Earlier this year the London based The Joy Formidable released their latest record, “Wolf’s Law”, and this night the band was making a stop at Trees in Dallas as part of their tour in support of the record.
I got there later, missing the only opening act, IO Echo, and at about 9:20 the venue appeared packed almost to capacity, with all the fans anxiously awaiting the bands arrival on stage.
A little over ten seemingly long minutes later and the lights went out as the fans cheered. The main mic stand, which was wrapped in lights and something that looked like tinsel, lit up, while a chilling wolf’s howl filled the venue. There was also a backdrop on the stage, which was a large white sheet, and hanging in front of it was a black silhouette of a wolf’s face, which lit up with LED lights that lined it.
Moments later Matthew Thomas made his way down the stairs from the greenroom, taking a seat behind his drum kit on stage left, which happened to be set up sideways. Rhydian Dafydd followed, picking up his bass when he made it on stage. However, it was Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan who received the most fanfare, as she took the stage flashing a delightful grin at the audience.
There was a little bit of feedback going on over the sample track that was their intro, before Matthew and Ritzy suddenly fired up “Cholla”, much to the fans excitement. Things suddenly fell silent closer towards the end when they took the pause in the song, and I’m fairly certain in those few seconds you could have heard a pin drop, as little noise was made from the crowd. They jumped back into it, though, and after finishing it up, Matthew wound them right into their next song, as he kept laying down some beats. While he was doing that, Ritzy mentioned how “lovely” everyone looked, and also said she was almost certain this was the first time they had ever done a headlining show in Dallas. With that, she and Rhydian began singing in to their mics, “Ohoo, Ohoo…”, again getting a burst of excitement from the fans, who quickly realized it was a song that is featured on their first two albums, “Austere”.
Both of those songs, especially back to back, got them off to an electric start and they were holding everyone’s attention with complete ease. Not only that, but there was also a very fun atmosphere to it, and their gleeful persona’s were rubbing off on the crowd, or at least me, putting me in a pretty happy state of mind.
Hearing the older stuff was great, but this tour was mainly about the music from “Wolf’s Law”, and after a brief break where Ritzy switched guitars (for the first of many times this night), they tackled another song from their latest record.
“THIS LADDER IS OURS!” Ritzy shouted rather defiantly, almost as if they were preparing to go to war and she was proclaiming it to a fictitious enemy. They then started the song of the same name, and that lead track from “Wolf’s Law” was a highlight of their set. The best part of the song though, was seeing them really rock out to it during the instrumental portions, especially Ritzy who just attacked her axe. “The Greatest Light is The Greatest Shade” was another older they song they broke out, and afterwards, while this Rock/Pop outfit regrouped, something interesting was played over the sound system. It was a reading of Henry Longfellow’s poem, “The Arrow and the Song”. “…And the song, from beginning to end, I found again in the heart of a friend.” it finished as Rhydian and Matthew opened up “Little Blimp” with a thick rhythm based intro. That short song little track become the most intense of their set thus far, and was a powerhouse of a song, at least once it took off, and they weren’t ready to let that energy they built with that fade just yet.
They kept things rolling with an instrumental piece, which climaxed with some pulsating bass riffs, roaring guitar notes and powerful drumbeats, before suddenly subsiding. “Come on Dallas!” Ritzy cried during this moment of silence before they launched into “Cradle”. “I can’t say what he means when he says that, I’ll pretend, pretty pretend…” sang Ritzy near the start of this high-strung beast of a song. That one was sure to have everyone’s adrenaline flowing, and I don’t see how anyone who was in attendance couldn’t have been fully engaged by the band at this point.
“I think this is what you call a sweaty rock show.” Rhydian said as they took a break after that song. Ritzy then chimed in, asking everyone if they were having a “sweaty good time” with them so far, to which the fans cheered. Her focus then turned to the weather. “..Fuck me!” she exclaimed, “…I mean, this is April isn’t it, and it’s already this hot. How hot must it be in August?” She continued, “…Do you all just leave for the hills during August? But, where are the hills?”
As a native Texan, I didn’t think it was all that hot, especially not in the club. Then again, I wasn’t up on the stage going all out, and all three of them had worked up quite a sweat now. Maybe it was just the way the lights were hitting them, but it looked like because of all that Ritzys’ makeup had began to run just ever so slightly, which in turn seemed to give her more of a raw Rock ‘n’ Roll persona.
During all that banter, their stage hand moved a keyboard out on the stage, specifically in front of Rhydian, as they prepared to slow things down just ever so slightly.
It’s not accurate to call “Tendons” a slow song, but it has its moments, and is a rock song it was utterly mesmerizing. Near the end Rhydian put the keyboard to use, but only for a few seconds, before tearing back into his bass as the song returned to its rock glory. They really brought things down with their next song, which required Rhydian to play an acoustic guitar in lieu of his bass, while Matthew pretty much set the song out, watching his band mates from behind his kit. The song was “Silent Treatment”, and Ritzy really didn’t even play her guitar during it, and since her hands were free, she used them “talk with” in a way, making all sorts of motions with them while she softly crooned, “…I’ll take a quiet living, but I’m hotwired and quick feeling. So, I’ll take the silent treatment…” It was a gorgeous song and showed off a totally different side of the band, but they were in the homestretch now, and it was time to reinvigorate the crowd once again.
After his little break, Matthew got to put his skills back to work on “Maw Maw Song”, pushing his drumming into overdrive at times on the somewhat chilling number. The most amazing part of it was the instrumental break, where each of them cut loose, allowing the audience to see what phenomenal musicianship they have. Upon finishing it, Matthew patched them right into their next song with some steady beats on his floor tom. It was a heavy hitter from 2011’s “The Big Roar”, “I Don’t Want to See You Like This”, which worked everyone into a frenzy of excitement.
“You’ve got good lungs, Dallas.” Ritzy said, her British accent as thick as good be when she spoke, yet barely noticeable while singing. She was about to move them along to the next song, when she had a request from a fan. “You want me to sign your arm?” she said, sounding surprised. “Should I do it?” she asked everyone else, before deciding to. She bent down at the edge of the stage then leaned out a signed this persons arm, and when she returned to the mic said she didn’t know if she’d ever to that again, but that it was an experience. She chatted with everyone for a moment more, before saying the title of what would be the final song of their 61-minute long set, “The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie”, which brought their set to an incredible close.
Very few people moved after the band left the stage, all awaiting the impending encore, even though it took them several minutes before they eventually returned.
Ritzy asked everyone if they wanted to hear a song or a joke, but quickly reneged on the offer, saying, “Let’s not go there.” Instead, they did two more tracks from “Wolf’s Law”, and beginning this 22-minute long encore was “Forest Serenade”. The song possesses a very upbeat quality to it, and is just another one of the band’s songs that is sure to put you in a more positive place than you were in before hearing it. Afterwards, Ritzy commented on what a “lovely venue” Trees was, again mentioning that this was their first ever headlining gig in Dallas and thanked everyone for coming out and being a part of it. “…So, Dallas, this is Wolf’s Law.” She said, as they started the album’s title track, which wound up being one of the most captivating songs of their performance. For awhile it was the softest song of their set, but it really roared to life, and could be described as beauty personified. No sooner had it ended and then they started the final song of their set, which was of course, “Whirring”. Like some of their songs before, it was the instrumental portion where they really shone, and at one point Rhydian and Ritzy stood back to back, before he playfully began pushing her over a bit. As they got closer to the end, she removed her guitar, then approached the fans , holding it out above them, allowing them to hit the strings, before eventually putting it back on as they brought the show to a spectacular finish.
Ritzy again removed her guitar, looking like she might slam it on the ground, but instead turned it parallel to the ground before dropping it, then waving by as she retreated to the greenroom. Rhydian followed suit, though he set his bass down, and after high-fiving several of the fans who were in front of the stage, Matthew, too, left.
This was about as good as a show can get, and as great as the band was when I saw one of their free shows during SXSW the month prior, what they did at Trees this night was enough to leave your jaw on the floor.
They were going full throttle the entire night, coming out of the gate like that, and even on their slower stuff, they were still giving it their all. That resulted in their show being constantly enjoyable, and there certainly was never a dull moment.
The rapport they had with the crowd was excellent, and I think a large part of why their show was so successful, because the fans fed of the band and vice versa. If you weren’t there, you might not be able to understand it, because The Joy Formidable managed to create one of those rare moments that was complete unique to this show.
As amazing as their music is on the albums, it’s definitely the live show where The Joy Formidable excels, putting on nothing less than a stellar show. Rhydian’s a killer bass player, and while he has a little bit of the typical bass player persona of being all casual and nonchalant about it, he can (and does) throw down. Matthew’s a fantastic drummer, and I liked the fact that his kit was set up on the side of the stage, which made it a little easier to see him and take in his drumming. The you have Ritzy, who, when allowed to focus solely on her guitar playing, will be one of the best guitarists you ever seen, and she has a unique and heavenly voice to boot.
The only complaint I have about the show was the visuals that played on the backdrop behind them. It wasn’t always playing clips, and when it was just the wolf’s head silhouette flashing various colors, it was very cool. That part should stay, but other times, when there was stuff being broadcasted on the screen… Well, I was none too crazy for it.
Sure, some of the stuff can fit with the songs, and for a song or two it was the music videos of the song playing. Was it cool? Some may say so. I however zoned it all out in the first place.
I personally find stuff like that to be a distraction, and prefer to see a band doing what they do best, especially when you have a band like The Joy Formidable.
Their show is in their passion they exude. Their show is in the sheer joy they so obviously derive from performing their music in front of people. Their show is in watching them dominant the instruments they’ve dedicated so much time to perfecting. Their show is not in videos playing behind them.
Now, that was nowhere near enough to make this a bad show, nor even put a blemish on it, I’m just voicing my opinion.
And for the record, all those traits I mentioned that they have are something about 98% of bands could greatly benefit from adopting and trying to emulate.
The band is continuing their tour in support of “Wolf’s Law”, and for a schedule of all their tour dates, go HERE. If you have the opportunity to see one of those upcoming shows (especially if it’s a headlining one) take, because it’ll will be a show you’ll remember for years to come. Also, be sure to pick up their records in ITUNES.
Wednesday, May 22nd
-Dallas (Lower Greenville Avenue)
Music @ 11
Thursday, May 23rd
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)
Doors @ 7:30
-Dallas (Lower Greenville Avenue)
Music @ 11
-Dallas (Oak Cliff)
Doors @ 6 / Music @ 8
$15 to $25
Friday, May 24th
Music @ 7
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)
Music @ 10
Doors @ 9
21+ $5 / 21- $7
Doors @ 5
Saturday, May 25th
Music @ 5:30
-Dallas (Lower Greenville Avenue)
Music @ 10
Sunday, May 26th
Music @ 5:30
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)
A truly great weekend entails spending a night at the Curtain Club, at least in my opinion, and there were some talented bands playing there this night.
I wasn’t able to stay for the whole night, though, which is a rare event for me, and I didn’t even arrive until the first band was almost done with their set.
I did get there in plenty of time to see the instrumental trio Son of Swan, though.
The sirens of the songs sample track blared before drummer Billy Walker started them in on “SOS”, the opening song of their 30-minute long set. They got right down to business, with Neil Swanson so effortlessly shredding on his guitar, letting loose some shrill notes at times, while bassist Steve Wilson roamed all over the stage with a real swagger to his step. They followed it almost immediately with “Children Of The Night”, which is yet another raw rock song that encompasses some amazing guitar riffs and solos. At this point Neil approached the mic, informing everyone of who they were, before moving on with a couple more songs, one of which was a cover. Now, I’m not familiar enough with all their stuff to know it, but they did another original before tackling another cover. “…If you don’t know this one, well, maybe you should.” Neil said before they began it. I’m fairly certain they followed it with the intricately woven “30K Curse”, and before starting their final song, Neil made a very accurate statement. “…Remember, everybody that is somebody used to be nobody.” Very true, and great final words to speak for the night, before starting what I want to say was “Dog Days”.
Sure, song-wise this probably isn’t as accurate as I like to be, but that doesn’t change the fact that all those original songs plus the rest that comprise their seven song debut record are masterpieces.
Seriously, they are some of the best songs I think I’ve ever heard and when you see the live show that accompanies them, then you’ll love the band even more. Billy’s an incredible drummer, Steve has that casual persona that most bassists have, yet he’s constantly storming around the stage, and I don’t know how anyone couldn’t consider Neil to be one of the best guitarists they’ve ever seen.
He does steal the show with his guitar work, his hands racing all over the fretboard, yet he manages to maintain a more humble attitude in his playing. Whereas some guitarists give you the impression that they are wanting to go all-out and do some ridiculous guitar work that seems like it’s just to show off, Neil doesn’t at all come across that way.
It never seems like what he’s playing is meant to be showy, rather it’s just the natural progression of the song, and he doesn’t, say, hold the guitar in front of the crowd like “Look what I can.” Instead, what you see is simply a virtuoso at work.
I never imagined a day where an instrumental band could hold my interest, yet this was the third time I’ve seen them now and all three times my eyes have been glued to the stage. So if you think you won’t like them just because they are an instrumental act, just give them a chance. You’ll probably end up loving the music, and if you see a show, you’ll be blown away.
So far the only place to pick up their CD is at live shows, and next up on their calendar is May 24th at The Rail Club in Fort Worth, May 31st at O’Riley’s in Dallas and they will return to O’Riley’s on June 22nd.
Up after them was Greysmyth, and this was a pretty big show for the band, and even a bigger one for the singer.
See, this was the groups first show with Justin Ranton fronting the band, and it was also the first time he had performed on stage in over a year, and personally, I was beyond excited to be seeing that guy on stage again.
They opened their set with a song called “Avalon”, which got off to a slower start with some light notes from guitarists, Jerrod Nelson and Spuds Berryman, while Justin held back on his singing a bit. “Come on Dallas!” he roared after a bit, as drummer Brayton Lyons, bassist Kobe Garinger and the others really cut loose on the song, transitioning it into a full on assault of rock. They did several great songs this night, but that was one of my favorites. Before beginning their next song, Justin took a moment to speak to the crowd, mentioning that it had been “a long time” since he had been on a stage as he thanked everyone who was there for coming out. “…This next one’s called Feed the Need.” He said, as his band mates ripped into the song. “Feed the need, my intention is to be close to you…” sang Justin on the chorus of this powerhouse track, which was really driven by the rhythm section. They did one more hefty rock track, “Peripheral”, before slowing things down with “Rose”, which Spuds announced was for his wife. It oozed with feelings, but not in a true lovey dovey way, and it showed off another, more sensitive side to the rock outfit. “…He’s saying he can’t live without you…” Justin said to Spuds’s wife after they finished the song. They didn’t immediately bring things up, though, instead doing another lighter track, “A Way to Love”. Both of those softer songs were really good, but I really liked the latter of those two, and they both pushed the band out of their element a bit, in a good way. They returned to what they do best with a song called “Bloodlines”, before finishing their 34-minute long set with the killer, “Corpse Flower”, which was proof they had saved (one of) the best for last.
It was a great rock show, and I found myself wondering why I hadn’t heard of the band before Justin joined them, even if they hadn’t played too many live shows.
It was fantastic seeing Justin on stage again, and while he began the show seeming a little apprehensive, he quickly warmed up and got into the swing of things, moving about the stage, operating in synch with the music and just being a commanding frontman. And even though it had been so long since he sang on stage, he hadn’t lost any of his stage persona.
Regarding the songs, Spuds, Kobe, Brayton and Jerrod have created some great stuff and put on a good performance, getting better the further they progressed in their set.
The music is different from Justin’s past projects, and compared to those I think it’s more melodic (that’s not to say Greysmyth is a Melodic Rock band by any means), but his voice fits quite well with the music, and even kind of pushes his voice to new heights.
Point is, I loved their set, and I’m eager to see how Greysmyth is going to grow from here on out, like, what their songs will sound like with Justin being a part of the band now, and how much better their live shows will probably be once they get more practice under their belt and become even more cohesive.
Definitely keep an eye on these guys, or better yet go see them with your own eyes. They’ll be playing Wit’s End in Dallas on June 1st, then they’ll be back at the Curtain Club on July 26th.
Not long after they finished was when I left. Junk and Carmeci were probably great this night, but Greysmyth and Son of Swan were well worth the ten dollar cover, and I’m glad I was able to see both of them.
Alex Allred is a singer/songwriter who has been entrenched in the North Texas music scene for a little over a decade now. He’s probably best known for fronting the hard rock outfit, The Aftermath Theory, a band that after five years, decided to go on an indefinite hiatus.
He’s working hard to change that, though, and in the late 2000’s he began writing some acoustic songs, readying himself for a solo career, and suddenly finding himself without band made this a good time to pursue this new musical outlet.
This new music was a vast departure from what he was used to, but it allowed him to test and push himself as a songwriter. A little over a year after his rock band had more or less called it quits, Alex was releasing his first album as a solo artist, and he had also welcomed two other musicians into the fold to back him up.
The album is titled “Born on 4/20”, which is his actual date of birth, and isn’t just a collection of random songs, but songs that chronicle his life.
The album begins with the title track itself, “Born On 4/20”, which is a promising, upbeat song that partly deals with Alex’s birth. It’s driven predominantly by the acoustic guitar, which eventually builds and hits a rather epic climax towards the end of the song. I feel the overall message of the song, though, is about chasing your dreams, regardless of what others may think, best summed up with the line, “…Count all your blessings and never attest to the world that dreams are only for the chosen…”, which Alex sings in his distinctive voice, which has nice, almost soothing quality to it.
The album doesn’t let up any, as it moves on to “Little Warrior”, a very melodic track where Alex continues to tell his life story to everyone, beginning with the (very) early days of his childhood. The drumming is often more simple on this one, often just a steady beat made by slapping one of the skins, but it mixes quite well with the guitar, creating a catchy music bed that will no doubt burrow its way into your head.
Things continue full-steam ahead with “Another One”, which mines a vein similar to the previous track, before offering a glimpse at his softer side of singing and writing with the longest song on the album, “Panic Attack!” which, despite the brief crescendo, is still more of a tranquil song.
“Phase”, which is the shortest offering on the record, comes next and finds Alex returning to his Rock ‘n’ Roll roots, albeit in more of an acoustic way. Sure, it may have a very stripped down sound, but it’s rather intense and could go up against some of the loudest rock songs and hold its own with ease, especially since it boasts a more noticeable rhythm section than previous song.
“I would do it if it takes me a lifetime. Good news, I’ve got nothing but time…” Alex croons at the start “#1 Scenario”, a song where he seems to reaffirm his love and dedication for his music career. It also finds him returning to a more traditional acoustic style of sound, different from the song that came before it, but that’s okay. His music doesn’t all have to be in-your-face to stick with you, in fact, this is one of the highlight tracks on “Born On 4/20”.
One of the cheeriest songs on the album is “Moments”, which emits a rather carefree attitude with its positive vibes, as Alex reminisces about growing up in his suburban neighborhood, before things take a more serious twist with “Biology, Not Chemistry”. “It scares me to say that we share the same DNA…” sings Alex, a line that perfectly summarizes how real and raw the track is.
There’s a slight reggae influence to “Just Breathe”, which is appropriate, given what the song is about. One of the lines from the chorus is, “…I could get used to this, faith, love and cannabis is happiness…”, obviously making marijuana what he is referencing to breathing. It’s not just a song about smoking pot, though, at least not in the sense where he’s simply stating that he does it. Rather, he kind of delves into what he gets from it, making a slightly more complex song than you might think it would be.
