The Music Enthusiast

Sep 18

Macabre Rock Favorite Nim Vind to Release New Album “Saturday Night Séance Songs” on October 14th via House of Vind


There was a time when rock n’ roll was the pulse of an entire generation, with millions finding salvation in “the Devil’s music” – its rhythm causing hips to gyrate, hair to grow longer than ever before, and the need to rebel against authority. Rock n’ roll swept the globe like a plague infecting the youth. Yet, here we are in 2014, half a century later, and it seems that time has forgotten the true genre. Does anyone crave the rawness, long for the hook, or yearn for the live sound? Or have we all become pixilated, force-fed, digi-pop drones?

etro-styled, horror-punk influenced rock n’ roller NIM VIND is set to satiate that craving, with his brand new record,Saturday Night Séance Songs, set to hit stores on October 14, 2014 via front man Nim’s own House of Vind label. NIM VIND invites the listener’s mind into his dark and stormy world with Saturday Night Séance Songs. Tracks like the 1980’s arena style track ‘Astronomicon’ and a modern death rock Danzig/Misfits summoning ‘Philistine Beat’ are just part of the story.

“When I first heard ‘Rumble’ by Link Wray, or ‘Bella Lugosi’s Dead’ by Bauhaus, or ‘Last Caress’ by Danzig's Misfits, I knew there was another form of communicating with people that was void of barriers of language, color or any predisposition. It’s a storm recognized as such by anyone who crosses its path. It’s slamming into your brain like a tornado. It can’t be denied,” offers Vind.

None of this throwback influence is surprising, seeing as that NIM VIND and his real life band of brothers (drummerAnthony Kilz and bassist Robbie K) were raised by a symphony musician father and CBGB’s first-wave uncles. These influences also inspired Vind’s production choices, as he looked to legendary rock producer Todd Rundgren for mixing on his other worldly track ‘Astronomicon’. Only Todd, the writer of such monumental hits as ‘Hello It’s Me’ and ‘Bang The Drum All Day’, would know how to properly handle a track like this, even added his famous “haunted” guitar playing on this track!

“Todd Rundgren and I were both on Panacea Entertainment’s Management roster out of LA. I pretty much just begged them to show him my song ‘Astronomicon’ the entire time I was with them,” adds Vind.“One day I got a forwarded message: “I’m ready now, send the track”. He was done and had it back in two hours. No recalls. Nothing. The guy rules. I loved it. I met him later that month and nervously asked him how he was doing. All he said was “astronomical” with a wry smile. That’s all I needed.”

In addition, NIM VIND sought out power mixer Jay Ruston (Stone Sour, Anthrax, MeatloafSteel Panther) for Saturday Night Séance Songs, who has taken the NIM VIND signature sound to heightened frenzy. More underground additions to the critical team are Canadian music veteran engineer Doug Fury (Bif Naked) and up-and-coming Anaheim, CA mixer David Irish (sound tech for punk band “X”).

NIM VIND’s cult following is steadily anticipating the new release. If you haven’t heard of NIM VIND by now, you’ll quickly learn that his underground following has been increasing for years. Vind boasts two prior tomes released on independent German labels and a good deal of international touring, as well as stints as the front man of family project and ghoul-core greats Mr. Underhill, which segued into a position as the dreamy bassist with Vans Warped Tour sweethearts The Vincent Black Shadow.

Fast forward to present day, when NIM VIND and his band of horror punks turn nightly shows into Sci-Fi sock hops. Throwback guitar riffs coupled with in-the-pocket pounding drum beats highlight sickening bass grooves, skillfully driven by Nim’s smooth baritone vocals soaked in mentally ill-laden poetry.

NIM VIND is continually assembling the masses of underground believers, recently teaming up with heavy metal forefather Jonny Zazula to create his new label, House of Vind, withSaturday Night Séance Songsleading the charge as their first release. More information on future releases will be released soon.

Shows You Know You Wanna See: September 14 - 20

Monday, September 15th
-Dallas (Downtown)

Doors @ 6:30 / Music @ 7

-Fort Worth

Music @ 10
Tuesday, September 16th
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)

$12 to $15
Wednesday, September 17th

AGES 16+
Music @ 8
Thursday, September 18th
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)

All ages (17 & under MUST be accompanied by a legal guardian.)
Doors @ 8 / Music @ 9
Friday, September 19th
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)

Music @ 10:30

AGES 21+
Doors @ 10

-Dallas (South Side on Lamar)

Music @ 8
FREE ($5 donation suggested)

-Fort Worth

Saturday, September 20th

Music @ 6:30


-Dallas (Deep Ellum)

AGES 17+
Doors @ 8
21+ $10 / 21- $15


AGES 21+
Doors @ 8 / Music @ 9

-Fort Worth


ALL AGES (under 17 MUST be accompanied by an adult)
Music @ 10
21+ $15 / 21- $20




Sep 17

Italian Alt-Metal Band Klogr Releases Music Video for ‘Failing Crowns’ + Updates Fans on Upcoming Live/Documentary DVD

imageDuring last spring’s European Tour with Prong, Italian alt-metal band KLOGR had goPRO cameras on stage, in addition to having the band’s official photographer, Nico Cagarelli, film their shows backstage and on-the-road. The resulting footage will end up on a live/documentary DVD, to be released next year! Watch a teaser here for an upcoming full concert “Live in Hamburg” to be released next week in support of the upcoming DVD.

That’s not all – KLOGR have more news in store for their diehard fans, which will be announced later this year.

For now, you can enjoy an amazing preview of what’s to come via KLOGR's new video for ‘Failing Crowns’, one of the most appreciated tracks off of the band’s latest release, Black Snow.

Although it’s not the most straight-to-the-point track, it is one of the more representative songs of the band, with its progressive groove and smacking riffs. The ‘Failing Crowns’ single is available digitally via iTunes as part of a special package, including the original album version, a live version recorded in Hamburg, and a live version of the track ‘Draw Closer’, also recorded in Hamburg. Get the single package HERE.

KLOGR’s new full-length album, Black Snow, is available for purchase in the United States via The End Record’s “Omega Order” mailorder system. The CD is available now via this link, so make sure to order your copy NOW!

You can also order Black Snow now via iTunes - available as a special digital edition which includes the band’s 2011’s Till You Turn EP and Ground Zero 11-11-11 Live. Download your copy here. Recorded between Zeta Factory and Green River studios, Black Snow was produced by KLOGR frontman and mastermind Rusty and Tancredi Barbuscia.

Saturday, September 13th, 2014 - The 7th Annual Dia de los Toadies: Day II – The Toadies Wrap Up Their Festival with One Last Run Through Rubberneck

The gates at Panther Island Pavilion were set to open at three this afternoon, and unsurprisingly, there weren’t many people there at that time.

Still, there were a little more than a dozen people already lined up; and once they finally did open the gates, it became clear everyone either already had a wristband from attending the first night of Dia de los Toadies or they had their tickets for the day already printed out.

It was a die-hard bunch right there.

Of course, the bands weren’t slated to start until 3:40, meaning there was a lot of time to kill. Time that was best spent either checking out the food trucks that were there, or just sitting at the tables around said trucks, resting up for the long day that lie ahead.

This was my fourth Dia (all have been consecutive), and the weather was nicer this day than any of those in years past. The clouds were keeping the sun at bay, to the point it looked like rain may not be out of the question. That also kept the temperature more than bearable. In fact, a jacket didn’t hurt, even in the early afternoon. This is Texas, though, so those conditions didn’t last forever.

The event got started over on the smaller stage, and since it was in Fort Worth, it was appropriate that a hometown band like Blank-Men would be the first to play.

They stood apart from everyone else this day in the fact that they relied heavily on electronics/synthesizers.

Vocalist and bassist Sam Swanson, guitarist and vocalist Alex Atchley, drummer Joey Kendall and synth player Emily Thompson opened with an instrumental piece, rocking out for a few minutes before Swanson counted to four, leading them into their next number.

“It’s all coming together now,” the bassist remarked after one of the songs off their Fact or Fiction? EP, “Radio Silence”. They were definitely in the groove now, as they kept pumping out one song after another, alternating between Swanson and Atchley handling the vocals, and even co-singing at times.

“This songs about,” Swanson said, pausing briefly to think, before giving a nod to a Fort Worth venue, “Spending all your money at The Boiled Owl.” They even joked about their merch at one point, saying they had “small circular things for sale” and that they wouldn’t mind if everyone bum rushed the table and just took whatever they wanted.

“Here’s one for all you hardcore kids,” Atchley said before one song. It was heavier from what they had done thus far, especially with the intro on the moog Thompson was responsible for.

Blank-men’s style of music was quite different from what I typically like, but by the time they finished, I was rather enjoying it. They play it very well, blending both the rock and electronic genres nicely.

You can find their EP on BANDCAMP; and see them live on November 4th at Three Links in Dallas.

People now headed over to the main stage, where another Fort Worth-based band — The Longshots — were about to get started.

They were the first of many bands this day whom I had seen previously, though they looked a little different. They were a four-piece now, something I had evidently missed, assuming the news was even shared on any of their social networks whenever it may have happened.

Nonetheless, I was looking forward to seeing them again.

The fact that they were down to two guitarists/singers now didn’t seem to inhibit them much, though they did focus on a different set of songs from what I recall from the other shows I had seen. “The Chase” got their 32-minute long set off to a good start, with some killer riffs, while the beats Brady Hamilton was dishing out were perfect to bang your head to, as Joey Gorman handled the singing.

Many of the bands this day used these stages to try out some new(er) material, and The Longshots were no exception. “…We appreciate being able to play on this stage with our friends…” Gorman said after singing another song. He then realized he didn’t want to exclude anyone, and extended that to include everyone who was playing on this field, saying, “we’re all homies.” Fellow singer and guitarist Alex Zobel now took the reins, as they did another cut from their self-titled debut they released earlier this year. “Back to the Rio Grande” showed off more of the bands garage rock sound; while the track that followed highlighted the harmonies both Gorman and Zobel are capable of, as the latter chimed in on each chorus.

One of the lines from that song was about “medicine”, leading Gorman to say afterwards that the song was about “the legal distribution of medical marijuana in America and their opposition towards it.” He said it so deadpan, you might have thought he was serious, though he was more being extremely sarcastic.

They debuted a brand new song to the people, a song that got off to a softer start, before getting more intense. Hamilton counted them into “Uppercut”, which boasted a sweet instrumental jam, complete with some nice riffs, with the drums and Kris Luthers’ bass also having their moments. The rhythm section then really got to shine on their final number, which had a heavy instrumental breakdown.

It was a really good set, though it was different from my past two Longshots experiences.

While they did have those raw rock numbers, they also had plenty of slower songs mixed in. Personally, I enjoyed those styles of songs, though it did make for an interesting mix. However, the biggest difference was how restrained they were.

These guys are usually jumping all around the stage, and while it would have been impossible this day, even jumping off it and mingling with the crowd while shredding. That same energy just wasn’t there this afternoon. I highly enjoyed hearing the music, but the show… Maybe it was just an off day for them.

If you want to check out The Longshots music (and you should), you can find it in iTUNES.

Scott Beggs (co-owner of the Dallas venue Three Links) was introducing all the bands this day, and before the next act on the smaller stage, he pointed out that all the bands had been handpicked by The Toadies, making this their own “personal playlist” of sorts.

The stage was then given up to Residual Kid, a trio who had made the short trip from Austin.

Their music was a mixture of grunge and punk, grunge in the fact that it had a dirtier sound to it, and punk in the way that some of their songs were just a couple minutes or so.

