Dallas, go to shows and get drunk.” she said.
While that was going on, one fan started to scream a request, and he only got more vocal about it when Scott announced it was a song they hadn’t done in a little while. They tried to play it off that it wasn’t “Mirrors of Malice”, but in the end, the guy called it. Duston added several more of his deathly screams on that one, before taking a backseat on their next song.
As they neared the first chorus of “Run to Me”, Jacob Pierce from As Above / So Below ran up on stage, taking over the microphone on stage right as he sang along with Tina, “…Don’t be afraid to walk away. Run to me!” He lent his vocal abilities to the song here and there, though it was primarily there on the chorus. Still, even when he wasn’t singing he was rocking out along to the music and pumping up the crowd, asking them to give it up for Deaf Angel.
“Who likes riding bikes? Who likes flying kites?” Scott asked jokingly before what wound up being their final song. Everything they had done was from the “Brutally / Beautiful” album, though their final song was the newest one they’ve written and recorded, “Through the Glass”.
Even though it’s new, it’s Deaf Angel at their best. The drums set up a great pace for the song, and Matt and Duston kept up with it, running about the stage. Well, Duston was when he could break away from the mic. It’s pulsating and hard hitting, and it made for a powerful finish to their 38-minute long set.
I may not see them too often, but Deaf Angel is really a superb band.
From the live show to the music and everything else, it’s clear there’s a lot of talent there. It’s harnessed, but still has that raw Rock ’n’ Roll quality to it.
Like I said, I don’t see them too often, but I really need to change that.
Check out their REVERBNATION page where you can download the entire “Brutally / Beautiful” album for FREE. As for shows, they’ll be back here at the Curtain Club on April 19th. On March 10th they have a hometown gig at Tomcats West in Fort Worth. Then, on March 19th they’ll be back in Dallas at The Boiler Room. Catch ‘em if you can.
To reiterate what Another Lost Year said; this really was a fantastic bill. Kudos to Ultimate Local Music for orchestrating such a great lineup of local talent, as well as bringing a killer touring band through town.