Aptly following it is “Young & Dumb”, where Alex bluntly recounts an indiscretion from his later teen years when a police officer caught him smoking a joint while driving down the highway. He’s very transparent about it all, matter-of-factly stating that it happened, though, essentially admitting that it was mistake of his youth, yet not showing any regret about the situation. Like he sings, “…Give it up for the young and dumb…” Oh, and the guitar chords are most excellent on this tune, too.
“Higher Learning”, a song that takes the listeners through Alex’s college years, is a real sing-along track, particularly on the chorus, “…Never said I didn’t do every little thing I wanted to…”, which I could see everyone shouting along with at one of his live shows. It’s just another fun song that “Born on 4/20” has to offer, and is a contender for best song on the record.
“Life & Times” concludes this nearly 40-minute long listening adventure, ending things on a chipper note, and this more love based song finds Alex meeting his (presumably) current girlfriend, and it comes across that he has an optimistic outlook on the future, as well he should.
“Born on 4/20” is a nice concept album of sorts, and it’s refreshing to see a musician write an entire collection of songs where he bares his soul, exposing who he is and informing everyone of what shaped him, rather than writing songs about ex-girlfriends and bad break-ups and such.
It’s also a record that will grow on you, trust me. I listened to every song at least five times each while working on this review, and with each listen, the music, from the beats to the chords, as well as Alexs’ one-of-a-kind voice, became more and more appealing to me.
These days, you don’t often see trios, and you probably wouldn’t think an acoustic one would be all that special, but Alex Allred and his band are one to get acquainted with, and “Born on 4/20” is the perfect introduction to their style.
The Alex Allred Band is:
Alex Allred - Vocals, Guitar
Kevin Broussard - Percussion, Vocals
Clinton Potter - Bass
Purchase the album on:
iTunes / Amazon mp3
Visit Alex Allred’s websites:
Offiical website / Facebook / Reverbnation / Twitter / Youtube
Saturday, June 29th at Liquid Lounge in Dallas, Texas
As usual, there was another great show going down at the Curtain Club in Dallas, featuring an array of bands, some of whom I had seen before and others I hadn’t, but was excited to.
The first band was called Drag the Waters, and by the time I got there they were nearing the end of their set, but what I saw was pretty good. They looked like they could be a Metal band, instead, they were a Heavy Rock group and they made some good music at that and put on a good live show.
I can’t find any info out about them, but I wouldn’t mind seeing them again if they happened to get on a bill with some other bands I’m a fan of.
The next band was the main one I wanted to see, and that was Alterflesh. Actually, they were the main reason I was even at this show in the first place.
I was introduced to the band after meeting their singer, Dayvoh, a couple months back and became a fan of the groups unique style, and I thrilled that I was finally going to see one of their live shows.
The first thing I noticed when the curtain was opened on them was a nightstand over by some of the amps. There were some books on it, as well as a lamp sitting atop it, all of which was rather aesthetically pleasing.
Dayvoh referred to everyone as his brothers and sisters as he welcomed everyone to the show, then said it was time to “…step through the portal…” It was a much more interesting intro than the typical things bands say, and it was very accurate, too, as “Megahub” did seem to open the doorway to another realm. See, the band doesn’t play simple songs, they play music that has a message , and that song deals with various philosophers throughout history, with Dayvoh spitting out the names of dozens of them. Actually, that’s another thing that makes the band so unique. See, Dayvoh is more of a spoken word artist and he brings that skill to the band, performing the songs more in that style rather than singing. “…A stumbling lost humanity. Most will go their entire lives without even understanding it…” he said on the songs bridge, which was just one of many lines in that song that can stimulate the mind.
Just one song in and I was loving it. The music was very engaging and the energy in the performance they were giving was something else. They kept things moving right along with “Toxic”, which makes a statement about the state of the Earth and how we as human beings are continuously destroying it. For those first couple of songs Dayvoh had been playing a guitar, but he set it down for the time being, grabbing the microphone saying, “…We’ve all had are fair share of self reflection…” then announced the next song as being “Imaginary Dreams”, which is one of the tracks they have yet to record. Dayvoh seemed to fit in best on this song and the others that didn’t require him using the guitar, as he could move about the stage, connecting more with the audience while he preached his message. He got his guitar back out for the next song, saying, “The mystics say we all slowly burn…” as he, bassist Paul Kubajak, lead guitarist Ben Schelin and drummer Kevin Mills tackled another “Embers”, another song that they have yet to lay down in a studio.
Upon finishing it, Dayvoh surveyed the large crowd gathered around the stage, giving shout outs to Born and Raised, Solice and The Circle, plus several other bands who had members out representing. That was one thing that was so cool about this show, other musicians were actually out at it supporting these guys. They had a few songs left now, none of which Dayvoh used the guitar on, and the next was his “social rant” known as “Watch Rome Burn”. It was my favorite song of their set and could easily be the most thought provoking song in their arsenal. Aside from that, it’s just one of their most rocking numbers, with Ben shredding on his axe at times, and Kevin really got into his drumming (that’s not to say he hadn’t before, it was just more noticeable now). “Start Over” slowed things down a little, before bringing their 34-minute long set to a close with “New Horizon”.
In my opinion, they were the band to beat this night. Their performance was much more vigorous than I was expecting, with Paul constantly jumping up and down, which was quite a sight to watch. While more contained, Ben was is great guitarist, and Kevin just killed it on the drums, and Dayvoh was a captivating frontman. Together, they were able to hold the crowd’s attention with ease.
As for the music, they are a Rock band, and even harder Rock at times, which makes what Dayvoh does even more interesting. Like I said, it’s not full on singing that he does, and if you’re not paying full attention you may say he’s rapping. Sure, it can sound like that at times, but it most certainly isn’t rap. Rather, it is spoken word. And because he “sings” in that style, it allows him to get away with some things.
See, his voice is rather monotone, something your traditional singer couldn’t get away with. But the way he fires the words off, you don’t care if his voice is monotone or not, because you’re more fixated on the words. And that is what really makes Alterflesh stand apart from most other bands; the lyrics. Overall they have a positive, uplifting message to them, often about changing things for the better.
Really, that makes their show a spiritual experience in a way, and one I can’t wait to witness again.
If you want to hear something new and completely out-of-the-box, then check out Alterflesh, either on their FACEBOOK PAGE or REVERBNATION. Their next show is slated for July 6th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, and if you’re in the area, you should definitely check it out.
Following them was Last Day Living, whom I hadn’t seen in quite awhile, and I was curious to see how their set would go.
I admittedly haven’t been as big a fan of the band since they lost their lead singer (which happened a few years ago now), resulting in them staying a four-piece and guitarist Shawn Pipkin picking up the slack as the lead singer.
The thing is, his voice just isn’t built to really sing, and that was proven during their first song, a slower almost ballad of sorts, where his voice repeatedly cracked. No, their 31-minute long set didn’t get off to the best start, and personally, I was never able to get into it. Shawn ditched his guitar for the next song, which he kind of rapped a portion of, before picking it back up as he, bassist Irish, fellow guitarist Paris Pipkin and drummer Daniel Burpo rocked out “Twisted Smile”, which was the single great moment of their set. Shawn got a little political before another song, asking, “So who’s pissed off at the government for taking our guns and then education from our kids…” A lot of people screamed and cheered in agreeance, and after finishing it they ran through their final three songs. During that last one, Shawn broke one of the strings on his guitar, and as they finished the tune he decided to finish the job, pulling the five remaining strings until they snapped.
Last Day Living writes good music and they put on an enjoyable live show, but in my opinion, they need a fifth member, one that can really sing. That’s the only hindrance that I see.
No, I wasn’t in love with this set, but the vocals were why, and I did enjoy the other aspects of their performance. They just need that one missing component to round things out.
There was one more band to go before the headliner, and that was Idler.
I first saw the band here a couple months before and instantly became a fan, and I was hoping their set this night would be even better.
“Vendetta” opened up their set, a song that finds siblings Micah and Katie Frank co-singing on the verses, while he tore off on the chorus, shouting, “Don’t cross me again. It all comes back in the end…” That song set the tone for the rest of their show in a way, gave the impression that they weren’t going to be holding back at all, and they indeed did not. Upon finishing it, Micah told everyone who they were, as well as the title of that first song and mentioned the next one was “Go for Broke”, another track from their debut, self-titled EP. A cool little instrumental intro set the song up, with drummer Eric Gustafson, bassist Nick Laracuente and Micah, who was the rhythm guitarist, created a nice little piece before Mykey O’Neill started plucking the strings of his guitar, giving the song its full shape. Both of those songs got them off to an explosive start, and “Let Me In” didn’t let up much, as the electric version is much more in-your-face than the acoustic version you can find online is.
They followed it with a couple more newer songs, one of which was titled “Deceit” and saw Micah handing his guitar over to Katie. She predominately strummed rather slowly, and once they finished pointed out that was her first time ever playing a guitar on stage. She seemed proud of the fact, and rightfully so, ‘cause she did a good job. That freed Micah up to roam about the stage a little more, acting like your typical frontman, standing on their boxes that bear the band’s name while he livened up the crowd. At the end of that tune, he even screamed the last few lines in a throaty enough voice he could give even the most hardcore Metal bands a run for their money. They followed it with a song that Katie sang lead on, which I believe was called “Buried”, before doing a couple more tracks from their EP. One of those was “Lose Control”, while the other was my personal favorite song of theirs, “Kings and Queens”, during which Micah laid his guitar down, again gaining some freedom to move about and Katie did the same. They weren’t always the main focus, though, as Eric was pounding out some thick beats that were undeniable, and the short solo, or rather riffs, Mykey plays are stellar. Up next they did another newer song, and afterwards Micah informed everyone that their next song was “Pitchfork”. That’s arguable the best song on their EP, but they didn’t have a chance to do it as their set was cut short at 32-minutes.
See, after he said that the house music came back on, causing everyone band members and fans alike to look around in disbelief.
Personally, I think it was pretty crappy. I mean, I get that things were running behind schedule, but the guys and girl of Idler never even received a heads up warning them they only had, say, five minutes left or anything like that. At least not that I know of.
Something like that can’t affect their overall show, though, at least not in a detrimental way.
I thought they were better than the other time I had seen them. Micah didn’t use a guitar almost the entire show then like he did now, but that didn’t diminish his persona, and even though he was more glued in front of the mic he’s still a mighty frontman. He even has one of the best and more unique voices that I’ve heard, and Katie’s every bit as good, and their voices mix together to create some amazing textures in the songs.
The other guys, Eric and Nick, do a perfect job of rounding things out in the live show aspect, as does Mykey, but I mention him separately because I believe this was his first show with Idler. He’s a great guitarist and on stage he looked like he had been playing with them since their inception.
If you like straight up Rock music, then Idler’s a band to check out. You can find their album on ITUNES, and even get a couple of free downloads (including their cover of “Highway to the Danger Zone”) on their REVERBNATION PAGE. As for shows, their next one is going to be June 29th at Hailey’s up in Denton.
Closing out the night and doing their first live show of 2013 was the Fort Worth based band, Pulse.
Now, I’ve heard a lot about these guys for awhile, but had never seen a show. In fact, I’d never even listened to their music, so I was interested to see how they lived up to the hype that surrounded them. Sadly, I think they may have been overhyped to me…
Like I said, this was the band’s first show of the year, and they used to play/debut a lot of their newer material. Their opening song was one of those new ones. Vocalist Sean Yeaney sang something along the lines of, “…I wish I could just wish you away…” on the chorus, and that was a song I really liked. They then did a track from last year’s “Show Me the Way” record, “Blame”, following it with another new(er) song, and then another album track, “No More Next Time”. That latter one was a good one, especially with the chilling guitar notes at the beginning and end of it, but out of all their songs thus far I wasn’t truly feeling it. Guitarists James Brennaman and Justin Judy, drummer Jimmy Lay, bassist Kelly Robinson and Sean busted out some more new songs, and during the second one of this string of them Kelly encountered some technical issues, resulting in not being an active part of their next couple of songs.
They soldiered on without him, though, and after finishing one that I believe was called “From Here to Home”, things were fixed and Kelly rejoined the action, just in time for what seemed to be a fan favorite, “Think About It”. Their next song found Sean singing the words at a very rapid pace, and afterwards they let the crowd choose which version of a song they wanted to hear. One option was the usual way it’s done, the other was a 420 remix, which Sean noted they were never able to perfect, so it might not be the best. That didn’t stop the fans from choosing this remix, though, which had a bit of a Reggae sound to it. “They Have Arrived” was another good one, and had a killer thick intro with Kelly and Jimmy working in excellent synch with one another. Their show started to wind down with “Won’t Let Go”, and after one more new track they closed their 60-minute long set with “Run Away”.
It was nearly two in the morning when they finished, and I figured the show was over and left, However, when I walked out the door, I heard Sean asking the crowd if they were still with them. They most likely came back for an encore, but it was late and I had seen enough.
Like I said, I think the band was overhyped to me I think, because I was expecting something amazing, both in their music and performance. What I saw and heard, though, was honestly rather generic, and even struck me as a little lackluster.
I thought the best part of their stage show came during when song when Sean climbed atop the speakers, staying there for maybe a minute before leaping off back to the stage, but there was just never that one moment where Pulse got their hooks in me and wowed me.
I didn’t really like the fact that they used smoke machines, or cannons that propelled the smoke into the air, because really, bands on this level don’t need stuff like that. I’m kind of prude with stuff like that in the first place, be it with visuals playing behind a band or stuff like this, and I think it subtracts from any bands show. The main focus should be the music and any and every band needs to let their music do the talking, rather than using various things to try to “enhance” the experience. The only exception to this rule is Muse.
Now, it’s also worth noting that I’m basically the only person at this show that felt that way, because they had a ton of fans out, all of whom were shouting along to every song they knew, and listening in awe to the new stuff. I wish I could have been one of them, but they didn’t ignite any passion inside me like some of the other bands on this bill did. And just to be clear, I’m not saying they are bad or that their music is, it just did nothing for me.
Their next area show is scheduled for July 6th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, but before that they’ll be rocking St. Louis, Missouri at FUBAR on May 18th. You can find their album, “Show Me the Way” in ITUNES and you can even get a free download of one song on their REVERBNATION PAGE.
Nonetheless, this was still an excellent night of music, and if you weren’t here, you missed out.
Initially, I hadn’t planned on going anywhere this night, however Daylight Industries announced rather last minute that they had a gig at The Boiler Room in Dallas this fine Friday, and since I hadn’t seen the band in about ten months, it was high time I saw another show of theirs.
It was more of a unique night for me, though, because aside from them, all the other bands were new to me, and anymore, at least with the shows I go to, I’m used to being familiar with all the acts. This was a nice change of pace, though, and I was looking forward to seeing what the other bands were like.
First up was a newer band out of Dallas by the name 26 Locks. So new in fact that this was only their second live performance, an interesting fact I didn’t find out until after their set.
Performancewise, they did start out a little slow, though at that time, I assumed that was just how they were, however I loved the first song they did and they immediately had my full attention. In fact, they seemed to have the attention of everyone who was in the club at the time, even though it was just a handful of people. With a few drumbeats Jeff Fendley patched them right into their next song, and over the course of it and the next two they continued to find their find their groove, loosening up more and more, while Catrina Rincon’s somewhat smoky voice grew more commanding. She set up their next song by saying they were about to take everyone on an adventure. “…A velvet adventure…” she said, speaking of the song which I assume was called “Velvet”, or at least has the word somewhere in its title. The song played out like an odyssey of sorts, starting off a little more serene, and then around the halfway point it exploded. It wasn’t just the song, though, but the band as well, and in this brief moment you saw the whole dynamic change as they hit their stride. Guitarist Jerry Bolden and bassist Brandon Kirkpatrick became a little more aggressive with their playing, while Catrina danced around some during the instrumental breaks. They were an entirely different beast after that song, displaying a little more of a take charge attitude as they cranked out another song before getting to the final one of their 40-minute long set. “…It’s hard to believe, but we already have a song that’s a fan favorite…” said Catrina, who stated the song was called “Danger Dog”. Personally, it wasn’t my favorite of theirs, but it was a badass song nonetheless, and a killer way to end their set.
They were incredible, and I was surprised when I learned this was only their second gig. Sure, they did seem fairly rigid at first, but from my experience that’s not really uncommon, so I didn’t think much about it. But like I said, their whole demeanor changed during that “Velvet” song, and then you saw what they are really capable of.
The music was great, and even though they are a Rock band, there was a refreshing quality to it, almost new in a sense. Also, Catrina has a stellar voice that grabs your attention right away and doesn’t let go, and during the last half of their set it was matched by an equally as good performance from her, which was even a bit sultry at times.
They made a fan out of me, and I think they have a bright future here in the North Texas music scene.
It’s a rougher quality, but go to their REVERBNATION PAGE and download their demo of “Danger Dog”. It sounds even better in the live environment, so if you can, make plans to see them on June 21st at O’Riley’s in Dallas.
Another newer band was up next, though Form of Truth has been around a little longer then the band that preceded them.
They were a no-frills rock band who were all about putting on an entertaining show, and entertain they did. No sooner had they finished their opening song than singer and guitarist Ryan Snipes played some sweet licks to lead them right into their next song. Now typically, if a singer is also a guitarist they’re the rhythm player, but not in this case. Ryan acted more as the lead guitarist, attacking and shredding it like no one’s business, not just on that intro but later on in the song when he had killer solo. The assault of rock continued as they churned out four more songs, one of which featured an excellent solo from Daron Fuller and his bass, while another was about the stereotypical subject of all rock songs; sex. During all those songs they quickly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, playing some knockout songs to accompany their high-energy show, but they ended up saving some of the best for last. One of those songs was “The Beauty of Sybil Vane”, which spun a tale of sorts, before wrapping up their 45-minute long set with “Soul Seclusion”, which came across as being more of a ballad, and switched between being a more sensitive song to strong rocker you could headbang to.
To be a group of younger guys, they come across as being seasoned pros, Ryan, Daron, guitarist Josh Cooley and drummer Nick Braddy now how to put on a show and write some damn good music that will hold you attention.
They seem to play fairly often, and as of right now they have a show coming up on May 31st at The Aardvark in Fort Worth. And if you go to a show, you can also pick up a copy of their debut album.
So far, the bands I was unfamiliar with were two for two, and I hoped I’d enjoy the final act that was new to me, and that act was Gypsy Devil.
Right from the get go they proved to be an interesting band, playing a mix of Rock and Blues with even some hints of Punk thrown in, due largely to the growl that was in singer and guitarist Russell Willards’ voice. It all meshed together well, though, and after their first couple of songs I found myself really enjoying it. After their second song, Russell asked everyone to give it up for their drummer (whose name I don’t recall), as he had only been with them for three days. He was pounding out the beats with ease, and looked like he had been a part of the band for a lot longer than that, so kudos to him. They then continued on with a few more songs, one of which was “Love Junkie”, which was a standout of their set. “…Oh tell me something baby, are you a love junkie?” sang Russell in a throaty growl, his voice being a mix of blues and southern rock, and the unclean sound of his voice gave not just this song but all the others a lot of character. They ran through four more songs before getting to one that Russell said they “…never do live…” The reason they were doing it now was because this show was a birthday show for their manager and he dedicated it to her. He said something lie, “…I don’t have much money to buy you anything…” adding that this song was his and the bands gift to her as they began “Serenity”. I can see why they don’t normally do it live, because it didn’t go with the style they had been playing and was much more acoustic based. Unlike their previous stuff, it had more of a strictly Alt/Rock sound and was more of a ballad, with some fiery guitar chords and eventually the rhythm section of the drummer and bassist Ben Kirkland grew pretty strong. It was a nice change of pace and as good as their music was, it was nice to see they are capable of something else. They got back to the gritty sound they specialize in with “Outlaw Born”, then had one final song to close out their 43-minute long set.