They managed to fit 10 songs into their 34-minute set, getting their first two done quickly, and bridging them together so seamlessly that it was fairly hard to tell they had started “Friend”. It was the lone track they did off their Faces EP, and was pretty catchy to boot.

“This one’s brand new,” stated singer and guitarist Deven Ivy before the group continued. “It’s not so chilly up here,” he mentioned afterwards, then tacked on, “with a jacket,” to that sentence. He, bassist Max Redman and drummer Ben Redman kept the blistering pace up with songs like “Names” and “Glue”, which were as short and to the point as the titles were. It was kind of nice, because they didn’t bother stretching the song(s) out, rather, just say what they wanted to and then finish it.

One song they did was about Sonic Youth, and during it, Ivy ran his axe along the top of his cabinet, creating some nice tones. Throughout the show he had mentioned who they were, and as their time on stage drew to a close, he joked, “We’re still Residual Kid.” Their final song had a heavy break down during it; and in its final moments, Max took his bass off and let it fall to the floor. He then flipped it over, with the strings now being visible, grabbed the mic stand he had occasionally used this day, propped his bass up at an angle, and then ran the whole stand up and down the neck. It’s was pretty rock ‘n’ roll.

I knew many of the bands on the festival this day, but Residual Kid was one that was new to me, and they proved to be a good surprise.

Of course, there are still bands that play some sort of punk or grunge rock out there, but it was good to see a younger band who knows the importance/significance of those styles and has incorporated it into their sound.

You can find their EP in iTUNES. As for shows, they have one coming up in Austin on September 23rd at The Palm Door.

It was later in the five-o’clock hour now, and the sun had not only made an appearance, but it was getting pretty warm at this point. That’s Texas for you. Still, at least it wasn’t unbearably hot.

The main stage now belonged to Somebody’s Darling, who just a few weeks before this had played a big CD release show for their new album, and those new songs were expected to be in full force this day.

In a switch up from how that CD release show went, though, they opted to get a couple of slightly older songs out of the way first.

Frontwoman and rhythm guitarist Amber Farris jumped around to the beats Nate Wedan was producing, as they built up to their first song. “Put your cold hands in my warm jacket. Keep ‘em there to we leave…” the singer than crooned, as they got “Cold Hands” underway. The roots rockers had their own little fan base out this evening, and they were happy to clap along once Farris began to do so. “Alright, here we go! Let’s do this!” she yelled as they amped the song back up; and lead guitarist David Ponder killed it with the closing guitar solo.

“We’re Somebody’s Darling and we’re happy to be here,” Farris stated over the mixed noise of the guitars, keys, bass and drums, which soon gave way to the other single spawned from Jank City Shakedown, “Wedding Clothes”. Both bassist Wade Cofer and pianist Mike Talley added their voices to the chorus of “Just waiting on my fever to break…”, which really strengthened it. Talley even stole the show for a moment when he quickly ran his fingers over the keyboard, starting at one end and going down to the other.

Before that second song, Farris also mentioned they were going to get warmed up. After that, I’d say they sufficiently were.

Now they got to their new stuff, tackling the lead track (and single) from Adult Roommates, “Bad, Bad”. “We’re excited to be on stage with The Toadies!” Farris remarked after they had finished that song. She encouraged everyone to get drunk for them, though added, “Stay sober enough.”

She cleaned up “Vowels Flow” for any and all young ears that may have been listening. “…While the girls at the mall rack the bills, while their daddy screws us all…” Farris belted on the first verse (you can use your imagination as to what word was changed and from what). It’s nearly impossible not to get into that feel good song; and after the second chorus, Farris tried to pull any stragglers in, yelling, “Alright, Fort Worth. Let’s go! Come on,”

The stirring “Come to Realize” brought the mood down slightly, though the song about the demise of a relationship and pondering what caused it was a highlight of their set (and I’m not just saying that because I’m incredibly partial to it). It really did result in an amazing moment. “Let’s do this!” Farris said aloud, before Wedan hammered out the beats for “Set it Up”, which was another one that had Ponder doing an excellent solo.

Off to the side of the stage, there were some booths set up, and one of them had a giant moustache in front of it. The funny thing was it was seesaw; and before going any further, Farris pointed it out, along with the people who were currently on it. “Everyone needs a good seesaw now and then,” she laughed, before they busted out the second single from their new record, “Generator”, which had a handful of people (just that I could see) singing along to it.

That was a sign that their 37-minute long set was nearly over, but they still had a little something left to give.

“We’re gonna slow it down now that you got all rowdied up,” said Farris, who now had an acoustic guitar in her hands. They jumped to the final two songs on the album; and “Smoke Blows” isn’t quite as slow as it was made out to be. Neither was “Keep This Up”, which again utilized the three-part harmonies between Cofer, Talley and Farris, and proved a good one to end with.

The energy from the crowd may have been vastly different from the near capacity show they played a few weeks back, but the bands energy was every bit as vibrant as ever.

That’s not to say the audience wasn’t into it, either, but the band wasn’t able to get all the sing alongs going like they can at their usual shows, where they’re the main act.

Since they didn’t have much time, they had to keep a fast pace, and pretty much launched one song after the other at the onlookers.

Basically, Somebody’s Darling was responsible for what was one of the best sets of the day.

They’ll be at Dosey Doe in The Woodlands on October 9th, and then have a couple of short tours planned later in the month, where they’ll hit Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee. They’ll also be playing Charlie’s Backyard Bar in Marshall, TX on November 7th and Lee Harvey’s in Dallas on November 8th. Full info on all their shows can be found HERE. Don’t forget to check out their albums in iTUNES, either.

The massive field that is Panther Island was really starting to fill up now, as more and more people arrived, and several of them seemed excited to see The Quaker City Night Hawks.

“Good evening Fort Worth, Texas…” Sam Anderson sang in his rich tone, as the roots rock outfit got started. It wasn’t just a welcoming, but also the first line of their first song. The first of many new songs they did this evening, and it had been perfectly designed to be the opener, with the first few lines quite fitting of the day. Bassist Pat Adams and drummer Matt Mabe were responsible for a pretty heavy rhythm section on that song, as well; and you could already tell Mabe was thoroughly enjoying being up there, as he was giving it 110%.

“What’s up, Fort Worth?” Anderson asked, during a momentary pause before they fired up their next song. “That’s a new one,” he informed the onlookers when they had finished. “We’re glad to be here,” the singer and rhythm guitarist told everyone after another jam, before commenting on the weather. “Thank you… whoever is responsible for that,” he said, prompting one guy in the crowd to shout that he was the one behind the cooler, cloudy day. “That guy!” Anderson exclaimed and pointed, telling the crowd they should buy that man a beer.

Sans some backing vocals, David Matsler had been rather quite so far. However, he now took over on the singing duties, as they did “Fox in the Hen House”. It was the only old jam they did this night, and you could tell who was a fan of the band, because some people got quite excited when they began it. The best part was the harmonies. Everyone except keyboardist Andrew Skates sang on the chorus, “…‘Cause the fox is in the hen house now.” That number came to a mighty finish, due largely to the drums.

“We’re gonna play some new stuff for ya,” Anderson announced, before Matsler went back to singing. The percussion was so heavy on it that Mabe lost his beer because of it. “My whole beer just spilt cause of the vibrations,” he told his band mates in a very disappointed tone. He shook it off, and they got to another new song. One so new, it had never been played live before.

“Back in the winter of fifty-three, the mean ol’ devil had it out for me…” Anderson sang at the start of that dark, but engrossing track, which again had Adams, Matsler and Mabe providing some harmonies. A couple more followed, and once it was all said and done, Anderson thanked everyone who had paid attention.

“We are Quaker City Night Hawks, and we love you,” he told everyone.

Their 34-minute long set went by too fast, and if they had been able to play longer, I don’t think anyone would have had a problem with it.

This was my third time seeing these guys, and quite honestly, I think it was the best. Even topping the hour long or so set I saw them do last year, when I first caught them live.

Quaker City Night Hawks are as solid as they come, and it’s far too easy to see why they have not only became a favorite of many here in North Texas, but also established themselves as a heavyweight in the music scene.

They’re different from a lot of bands out there. Different doesn’t necessarily mean new, but they’ve found a style that they excel at and can pull off exceptionally well. They’re definitely one to keep an eye on, as they may be the next big thing to come out of the D/FW area. The potential is certainly there.

They have a gig in Roswell, New Mexico on September 19th, and then one in Amarillo, Texas at Hoots the following night. On October 24th, they’ll be marking their 5th anniversary as a band with a show in Fort Worth; and then on Halloween night you can catch them at Granada Theater in Dallas. As for albums, they have a few in iTUNES.

Next up on the schedule was something that was a real treat to the festival goers, and one band I was excited to see: Pleasant Grove.

It was only earlier this year when I first heard of them, when they performed a reunion show, which was anticipated by many. From what I later learned, the band was part of the old guard of the North Texas music scene, going back to the late 90’s, before breaking up in the mid-2000’s. Luckily for the scene, they haven’t stayed dead, and are now beginning a renaissance.

Just like many of the other bands on the bill, Pleasant Grove played a lot of newer songs they’ve cooked up.

Marcus Striplin and Bret Egner (both of whom were also the guitarists) traded off on singing during their set, with the former taking the first song, and the latter the second.

That second song also had Chris Mayes moving to the lap steel guitar that was attached to his pedal steel. Those instruments fit (and helped make) their sound, which was often melancholy, though never quite depressing.

“Thanks y’all. What’s up?” Striplin asked upon finishing those songs, before doing another that featured some duel singing from the vocalists. “The sunset’s beautiful,” Striplin then remarked. Indeed, it was. They had gotten a good time slot this day, and while a glare from one of the buildings way off in the distance had been reflecting back at them for part of the show, the sun had set enough now that it wasn’t too bad.

“Only a Mountain” was one of their classics they did this day, coming from The Art of Leaving LP, and to me, it was one of the most striking songs of their set.

Their 35-minute long set allowed them a few more, including another brand new song, titled “Pleasing You”. “…When you have the first laugh, then you can have the last dance, baby,” Striplin sang early on in it, with the rest of the song being just as creative and interesting.

He wished the crowd a “happy Dia!” after they finished, then sent everyone on their way.

These guys, which included bassist Tony Hormilosa and drummer Jeff Ryan, were another standout act of the day.

Of course, everything they did was new to me anyway, though the very little old stuff they did play still holds up nicely, and the new songs were every bit as good. Honestly, you have to wonder why these guys never “made it” and broke out on a national level back during original time together, especially considering that happened to several Dallas bands during that time. Perhaps they were just a little ahead of their time, especially with all the craze that currently surrounds genres that incorporate some folk elements to them.

However, the thing I liked most about Pleasant Grove wasn’t the music, but the lyrics. Every song was deep and highly emotional, two qualities you don’t always see together, though they make a potent mix.

If you want to stay in the loop about shows, keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE. They also have a couple of albums you can purchase in iTUNES.

The job of closing out the second stage went to Ume, who became the first band ever to play Dia for a second time.

“Hey, Fort Worth! We’re Ume,” singer and guitarist Lauren Larson told the crowd in a warm, friendly tone once they stepped on stage. That was about the extent of talking she did this night, though, as they focused primarily on their music in the 36-minutes they had.

“The Conductor” started their set, and right from the start, Lauren began demonstrating what a superb guitarist she is, taking the axe at one point and raising it up and behind her, where just the guitars neck was behind her neck, while she continued to shred away on it.

They threw in a couple of older songs, but mostly, they focused on Monuments, which was released earlier this year; and now drummer Aaron Perez established the steady beat that begins “Too Big World”, while Eric Larson hung back more at first, before really getting into it on the chorus. She used the instrumental break to kneel down and shred on her axe; and once she stood back up, she did a little backbend, before twirling in circles right at the tail end.

They wound it straight into “Burst”, which saw the fiery guitarist pumping her fist in the air, almost as a call to action to the onlookers, before striking the body of her guitar. After some brief silence, the trio suddenly erupted into “Embrace”, which kicked things up several notches; and afterwards, they delved more into their shoe gazey style of rock with “Hurricane II”, which is often as mesmerizing as it is raw. She again sank to her knees at one point on that track, holding her guitar vertically as she viciously picked at the strings.

While Eric and Lauren tuned, Perez started up the drum roll that begins “Oh, Fate”, a song that gradually builds, before striking with a fury. They had pretty much every set of eyes glued to them by now, and “Until The End” and “Chase It Down” further ensured that no one could turn away.

After that, Lauren took a moment to thank The Toadies for having them out, saying they were one of the first bands who ever gave them a chance, so you got the feeling that they [Ume] have immense respect for them.

They were almost done, and now reached back to 2005’s Urgent Sea and pulled out “Baby Xie-Xie”. It’s a beast of a song, especially live, with Lauren kicking the air at times, as she coordinated all of her moves perfectly with the music. The song also contained what was the best moment of their set, and it came when she fell onto her back, letting her guitar slide onto the stage beside her, before rolling somewhat on top of it, never missing a note.

All that was left now was their single, “Black Stone”, which delivered one last quick punch to the ears of the onlookers.

I’ve seen Ume half a dozen times now, and this was the best show I’ve seen them do.

Since releasing Monuments, they’ve been pretty busy making the most of the traction they started going with that single that has come from it, and all their time on the road has led to an incredible tightness. Even Perez, who has only been with the band a few months, looks like he has been a part of the outfit since the start.

The energy they pack into their shows is crazy, while their stage presence this night captivated many. Next to all that, the thing I enjoyed the most was that the vocal levels were turned up higher than normal, making every word crystal clear.

Ume’s next show will be in Houston at Fitzgerald’s on October 24th. Be sure to check out all their albums in iTUNES, too.

The main support band was one that has been around almost as long as The Toadies have, and in Texas (especially D/FW), they’re every bit as much of a staple. I’m speaking, of course, of Old 97’s.

I’m probably one of the few people left who had never seen Old 97’s before, and I was looking forward to that finally changing.

The band was all smiles as they were introduced, and then quickly got to work, coming out swinging with the upbeat and catchy “If My Heart was a Car”, off their debut, Hitchhike to Rhome. It was immediately clear they had their own fans out this night, as many sang along with singer and acoustic guitarist Rhett Miller.

“Barrier Reef” came next, and they didn’t allow any downtime between the songs. Instead, they just kept pushing themselves, with Miller putting on quite a show, even though he was often stuck behind the microphone, while lead guitarist Ken Bethea — who wore a poncho for these first few songs — raced about the stage. I was also quite impressed with the slick moves Murry Hammond worked in to his bass playing.

Two songs in and I was already questioning myself in how and why I had never seen these guys before.

“How y’all doing tonight?” the friendly Miller asked, adding that it was a beautiful night, while some mangled guitar chords set up their next number. It was “Dance with Me”, and the semi-dark song had a real sense of urgency to it. Before hitting the second verse, Miller proceeded to jump around some. He clearly had a lot of energy pent up, and he still had plenty of time to work on getting it all out.

As they stopped, the vocalist made everyone aware that it had also been twenty years since they released their debut record, at a time when he was roommates with Clark Vogeler, who later went on to become The Toadies lead guitarist. “That was a lot of fucking years ago,” he said rather simply, before their attention shifted to the recently released album, Most Messed Up, doing the lead track, “Longer Than You’ve Been Alive”. The song that somewhat chronicles their adventures over the last couple decades seemed to come at just the right time in the show, helping set the stage for the rest of their set.

“Cheers!” Hammond yelled afterwards, though he raised a bottle of water to the sky, an action that caught a little flak from some of the patrons, who wondered where his beer was. He paid them no mind, though. “I was born here. Grew up in the sticks out that way,” he said, pointing towards the general direction. He let everyone know the only reason he every even got to Dallas was to see a Dead Kennedys show, and then thought to himself, “I’ll stay here and do this.” It worked out for him.

He now took over on the reins, singing the very country sounding “West Texas Teardrops”, which was followed by what Miller called a “straight up love song”. “It’s called Let’s Get Drunk and Get it On!” he announced. It may have been another new song, but it was one fans have apparently quickly taken to, as many threw their fists into the air at the chorus, shouting along, “Let’s drink whiskey and do it all night long! Let’s get drunk and get it on!

Drummer Philip Peeples got a shout-out from his band mates as he got the next song going, which happened to be “Four Leaf Clover”. The very Western sounding track saw both Bethea and Miller leaping into the air when they could, with Bethea eventually making his way over to stage left, where he and Hammond worked off one another as they picked away at their instruments. They then returned to their debut record, doing a slightly more intense version of “Stoned”.

“What a great night!” Miller said excitedly, later on mentioning how pumped up he was to see The Toadies, and that he made sure to bring his ear plugs just so he could stand right in front of the speakers for them. They weren’t quite done with their new record yet, and now did “This is the Ballad”, which was quite deep. “A State of Texas” appealed to everyone’s Texas pride (at least I know it did mine); and Miller flat-out killed it on his acoustic for that one.

“This is off the new one,” Hammond simply said, before singing another tune, this one being “The Ex of All You See”, which was one of the most infectious things they did this night (and that’s saying a lot). Miller chatted with the audience for a bit, again thanking them, before doing another oldie, “Big Brown Eyes”, which was instantly followed by “Nashville”, a song that had some laughing as he (with the help of Hammond at times) sang the opening line, “I married Caroline back in May of ’99. It was fucked up at the time, but I figured we’d keep trying…” It was far from a humorous song, though, and is instead a reflective number about trying to figure out why nothing ever works out.

Upon finishing “Rollerskate Skinny”, Miller climbed atop his amp, stretching his arms towards the sky. You could tell they were building to something. He then got some serious air when he jumped; while they ripped into the final song of their 54-minute long set, “Time Bomb”.

The song about infatuation brought their performance to a roaring finish, with Miller waving goodbye and exiting the stage once it was done, while the rest of Old 97’s threw some picks at the crowd, before doing the same.

Seriously, how have I been a fan and avid supporter of the D/FW music scene for nearly a decade, but never seen Old 97’s before? I don’t know how I screwed up so badly.

I thought their performance was extraordinary, to the point they almost, almost unintentionally stole some of the thunder away from The Toadies.

From start to finish, their set was explosive, as they tackled a variety of songs, some of which almost sounded like a cross between country and rock (and at times even punk), while others more fit the lines of your typical (and true) country songs.

They’ll be on the road from the end of September through mid-October, and their tour dates can be found HERE. You can sample all of their albums in iTUNES (and I know I will soon start adding them to my collection.)

The day had been long, but with nonstop music, it passed quick; and now, it was finally time for the band of the hour: The Toadies.

After being on the road in support of the 20th anniversary of Rubberneck for much of the last five to six months or so, this was going to be the final gig of the tour. For me, this show was also going to complete a trifecta. I had seen their Dallas stop of the tour back in May, and in July I made the jaunt up to Denton, when they kicked off another leg of the tour. And now, I was excited to hear Rubberneck front to back once more, and for perhaps the final time ever.

It was 9:53 when Doni Blair, Vaden Todd Lewis, Mark Reznicek and Clark Vogeler walked onto the stage, waving and smiling at the fans. Most had gathered around the stage for a good view of everything, while others watched from a distance, relaxing in lawn chairs or just sitting on the grass.

Lewis approached the edge of the stage, still grinning at the fans, before starting them off on “Mexican Hairless”. The instrumental jam sent fans jumping about and cheering, while others banged their heads along to the aggressive piece. Right as it ended, Vogeler launched them into “Mister Love”. “Are you gonna save me? Can you save me?” Lewis growled in a raw, gravelly tone throughout the track. His voice sounded even more striking (and at times even terrifying) than at either of the other shows I had seen this year, making it clear that this performance of the album was going to be a cut above the rest. On top of that, the singer was constantly making different gestures with his hands or waving his fingers around; and at the final, “Can you save me?”, he stretched his arms out to the side, almost like he was basking in the love from the fans.

While they were busy playing the music, several beach balls had been tossed out in the crowd, which may be stereotypical of festivals, but all the same was fun, as people kept batting them away whenever they got close.

The band wound it right into “Backslider”; and as excited as fans were to hear that rocking number, it paled in comparison to the reaction “Possum Kingdom” got, which was not just screams and yells, but also people turning towards their friends and high fiving them. It was pure ecstasy for everyone as they sang right along, “And I promise you, I will treat you well. My sweet angel, so help me, Jesus.”

The string of beloved songs just kept coming, with “Quitter” sounding even angrier than normal as Lewis spit out the lyrics; and the hefty rhythm section of Reznicek and Blair continued to show their teeth during “Away”, which ended with Vogeler rocking out by his amp, getting the guitar tones as good as they could possibly be.

As Lewis has said at the past shows, he doesn’t like to speak during this portion of the set, as he wants to keep this live experience of Rubberneck as authentic as possible. That also extends to the usual sing along parts in the songs, like “Away”, which instead was handled completely by the band. However, one song where they couldn’t get away with that was “I Come From the Water”. Everyone knew the drill and didn’t even have to be told what to do as they hit the chorus, and the throng of fans shouted at the top of their lungs. It creates a moment that’s quite bonding for Toadies fans.

The most interesting part of the night came during “Tyler”, which was memorable to say the least. Shortly after singing, “I stumble in the hallway,” The Toadies blew out the speakers. The look of confusion on the faces of the band members as well as the crowd was hilarious in hindsight, as everyone was left scratching their head and looking around for a second, like, “Wait. What just happened?” Even without the amps, you could still somewhat hear the bass, drums and guitars, and the band went on playing, though they looked unsure. That was when fans showed their mettle. It was like instinct, everyone knew what to do, as they began singing the final noises from the tune, “Yeah-eh-a. Oh-oh-oh…”. It was far more audible than any of the instruments, and it was concrete proof of not only people’s love of these songs, but also their love for this band.

“I think we broke it,” Lewis said after they got it fixed, which happened as soon as the song ended. For the record, having the speakers blow is how you know you’ve seen a killer concert; and they were still just getting warmed up.

They got back on track, racing through the final three songs, as Reznicek bridged them from “Happy Face” into “Velvet”, and they only stopped long enough for Lewis to get a twelve-string acoustic guitar, before concluding the Rubberneck set with “I Burn”. “Sift the ashes for reminders; stony things remain,” Lewis sang, using his bullet mic for a couple of lines, as he placed his left palm into the air, before clenching his fist.

38-minutes was how long it took this night to run through those eleven songs, and they were far from done.

“That was the Rubberneck set,” remarked Lewis, also mentioning how “fucking crazy” it was that it has been twenty years. He was equally amazed by the fact that Dia de los Toadies was now in its seventh year. “This is the most fun one I think we’ve had yet,” he said of the festival, before saying if everybody was down, they’d do some more songs.