Their set seemed to pass by quick (which is always a good sign) and they’ve definitely carved out a niche that is all their own.
The dirtied up Blues sound is what made it all so distinctive and stand out and this trio pulled it all off exceedingly well.
They are yet another band on this bill that I’d recommend checking out, and over on their REVERBNATION PAGE you can get a free download of one of their songs. You can also catch them live on June 28th at O’Riley’s in Dallas.
So far it had been one fantastic night, but as much as I had liked those first three acts, Daylight Industries was still the band I was most excited about seeing.
Before starting vocalist Logan Gnerlich tried to get some more people in the show room, though most of the crowd had gone to get a piece of the birthday cake that Gypsy Devil had. “…I’d choose cake, too…” he said, basically saying he didn’t blame everybody for not being gathered around the stage. He did say he’d choose them over beer, though, before saying, “No, I’d choose beer, too…”
After that, they got their 35-minute long set started, and it was a much different start than what I was expecting. Logan was wielding an acoustic guitar, something I had never seen before, which gave the impression that they were going to do a slower song. They didn’t though, at least not something soft and mostly acoustic like I was expecting, and in no time at all bassist Barry Townsend was jumping all over stage right, and Brandon Tyner was shredding up a storm on his guitar, even letting out a sweet solo later on in it. After finishing it, Logan placed his guitar in its case, and they soon started another new song, “Junkie Logic”, which features some explosive drum work from Stephen Smith, and even by his standards it’s pretty intense and fast paced. The most noticeable difference in that song was how short it was (it’s under three minutes), since their EP was comprised mostly of songs that were at least four minutes long. Just one of the many changes Daylight Industries has made, and I like it, because it allows them to fit in more music that way. They did another newer song, and Barry showed off his skills on it by playing the fretboard of his bass. Obviously he used one hand to hold the strings down, while furiously slapping the fretboard with his other hand. It was sight to see. They rolled it right into their next song, and after finishing it Logan had some banter to fill the time. “Hey, we haven’t cleared the room yet!” he declared, seeming surprised, then mentioned that their next song was one they had written “…on their way down here…” That’s how new it was, and it was one hell of a song. Definitely one of the best they did this night. The only song from their “Future of an Illusion” EP that made it into the show (or in fact the only one they still play in general) was the lead track from it, “Something’s Wrong”. It would have been good to hear more from it, for old time’s sake, but that was song I most wanted to hear from the EP, so I was happy. During the instrumental break towards the end, Logan left the stage and went to the bar area, but soon returned, joining the crowd as he watched his band mates throw down. It was comical in some ways, in a good way, and it’s something I expect to happen at a Daylight Industries show. They weren’t through with the comedy either, as Logan announced their next song was called “Wandering”, and said it in seemingly every possible way. “Wonder. Wander…” and so on. If you were at this show and still not feeling it for some reason, than that song was bound to engross you and get the adrenaline flowing, as they pushed themselves to the max. They didn’t relent on their final song, which was “Faith Healer”, either. I’ve heard a lot about that one from running into and talking with Barry over the past several months, and the song lived up to the all the hype it had been given, and was a strong finish to what had been an incredible show.
It had been so long since I had seen them I had almost forgotten what their live shows were like, but I was quickly reminded.
The energy all four of them let loose on stage makes for one of the most raw and captivating performances you can see, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a band that can rival their show. And while they may come across as being wild on stage, you’ll also notice how tight they are.
As for the music, or rather the new music, I love the direction their headed. Even though I love their now older stuff, the style they do now is more engaging and more likely to reel people in who aren’t familiar with Daylight Industries. Aside from that, it’s just some of the best Rock music I’ve heard in awhile.
While those songs may not be laid down on a CD, you can download some live cuts of a lot of their new stuff on their REVERBNATION PAGE. Also be sure to check out their “Future of an Illusion” EP in ITUNES. Their next show is slated to go down at the Curtain Club in Dallas on May 31st, and that will be a show you do not want to miss.
This was an awesome night, and I’m glad Daylight Industries got on this bill last minute, because otherwise I wouldn’t have been here and subsequently missed out on these other great acts.
The Dallas/Fort Worth based Euphio Records has been around for a little while now. Five years to be exact, and to celebrate the labels anniversary they were throwing a party this night at Ferralog Studios in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas.
Many of the people who attended this night were invited and put on the guest list, though it was open to the public, and providing the entertainment for everyone was several Euphio bands. Actually, almost their entire roster was performing this night.
The Indie/Rock quartet known as Animal Spirit was the first band up, taking the stage shortly after 7:30.
They may be an Indie/Rock band, but not in the way that probably comes to mind. Their music at times has a dirty sound to it, particularly in the notes Andrew Stroheker plays on his guitar. They kept changing things up throughout their 25-minute long set, subsequently keeping things fresh, as he sang the lead on some song, while Sam Wuehermann added some backing vocals, or vice versa, while others still were performed more like a duet. Their second song was definitely the most interesting of the night, as Sam picked up a wine bottle, removing the drumstick that was placed inside, making that into an instrument for the song. They brought things down a little on that one, creating somewhat of a dark tone that fit rather well. After another song, drummer Parker Anderson started them right into “The Planets a Lie” by tapping on the rim of some of the drums. It’s one that’s done more as a duet and the first half of the song has a very minimalist approach to it, allowing Sam and Andrews’ voices to shine, as they sing every word in unison with one another. It grows into more of a serious rock song during the second half, though, and they all busted loose on their instruments, including bassist Joe Prankster. They had time enough for one more song after that, which ended their set.
I had caught a little bit of the band at a show the month before, but this was the first full set of theirs I had seen, and I really enjoyed it.
They have a very unique, distinctive sound, not just in the music but with the voices as well, and their stuff is often moody. That is to say they take you on more of a journey rather than being monotone.
Visit their FACEBOOK PAGE to find out when they’ll have more shows coming up, and they will be releasing an album sometime this year, so keep your eye/ears peeled for that, too.
Perhaps the best part of the entire night was the set changes and how quick they were (every band used the same drum kit and amps, and at times even other instruments). That meant there was usually five to ten minutes of downtime before the next band took the stage, and next up was The Frisky Disco.
Like most of the bands playing this party, I hadn’t seen them before, but I’d heard nothing but good things, and was excited about finally seeing them.
They cranked out six songs in their 22-minutes on stage, and the only one I can peg was their second one, “A Life After”, which comes from their latest record. I found that to be the best song of their set, but with each track I found myself getting more caught up in the bands show. There’s a serious blues/soul vibe to their stuff, with even a dash of funk at times, and guitarist Tyler Vela did an excellent job at supplying those sounds via some great riffs. The rhythm section was rounded out by Jonnie Mans on bass and Zach Tucker on drums, who can play the kit just as well as he can the bass, which is saying a lot. He also did a pretty good job of keeping his fedora on his head, until one point in the show when he got so into he had to throw it in the crowd so he could bang his head around to his beats. However, the most polarizing member of the group was frontman Hayden Miller. Honestly, nothing he did was all that thrilling, and it’s not like he was darting all over the stage or anything like that. He did though have “it”, which in his case was passion and groove with the music, making it impossible to take your eyes off him, at least not for very long. He just had a real personality and you could tell he was in to every song they did, and that goes a long way in making a show a memorable one.
Not only did they live up to the hype that surrounds them, they surpassed it in my opinion, and I loved the style of Bluesy Rock that they played. Which by the way, Hayden has a voice that fits that sound well.
I would highly recommend seeing a show, and to keep up to date with their gigs just keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE. As for their debut self-titled album, you can find a FREE download of it on their BANDCAMP PAGE.
The bands continued, and keeping in the spirit of highly original names that the Euphio bands seem to have was Captain Mayo and the Phonos.
Fronting the band and serving as the rhythm guitarist was Zach Mayo, who also happened to be a member of the next and final two bands on the bill. He is also of course part of the bands namesake, while The Phonos were Nolan Robertson on bass, lead guitarist Scott Forosisky and drummer Brian Forosisky.
Rock ‘n’ Roll was their specialty, and it shone through best on their second song, which had some super slick riffs from both Zach and Scott, and were some of the most attention grabbing lines I’ve heard in a long time. They went in a different direction with their next song, as Zach announced they were going to do a little Country. There was a definite Country twang to the song, not only in the music but also in Zachs’ voice, though it was more along the lines of Texas Country, which has certain Rock elements to it. They pulled it off surprisingly well, and I’d have no complaints if they wrote more songs like that. They concluded their 22-minute long set with the final track from their EP, “Will the Legend Stick?”, which boasts a catchy music bed and some smooth, yet powerful vocals. It was another awesome song, and the perfect way to end their set.
Out of the four bands on this bill that I had never seen, Captain Mayo and the Phonos were my personal favorite. Their genre was more of what I’m, which was the biggest appeal to me. Aside from that, it was fun and a little infectious at times.
Zach has a killer voice, which did surprise me a bit since I’ve only seen him as the drummer for The Breakfast Machine, and he’s quite good on the guitar, too. Also, his band mates brought a good energy to the show, and at times, Nolan proved himself to be one hell of a bass player.
Throw the band a “like” on their FACEBOOK PAGE, that way you’ll know when they have another show, even though from the looks of it they don’t play all that often. You can also check out the band’s music on their page on Euphio Records.
Now, speaking of The Breakfast Machine, they were the next band, and it was obvious everyone was most excited about them, as everybody huddled around the stage.
Their twenty some odd minute long set was made up almost exclusively of new songs from their forthcoming sophomore record, and the song they opened with I thought was one of the best of the night. Before starting their next song, drummer Zach Mayo stated they had recently released a music video for it, to which the crowd cheered, knowing it was “Getz”. “Fuck the fame, I want my name to be lost in time like immortality…” sang vocalist Meghann Moore, and shortly after guitarists Ryan Sobczak and Chris Mansfield sprang to life on the chorus, tearing it up on their axes. They followed it with “Cloudy with a Chance of the Mondays”, which was the only song from their debut album they did this night. I was okay with that, as it was the one I most wanted to hear from “A Pitch to the Wind”, and it meshed well with the previous song, as they both have a soupy sound to the music and the ebb and flow on each one is really good, too. They powered through four more songs after that, some of which were a little slower and others were more in-your-face. Regardless of the pace of the music, though, they kept pushing themselves, and after a few songs they were working like a well-oiled machine. They didn’t seem satisfied with that, though, and were continuously getting better and more into right up to the end of their set. Bassist Brandon Reynolds, Ryan and Chris were moving all over the rather small stage, doing a fine job of interacting with one another, and if that wasn’t enough to have people entertained, than Meghann ensured everyone was with her unique and highly intoxicating voice.
They wowed me (and from the looks of it everyone else) this night, and The Breakfast Machine made sure that this event was a party, and not just a concert.
They were much better than what I remembered of the last show of theirs I saw, though part of that could be because they had a sound guy that knew what he was doing this night, unlike the previous time I saw them. I don’t mean to take anything away from them, though, because they did come across as being more cohesive, and seemed like a different beast now.
They’re definitely making a name for themselves and are growing into powerhouse here in the North Texas area, as well they should. Their newest album should be released in the coming months, but for now watch the music video for “Getz” to hold you over. You can also get a FREE download of “A Pitch to the Wind” on their BANDCAMP PAGE.
There was one final band for the night, and that was Big Bats, an Electronic/Psychedelia band conceived by Patrick Dougherty and Chris Mansfield. Joining them for their debut live show were members of the other bands, including Zach Mayo, Ryan Sobczak and Meghann Moore, who added some backing vocals.
It took them a little longer to set up, since they had to hook up a laptop and what looked like an iPad (or a similar device) to provide all the sample tracks, but once everything was in working order they got things going with the very catchy “Sarah Childs”. Along with supplying the sample tracks, Patrick was also the bands singer and he had an excellent voice, especially for the trippy style of music they played. They wound the tail end of that song right into “In the Garden”, a song where Meghann acted as the lead vocalist. It was my favorite song of their brief set and it an all around good vibe, resulting in the fans really moving around, and some even danced a bit. So far, they had been playing their debut album “Whomp!” in order, and they continued with the third track from said album, “What is Mine”, which was by far the most psychedelic sounding song of their set. To conclude things, they did an instrumental song, but they had some, or rather a lot of help on it. Various instruments were handed out to the fans that wanted them, mostly percussion instruments like shakers of some type, and those who grabbed them joined the band on stage. Things were so tight that no one could move around, but it didn’t matter, because the fun everyone was having overshadowed anything the band could have done alone on stage. Not only that, but happy energy seeped out into the audience, infecting everyone and making that song the most fun one of the night, and I do mean the most from any of the bands, not just Big Bats.
Now, I had listened to their stuff online and liked it, but it translates so much better live, and considering I’m not a real fan of the genre of music they play, I loved their stuff.
I don’t know how often Big Bats will actually perform live, but you should go see them if they ever do again, and in the meantime listen to their stuff HERE.
This was one hell of a show, at least from that perspective, and also one hell of a party, because all the bands did indeed make it feel that way, and the atmosphere was just different from that of just your regular club show.
So, congrats to Euphio for making it another year, and hopefully this next year will be the best one yet. Also, big props to everyone involved in orchestrating this event and everyone that worked it, you all made it a night to remember.
There were several great shows going on this night in Deep Ellum, but I settled for the most rock filled event of the night, which was taking place at The Boiler Room.
As far as I knew there were only three bands on the bill, but upon walking in I discovered there was a fourth, and it was the Wichita Falls based rock outfit, Twicebroken.
It had been quite awhile since I last saw them, so it was a very pleasant surprise.
A lot of their 37-minute long set was newer material, including their opening song which began a fury of Rock ‘n’ Roll. “This next song is called “Can’t Stop I Won’t Stop.” announced frontman Aaron Mullin, giving themselves just a few seconds of downtime before guitarists Bryan Crowe and Brandt Holmes fired up the intense number. Upon finishing it, Aaron mentioned that they had finished up a tour not long ago. “…It was awful…”, saying that their van had broken down while in Michigan I believe, leaving them stuck there for a few days. He obviously didn’t have good memories of it, and the way he talked it won’t be something they do again anytime soon. They did a couple more songs next, one of which was called “Crawling Out”, and then arrived at a single of sorts from their self-titled debut album, “Already Gone”. You really got to see how tight they are with one another during that one, with bassist Nick Knowles, Bryan, Brandt and Aaron all operating in perfect synch with the beats Billy Pennington was pounding out, thrashing around to them and such. Another song they did from that album was “Walkin’ Away”, which has a more Southern Rock flare to it, then slowed things down with a much more sentimental song. Aaron stated that he wrote it about a friend who died in a crash about a year ago and he wanted to write something in her memory. I think the song was titled “Walk with the Angels”, and there was a duality to it, being both very beautiful and quite sad. They started winding things down with “The Enemy In Me”, and wrapped up their set with what is arguably the best song in their repertoire, “Preacher Man”.
Their set was chocked full of rock and matched with one of the most intense live shows you can see. That was what drew me to them whenever it was I first saw one of their shows, and they’ve only honed their skills since then, making them a true force to be reckoned with.
Hell, on any normal night they would have stolen the show right out from under the other bands on the bill, but this wasn’t a normal night.
Definitely go check out Twicebroken’s album in ITUNES, and while they don’t have any shows lined up at this moment, you really should go see them if you have the chance.
Second up this night was Waking Alice, who had made the trek from Fort Worth to Dallas to do their first show of the year.
They got started with what I think is one of their newer songs, and one I’m quite fond of, then tackled a couple of songs from their newest EP, “Retribution”. One of those was “Treason”, which drummer Jon Levey and guitarist Brandon Brewer got underway with some thunderous beats and roaring notes. “…Come on one more time, play the game with me…” Rus belted out as they reached the songs chorus. It is the most rocking song on their EP in my opinion, and that showed during their performance of it, which was just a little more vicious than some of their other stuff. “This next song is called Scars.” Rus announced, before they started the slightly darker (in a musical sense) sounding song, which has some thick rhythm parts where Brayton Light tore it up on his bass. That’s all evened out, though, by Brandon’s killer solo that closes out the song, however, it was outshined by the instrumental break/jam during “Biggest Lie”. Brandon captured the spotlight during it, just riffing and going with it, but Brayton and Jon certainly added their two cents on it, while Rus took a backseat. They do that at every show, but the most interesting thing is it’s always a little different, so it never gets stale. After that powerful number, they scaled things back ever so slightly with “Fates Design”, which tells the story of Rus meeting his now wife, but not in a cliché way like most of those songs are done in. They got back to the high-energy rock stuff with “Wasting Time”, though I believe it was that song that, before starting it, Brandon cracked a joke. Now, I couldn’t understand what he said, which might have been the same problem other people had, resulting in essentially no laughter. “You better laugh at that, or we’re not gonna play this next song.” he said. Rus chimed in, “I think he’s serious.” He did seem it, but it wasn’t long before they started the song, following it with another classic from the bands catalog, “Chasing Memories”. I love the new stuff they’ve done with Rus, but some of their older material, like that one, are at least every bit of good, and it’s given all new life with the slightly different approach Rus takes to singing it. They had one song left in the chamber, and it was brand new one no less. “…It’s That One…” said Rus, saying it again and pointing out that, that really was the name of the song. I really liked it, and out of the handful of songs they churned out with Rus at the helm, this one now stands out as being one of my favorites and it was great way to end their 42-minute long set.
Which each show I’ve seen, they’ve continued to improve and tighten up, delivering a better show each time, and this night was hands down the best Waking Alice show I’ve seen yet.
It’s a nice lively stage show they put on, and coupled with their music, it should have no problem holding your attention.
Their next show is going to be on June 1st at Andy’s Bar in Denton, and it’ll be one you want to see. And be sure to head over to ITUNES and pick up their albums. Again, the newest is “Retribution”, but they have some older stuff available as well, featuring the bands previous vocalist.
The night wasn’t about to slow down, especially with Red Angel Theory being the next band up.