“Push the Hand” got the remainder of their 64-minute long set going, and it seemed to reinvigorate the crowd, as well as the mosh-pit, which was small, but had been going on throughout the show. During the last brief instrumental break, Blair and Lewis walked towards one another, interacting a bit as they jammed. The subsequent track from Hell Below/Stars Above, “Little Sin”, came next, though they axed the extended outro they often give the song. Instead, they jumped right into “No Deliverance”, which I thought sounded even better than normal this night. For example, there was something about the line, “I saw black monsters twisted in love,” and the way Lewis sang it that was just quite gripping this night.

“Are we still having fun?” he asked afterwards, a question that was answered by a resounding amount of cheers. They took time out to thank all the bands who had played, including the Old 97’s, who Vogeler joked would surely be going somewhere.

Blair then switched to a different bass before starting them on “Summer of the Strange” — one of the only new songs they did this night. Not that anyone had a problem with that. “…This is our indulgent three and a half minutes, bear with us,” cracked Lewis before they busted out their rendition of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”, a song that they quite possibly played for the final time this night.

“Oh, shit! I’ve got to start this one,” Lewis said, sounding a little apprehensive. He bought himself some time by telling everyone that several years ago he had written a song that he was now regretting writing. “It’s the most difficult song I’ve ever written,” he stated, leading everyone to wonder what it could be. I was racking my brain trying to figure it out, and I doubt I was alone.

I was not expecting “Hell Below/Stars Above” — a song I had only heard live once, nearly five years ago — but that was what they did. It made for a truly surprising moment, catching every single fan off guard; and the best part came at the end, where one of their techs added his voice to the mix. He could sing, and it helped make that gospel-like ending more like how it sounds on the recording. The thing I like most about that title track from their sophomore album is how it changes midway though, yet it still sounds like the same song. As Lewis said, it’s a difficult song, but it’s also a beautiful one, and it capped off this main set fantastically.

They were gone all of a couple minutes, before the noise from fans brought them back out. “Do y’all want some more songs?” Lewis asked, acting as though he was shocked. “We’ll play some more songs,” he added, before they broke into the primal, “Sweetness”, which was another track that had the singer making different motions with his hand at times as he sang.

They had another cover planned, and Lewis went back twenty years, mentioning that some of the songs from the original Rubberneck recording session had been cut. One of those was a cover of Pylon’s “Stop it”, and for that one, Lauren Larson of Ume joined them, tearing it up on her axe. The fans and the band were really digging that one. For starters, each time Lewis began clapping along, the fans did, too; and on the second chorus, Vogeler began jumping around.

“You guys tired?” Lewis then asked, a question that was met with a forceful, “NO!” The band then returned to their second album, performing the final track from it, “Doll Skin”. It had sounded great acoustic the night before, but there’s something about the electric version. It’s not exactly an all-out rock number, nor is that soft. Still, out of everything they had done, it’s not what you would think would be a perfect crowd surfing song, yet that was exactly what one man did, as he had his friends hoist him in the air.

“You’ve been fantastic. Thank you so much,” Lewis told the attendees, before extending that to cover their crew who put this on and everyone who had any part of it. “I’m from Fort Worth, I’m a big fan of Fort Worth, and this is all fucking Fort Worth right here,” he finished, before saying they would be leaving everyone with this. “This” was “Rattler’s Revival”. Fans again clapped along whenever they saw the frontman doing it; and really, what a fitting song to end their 19-minute long encore with. Not just because it’s a hard-hitting number, but because it’s one of the newest things in their catalog, and after spending most of 2014 on the road, focusing on their twenty-year-old debut, why not look ahead to the future, and hopefully, another twenty years, or even more.

I was thinking about it this day and Dia was the eighth festival I’ve seen/covered this year.

I’ve really come to enjoy the festival atmosphere; but as fun as all of those others have been, there’s one thing that’s different about Dia de los Toadies, and that’s what made me enjoy it not only more than those other festivals, but also more than ever: it’s because everybody there has an undying love for The Toadies.

It’s really cool to go to something like this and know that the common denominator is that everyone enjoys the same band. It breeds a real sense of camaraderie, and that is a special feeling.

So, kudos to The Toadies for giving their fans something like this to congregate at once a year. Here’s to hoping it continues for many more to come.

As for their set itself, it was solid as ever. This is a band that has a real staying power, even more than twenty years into it, and that was clear once more this night in Fort Worth.

They do have a few more shows this year. One will be in Houston at the Untapped Fest on September 20th. Another will be in Pharr, Texas at the Pharr Events Center on October 19th, with an Austin date at Emo’s on December 26th. Let’s not forget about Dia de los Toadies 8, which should be happening in September 2015. As for their albums, the remastered version of Rubberneck can be purchased at KIRTLAND RECORDS, while everything else can be found at iTUNES.

(Read my review of night 1 of this year’s Dia HERE.)

Sep 15

Friday, September 12th, 2014 – The 7th Annual Dia de los Toadies: Night I – An (Almost) Acoustic Party at The Shack

Another September can only mean one thing: it’s time for the annual Dia de los Toadies.

This was the seventh one the iconic Fort Worth band The Toadies had put together (well, them and their team at Kirtland Records), and it seemed to further prove that seven is the bands lucky number.

Seven years from the release of Rubberneck to Hell Below/Stars Above; seven years from their breakup to their revival; an now, the seventh year of Dia just so happened to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Rubberneck. It is a bit of a strange coincidence if nothing else.

For the second year in a row, Panther Island Pavilion in Fort Worth was hosting the festival; and originally, this first night of it was supposed to take place outside. Leave it to Texas to have freak weather, though. A cold front had moved in the night before, dropping temperatures into the 70’s (when it’s usually 90 something, yeah, that’s cold), while rain and mist made the conditions even less pleasant. So, rather last minute, the show was moved indoors to a building called The Shack, which sits in the main parking lot of Panther Island Pavilion.

It was a large warehouse/hanger, giving it quite an industrial feel, which somehow, just seemed to fit the bands.

It has become tradition that the first night of this now weekend long festival is an acoustic one, or as they call it, almost acoustic. I actually witnessed it the first year it was ever attempted, back at the 5th annual Dia down in New Braunfels; and after skipping the acoustic night the previous year, I was looking forward to hearing the reworked songs again.

Kicking off the night was the Denton-based singer/songwriter Doug Burr, whom I had not seen in probably a couple years, and I was looking forward to finally having another opportunity at seeing him.

Most of Doug Burr’s set consisted of new songs, though he did throw in a couple of oldies for everybody. “Red, Red” was one of those, coming from the already four-year-old album, O Ye Devastator. Burr wasn’t alone, and he was joined by a fellow guitarist, Dave; while Burr was seated, allowing him to add some percussion via a small kick drum.

The thing I enjoy most about his music is the fact that it tells stories, much like the way, say, Bruce Springsteen does (though the style of writing is the only comparison that could be made between those two artists.) That was shown on every track he played this night, with the beginning line from one going, “There was blood in our tracks, all covered in snow…” Whatever the title of that one may have been, it was actually one of my favorites, thanks largely to notes Dave threw in. He was quiet on his guitar at times, but struck at just the right moments to really accent the song, making for some great underlying notes.

They ditched the acoustic mood with “I Got This Fever/O Ye Devastator”. It may not have been true to the electric form of the recorded version, but their acoustics got pretty loud, while Burr kept his foot busy with that pedal for the small kick drum, giving the song some roaring percussion.

“Dave and I spent all day fixing this place up, didn’t we Dave?” Burr joked afterwards, saying they had been the ones responsible for getting everything set up after the team decided to move the show indoors. The duo then did another song, and upon finishing it, Burr informed everyone they had spent this last year working on a new record. “It’s alright,” he said, sounding almost completely indifferent. “We’re proud of it. The record, not the year,” he added, a joke which was either said so dryly people didn’t get it, or they just didn’t think it was too funny. I, however, thought it was pretty good. He let the audience know they were from the “good ol’ state of Denton, Texas,” and then they unleashed another new track on the people’s ears.

Not only was the song loud, but Burr sang it at a near machine-gun pace, prompting Dave to tell him afterwards that, that “wasn’t very acoustic.” “We’re keeping it almost acoustic, just like the rules say,” the singer quipped, before they ended their 30-minute long set with a couple more new tunes.

From the first time I saw him, I was a fan of Doug Burr, continuing to catch him whenever I was able; but lately, it doesn’t seem like he’s played too much. That said, having gone so long without seeing a performance, I had forgotten what an astounding singer/songwriter he is. Really, he’s one of the most talented here in the D/FW area.

He proved it quick this night, and with each passing song, he further established that is fact.

He has a remarkable voice; prominently displayed his storytelling chops this night; and even showed off some pretty good wit.

His next show will be on October 3rd at Three Links in Dallas. Also, head over to iTUNES where you can find his records; and according to what he said this night, he’ll finally have a new release out in January.

With Old 97’s providing direct support the following night, The Toadies had tapped Rhett Miller to do a solo set on this acoustic show, and I was interested in seeing him. See, not only had I never seen him solo before, I had never seen him live at all; and after all the good words about he and Old 97’s, I was expecting something special.

Sure enough, Miller delivered.

His 35-minute long set had two parts to it, and the first were all songs that belonged either to him or Old 97’s. After mentioning this venue was a “good plan B” for The Toadies to use, he launched into one of a few tales of heartache this night, “Lost Without You”. “…She was not like the rest, until she left…” he sang, filling that line (and several others) with loads of emotion this night.

It got his set off to a good start; and then, he began to reminisce. Miller mentioned he had known The Toadies for a while, especially “the guitar player”, “Who’s going to be playing keys tonight,” he stated. He was referring to Clark Vogeler, who used to be in a band called Fun Land. Miller said as much, and even though that was long time before I was introduced to the local scene, I have of course heard lore of Fun Land. However, I did not know they went by the name Melt before adopting that other moniker. Miller pointed that out and said he enjoyed the band so much back then, he wrote a song about them. Aptly, the song was titled “Melt Show”, and it was on it he began showing off his more rock and even punk side. The fast paced tune allowed him to bang his head around; and he did the ol’ standard windmill move to pluck at his guitar, executing it so fluidly and effortlessly, you just had to marvel at it.

He wound things right in to “Wasted”, which was one of a few songs he did this night that revolved around getting drunk. Even though the only instrument was his acoustic guitar, Miller managed to make the song incredibly catchy; while the opening line of “I’m gonna play guitar till my fingers fall off, sing till my voice is gone…” already seemed fitting of his behavior this night.

“It’s true,” he laughed, speaking of the line, “Tonight, I’m gonna get wasted with you.” That may have happened later, but for now, he was all about the music. “Come Around” was another track he did from his solo career, bringing things back down, and highlighting his falsetto tone on that lovely track. He was in the zone now, hitting these next few tracks one right after the other. “Won’t be Home” came next, and it further enlivened the crowd, while the cheery and infectious “Singular Girl” pulled everyone more into it.

“Woo!” Miller exclaimed upon finishing it, thanking everyone for watching him, and also saying he had heard The Toadies sound check, and that people were in for a treat. “…Tomorrow night I’ll be here with Old 97’s,” he mentioned, but then stated it felt good to be here by himself this night. That said, the concluded his original portion with “Let’s Get Drunk and Get it On”, a song that was rowdy even done solo, and a lot of spectators seemed to look at it as an anthem, cheering at each chorus.

People were left wondering what was coming next, especially since Miller had laid his acoustic guitar down now. Clark Vogeler then stepped on stage, took a seat behind the keyboard, and spoke into his microphone asking if it was live. Yeah, it definitely was, and suddenly and unexpectedly hearing his voice caused some people to jump a bit.

Miller mentioned that when he found out he’d be playing this event, he and Vogeler immediately started “hatching plans” as to how they could collaborate. They decided on this, having Vogeler play his keys, while Miller said he was just going to stand there and sing. “Which is terrifying,” he confessed in a moment of pure honesty. If he truly did feel that way, he didn’t show it this night, and after informing the crowd that some “sad, beautiful shit” was about to happen, they started tackling a series of covers.

The first was a moving rendition of Elvis Costellos’ “Almost Blue”, a song that seemed perfect for Miller to cover, as its vibe went with many of the other songs he had done. He now looked to the past, telling everyone that he and Vogeler used to be roommates “for years and years”. “He taught me all the good music I know,” Miller admitted, saying that included Elliot Smith. The duo covered “Baby Britain”, with Miller laughing afterwards that they should take this to LA and “play one of those dark bars”. “The Dresden,” Vogeler recommended, with Miller joking they’d need to get some sports coats before doing it.

Miller then regaled everyone with another story of when the two were roommates. “He didn’t know how to play piano back then,” Miller said of Vogeler, and he really did seem impressed by his friend’s abilities on the keys. “He barely knew how to play guitar then, too,” cracked Miller. A sweeter song they did this night was “This Will be Our Year” by The Zombies, a song Miller later mentioned was not easy to play on the piano, and that Vogeler deserved some props for it.

“Thanks for bearing with this crazy experiment,” he finished, as they rounded things out with David Bowies’ “Changes”. “Ch-ch-ch-ch changes, turn and face the strange…” Miller belted on the chorus, injecting some punk elements into the song by his manner of singing, which sounded a bit mismatched considering the keys, yet it went together.

Rhett Miller was highly entertaining from start to finish. The singer lived up to all the praise I have heard surround him, and actually, he was far better than I even thought he’d be.

He had no trouble owning the stage completely, even up there all by himself. He was a ball of raw energy; and while he may have been tied to the mic stand this night, he never let that hinder him.

He has some tour dates coming up, scattered across the country and spread out over the next few months. You can find a full list HERE. As for his solo records, you can purchase them in iTUNES.

The crowd was fairly thick as The Toadies start time neared, and I’d guess there were at least around a couple hundred people in the impromptu venue, most of whom were packed in, in front of the stage. They had waited long enough, and after a sound check had been done, the room started to fill with screams and chants, as people hoped to make the band appear.

And they did.

“We having fun yet?” Vaden Todd Lewis asked after sitting down on his stool. “I’ve been having fun,” he added, before officially welcoming the attendees to the seventh annual Dia de los Toadies. He sounded skeptical when remarking, “We’ll see how this goes,” and then they were off.

The music bed for “Backslider” was largely the same, and people knew it almost instantly and often sang louder than the band was. Just further proof that those songs from Rubberneck are still what fans enjoy the most. While it may have been similar, there were still some changes to the track, and it was quite restrained over the version people know by heart. Part of that was due to Clark Vogeler, who was on the piano all night, and on this song, it had a very old timey, almost ragtime style.

Those iconic songs were peppered sparingly across their setlist; and now, Lewis switched from his six-string guitar to a twelve. Mark Reznicek had his full drum kit in front of him, and he began the next song with some beats that sounded like it went with “Magic Bullet”, and sure enough, it did. Considering how thick the song is, it wasn’t one I was expecting acoustic, though the retooled rendition of the song was still quite heavy.

“Pretty great, huh?” Lewis remarked, while Doni Blair swapped out his electric bass for an upright one, a sight I had never seen before, nor ever thought I’d see. The intro for the next song was weird, which made it unrecognizable. It wasn’t until Lewis sang the first line, “I come from the water, I crawled up on the shore,” that the fans roared, and started to sing right along with “I Come From the Water”, and once more their collective voice was often louder than the bands. Lewis snapped his fingers while singing the second chorus; and during the instrumental break, the keys were again very prevalent.

That finished getting everyone warmed up on this chillier night, and the noise that followed that fan favorite was deafening. They switched gears after that, however. “…This is a new piece that’s intended to bum you the fuck out,” Lewis stated. If that was indeed their mission, than “The Appeal” certainly accomplished it. The final track from 2012’s Play.Rock.Music is one of the most powerful ones the band has ever produced (emotionally speaking), as was clear right from the start, with the line, “I wish I could tell you the way that I feel. I know that I failed you, so I make my appeal…” It’s soaked in both desperation and sadness; and for the most part, the crowd just looked on and watched, while others chatted with friends, since very few people seemed to know the lyrics. Then they got to the final verse, and Lewis, who had been pretty gentle so far, kicked it into overdrive, and belted out that last portion with a fiery passion. It was easily the most powerful moment of this set.

The electric bass and twelve-string guitar were both back in play now as they continued to keep fans on their toes. “We’re gonna play a Blondie song now,” Lewis informed everyone. “You think I’m fucking you, but we’re gonna do a Blondie song,” he added, stressing this wasn’t a joke. If you had seen them at all this year, then you knew he wasn’t kidding, because they’ve made “Heart of Glass” into a staple during this 20th Anniversary Rubberneck Tour. The acoustic setting was actually pretty behooving of it; while next up was a song that I hoped, though seriously doubted would be done acoustic.

“There it is!” a guy shouted as Lewis went back to the mandolin. He proceeded to pluck the strings of it, making a very interesting chord progression. “Is this Rattler’s?” I thought to myself. Sure enough, they had created an alternate version to the single from their 2012 release. “Rattler’s Revival” was entrancing to say the least, and it sounded more like what either traditional Middle Eastern music or even Indian music sounds like, being more of a cross between the two. The music bed wasn’t the only thing that had undergone a massive change, though. The words on the usually venomous song were more spoken rather than sung, which helped in creating an eerie feeling as Lewis spoke of being void of emotion, just like a snake. That pace continued right up to the end, when Reznicek repeatedly tapped one of the cymbals, which made it just a little creepier.

“It’s going pretty good,” Vogeler remarked afterwards, sounding somewhat surprised. Lewis then thanked their “wonderful, fantabulous crew”, calling out Dwayne and Wes by name. Those two crew members/techs had already been doing a lot this night, adding different instruments to the mix, even if it was something as simple as a shaker.

He went on to drop word of their next album, saying they had been having so much fun with this first night of Dia over the past few years that they decided to make a record in this vein. “…It’s even weirder than this shit,” he remarked. So, Toadies fans have that to look forward to in 2015.

They kept working away on that latest album with “Beside You”, and while it was more rock based — roaring to life on each chorus — they also put a fun twist on it, in the form of Dwayne adding a banjo into the mix. It folkified the song a bit. Next came a very special treat for all those who had decided to venture out here, even if the weather may have been better suited for staying at home: they got to hear a new song for the first time ever. I had trouble understanding the title, though I think it was “Belly of the Whale” (a line which was repeated here and there in the song). It was a super catchy song. Honestly, probably one of the most infectious things these guys have ever cranked out. “…I tried to sink my demons in the deep, so catch me if you can,” Lewis sang at a couple points during the track, a line that guaranteed it fit The Toadies mold.

“We’ve literally never played that before,” Vogeler pointed out, before they started joking that they had just made that all up on the spot. “Doni improvised it,” Vogeler said, while the bassist went with it and shook his head, like, “Yeah, I did.”

An acoustic show would not be complete without “Doll Skin”; a track I hadn’t heard in a couple years. The bass was dominant throughout, giving it a real punch, while the keys also had some time to shine, which balanced it all out.

“You may or may not know this is the twentieth anniversary of Rubberneck,” Lewis remarked afterwards, mentioning how “crazy” that was, and expressing his gratitude to everyone for coming out, not just this night, but over all the years. Fans were delighted to hear the song that became the bands breakout hit — “Possum Kingdom” — which sounded more or less the same, even with the addition of the banjo. The keys were quite prominent on it, too; and the instrumental jam at the end was killer.

Help from their road crew was again needed as they got ready for the special cover song they had worked up for this year’s show, and Wes used the twelve-string, while Lewis had the six-string axe. Apparently, David Bowie was the popular artist of the night, because The Toadies tried their hand at “Heroes”, pulling it off beautifully. Toadies fans don’t often get to hear the softer tones Lewis is capable of, which he got to display better on this song than anything else they did this night, and it was amazing.

“…The tiny guitar is back…” he laughed after having plugged the mandolin back in. He thanked Rhett Miller and Doug Burr for opening, along with all the fans for showing up to make this possible, adding that they would be “loud as shit” the next night. “I love playing Fort Worth…” he concluded.

Their 55-minute long set came to a close with a song that they haven’t gotten to end with at all this year: “Tyler”. Even on a mandolin, the opening chords are unmistakable, and, like always, everyone was singing along to every last word of the classic.

The band waved their goodbyes, saying they’d see everyone the following night, but the fans had other things in mind.

I was actually a little taken aback by how much noise the audience made; making it crystal clear they wanted an encore. After a couple minutes, the band felt compelled to come back out, though they had nothing else left to give.

“We’ve been rehearsing like this for eight days!” Vogeler stated. “We didn’t expect this,” Lewis added, referring to fans wanting an encore, and he kindly let everyone know they had just played everything they knew how to in this setting.

People were okay with that then, but I bet next year, these guys will be sure to throw in at least one more song so they’ll have an encore at their disposal if necessary.

The acoustic set was superb. The band did a nice mix of songs from a variety of albums, while the two covers fit nicely, and that new tune whet fans’ appetites for what’s to come in the world of The Toadies. Aside from that, as a fan, it’s just really cool to hear such unique versions of these songs.

All in all, this was not a bad way to get the weekend going; and now it was time for everyone to go home and get ready for the daylong festivities.

(Read my review of day 2 of this year’s Dia HERE.)

Shows You Know You Wanna See: September 14 - 20

Monday, September 15th
-Dallas (Downtown)

Doors @ 6:30 / Music @ 7

-Fort Worth

Music @ 10
Tuesday, September 16th
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)

$12 to $15
Wednesday, September 17th

AGES 16+
Music @ 8
Thursday, September 18th
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)

All ages (17 & under MUST be accompanied by a legal guardian.)
Doors @ 8 / Music @ 9
Friday, September 19th
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)

Music @ 10:30

AGES 21+
Doors @ 10

-Dallas (South Side on Lamar)

Music @ 8
FREE ($5 donation suggested)

-Fort Worth

Saturday, September 20th

Music @ 6:30


-Dallas (Deep Ellum)

AGES 17+
Doors @ 8
21+ $10 / 21- $15


AGES 21+
Doors @ 8 / Music @ 9

-Fort Worth


ALL AGES (under 17 MUST be accompanied by an adult)
Music @ 10
21+ $15 / 21- $20




Sep 12

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 – Delta Spirit’s Date with Dallas is More Like a Homecoming

The line to get inside the Granada Theater was shorter than I thought it would be. It was eight-o’clock and the doors had only just opened, with the line stretching just to edge of the patio out front.

It had been a while since Delta Spirit had played Dallas last, and a little more than two years since they were last at the Granada, so you knew the people of Dallas-Fort Worth had to be excited. Adding to the delight of having another chance to see the band that originated in San Diego, California was also the fact that their new album, Into the Wide, had dropped just the day before.

The venue was filling up nicely as it neared nine, to the point if you left your spot, it wouldn’t be there when you returned; and people chatted with perfect strangers, asking if they had seen the band before. From what I happened to overhear, some hadn’t, which meant they were in for a huge surprise.

The crowd loved the opening set by EDJ; and by the time 10:15 rolled around, the crowd — who had packed out both the seats in the upstairs area along with the massive space that is the general admission spots — was beside themselves, albeit it in a very collected manner.

Then at 10:16, their intro began.