Their 32-minute long set was kicked off by one of the new songs they’ve cooked up, which is just one of the great things that has come out of Monica Koohi fronting the band. It was clear right from the start they, like all the other bands on this bill, were taking a no holds barred approach to their performance, and tore through that commanding opener. They weren’t about to lose the momentum they had built with that one either, as guitarist Brandon Deaton immediately fired up their next song, “Shattered”. Early on in the song drummer Nick Sarabia could be seen flipping his drumsticks up in the air then catching them, as well as adding some backing vocals during the chorus, adding some extra force to Monicas’ voice (not that she needs it) which is what makes that song stand out so in my opinion. They let loose another newer song on the audience, before taking a breather, as Monica announced who they were and such, also mentioning what they were going to do next. It was “It Often Lies”, another heavy song of theirs with Phil Sahs bass lines and Nick’s drumming working well together. “…Standing tall and proud, fighting till the day we die. Open up yourself, now it often lies…” Monica sang in her one of a kind voice, right before the songs second chorus. They followed it with what is arguable their best song, “Inception”, a true powerhouse of a song, that even comes across as an anthem of sorts. Monica got ahead of herself with the next song, saying it was one, before Nick corrected her. Instead, it was another newer one, called “Suffocate” I believe, and out of the three newer tracks they played this night, it was my personal favorite. Now they got to the song Monica was ready to do a few minutes before, but first she had to introduce it. Her speech involved stating that Red Angel Theory was “not about negativity”; rather they are about taking any negative thoughts and energy and turning them into something productive and creative, like music for example. The song was “The Darkness”, and despite the title, there are some positive, almost uplifting moments of the song. They went for a strong finish, as Nick started them right into their final song, “When the Dust Settles”, which happens to be the title track of their debut EP from last year. He provides some more backing vocals on that one, this time in the form of some ear piercing screams, which gives the song an extra layer of depth. It’s one hell of a song, and served as the perfect way to end their set.
I liked this Red Angel Theory show much more than the previous one I saw with this current lineup. Partly because now I knew what to expect and Monicas’ unique voice wasn’t as foreign to me as it had been before, and partly because they’ve got more shows under their belt now, and that experience showed.
They were awesome when I saw them a few months back at another Deep Ellum venue, but they were really clicking this night.
Monica was often racing around the stage, with a certain urgency to her step and her singing, which made it easy for your eyes to be glued on her. Brandon and Phil were a little less mobile, but they still have a presence about them. Besides, their musicianship speaks for itself, and you can admire it all, from the subtle nuances to the more intricate riffs each one cranks out. As for Nick, well, he’s a beast, plain and simple.
This was the best show I’ve seen them do yet, in either of the bands lineups, and it makes me excited for what they’ll be like down the road.
Go pick up their new EP, “Rise for Something”, in ITUNES. Then, if you want to hear those tracks live, go see them at The Worship Lounge in Colleyville, TX on May 17th. They’ll be up in Greenville on May 25th at the Texas Tattoos and Art Gallery, then on June 29th they have a Denton gig scheduled at Hailey’s. And on July 12th they’ll be back in Dallas rockin’ the Curtain Club.
This had been an amazing show so far with some killer bands playing, and now it culminated with Early Pearl taking the stage.
They ripped into their 50-minute long set with “Get Out”, and as soon as they started it you could practically feel everyone’s excitement as the adrenaline level in the club skyrocketed. As it came to an end, frontman Bishop Booker pumped one of his fists in the air, while he repeatedly shouted the final line, “Get out!”. They kept things moving right along as lead guitarist Chris Jackson wound them into another high-octane track, “State of Affairs”, before slowing things down just a bit with “Breakdown”. The coolest part of that song (and one of the most memorable moments of this show) came towards the end of it, when guitarists Chris and Ryan Maynard, plus bassist Chris Ivey all moved to stage right and formed small circle of sorts. Then, Maynard proceeded to hit the strings of Jacksons’ guitar, while Jackson did the same to Chris’s bass, who in turn played Maynards’ guitar. Like I said, it was cool to see, but above all it was a fun moment, and you could tell the three of them were having a good time doing it. “…This is Hindsight.” Said Bishop after he had talked with the crowd for a moment, which started them on a string of new songs, however, out of all of them, it was one of the best in my opinion. As serious as they were about rocking, there was also some entertaining banter between some songs, like here when it was said that Bishop had once gotten “…someone pregnant just by looking at them.” If I’m remembering correctly that all started because some of his sweat had dropped on a girl at the front of the stage, and he was joking that she couldn’t even talk after that happened.
They got back to the music with “Sooner Or Later”, and after someone bought them some shots, which they of course subsequently did, they tackled “Letting Go”. “Will I see you later, ‘cause I’m letting go? Will you open for me, or will you let me go?” sang Bishop on the chorus, amidst a barrage of drumbeats from Bobby Primm, and shortly after Jackson started his knockout guitar solo. Upon finishing it Bishop went to say something to the fans,but it came out wrong and rather nonsensical. “…I’m sorry.” He apologized, “I’ve been drinking and can’t speak English.” That got a laugh from everybody, and they then set up their next song, a very new song, and Chris asked everyone not to be too hard on them if it sounded horrible. It was only the second time they had done it in front of an audience, but I don’t think they had much to worry about. The song is called “Sure and Jaded Symphony” and it’s a killer song, being almost melodic at times, and others it’s just raw rock, which is exactly what you expect from Early Pearl. For the next song, Bishop announced he was going to do a little screaming, adding, “…I usually only scream if I’m with the right woman.” Chris chimed in at that point, “Or the right man.” “Man, I’m not even gonna talk to you after that…” said Bishop, while Chris just laughed. That led them to “Say It”, a song that is unlike any other of theirs, and even though they hadn’t been holding back in terms of their performance, they certainly didn’t pull any punches on that track.
As their set started coming to an end, Bishop made a brief speech. I don’t recall everything he said, but one thing was along the lines of there are a lot of bands out there who aren’t staying true to themselves. He went on to say that they supported what everyone of their fans was doing, since they support them. “…Early Pearl shows are about wearing funny hats…” he said as he kind of pulled a hat of a girls head. Overall, the takeaway message was to be yourself, which is a good message to send in my opinion. Now, they got back to some stuff from their album, both of which are fan favorites. “Dear lover, I need you to listen one more time. I’ve tried to deny you, but you just slowed my stride…” Sang Bishop, as they got “Turn” going, before bringing things to a close with “This Is”.
The fans were shouting for an encore, even though the two Chris’s were the only members left on stage at this point. “I’m sorry.” said Ivey, “In ten years we’ve only written ten songs.”
The fans, myself included, were eventually okay with that, but I’m not gonna lie, I was hoping they might bust out “Regret” for an encore. Maybe, next time.
As it was, it was still an excellent show, though.
To somewhat repeat what I said about the last Early Pearl show I saw, they put on real rock show. Sure, there are many bands that do that, but Early Pearl is a head above most others. Their music is still some of the best I’ve heard, and the live show is one of the best I’ve seen, and they won’t leave you disappointed.
In a month and a half now I’ve seen Early Pearl as much as I did in 2008 and 2009 combined, and will no doubt see them at least a few more times before the years over with. You should do the same, and while they have no shows scheduled at the moment, keep a check on their FACEBOOK PAGE for future show updates.
Also, head over to their SOUNDCLOUD PAGE to download their entire “This Is” album for free, as well as some live cuts of several of their new songs.
This was one hell of a rock show, and I’m glad I decided to spend my night at the Boiler Room.
It was time for round two of the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, and I was getting a much earlier start this day.
The first band I wanted to see went on at 2:20, at I got down to Dallas around that time, but the search for a parking spot took some time, and by the time I made it over to the main stage, Nicholas Altobelli and the Gigawatts were a little ways into their set.
Actually, they weren’t quite the Gigawatts, since they were missing a drummer and bassist, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Not long after I got there, Nicholas announced to everyone they were going to do a more “sensitive song”. That sensitive song was one of the tracks from his latest “Without a Home” album, “27 Stories”. “I don’t want to become something I’m running from… Crash and burn in the ground without making a sound, is that so hard to believe, or is it just me?…” Nicholas sang on the opening lines, using a more somber tone of voice on it to reflect the mood of it. After finishing it he mentioned his backing band The Gigawatts (pronounced like jig-a-watts), which was pedal steel guitarist Heather Kitzman, acoustic guitarist Robbie Saunders, and on the keys was Rahim Quazi, who is an accomplished area musician in his own right. Nicholas mentioned they were missing a few members, asking if they should change their name to the “gigabytes” since there were less of them. “No,” you could hear Heather saying while laughing. They then did another track from the new album, “I Don’t Think Tonight is Going to be a Good Night”, which was a little more upbeat, despite still being more of an emotional song, and it’s that certain level of emotion that is essentially a constant in all of Nicholas’s music. Without going into detail, he said that they seem to be cursed at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, saying they played here for three straight years and something always seemed to go wrong, and now they were sans a drummer and bassist. Still, that’s not terrible. They switched things up a bit as Heather left her pedal steel guitar and approached the stage right microphone. She has another band, The Blondelles, an all female Country band that does both covers and originals, and now one of her band mates from that group joined them on stage to perform a Blondelles tune. The song was quite good and the occasional harmonies they had going on were very delightful, leaving me with a strong desire to see a Blondelles show. They returned to their typical lineup and did a couple more tracks, one of which was a new one called “Dogwood”, which Nicholas said would be on his next record. Yes, not even two months after the release of his latest album and he’s already working on songs for his next album. You have to respect that. As for the song, it was very catchy and I loved the story it told. I’d even go as far as to say it’s one of the best things he’s written, which is saying a lot.
At this point, he asked the person working the sound how much time they had left. “…Please don’t say, like, forty minutes.” He said. Well, how much time do you think they had left? Yep, forty minutes. Judging Nicholas’s reaction, it was obvious they hadn’t prepared that meaty of a setlist, which meant most of what they did next was all impromptu.
Heather volunteered to do another song of the Blondelles, which killed some time, and afterwards Nicholas busted out an older song of his, one which he set up as being about a town in Michigan. The town he spoke of was Ann Arbor, which was the title of the song. I first saw Nicholas about a year ago and this song was my favorite from that set, but then he mentioned he was probably going to be retiring it to make room for his newer material. So, hearing it was a bit of a treat, for sure. He and Heather handled that song, but the other band members joined in for “I Just Want to Feel Real”, which was undeniable the most upbeat song of their set. It had already kind of been a song swap since Heather had done a few songs, and it definitely became one here, as Nicholas handed his acoustic guitar off to Rahim as the two traded places. He introduced himself to everyone, then did one of his originals and the title track of one of his albums, “Supernatural”. It was an infectious tune and instantly made me a fan of Rahim’s. I’ve heard some great things about him over the years, and now, I understand why. He got back behind the keys after that song, and they spread the love around some more, letting Robbie do a song, which had a Bluesy vibe to it. The best part about those other two songs was watching Heather, Robbie and Nicholas trying to play along with it and add backing vocals in parts, because, since they were unfamiliar with the songs, they were having to watch both Rahim and Robbie with an eagle eye while they were doing their song.
That seemed to have exhausted a lot of their options, and now Nicholas again asked how they were on time, hoping it was almost up. “Perfect.” He said after hearing they were down to three minutes, giving them just enough time to do the single from “Without a Home”, “The Lucky Ones”.
Considering about half of their set was made up on the spot, it was great show, and they pulled it all off without a hitch. Even without the rhythm section and doing acoustic versions of all the songs. I even think that out of the handful of shows I’ve seen of Mr. Altobelli’s, this one was the best yet.
See a show if you can. They’ll be playing at AllGood Café in Dallas on May 31st, along with The Blondelles. On June 28th they have a gig at Sundown at Granada in Dallas, and on July 11th they’ll be up in Denton at Dan’s Silverleaf. And if you’d like to listen to/buy Nicholas’s records, check out a couple of ‘em in ITUNES.
After their set, I went to find some shade, and wound up at the Deep Ellum stage were a band by the name of Chant was finishing up their set.
They were a mix of R&B and Soul, and what little I saw was absolutely amazing. The trio had a fantastic sound going for them, and by the looks of it, I wasn’t the only one they had reeled in. There was quite a crowd watching them, and once they were finished, the audience erupted in applause and cheers.
I killed some more time once they finished, ending up at the Singer/Songwriter stage around four where Clint Niosi was doing a show.
I first discovered him late last year at the Dallas Observer Music Awards showcase, but there was one big difference between that show and the one he was about to do, and that was that he now had a full backing band. In fact, this was the debut show of The Unaccountable, which was what Clints’ backing band has been named.
However, just because Clint now had a full band, comprised of Tommy Garcia on drums, Matt Hanson on the piano, bassist Aaron Bartz, and Claire Hecko playing the violin, didn’t mean he was going to stray too far from his sound.
Their 35-minute long set got off to a slow start as he slowly plucked the strings of his electric guitar setting up a song from his 2008 album “The Sound of Dead Horses Beaten Against Cold Shoulders”, “Coalmine Canary”. When it was time for the instrumentalists to join in, they were all pretty reserved with their playing, too. The bass lines were subtle, at times hardly even noticeable, while the drums were loud enough to be heard, but offered no competition between any of the other elements, and the keys and violin served to really accentuate Clints’ voice, which was undoubtedly the main focal point throughout the show. That all held pretty true for every song, and next they did the somewhat eerie “White Elephant”, off last year’s “For Pleasure and Spite” album. In listening to it, to realize not only how much power the music has in setting a songs mood, but also how much the lyrics and the tone they are said in affect it. “…There’s nothing new and it’s all been done. Nostalgic for the way it never was…” sang Clint on one of the later lines of “New Light”, a song that is one of the best example at what an incredible songwriter he really is. All of those songs thus far, and most of his in general, have a certain ominous quality to them. I like that about his music, but “My Mepistophilis” was a refreshing change of pace, since a little bit of the song is more upbeat musically. That served as a turning point in a way for the show, because the songs that followed it, “The Sum of Parts” and “Little Heart”, also have a somewhat happier or more tranquil vibe, despite that latter song being about a breakup. Sometime around this point (probably a few songs before) a guy walked up to the stage. “Hey, don’t be afraid to actually play that guitar!” he said to Clint, who shrugged it off as the guy walked away. It was funny, mainly because the guy couldn’t appreciate what the band was actually doing. They had a few songs left now, and had saved the best for last, and both “The Formless Black” and “Shark In Your Water” were highlights of the show, even though they sound completely different from one another. They had one song left after that, and ended it with another track from the latest record, “While I’ve Got You on the Line”.
It was a fantastic set, even if some people thought he needed to play the more loudly.
As a solo artist Clint is great, and when I first saw him he was accompanied by Claire on some of the songs, but The Unaccountable create a whole new layer on the live performance.
They make the songs really pop. Sure, it’s all very subtle, but, like I said in another recent review (though it was meant in a completely different way then), there’s beauty in subtlety. You don’t have to be a loud rock band doing flashy stuff on stage to get people’s attention. All you really need is to be able to write deep, powerful lyrics that can captivate the listener… Well, at least the listener who can appreciate it.
Clint is a truly remarkable songwriter, and hands down one of the best in the area. As for the band, he did a good job at assembling some talented individuals that really fit with his style.
Be on the lookout for the band, and as of right now their next show is May 18th as part of the Arts Google Festival in Fort Worth where they will be playing at Sinaca Studios. As for his two albums, they can be purchased in either ITUNES or BANDCAMP.
As soon as they finished, I hightailed it back to the main stage at Good Latimer, where the Indie/Folk band The Fox and the Bird was getting ready to play. I’ve heard a lot about them over the years, but had never made it to a show, so now was the time to see what all the fuss was about.
Their 47-minute long set was a mix of old and new material and they opened with one of those new songs. I was drawn in to it almost immediately, though, due largely to the three and even four part harmonies they often had going on, making it very entrancing. They followed it with “Traveling Bones”, a sweet little love song where backing singer and occasional lead singer Sarah Scotts’ voice intertwined gorgeously with singer and acoustic guitarist Dan Bowmans’. “…I’m in love with the view, but I’m more in love with you…” the two sang in synch with each other. They did a little over half of the songs from their debut album “Floating Feather” this night, and the next song they tackled from it was “Women In the Kitchen”. Additional acoustic guitarist Jacob Metcalf sang lead on that tune, which had more had more of a Folk/Country vibe, and Petra Kelly’s violin playing was superb on it. They did a newer song next, which just so happened to be about the fine city of Dallas, which made it very relatable for all those in attendance. By all those, I mean a lot, as there didn’t appear to be an empty seat anywhere, forcing a lot of people (myself included) to stand and watch their performance. Upon finishing it, Jacob mentioned that their new album, an EP titled “Darkest Hour”, should be out sometime in May. They then did a few songs from it, which required Dan to exchange his guitar for an accordion. Not only that, but he also used a trumpet from time to time over the course of the next few songs, one of which was sung Sarah, showcasing what a strong voice she has, while another was the final song from their first record, “Hey Sister”. It was slower in relation to most of their other stuff, which in turn made the drums, which were manned by Paul Grass, the dominant instrument. His drum kit was pretty small and far from traditional, as his bass drum was a suitcase. Very interesting, and as odd as it looked, it resulted in a sound much like that of an actual bass drum. They got back to their normal setup, with Dan on the guitar, in order to do “Oldest Old”, which was one of my favorites of their set, and “Old Mother” wasn’t too shabby, either. They did a couple more new tracks, then arrived at the title track from their current album, “Floating Feather”. This cheery song was the only I was truly familiar with (I admittedly haven’t listened to the album a whole lot). It was every bit as good live as the recorded version, and is arguable the best song they’ve written. They had one left after that, bidding everyone farewell when they finished it, saying “…We’ll see you next time.”
Now, I know the whole Indie/Folk genre is kind of played out at the moment, since it has suddenly become the hot commodity and there are now a bazillion bands like that who have become successes from the commercial aspect. Honestly, I’m as tired of it as probably everyone else is. And while you can’t say there’s no other band out there like The Fox and the Bird, you can say they are doing it all right.
It’s creative musically, and lyrically several of their songs tell some good little stories. Plus they are all very capable and great singers, whose different tones of voice make sure nothing ever gets to repetitive.
I really liked it and am glad I finally got to see one of their shows. Hopefully I can make it to another sometime in the near future.
Find their album “Floating Feather” in either ITUNES or BANDCAMP, and keep a check on their FACEBOOK PAGE for info about future shows.
So far there had been a lot of diversity between all the bands (and that’s just from the ones I chose to see) and it was about to get more eclectic when Reinventing Jude took the stage.
I’ve heard of the band for a few years now, but it wasn’t until the last six months or so when I actually listened to their stuff and became a fan.
The band, which is fronted by Jude Gonzalez, was functioning as a quintet this night, and along with all the typical instruments a band has, they also had a cello player.
Their first song proved the self-description of being a Ballroom Rock band to be an accurate one. That’s the similarity between their songs, they all have somewhat of a mellow vibe to them and are rather relaxing, while also stimulating. It’s quite interesting, and had me captivated from the start. I think they followed it with “1919”, which let Judes’ smoky voice flow while she played her guitar. There’s no doubt that she drew the most attention, but her band mates were putting on a good live show as well and put more energy into it than you might expect based on their style of music. Yun Kim was a powerful drummer who was really into it all, and lead guitarist Nathan Hanlon is an exceptional guitar player, though he was more restrained here than with the rock band I last saw him in. They did another song before getting to what I think was “Midnight 30”, which was at times a little more upbeat, and had some nice cello parts courtesy of Ashley Montez, while bassist Chris Townsend and Yun created a very strong rhythm section on that one. “The Talk” was one of their most dynamic songs of the night, and “The Weather” was pretty good, too. Jude announced their next song was “Secret”, a track from the 2011 album “Shoulder Season”, and another one that showed off Judes’ somewhat sultry voice as she crooned on the chorus, “…I’m gonna fall in love and I’m gonna keep it…”. Before beginning the next one, she announced it was named “Swimmer Song”, which was an amazing song, and they did one more after it to finish up what had been a stellar 47-minute long set.