Set up at the back of the stage was what I would say looked like massive blinds, positioned vertically, with a little gap in between each one. Fitting with the title of their new record, footage of some lush trees began to take shape, starting as a small box, before expanding wider so that it stretched from one side to the other, before the top and bottom parts filled out. The visuals were used for the duration of their performance, and they made for a nice touch.

Drummer Brandon Young, bassist Jonathan Jameson, keyboardist Kelly Winrich, singer and rhythm guitarist Matthew Vasquez and lead guitarist William McLaren then walked onto the stage and got ready to deliver 19 songs that spanned nearly all of their releases.

They opened with a taste of their new stuff, and while it was too soon for fans to know the lyrics to songs like from “From Now On”, that certainly didn’t keep them from enjoying them. That track fits the Delta Spirit mold nicely, being slightly atmospheric at times (a feeling that was only intensified by all the visuals), while Young and Jameson made for a very whole rhythm section. The former was already serving up some rapid-fire beats, while Jameson began slapping at the body and neck of his bass as the song neared the end. “COME ON!” Vasquez found time to shout before the third chorus, which compelled the fans to get more into it, even if it was unfamiliar to them.

“It’s so good to be home in Texas!” Vasquez sang in his completely unique gravelly, twangy voice. “I live here now,” he remarked, “And I love every part of it.” “Where do you live?” one woman was heard screaming, but her question went unanswered. Just somewhere here in Texas was all the people were told. He continued, “That being said, I expect a lot of butt shaking, a lot of whiskey drinking, a lot of good times.” The audience erupted in cheers over that, and they were ready to oblige.

Winrich moved from the keys over to the additional drum kit set up at center stage, which was almost hidden behind some of the other equipment in front of it. They went back in time, all of two years, to their self-titled album. They spent a good deal of time on it this night, beginning with “Tear it Up”, which had a good deal of the audience singing along. It was also the song where everyone was offered a true glimpse of how entertaining a Delta Spirit show truly is. At one point, Vasquez brought both hands out in front of his guitar and tapped his palms against the axe, while at another, he lifted his left knee up until it was touching the guitars neck. It may not have been anything over the top, but still, how often do you see something like that? Another highlight came when Young continuously struck the rim of his drums after the second verse, prompting a clap along. “Everybody sing it with me!” Vasquez yelled, as he held back some so the collective voice of the crowd wasn’t outmatched, as the room full of people repeated, “Just tear it up…”.

The applause subsided, and then McLaren led them into the next one, softly plucking at his guitar at first, and building up to “Empty House”. As he did so, Vasquez raised his guitar and sat it atop his head, where he held it right up until the first line. “How could one little speck make a difference to the rest? Well, it doesn’t. No one cared except me,” the two guitarists sang on each chorus; and on the final one, more clapping was required from the spectators. Things took a happier turn when they reached back to Ode to Sunshine, doing the vibrant “Strange Vine”. Jameson was hopping about for the first several seconds of the song; and when they hit the second verse, Vasquez raised one of his legs into the air, balancing on one foot as he continued to strum his guitar. That seemed fitting of the fun vibe the tune has. “Everybody, say ‘Hi’ to William,” Vasquez said before the lead guitarist tore off on a solo, and while he was busy with that, Jameson and Vasquez got right next to one another, then rested the top of their heads on the other’s shoulders while rocking out.

“Look at all you people! It’s beautiful!” exclaimed Vasquez, causing the house lights to go up so they could get a good look at their adoring fans. “Fuck yeah!” one guy shouted. “I love ‘fuck yeah’,” Vasquez responded, and then said on the count of three, he wanted to hear everyone shouting that, so people did.

“Live On” was another new one they broke out, and it quickly pumped the crowd back up with its infectious chorus. Vasquez took his guitar off as it ended, holding it over his head and using his free hand beat the underside of it, making for a cool tone. “Money Saves” followed, and you could feel the excitement spike when people figured out what song it was. Clearly ecstatic by it, they even got their own clap along going, something the band thought was great. They even got everyone singing along to the part before the final chorus, with people singing, “Oh-o-oh-o”, until the noise level was satisfactory to the band.

“Hold My End Up” was perhaps the most interesting of the new batch, simply because of the gradual build it has. It was best seen in Jameson this night, who was very methodical in his playing at first, before getting increasingly vicious, to the point he was slapping the bass by the end.

The line, “I’m a wondering soul,” was all it took to send people into a frenzy. The guy standing beside me, who had seem quite reserved so far this night, began jumping up and down like a madman, as they continued with “People C’mon”. It was, without question, a crowd pleaser, and really seemed to resonate with every person here this night. The refrain of, “…If you’re feeling what I’m feeling, c’mon. All you soul-searching people, c’mon,” sounded more like a message than just a simple line; and the fans took almost complete control of the final chorus, clapping and singing along, before going wild as they let the band know how much they had enjoyed that.

A sample track got them started on “Take Shelter”, a song that often saw Vasquez clutching his guitar, while he just sang into the microphone. Young appeared to be getting quite into that one, especially after the first chorus, and he held my undivided attention on it. He then laid into the kick drum, setting up the forceful beat for “Yamaha”, which may have slowed things down, but it also sent the emotional level sky-high, and nothing else rivaled that this night.

So, how do you follow-up such a soft and emotionally charged song? Well, in Delta Spirit’s case, they did another emotionally charged one, but one that mines a completely different vein. There was plenty of shredding during “Bushwick Blues”, especially during the final minute or so, when it really roared into action. “…It’s no relief. That sounds to me just as sweet,” Vasquez sang, before hunching over his guitar, where he got so involved, he almost didn’t raise back up to the mic in time for the next line.

That song seemed to reinvigorate them; and “Language of the Dead” was another spirited number. As Vasquez sang the first several lines, he faced stage left and walked in place, slowly swinging his arms in a slightly more exaggerated motion. “When this kicks in… you better move your butt!” the singer than informed everyone before their next number. He had gotten behind the piano now, while Winrich moved back to the second drum kit, which also had a keyboard set up beside it. It just took the opening piano line of “Trashcan” for the audience to scream with glee; and that song offered the most unforgettable moment(s) of the night.

Winrich was peer pressured into climbing the scaffolding of the stage by Vasquez. Well, him and the entire room, who were all chanting his name. He scurried up it on stage left, then carefully drug himself along the bars that run across the top of the stage. “Kelly! Look down!” Vasquez shouted as he was about to descend. The vocalist was now at center stage, and after waving to his band mate, he asked everyone to make an aisle for him. He journeyed through the crowd, going a couple of sections deep, before standing on one of the bars that divides each section. “Let’s see how loud you can sing. You know the drill,” he told the audience.

The fans were pitted against one another, though before doing anything, Vasquez stressed he didn’t want to break up any couples, as apparently some were right on the boundary line he drew. He led each side in making some sounds, doing it a few times, before returning to the stage, and since he had no instrument to tie him down, he grabbed the mic stand and half drug it around, half danced with it on the stage.

“That was great! Give Kelly a big hand,” he said, noting the pianist hadn’t been too keen on doing that stunt. Vasquez then shared a good anecdote about them playing ACL, when his wife saw him doing that, and told him she’d never speak to him again if he did it anymore. “So I promised I won’t, I’ll make Kelly do it!” he said smiling.

That said, they suddenly launched into “California”. The song is a beautiful (albeit sad) one, telling a nice tale of letting go of someone because it’s the best thing, but not necessarily the easiest. “…And though my heart will fight until its dying breath, you’re not for me,” is just one of the exceptionally powerful lines it boasts. Nearly the whole time he was signing, Vasquez had a smile stretching across his face. He had looked the same way for the majority of their set, making it evident he was loving every second of this performance.

He shared another story with everyone during their next break, this one about being on the way to meet his brother-in-law, and being so excited to be getting back to Texas, he drove off from a gas station with the nozzle still in the side of the car. “…I paid the guy eighty bucks, though…” he said of his effort to make the accident right, before repeating how much he enjoyed living in the Lone Star State.

With the night winding down, they pulled out “Children”, which not only worked in a harmonica, but also some more additional percussion, as Kelly got up from the piano at each chorus and beat one of the drums with both a maraca and what looked like a tambourine. McLaren was killing it on that one, really showing off his prowess on the guitar. Soon, the deafening notes faded, but never ceased. “One, two, three, four,” Vasquez counted, as they turned the instrumental bridge into “White Table”. The audience let loose some massive cheers in response to it.

The poignant track concluded their 85-minute long set, as they offered up a few more feats, such as some duel drum solos between Young and Winrich. The crowd was charged with some more singing during an instrumental break, repeating, “Whoa”, several times; before the band sprang into action with a dynamic finish, which had Vasquez thrusting his guitar into the air by his amp, while Jameson banged the headstock of his bass against his amp. The amount of feedback was near deafening.

They waved their goodbyes and walked off stage, but people knew they had to be back.

That’s when someone was struck with a brilliant idea.

“Whoa. Whoa. Whoa,” someone sang, to the tune of “White Table”. It caught on in no time, and soon, nearly the whole room was doing it, leading the band to rush on stage and extend that song just a bit with a brief jam session.

Vasquez later noted they had never been brought into a room like that before, and you could tell they were all in shock over it.

He grinned while delivering the opening notes of “Parade”, the first song of their encore, which tacked 14 more minutes onto their set. This one song wasn’t smooth sailing, either. “Liars…” he sang on the second verse, before abruptly stopping. “I forgot it,” he admitted, just laughing at himself. The thing was, no one cared. After a show like this, that had been so intense from the get go, how could you? He hummed along to it for a few seconds before it came back to him, and he exclaimed, “I know it now!”, sounding thrilled.

Some ladies shouted out that they loved him during the next break, prompting Vasquez to do his best attempt at a high-pitched feminine voice, saying, “Love you, too!” before they got to the title track from this new record. Fitting with the title, “Into the Wide” just has an expansive quality to it, and is quite picturesque, especially live.

It bled into “People, Turn Around”. Both kits were utilized during it, though Winrich used the main one, while Young seated himself behind the other. Is what made it a perfect closer, was the way it just seemed to work with current world events. “Well, it’s time all you people turn around, for the life we’ve been living, messing around. The blood we’ve been spilling will bleed us dry…” It just felt appropriate, and sent a positive message; and after the audience failed when they were first offered to sing right at the start, they redeemed themselves towards the end, yelling out that chorus.

Thus ended a spectacular performance, the likes of which few bands can deliver these days.

The energy Delta Spirit puts into their shows is impressive to say the least, and all five of them go all in, all the time. The music is so rich and full of texture too; having roots in classic rock, but being modern enough it can appeal to anyone.

I had only seen Delta Spirit once before this, and I must say, they were even better this night then I remembered from that show nearly two years ago, and I know I was amazed by that one.

They leave it all on stage, pouring everything into every show, and at times, it’s hard to tell who’s having more fun: the audience, or them.

They’ll be on tour through November 1st, and their full list of dates can be found HERE. Also, if you don’t have any of their records, check them out in iTUNES.

People were already raving about the show as they trekked towards the foyer and out the doors, and if everyone was like me, then they were thinking, “I hope these guys come back to Dallas soon.”

Sep 11

Idol Records Releases New Dead Flowers Single “I’m Leaving”

imageIdol Records has released a new single, “I’m Leaving”, from Dallas rock band Dead Flowers, from their forthcoming sophomore album His Blues.

I’m leaving” was recorded at The Nest Studio in Dripping Springs, TX and produced by Jason Robert Burt.

His Blues will be released by Idol Records on 180 Gram Audiophile vinyl / CD / Download / Stream

The album Release show is Sat. Oct 18 at Club Dada.

Purchase the single on iTunes.

Sep 10

Old Bridge, NJ Metal Band Lords of Mercy Announce Upcoming Tour Dates with Anvil

imageFormed in 2011, Asbury Music Award-nominees LORDS OF MERCY hark back to the early days of thrash metal, hailing from the hub of the East Coast heavy music scene. In addition, LORDS OF MERCY are connected to the notable New Jersey musical grassroots organization Old Bridge Metal Militia, which paved the way for some of today’s top heavy metal acts such as Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Anvil, and more.

Lead guitarist Danny Anniello states, LORDS OF MERCY are very excited to be doing more shows with Anvil. They are great guys and a great band that always goes full on and gives it all they’ve got. We are looking forward to playing in front of new audiences and kicking some new life into each stage that we rock. Like AnvilLords will be going full-on, so expect nothing less!”

Prevailing with a purpose to end the monotony of current trends and bring back the originality that put New Jersey on the heavy metal map, LORDS OF MERCY lead the fall touring season with a brief run of upcoming tour dates with Anvil. See below for a list of current tour dates, all within the tri-state area:

10/15 - Patchogue, NY @ The Emporium
10/16 - Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon
10/17 - Long Branch, NJ @ The Brighton Bar

Do not confuse LORDS OF MERCY as a carbon copy of those bands of legends past, but rather a group of talented individuals breathing new life and innovation into a genre that is so easily repetitive and omitting passion and individuality. Listen for yourself by downloading the band’s full-length self-titled album released in December via Main Man Records, available here via iTunes:

Through their significant connections with some of history’s hottest musical talent, LORDS OF MERCY has garnered respect from local fans and musicians alike, commanding a packed crowd while remaining grateful for the support of those sharing the scene.

Figure Announces Groundbreaking “Terrorvision”!

imageEDM/Heavy Bass producer and horror enthusiast FIGURE (aka Josh Gard) has announced his revolutionary show TERRORVISION, an innovative, visual representation of the FIGURE musical experience.

Tickets will go on sale Saturday, September 12th HERE. Go to for more details!

Terrorvision has been a concept I’ve been putting together for some time now, something I thought would go really well with my annual Monsters series.

I wanted to create the ability to compile tons of custom edited clips the same way I have compiled tons of music for my sets over the years. I’m a horror buff and I’ve amassed an extensive collection of classic shock theatre and obscure films which is definitely an inspiration for the visual direction on this tour.

Through partnering with Rane/Serato and using their hardware I now have the ability to map these custom visuals to my music on the fly, adding a brand new element to my live show. Many artists look at visuals as a way to simply customize the blank slates of wall behind them. WithTerrorvision it’s another dimension of my music. An intense visual backdrop giving my fans a window into where I draw inspiration; my vision as a producer, coming together on stage where the visuals brings it all to life. - FIGURE

Tour dates:
10/17 - Revolution Live - Ft. Lauderdale, FL
10/18 - Firestone Live - Orlando, FL 
10/24 - Soundgarden Hall - Philladelphia, PA 
10/25 - Skyway Theatre - Minneapolis, MN 
10/29 - Peabody’s - Virginia Beach, VA 
10/31 - The Amphitheater - Tampa, FL 
11/1 - Nightmare Festival - Darlington, MD 
11/6 - Concord Music Hall - Chicago, IL 
11/7 - BETA - Denver, CO 
11/14 - Club Rio - San Antonio, TX 
11/15 - Somewhere Loud - San Diego, CA 
11/20 - Ruby Skye - San Francisco, CA 
11/21 - Lizard Lounge - Dallas, TX 
11/22 - Republic Live - Austin, TX

Connect with Figure:
Facebook | Twitter | SoundCloud | YouTube

Sep 09

Snot Reunite For U.S. Tour Playing Classic “Get Some” Album In It’s Entirety

imageLegendary Punk / Funk / Rock band SNOT has announced that they will be reuniting once again for a full U.S tour in which they will be performing their classic “Get Some" album in it’s entirety. He Is Legend, Thira, and Lydia Can’t Breathe will offer support. The tour kicks off on November 28th in Palm Desert, California and wraps up on December 23rd in Pomona, California. More dates will be added soon, so make sure to follow SNOT on Facebook for updates.

SNOT guitarist Mikey Doling says of the upcoming tour “I want to let you know we are ready to rock out as hard as humanly possible with all you SNOT heads around the world on our first world tour. I hope you’re ready cause we have a ton of massive energy to bring to you. SNOT is something special to us. We will enjoy playing our debut and only record GET SOME in it’s entirety for you live for all you die hard SNOT HEADS! SAY SOMETHING FOR THE RECORD TELL THE PEOPLE WHAT YOU FEEL!!

SNOT lead singer Tommy Vext adds “Words cannot describe how excited I am to be getting back in the road with my brothers in SNOT. It is a privilege to play with a band that has had an indeterminable influence over countless artists from the bands inception & thereafter. I’m honored to pay tribute Lynn Strait and offer Snot fans on an international level the live experience they may not have yet enjoyed.”

Tour dates:
11/28: Palm Desert, CA @ Shcmitty’s Tavern 
11/29: Las Vegas, NV @ Dive Bar 
11/30: Grand Junction, CO @ Mesa Theater 
12/01: Salt Lake City, UT @ In The Venue 
12/02: Denver, CO @ The Roxy 
12/04: Springfield, MO @ Outland Ballroom 
12/05: Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s 
12/07: St. Paul, MN @ Amsterdam Bar & Hall 
12/09: Joliet, IL @ Mojoe’s 
12/14: Dallas, TX @ Trees 
12/15: Houston, TX @ Scout Bar 
12/16: San Antonio, TX @ Backstage Live 
12/17: Austin, TX @ The Dirty Dog Bar 
12/19: Phoenix, AZ @ Club Red 
12/20: Tucson, AZ @ The Rock 
12/22: San Diego, CA @ The Soda Bar 
12/23: Pomona, CA @ The Glass House

More dates to be announced soon!

Sunday, September 7th – The Picturebooks Powerhouse Performance in Dallas Proves Rock is Alive and Well

Despite being a free show at Gas Monkey Bar & Grill, there wasn’t much of a crowd on this Sunday. That can’t be totally unexpected, given the bill consisted of a couple local acts and a touring band that I doubt anyone was familiar with beforehand.

Still, a little more than fifty people or were scattered around the massive patio that houses the outdoor stage; and those who did show up were rewarded with a show that they will not soon forget.

Headlining this night was a duo who originated from Gütersloh, Germany known as The Picturebooks, and this marked the first show of their U.S. tour.

No one really knew what to expect from this group. Even what style they would be was most likely a mystery to all, which made it all the more shocking when they began their set right at 10:15.

There was a lengthy instrumental intro, and right away the onlookers were shown just how heavy The Picturebooks were going to be. The sound the two produced was massive; and Fynn Claus Grabke banged his head and slammed his guitar down to several of the beats Philipp Mirtschink was hammering out.

They immediately transfixed people with that, and after warming up not only the crowd, but also themselves, they were ready to get down to business. “PCH Diamond” showed off the groups’ bluesy rock side, and really highlighted Grabkes’ voice and the great tones he is capable of. Mirtschink got plenty of attention too, though. The drummer held a stick in one hand, using that on the floor tom, while he struck another drum with the palm of his hand for a bit, before grabbing a shaker with sleigh bells on it, creating a cool effect.

They were on the attack, and the word “break” often seemed to be one they were unfamiliar with, as they tackled one song right after the other. They did what was almost like a prelude, with Grabke continuing to belt out the words, before stopping as he went and hastily changed guitars. “Woman what are you doing? Woman, who are you fooling?” he sang after getting back in front of the mic, the first lines from “Woman”, which quickly escalated from its hushed beginnings. It was drenched in raw emotions; and they reeled in the crowd further with it, providing plenty of moments to bang your head to. There was even a point where Grabke needed to adjust one of his pedals, but not wanting to skip a line, he quickly removed the mic and unwound it from the stand so he could hold it as he fiddled with his gear.

The applause that followed was almost as massive as their music had been, and they weren’t about to slack up. “1000 Years Of Doing Nothing” was every bit as catchy as it was powerful; and when hitting a brief lull, both Mirtschink and Grabke let their instruments fall silent and began clapping along. The crowd quickly picked up on that, and decided to help them out. However, the part that got everyone wide-eyed was when Grabke raised his axe in the air — holding it horizontally — before suddenly pulling it towards his face and assaulting the strings with his teeth.

Mirtschink fired up their next number; and sweat dripped from his hair as he laid into his kit, producing some forceful beats. Grabke used a slide for the next couple of songs, one of which I’m fairly certain was a rendition of The Ramones’ “The KKK Took My Baby Away”. Regardless what it was, there was a point where Grabke used his fingers to pluck the strings of the guitar instead of the pick, which just looked cool; and he knelt down to mess with his pedal board at another point, creating a loud buzzing effect.

All night long Mirtschinks’ floor tom had seemed to be trying to escape from him, and before going any further, he moved it back over as close as he could towards him, then started on the rapid, steady beat that persists for much of “E.L.I.Z.A.B.E.T.H.”. It was somewhat haunting in a way, as Grabke nearly whispered into his microphone, but once it roared to life, the kick drum was shaking the wooden boards of the deck.

“Thank you all so much,” Grabke told the spectators afterwards, kind of apologizing for the technical difficulties they had been having, and he laughed it off, joking that since this was their first show of the tour, something had to go wrong. However, the difficulties they were faced with went almost unnoticed by the audience, who was just caught up in this stellar performance.

“This song’s called Fever,” he stated before yet another song off their forthcoming album. Mirtschink laid his right arm over the tom to secure it, which worked, at least until he had to use that hand to drum as well. It was clear by this point that The Picturebooks were a rock band, the likes of which you just don’t see too often anymore. They had been offering up pure, unadulterated rock, which made the next sentence Grabke uttered quite surprising. “This is a cover version of the one and only Madonna,” he stated.

I don’t know if everyone even took him seriously at first, or just thought that was a joke. It wasn’t.

I doubt “Lucky Star” has ever sounded the way these two guys made it sound this night. The percussion was deafening; the vocals were gritty; and to cap it all off, it was an explosion of hard rock. Grabke got super into it, moving all over the stage and whipping his hair out of the way whenever it covered his face. They managed to turn that old pop number into something entirely different, and I actually thought it was one of their best songs of the night.

Mirtschink led them right into their next number, as they brought things back down with the gentle and often sweet, “All Of My Life”. “The Rabbit And The Wolf!” Grabke shouted before they kicked things back up several notches with the song by that name. Mirtschink again used his hand to strike one of the drums for a time on that high-energy number; and as it ended, he finally used the decent sized bell that was set up to his right, which created a good chiming effect.

“This is going to be our last song of the night…” Grabke then informed everyone, which truly seemed to astonish the crowd, and certainly disappointed them. They may not have had many, if any, fans when they rolled in to town this day, but they had made a lot in their short time on stage. He went on to say this was the first single off Imaginary Horse, which is due out exactly one month from this gig.

They ended their 41-minute long set in the same vein it had begun: with a fiery track that evokes some aspects of the blues. It was titled “Your Kisses Burn Like Fire”. They might have been almost done, but Mirtschink wasn’t out of the woods just yet; and after the periodic technical difficulties this night, the microphone he had was hit and subsequently fell out of its stand. No harm, no foul, though.

The crowd was hoping for something more from these guys, and they made it well known.