It was a nice set and I can’t believe it took me so long to see a Reinventing Jude show.
They have an extraordinary sound, and Judes’ voice is one of the smoothest and most distinctive I’ve heard. The slower pace most of their songs have might not be for everyone, but if you don’t mind that and you like music that has real substance and meaning to it, than you need to give Reinventing Jude a listen.
You can buy their albums in ITUNES, and get some free downloads of some singles on either REVERBNATION or SOUNDCLOUD.
They usually keep pretty busy when it comes to live shows, and as of right now you can find them at Hailey’s in Denton on May 10th, and the following weekend, May 18th, they’ll be at The Freeman in Dallas.
There was one last act I really wanted to see this night, and that was the Alt/Country band from the small town of Belton, Texas, Kirk Baxley and the Old Number Sevens.
The four-piece’s opening track was really good, and they kept the show rolling with the smooth sounding “Drive”, which is one of the tracks from the “Cold as a Stone” EP. It does kind of call into question how Alt/Country the band is, though, and singer and rhythm guitarist Kirk Baxley brought that up at one point during their set, saying that some people will classify them as that. “…I like to think of us as being more Belton, Texas Country…” he said, and that genre has a dash or two of rock added to the mix. Those first two songs had been pretty loud and fast paced, but now they took things down for a few notches with the sensitive love song, “Constantly”. Kirk’s always been good at the ballads, and that tune is a fine example of that. They stepped things back up afterwards with what was the most rocking song of their set. The bands lead guitarist really got to cut loose on this one, shredding and cranking out some awesome lines, and the drummer was able to let his chops show as well. It was beast of a song, and hopefully it can make it onto their next record. Kirk did some chatting with the crowd in between songs, doing everything from pumping the crowd up, to talking about the next song they were going to do. He did the latter here, saying the one they were about to do was for his dad. It was nice song, and they followed it with a few other non-album tracks, one of which was an old gem from the first time he played back during the time of his first country project, “God in Rock ‘n’ Roll”. I love that song and the positive energy it has, and it was great getting to hear it again, ‘cause it’s been a couple years at least since I last heard it. Before their next song, Kirk asked if anyone hailed from a small town, saying that was exactly what this next song was about, and it was aptly titled “Small Town”. “…Being from a small, small town, it ain’t easy…” Kirk belted out on the chorus, telling it like it is in a way, but the overall message is being from a small town isn’t that bad, and it certainly can’t define who you are or what you can do in life. They again slowed things down, way down at that, this time with the title track of their EP “Cold as a Stone”. I believe it was at this point where Kirk asked if anyone had a problem with them slowing it down and making it even more depressing. It was hard to think that could happen, but it did, and I think that was also the song where the bands bass player switched from an electric bass to an upright bass. It added a good sound to the music, but he went back to the electric bass for their next song, “Bring My Brother Back”, and after another song, they broke out the fan favorite, “Rock ‘n’ Roll in My Veins”. “I’ve got rock ‘n’ roll in my veins, but I love country music just the same…” Kirk sang at the start of this intense rock song, a song where you saw a glimpse of his rock frontman personality jump out. I thought the show was over with that, since it is a fan favorite and seemed to please everybody who was watching them this night, but they had one more left to cap off their 65-minute long set.
It was an awesome show, and much better than the last time I saw them, where they were limited to a five song set. I really liked it because even though he’s been doing this for a few years now, I’ve never been able to see a full set from him and his band in order to get a real taste of what their sound is like, and now that I have, I love it.
The music is far from being true Country, so it’s not going to alienate his older fans (at least not most of them), but they’re certainly not the loud, heavy rock songs he used to write, either. Instead, what he does now is a nice blend of each.
After all these years, Kirk is still one of the best singer/songwriters here in the area. Sure, he might not live in Dallas per say, but this has always been his hometown of sorts, which he pointed out while playing, saying he’s often been at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival in past years, but had never performed it until now, and he was proud to be able to.
They’ll be pretty busy the last half of May, doing a two night stand at the House of Fifi Dubois in San Angelo on May 17th and 18th. On the 24th they’ll be at The Rattlesnake Inn in Florence, then on the 31st they have a gig at Darwin’s in Austin. Also, be sure to check out their EP in ITUNES.
There was one band left, and somehow I didn’t know The Roomsounds were playing this thing until a few hours before this point. I really considered staying to see them, but after being out since the early afternoon, I was beat and decided to call it a night.
All in all, I had a blast at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, or rather watching the bands that played it. This was the second straight year I’ve attended two out of the three days of the festival, and I’m already looking forward to what bands will be playing it next year.
Being out at the arts festival meant I had missed the first two bands playing The Curtain Club this night, but on the bright side, I wasn’t going to have to wait long to see the two bands I was most excited to see.
First up was Opium Symphony, who, after releasing their debut full-length album last year did a couple of tours throughout the South, Mid-West and East Coast, but have been laying relatively low since late last year. That’s not to say they haven’t played, it’s just that their shows had been pretty sparse.
Since it had been awhile since their last hometown show, they had decided to make this show a little special by playing some songs from the “Blame It On the Radio” album that had never been done live, beginning with the title track itself. It replaced their typical opener, which also happens to include the word radio in its title, and as big a move as that was, even gutsy in some ways, it couldn’t have worked out better for them. “Blame It On the Radio” was every bit as loud and aggressive as the other song, garnering them a good little crowd from the start, and they commanded their attention pretty easily. They quickly followed it with “Fiction for Addiction”, with singer and rhythm guitarist Kellen Ross leading the charge into it with the opening notes, and once Derron Bell entered in on the instrumental intro, he showed off some of his skills, twirling a drumstick in one of his hands. After that song, which happens to be the one the band got their name from, “…Didn’t want to give you an opium symphony…”, Kellen took a moment to thank the other two bands who had played before them, calling some attention to the first band, Plowboy. I believe he said he was as god as those kids are when he was their age, seeming very impressed by their talent. Rightfully so, too, ‘cause I’ve seen them before and they are great. Next up was one of the staples from their album, “Jukebox Junkie”, which was greeted with some fanfare from the fans. I had forgotten how awesome that song is, particularly in the live setting, from the slick sounds of the intro which finds Kellen and lead guitarist Jarrett Kramer playing pretty much the same chords, to the eerie bridge where Kellen softly whispers “Sell your soul to the devil you’ll find…”, before surging back into the chorus. Like usual, they rocked out the instrumental outro, but they didn’t just stop like they normally do. Instead, they had another trick up their sleeve. On the album that instrumental piece at the end brings them smoothly into “Soul for Sale”, a song that had never been performed live, until this night. It was like you were listening to the two songs on the album, and during a momentary break from playing his guitar, Kellen took in a deep breath like he was preparing for this epic six plus minute long song. “Anyone today would gladly sell their soul for a dollar…” after that lengthy instrumental portion came to an end. Honestly, that’s not one of my favorites from their album (and that’s not to say I dislike the song, ‘cause that is far from being the case), but live it was another beast entirely and was one of the best songs of their set. Upon finishing it, bassist Drew Nolde had a question for everybody. “Has anyone ever had to choose between God or money?” he asked, which got little verbal response, instead getting an awkward look from people, like, “No, no I haven’t.” “Me neither,” he said, “but Kellen wrote a song about.” He was of course speaking about “God or Money”, the second and only other old song that made it into the setlist this time around, and after finishing that rhythm heavy tune, they wound it right into the explosive “Down the Rabbit Hole”. I think the only other time I had heard that one live was at their CD release show, so it had been a little while. It’s definitely one of the highlight tracks from their record and as well as the live show, it’s also very dynamic and everyone who was up by the stage was rocking out to it. Their 38-minute set was nearing the end, and now Kellen gave the fans a choice between two of their longest songs. One was “…Pennies…”, the other “Gospel”. Not many people voiced their opinion but the few who did made it clear that they wanted to hear “Gospel”. It’s the routine closer for these guys, and frankly I can’t imagine them not ending a show with it. Besides, how can you dislike a song that says, “…As long as god’s alive rock ‘n’ roll ain’t ever gonna die…”
It was a fitting end to what was probably the best Opium Symphony show I’ve seen to date, or at least in the top two. Part of that can probably be attributed to their tour. I talked with Kellen out on the patio earlier in the night, asking him how their tours went, and he was talking about how when you play so many days in a row like that, that it eventually becomes all “muscle memory”. I’ve seen other bands do that, and when they get into that touring shape they’re elevated to a whole new level. Now, it had been two months since their last show, so they of course weren’t in touring shape, but you could tell they had benefited from it.
They were better polished than what I remembered, which is saying a lot, and everything was just so tight.
If you haven’t seen them yet, you need to, and hopefully they’ll have some more shows coming up soon. Also be sure to head over to ITUNES and check out their album.
Following them was another band who hasn’t been playing much, at least not recently, and that was Redefine.
They started their 41-minute long set completely differently from any other Redefine show I’ve seen. See, it began with a rap song, specifically Nelly’s “Hot in Here” playing through the speakers, and when the curtain opened, bassist Mike DiQuinzio, drummer, Daniel “Dano” Taylor, and rhythm guitarist Matt Jones were on stage. Soon the remaining band members, lead guitarist Chris Apaliski and singer Scott Headstream, made their way on stage, somewhat dancing along with the song. Soon it cut out, though, and they were ready to get to work.
There are always two songs I hope to hear at their shows, and they opened with one of them, as Dano got right into show mode, tearing it up on his drum kit. The song was “Like a Vision, a Ghost”, which was a great track to open with. “…When you were off setting your fires, I spent my days trying to douse those flames…” sang Scott as the start of the second verse, which is one of several lines I love from that song. Dano wasn’t the only one in show mode, and Chris and Mike had been racing all over the stage during that song, while Scott focused on working and interacting the crowd. “Hey Dallas, take your medicine.” He said before starting their next song, and another one from the “Blur On the Horizon” EP, “Take Your Medicine”. They kicked things up a few notches with that fast-paced song, ensuring everyone was captivated by their show. “Let’s be honest, I’m drunk.” Scott said to everyone after finishing that previous song. I want to say he also threw in that if anyone wanted to buy them any shots they’d be okay with that. I believe that since December, they had only done one other show before this one, and during that little hiatus from being on stage, they had been working up some new material, and now they were going to give everyone a taste of what they had cooked up. I think this first new song was titled “All That Ever Was”, and it was pretty good. It wasn’t quite as aggressive as the song they had just done, or even some of their others, but I enjoyed it. Dano filled the silence in between their next song by doing a drum solo of sorts, while Scott did a little begging, placing the Redefine megaphone at the front of the stage, telling anyone who wanted to they could put some money in it to help them out in getting new shirts made. See, a little while back a lot of their merchandise was stolen, so all the shirts they did have are gone. Through all of that, Dano was still laying down some beats, and now Matt, Mike and Chris laid some riffs over it, doing a badass instrumental piece, setting up “Arcana”. They kept the music coming, next doing “The Silent Hum”, which Scott noted was the first song he wrote with the band, which was at least four years ago now, if not longer. They’ve written some great stuff in recent years, but that is still one of their best songs, and Chris gets to go all-out on it, simply shredding on his axe. “Cut the Cord” was their next song, and possible the most entertaining of their set, but not for the reasons you may think. Towards the end of it, Scott grabbed the mic stand, flipping it up in the air while he sang a line or two, and as he was swinging it back down, Chris happened to go over next to him, subsequently getting nailed in the head by the bass of the stand. You could tell it hurt, but he didn’t miss a note, and Scott looked at him apologetically and in disbelief that it had even happened. They laughed about it for a moment, then they were ready to unleash another new song on the fans. I was told as of right now they are calling it “Whole”, and it was the most intense song I’ve ever heard them do. For those familiar with Redefine, think “The Silent Hum”, then multiple that by ten or so and you should have an idea of what this new track was like. Seriously, I’ve found my new favorite Redefine song, and I think I like it even more than my favorites from their two EP’s. It didn’t seem like they had been playing anytime, but already it was time for them to wrap it up, and they did so with “Leave The Light On”. Towards the end of it Scott made his way down the sort of steps at the front of the stage, still singing, and during an instrumental break he got right out in the crowd, watching his band mates rock out for a minute, before climbing back on stage to finish it out.
This was the best Redefine show I’ve seen in a long time. Almost two years to be precise, when they played here at the Curtain to celebrate the release of what is their most recent EP.
They were on fire and worked together like a well-oiled machine. I will say that their newest member, Matt, isn’t quite as lively as the other guys are, but then again, this was only his third live show with them. And regardless of if he ever moves around as much as the others do or not, you can’t argue the fact that he’s a great guitarist, playing all of his notes very fluidly.
With Dano officially back behind the drums and Matt on rhythm guitar, I think Redefine has finally found another winning combination, and one that will hopefully last a good long while.
No shows are on the books for these guys at the moment, but they’ll be rocking a stage sooner or later. In the meantime, check out their two EP’s in ITUNES, and if we’re lucky, by year’s end maybe they’ll be adding another EP to their discography.
I think there might have been one last band up this night, but I went ahead and left after Redefine’s set. After all, I was planning on being back out at the art festival early the next day and needed to get some shut eye.
It’s spring, which means it’s festival season, this week it was time for the annual Deep Ellum Arts Festival.
Like the name suggests, it is an arts festival, with tons of artists from all over setting up shop along Main Street, which is partially blocked off.
Also, they have a variety of bands playing multiple stages, which is what gets my interest, especially since it’s free. So, since I was going to catch a show in Deep Ellum in the first place this night, why not get down to the area early and see some of the acts at the arts festival.
Midnight Empire had been playing for awhile by the time I arrived, and I made it over to the stage as they were wrapping up one of their newer songs. They had some old gems thrown in, too, though, like the fan favorite, “Can’t Get Enough”. It sounded as good as usual, and the sweet guitar solo Art Struck rocked out helped make the song, but they were oddly reserved while performing it. Actually, the same went for their entire set, or at least what I saw of it. I hate to say it, but it did affect the show, and as cohesive as drummer Matt Cook and bassist Rick Reynolds were on the next song, “Tidal Wave”, it just seemed weird with them being rather motionless, while singer Jacob Henderson casually walked around the stage. After finishing it, he said he didn’t think they had played that song in about a year or so, asking Art if that was right or not. They finally agreed it was, and that they had probably last played it at one of the clubs down here in the Deep Ellum area. The ballad “Two Against One” brought the level down for a moment, before bringing it back up with some more full on rock songs, four to be exact, which closed out their set. That seemed like the end, but after finding out they had a few more minutes left on the clock, Jacob informed everyone they were going to do one more, another new one that would be on their sophomore album.
I’ve only seen one full show of the bands, and caught another partial set before this one, so I know what Midnight Empire is capable of, and will gladly write this off as they were just having a bad night. Still, none of them really seemed like they were into it, and the passion from the musicians (or lack thereof) can make all the difference in how shows are perceived.
This was just an off night for them, and still think they are probably one of the most talented bands in the Dallas music scene at the moment. They have two big shows coming up, one will be at the House of Blues in Dallas on May 22nd opening for Ratt. The other is July 18th at the Rock USA Festival in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Check out their debut album “Everything and Nothing” in ITUNES, as well as get some free singles on their REVERBNATION page plus some live cuts of a couple newer tracks on their SOUNDCLOUD page.
I killed a little bit of time by walking around and looking at some of the art after they finished, getting back to the stage a little after eight to make sure I didn’t miss any of Sayonara.
This was going to be an interesting set from the band to say the least, since earlier in the day singer and guitarist Debbie Blythe had gotten ill, posting online that the show may have to be an instrumental one.
Luckily, by the time they started had 8:19, her voice had recovered thanks to a steroid shot she had gotten at the doctor, which she mentioned a few songs into their set. All that said, you never would have known anything was wrong as they rocked out their opener, “Rendezvous at the Slaughtered Lamb”. That first song of their 44-minute long set sounded exactly like the fans were expecting, with Debbie hitting all the notes just fine with her unique voice, while the often smooth bass lines Sean Blythe was cranking out gave the song a great texture. When that song ended, he mentioned he had been down in Houston and had “…hauled ass…” to get back up here in time to do the show. That brief banter ended, as they started into one of only a couple older songs that were in the setlist this night. It was the lead track from their first EP, “Mothership”. It’s still one of their best songs, and since I’d only seen the band once before, I forgot how good it was live, being a fairly loud rock song with some killer beats from drummer Jonny Williams, but contrasting that, Debbies’ voice is a little softer and lacks the aggression heard on other songs, which makes for an exceptional tune. They did another new song next, one that often found Debbie moving her guitar behind her, playing the keyboard instead, giving it a slightly different feel from their other songs. At this point, Debbie apologetically informed everyone she needed to give her voice a rest, turning the next song into an instrumental one. “…I hope y’all don’t mind too much…” she said to the fans, several of whom were clustered in front of the stage. They seemed okay with it, and personally, I liked it much more than I thought I would. As I’ve said many times before, I’m not a fan of instrumental music, but without the lyrics taking some of my attention, I was able, or rather forced, to pay attention to their musicianship, and each of them is amazing at what they do. Sean owned it on the bass (and not just during this song), really getting into the music and rocking out. Jonny made the drumming look rather effortless at times, offering some slick moves from time to time, and Debbie picked at her guitar with calculated precision, but could also shred quite well when she needed to. Another new song came next, followed by another instrumental, and I believe that one actually is meant to be an instrumental track. “I Need Japanese Steel” was one of the most impressive songs of their set, and they cooked up one hell of a song with that one. After finishing it, Debbie mentioned she had been put on antibiotics, which led to a conversation about how she found out a little while back that drinking anything alcoholic while taking meds doesn’t make them any less effective. Instead, she said it just makes the potential side effects, say tiredness for example, more potent. It made for an interesting conversation, but soon they did another newer song, and then one of my favorites of theirs, “Discourage Wolf”. They had one left in the chamber after that, and finished a great show with one more new one.
I think the band members were just as skeptical of how this show was going to go as some of the fans were, and giving the circumstances, I was impressed by them.
For an off night, Debbies’ voice sounded great and showed no sign of weakness. In fact, there was one song where she did some screaming, and her voice didn’t even crack. And I did touch on their performance earlier, but this was a real rock show they put on this night.
Keep up to date with them and see when they’ll be playing, and if you can, go to a show. You’ll be glad you did. Besides, both times that I’ve seen them know Debbie has been sick and had to hold back on her singing, so if their this incredible on an off night, no telling what they’re like at 100%.
There was one more band I wanted to see at the arts festival, but I killed some time by going into the Curtain Club, then going to the Deep Ellum stage to see Vinyl Pilot.
I got there a little late, and the band was finishing up one song, which they eventually wound into “Watch It Grow Old”, from their older “So far, By Far” EP. The stage was smaller, especially with all the gear and five guys on it, but they didn’t let that hinder them, especially not lead guitarist Kyle Burkett, who was moving all over stage left, tearing it up on his guitar. He wound them seamlessly into their next song, which is the following track from that EP, “Keyword Optimism”. “Lock your doors and close your windows. So far, by far this is the worst time that I have ever had…” sang singer and rhythm guitarist Jeff Lowe, whose voice perfectly fits the upbeat, in your face style of Alt/Rock with touches of Pop that the band plays. They stopped long to briefly chat with the crowd, and then announced their next song was a newer one, before launching into it. So far, it had been strictly about the music so far, but they, or rather the bands newest addition, bassist Patrick Hunter, had some fun with the crowd now. He mentioned how lovely everyone looked, saying that they all ranked probably a nine and a half. “…Alright, alright, I’ll say a ten…” he said all serious like, like he was rating an official contest or something. “Bet You Won’t” was the next song in the setlist, but it didn’t being like it normally does, instead they had worked up an awesome intro for it, which just had the quintet, including keyboardist Chase Eriksen and drummer David Tapp just jamming. They were going all out and it lasted a few moments, before subsiding, highlighting Jeff’s singing for a moment as the song officially got underway. They kept up the high-energy pace of the show with the arresting “No Way in Hell”, but soon shook things up with the title track of their latest EP, “A Beautiful Disaster”. Beautiful is exactly what it is, with the notes Chase plays on the keyboard being nothing short of heavenly, while the lights guitar and bass lines accentuate it quite well. It’s not all serene and relaxing, though, eventually growing into a beast of a rock song, and in my opinion, it doubles as being the most intense song in their arsenal. With that, their 33-minute long set (well, that was what I caught of it anyway) was almost up, and they ended with a new, non-album song called “The Great Unknown”. It’s the perfect title for a song to close with, and left things on a good note.
This was the best Vinyl Pilot show I’ve seen yet, even if they didn’t have as much room on stage as they did at the last venue I saw them at. The reason I liked this one so much more is because they seemed more cohesive here. They were all in synch with one another, and I loved how Kyle segued them from one song to the next early on in the set. It gave things a very fluid feel, and I wouldn’t complain if they did even more of that.
And going back to the cohesive thing, Patrick meshed much better with them than he did on February 1st when he played his first show with them. I don’t mean that just in the sense that they’ve gotten more accustomed to each other, either. He added some comical relief of sorts with his occasional dialogue, and got a good rapport going with the audience.
Their an all-around great band, and if you want to see a show for yourself, well they have a free one coming up on June 5th at the Rockin’ Rodeo in Denton. They’ll be opening for Bowling for Soup, which is all the more reason not to miss out on the show. You can also find both of their EP’s in ITUNES, which I’d suggest checking out.
Night one of the arts festival was pretty fun, and I got to see some great bands, but just because the festival was getting ready to close for the night didn’t mean the night was over, as I headed back to the Curtain Club for some more music.
The Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff was hosting one of Texas’s best Americana/Country singer/songwriters this night, as Hayes Carll was in the house for the first show of his two night stand at the venue. Both shows were completely sold out.
It had been nearly a year since the last and only other time I had seen a Hayes Carll show, and I found myself getting more excited the closer it got to this Thursday night.
There was only one opening band on this show, and that was Warren Hood and The Goods, who hailed from Austin.
I found them to be an interesting choice for an opening band, because there couldn’t have been a bigger contrast between their style of music and Hayes Carll’s. Also, I want to preface this by saying on a personal level, their music didn’t really appeal to me.
The quintet, which was fronted by, who else, Warren Hood, who also played the fiddle, did mine the Country music genre, but it covered a broad spectrum. Some songs had a typical Americana/Country vibe to them, while others were more Bluegrass. They also had an older feel to some of their songs, conjuring more of a 1950’s era Country sound, which I just couldn’t really get into.
The talent they have was undeniable, though, not just as individuals, but as a collective unit, too. Warren did some amazing solos on his fiddle, and had a phenomenal voice that is very behooving of the genres they stick to. Some of what I thought were their best songs where the ones he and keyboardist Emily Gimble were singing as duets, and there were also a couple performed entirely by her, showing off her powerhouse of a voice. Guitarist Willie Pipkin, and their bassist and drummer also did a great job, really getting into some of the songs, while scaling it back on the slower stuff.
I have to admit, what they did they did exceedingly well, regardless of what my personal thoughts were.
Their set this night was comprised entirely of new songs from their forthcoming album, which Warren mentioned a couple times during their set, saying he had hoped they could have it ready in time for this tour, but it didn’t work out.
The album will see the light of day in early June, and I believe it will be June 28th when they return to The Kessler Theater to do a Dallas CD release show. They also have many other gigs coming up, and you can find most of them by going HERE. Oh, and you can find an older record of Warren’s in ITUNES.
After a 40+ minute long set, they got a little bit of a break, but they were coming back, because they were also serving as the backing band for Hayes Carll.
It was a little after 9:30 when the lights dimmed and the fanfare began, as Warren Hood and his band filed back on stage to assume their positions. In between all of them was the man of the hour, Hayes Carll, who stepped up the center mic and got the show on the road.
He began strumming his acoustic guitar, and as the chord progression came together, the packed room cheered upon realizing it was “Beaumont”. Several songs were performed differently this night, and it was one of them, being completely acoustic up to the second verse, when the band lightly joined in. It made for a good opener since it was even softer than normal and highlighted what everyone here surely already knew; that Hayes is an excellent storyteller who writes some powerful lyrics. There was a pause long enough for some applause when they finished, then guitarist Willie Pipkin fired up their next song. They did a few tracks from 2005’s “Little Rock” album, including the title track, which the fans seemed excited to hear. The band was completely utilized on that one, too, from the keys to the fiddle and the rhythm section, picking up the pace immensely on that more Rock sounding Alt/Country number. Now, not only is Hayes a good storyteller through songs, but also in general, and when they had finished that song, the audience was treated to one of his stories. He started by mentioning that this was the first of a two night stand at the Kessler, “…Which means we can enjoy ourselves tonight…” he said laughing, also noting that it would be nice not to have to worry about getting to another town by the next night. He continued, “…Actually I’ve never had much trouble with that [enjoying himself]…” Then he got to his story, saying that several years ago he spent six months over in Croatia, during the recession when no one had jobs. While over there, he joined a Croatian handball team. “…I didn’t do much, just ran around like a special kid while the team practiced…” he said casually and rather matter-of-factly. He said that the team of course showered after practice, and one day he went to clean up, but the team stood in his way preventing him from getting to the showers. “S one of them asked me, “Is everything really bigger in Texas?” said Hayes, doing his best (and a pretty good) imitation of a Croatian accent.
He took a momentary pause, allowing the crowd to laugh, and then with perfect comedian timing said, “So the next week I joined a Croatian racquetball team. They never really even showered so…” It was hysterical, and I was wondering how it related to his next song, presuming it was connected at all. He answered that with, “That has nothing to do with this next song, that’s just what was going on at the time I wrote it…” he said. The story lasted a few minutes, eventually leading them to a fan favorite from the “Trouble in Mind” album, “It’s a Shame”, and it was impossible not to sing along to the catchy chorus of “It’s a shame that we ain’t lovers, we could have been somethin’ so big and grand…” It was followed by another track from that 2007 record, as Hayes quickly said this next song didn’t always go over well with audiences, but he thought it would this night, adding that he and Ray Wylie Hubbard wrote it about drunk songwriters and the women who put up with them. “I got a woman she’s wild as Rome. She likes to lay naked and be gazed upon…” he crooned at the start of “Drunken Poet’s Dream”. He was right about the song, too, and it went over very smoothly with the crowd. They did one of his newer songs next, which, if I remember correctly, Hayes said was about your one last chance at love and not wanting to be hurt yet again. “…It’s called Love Don’t Let Me Down.” He announced. That serious song took things down a few notches, and also allowed Emily Gimble to shine, since they performed the song as a duet. Again, her voice is amazing and hits you like a ton of bricks, leaving you in complete awe.
The band got a few minute long break after finishing that song, as Hayes started into another story. It was about when he was cutting his teeth on the club circuit, and the setting was “Bob’s Bar and Grill”. “…None of you people would have been there. Well maybe two of you would have, but you wouldn’t have been watching me. You’d be watching some fishing tournament on the TV.” Hayes said, and I think it was also around this time that he had to work for several years to be able to play venues as nice as the Kessler was. This several minute long story continued and he mentioned a person, “…We’ll say his name is Mike…” he said. “Now, Mike was a drug dealer…” Hayes continued, informing everyone that Mike didn’t spend his money on anything lavish, however, he did apparently have a small zoo. “Now, when I saw zoo I mean a giraffe, some zebras and a African lion…” saying Mike kept those out on the beach. Already the story was so out there it was impossible not to be laughing, but it only got better when Hayes said sometimes when he did shows, Mike thought it was funny to move the lions cage behind the window at Bob’s Bar and Grill. “…So, if you looked out the window, which you wouldn’t have done by the way, ‘cause you wouldn’t have cared that I was playing music. Anyway, if you had looked out the window, you would have seen an African lion pacing in its cage behind me…” Hayes then recalled that when hurricane Ike hit he was over in the UK doing some shows, and was unable to get much information about what had happened to his hometown area. “…So, before one show, someone came up to me and showed me a copy of The London Times or something like that, and what did I see on the front page?” I was expecting him to say something like the sign from Bob’s Bar and Grill floating in the Gulf of Mexico, but no. “It was that same lion that Mike would have outside the window at my shows.” The crowd died laughing, while Hayes went on with the story. “Mike, being the good hearted person that he was, opened all the cages before he left to give the animals a fighting chance. Now that lion instinctually made its way to higher ground, which just so happened to be a church that was three and a half feet above sea level…” Some people eventually made their way to the same church “that was three and a half feet above sea level”, walking in to find a lion in there. Hayes reminded everyone that it was three to four days before the National Guard was able to get into the area, saying he thought that the people and the lion had developed a kind of truce, comparing the situation to a sort of Life of Pi moment.
With a story like that I knew what it had to be a segue into, but I didn’t know how, until Hayes finished with, “So this next song has a line about the old lion tamer behind the bar, and I didn’t want anyone to get confused when you heard that and wonder what it meant.” That was the launching point for what else, but “I Got a Gig”, which is a good chronicle of some of the bizarre things he witnessed when he was getting started, and it’s a song I bet most musicians can relate it one way or another. No sooner than that one ended, then Hayes again opened his mouth, “Well I’m wild as a turkey, higher than a Christmas moon. Empty as my wallet on a Sunday afternoon…” he sang as the band joined him on “Wild as a Turkey”. Things got more eclectic when they brought the mood down with “Chances Are”, and afterwards Hayes reminisced about his childhood, telling everyone that as a kid he told his mom he wanted to be a Country singer, but his mom told him, “You need to have a butt to be a Country singer, and you don’t have a butt. You’ll have to be a Folk singer instead.”, thinking that would deter him. “…So, before I was an international Folk/Country singer, I had a rock band back in high school…” Hayes said, saying they were called Southern Comfort. “We had 3 rhythm acoustic guitarists, all strumming pretty much like what I’m doing tonight, a bass player that looked like he could be the best bass player in the world.” He paused for just a second, adding, “If he ever learned how to play the bass, and a drummer that was about the same.” He went on by saying another friend wanted to join the band, but they thought five members was enough, and one more would have been overkill, so they made him the accountant to handle “all they money” they’d surely be making one day. He said that one day they decided to get tattoos to symbolize their friendship and the band, so they went to a tattoo shop one night, and the first volunteer was the accountant, who Hayes said got a Texas flag tattooed on his shoulder with “Southern Comfort” written above the flag. “…Now, it took longer than expected, and by the time he was done we needed to be home, ‘cause we had curfews back then. We thought, “We’ll go back next week and all get tattoos.” And then weeks turned to months and months to years and we never got those tattoos.” Said Hayes as the audience roared with laughter. “I’ve always felt bad about that, because there’s a guy out there somewhere who has a tattoo of a band he was never technically a part of…”
He then dedicated his next song to his friends who were in Southern Comfort with him, and that song was another one from “Little Rock”, “Good Friends”. It was another fun song with a great deal of truth to it, speaking of the shenanigans you and your friends have while in school, before eventually drifting apart and wondering, “…Where did all my good friends go?…” Upon finishing it, Emily, Willie and the bass player and drummer (my apologies, I looked online but was unable to find their names.) left, while Hayes said he was “going to keep Warren on stage with him” as they hit the lull in the show. Hayes chatted with the fans, mentioning that earlier in the year he had been in Canada with his friend and fellow musician Corb Lund, who was doing a show up there. Specifically they were in “Regina, Saskatchewan” which was pronounced ragina, like vagina. “…The motto of the city was the town that rhymes with fun.” Said Hayes, saying he and Corb had come up with a better slogan, “…Regina, it’s not the hole you’re thinking of.” There was of course a reason to all that besides entertaining the crowd, and that was to set up Corb Lund’s song “Bible On the Dash”, which features Hayes on the recording, and now he was doing an acoustic cover of it. The chorus explains it all, “It’s better than insurance, registration or lyin. It’s better than these fake ID’s I have to keep buyin’. It’s even better than an envelope stuffed with cash, they always said it’d save me, that old bible on the dash.” it goes, saying that a bible is all you need to get you out of trouble if you’re stopped by a cop. I had never heard that one before this show, and there were plenty of moments during it where I was cracking up.
To finish out this acoustic section of the show, Hayes and Warren did a brand new song of his, which was about Hayes’s nine year old son. “…He wants to be a magician. Not a musician, a magician…” Hayes said, putting an emphasis on the words, making sure everyone knew the difference. He was telling everyone about when his son first started practicing some magic tricks, “…and they were just awful…” he said, causing some people to gasp in disbelief. “No, they were…” he said again. He made sure to note that was when he first started out, though, but he had gotten better. So good, he was invited to join the Austin Magician’s Association (or Austin Association of Magician’s. Something like that, at least.) “…They meet every other Monday at the International House of Pancakes right by my house.” Hayes said. “Now, if you had told me fifteen years ago that I would be spending my Monday nights at an IHOP, I probably wouldn’t have believed you…” he plainly stated. In the end, he said his son had found what he loved to do, stuck with it and had gotten better, and the overall message of the story was to stick with what you love. The song was aptly titled “Magic Kid”, and was a pretty touching song.
As the final notes rang out, the rest of the band made their way back from the green room area, but they didn’t immediately bring the level back up. In fact, the next song, “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart”, was nearly unrecognizable at first, being played almost entirely acoustically, and even when the full band joined in they still kept it soft. It was a stark contrast from the more rock version that you hear on “Trouble in Mind”, but there were a few lines that carried more weight in this acoustic rendition, particularly when Hayes seemed to be asking everybody, “Doesn’t anybody care about truth anymore?”, following it with the next line, “Maybe that’s what songs are for.” Personally, I wasn’t as fond of this version, but it’s still my favorite song of his, and was also my favorite song of this epic set. Their next song was “Hard Out Here”, which had most of the fans shouting right along with it, except for an additional verse Hayes threw in which he said he had just finished writing. It came near the end, and the lyrics made mention of playing a small bar in Mississippi on a Monday night, where the audience was a few guys who had been out on their deer lease all week, and were so excited for the show they didn’t even stop at home to shower. All of this was more spoken than sung, and he went on, saying they had even brought their own beer to the bar. “…Now, I get that.” Hayes said, “…But isn’t that kind of like bringing your girlfriend to a brothel and asking to use a mattress?…” he asked. He made another witty comparison, too, and soon they got back to the actual parts of the song, finishing it out, before Willie immediately fired up their next song, the title track from his 2011 album, “KMAG YOYO”.
Everyone in the backing band had, had their occasional moments throughout the show, but Hayes was always the center of the attention so to speak. However, during that song, despite the fact that he was spitting out the words so quick he could put some rappers to shame, it was Willie who was the main focal point. He nailed all the blistering guitar riffs, showing a whole new side to his playing, proving he was capable of so much more than just strumming and picking. Once the applause subsided, Hayes again shouted out Emily Gimble, a sign they were about to do another duet, and they followed that first single from his latest album with the second single and subsequent track on the record, “Another Like You”. It’s the most brilliant duet I’ve heard, telling a unique story of two people getting together are polar opposites. “Well you’re probably a Democrat.” Sang Emily, with Hayes asking, “What the hell is wrong with that?” and her responding, “Nothing if you’re Taliban.” Yes, that kind of polar opposites, and another great line comes later in that verse when he sings, “I can’t believe you’re not on The View.” They had been on stage for quite some time, now, and the lead track from “Little Rock”, “Wish I Hadn’t Stayed So Long”, seemed to be a good indicator that the show was nearing the end. Sure enough it was, and the catchy tune known as “The Lovin’ Cup” brought this spectacular 92-minute long set to an end.
Surely, that couldn’t be it, though. After all, there was one high-profile song that was absent from all that. Sure enough, after a minute or so of making the crowd wait, they returned to the stage for an 11-minute encore.
I admittedly wasn’t always a fan of the slower stuff this night, just due to my personal preference of music, but there can be no arguing that the slow, mostly piano driven “Hide Me” was the most beautiful song of their set, and was a nice way to get the encore going. Hayes quickly began plucking the strings of his guitar, starting the next song, which resulted in the audience screaming and cheering. He slowed his playing for a moment, saying, “I’ve got two songs that start this way, so I really hope this is the one y’all are wanting to hear.” It was the one I wanted to hear, and just about everyone else from the sounds of it, and that was “Girl Downtown”, which tells a nice little love story. I had only been expecting a one song encore, but certainly wasn’t complaining that it was a little beefier, and now it was time for them to bring it to an end with another rockin’ number, “Stomp And Holler”, which is the only song where you will ever hear the line, “…I’m like James Brown only white and taller…”
What a show this was. There was never a bad moment songwise, and the anecdotes sprinkled throughout the show added a whole other level to the entertainment value. All of that made sure it didn’t seem like it was an hour and a half plus long show, and even when it had ended, I found myself wishing they would play more.
Hayes Carll is a true Country musician, more in the vein of the greats, instead of the more Pop/Country stars that populate Nashville these days. Every song tells a story that should captivate you, and most of those have some clever lines to ensure they hold your attention. Along with that, he also has a great voice with a lot of character and grit to it. Still, it’s the songwriting where he really excels.
If you go into ITUNES you can find all four of his full-length records, the newer single “Love Don’t Let Me Down” and a live EP which also features a newer song. He and Warren Hood and The Goods will also be on tour from now through the majority of May, and you can find all of their tour dates HERE. Hayes has another Dallas show coming up on June 1st at Gexa Energy Pavilion where he will be one of many acts playing KXT’s Summer Cut music festival.
I’d urge everyone (at least those who like Country music) to see Hayes if you have the chance, and his shows are well worth the price tag, which are very reasonable in the first place.
It had been over a month in the making, but this night was finally the night of the WhiskeyBoy Radio, RYA Entertainment and The Music Enthusiast presented show at Reno’s Chop Shop in Dallas.
It had been a while since we had put together a show (actually last August when WBR did their benefit show to raise money to help the fight against breast cancer), so this was long overdue.
Five great bands had agreed to play the show for us, and after one dropped of just a week before, Bawcomville was kind enough to fill the vacant spot for us.
About a year or so ago the band’s singer, Jeycin Fincher, had done a hilarious interview on an episode of WhiskeyBoy Radio, which was how I was introduced to the band, bust since their shows are very few and far between, I had never really had an opportunity to see them.
The band released a solid EP almost a year and a half ago, but near as I could tell they didn’t do anything from it, unleashing a slew of new songs on the small crowd that had gotten there by 8:30 to see them play.
I knew they were a rock band, but what I had listened to gave the impression that they were more of a softer rock band, so when they busted out of the gates with a killer, loud rock song, I was pleasantly surprised. They didn’t let up, either, tearing through three more songs and upping the energy level more with each one. At this point, WhiskeyBoy himself made a reference to the interview he had done with Jeycin, calling out a “sponsor” Jeycin kept naming, called “cunt nectar”. This obviously got some strange remarks from some of the people who didn’t get, as Jeycin joked not to mention them anymore, as they had decided to drop their sponsorship of Bawcomville. They got back to their music, rocking out four more songs in their 34-minute long set. Jeycin mentioned they had two more songs than they would “stop bothering everybody”, but it turned out that drummer, Ryan Pogue, had really gotten into it, and broke his kick drum pedal. That almost forced them to cut their set short, but luckily Doug of Long Sword Spectacular was nice enough to loan them his pedal, allowing them to properly finish out their set.
Part of it is probably because I was expecting something different, but the guys of Bawcomville were out of this world. Jeycin has a killer voice and he owned it on the guitar. Aside from that, he added some funny moments to the set, saying thanks after almost every song, but saying it in a high-pitched voice that sounded like it could have been well suited for a cartoon character. Both bassist, Chris Nutt, and guitarist, Derek Bennett, put on just as mean of a live show, moving all about the stage and shredding on their respective instruments, while Ryan solidified the rhythm section with some flawless drumming.
Catch the band on Saturday, May 4th at the Tentacle House in Plano (see their FB page for info). Also, pick up a copy of their self-titled debut EP, and hopefully soon they can get some of these newer songs laid down and released.
Long Sword Spectacular was up next, and one of only two bands on this bill that I had seen before.
The Hard Rock trio started their 43-minute long set with singer and bassist, Josh Harelik, giving shout outs to all three parties who put the show together, and then they got their first song underway. That song was “Manhunt”, which quickly immersed everyone in their heavy Hard Rock sounds, which even has some tinges of Metal thrown in. “…I’m the devil incarnate and I’m here to say… I’m on a mission of killing all my enemies…” growled Josh at the end of the first verse, leading into the chorus. That was one of the songs from their 2012 self-titled debut album, but they also did a few of their newer songs, like their next one, which drummer, Doug Jones, guitarist, Daniel Reid, and Josh segued perfectly into. It was during that track that Daniel let loose a wicked little guitar solo, and once they had finished with that song, Doug started the drum part for “Hey (We Want You)”. He patched them seamlessly into the song, which was then followed with another new number. They had been owning it thus far, and had everyone enthralled, but they managed to kick things up a few notches with the intense and gritty “Firewalk”. There are a few instrumental stretches during that one, which freed Josh from the microphone, allowing him to move and thrash about to the music. I also really enjoy that tune because there’s a certain sense of urgency to it, which only grows the deeper they get into the song. They cranked out some more new ones afterwards, and before one of them Josh shouted, “…We’re gonna take you all to Babylon!”, as they tore into the song. It wound up being my favorite song of their set, partially due to the lengthy instrumental break they took, which showed off what outstanding musicianship all three of them have. When he spoke in between songs, Josh did so with a lot of enthusiasm, and now he excitedly told everyone they did have CD’s for sale, but left out the price, as he checked with Doug. “…For pay what you want!!!” he shouted. They did one last new one for the night, saving three of their heaviest hitters for the final songs. One of those was “Threat Display”, which could be considered the bands anthem in way, with the opening line being, “When the dead rise, red fills the eyes. Revenge sparks the fire. LSS for hire…”. “Dead Soul (Down the Hatch)” was probably the most fun song of their set, with Josh switching up the lyrics at the beginning, incorporating Reno’s into the story that the song tells. It really is a story, too, and one I laughed at a few times, because how many songs have the line “…I smoothed out my mustache…” in them? I don’t think many do, but as fun as it was, it was also a serious Hard Rock song with a thick rhythm section that shook your innards. The final track on their album, “Breakin’ Loose”, was also the final song of their set, and brought it to a fiery finish.
They put on the most fun show I had seen in a LONG time (with the exception of a certain band I had seen the previous Sunday). They were up there having what looked like the time of their life’s putting on a legitimate rock show, and their songs only added to that fun.
That’s the thing about their music, there is a light, fun quality to most of them, despite the fact they are very heavy and more Metal sounding. That in turn is what makes them so enjoyable in my opinion, because while there is a bit of anger to Joshs’ voice and all the other Metal traits are present, too, they don’t fit the stereotypical mold, and have a style that is all their own.
They stole the show this night, and every other band could only hope to be as half as good as they were.
Their next shows will be on May 10th at the Rail Club in Fort Worth opening for Saliva. On June 1st they’ll be in McKinney at Dawgz ‘n’ Hawgz. The next week, June 8th, will find them in Dallas at the Liquid Lounge and on July 5th they’ll be playing O’Riley’s in Dallas. Also, be sure to check out their record in ITUNES.
Smack dab in the middle of this show was the Dallas based Rock band, Always the Alibi, who had been laying low for most of the year thus far.
They had some surprises for everyone, but first up was one of their songs from their debut EP, “Wave on the Sand”. They’ve changed up the intro of it for the live version, and personally I like it so much better, as it just has a slicker sound to it. That got them off to a strong start, and they built on it with one of their newer songs, “Edge of the World”. Now, during their time off from the club circuit, they’ve been working on some new material, and now they were ready to debut one of those brand new tracks, which was titled “Twelve Years”. It was a really good song from what I remember, but I was more wowed by the other new track they would eventually get to. At this point, guitarist Kelly Panter mentioned that he and singer/guitarist Henry Coke had done an interview for my podcast the week before, with Kelly warning everyone of how I “tricked” them. “…He gave us beer and Victoria Secret mailers to look at…” he told everyone. Yes, it’s true, but I was informed that beer and Playboy’s were a part of their rider, so I the best that I could with what I had. Ha. Several more tracks from the “We Are Waiting” EP came next, like the one that was for the ladies, “Beautiful Girl”. They wound it right into one of their best rock tunes, “Dream”, with the killer chorus, “…Go on, move on knowing I was never enough.”, which Henry sang with real emotion. “She’s Letting Go” was another standout track with its at times blistering guitar solos, but it paled in comparison to their next one, “Ain’t Another Girl”, which packs a punch that most songs could only hope to have. Some more funny banter ensued as Kelly mentioned he had used the bathroom earlier and talked about how bad the conditions were. “…[It] smells like sex…” he said, jokingly accusing WhiskeyBoy of getting it on and being responsible for it. They then tackled another brand new song, which was one I had been looking forward to, called “My Little Ghost”. It started off very quiet, mainly with Henry strumming his axe, but after awhile grew into a real rock number, with bassist Evan Scates and drummer Richard Muenckler getting a good rhythm section going. Like I said, out of their two new ones, that was my most favorite, and whenever they get around to recording their next album, hopefully it’ll make the cut. They had a few more songs planned for everybody, but their set got cut short when they were informed they only had three minutes left. “We Are Waiting.” They all said after looking at one another, opting to close with the title track of their EP. That rock anthem capped off their 38-minute long set, and they raced through it, slowing up near the end for some audience participation where Henry asked everyone to shout “You know, you know, you know” after his “Come on, come on, come on.”, but few people did. Soon, he gave the sign to Richard, Evan and Kelly to move on as they got into the final stretch of it.
I hated that their set got cut short, ‘cause they had a couple more songs to do that I would have liked to have heard, but oh well.
They were able to dish out all the highlights in their time on stage, which was the most important part, and they put on a great set, too, with a nice blend of awesome rock and humorous banter in between some songs. Part of me even wants to say this was the best show I’ve seen them do yet, due to all the new material they did and how amazing it was. Quite honestly, it’s even better than some of the stuff on their debut EP, which is saying a lot.
You can get a free download of one of their songs on REVERBNATION, and if you lie it, get the rest of the “We Are Waiting” EP in either ITUNES or BANDCAMP. Also, see them on May 3rd at The Boiler Room in Dallas.
A Rook/Metal band by the name of Zativah Kid was next, and from the one song they had available to listen to, I didn’t really think I’d like them.
Their first song proved my assumption wrong, though. They, too, were a Metal/Hard Rock band, with even hints of Punk Rock, I thought, which sounded fantastic in the live setting. They ripped through their 34-minute long set, doing songs such as “Destroyer”, “Hereatic”, “Killer Freakout”, “Reality Check” and many others, eventually getting to their closer, “Fast, Wet and Easy”. While doing that song, drummer, Danny, did a solo on his massive kit, and as the song came to an end, singer, Coz Kalamity, jumped of the stage and into the crowd of people who had gathered around and had a small mosh pit going.
The live show is definitely where it’s at with these guys, who had an abundant amount of energy. Coz displayed the majority of it, racing all over the stage, and it’s also worth noting that he had a much better voice than I was anticipating. The rest of the band may not have been quite as active, but guitarists Chris Zativah and Blaise, bassist, Brian, and Danny are excellent musicians.
Go see ‘em if you have the chance, and I know I wouldn’t mind seeing them again. They have two shows coming up at O’Riley’s in Dallas, one will be on May 10th, and the other is July 5th.
Responsible Johnny was the final act of the night, and personally, I just didn’t dig their style of Punk Rock. I am grateful to them for playing the show for us, though.
You can find their three albums in their store on REVERBNATION, and they are $5 each. As for shows, they have one coming up on June 14th at O’Riley’s in Dallas.
The turnout was rather light, but all in all it was still a great show from the quality aspect, and another big thank you to all the bands for playing and Reno’s for hosting the show.
Speaking of Reno’s I want to put my two cents in about the venue. It has been typecast as a venue for Metal bands and a biker bar. Yes, they do host a lot of Metal shows, and sure, there are some bikers in there at nights. I’ll admit, that’s what kept me away from the venue for so many years, until finally going there about two years ago.
The place isn’t nearly as bad as some people might think, though. The handful of shows I’ve seen there have been great ones. The sound, while not on the level of some of the bigger name venues in Deep Ellum, is better than most. And the crowd at most of these shows is the same you’d see at any other venue, in the sense that it’s just people who want to see live bands, and not a ton of scary looking bikers.
The way Reno’s is now, it’s not worthy of the bad rap it kind of has, and if you’re a music fan and know of a show going on there, go see it. And bands, see about playing there. They do put on some Rock shows at times, like this night for instance.
Another weekend was about to start, and what better way to kick it off than by catching a show at my favorite Dallas venue, The Curtain Club.
Stand 2 Reason was the first band up this night, but due to some traffic jams, I didn’t get there until they were almost done.
What I heard of this mostly acoustic band was really good, though. They had the standard rhythm section, but the other three members of the group all played acoustic guitars, which actually added some great layers to the music, and the singer, Andy, has a great voice.
During just a few songs, they made me into a fan, and hopefully I’ll get to catch a full show sometime in the future.
Up next was the main band I was there to see this night, the Austin based, Distant Lights.
One of their newer songs, which I believe is titled “Science”, began their set, and got them off to quite a start. I was prepared for a show much like their one here in November, which was almost all-new material, but it was completely different this time around. In fact, their next song was a shocking surprise to me. I’ve never seen a Distant Lights show where they didn’t close with “Artifice”, yet now Gaelan Bellamy was cranking out the opening lines of it, shredding on his guitar, before Kevin Abbenante beat down on his drums, kicking it up even a few more notches. It is the most song in their arsenal, and the lengthy instrumental bridge is the highlight of it, giving bassist, Sam Marshall, Gaelan and Kevin a chance to take the spotlight and really rock out. It really just didn’t feel right at this point in the set, though. I think it’s a song that’s best reserved for the closer, or it would probably even make a mean opener. “We are Distant Lights, from just down the road in Austin, Texas…” announced frontman, Gabriel Fry, who also mentioned that most of what they were performing could be found on their albums, pointing to their merch booth. They slowed things down considerably with “Metamorphosis”, which has a nice flow that is truly complimentary of the song, starting off slow and heavy on the rhythm section, but as the lyrics get more exciting, “…and as the channel opens up I marvel at the power as it grows…”, so too does the music, amping up considerably. All that makes it a very well written song. They followed it with “Dystopia”, the lead track from their “Simulacrum” album and one I had not heard in far too long, and then moved on with one of their newer songs. That actually started them on a series of newer songs, and no sooner had they finished it than Kevin launched them into the aggressive, “Tightrope”. The mood fluctuated over the course of the next two songs, “Suffocating” and “Patterns On the Rise”, both of which have a real ebb and flow to them, being fairly relaxed at some points, before jumping into a full on rock song. That eventually led them to the final song of their 35-minute long set, “What’s On Your Mind”. It’s no “Artifice”, but it is the next best thing to go out on, and has Gabriel rather viciously belting out the chorus, while prowling around the stage.
It was a spectacular show they put on, and definitely the best of the night. They put such energy into their performance and have an undeniable stage presence. Even though the Curtain was fairly empty when they played, they still managed to captivate the attention of almost all of the onlookers, which doesn’t happen too often in my experience.
I almost want to say that Gabriel carries the band with the way he conducts himself on stage and the stellar voice he has (it is one of the best I’ve heard, and he sounds even better in the live setting than their recordings do), but that wouldn’t be true. Gaelan’s skills on the guitar are out of this world, and he’s certainly at his best on the occasions when he’s shredding. Lastly, Kevin and Sam make a dynamic rhythm section, with Sam’s slick method of grooving on the bass, while Kevin is more assertive with his drumming, making it well rounded.
They’re just a killer group, and after not playing the Dallas for a few years, I’m glad that they’re starting to venture up here again. Hopefully it can become a normal thing once every two to four months or so.
You can find their first album in ITUNES, and word is they have almost completed their next record. They also have shows coming up on April 26th at Click’s in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and April 27th at Rock ‘N’ Blues in Covington, Louisiana. They have a hometown gig in Austin on April 28th at the Dirty Dog Bar, opening for Powerman 5000, and on May 11th they’ll be down in San Antonio at Fitzgerald’s.
So, once Distant Lights finished I went over to the Liquid Lounge side of the venue where Aaron Pose was doing a set.
I figured the singer of Admiral Grey was probably almost done at this point, and sure enough he was, only having two songs left, both of which were newer ones he had written. One of those songs was titled “Another Day”, but the best of the two I heard was by far his closing song, “Home”. Before starting he talked about his recent decision to take a break from music, saying he needed to “recharge his batteries”. “…I don’t know how long that’s going to take. Could be three months, could be six months, it could be a year…” he said, saying it was just time to take a break and focus on family for a while. Evidently, part of what spurred that decision was when he wrote this song, “Home”. And he said when writing songs, he just let’s it flow, barely even paying attention to what he’s writing at the time. He added that after he finished this song and then read, he knew it was time to take a break. Emotionally it was a deep song, dealing with not always being there for the people who need you, and honestly, may be the best thing Aaron has ever written.
The music scene will feel kinda empty without Aaron being an active part of it, but I feel where he’s coming from and I doubt anyone can blame him for taking some time off. I’m just glad it’s not a permanent hiatus, though.
Aaron doesn’t have any solo music available, but do check out Admiral Grey’s “Long Road” EP.
As soon as he was finished, I headed back to the Curtain, where the next band, Breaking Midway, was just getting warmed up.
I wasn’t instantly drawn in by them, and honestly, they struck me as being bland at first. There was no gripping quality to singer and acoustic guitarist Kelley Hannahs’ voice, and the first full song that I heard, “Dreaming”, came across as being a little drab. “Volcano” was a little more vibrant, and had a nice backbone, courtesy of drummer, Jay Chagnon, and their upswing continued with “I Won’t Let You”. It was after that song that I decided the band was more of an acquired taste, and one I was liking a little more with each song. They did a couple more tunes, one of which was another from their 2012 debut record, “The Speed of Life”, titled “Wish”, which was one of the catchiest songs of their set. “Living Room” was another standout from their set, and after another track, they did one of their newer songs, “Home”. There’s a real sentimental quality to the song, and while it didn’t connect with me on a personal level or anything, I must say it was quite moving. They had certainly hit their stride at this point, and now did “Finally Free”, which had more of a rock sound to it than their previous stuff, and the same could be said about “Done”, which just had a little more vigor to it. They only had one more for the night, and after laying her guitar down on the stage, Kelley said they had “saved the best for last”, and she wasn’t joking, either. I don’t know what it was, but it definitely was the most in your face song of their set.
By the time it was all said and done I don’t know if I’d say I had become a fan of Breaking Midway’s, but I had enjoyed their show.
I guess my main thing with Kelleys’ voice was it didn’t immediately grab me, which is what I prefer, but if you listen to a few songs, you’ll discover an endearing quality to it, and one that should hold your interest. Her, the lead guitarist and Jay put on a good show, but the bass player, he was rather lifeless, and appeared to be going through the motions instead of actually being invested in it and enjoying being on stage, which in the end was the only thing I disliked about their show.
Check out their albums in ITUNES, which ranges from a full-length to some singles and even a live record recorded right here at the Curtain Club. They also have a gig coming up on May 11th at O’Riley’s in Dallas.
I stuck around for the headliner, Ol’ Jug of Whiskey, whom I’ve heard a lot about and was very eager to finally see what they were like.
Their show this night was a first for the band, who is typically an acoustic act, but tonight was doing their first ever electric set.
The first song of their set required their guitarist, Mike Drake, to use a mandolin, adding an interesting vibe to what was more a rock song. He switched to a guitar after that, but after a few more songs, I decided to go back to the lounge.
They are a great band with an awesome sound and singer, Bryce Frazier, has knockout voice, but I just never felt drawn in by it. Instead, I kept thinking, “I’d enjoy Exit 380 a lot more than this.”
It’s just a personal preference, and nothing against Ol’ Jug of Whiskey.
I’ve seen Exit 380 quite a bit over the last few months, but there was a big difference between those other shows and this one, and that was that this was an acoustic set. The band doesn’t do many of those, and I was informed by their singer, Dustin Blocker, that to form their setlist they ended up looking at all their songs in iTunes to refresh their minds on what songs were more acoustic based. Yes, that also means that little rehearsal time went into this show, a fact they pointed out a couple times while on stage.
Beginning their brief 29-minute set was their song that is featured on a Hand Drawn Records compilation CD, “A Song About Us”. The song was really set off by Jeremy Hutchison, who was acting as the drummer this night, playing what I think was a djembe (not sure, and I’m pretty much clueless outside the traditional drum kit). It was all very fluid as he beat it with his hands, giving the song some great rhythm. There was a very lax mood to this show, even more so than normal, and after that song guitarist, Aaron Borden, said something about needing more bass. “That was all you…” Blocker told him while laughing, presumably referring to some little mishap I didn’t catch. They continued with “Soul Burning Train”, which was one of only two new songs that fit with this set, and honestly, I think this stripped down version was even slightly better than normal, just seeming a little more behooving of it. Those are two great songs, but they’re pretty much standard at most E380 shows, and I was looking forward to the older stuff, like their next song, “Dammit”. That’s still my overall favorite song of theirs, and I’ve only heard that now decade plus old song performed once before, over two years ago. A lot of their songs, particularly their newer ones, tell some great stories, and while “Dammit” is different from their current stuff, I think it tells the best story. Besides, Dustin adds a little more bass to his voice on that song, which in turn gives it a lot of texture. Now they informed everyone that they “didn’t quite rehearse” for this show, then started into a bonus track from the Townies album, “Oil Machine”. The tambourine that Dustin played and the more delicate bass lines Jon Hutchison was playing created a great atmosphere and the harmonizing Dustin and Aaron were occasionally doing sounded wonderful. As it ended, Dustin got all crazy with his voice, hitting all sorts of notes. “…Harmonize that…” he told Aaron once they finished the song, and the two couldn’t help but laugh at one another. “Is it time for…” Aaron said, trailing of, but letting his guitar do the talking, starting a classic from the “Last Monday” album, “2 Lie”. “…You’ve been up all night, question me question life. You don’t think just desire, but don’t you fucking lie to me.” Dustin sang, that being the final line of this relatively tranquil song with a catchy vibe, which is what makes it another favorite of mine. They next did another song from that record, a hidden one, and another I’m pretty certain I had never heard live before. It was “A Much Needed Apology”, which is the most peaceful and calming song they’ve written, but they picked the mood back up a little, doing “In The Park”, which brought their set to an end.
It may have been a short show, but it was amazing and I’m glad I decided to see it. After all, how many times am I going to hear them do my two favorite songs in the same set? That’s probably not going to happen very much.
If for no other reason, it was also interesting just to see Jeremy act as the percussionist, since he’s typically a guitarist, and do such a killer job at it. In fact, I think they were a little too hard on themselves about having not rehearsed. Was it perfect? No. But it sure didn’t seem like they hadn’t rehearsed at all, either.
Then again, if you’ve been a band since 1999, you should be cohesive enough to pull something like this off with relative ease.
As of right now, it looks like their next show is going to be on June 2nd at the Capitol Bar in Fort Worth. Also, do check out all their albums. They have several available, and between ITUNES and BANDCAMP, you can get them all.
This wasn’t a bad night of music at all, and it was good getting to see some bands I hadn’t seen before, along with the ones I’m all too familiar with.
I seldom see the larger national touring bands that come through Trees, and honestly, I didn’t have much interest in the one that was playing this night, but the lineup of local talent was superb.
There were four opening acts on this bill, which meant the show was getting started early, and shortly after 7:15, Thrown took the stage.
I had seen the band before a few years back (2010, or maybe even 2009), and recently they seemed to have fallen off the map, making me think they had disbanded. That’s not the case, though. Rather, they had been regrouping, and tonight was their first back.
They had some new material under their belt, but this 28 minute long set consisted mainly of stuff from their debut record, “The Beautiful End”, like the lead track which was also the show opener, “Bleed Like Me”. It was a supercharged rock tune, and while Trees was pretty vacant at this point, the people who were there were gathered around the stage, obviously being drawn in by it. They followed it with another track from their old record, “Nothing Left”, which was another heavier rock number. “The One” came next, which was heavy on the rhythm, with bassist, TreVice Layne, and drummer, Brent Matthews, dominating the song, but also featured a blistering guitar solo from Brad McFarland, which helped balance out the song. The highlight of their set (at least in my opinion) was “Ignorance”, whose lyrics are even better than most of their other stuff. “…My eyes grow tired of seeing all the shadows that you cast…” shouted singer, Greg Vinson, on the chorus, his voice perfectly fitting the style of rock they play, and could easily compete with the best of them. They cranked out another song, and as their set neared the end, they pulled out their newest songs that they have released for their fans to listen to. One of those was “Back to Stay”, which shows they’ve kept with what works best for them, sounding similar to their other songs, but there’s a little bit of growth also noticeable in it. Their final was “Drunk On Hate”, which is arguable the most powerful out of those new ones, and brought things to a strong finish for them.
I really don’t remember much about them from the first time I saw them, other than really enjoying their music and their live show. The music was still great this night, even better than what I recalled, but the live show… Well, they did what they good, and it wasn’t really their fault. There was a full backline this night, and out of all the bands, Thrown had the least bit of room on stage, and Greg, Brad and TreVice were pretty limited on where they could move, and basically had to stay in the same place for their entire set.
You could tell they were wanting to do more in terms of their performance, too, but just couldn’t.
That aside, it was a really good show, and I’m glad to see that the band is back in action. They had a lot of promise when I first saw them and they still do, so if you have a chance, go see them live. Also, you can buy their first album in ITUNES.
The second act of the night was Awake In Theory, who hails from all over the D/FW metroplex, and honestly, I was surprised they were going on now, because I thought they deserved the third slot. Oh well, they’ll get there in due time.
The band through me for a loop by beginning with a song that is atypical when compared to the other shows of theirs I’ve seen, “Playing the Villain”. It worked better than I thought it would, throwing everyone right into their barrage of Alt/Rock sounds, and for a show like this, you do need to get people’s attention right off the bat. As it ended, guitarists, Brad McCain and Terry Kimmel, drummer, Raymond Chambers, and bassist, Adam Garcia , fired up their next song, while Eric Hawkens offered an explanation of sorts about it. “This song is for anyone who had to do what I had to do this past year, and that’s taking someone you love to rehab.” Said the bands frontman (or at least something along those lines), as they got underway with “Let Go”. It was with that song that deals with some of the hardships of life where their show really came to life. As with all the opening acts, they suffered from some cramped conditions on stage, but they utilized what little space they had, with Eric stepping back when he wasn’t singing, allowing the instrumentalists to get to the front of the stage and entertain the onlookers. After finishing it, Eric mentioned that this was their first time playing the Trees. “…But we’d play here every single night if it meant we could play in front of all of you…” he added, before stating the title of their next track, “Innocence for the Innocent”, a song where Raymond gets to really show off some of his drumming skills. Before their next song, Eric informed the crowd it was one they don’t play too often, which had me curious as to what it was. He couldn’t keep a straight face for long, though, soon admitting, “I’m just kidding, we play it all the time.” Terry then opened up “Barely Breathing” with some haunting and stellar guitar notes. This is the song they’ve opened with the two previous times I’ve seen them, and it’s still my favorite of the bands, plus I just love the line, “…I’m barely breathing, but I’m still healing from this war…”. Their next song was dedicated to everyone who serves in the military, and Eric asked everyone if they see a member of the service to go up and tell them how much they’re appreciated. That led them to “Hero You Hate”, and upon finishing it they had one last song in their 28-minute long set. It was their single, which they recently laid down in a studio, becoming the first song they’ve recorded together, and it’s called “Daddy’s Little Girl”.
It was an incredible show they put on this night, and while they’ve been very solid before, you could tell they stepped up their game for this show. They were wanting to make an impression, and they most certainly did.
They’re a badass rock band who puts on a strong performance, and if you haven’t heard of them already, take a few moments to get acquainted with them.
They have a few shows on the books, beginning with April 27th at ARNETIC in Fort Worth. You can catch them at Six Flags in Arlington on May 4th, and they’ll be in Dallas on May 10th at Wit’s End. They also have another gig at Tree’s scheduled for June 15th.
After their set, I wondered out onto the patio, running into Marc, who plays in the band, The Circle, whom I talked with for a little while.
By the time I went back in, the instrumental trio known as Son of Swan was into the last half of their set.
I’ve only seen the group once before, and even though I only caught a little of their set this night, they managed to blow my mind even more.
Band founder and guitarist, Neil Swanson, is a virtuoso on the guitar and plays it with sheer ease. I’m not even a fan of instrumental music in the least, but music this spectacular doesn’t need lyrics to entertain. And along with the out of this world skills that he, bassist, Steve Wilson, and drummer, Billy Walker, posses, they also can put on an exciting live performance.
I never thought I’d even remotely enjoy, let alone love an instrumental band, yet those are my feeling for Son of Swan.
This show also served as their CD release gig for their debut album, which you can purchase at any live show. That said, they have a few coming up, including April 26th at The Curtain Club in Dallas and May 24th at The Rail Club in Fort Worth.
Serving as the main support band for Adrenaline Mob (not only at this show, but pretty much every single date of this leg of the tour) was San Antonio’s own, Nothing More, and out of all the bands on this bill, I was most excited about seeing them.
When the curtain opened on them, it looked like it was going to be interesting given the bands setup, specifically singer Jonny Hawkins’ drum set, which took up a lot of the space at the front of the stage. They didn’t act like it was much of a hindrance, though, as Jonny ripped into it, while primary drummer, Paul O’Brien, was seemingly inches behind him, also delivering some hefty beats, which led into “Gone”. That song is always a great one to get started with, but they seemed to be putting more effort into it than usual (which I didn’t think was even possible). Perhaps it was because after being on the road for a while, they were glad to be back in their home state, where every show they did was essentially a hometown show. After all, they’ve been cutting their teeth in the clubs in this area for the better part of a decade, and had several fans singing right along with every word, which I’m sure just added full to the fire. They finished that tune much like it began, with some more epic, aggressive drumming, until Mark Vollelunga suddenly took the spotlight with his roaring guitar riffs of the brief instrumental number, “Under The Eyes of Selene”. Unfortunately, he was stuck on far stage right, out of the way from where I stood and it wasn’t easy to see him, but that was one point of their set where I made sure to give him my full attention. It quickly gave way to the song it’s a prelude to, “Sixty Second Affair”, and while it is the oldest song they currently do (it’s from their ’05 album “Save You/Save Me”), it’s also one of the most forceful of their set. “…Through all the tears, these wasted years, my phoenix fears in you rise again…” Jonny sang, spacing the words just far enough apart to add a real gravity to them. It, too, ended with some duel drumming, and after announcing to everyone who they were, they pulled out one of their new songs, which surprisingly enough was the only new one of their set. I believe the song is called “Friendly Fire”, and you know you’ve seen a band a lot when you can sing (mostly) along to a song solely from hearing it at their past shows. The audience seemed really into this one, and how could you not feel the adrenaline rush while Jonny shouted/sang the chorus, “I’ll keep breaking, breaking, breaking your pride… Until you realize you are no J-J-J-Jesus Christ…” (Note: Those lyrics could be wrong, but that is what I hear at least.) Thus far it had been a very abbreviated NoMO set, but there were two things that I knew would be staples, one which would come later, and the other was their little bass trick. After walking into Tree’s this night, I saw and talked with Mark for a bit, who casually said, “Oh, we worked up a new bass line.” “Cool.” I thought, thinking it would be pretty much the same old thing… It wasn’t. The rod that holds the bass was placed in the wrought iron case that surrounds Jonnys’ drums, Daniel Oliver put his bass in the holster and, with the bass facing the crowd, proceed to play some notes while standing beside it. It was cool, and while Dan was doing that, Jonny was manning the pedal board for the bass, adding some effects to it, while Paul kept some beats going throughout it. It started getting good when Mark stood on stage left of the bass, also plucking at some strings, but that was all still similar to what is done at every Nothing More show. As much of a spectacle as it is, I still was under the assumption I knew where it was going. A few minutes into it and they suddenly both jumped back, as Dan swung the rod holding the bass, sending it spinning around, before stopping with the bass now straight up in the air, but upside down. Jonny then joined them, standing on his bass drum, while Dan stood on a, I’ll call it a small step ladder to reach the bass, and while Mark and Dan held down the stings, Jonny played the bass by using some drumsticks. I should also note they kept the notes from it in perfect synch with the beats Paul was churning out at times, before spinning the bass in a complete 360 a few times, then finishing the piece. Not only was it the highlight of their set, but it was the highlight of the entire night. I also loved it because I had gotten used to the old piece they did, and while it still dazzled me, it felt fantastic getting to watch it through brand new eyes for the first time in a VERY long time. (Note: Check out that action for yourself in THIS video.) By the time they finished that, they were down to their last song, which was the fan favorite, “Salem”. They weren’t done blowing the crowds minds just yet, and near the end both Dan and Mark grabbed some toms, moving towards center stage, while Jonny spun around, playing those two drums as well as his kit. It was a little different from what they usually do, simply because they didn’t have room on stage to go all out, but it still awed. And is the song wound down, they even got the audience to shout the chorus, “Burn the witch!”, back at them repeatedly, concluding their 26-minute long set.
Being completely objective, Nothing More was hands down the best band on the bill. Every band this night had different degrees of passion, but with Mark, Jonny, Dan and Paul, their passion bleeds through every single second of their time on stage, putting it on display for all to see, which makes it very easy to see that this is what they love doing. Hell, it’s obvious it’s what they were born to do.
To me, that’s what always makes them so enjoyable, and I didn’t see any of the other acts leave it all on the stage like they did.
You can find their records in ITUNES, and they also have a few shows coming up, starting with April 24th at the Lizard Lounge in Wichita, Kansas. The 26th they’ll be at Click’s in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the following night you can see them at Rock ‘n’ Blues in Covington, Louisiana. Oh, and be back at Trees on June 21st. Why? Because that’s the day they’ll be doing a Dallas CD release show for their new album.
You usually don’t think of an opening act topping the headliner, especially when the headlining band is comprised of veteran musicians, all of whom have been playing for at least two decades if not longer, but Nothing More did in my opinion, and I doubted that they could be topped.
Now it was time for Adrenaline Mob, who is of course a super group featuring Mike Portnoy, Russell Allen, Mike Orlando, and John Moyer. They had definitely brought the people out this Sunday night, and it was next to impossible to even move around in front of the stage.
Perhaps I’m being a little too finicky, but I felt too much time passed before the band finally took the stage, at which point what excitement I was feeling had turned into just wanting them to hurry up and just get it over with.
Let me explain. A stagehand issued a reminder that video recording was not allowed during the show. That was said after the sound check was pretty much complete, which I took as meaning the band was going to start in mere minutes. Instead, no less than fifteen minutes passed, and then the bands intro song started. It wasn’t just one song, though, and part of another followed it, before suddenly stopping as the curtain opened and the band members descended the stairs from the green room.
I was probably the only person there who felt this way, but at this point I was fed up with waiting and felt like they had stretched things out too long. I realize it might not have even been the bands felt, but regardless, that process should have been sped up a bit.
They played practically everything from their 2012 debut album, “Omerta”, kicking off their 70+-minute long set with “Psychosane”. It was great song and a good opener, and upon finishing it, Mike P. hopped up from his stool, standing on his massive drum kit and surveying the crowd. It was a cool moment to say the least. The fans were pulled further in with “Feelin’ Me”, where Mike O. and John raced around the stage, and while performing his guitar solo, Mike held it so the fans could see as his fingers danced up and down the fret board. “Down to the Floor” was my personal favorite song of theirs, but by the time it was over, I was starting to feel like it was the same old song and dance. The songs were sounding fairly similar to me, and they all had crazy guitar solos in them. I thought maybe they were free styling the live versions of the songs at first, which would have been fine, but after listening to their recorded music, I learned the songs are like that, which gives the impression that the solos are there for the purpose of being flashy and showing off. This was also the third song that after finishing, Mike P. again jumped atop his drum kit. I’ve never seen any drummer to that, and it really was cool the first time, but to repeatedly do it, especially so close together, it makes it lose appeal, and rather quickly at that. They did a couple more original songs, which were “Angel Sky” and “Indifferent”, and after the latter Russell turned things over to Mike Portnoy, who talked with the fans for a few minutes. One thing he did was call attention to his drum tech, who slowly stood up from behind the drum riser. “…Did anybody see my first ever show in Dallas twenty years ago?” he asked, informing everyone that this guy set up his kit then, and has stuck with him for all these years. It turned out it was the tech’s birthday, and at the request of Mike everyone sang happy birthday to him. Soon after, Mike got to talking about their newest EP, “Coverta”, saying that each night they had been playing different covers from it, and also mentioned that Tree’s was the first ever venue to get the Adrenaline Mob “hat trick”, or in other words is the only venue in a city to host them three times. When they got back to the music, Mike O. started them in on a very Metal rendition of the Heart classic, “Barracuda”. It was a good cover, but I felt they more just put their own spin on it, rather than taking it and making it completely their own. That was the only cover they did at this point, returning to their original stuff with “Believe Me” and the fast paced “Hit the Wall”. Once they finished it, some acoustic guitars were brought out for Russell and Mike, while John and Mike P. left their posts, retreating up the stairs. Before their next song, Russell told a detailed story about his son, and how one day he and his wife realized something seemed off about him, and after taking him to the doctor found out he had autism. That’s what their next song was about, and he said he wanted to write a song that was meaningful and dealt with something real, which was when “All On the Line” was born. It was a very moving song, and the acoustic beginning made sure the words carried the weight they deserved. That’s not to say it was lessened when Mike P. and John rejoined them, though, turning it into a full-blown rock song. After ditching the acoustic guitars, they got back to the specialty, loud Metal, by cranking out “Come Undone”, while the lead track from “Omerta”, “Undaunted”, ended the main set.
By this point, they had played about thirty minutes longer than I would have liked, and I had pretty much checked out at this point, but of course, an encore was coming…
Mike Orlando walked back out on stage first, but no one else followed. The stage belonged to him for a minute or two as he shredded on his axe, doing a guitar solo that everybody ate up. Soon, his band mates joined him on stage, for an encore that was all covers. Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song” was first up, which was were Russell showed his vocal chords do have some range to them, singing in more of a soulful/bluesy voice, rather than the one tone yell he had used for the majority of their other songs. They had a special guest join them on their next song, and John left the stage, turning the bass duty over to Rex Brown, best known from being with Pantera. He helped them tear it up on Van Halen’s “Romeo Delight” and he’s got some serious chops, slapping the bass and rocking out the riffs with ease. John came back out on stage when it was finished, and after they all thanked Rex for helping them out, they closed their show with the song that I believe was the first one they ever covered as a band, “The Mob Rules” by Black Sabbath, which, given the band’s name, is an appropriate track for them to cover.
That was that, and I was glad it was finally over.
I said it earlier and I’ll say it again, I felt like a vast majority of their material (covers included) sounded pretty much the same. As seen on that cover song, Russell is capable of an extraordinary range, but they never really explored that, and instead he maintained pretty much the same deep tone on every single song, to the point it got rather monotonous. I also felt that both Mike’s were a little too flashy. There’s beauty in subtlety, and while Mr. Portnoy did get a little better about not always standing on his kit at the end of each song, he still did it too close together at times. Make people wait for it, instead of having fans (or at least me) thinking, “Oh, cool, he’s doing that again.”
Then you have Mr. Orlando, who did a guitar solo during every single song (covers included), and it didn’t sound like they were thrown in there, but rather that the entire song was built around the solos. Again, there’s beauty in subtlety, and if you do a solo of any type (bass, drums, guitar, etc.) during every single song, it quickly becomes overkill. Besides, personally, some of my favorite guitarists are the one who strum with precision and ease, only cutting loose and shredding periodically, instead of going all-out all the time.
I want to point out I’m not at all questioning their musicianship. I know many drummers who cite Mike Portnoy as one of their biggest influences, and after seeing him live, I can see why. About the same can be said about Mike Orlando, and despite what my thoughts were, there’s no way you cannot think he is one of the best guitarists of this era.
And even though my statements speak to the contrary and are my personal thoughts, being totally objective, I have to say they succeed at putting on an entertaining show.
Oh, and if anyone is wondering why I’ve neglected John Moyer, it’s because out of the whole bunch I thought he was the most well rounded. His talent was impressive, but never over the top, and he just had a good aura about him.
The band’s current tour may be over, but I believe they will be tackling the West Coast in the near future (keep an eye on their TOUR DATES page), and to purchase their music, head over to ITUNES.
Well, the local openers were by far the best in my opinion, and as much as I hated paying $20 to get into a show, Nothing More, Son of Swan, Awake in Theory and Thrown made it more than worth it.