Just before giving up hope, the duo returned to the stage, and Grabke let everyone know it was a B-side they had for everyone. “It’s called ‘Hail These Words’,” he said. Then it hit him. “Actually, it’s not a B-side, it’s on the album,” he laughed as he looked at his band mate. It was a good one to end with, providing a sharp rise and fall at a few points during it.

The band left the stage revered by all who had come out to Gas Monkey this night; and people swarmed the merch table when they eventually made their way over there.

A lot of people say rock is dead. That’s far from being true. In mainstream music, yeah, perhaps it is. On radio stations you don’t hear many true rock bands these days, bands the likes of which dominated the charts in the 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s. But just because you don’t hear any good rock bands on that medium doesn’t mean they aren’t out there.

Case in point: The Picturebooks.

These guys had such a robust sound to be just a guitar and a drum kit (I should note, Mirtschink didn’t have a single cymbal on his kit, either), and the music they made was some of the thickest, heaviest sounding rock ‘n’ roll I have heard in a long time. Their live show was every bit as impressive, too. You were often left in awe of the musicianship they displayed; and given how much extra room was left on stage, they did an incredible job of filling every single inch of it.

I’d go as far as saying this was one of the most entertaining and overall amazing live shows I’ve seen from a band, and it would be well worth going out of your way just to experience a show firsthand.

The Picturebooks trek across America will last through the end of the month, hitting Missouri; Michigan; Illinois; Indiana; Minnesota; Nebraska; Kansas; Colorado; Idaho; and California. After that, they’ll return to Europe for a nearly two month tour. Specific dates for everything can be found HERE. You can also pre-order Imaginary Horse in iTUNES, and get a couple of tracks instantly if you do so.

Sep 08

Ronnie Fauss Fuses Country-Folk Vibe and Rock Spirit on Built to Break, Releasing Nov. 4

imageAsk a hundred singer-songwriters when they got serious about making music, and almost all will say the passion possessed them while they were still kids, or maybe in college, or after an attempt to hold their first “real” job. But Ronnie Fauss musical path is the exact opposite of conventional: He didn’t fully embrace songwriting until after his first child was born. And the working professional didn’t start sharing his songs with the world — much less consider “troubadour” as a viable option — until a few years after that. He didn’t even start singing until he realized it was the only way to give his songs exposure.

All of which makes his association with New West imprint Normaltown Records even more impressive. Fauss’ second album for the label, Built to Break, releases Nov. 4; it follows his well-received 2012 label debut, I Am the Man You Know I’m Not. To say this is a more rapid than normal trajectory is such understatement, we hope it doesn’t inspire 99 jealous fits.

As for sharing the same label umbrella as John Hiatt, Steve Earle and some of his other biggest influences, Fauss says the notion never even occurred to him back when he first started playing in public.

“It’s literally just one of those old-school stories you don’t hear anymore,” says Fauss of his evolution from self-releasing EPs to recording for a label he’s idolized. A Dallas resident born in Oklahoma but raised in Houston, Fauss happened to be playing at Houston’s Cactus Music when New West/Normaltown owner George Fontaine Sr., a fellow Houstonian, heard him.

We met and just connected and became friends. It really happened that organically,” Fauss says. But he earned his contract by crafting strong songs with an appealing, folk-tinged country-rock sound that owes as much to Whiskeytown and Old 97’s, his Dallas homeboys, as it does the Cali country of Laurel Canyon and the spirits of Townes and Gram. Or the influences of Earle, Hiatt or two other heroes, Guy Clark and John Prine.

In fact, Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller even lends his voice to “Eighteen Wheels,” a raucous honky-tonkin’ road song that would serve as a perfect companion on any trip.

“We made a conscious decision to make this record a little more rock ’n’ roll and a little bit less country,” Fauss says of their work. “We wanted the loud songs to be really loud, and the quiet songs to be really quiet. And we wanted the one country song, ‘Never Gonna Last,’ to be really country.”

Though his lyrics often address life’s emotional tolls, he’s quick to assure songs such as “The Big Catch,” which examines divorce’s effects on a child, are not autobiographical.

“It’s an interesting thing to explain at home: ‘I’m really happy; we’re all good. This is just a song I wrote,’” he jokes. Then he adds thoughtfully, “I think there’s a little bit of truth and a little bit of fiction in every single one of my songs.”

Turning fiction and truth into stories that resonate with listeners is no small feat, but Fauss pulls it off on every Built to Break track. He’s particularly proud of “The Big Catch,” which he regards as the album’s emotional anchor. The kind of ballad Slaid Cleaves might have written, it features Eric Neal’s fiddle, Devin Malone’s pedal steel, and pretty harmonies by Camille Cortinas. She also accompanies him on the album’s only cover, Phosphorescent’s “Song for Zula.”

It’s safe to say “unique” applies to the entire collection, from the Dylan-inspired “I’m Sorry Baby (That’s Just the Way It Goes),” to the song in which Fauss addresses actual country — as in countryside: the aptly titled “A Place Out in the Country.” But the twang in this sweet mid-tempo melody owes more to Jackson Browne’s neck of the woods than Texas or Tennessee.

Fauss may have a fun-seeking, risk-taking streak, but he’s also a loving father. And even though he returned to songwriting to avoid being consumed by parenthood, that experience affected his creativity. He became more prolific, and the songs got stronger. “That finally gave me the confidence to say, “Maybe I should do something with this,” he explains.

Though his early, home-recorded EPs were popular, Fauss says even those, much less his label work, would not have seen the light of day had he not been convinced he had something solid to offer. “I’ve got this standard that I try to hold myself to,” he admits. “If it’s not something that I would listen to if somebody else did it, I’m not gonna put it out.”

That standard was put to the test on the album’s final track, “Come on Down.” Fauss rejected its first incarnation, done in full-band mode, because he believed the strings, accordion and electric guitar overloaded it. Birkis disagreed.

“While he went out for a break, I sat down and played it live with Sadler Vaden [Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit] on the 12-string guitar next to me,” Fauss says. That gave the beautiful ballad, an ode to the working class, the breathing room its thoughtful lyrics needed; the only addition was pedal steel. Another mix of fiction and experience, Fauss says, “It’s about a guy who works in a factory, which isn’t autobiographical. But at the same time, a lot of those sentiments are what I feel.” In the end, his character realizes, “This work will break our bodies but it only builds our souls.”

No, writing, recording and performing songs isn’t factory labor, but it still can be challenging. And even if Fauss’ rapid acceptance makes it seem like a breeze, he knows better than to take his good fortune for granted — which means laughing when it comes in the form of performance payments made entirely in $5 bills. Hey, if that’s troubadour life, Fauss can handle it. Because he’s not built to break.

image(Photo credit: Jacob Blickentaff)

Drama Club Releases “Halloween365 (Never Coming Down)” Music Video; Announces U.S. Tour Dates With Black Veil Brides

imageElectro House / Shock Pop duo Drama Club has released the official music video for their debut single ‘Halloween365 (Never Coming Down).’ The band, consisting of Zero and Andromeda, has also announced that they will be joining Black Veil Brides on their upcoming U.S. tour which includes support from both Falling In Reverse and Set It Off. “The Black Mass 2014" kicks off on October 21st in Niagra Falls, NY and works it’s way throughout the United States wrapping up on December 15th in Albuquerque, NM.

There are no barriers in music as far as we’re concerned, because younger fans, today, are more open to multiple styles of music. We’re mixing up a ton of music for this tour, including a sick remix of Andy Black’s ‘They Don’t Need To Understand’ as well as some Asking Alexandria, The Used, Bring Me The Horizon, and others. Black Veil Brides may be a hard rock band, but there’s ‘No Hate’ in what they do because they create empowering music, bringing like-minded kids together in harmony. We’re also about self-empowerment, following your dreams, embracing your own individuality, and, above all else, self-expression through art and music. This tour is about celebrating NOH8, there is no judgment; it’s all about energy, expression, and acceptance. - Drama Club

The Black Mass 2014 Tour:
Oct 21 - Niagara Falls, NY @ Rapids Theatre 
Oct 22 - Columbus, OH @ The LC Pavilion 
Oct 24 - St. Paul, MN @ Myth 
Oct 25 - Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre 
Oct 27 - Denver, CO @ The Fillmore Auditorium 
Oct 30 - Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues 
Oct 31 - Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee Theatre 
Nov 01 - Los Angeles, CA @ Wiltern Theatre 
Nov 03 - San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield 
Nov 05 - Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater 
Nov 07 - Seattle, WA @ Showbox SODO
Nov 08 - Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory Concert House 
Nov 09 - Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory Concert House 
Nov 10 - Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex 
Nov 12 - Kansas City, MO @ Uptown Theater 
Nov 14 - Indianapolis, IN @ Egyptian Room at Old National Centre 
Nov 15 - Royal Oak, MI @ Royal Oak Music Theatre 
Nov 16 - Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theatre 
Nov 17 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE 
Nov 19 - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory 
Nov 21 - Stroudsburg, PA @ Sherman Theater 
Nov 22 - Worcester, MA @ The Palladium 
Nov 23 - New York, NY @ Best Buy Theater 
Nov 26 - Portland, ME @ State Theatre 
Nov 28 - Clifton Park, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall 
Nov 29 - Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore Silver Spring 
Dec 02 - Louisville, KY @ Expo Five 
Dec 03 - Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle 
Dec 04 - Lake Buena Vista, FL @ House Of Blues 
Dec 05 - Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte 
Dec 06 - Norfolk, VA @ The NorVa 
Dec 08 - Grand Rapids, MI @ The Orbit Room 
Dec 09 - St Louis, MO @ The Pageant 
Dec 11 - Houston, TX @ Bayou Music Center 
Dec 12 - Dallas, TX @ South Side Ballroom 
Dec 13 - San Antonio, TX @ Backstage Live 
Dec 15 - Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater

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Sep 04

Alt-Metal Band Amongst Thieves Signs with Rogue Records America

imageIt’s astounding when you think of all the amazing talent that has recently signed up with Rogue Records America. Perhaps it’s because the label isn’t a true “label” in the sense of the word, leaving the majority of power with the artist, allowing them to recoup faster on releases, and also allowing them full ownership and rights of their music and recordings!

It’s these things that make Rogue different. Because of this, another amazing artist to watch out for has signed up with the label. Rogue Records America proudly announces the signing of AMONGST THIEVES to the Rogue family.

AMONGST THIEVES is a San Francisco five piece rock/metal band formed in July 2011. The band is comprised of five players who all come from different musical backgrounds. With this amalgamation of talent comes a power-house sound that screams. The be releasing their debut full-length album Last to Suffer to the world via DIGIPACK CD and DIGITAL on September 23, 2014 and immediately hit the road to support it. Last to Suffer, which features the first single ‘Torn Apart’, is an album two years in the making.

The band’s first single ‘Torn Apart’ will be available online and via lyric video on release day – September 23, 2014.

“I’ve known Bassist Scott Proctor for many years now, he was one of the driving forces in THE LAST NOVA before breaking out on his own and when he approached me with AMONGST THIEVES, I was intrigued. But I wanted to hear them…at the time all he had was early demos,” says the label’s owner and mouthpiece, Dean Martinetti. “For months I waited to hear music and when I finally did…it didn’t disappoint. Bringing them into the family was a no brainer.”

For AMONGST THIEVES, this gives them leverage to start their assault on the music world. With Distribution / Publishing, Marketing and PR, and D2D band business being done behind the scenes for them by Rogue, the band can commit themselves fully to playing out live in support and writing new material.

The band had this to say about the relationship: “We are extremely excited to be part of the Rogue family. We were instantly attracted to Rogue due to their passion and out of the box thinking. We are honored to be a part of such gifted artists and talent associated with the label.”

For more information: