Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 – HighAsAKite Leaves a Lasting Impression On Dallas

I rounded the corner from the parking lot behind the Granada Theater this night to the front of the venue, only to see a sizable line that stretched around the north side of the building.

Yes, the people were out in droves, even shortly after eight-o’clock, all in anticipation of seeing London Grammar.

Of course, there was an opening act that would come first, though everyone seemed in consensus that they should just get right to the main course. On the center screen that covered the stage the venue broadcasts a Twitter feed (you tag the Granada in a tweet and then it shows up), and based on the several people who were using it had already written the Oslo, Norway based HighAsAKite off. Actually, I don’t know if some people were even aware who the opening band was, but by the time they were done, that would be a name no one who was here this night will ever forget.

Their 32-minute set was comprised of songs from their upcoming “Silent Treatment” album, (due out April 8th), including opening with the lead track, “Lover, Where Do You Live?”. Guitarist Kristoffer Lo used a bow to play his axe on that first song, similar to, say, a violinist, in a way. There were some absolutely gorgeous three-part harmonies on that one, as Øystein Skar and Marte Eberson, both of whom played some synths, backed up frontwoman Ingrid Helene Håvik. “…Sent shivers down that spine of yours.” was one of the lines from that song, and a fitting one at that, because that was the exact feeling a majority of the audience was experiencing.

It was sheer beauty right from the start, and the synthesizers allowed them to add so many layers and so much depth to it.

Now that they had cast a spell over everyone, they picked things up, and Trond Bersus’ drumming grew more forceful as they moved on with “Leaving No Traces”, which saw the three-part harmonies becoming four, making it all the more compelling. As it ended, Kristoffer laid his guitar down and picked up his flugabone (which looks like a trumpet of sorts, for those unfamiliar with the instrument). He proceeded to play a piece that segued them into the subsequent track from the album, “Hiroshima”. They gave it even more flare live, and there was a moment that was nothing short of climatic, once all the instruments peaked and burst into a delightful, captivating wall of sound.

They bridged it right into the theatrical sounding “I, The Hand Grenade”. “Yeah, the real terrorist is me, my love.” goes one of the often repeated lines from the first verse, before “terrorist” gets changed to “parasite” for the second, and Ingrid delivered it all with flawless execution. “Since Last Wednesday”, the single the album has already produced, showed a bit of a lighter side to the band, and it contained some very subtle pop elements. Still, to even begin to say it was pop would be completely inaccurate.

“Thank you, we’re really excited to be opening for London Grammar.” Ingrid told the audience, in what was really the only time they addressed the crowd, since they had been so busy utilizing their time on stage to play all the songs they could. Even while she spoke, the applause continued, and people had already welcomed these Norwegians into their hearts.

Kristoffer brought the flugabone back out for their final song, “Science & Blood Tests”. He used it for a portion of the song, before putting his guitar back to use, again using the bow on it, as they concluded their set by leaving the now new fans with the same sense of wonder their first tune had created.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an opening act that was as impressive and mind-blowing as HighAsAKite was.

It was breathtakingly beautiful, and their level of talent is unfathomable. And while this was an exceptional show, I got the feeling they were only starting to scratch the surface at the end of this brief set.

Honestly, they have everything one needs to be a headliner here at a venue the size of the Granada, with the exception of the fanbase. Well, at least before this night they didn’t have the fanbase.

They were the perfect pairing for London Grammar, because HighAsAKite also has a sound unlike any band. Ever.

By all means, you need to keep an eye on this outfit from Norway, and I’m already anxiously awaiting their return to Dallas. I doubt I’m alone, either, because the Twitter feed again lit up, this time with posts from people who were utterly amazed by what they had just witnessed.

They have an EP available, while their LP will be released this coming Tuesday (April 2nd), and can be bought in iTUNES. As for shows, they’ll be doing a brief stint in the U.S. in May, with a few shows on the East Coast. Aside from that, everything will be international (well, for us American folks at least), and their full calendar can be seen HERE.

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 – London Grammar Proves They’re More Than Just a Hype Machine

One of the most entertaining things at the Granada Theater is the Twitter board, which allows you to tag the venue on the social network and then see your tweet appear on the large screen that covers the stage. It can lead to some entertaining comments/conversations, and early on this night, talk already began about how over-hyped London Grammar was (granted, that was only coming from one person, though they were adamant about it.)

That’s okay, though. After all anything and everything, be it a band, person, company, etc. needs its doubters and disbelievers… That way they have people to prove wrong.

By the time their 10-o’clock start time rolled around, the venue appeared to be at capacity. Even the balcony area was open this night and teemed with life, while spots in front of the stage had been hard to come by even when the doors opened at eight. So, to say the people of Dallas and North

The stage was bathed in a beautiful hue of deep blue from the lights as guitarist Dan Rothman and keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Dominic ‘Dot’ Major walked on stage, taking the spots on stage right and left, respectively. Only their silhouettes were visible from where I stood – further at the back - and they were made to feel very welcome with all the applause and cheers they got, as they began a lengthy instrumental lead in for their first song.

The fanfare again erupted after a few minutes when Hannah Reid stepped out from the backstage area. “Hey.” she sang a few different times, stretching the word out in all sorts of ways, immediately putting her mighty, semi-operatic voice to work. The audience instantly swooned over it, and its sheer beauty no doubt melted some hearts.

Everyone already knew what was coming, as they officially began “Hey Now”, a song that saw the instrumentalization kept rather low-key, leaving Hannahs’ voice as the most prominent thing to focus on. The song in general was riveting, as was everything else they did this night.

Dot turned his attention away from the keys for their next song, instead adding some percussion to the mix via the djembe for “Darling Are You Gonna Leave Me”. “Oh darling, are you gonna leave me? I’ll watch you if you can…” sang Hannah on the chorus, hitting higher notes with what looked to be completely ease, switching things up slightly from the potent, deeper register she often sings in.

There was a smaller drum kit set up on stage left, and now it got put to use (for the first of many times) as Dot took a seat behind it, leaving Hannah to man the keys. The subtle plucking Dan was doing on his guitar for “Interlude” complimented the keys nicely; but perhaps the best part was the chorus, which was co-sung by both Hannah and Dot, who created some ethereal sounding harmonies.

Only three songs in and this show was already a little slice of heaven.

“Thank you all for coming to see us.” Hannah said, in one of the few moments they addressed the crowd. They were more geared towards the performance, and they moved on with “Shyer”, which had Dot playing the keys for the first half, before moving over to the drums to give the song just a hint more kick.

I could be partially biased, given that “Wasting My Young Years” is my personal favorite song of London Grammar’s, but I found it to be one of the best moments of their show. Hannahs’ voice shone even more brightly on this one, as she got to use some more operatic tones, creating moments that, personally, were best enjoyed by closing your eyes and just soaking it all in. Yes, I did that, and this was the first of several songs that had me doing so.

Now Dot spoke with the fans, and he mentioned their next song, “Flickers”, was the first one they ever wrote as a band. That was a fun fact to learn, and made the song even more enjoyable knowing it is the oldest thing in their repertoire. Once all the lyrics had been sung, Hannah turned around and strode off stage, leaving Dan and Dot to close out the song. Dot left the djembe for the keys, doing a great little solo, accented by some nice riffs.

She returned once they were done, and now Dot took time to mention their time touring the U.S., and while they had been to America before, this was the first time they had ever been to Texas. They seemed to like it, too. They then performed another profoundly moving track, “Sights”. It wasn’t just moving to the audience, either.

Near the end of it, Hannah could be seen pointing off to stage right, and I was unsure if she was speaking to Dan in between singing, or if she was having some technical problem. Then it ended, and Dot apologized for her, as she wiped some tears from her face.

It was a raw, vulnerable moment, the likes of which you seldom see any band display; and I hope the people of Dallas were able to appreciate this is I did, because in another year or two, when they have even more touring experience under their belt, I doubt this will be happening.

She never faltered on singing, but once she had composed herself how “overwhelming” and “hard” it was to sing that with so many eyes focused on her. Again, that was such a beautiful moment, because you got to see that’s far more than just a song, and a deep personal connection goes along with it.

“I am the blank page before you. I am the fine idea you crave…” sang Hannah as they got the spectacular “Stay Awake” underway. Afterwards, they once again mentioned Texas, and not only how “amazing” the last week and a half had been, but also how much they liked all the southern hospitality they had encountered. Hey, it’s what we’re known for.

Their next song was setup as being the only cover on their album. It was originally done by Kavinsky and featured on the soundtrack for the 2011 film Drive, and that song is “Nightcall”. To be perfectly honest, I was unaware that song was even a cover, and the members of London Grammar tweaked it so much, it may as well be an original of theirs, without any traces of the electro house style of the original even being evident in theirs.

It was so majestic it was almost crippling, and it worked well to get everyone ready for “Strong”, which concluded their 48-minute long set.

No one was ready for the night to be over, though; and chatter instantly began, as people talked about what songs they hoped the band would come back and do, while others chanted for more.

“Will do one more.” said Hannah, once they did retake the stage. Some were hoping for the title track form their LP, though Dallas was instead given “Metal & Dust”. I was happy with that, especially when they got to the end, which once again found Dot on the drums, and got quite aggressive as he and Dan gave the track an epic end to one of the most marvelous concerts I’ve ever attended.

This show was a clear case of quality over quantity. I mean, with such a relatively quick rise to international fame and only one album of material to draw from, it’s not like they could have played an hour and a half long show or anything. Nor did they need to.

They had everyone transfixed with their more minimalist indie rock sounds, and proved that all the hype they have received they have not only earned, but are also worthy of.

I expected to like it, but wasn’t prepared to love it as much as I did, and over the coming years, if London Grammar can produce another couple of records with songs that are at least on par with “If You Wait”, then I could easily see them becoming one of the biggest bands of the current times.

The potential is there, from the excellent craftsmanship of the songs, to Hannahs’ voice, which is one of the most beautiful and amazing things my ears have ever had  the pleasure of hearing.

I don’t know about everyone else, but for me, this show was pretty much the equivalent of a religious experience/awakening, and I felt quite fulfilled as I walked out the doors of the Granada this night.

Along with the final dates of their U.S. tour, they also have shows all around the globe throughout the year. Check them out HERE; and should you have a chance to see them, you really should take it. Also, if “If You Wait” isn’t part of ITUNES library, definitely add it to your collection.

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 – Spillover Music Festival 2014: Part II

Back on Dada’s patio, Astronautalis was gearing up for their show. I guess that would actually be his show, since the band is mainly Andy Bothwell, though he was, of course, accompanied by some other musicians this day.

Given that I don’t usually care for hip-hop, I was curious how I would like this in the first place, but was willing to give it a try.

“We’re gonna start three minutes early, ‘cause it’s fuck off cold…” said Andy once the majority of the crowd wandered outside. A smoke break pushed that back, though, to about what their start time was originally set for; a fact he joked about.

“Have any of you ever seen any sad penguin documentaries lately?” Andy then asked, pointing out that they stay warm by huddling together, and urged the crowd to do just that.

“…This is the fifth element of hip-hop.” he then stated as the show got underway. The first song captivated me, and I liked the often harsh edge Andys’ voice to it. It was a bit rough, but that made it stand out; not just this day, but in general in comparison to other hip-hop acts I’ve heard.

He darted about the stage during that opening number, and afterwards mentioned he’d be doing a mix of old and new songs this day. “This is an old one.” he mentioned before beginning what I believe was “Contrails”. “And I wrote this!” he bellowed at different parts throughout the track, a sense of pride clearly evident as he did so, as well there should have been.

“The more we yell and the more we dance, the warmer we’ll get!” he told the audience, before starting the song I enjoyed the most, “This is Our Science”. The track was entrancing, while the live instruments (drums and guitar) fleshed out the sound; and I quite enjoyed the bit of singing Andy did before doling out the rap portion. Both are an art form the way he does it.
image“Tell me this, put up your fingertips if you’re living your life exactly the way that you wished…” he said. Some of the people in the crowd threw their hands into the air with that line, while others (like myself), kept their hands in their pockets; not wanting to lose any warmth. And for the rest of us with our hands on our hips, our work is never done. We are Sisyphus…” he continued, finishing a verse that not only sounds good in the song when you’re listening to, but also allows for some great audience participation of sorts.

Andy was out of breath at this point, and took a timeout, during which he unzipped the jacket he was wearing, but only a little. “…It’s not hot enough, yet.” he quipped, then joked about the fancy plain white t-shirt he was wearing that had been revealed.

That was another aspect I quite liked to this show: not only was he a performer, he was also great about interacting with the crowd. The chatter came easily, and he often had the fans chuckling.

After recovering from that speedy track, he again mentioned they had a lot of new stuff worked in this day, as well as some old songs that had been remixed. “…This song’s a dance song now…” he remarked before “Dimitri Mendeleev”. One of those new songs he spoke of followed it. “…It’s not finished yet. Please don’t post anything on Youtube.” Andy said, sounding serious (though I’m sure he wasn’t), and that only prompted more people to hold their phones in the air and capture it.

If that song really isn’t done, than I can’t imagine how it’ll sound after any final tweaks. Sound-wise, it was the best thing I heard them do; it was also the last song I caught before venturing back to Three Links.

I was converted into an Astronautalis fan this day, and that was something I wasn’t counting on.

The guy’s as solid a performer as you could hope to find, and even though he complained about the cold this day, it never actually bothered or hindered him. He bounced back and forth between each side of the stage, making sure to work over every section of the crowd, while some of them danced along to music.

In hindsight, I shouldn’t have left, because I would have enjoyed the rest of Astronautalis’s show much more, but I wanted to squeeze in as many bands as possible. Besides, I had seen some of the show. I’m already anxious to get the full experience, though, and luckily for me that will happen soon.

He’s slated for another Dallas show on April 5th, this one being at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, which is free. For a full list of tour dates, go HERE; and check out his music in iTUNES.

Upset was a little late getting started over at Three Links, because, as singer and rhythm guitarist Ali Koehler said one song in, they had only found out there was a backline an hour beforehand. In fact, they also shouted out the band before them who let them use some of their gear.

They ran through the short “Back to School” (it’s only about a minute and a half long) and then another track, before Ali mentioned she was getting self-conscious of her shirt riding up, as she pulled it down. As she said that, some asshat made a remark about her weight (I didn’t hear what he said), which got her a bit defensive, and understandably so. She then shared a little anecdote about that having happened one before. She said her boyfriend kept trying to get her attention about it, but to no avail, and he eventually left out of sheer embarrassment for her. “That guy would have been stoked.” she jokingly said, pointing out the heckler after she finished her story by saying her shirt was up over her bra by the time that gig was done.

Patty Schemel dished out some quick beats throughout “Game Over”, giving it a fast pace; after which Ali again addressed her heckler, somewhat apologizing to him. “I don’t want to be mean, but I want to have a backbone.” she stated, after mentioning that whatever she got she’d essentially dish back out.

“Queen Frosteen” was a very good song, and was one of several where Jennifer Prince got to show off her chops on the guitar. On another note, I was impressed to learn that the bass player for the group had only taken up the instrument one month before, just so she could play with Upset. Ali mentioned this fact before their next song, saying she plays in another Los Angeles band, and had picked up the bass just to play with Upset.

Their next song was “Let it Go”, and described as an ode to Jawbreaker, and after another track they bantered some more. Obviously, they had made the trip to Dallas from Austin, and Ali informed everyone they had a bet going that if any of them referred to the music festival as “South By”, then they had to do some push-ups. “I think you owe us, like, twenty push-ups.” she said to Jennifer, shortly before pulling out the title track of their debut LP, “She’s Gone”.

It was during that one that I made my way back to Dada, as the next band on the inside stage there was getting ready to go on.

I didn’t dislike Upset, but I wasn’t made into a true fan, either. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and attribute this to a rigorous schedule at SXSW; but Alis’ voice just wasn’t that strong. The musicianship was good and the live show was decent. Actually, that was another thing, they started off with some technical issues and had trouble getting all the mixes on stage right, and those seemed to persist throughout their show, which kept them from ever getting a firm footing.

Still, they’re worth checking out, especially if you like pop music. Check out “She’s Gone” in iTUNES.

Back over at Dada, Blouse was getting ready to start and the quartet opened their show with the lead/title track from their newest album,
“Imperium”. I was instantly smitten with the dreamy, yet intense indie rock sounds they produced, and frontwoman and guitarist Charlie Hilton had a voice that perfectly fit with that genre.

The luscious indie rocks sounds continued with a couple other tracks, one of which I believe was “Shadow”. They also did another from their self-titled debut, “Firestarter”, The last song I caught was “In a Glass”; and I must say, as sweet as these sounds were, it was hard to walk out on them.

Jacob Portrait and Patrick Adams help round the band out, and along with the drummer and the second guitar, they created some layered music that is appealing on at least a few different levels. I mean, the rhythm section makes it all pretty forceful, and in that regard, they are clearly a rock band. But then you have the indie elements, which intertwine beautifully, and Charlie is able to pull off singing both of those genres with ease.

That’s the one downside festivals, you have to pick and choose who you see, and the next band was one I didn’t want to miss out on.

Blouse does have a few more shows currently on tap, and they can be found HERE. Be sure to check out their stuff on iTUNES, too.

Now, it was back to Three Links to see the band with perhaps the most interesting name ever: Diarrhea Planet.

The venue was near capacity when I walked in, and I had to settle for the first empty spot I found, which wasn’t too far from the door. I knew Diarrhea Planet had carved out a following with all their past trips to Dallas, and it’s a loyal one at that.

The six-piece was a little late getting started (no doubt thrown off by the earlier bands), but no one minded. Instead, it added to the suspense that you could feel in the air. And when they did start, singer/guitarist Jordan Smith and his band mates left the stage in near ruins with their first track, just from rocking so hard.

Actually, they encountered some technical difficulties after that one, which prompted one of their guitarists (between Brent Toler, Evan Bird and Emmett Miller there are three others) to shout, “That’s it, thanks for coming out!” He was joking, of course; and once things got straightened out, they ripped into “Separations”.

Even with all six of them crammed on this smaller stage, they still had plenty of room to rock out to the music they were making, and the audience was right along with them, banging their heads along to it all, while some sang along. Speaking of singing along, there were moments, like during that song, where almost the entire band was singing, and it sounded brilliant.

Before another song, Jordan mentioned they had played Dada just a few months back, and talked about all the good times they had, had in Dallas in the past. He then mentioned the next song was one they had never played in Dallas before. The fans (or at least some of them) cheered at that, an interesting reaction, since most fans of any band prefer to hear the stuff they know.

“We’re going to play some more, but first, we need to figure out what those are.” One of them said after that song concluded, making it sound like they were making this setlist up on the fly. “We’re gonna bring it down…” Jordan stated, noting they’d bring it right back up very soon.

Surprisingly, this roaring rock band pulled off the hushed sound quite well. It even lasted a few minutes as they did a lengthy instrumental portion, before the song was brought to life with blazing guitars and a mighty rhythm section, made up of drummer Casey Weissbuch and Mike Boyle on bass.

The time was drawing near for another band to start at the other venue, but I had to stick around for one more song, a song that saw Jordan and Brent standing back-to-back as they shredded on their axes.

I may have only seen a portion of their set, but Diarrhea Planet was another highlight of my day at Spillover.

The Nashville based band puts on one helluva live show, and you could tell they were all about the music this night, as well as entertaining those who were watching them.

I can easily see why the fan base they do have is so rabid, and I’m now proud to be a part of the fold.

They don’t have any shows on the books right now, but keep an eye on their CALENDAR. In the meantime, they do have two LP’s available in iTUNES.

Honestly, it had never been truly cold outside thus far, but now that the sun had long since set, it was starting to feel kinda chilly.

“Please exhale all of your warm breath towards us.” said Dee Dee Penny, frontwoman of Dum Dum Girls; who was shivering a bit before they began their 37-minute long set. Thing is, she was only have joking about that, too.

Their set was a smorgasbord of songs from their entire career, and they began with “Bedroom Eyes”, which evenly mixed both the pop and rock genres. There was a short enough pause after it where the crowd was able to applaud, before drummer Sandy launched them into their next song, “I Got Nothing”.

They kept powering through their songs, and now got to the first of the night from the newly released “Too True” album, “In the Wake of You”. It was one of the catchiest things they had done thus far (which is saying something), while that album boasts what is quite possibly the best collection of songs Dum Dum Girls has produced so far. Still, they wanted to play the older stuff that everyone was more apt to know, and “He Gets Me High” finished this first sting of songs, all of which had been almost seamlessly bled into the next.

“It’s a strange thing to play when you can’t feel your fingers.” bassist Malia remarked after the song had ended, prompting Dee Dee to thank everyone for “braving the cold”. “If anyone knows the guitar parts, feel free to come up here.” she added, before they tackled another new tune, “Are You Okay?”

They hit their stride with that one, and Dee Dee had a certain swagger about her as she performed that song. She might have been complaining about the weather, but she wasn’t letting it be a factor; and even though she had to be in front of the mic the whole time, she still found time to slide from side to side as she sang. She kept that up during “I Will Be”, and said swagger began to spread to her band mates, guitarist Jules, Malia, and even Sandy who was back on the drums.

They were firing on all cylinders after that short song, and then cranked out another one, “It Only Takes One Night”. “It only takes one night…” sang Dee Dee at the end, her band mates lending their voices to the mix, creating some very cool harmonies.

“Rimbaud Eyes” and “Lost Boys and Girls Club” were two more songs they did off “Too True”, the latter of which was another highlight, simply because of its slick, polished sound. Dee Dee then sit her guitar down for the next song, which allowed her to work the stage a little more; though the best moment came at the end. Malia and Jules again backed up Dee Dee, this time making for some harmonies that were nothing short of beautiful. Really, it was a moment that really made your jaw drop.

They were just about done by now, but before their final song, Dee Dee mentioned they had played Spillover about four years ago, back when Dum Dum Girls was doing their first ever tour. “…It’s good to be back.” she stated, before they wrapped it up with a rendition of Pale Saints’ “Sight of You”, which they put their own little twist to.

That was a fun way to end the show, a show that had me partially forgetting how cool the temperature was.

Unlike some of the other bands I saw this day, I had at least heard of Dum Dum Girls before, however, I had never taken time to listen to their music until seeing they were playing Spillover. I regret that a bit now, but it’s too late to change it.

I think the thing I liked most about them is they are very much a pop band, but manage to pull off the sound without sounding like the generic carbon copied stuff that litters the radio airwaves, essentially proving you can be a pop band and still have your own identity.

The songs are well written, and the live show – which was clearly were they excel - was fun and energetic (all the jumping around they were doing should have kept them somewhat warm).

Out of the fourteen bands I saw here at Spillover, they’d rank in my top five, and I will (hopefully) be seeing Dum Dum Girls again, whenever they get back to Texas.

Their music can be found in iTUNES, and they have plenty of shows coming up all around the world. Check out all the dates HERE.

Dada was surprisingly empty inside; and I hurried to grab a spot as close as I could get to the stage (which was just a few people deep, so close) for one of the bands everyone seemed most excited about being on Spillover: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

The band had been added just a couple weeks prior to the show, and even though they’ve been together for about seven years now, this marked their first proper show in Dallas, a fact singer and guitarist Kip Berman pointed out at one point during their set.

He took the stage all on his lonesome at first, performing “Art Smock”, a song that will presumably be on their upcoming album due out in May. Some people didn’t even realize the show had started, thinking it was still music playing over the PA system, just since it was so low-key, and appeared surprised when they looked up and saw Kip on stage.

“…Should’ve guessed it was gonna fall to pieces in my hands again…” went one of the lines from that tale of heartache, which I thought was good way to open up the show. Perhaps that’s because I’m often drawn to slower songs like that, and playing it early like this was the only appropriate spot for it in the setlist.

When he finished it, the rest of the band emerged from the green room, and Kurt Feldman took his spot behind the drums, while the keyboard player/female vocalist got on stage left, and bassist Alex Naidus and guitarist Connor Hanwick took the stage right after.

They sprang to life with “Until The Sun Explodes”, a short, but captivating song that showed off the type of indie pop/indie rock sound the band has perfected. It was catchy, and every free moment he got, Kip was shredding on his guitar, while his band mates bobbed along to the quick pace of the track.

That continued as they churned out a song I absolutely loved, “Heart In Your Heartbreak”. “…She was the tear in a rainstorm. She was the promise that you would’ve sworn…” Kip sang in his higher register tone, while many of the fans sang right along with him on this song about losing a love.

Next came “Simple and Sure”, their newest single from the forthcoming “Days of Abandon” album, and upon finishing it, they took a break for Kip to address the audience.

“We’re proud to play Spillover…” he said, which was also about the time he mentioned this was their first gig in Dallas. “…I’m psyched! Let’s do some more!” he exclaimed after chatting briefly, leading them to a song from their self-titled album, “Come Saturday”. Kurt then wound them into “Young Adult Friction”, which was one of a few songs this night where the keyboardist (apologies, I was unable to find her name) added some great vocals alongside Kip’s.

“This song’s called Masokissed.” Kip informed everyone before they pulled out another track, following it with a couple more songs, which led them to their final number. It was only fitting that they end with the song that is the title track of their self-titled record, and “The Pains of Being Pure at Heart” capped off their 35-minute long set, and the often repeated line of “We will never die. No, no we will never die.” came across as a sort of anthem this night.

On the surface, you could say The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are an “emo” band and leave it at that, but there’s really so much more to it.

Sure, a majority of the songs deal with heartache and losing love, but there’s more depth to them than just that. They often have a core message of soldering on, even when it’s hard to do.

Kip and his band mates definitely know how to pen some amazing songs, and the upbeat music that accompanies them ensure that everyone gets in to them, including the band. Kip often thrashed about when he could, bending over and playing his guitar, while Connor and Alex jumped about, somehow managing to never get in one another’s way, despite the close confines they were in.

Second favorite band I saw this day was The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (I just love saying/writing that name), and I hope their second Dallas show will come sooner rather than later. After all, they will have a new album to support in the very bear future.

They have plenty of tour dates scheduled, including some overseas. For the full list, go HERE. Their current releases can be found in iTUNES, and on May 13th, “Days of Abandon” will become available.

Everyone now migrated outside, where Ty Segall and his band were set to headline the outdoor stage.

“…I haven’t been here in awhile…” Ty remarked before beginning his show, guessing it had been about two years or so since he last played Dallas.

Having listened to Segalls’ music, I wasn’t a huge fan of the lo-fi sound all of his songs have, and was skeptical about how this show would be. That skepticism vanished as soon as they started “Wave Goodbye”, which was the first of a series of songs they played consecutively, with another being “Death”, which saw Ty being hit with a drink one rowdy fan had thrown. It didn’t even phase him, though, and he kept right on playing his guitar to create the mangled sound that is heard at the beginning.

That’s the one good thing for people like me who aren’t big fans of lo-fi: Live, the bands rarely sound like their albums do. This was balls-to-the-wall intensity, and everyone who was watching the band was getting worked up, and moshing and crowd surfing had already started.

“YEAH! YEAH!” shouted Ty before their next song. To show how much attention I was actually paying, I didn’t even notice when the speaker on stage left got knocked down, though I did happen to see when two guys walked on stage and lifted it back up and into position. See, I’m not exaggerating about the audience being rowdy.

“We have Robocop on guitar.” joked Ty, right before “I Bought my Eyes”, which I thought was one of the best songs of their set. The first half with the lyrics was good, and it got great during the instrumental end, when they all cut loose. Another song followed, and it was after that, that his security decided to put a stop to all the moshing/crowd surfing, thinking it was getting to out of hand.

Ty called them off, though. “It’s okay…” he told them, before looking out at the crowd who had quickly stopped at the sight of men. “Keep on, it’s fine. Keep on.” he assured them, before they got down on another killer track.

“Do you want to hear a couple of new ones?” asked Ty. The audience was receptive to that, and enjoyed the batch of newer tracks the band performed, all of which fit the mold Ty has cast for himself.

What was possibly their most intense jam session of the night came during the song “Feel”, after which he got back to his more comedic side. “We are all going to go home… get the peanut butter… take it out… and put it on our dogs tongue.” He said, pausing briefly here and there, making it so you weren’t quite sure where he was going with that, all the while the other guitarist was playing the theme music from the classic sci-fi series The Twilight Zone. That got the crowd laughing, and by this point, everyone was so engulfed by the show, they could have cared less about the cold.

Several more songs followed, one of which was “Finger”, while another saw Ty repeatedly striking the top part of the fretboard, right near the headstock, creating a wickedly good sound. They had some more fun before another song, doing the “Addams Family Theme”, while “Tell Me What’s Inside Your Heart” capped off their 52-minute long set. It was an epic one, and tied for first place as being the best performance I witnessed here at Spillover.

To say he’s a guitar virtuoso would be pretty spot on, and he has a pretty good voice, too.

It was impossible not to get into their fast paced, heavy-hitting songs, and they delivered one helluva rock show. A rock show that passed by way too quickly, all because I was so wrapped up in it.

I can’t say I’ll be buying his music, but you can find it HERE, and a list of his upcoming shows is on his OFFICIAL WEBSITE.

There were two bands left, and the next one inside Dada was one I didn’t much care for in listening to them beforehand. It was also another forty minutes or so before the last band hit the stage at Three Links, and not wanting to wait that long, I decided to call it a day (or night, however you want to look at it.)

This was a truly spectacular day that Parade of Flesh had organized, and for those like me who missed SXSW, this at least offered a bit of the festival spirit. You can’t equate Spillover to that internationally renowned fest, but at its core, it’s exactly the same: It’s all about exposing people to new music along with bands they already know and love.

After attending SXSW for the first time ever last year, I was bummed I was unable to repeat it this year, but Spillover satisfied that craving, and I was able to see several bands that I would not have seen had I made it to Austin.

Point is, this was the start of what I plan on making a tradition, and I’m already looking forward to March 2015 and the next installment of Spillover.

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 – Spillover Music Festival 2014: Part I

Now in its eighth consecutive year, Parade of Flesh’s Spillover Music Festival is a staple that many North Texas music fans look forward to. However, it’s a tradition I have never partaken in, in the past.

With it occurring on the final Sunday of SXSW, the booking company is able to snag a bunch of talent as the bands as they get back out on the road. And since I missed SXSW this year, this was the best chance I’d have to at least get some taste of what it was like down in Austin — albeit on a MUCH smaller scale.

Spread across two clubs and three stages (both the outdoor and indoor stages at Club Dada, along with Three Links) the festival was able to be a daylong event, and kicking it off was Son of Stan.

I didn’t make the 2:30 start time, and finally arrived and wondered out onto the patio at Dada about 2:37, to hear the trio led by Jordan Richardson, wrapping up one of their songs. A song that immediately had me compelled to get closer to the stage.

The group, which was completed by drummer Brian Garcia and bassist Cliff Wright, segued nicely into their next number, with the help of some sample tracks they used. It was during that one that Jordan stood on one of his legs, while stretching the other out behind, and somehow managed to maintain his balance while strumming his guitar, and he held that for more than a few seconds.

They finished it, then used the time to tune while a track that was a sales pitch played, getting some chuckles from the dozens of people who were already there. “This shit’s about being dragged to the mall by your mom when you’re a kid and there’s nothing you can do about it.” said Jordan, who now brandished a twelve-string guitar. The song was “Corsica”, the lead track off Son of Stan’s debut album, “Divorce Pop”. Like the other songs I caught this day, it was a good blend of electronic styles and rock music, and that one was my favorite song of theirs (at least that I heard, anyway).
image“…Great job on the bass, Cliff…” Jordan said to his band mate, partly commending him and partly being funny. This was when he formally introduced Cliff and Brian to the onlookers, before they started their final song, noting almost exactly about how long it would be, say, four minutes and thirty-four seconds. Something like that, at least. “It’s cold as shit out here!” exclaimed Jordan during one of the instrumental breaks the song had.

They may have been cold, but they didn’t let it show or hinder them, and just what I saw had me wishing I had left just a little earlier so I could have gotten the full Son of Stan experience.

The rock sounds were the predominant ones, but it’s really an intriguing mix of music they have. I’d even say it’s cutting edge in some regards, just because it sounds different from the majority of stuff I’ve heard before. It’s even smart and clever, which is quite refreshing to hear in music.

Check out the album on either BANDCAMP or iTUNES, and if you like it, pick up a copy. As far as future shows go, just keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE, ‘cause they’ll no doubt have one coming up sooner or later.

Dada was where I spent a majority of my time this day, especially for the first few hours, and now it was time to get into the warm confines of the venue, which was now filled with people, people who were apparently unwilling to brave the colder weather for the first band.

Another trio was taking this stage first, and that was the Brooklyn based Weekend, who had a 36-minute long set filled with their post-punk/shoegaze brand of music planned for everyone.

They had already started when I made my way in, as singer and bassist Shaun Durkan and guitarist Kevin Johnson created some swirling sounds of feedback that stretched a minute or more, before they finally broke into their first song.

I’ll go ahead and say this early on: I was not a huge fan of the reverb laden effects that surrounded Shaun’s voice. I get it, that’s what makes shoegaze music, but it made it next to impossible to understand what he was singing, which in turn made it next to impossible for me to later on decipher what songs they played.

They proved they were masters of the segue by bridging almost all of their songs into the next. They weren’t a relaxed shoegaze band by any means, though; and once Abe Pedroza began banging out some drum beats, everyone knew they were about to witness something great.

When they did transition from song to song, it was often with the soupy feedback, and that happened through their first four tracks. I think the final one they did before taking a break was “Age Class”, from their debut LP, “Sports”.

“Thanks a lot.” said Shaun, while he tuned his bass. That led them to another newer song from the “Jinx” record, “Mirror”, which was one of their best. As they progressed into the show, you could tell they were getting more into it, and those first couple of songs had merely been a warm-up. Towards the end of that one, Kevin raised his guitar up towards his head, before letting it drop back down and rocking out. He stole the show with that, but that paled in comparison to what he did during their final song.

As it wound down, the three members gave it an epic outro, which saw Kevin raising his guitar up to the ceiling, before clutching it in his arms as if it were a lover and he were cradling it. It was an amazing moment, because for a time, he and the guitar were one, as he slid the neck up and down his amp, before moving to the front of the stage and the monitors, using them to get a nice distorted effect. Abe even got a brief solo at the end, as the bass and guitar periodically dropped out while he kept beating on his kit, using the electronic drum pad from time to time to manufacture a cool series of sounds.

I already mentioned my one qualm with the band, so I won’t repeat myself. I’ll also point out it was more the critic side of me that disliked that reverb effect, because not being able to figure out more of what they played makes me feel like I gave them a lackluster review, which is something Weekend was not at all deserving of.

Personally, I did love the sound and the awesome textures they created, along with their polished performance, which was one of the best I saw this day.

Give ‘em a listen, and it really doesn’t matter if you like shoegaze or not, because that’s more of a sub-genre classification for them.

Of course iTUNES has their music, and for a list of their upcoming shows, go HERE.

Back out on the outdoor stage, Oberhofer was just getting started, and mixed what I’d assume are some newer songs in with their current material. Their pop type style was countered with some massive rock sounds, and you could tell from the start they’d be cutting loose and leaving it all on the stage. If you had doubts about that, then singer Brad Oberhofer – who was also one of the guitarists – dispelled them at the start of their second song, when he jumped onto the bass drum of Pete Sustarsics’ drum kit, then kicked off of it.

“How about the winter time.” Brad said sheepishly, even awkwardly after that song had concluded. It was an endearing odd quirk, though, and he knew exactly how to work the crowd to further win them over. “It’s cold and we’re all here together… You can jump around instead of standing there like a pin. A cold pin…” he said, leaving everyone laughing.

With that, they launched into “Earplugs”. “I’ve tried for years to tell you I’m in love…” Brad sang near the end, repeating that one line from the chorus many times, while guitarists Colin Caulfield and Ben Roth and bassist Dylan Treleven got even more into the song as they tore it up on their respective instruments.
image“Should we do that?” Brad asked after an off mic conversation with his band mates, before they ripped into their next song. A couple more tracks from the “Notalgia” EP came after, like “Together/Never”, but “You + Me (Still Together In the Future)” was my personal favorite. The keys and xylophone used at the start just set off this fun love song with the sweet line, “…I’m in love with the idea of you and me still together in the future…”. By no means was it your typical, sappy love song, though.

That was about as touching as they ever got, too, and before starting what Brad said would be their final song, he mentioned they had “just rolled into town”. “We just came.” he added, before reaching down to his groin and using his hand to fake an explosion (I hope I don’t need to elaborate anymore than that for you readers). That left everyone in fits of laughter, as they began their final song, that I don’t really think was their last one.

By that time, I had made my way inside and gotten in the ridiculously long line for the bathroom (that would be the only complaint of this entire day, neither venue has enough toilets to cater to crowds of this size. And you know it’s bad when the line for the men’s restroom looks as bad as the women’s normally does.)

But I digress…

Out of the now three bands I had seen thus far this day, Oberhofer was the best. The energy they exuded was spectacular; and even though they were a little tight on the stage with five guys and all the required instruments, they made it work without sacrificing anything in terms of performance.

They do what they do exceedingly well, and they are one band I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on as I anxiously await their return to Dallas.

They have an LP, EP and a single available in iTUNES, and I’m hoping this year will see the release of some more new material from Oberhofer. And of course, FACEBOOK would be the best way to keep tabs on them and see when they’ll be coming to a town near you.

They may have been the best band I had seen thus far, but the best band (or at least one of them) was up next inside.

Club Dada already looked sold-out as I made my way back inside, finding a tiny spot to squeeze into against the wall of the green room.

Clearly, everyone was excited to see the Elmhurst, Illinois natives who are collectively known as The Orwells.

The quintet had all eyes glued on them as soon as they took the stage, long before a single note had ever been played.

“I’m slipping in and you’re tripping out, but that’s what nighttime’s all about…” sang frontman Mario Cuomo as they opened their 37-minute long set with “Other Voices”. During one of the instrumental breaks later in the song, he had a very dazed about him, as if he wasn’t entirely sure where he was. Then again, with the hectic schedule they surely kept during SXSW, he may not have. He hit his mark when it was time for the next set of lyrics on this darker song that touches on suicide (“…Give me the gun, pass me the pen; tonight’s the night our lives will end…”), and as it wrapped up, Dominic Corso shredded away on his guitar.

Henry Brinner carried them into their next song with some drum beats, though it wound up not being a seamless segue, as he quit while they all got on the same page. That took but a second or two, and then they got right into “Righteous One”, which they brought directly into “Dirty Sheets”. The latter was as luscious as the title suggests, and boasted some sweet riffs from Dominic and fellow guitarist Matt O’Keefe, which were rounded out with some tight bass lines courtesy of Grant Brinner.
imageThey were on fire at this point, and almost every song from here on out was bridged in from the past one; and now they brought the mood down just a tad with “Halloween All Year”. The roaring percussion still gave the fans something to get into, though, and there was still a good dose of vigor on the live version, compared to how the recording comes across. Near the end, Mario stood on the platform that stretches across the front of the stage and gives the monitors a place to set, towering over the crowd as he leaned out over everyone, exciting them to a point then when he got back on the stage, a contained mosh pit broke out.

They rolled that into another newer track, which I believe was called “Gotta Get Down”, before tackling another track from the “Remember When” album, “In My Bed”. That was perhaps the strongest song of their set, solely because of the pissed off attitude Mario had in his voice as he sang the chorus, “What she said in my bed, said she wished that I was dead…”. It was powerful and angry, wrought with raw emotion, the type of which a band needs to truly set themselves apart from the rest of the pack.

They cranked out a few more songs, one of which Matt segued them into with some sweet licks, and eventually, they arrived at a song everyone had been wanting and waiting to hear. “Mallrats (La La La)” was a highlight of their 37-minute long set, and it was quite conducive to the carefree Rock ‘n’ Roll mood. Many people just let loose, dancing and jumping around to the fast paced song, a song that mainly had Mario screaming “La la la…” over and over into the mic, though it was still the most fun track they performed this day.

It was during the semi-political “Who Needs You” that Mario leapt into the crowd, after uttering the words, “Fuck that!” The fans caught him, while others rushed over to the area, partly in case any help was needed, while I think others (mainly the girls) were just hoping to have a chance to touch him.

Everyone was all riled up after that, and I think they would have been fine if The Orwells had played another thirty-minutes or more, but sadly, it was time to close it out. “It’s the first song off our new record!” Mario exclaimed, before shouting “Yay!” a few times, while flashing a mischievous look. It was a fun way to end a stellar set, and having released two EP’s last year, I think everyone was giddy about learning that more new music from The Orwells is on its way.

I can’t say they were unrivaled this day, because I did see one other act at Spillover that I enjoyed as much as I did The Orwells, though I will say they are unparalleled by most.

It was all about the energy these still young musicians had, taking charge as soon as they started their first song, and they only picked up steam the further they got into their show.

They were brash at times, even slightly unrefined, but that fits with the slight punk style they have to their sound; and you could tell they’ve been doing this for awhile, with all the touring showing just what well-oiled machine they are.

They’ve got the chops, and in watching Grant, Dominic, Henry, Matt and Mario, you can tell this is what they were born to do, and given that things are already happening for them, I think it safe to assume that music fans can expect a long, healthy career from The Orwells.

You must check out their music, and you can get a free download of the “Other Voices” EP by signing up on their Email list. If you like that, buy their other material in iTUNES. They have a few tour dates coming up, including some shows in the UK in June. For full details, go HERE.

Out on the patio, things were about to get interesting as things deviated from the rock sounds they had been thus far here at Dada.

Har Mar Superstar was getting ready to play outside, and from the looks of it, frontman Sean Tillmann (better known as Har Mar Superstar) was cold. He had a poncho draped over him, as he and his band mates (consisting of a bassist, guitarist, drummer and backing female vocalist) took the stage.

“What’s up, Dallas! You ready to fucking party or what?!” he shouted. “We’re gonna warm this up, just need you to move around…” he added before they began their first song.

Their sound was not at all what I typically go for, yet I found it hard to pull myself away, even if I had really been wanting to. Even at the end of that number, when he said a variety of things like, “Say, ‘Har Mar is so sexy… I want to have his babies…”

They went right on to another song, and he still hung onto that poncho, making sure he kept wrapped up while pacing around the stage, and once it was done he ditched it for a robe of sorts that had several gold patterns embroidered on it. He mentioned he had recently released a new album, “Bye Bye 17”. “It’s really fucking good. I’m gonna be selling that shit to you for, like, an hour after where done here.” he said, and even though he sounded serious, it didn’t come off as arrogant. Instead, people laughed at it for the (semi) joke it was meant to be.

“Playing in the daytime makes my songs seem so slow.” he remarked after another song. I don’t know about that, but I do get it, because since getting down here I had been thinking, “Seeing Deep Ellum in the daylight just seems wrong.” since I seldom get down there when the sun is still shining.

I believe it was “Prisoner” they did next, but regardless, during the song (whatever it may have been), came one of the best moments of the night, when all of the musicians (with the exception of the drummer, of course), jumped counterclockwise in unison with one another.
imageOne song everyone seem glad to hear was “Power Lunch”, while the best song setup of the went to the next one they had planned. “This song’s called Restless Leg. It’s about my dick.” Har Mar said, catching everyone off guard with that last line, and the only fitting response was to keel over with laughter.

Upon finishing it, he mentioned that this was the lineup he had been most excited for all week, saying it sure beat the “Pampers Hymen Rejuvenation Lounge” down at SXSW.

I stuck around for a couple more songs, then ducked out after “Almond Joy”, during which Har Mar made his was out into the crowd to interact with the fans, singing to them as he sang this funny, steamy song.

Part of me did want to stick around and see more, because they were good. It was as much comedy as it was good music, and really, it was just something you had to see firsthand to really get.

No, Har Mar isn’t your typical singer as far as appearance goes, but he does have the voice, and that all that matters (or at least should), and he has surrounded himself with some talented musicians. Like the female vocalist, who sang one song all on her own, and turned heads as she did so.

It was fun, and while I can’t say for sure if I’d ever see Har Mar Superstar again (in terms of actually dropping money for the show), I wouldn’t be opposed to it.

If you want to see a live show, then there’s a good chance you can, because he has plenty of dates coming up as he tours in support of his new album. Check out the full list of shows HERE. As for his music, simply head over to iTUNES.

Now, keeping with the festival spirit, I was finally ready to start bouncing around a bit, and headed to Three Links just right down the street, where Radkey would soon be taking the stage.

Brothers Dee, Solomon and Isaiah Radke walked on stage rather quietly; but that was about the only time this garage rock trio was calm, as they ripped into their first of many garage-rock style songs, “Out Here in My Head”. The crowd responded immediately to the aggressive music, banging their heads along to the quick beats Solomon was churning out.

“One, two, three, four!” shouted guitarist and lead singer Dee, leading them right up with another sweet track. It was after that one that Isaiah addressed the crowd (he was the voice of the band this evening. When they weren’t playing that is. Actually, he was even when they were at times.) “So, we just got done at South by Southwest.” he said, then pointed to his arm. “I have, like, nine hundred wristbands… They feel like power gauntlets.” he joked, before announcing their next track as their newest single, “Feed My Brain”.

During it, Isaiah fell to the floor of the stage and brutalized his bass; an act that perfectly summed up just what a raw rock band they were. “This next song’s about murdering shit.” was the description they gave of “Cat & Mouse”, which Dee began with a nice riff. They all got a chance to shine on that one, from a drum solo to a guitar solo, while the bass served as the glue that held it all together.

Afterwards, going along the lines of that song, Isaiah pointed out that this was their second to last show before they’d finally get to go home and see their cats. “…I think they miss their daddies.”

“She sent me a red letter; a personal vendetta…” Dee often sang in his unique, fairly deep sounding voice on “Red Letter”. It boasted another guitar solo, and he dropped to his knees for it; his hands racing along the neck of his guitar as he showed just what kind of skills he has.

After that, he had to take some time to tune, though; and Isaiah used that as fodder. “So, he’ll be tuning for the next nine-minutes.” he said, before covering a few different topics, including how much he liked Texas, and how they were from Missouri, pronouncing it like “misery”. “I like that movie. The Stephen King one.” he finished, cracking a pretty good joke that didn’t get the laughs it was deserving of.

By that time, Dee was ready to go, and they knocked out another one, that ended with the two brothers on the floor of the stage as they dominated their respective instruments. “Hey, Dee has something to say.” Isaiah said, pointing to his brother.

That was the slick lead in to their next song, with one of the lines Dee sang being, “I’ve got something to say.”, and once it was done, Solomon brought them right into the final song of their 27-minute long set, “Romance Dawn”. The very up-tempo track closed the show out with a bang, that’s for sure; and I don’t know about everyone else, but it had me wanting to hear more.

Radkey has that primal rock essence that Rock ‘n’ Roll is all about — both in their live show and sound — and that’s not always something you see/hear these days.

Having them on my list of bands to see at Spillover definitely panned out for me, because they were one of the more memorable acts I caught this day; and from start to finish they had me enthralled.

They have a couple of EP’s along with their new single you can and should check out in iTUNES. Also, check out their calendar of shows HERE. They’ll be all over the U.S. in May, and even have some dates in France and the Netherlands in June and July.

Club Dada was now the only place where something was happening, so I headed back over there, where I caught the last bit of the female-trio known as The Coathangers.

I didn’t much care for the Atlanta based band, who sung in almost completely incoherent screams. I personally didn’t find it even remotely good, though the stage show was energetic, and at one point one of the members even jumped in the crowd and surfed around for a moment, before she was returned to the stage.

Still, if you want to check out their music, head over to BANDCAMP

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 – The Pizza Underground Loads Up on Extra Cheese in Dallas

When I arrived at Club Dada this night, there was a line outside, not a long one, but a line nonetheless.

A group of excited friends in front of me where asked for their tickets, replying with they were going to buy them at the door. “It’s sold out.” Answered the woman who was scanning pre-purchased tickets, leaving the group dumbfounded as they left the line, clearly wondering how they should now spend their Wednesday night.

That was the type of buzz The Pizza Underground had created; and thanks to Parade of Flesh, the group was stopping in Dallas on their way to Austin.

Let’s get it straight, though: this show wasn’t sold out because heaps of music fans were wanting to see a potential next big thing in music. Rather, it was because of curiosity, and the fact that everyone was intrigued to see the Velvet Underground type cover band, who instead has made the songs all about pizza, and just so happens to feature Macaulay Culkin as one of the band members.

I missed the majority of the Brooklyn based singer/songwriter Toby Goodshank, who opened up the show on the outdoor patio stage. He finished one song and then mentioned to the crowd that along with an album he had for sale, there was also an “extremely graphic pornographic comic book” he had written at the merch table, which certainly seemed like an odd mix of items to be selling.

It’s hard to gauge any musician/band just by hearing two songs, but he sounded good. It was an odd mix of rock and folk he played, and I wish I had caught more just so I could have gotten a better feel for his music.

He has some records over in iTUNES if you would like to give his stuff a listen.

Things took a different turn after his set, when the only true band on the bill, Moving Units, took the stage.

The trio, which consists of singer and guitarist Blake Miller, bassist, Mike Delgado and a drummer, brought with them a type of indie dance/rock music, and the Los Angeles outfit plowed through their 40-minute set.

Despite having released a new album just last year, they focused on just about everything from their career, and I believe it was “Birds of Prey”, and older song, that they opened with. It reeled the crowd in, in no time, what with its catchy sounds, and it was made even more fun when Mike tossed an inflatable beach ball (which was made to look like an oversized basketball) into the crowd, which was batted around throughout their set.

They seldom did seamless segues, but kept it all pretty tight, giving the audience just a few seconds to applaud before going into their next song, and after tackling another one, they knocked out the striking, “The Kids From Orange County”. Live, these songs (especially the ones in the first half of their set) were more rock sounding than they come across on the albums, which I really liked. It was just heavier in some ways, and the guitar, bass and drums were far more prominent than the sample tracks they were using.

Following that one was another track from “Hexes for Exes”, “Wrong Again”. “You don’t know what you want, you don’t know what you need…” sang Blake, while playing some mesmerizing chords there at the start. Afterwards, he laid guitar down, showing he was a commanding frontman as he sang “Kate Moss in ‘97”, which is a bit of a seductive track from last year’s “Neurotic Exotic”. It was fairly repetitive, and the chorus consisted of repeating the songs title many times over, yet it never got tiresome. At least not to me.

They were more into the true dance portion of the show by now, which was equally as fun, and one of the best tracks they unleashed this night was “The World is Ours”. “Pink Thoughts” kept mood alive, but surprisingly, no one ever really danced along to it or any of their other songs, despite seeming to enjoy them. They powered through a few more, including the moving “Paper Hearts”, which wound up being their closer.

They abruptly stopped after that, removing their guitar and bass, before Blake waved goodbye to everyone and thanked everyone for coming out.

There’s no arguing that Moving Units was the best act on the bill this night. The music was topnotch, and Blakes’ voice is most excellent.

They held my attention for every second (well, when I wasn’t having to look to see where the beach ball(s) so I wouldn’t get hit by one, that is). The performance was fun to watch, too, and pretty professional seeming at that.

They have a few records you can buy/listen to in iTUNES. They also have a few shows lined up around California, so if you live in the area, check out the dates HERE.

By this time, the patio – which can hold about 150 people – was pretty much packed out, yet more people kept finding spaces to fill in, as everyone eagerly awaited The Pizza Underground.

I must say, it was weird seeing the stage completely vacant of any amps, a drum kit or any other instrument, but then again, The Pizza Underground is far from your typical band, so some weirdness should have been expected.

The audience cheered when Austin Kilham, Phoebe Kreutz, Matt Colbourn, Deenah Vollmer and Macaulay Culkin filed on stage, in that order as they took their places. They were all clad in black, partly looking like hipsters and partly like they were trying to impersonate some bands of the 60’s to 70’s era.

Deenah Vollmer was clutching a Serious Pizza box (one that would hold a full pizza, which was enormous), and she held it above her head before opening it. A smaller box (one that could hold one or maybe two slices) fell out and she picked it up, as that was the drum for the evening.

“So, do you kids like pizza?” Culkin asked, getting a loud response from the fans. He then asked if everyone liked songs about pizza, before saying, “Too bad.” He was, of course, joking, and said as much, before they got to their songs.

I’m pretty certain they played every song from their demo during their time on stage, beginning with “Papa John Says”, and dished out a few more, which were done so close together, it felt like some of the songs were all one, instead of separate tracks. Adding to that feeling was the fact that the songs are relatively short, and with the only true instrument being the guitar Matt was playing, it was easy to think that they were different verses, rather than different songs.

I believe some of the other songs were “I’m Beginning to Eat the Slice” and “Cheese Days”, and during their first break of the night, Deenah asked the crowd if they had “…Heard the one about the pizza?” “It’s really cheesy.” Was the punch line, which got some rolling laughter from the crowd.

They followed along the same lines of parody with their next song, before one of them said they were about to get “a little existential”. The song pertaining to that was all about closing the pizza box to keep the heat in, so that way it’ll still be warm when you want a slice later.

The silly jokes continued during the next break, when Deenah said the next song was “about abstinence”. “We’re in God’s country.” she added. It got laughs from people, and I found it pretty funny, though that wasn’t quite what the song was about. Instead, it dealt with the morning after you eat pizza, “when you still have more pizza.” Phoebe said, and talked about it congealing.

They switched things up for their next song, but not before one of them pointed out they had drawn a cat face on the pizza box back stage, and Deenah dubbed it “Pussy Jewel”.

Austin then took a spot behind a little keyboard, while everyone except for Culkin lined up along the fence at the back of the stage. He then welcomed a young woman to the stage (who I’d assume was is his girlfriend) and they did a duet together. She had a pretty good voice I thought; and I say that about them being in a relationship because when the song was over, they got almost too carried away kissing, to the point shouting “Get a room!” would have been an appropriate response.

They had, had their fun and everything this night, but now they made clear that The Pizza Underground wasn’t all about fun and games, and they were going to get serious now. That meant giving a history lesson about Jeno Paulucci – who invented pizza rolls – who started his career by making canned Chinese food. Yes, it was as entertaining as it sounds.

They had something else planned for the crowd now, and Deenah pointed out that since everyone was loving these songs about pizza, then surely the crowd would like to hear “…Nirvana songs sung in the past tense.”

Kurt Cobained came out on stage then (a guy dressed in a wig and armed with an acoustic guitar) to play some songs from Nevermound (the past tense of Nevermind.) Was it ridiculously stupid? Yes. But again, it had almost everyone (myself included) hysterical. In fact, I laughed harder at this little section of the show than I did all night,

“…Here we are then, entertained us. I felt stupid and contagied…” the guy sang, switching up the lyrics of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and numerous other tracks from “Nevermind” as he performed a medley of the record.

After a  few minutes of that, the band returned. “What’s with this little table in the pizzas?” Culkin asked, before asking if anyone wanted the little white piece of plastic that is utterly useless once removed from the pizza box it came in. That made it all the more funny to watch as people fought over it, before one person swiped it from his hand, as if he held a winning lottery ticket worth millions.

They ended with “Take a Bite of the Wild Slice”, but that wasn’t enough for everyone, and the chanting for an encore began as they filed off stage.

A guy who looked like a manager (perhaps he really was their manager, or he just dressed to fit the part) walked on stage. “You know when you have room for a little more, but it’s a big piece, so you cut it down the middle?” he asked, saying some other stuff as he made all sorts of gestures with his hands, as if he were cutting imaginary slices into smaller portions. “Yeah.” he said before walking off, giving the stage back up to The Pizza Underground.

Their final song was about “when pizza hurts you”, and dealt with eating a “sizzling slice”, because you just can’t resist the temptation of delicious looking pizza.

That was it, and all of that happened in about 30-minutes, or barely over. In which case if it was, shouldn’t they have stuck with the pizza delivery guarantee and given the show to everyone for free?

I kid.

There were two different levels to this performance, and I’ll start with the most evident one: the comedy side.

It was pretty much exactly what I expected from listening to their music and watching some Youtube videos, and hopefully you didn’t expect anything other than cheesy jokes and odd takes on The Velvet Undergrounds’ music.

In that regard, I was entertained throughout. Never mind the fact that the five of them looked (i.e. all dressed almost the same) as if they could be the leaders of some weird cult that would worship pizza and eventually end in a mass suicide pact by them and their followers overdosing on large quantities of pizza and clogged arteries from copious amounts of cheese.

On the other end of the spectrum you have the actual musically talent, and there’s no way this is or will ever be anything more than a novelty act. In fact, if Culkin weren’t in the band, I have to wonder if they’d have ever gotten any further than just playing house parties to drunk friends, rather than playing small sold-out venues to drunk people.

I have heard worse voices, but none of them is actually capable of singing well, and the guitar was simply plucked most of the time. So, in that aspect, there’s really no talent present.

I came, I saw and I enjoyed. Like they say, no pizza is bad pizza; however, I don’t think I’ll be going back for seconds from The Pizza Underground.

Still, it was a fun night, and it was good getting to see a small slice of pop culture history.


South Side Ballroom (Dallas, TX)
- Words by Jordan Buford // Photos by James Villa -

Ellie Goulding (Southside Ballroom - Dallas, TX) 3/25/14 ©2014 James Villa, All Rights Reserved

Once fame struck for the Lyonshall, Herefordshire native Ellie Goulding, things started happening quickly. Her debut LP “Lights” achieved international success, and so has her follow-up, while she has…

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 – King Camel’s SW ForePlayFest

After doing my duty with On Tour Monthly (the other publication I work for) and catching the Experience Hendrix show in Grand Prairie, it was time to head to Dallas for the other show I planned on catching this night.

King Camel had put together quite the lineup of bands touring through on their way to SXSW, with six bands in all gracing the stage of the Double Wide, which is far more than the usual three-band bills the venue typically hosts.

It was already after 11:30 when I got there, and sadly, I had missed out on damn near every touring act (including the ones I was most eager to see), bit arrived in time to see the Fort Worth outfit The Longshots, right as they kicked off their 27-minute long set.

They crammed a lot of music into that short time, and early on (the first or second song) they played “Too High for West 7th”. The crowd of a dozen or so supporters got no time to recover as the band dove right into their next song, which ended with most of the quintet jumping around at the end of it.

They had quickly showed what a high-energy band they were, and things only got more intense during their next track, where guitarists Alex Zobel and Parker Donaldson stole the show. Closer towards the end, Alex (purposefully) backed off the stage and fell into the crowd, shredding amongst the fans, while Parker walked up to Brady Hamiltons’ drum kit and jumped onto the bass drum, where he stayed for a couple of seconds.

They kicked out a couple more tracks, including one from their “Kicker” EP, “Rhode Island Red”. “I used to have a heart to invest, and then she stuck her hand in my chest…” sang lead singer Joey Gorman, who was also the bands third guitarist. Most of his band mates aided him on some of the vocals for that fast paced, driven song, which made for a cool sound, especially since they all can sing (and each one did some of that this night).

“All these songs are dedicated to my next beer.” Alex joked during one of their breaks, before they did a few more songs to finish out their show.

I was impressed at how energetic The Longshots were, and this is after they’ve been touring for the last few weeks. So, if the road has taken any type of toll on them, they sure didn’t let it show this night.

There was one moment early on when Joey was left with some time to kill and while bantering with the crowd he seemed like he was almost uncomfortable with it. Perhaps it was just because he had been put on the spot, though, because he filled some time later on in the show with ease.

That’s the closest thing to a complaint I could find this night of this gritty, garage rock style band, who left it all on the stage.

They are still on tour, and are currently out in California. So, if you’re in the area, check out their FACEBOOK PAGE and see where they’re playing. As for their music, you can snag some free downloads on their BANDCAMP site, and get their newly released LP over in iTUNES.

Closing out ForePlayFest was the Nashville based Pujol, who sadly, did not have near the crowd they deserved (that comes with playing a Tuesday night show though, I guess.)

“Sup. How y’all doing?” asked the bands namesake Daniel Pujol, who was the singer and rhythm guitarist for the group. He said it very coolly, as if he were trying to impress everyone who was there. There was humor in it, though; and before getting their show on the road, he mentioned they had played a show with The Longshots in Fort Worth the night before, saying it was 3:30 in the AM when they finished.

I believe it was “DIY2K” that began their show, but regardless of what it was, it had everybody there moving around to the refined rock sounds and the raw voice Daniel had.

With a new album, “Kludge”, due out in May, there were plenty of new songs to be heard this night, one of which was “Manufactured Crisis Control. It didn’t matter that nobody knew it, because you could tell most of the people who were here weren’t really familiar with the Pujol in the first place, so it was all new to them; they were rocking out to it all the same, though.

“Alright, alright, alright.” Daniel said before their next song, sounding like he was trying to do his best McConaughey impression, which aside from the mannerisms, wasn’t much like him. He had already informed everyone the next song was from their second record and was titled “Mayday”. The song had a pretty driven rhythm section; and just when you thought Pujol was going to be a band that was all about the music, Daniel revealed their (or rather his) funny side.

Pretty much every song from here on out got explanations, beginning with “Postgrad”, which he said was about moving to New York and not knowing where you want to work. He said something else, which I didn’t catch, and I feel it would have made the next part funnier, when he said something like, “And how that’s the exact opposite of what you see on Facebook.”

Things took a bit of a darker turn when he noted their next track was about “bleeding out and dying all the time”, speaking of “Reverse Vampire”. “…I want to release the heat that’s building in my chest and blast it like a laser beam…” Daniel sang in his unique voice that has a gravely sound to it, and at times sounded a bit sludgy.

The explanations kept flying, and “Psychic Pain” was said to be about when you have a “bunch of crazy feelings, but you don’t got no words for it.” said Daniel, adding a “Yeah.” or something like that afterwards, expecting everyone to know what he meant. I think they did, too.

As good as these setups were, the best had to go to their new single. Daniel hesitated for but a second, then said it was about “the limitations of physical language.” At least if I’m remembering correctly that’s what he said. He readily admitted he didn’t know what he was talking about, though. “I’m still working the spiel out for this one.” he confessed. The tune was “Pitch Black”, and personally, I found that new one to be one of their best songs of the night, and it has me looking forward to their new release.

Struggling with something to say in regards to the next song, a (new?) fan shouted, “It’s about whatever you want it to be.” Daniel ran with that, then came up with his own thing. “It’s about stuffing things.” he stated. It didn’t take them long to do “Tiny Gods (Singularity)” (which is less than two-minutes long), though it was a great song in terms of the live performance, and the lead guitarist slayed during that one.

“No Words” received a setup you would expect with a song by that name, and Daniel plainly said that, like most of their songs, it was about “problems with language and communication”. The drummer let loose some powerful beats at the end of that one, proving what a great drummer she was, and soon after they did a track from their “2010” EP, “Point of View”.

At this point, their 30-minute set was coming to a close, and Daniel said they had just a couple left. As soon as he said that the guitarist held up four fingers, and then the bassist added, “It’s a loosely defined couple. They’re romantically linked.” he quipped.

It wound up only being a true couple, and the first was about “narcissists breaking up with themselves”, and then they ended with what I believe was “Black Rabbit”, which ended a show that was chocked full of rock.

The other band impressed me, as did Pujol, who was the best in my opinion. Their sound was a little more interesting, and I’d even say fresh, at least in some ways.

Musicianship was great, too. You could tell they have some touring under their belt, because they all clicked so cohesively and rolled with it all; never having to ask what was next. In fact, they really didn’t communicate with each other at all while they were on stage, which gave it all a professional feel; and despite the crowd lacking numbers, they gave it their all and owned the stage this night.

They have plenty of albums you can check out in iTUNES, with the new one coming on May 20th. Keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE, because as that release date draws closer, they’ll surely head out on a tour in support of it.

I hate I missed so much of SW ForePlayFest, but King Camel had lined up some amazing bands from start to finish, and at least I got in on a bit of that sweet action.


Trees (Dallas, TX)
- Words by Jordan Buford // Photos by James Villa -


At only nine-o’clock Trees was already packed with a sold-out crowd who were on anxiously awaiting Crosses. They still had some time to wait, though, as Birds of Tokyo was serving as the main support band.


Album Review: “Full Moon” by SPCCMP

imageIt’s hard to believe, but it’s already been a little over a year and a half since the debut EP from SPCCMP (pronounced Space Camp) dropped, and ever since its release, the trip-rock outfit has been hard at work on their follow-up EP, making sure they wrote the best material they possibly could.

The result is the “Surrender to the Night” EP, and even though demo versions of the tracks have existed and been used in music videos made around a year ago, the professional recording quality the tracks now have makes them feel fresh and new.

Tomahawk Jonez (whose real name is Jeremy Rodriguez) has been an excellent hip-hop artist here in the Dallas music scene for some time now, and his skills are on full display on the albums first track, “Dancing with the Devil”. It’s a fun blend of electronic and pop flares that you can groove to, with Tomahawk spitting out the positive words of the track about chasing your dreams and standing tall even when things get tough, never losing sight of what you want.

The album takes a more serious turn with the next songs, including the title track “Surrender to the Night”, which focuses more on the turmoil the world is currently in. “Bombs are bursting in the air, bullets flying everywhere. Children watching children die; missiles lighting up the sky…” Paco Estrada (the groups other vocalist and acoustic guitarist) croons at the start, a nice gravely effect thrown over his voice on those first few lines, which seem to give it more weight. The two completely different styles of singing mesh and even complement one another on what is easily the most moving song this EP offers, and it really does have the ability to change minds (and even the world) if you take its message to heart.

“If This is Goodbye” is my personal favorite track, and it takes more of a rock approach, with some forceful drumming rounded out by some nice bass riffs, while the guitars create a mesmerizing music bed. Paco and Tomahawk again trade off on this song, handling the chorus and verses, respectively. As a person who gravitates most towards lyrics, I must confess I absolutely love the chorus, which is teeming with emotion, in the way that only Paco Estrada can muster. “How we ever gonna save the world, if we’re too afraid to try and change it?  …How you ever gonna say my name, without the memory of you throwing it all away? How you gonna fall asleep at night…” he sings, more matter-of-factly rather than somberly. It’s powerful, and in a completely different manner than the previous track, this time dealing with not being too quick to give up on a love.

When the music video was first released for “The Lover”, it got some flak, with some people saying they were tired of the suicidal sounding songs (one track from their first EP could be viewed in that sense, depending on how you perceive it.) With a line like, “…And the barrel’s to his head, like the trigger to his finger…”, it’s easy to see why people would view it that way (Paco even slightly busts a rhyme on that chorus, almost giving Tomahawk a run for his money), but it’s depth goes beyond that. It’s more about overcoming any demons you’re facing and fully realizing your self-worth, and that you’re perfect as who you are. Yes, they broach the subject in a darker manner, but the overall message shines through said darkness.

Speaking of that, that’s the big difference between their first EP and this one: it’s darker. There were a couple of tracks sort of like that on their first EP, but not to the extent as those found on “Surrender to the Night”, and that’s a good thing.

It depicts growth, and shows that the band isn’t afraid to tackle real life issues, all while putting an uplifting spin on them.

They’re incredibly original, too. Trip-hop may not be new, but they put such an interesting spin on it all, incorporating several different genres, all of which somehow fit with one another. Then you have the fact that Paco does some singing, and in an interview I did with Tomahawk sometime back, he noted that aside from being able to work with a musician he greatly respected, that also gave SPCCMP the chance to use live vocals on what might otherwise be just sample tracks.

It makes all the difference, because Paco is a master at making music emotional, and despite the difference in his and Jeremy’s styles of singing, they work amazingly well together.

You often hear bands that have a great sound, but it’s rare these days for any act to be original; however, SPCCMP really is. It’s fresh and exciting music that was written with the intent to change lives. That fact is evident on the “Surrender to the Night” EP, an EP that has the potential to let SPCCMP break out of the local music scene here and make the world their stage.

Tomahawk Jonez – vocals
Paco Estrada – vocals & acoustic guitar
Mike Dove – electric guitar
A.J. “Irish” Blackleaf – drums
Joel Bailey - bass
Emsy Robinson - guitar

Purchase the album on: iTUNES

Visit SPCCMP’s websites: Official Website / Facebook / Reverbnation / Twitter / Youtube




Trees (Dallas, TX)
-Words by Jordan Buford // Photos by James Villa -

Crosses  (Trees - Dallas, TX) 3/19/14©2014 James Villa, All Rights Reserved

I have never seen Deftones. To be perfectly honest (and please, don’t hate me for this), their music is just too heavy for my tastes. So, obviously, I have never seen the great Chino Moreno perform; but when the…

Friday, March 7th, 2014 – A Stellar Night of Local Rock at Trees

Most days now, Trees plays host to a slew of bigger name national touring acts who happen to be passing through Dallas. However, this night, it was all about the locals.

Nothing More was the main attraction, and after two months of downtime (and eight months since their last Dallas show), the San Antonio based outfit was making their return, while a lot of great area talent had been tapped to open.

In Memory of Man was charged with getting the show going, and hit the stage right at nine.

Guitarists Chad Beck and Johnny McConlogue, bassist Marcus Gonzales, drummer Javier Garza and keyboardist Matt Langley jammed on their instruments briefly, before Alex Lilly strode on stage as they wound things in to “Wanted”. The force behind that song is something else, and it beckoned those who had gathered around the stage towards the front for the impressive show that was just getting started.

Alex used Johnnys’ mic for one of the final lines of the track, just because, before Javier knocked out some drum beats to lead them into another action packed tune, “Headshot”. “We are In Memory of Man.” Alex informed the decent sized crowd, before continuing to try to hustle through what ended up being a 36-minute long set.

Those classics from their first EP were peppered in, but now they got back to their newly released full-length with “Something in the Taste”. “…And I wish I could go…” sang Alex, almost whispering at times, before the song roared back to life. “HOME!” he bellowed, throwing a fist in the air, before convulsing towards the end, during which he tripped over the drum kit, losing his balance for just a second, though he never fell.

With the headliners drums already occupying the drum riser, they had to set their kit up on the stage, which didn’t give them much room, but they made it work with ease.

“It’s good to be back at Trees.” remarked Alex, while his band mates started the subsequent track from their self-titled record, “New Eyes”. The song has a nice ebb and flow to it, exploring the bands softer side on the verses, and surging to life on the choruses.

Following it was a somewhat similar song from their first EP. “This song’s about a dream that changed my fucking life.” raid Alex, right before pouring some of his Miller Lite on his head. Chad and Johnny were creating some subtle guitar notes, before Javier began banging about on his kit, starting the amazing “Paper Planes”. “Where will we go when…” sang Alex on the chorus midway through the tune, being accompanied by Marcus, their two voices mixing brilliantly while the band dropped out for this fleeting a capella moment. They kicked it back in quick, though; and as it came to an end, Chad raised his guitar in the air, holding it as high as he could while still being able to strum it.

The flow of those last two songs were pretty good, going from a semi-slow song to one that begins that way, and now that they were back into full on rock mode, they kept the pace up with the darker track, “The Spider”. Alex got pretty into the aggressive drum beats at the end, banging his head to them, while Chad and Johnny knocked out the final chords, before making the seamless switch into “My Sweet”. “I found this down the rabbit hole…” Alex sang on the second chorus, his pristine voice completely taking the spotlight for a moment, as the instruments fell silent, but only for that one line.

Javier then got a little drum solo at the tail end, during which time Alex wrapped the microphone cord around his neck a few times in preparation of their final song. Matt’s skills on the keys were highlighted on “Picture Box”, especially at the start of what is probably the most epic song currently at the bands disposal, and it makes for one helluva way to end a show.

It’s too bad every concert can’t get off to this good a start, and it goes to show how much other talent was on this bill, when a band like In Memory of Man (who can and does headline) was giving the opening slot.

They owned it, though, being both precise and calculated, while giving themselves up completely to the Rock ‘n’ Roll spirits who coursed through their veins.

Next up on their calendar is a couple of album release shows. Sure, their new record has been available for a bit, but these shows will be for the release of a limited run of vinyl copies. One is March 22nd at Lola’s Saloon in Fort Worth, while their Dallas dates is slated for April 5th at Double Wide. They’ll also be back in Fort Worth on April 26th, this time at The Grotto.

If you want to sample In Memory of Man’s music, check out their REVEBRNATION PAGE and download their first EP for free. If you like, go buy their new album in iTUNES, or for you vinyl collectors, pick up a copy at one of the shows mentioned above.

Werewolf Therewolf was the second band up, and I ended up missing them completely, due to being out on the patio chatting with different people. In fact, I even missed the first little bit of The Raven Charter’s set, ‘cause time simply got away from me.

I think it safe to assume they began with the instrumental “Survival Kit”, as is their typical fashion, and has been for some time, now. When I walked in they were deep into a new song that hasn’t been played too much live. I wish I had caught more of it, but maybe next time. I enjoyed what I heard, though, and it served as more proof that the new stuff they’ll soon be laying down is their best yet.

They never took much time in between songs, and soon started the title track from their current EP, “Kidnapping”. I really enjoy the way they’ve been doing the past few times I’ve seen them, with lead vocalist Garrett Bond backing up singer and guitarist Daniel Baskind for the first line or two of each verse, before giving it all up to Daniel. The chorus of “Be quiet and don’t move, and we promise not to harm you…” belongs all to Garrett, though.

They followed it up with another semi-new one, the sample track for “No Direction” starting first, before Daniel and fellow guitarist Brandon Bond, along with drummer, Brian Christie, bassist Anthony Sosa and keyboardist Erik Stolpe laid their instruments over it. Brandon and Daniel (especially Brandon) rocked out on the instrumental break halfway through the song, slamming their guitars in a downward motion and quite aggressively, all in synch with Brians’ drumming.

Next came another new one, and I’m pretty certain I’m repeating myself when I say this is my new favorite song from The Raven Charter. “This won’t last forever; we’re on borrowed time. If this is our last night ever, I’m gonna make you mine.” Garrett shouts on the chorus; the music bed and his faster paced singing giving it a cool urgent vibe. Anthony killed it during that one, proving that as far as bassists go, he’s one of the top ones, and afterwards Garrett joked a bit with the massive crowd. “That song’s called Borrowed Time…” he said, adding, “…’Cause we only say that like eight fucking times.” He was enjoying basking in all the love they were already getting, and waited just a second for his band mates to get ready for the next song. “Oh, shit!” he suddenly exclaimed, before hurrying to get an acoustic guitar.

The sinful “Freela Deela” was one of their songs that had some co-singing going on, with some exceptional two to three-part harmonies even thrown in at times, and afterward, Garrett thanked Trees for having them out. “Bullshit, you like it more than that!” he retorted after not getting a loud enough reaction.

Those last two songs have at least been released as singles, but now they got back to some of the brand new material, doing one of their slick sounding songs that sees Erik playing a slow, lovely part on the keyboard midway through, giving the impression the song is over, before it kicks back in hard. Garrett even busted out his harmonica for a short stint on the track, and during a break, Erik picked up an acoustic guitar in preparation of the next song.

“Let me find this on the pad…” Garrett said while searching through his vocal effects pad. He noted this next song was one they hadn’t done in awhile, and that could mean only one thing, and I was excited by it. It had been some time since I last heard “Unfolding”, and Garrett wasn’t quite ready when they started it, missing singing the first word, but that was it. “I’m on my way to my destiny…” he crooned, while Erik stepped up to the forefront of the stage, plucking the strings of the acoustic.

There set had passed by too quickly (or maybe I’m just used to seeing them play a little longer), because now, they were on their final song, which was none other than “Denton, TX”. Anthony viciously stomped his feet on the stage during the brief break before Garrett belted out, “
Now I’ve gone and done it, so point the finger at me…”, as Erik lifted his keyboard of the stand and held it up in the air for all to see.

In some ways, this was the best show I’ve seen them do recently (and by that I mean out of the two other TRC shows I’ve seen this year). Part of that was probably because this was fairly high profile show. Not only were they playing Trees, they were also opening for their good friends in Nothing More, and you could tell they stepped it up from the A game that usually bring in the first place.

The show this night just had a more polished feel to it then even those others in question, and by the time they were done, they had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand.

They’re just more of a unique rock band, from the blend of harmonies found on some songs, to just the interesting twist on rock music, and their new record is going to turn some heads. I’m not saying it’ll be on a national scale (though that would be great), but I sense it will.

With recording starting next month, they’ll be laying low on the shows for awhile, and March 29th at Rubber Gloves in Denton will be their next show (they also have a June 6th date booked there). As of right now, they also only have one show in the month of April and one in the month of May, and both will be at Tomcats West in Fort Worth (April 18th and May 4th). They also have a Dallas gig slated for June 28th at The Boiler Room.

Head over to their REVERBNATION PAGE to download their two newest singles for free, and if you like that, then check out their two EP’s in iTUNES. They should whet your appetite for their debut full-length that will be dropping later this year.

Now it was time for the band everyone was waiting for, Nothing More (and if you want my review of their show, it was an exclusive for On Tour Monthly, and can be found HERE.)

Saturday, March 1st, 2014 – Songwriters in the Round

The Liquid Lounge was hosting an all acoustic lineup, which seems to be something that seldom happens there, despite the very intimate setting it has.

Paco Estrada had put together the whole show, which was built around a Songwriters in the Round performance he had put together. Ryan Holley, Jeff Crowder (from Deep Ella), Nava (from The Last Place You Look) and Paco were all part of the round, and they had done a show in Austin and Houston leading up to this Saturday night.

The Songwriters in the Round portion of the night was sandwiched in between to great bands who were doing rare acoustic shows to match the vibe for the night, the first of whom was Distant Lights.

Believe it or not, I was actually being somewhat of a social butterfly and was out on the patio area and lost track of time, so unfortunately I missed this amazing Austin band.

I’m more than a little disappointed by that, because I was very interested to see what they were like acoustically, since they are usually a powerhouse of a rock band. Alas, it didn’t happen this night, but maybe I’ll have another chance. They are working on a acoustic EP which should be out soon, so maybe some more acoustic shows will follow in the wake of its release.

Speaking of shows, they have one in Covington, LA at the Columbia St. Rock ‘N’ Blues on March 21st, and they’ll also make a two-night stand in Tyler on April 4th and 5th. The first of those dates will be at Click’s, while the other is at Cork Food and Drink.

Be sure to give their music a listen, too. They have a couple of albums up in iTUNES, and you can even snag their newest one for free HERE.

When I did make it in to the Liquid Lounge, those four singers/songwriters were getting ready for the show, lining up some stools on the stage. Ryan Holley took fair stage right, with Jeff Crowder and Nava after him, while Paco was on far stage left.

It quickly became clear that this was going to be an interesting night, when Jeff whispered into his microphone. “This is something I have trouble saying, and I usually can’t unless it’s completely dark, but, I love you.” he said while gazing out at the fans who had come to support.

“Do you want to start this one off?” Paco asked Ryan, who acted like a heavy burden had just been placed on him. Yeah, you could already tell they were going to be cutting up as much as they were going to be playing music.

I have to say, this was the first time I’ve ever seen Ryan Holley act as a frontman. He used to be a guitarist and backing vocalist in a Austin band called Eyes Burn Electric, and there was a time or two he filled in as one of Paco’s band members in recent years, but he has always been a guitarist the times I’ve seen him. That said, he has an even more incredible voice than I knew, and he knocked it out of the park with the first song he did.

“That was okay.” Paco remarked, pretending to be not all that impressed. He then addressed the crowd, “Is everybody awake? Do you need to stretch?” he asked, joking with his friends. “…Paco secretly hates us and likes to talk shit to is.” said Nava, joking that, that was the actual reason Paco put this whole little tour together with them.

Jeff then took his turn. I remember hearing of Deep Ella years ago (shortly after I joined Myspace), but I never saw the Houston based band, who is still kicking to this day. So, I really didn’t know to expect from him at all. His first song was great, though. It almost sounded like it could have been a cover, but I’m not sure if it was or not. He had a really good voice though, and being that he was the only musician I was completely unfamiliar with on this lineup, he made it known why he deserved to be  part of it and why Paco asked him to join them on this run.

Making it better was the fact that the other three musicians were assisting the one who was singing by either adding some other guitar lines to the mix or some backing vocals, which made for some good touches to each song.

Now it was Nava’s turn, and I was most interested to see (or rather hear) how he sounded. The band he fronts is a loud rock band, and a solid one at that; who has done some touring with more than a few big name acts. Yet here Nava sit, with an acoustic guitar in his hands, verses being the aggressive frontman he typically is. Even more surprising was the song he did, which was slow and soft, and gave his deep, booming bass voice and interesting sound (seriously, this guy has one of THE most unique voices I’ve ever heard).

Paco commented on the tender sound the song had, asking Nava where his angry sound went, as well as a few other questions. Nava replied to one of those with, “It made my head sweaty.” (he’s bald).

Now, it was Paco’s turn. He opted to do “the old standby” first, which prompted a series of jokes about how he was going to “blow his load” in the first few minutes. All four musicians bantered back and forth about this, while Ryan made a joke. “Paco gives good blow jobs.” That’s it, that’s my joke he said.

“Did I gain some respect? Did I lose some respect from that?” Paco asked. “I think this one would go down in the negative category.” Ryan told him, making a thumbs down gesture as he said it. Ryan then added something to the effect that if any of Paco’s exes were here they could attest just how quickly he does “blow his load”.

Paco then started his song. “I kept a photograph, of you and me together…” he sang, the first line of “Whiskey Kisses”. That’s one of my favorites he has written in recent years, and it’s such a beautiful song, and that beauty was only accentuated with the help of these fellow singers. “Your sweet whiskey kisses, that’s what I’ve been missing; when you lose you inhibitions.” They all sang at one point.

That completed the first round, and there were still two more to go.

Ryan was openly discussing what song he should do next, saying he could do some of his songs from the 90’s, but no one would know them. He then said there were some other songs he couldn’t do because some of the lines were “about Paco”.

He chose his song and did it, during which Jeff added some very light percussion by tapping a cymbal of the drum kit that was sit up behind him. He even leaned over and played Nava, striking his head, before going back to the cymbal.

“…It can get weird back there.” Paco said to everyone, speaking to the people who were all clustered together around the door. “You can come closer.” he urged, and some people did get a little closer to the stage.

Jeff than knocked out another song, after which they decided to all do some shots. “Crowd participation: everyone go buy us shots!” he shouted, while Ryan got up and ran over to the bar. Jeff then told anyone who was maybe wanting something to just go over to the bar and say “Ryan Holley” to get a free drink. “That’s the one good thing with being Ryan Holley.” Ryan quipped, “Several people know what I look like, including Whit.” he said, speaking about the owner/bartender of The Curtain Club.

Nava then was trying to decide what he should do next. “Hello, is it me you’re looking for?” he sang, but made it no further than that.

“Everybody has a best friend, and if you don’t you should leave, because you’re weird.” He said to everyone, using that to start setting up his next number. He talked about industry people, who can be great friends and are there for you, “but their own life is shit” said Nava. That was more or less what this one was about, and he noted his friend finally got things figured out.

It was a good song, and was more along the lines of the slower stuff that The Last Place You Look does.

Paco took a friendly little jab at the city of Houston, before doing one of his newer songs. “Ain’t nobody ever gonna come an call me, baby. Not like you do…” goes the chorus of the song that is exactly the type of love song you’ve come to expect from this talented musician.

Afterwards, talk then turned back to Houston, when they all joked about how “incredible” it was and the “tons” of people who made it out. “The sound wasn’t bad at all.” Nava said, shaking his head no when he said it. He then took a little shot at Dallas, while Jeff playful tried to get him to stop, reminding him where they were. “I wasn’t going to trash the cities.” Paco said to Nava, who responded with, “It’s not trashing when it’s fact.”

“Facts according to Nava.” laughed Paco. Ryan then pondered what to do for his final song, eventually deciding he would cover one of Paco’s songs this time. “…He’s about to go full-frontal Paco.” Paco joked.

The song he chose to cover was a personal favorite of mine from “The Definite and Indefinite…” album. “The sun exposes way too much, so the shutters spend their days all shut. It would be easier to raise the dead, then to get yourself out of that bed. There’s cracks in everything you see; like a puzzle with a missing piece…” sang Ryan as he got “Ghosts” underway. The rest of the singers joined in on part of the chorus, especially Paco, as they all sang, “…You don’t have to be alone. I will lie down with you in the middle of the road. I will take these arms and hold you close, and we’ll wait until the headlights come to turn us into ghosts.”

It was fantastic hearing that song, and Ryan killed it. And while the lyrics may sound a bit morbid at times, it’s actually more of a song about making a person realize that there is someone who cares about them, regardless of whatever deep, dark place they may be in, in their personal life.

Jeff and then Nava played their final songs, and the 70-minute or so set was going to end with the hometown hero.

Before the show started, I wound up making a request (I can’t say I’ve ever done to any band before). “Can you play Surface?” I asked Paco. “Can you play Surface?” he said in a whiny voice, similar to that of a small child (he was kidding with me, obviously). “That’s all you people care about. You don’t care about the new music I write, it’s just, “Oh, can you play those SouthFM songs?”

“Will that be all, your highness?” he asked as I walked away. “Yeah, that’ll do.” I said.

Now, with this being the final song of the night, I was curious if he would do it or not (I think the last time I heard that song live was probably when Paco Estrada & One Love did their reunion show in December 2011.)

He played a lengthy piece on his guitar, and then it happened; he switched over to those gorgeous and intoxicating notes that are basic chord structure for “Surface”. “We’ve established this is where we stand. We said after this we’ll just be friends. But my heart don’t really my head. No, my heart don’t really know my head…”

That song, that song is one of the best things that has ever been written. Period. The first time I ever set foot inside the Curtain Club was to see a SouthFM show, nearly eight years ago. I was just getting into the local music scene at the time, and didn’t even the “Swallowing the Pill” album that, that song is on. However, all these years later, that’s the one song I fully remember from that night. For whatever reason it connected with me then, and the only thing that has changed since is my love for it has grown.

“And these are not the words that I would like to be saying to you… And I hope that in the morning you will feel the same way that I do…” sang those longtime fans who had come out to see Paco this night, no doubt reliving old memories while he and his fellow musicians played the song.

That made my night, and for me, there couldn’t have possible been a better way to end the show.

“I win.” stated Paco after it was all said and done, because he got what was by far the biggest round of applause for that closer. The other guys then mentioned they’d be selling some merch if anyone wanted anything, because, as Nava pointed out, there was no way Paco would split the door money with them.

Wow. This was great. Even better than what I had expected.

I was also glad to hear Paco say at the end that this was something he wants to start doing more often: getting musicians from all over Texas and doing these songwriters in the round so people all around the state can see what kind of talent is out there.

For Paco, check out his BANDCAMP PAGE for his solo music. And since I mentioned SouthFM in this one, if for some reason you don’t already have their stuff, you can get their entire discography for free at BANDCAMP. (They’ll always be a Dallas icon, and even if they’re no more, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check them out.)

The Last Place You Look is a band you need to know if you don’t already, and Nava rocks out with them. Their music can be found in iTUNES.

Like I said, I’ve never actually listened to Deep Ella, but I’m going to have to check out their MUSIC.

As for Ryan Holley, I can’t find a page for him, nor do I believe he has any solo records or anything out, but if you ever see this Austin musician is playing near you, go see him. You won’t regret it.

That was probably the best part of the night, but it wasn’t over quite yet, and there was still something special in store for everyone at the Liquid Lounge.

SpaceCamp (abbreviated as SPCCMP) was doing their first show in over two months, and it was also the first ever full band acoustic performance they had done.

Paco Estrada was pulling double-duty, since he is one of the members of the band, and while he always plays an acoustic guitar with this outfit, it was a bit strange seeing Mike Dove also wielding an acoustic. Irish had a partially drum kit sit up, and most surprising was the microphone he had in front of him, while, of course, Jeremy Rodriguez was at center stage. He was sitting on a stool though, and I wondered just how long that would last.

They began with one of the songs from their forthcoming EP, and “The Lover” sounded pretty different done acoustically. It was one of their songs that perfectly integrates Paco’s singing with Jeremy’s hip-hop style of delivery, and this toned down version gave the words more weight. “…And the barrel’s to his head like the trigger to his finger and the memories of the only girl he’d ever love are all that linger.” Paco sang on the chorus, with Jeremy often mixing his lyrics in close to it. Based on that line, you might think it’s a depressing song, but it’s not meant to be. Instead, it’s about rising above whatever adversity your faced with, no matter how difficult the situation may seem.

Jeremy took a moment to thank Distant Lights and all the songwriters for being on this bill; mentioning that he had been with them on this little tour and what a privilege it had been to be in the crowd all three nights watching them. He also noted that, that was the live debut of “The Lover”, which was a bit of a big deal, seeing as they made a lyric video for it about a year ago. Apparently, they were just waiting for their second EP to be finished and close to a release date. Speaking of that, Jeremy also mentioned a little later in the show that they were going to give everyone a “preview” of what that EP is going to sound like.

Before they got to any more new material though, they pulled out “The Dancer” from their first EP. “…Place your hands on me;
cover up this catastrophe. That kind of action has me asking ‘why must they land on me?” Jeremy spit out, showing off what skills he has as hip-hop singer by delivering how those lines at a rapid pace. Then you had the chorus, “…You will touch me deep inside. You’re my tiny dancer, tiny dancer.” Paco sang, which sounded like it was meant to performed in this low-key setting.

While he sang the first chorus, Jeremy stood up and moved his stool over beside the drum kit. See, I knew that wasn’t going to last long. “Do I look lazy?” Paco asked him once they finished the song, pretending as if he suddenly felt self-conscious now that he was the only one in a stool. Jeremy assured him that there was a one stool limit on the stage, and that he [Paco} was good now that he [Jeremy] wasn’t exceeding it. Next came my personal favorite track from their upcoming EP, “If This is Goodbye”. It was nothing short of brilliant in this acoustic format. Like all their songs, the words should be taken to heart. From one of the lines Jeremy sings, “…Are we given in to giving up before we give enough?”, to the powerful chorus that Paco handles. “How we gonna save the world, if we’re too afraid to try an change it? …How you ever gonna say my name, without the memory of throwing it all away? How you gonna fall asleep at night, if this is goodbye?”

Man, that one’s a heavy hitter. Afterwards, Jeremy mentioned that this was the fourth straight night Paco had done a show, a feat he brushed off. “It’s all in the wrist. You’ve just got to follow through.” said Paco, acting like it was no different than a game of basketball.

They had dealt with love and relatable situations thus far, but next they pulled out one of the most inspirational tracks they have, “Reach for the Sun”. It talks about chasing your dreams and feeling like you’re never going to get anywhere after you’ve poured years of your life into pursuing your dreams, but in the end, you can’t ever give up on it. “…Dreams come true for those
that never lose faith or hold back…” says Jeremy at one point.

That’s one reason why I love SpaceCamp; because their music is so positive over all, and everything just carries a message.

During the next break, Jeremy pointed out the mic that Irish had, saying there had only been one show that Irish sang at, and that was because Paco was unable to make it. “…I’m glad we’ve got a mic in front of him tonight…” Jeremy said. Indeed, it was a great things, because already Irish had been adding some amazing backing vocals to parts of different songs; and as they moved on, Jeremy mentioned the next one was his favorite of their upcoming EP.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but again, “Surrender to the Night” was a track that fit perfectly in this environment. Without all the electronic effects that are on the recording, you were really able to focus on content, which focuses heavily on state the world is in, in regards to the widespread violence.

“Gorgeous!” exclaimed Jeremy. “This guy, right here.” he said, pointing to Paco, who had knocked that one clean out of the park. “I put my pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else.” Paco responded, very humbly. Attention then turned to their next song, which Jeremy said he never would have written if it weren’t for Ryan Holley, though they were unable to find him before they started it.

They didn’t waste any more time, and Mike began another track from “The Daydreamers Guide to: Wasting Time”, “White Horses”. They added several extra touches to it, from both Paco and Jeremy repeating, “What you chase, what you chase, what you chasing?”, to Paco singing the words “Just breathe.” A few times, before Jeremy ceded things over to Mike. “Take it away, Mikey.” he said, as Mike did a little solo.

They had some fun after that, and Mike wound up looking like he was shushing Paco. “…I have an ego problem.” Paco quipped, before asking Gene (the sound guy) to turn down everyone else in his monitor. “…I just want to hear me.” he told him, prompting a laugh from everyone who was there.

The best moment of “Dancing with the Devil” came at the final chorus, where Paco flat out killed it. I always mention how he is my favorite singer (and songwriter), and the way he belted out that last part proved why he is. It was all in the emotion and energy he put into it and it was superb.

They had one song left at this point, and Jeremy mentioned it was another they had never played live before. It wasn’t a new song, though. It came from their first EP (which was released in the summer of 2012), and Irish interrupted him and said he never got a copy of that one. “Go buy one.” Jeremy told him, adding he’d cut him a two for one deal.

“Can we be serious for a minute?! We’re trying to play a song!” Paco asked them. The song never became obvious until Mike finally joined in, and it was one that every Texas music fan knows. “And she runs, through her days; with a smile on her face…” Paco eventually sang, as they finally broke out their cover of The Toadies “Tyler”. They put such a unique and interesting spin on the track, and the verse that Jeremy wrote and adds fits so fluidly with what the song’s about. “…I’ll creep inside, can’t be denied; we’ll be together finally. She pulls the covers tighter; I press against the door. The heart of my desire never wanting nothing more.” goes the tail end of what he wrote, before Paco takes back the reins. When he wasn’t singing on that one, Jeremy was also adding a little extra percussion, lightly tapping one of the cymbals while he sit on the stool he had moved earlier.

I was content with that being their final song, though I was surprised their staple was going to be absent this time around. I assumed it was just because it would sound so different from how it should they decided not to, though.

“That was supposed to be it, but I want to play one more!” Jeremy said as he retook the main mic, a smile stretched across his face. He threw the blame at Paco, saying he was the one who didn’t want to do this song, and told everyone they needed to convince him to play it.

It didn’t take much convincing, and Jeremy went to dedicate this one to his dad, who happened to be in attendance. He was nowhere to be found, though. He had made a trip to the bathroom, and he was in no rush. “I saw him walk in there with a newspaper.” Paco laughed. They eventually started singing happy birthday to him, even though he was still preoccupied.

On that note, I’ve long thought Paco can make anything sound like the most amazing song ever, and he proved that as fact (at least in my eyes) by doing an astounding version of Happy Birthday. So simple, yet there was so much depth to it. I know that sounds crazy to say, but if you’ve ever seen Paco, then you know what I’m talking about.

“If it weren’t for that man, Jeremy wouldn’t be here. And then I would be here, either.” Paco stated, right about the time Jeremy’s dad finally rounded the corner and was greeted with cheers from everyone.

I didn’t think they could (or would) go a show without playing “Before you Die”, and out of all their songs, it’s the lyrics to this one that you most need to pay attention to. The title says it all, and one of the messages is about not having any regrets when your time is up. “what will flash before your eyes before you die? … The person that you loved forever but you never told them? The one you lie to everyday and hope they’ll never notice? Will it be the last one that you kissed upon the lips? Or the last opportunity you missed doing this?” says Jeremy, before takes over for the hauntingly beautiful chorus. My weakness is cover songs (since I predominately listen to local groups), but Paco added a line from a cover on this one, and I believe it was “Blue and Yellow” by The Used, which worked well with their original.

That ended their 51-minute long set, and it was a grand one.

I knew it would be good, though I had been curious how an acoustic show from SpaceCamp would go. In fairness, I should go ahead and mention that the band classifies themselves as trip-rock (a very fitting category), and they sounded even better than I thought they were going to.

Irish was much less aggressive, but the force was still there in his drumming, and even without the electronic/sample tracks thrown in, Mike and Paco were able to use their acoustics to emulate the core sound of every song, so you knew exactly what it was.

This was also the first time in a long time that I had seen SpaceCamp, and even though they had toned things down, they still had a great stage presence. Perhaps even stronger than it has been the past times I’ve seen them.

They are definitely different from just about every other band out there, and all the talent that is in this band alone is crazy. I mean, Paco has been in the scene since the very early 2000’s, and both Jeremy and Mike have been active players for quite some time, too.

If you haven’t heard them yet, check out their music on either iTUNES or BANDCAMP. They have their first EP plus a couple songs released as singles from their upcoming one (due out on 3/31). That weekend they’ll also be doing a big CD release party for it. Three Links will be the host venue, and they’ve got the prime Saturday night slot on April 5th. If you only catch one show that night, that will be the one you want to be at.

There may have been bigger shows going on in Dallas this night, but I promise you, the most talented individuals were all on stage here at the Liquid Lounge.


Verizon Theater (Grand Prairie, TX)
- Words by Jordan Buford // Photos by James Villa -

Experience Hendrix (Verizon Theater - Grand Prairie, TX) 3/11/14 ©2014 James Villa, All Rights Reserved www.ontourmonthly.com

There’s one thing every music lover can agree on, and is that Jimi Hendrix was a guitar god, and most likely the best that ever has or ever will live.

It would have been great if he were still…

Friday, February 28th, 2014 – The Band of Heathens Blow Minds at The Kessler

Two straight weekends at The Kessler Theater seeing two of Texas’s finest Americana acts. I could think of worse things.

The Band of Heathens were returning to Dallas this night, just two months after their last Dallas show, and as good as that one was, I couldn’t pass up seeing how this one was going to be.

Not only that, but hometown favorites Somebody’s Darling were opening this show.

They didn’t start right at the eight o’clock time that was listed (luckily for me, since traffic on 75 prevented me from getting there as early as I had planned to be), and instead took the stage around 8:09.

“We’re Somebody’s Darling and we’re happy to be here!” exclaimed singer and rhythm guitarist Amber Farris, who went on to say they’d be doing a couple of new songs this night. “…But not too many…” she pointed out.

Their new songs were the bookends of their 51-minute set, and while I missed the title of the opening number, it was a good one. It was also one I don’t recall having heard before (not that, that means anything), though I really enjoyed it, and it was a cross between some of their more sentimental tracks and their rock songs.

“This is gonna be the last time we do these old songs for awhile.” Amber informed everyone, looking at bassist Wade Cofer as she said it, who was in turn staring at her like, “What!?” She urged everyone to “enjoy” hearing them again, and said to both Wade and the crowd that after this show she thought they’d start working in the stuff from their newly recorded album as regulars.

They gave me a whole new outlook to the show, as I figured I should probably savor all of these songs in case they get cut. Like “Back to the Bottle”, which drummer Nate Wedan had already started while Amber spoke to everyone.

“How you doing Kessler?” she asked after the great song, which is completely amazing when you hear it live. The fans (old and new) cheered them on, while Amber announced that their next song was called “Weight of the Fear”; a personal favorite of mine. “I hear them rebels coming. They’re screaming loud and clear…” Amber sang later in the song, the instruments dying out as she did so, while some members of the audience began clapping along during quite moment. It was also around that point in the song that guitarist David Ponder took off on a solo, and a great one at that.

I must admit, if that is one that gets axed in the future, I’ll be more than a little sad. But all the same, that’s life.

They kept the current hits coming with “Pretty Faces”, which featured another guitar solo (this one built-in. i.e. exactly how it sounds on the album), before dying out at the end, allowing the keys, played by Mike Talley, to rise back to prominence for the final seconds.

“It makes me nervous with the tables.” Amber remarked as soon as the song was over, referring to all the tables that were scattered right by the stage. “You can see all my flaws.” she joked, while they took a minute to get ready for their next song. The silence gave people time to think on what they could say, and someone (I’m sure a friend) playfully shouted, “Fuck you, Wade!”

“We’re a Rock ‘n’ Roll band. We get that every now and then…” Amber quipped, before asking everyone to give it up for “Wade with the new fade”, speaking of the haircut/style he was sporting.

Some of their fans let out little bursts of excitement as they started their next song, taking things down just a bit with the lovely “Keep Shakin’”. “…I could die right here in your arms…” crooned Amber; while the song alternated between the soft and relaxing guitar notes and the driving rhythm section on the chorus, before ending it on an intense note, and Davids’ hand was a blur as he shredded on his guitar. Just because they ended things the way they did didn’t mean they were about to step it right back up into rock mode, though.

Instead, Amber placed her guitar in the rack and just acted as a frontwoman for this next one (which is something that practically never happens). Without question, “My Own Medicine” is one of their most beautiful songs, even if depicts a breakup, which is just what makes it so heartfelt. “…I find myself on my hands and my knees. This is something that you’ll never see…” sang Amber; her impeccable voice taking center stage now that it didn’t have to compete with the loud instruments, and she demonstrated excellent control over it, at times almost whispering, before raising her voice along with the music.

That one amazed the crowd, and they gave the band the loudest round of applause yet, while they moved right on to their next song, while Amber went and got her guitar. “Here we go!” she shouted, before making her way over to David on stage right and knelt next to him as they shredded away on their guitars. They decided to go back a bit further, and pulled out “Cold Hearted Lover” from their debut and self-titled release. It may not get played much now (and apparently will probably only become more infrequent now), but it’s still a sweet song, and one could argue the most rocking on in their catalog.

“How you doing Kessler Theater, dammit!” Amber asked during the instrumental jam portion of the song, quickly adding that she was trying not to curse this night, and then she had done just that. I don’t think anyone cared too much, though. “We’re gonna try a cover…” she told the audience after that one. “You can dance if you want to.”

If there had only been enough room to dance then I’m sure people would have started moving around to their rendition of Faces “Stay With Me”. But just because that couldn’t be done didn’t mean they couldn’t sing along to it. Granted, I don’t see Somebody’s Darling too often, but it had been a little while since I last heard them do this one (August), and I was glad to discover it’s one that’s still in play, even if it may not happen often.

Several people yelled with excitement when that one came to an end, which was something Amber loved and encouraged. “…This is the one time you can get to yell. You can’t yell at your job. You can’t yell in the street…” she said, just wanting everyone to get it out.

They then moved on to the two singles that “Jank City Shakedown” produced, and Amber noted that KXT (91.7 FM) had been giving the next one some airplay for quite some time. The tune was “Cold Hands”, which became a clap along at one point, and they followed it immediately with the subsequent song from the album, “Wedding Clothes”. “This is another song from Jank City Shakedown that we’re really proud of.” Amber stated beforehand.

Typically, that’s the show, and giving that they were the opening band and had already been on stage for so long, I figured that would hold true here. Instead, they had that one other new song they had promised at the start of the set. It was “Generator”, a track I remembered from the show I saw them do the previous month, though I didn’t remember it being so good. It’s a powerful number, and by the time it was done, it (in conjunction with everything else they had done this night) earned them a standing ovation from those who were seated. It was more than deserved.

I’m pretty certain I said almost this exact same thing the last time I saw them and I know I touched on it at the start here, but man, it’s so easy to see just why Somebody’s Darling is so well loved and have become one of the best bands in the Dallas music scene.

It’s the energy they put into their shows and the quality and depth that goes into the songwriting, as well as the emotion that comes out of said songs when they’re performed live.

The musicianship is just a hair above the rest, too, and that’s describing it mildly.

If this was the last time most of these songs will be heard for awhile, then I’ll miss them, but having heard so much of the new material at their Dallas show the month before, I feel confident in saying that this new album will top “Jank City Shakedown”. At the start of the show Amber mentioned they had finished it (recording, I’m sure), which should mean that it’s not too far away. It’ll probably be several more months, of course, but a new record will be making its way to fans soon enough.

They don’t have any dates listed at the moment, but keep an eye on their TOUR PAGE, as some will surely be popping up sooner or later. Also, check out their two current albums over in iTUNES.

That was a fantastic appetizer, and that’s one of the few times Somebody’s Darling will even be referred to as that, but The Band of Heathens we’re up next, and if they didn’t have the place completely sold out, then it sure was close.

Everyone grew excited when the band left the green room for the stage and began doing the sound check, but they’d have to wait a few minutes longer, as the five guys retreated back stage once things were set.

It was 9:32 when keyboardist Trevor Nealon, drummer Richard Millsap, singers and guitarists Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist and the groups bassist stepped on stage; the lights dimming as they took their spots. Everyone knew they were in for a show, but they had no clue just what an extraordinary show it would wind up being.

Ed and Trevor began the first song of the night, no doubt surprising a few fans when they realized it was “Talking Out Loud”. With a whole batch of new songs to chose from, it was that track (which could be considered a deep-cut) from “One Foot In the Ether” that began things, and it couldn’t have worked better.

It created a bit of a cheery atmosphere as Ed sang the song. “Hold on, if your soul is strong. Hold on, it won’t last so long. Hold on, if it get uptight. It’s time we make everybody feel alright.” he sang on the chorus, while Gordy leaned in to his mic, adding some backing vocals on each “hold on”, before stepping back as he picked away at his guitar.

They’re known for embellishing their songs and adding some instrumental jams to many of their tracks, but on that one, Ed added some extra lines. “…Coming back to Dallas; living in a palace for a king…” he belted out in his rich, soulful tone of voice, which, of course, garnered a strong reaction from this North Texas crowd.

It was Gordy’s turn next, and during the brief moments the audience had to applaud, he grabbed a neck rack with a harmonica and put it to use on “Rehab Facility”. “…‘Cause I need it like a heart line. She’s my nicotine craving everything I crave.” goes a line from the chorus of that song about being enamored with someone, during which Ed now added some backing vocals. A highlight of the song came during the stellar guitar solo Ed knocked out; the slide he was using giving a nice texture and cool sound to it.

As it came to an end, Ed and Gordy faced one another. They weren’t really standing next to each other, more just looking at the other from their spots on stage, while they bent down; their plucking of the strings becoming increasingly quick. That resulted in a seamless and incredible segue into “L. A. County Blues”, and even though it didn’t sound like the song at first, it was still unmistakable. “Well, they got me on accessory: thirty days in jail. One headlight in a Louisville night without a chance at bail…” Ed sang, often hitting different notes than what is heard on the album, which made the performance of it this night completely unique, along with adding an immense amount of extra character to it. Aside from that, you also had some lengthy jam breaks thrown in before the third verse and at the very end. It was also at the end that Trevor added some fantastic backing vocals on the chorus, “…It’s one foot in the ether with the L.A. County blues.”

“How you doing?” Ed asked everyone, which was one of the only times they spoke to the audience. Not you can blame them, though. They’re one of those bands who works better when they just focus on the music, and after all, they couldn’t banter much because they had a massive set to get through.

After hitting some of the classics, it was time to get to the new classics, and “Records in Bed” started a string of tracks from “Sunday Morning Record”. In some ways, live, I have to say I think that may be the best song off their new album. “Round and round and round so slow.” Gordy would sing on the bridge, before Ed (who sang the bulk of the track) would add the next line. The harmonies on that soothing song are great; and much like a line from the song goes, it’s a track that is good for the soul.

They added some good touches to it, especially at the end, when the tranquility was suddenly shattered and they gave it a rock outro. That sharp rise didn’t last too long, though, and things soon fell back down when Richard played some steady, albeit soft beats to lead them into “One More Trip”. Gordy was back doing the vocals now, though Ed often joined him as they co-sang several lines throughout. This was the first time I’d heard it live, and honestly, it’s a good song on the record, but not one I always listen to. It was dynamic this night, though. Maybe not in the way you might think of dynamic being, but it was.

Now that they had shown of their softer side, it was time to step things back up, and there was a moment of silence while the fans anxiously waited for what would come next. Ed then played some notes, revealing it to be what is perhaps the most fun song from that new album, “Miss My Life”.

“I miss my life, I miss the way it was…” Ed roared on the chorus, before getting to the final verse, “Don’t tell me to forget her,
because man, you never met her. And they don’t make ‘em no more like that…” Trevors’ skill as a pianist are on full display on that one, and actually, the piano is the most prominent instrument of the track. Well, at least it was until the bass, drums and guitars became a little more forceful during the jam they threw in before the final chorus.

Their sweet, soulful sounds continued as they busted out “Second Line” from their debut album, before trying their hand at a cover. The last time I saw them, they covered a Bob Dylan song, but they were going to do something a little different. More like very different, actually.

“On the day when I was born, daddy sit down and cried. I had the mark just as plain as day; couldn’t be denied.” Ed sang, his voice booming as they started a rendition of the Grateful Deads’ “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo”. They put more of a rock and Americana twist to it (which is to be expected), and honestly, they put their mark on it. It fit their style (lyrically and musically) quite well, and the audience seemed to really enjoy it. It wouldn’t be the only Grateful Dead song they did this night, either.

However, for now, they were getting back to their material, and both Gordy and Ed switched out to an acoustic guitar. The fans cheered when Ed sang the chorus of “Texas” first time; specifically after the line “…Austin’s been a friend of mine. Texas, we’ve had a time.” That final track from their latest release was one I overlooked until hearing them do it at their last Dallas show, and since, it has become a favorite. A good bit of emotion is poured into it, and, like many of their other tracks, it takes on a whole new life in the live environment. They followed it with “Since I’ve Been Home”, which was almost exclusively acoustic, which added to the somber tone it has. “…You know we almost had it good, but we break like bad habits never could…” goes one of the lines, and you could feel the stinging pain behind it as Gordy sang.

They threw in another cover now, because why not. This time the song was “Blue” by Jayhawks, which Gordy pointed out afterwards in case anyone didn’t know. “Thanks a lot…” Gordy said after the cheers and such subsided, while Ed placed his guitar on the rack and walked over to the keys.

He took a seat behind one, while Trevor moved over to focus completely on the other (there were more than a few times this night that he was using his hands to play two of the keyboards at once.) Requests started flying at the band, which they paid no attention to and just carried on with their thing.

Ed got situated, striking some of the keys to get warmed up, before they started the song. There was a loud roar of gleeful screams once everyone realized it was “Gris Gris Satchel”. Clearly, the song that finds both of the main singers sharing vocal duties and harmonizing is a fan favorite, and it was a highlight of the show this night.

More requests were launched at the band while Ed played an impromptu piano solo, before they suddenly broke into a staple from their debut record, “Jackson Station”. It, too, saw Ed and Gordy each singing and co-singing, while some of their band mates also added some light backing vocals here and there.

“Give a big hand for Somebody’s Darling for opening the show.” said Gordy, instructing everyone to do so more than anything, as well he should have, because Somebody’s Darling had earned that love. As he did that, Ed was getting up and going back to the guitars to get one out.

He and Gordy again held a gaze as they played a little intro with the same chord structure that makes “Shotgun” so irresistible. At times, their bass player, Trevor and Ed were all adding some extra vocals, which made for some gorgeous four-part harmonies. “You came crashing through the window, and it gave away so fast. All I hear now is the wind blow; riding shotgun through the past.” they all sang on the chorus, creating a moment that was best taken in by closing your eyes and just absorbing it all.

Gordy swapped back to an electric after that, as they got ready to pull out another older one, “Philadelphia”. It may be a song that’s been around for awhile (it’s from the “Live at Antone’s” album), but it still holds its own against even their more recent material. Speaking of recent material, they had at least one more from their new album up their sleeve, and played it now.

I think it was Ed who began “Shake the Foundation”, and with the help of his band mates (and some effects) they made the intro of the track super heavy, to the point it felt like it was shaking the foundation. Some fans cheered, knowing right away what song it was, before Gordy started on the lyrics for the song about a lovers deceit.

I know I said this the last time I saw them, but this song is an entirely new entity than what it was when I saw them at Homegrown Fest last May, or again the following month. The incredible jam session they broke into after the second chorus was just one of the things that makes it a standout, while the other was the brilliant end, which saw Gordy shredding away on his guitar, tearing it up.

That could have acted as the last song. I mean, it packed the punch a closer should, but would have also left the fans wanting more. Instead, they had one more planned, and it was another from their catalog that is capable of both those qualities.

Ed held a chord and plucked the strings of his guitar, essentially counting them into the song. I was excited about this one, and recall saying, “Oh, yeah!” as I quickly realized it was “I Ain’t Running”. “…I’ll be here with you for right or wrong. Cause I ain’t running, I ain’t afraid… of your heart.” sang Ed on this masterpiece of a rock song. They built a lot onto it this night, from a piano solo that Trevor knocked out before the last chorus, to Ed singing the chorus a multitude of times towards the end, before the quintet ended it in spectacular fashion with another great jam.

Everyone at the tables or in the rows of seats behind them stood up and clapped wildly, while the musicians began to leave their posts, waving at everyone and thanking them for coming out. The applause continued well after they had disappeared from sight, and then it became a way to get them back out.

All of that had been a whopping 101-minute long set. Almost two hours they played, but surely they had more left in the tank. At least everyone hoped they did.

No one sit back down until they retook the stage, again thanking everyone for their kindness.

This encore portion would add 34 more minutes onto their set, and at times, it seemed like they had barely even scratched the surface with that main set.

On song that several people had been requesting throughout the night was the bands cover of “Hurricane”, and now they got it. Trevor got another solo after the second verse, while the most gripping moment came when Ed and Gordy sang the first part of one of the choruses a capella. Even when you know it’s coming, it’s still a breathtaking moment, and if for some strange reason you still have doubt as to what fantastic singers they are, that’s a moment that will prove it. The guitar solo Gordy ripped into at the end certainly didn’t hurt the track, either.

The very fun “I’ve Got a Feeling” came next, after which Gordy again thanked everyone for coming out. “…You know, in Austin everyone rips on Dallas, but I don’t know what they’re talking about…” he remarked, saying just what a great crowd this had been. Of course, everyone cheered at that.

Ed handled the next song as well, which was another track off their latest LP, “The Same Picture”. It would be the last one they touched from that record (there were only three left anyway), and I was slightly surprised by the pickings from it this night. Not in a bad way mind you, but that song for example was just one I didn’t expect to hear. The same could be said for a few others, and now, I’ve heard just about the whole thing live (with the exception of one song).

Three songs into their encore seemed to be a sure sign that they were almost done, yet everyone knew there was at least one (or hopefully two) songs they had left to do. They did one, and Richard led them into “Medicine Man”, which they gave a lengthy intro to, and just rocked out. Trevor even stood up from his stool for a minute or so. “Across the land, I’m spoken of. Wise as a snake, tame as a dove. Just like a wolf in sheep’s clothes…” sang Gordy, his smooth voice commanding the attention of everyone who was still in the room. After the second chorus, Trevor took off on a solo, which eventually faded into a guitar solo courtesy of Ed.

That certainly gave the song a little extra something (as if it even needs it), but the best moment came when they all joined in and raised the intensity level to new heights. Epic is the only word I can think of to describe not only how it sounded, but also how it looked on stage, as the five musicians were completely in the zone. You could tell they were absorbed in it all; and that was the single greatest moment of the night. There was still a couple verses left no less, and by the time it was over they had won themselves a standing ovation.

Part of that may have been because some people thought the show was over, and I was one of them. That was impossible to top, but that didn’t mean there weren’t some other songs that people wanted to hear. One of those that had been requested all throughout the night was “Look at Miss Ohio”. I was one of the people who was wanting to hear that one, too, but it wasn’t in the cards this night.

 Instead, they tackled another Grateful Dead song. They gave “Brokedown Palace” a little extra kick, and both Ed and Gordy did some leads on it. If memory serves me correctly, it was this song that Trevor even sang a verse on, impressing the hell out of the audience and getting some wild applause after the first couple of sentences.

The song suited The Band of Heathens perfectly. It allowed them to take all the harmonies they do to another level; leaving the fans dazzled, even after they had graciously thanked everyone for coming out and disappeared backstage.

THIS was a performance. A performance the likes of which most bands these days will never give their fans.

Okay, maybe some people were a little saddened they didn’t hear one or two of their favorites, but I can’t imagine anyone could have been disappointed by this two hour and fifteen long set. If you were, you need to reevaluate just how big a fan of The Band of Heathens you are.

It still hasn’t been  a full year since the first time I saw them, but one thing that has quickly become a thing I love about them is how just about their entire discography (four studio albums and four live records) are fair game. Sure, some songs are less likely to be played then others, but there’s still a chance, and along with the covers they throw in, you really never know what you’re going to get.

That’s refreshing in a time where, at least in my experience, you generally know what songs a band is going to do. There were even a couple new songs I expected to hear that were apparently traded in for the others they did, but I loved that, because it kept you as an audience member on your toes.

I think I’ve already covered most of the things that make The Band of Heathens so enjoyable to watch and listen to, so I won’t repeat myself anymore about the harmonies and stuff. However, I will say this: it was great seeing how much fun these guys were having on stage. It was all the time, but there were several moments throughout the show where either Gordy, Ed, Richard, Trevor or the bassist (my apologies, despite searching online I can’t find his name) were flashing huge smiles. And seeing that they were having so much fun doing their thing only made the crowd have more fun in watching and listening to them.

They have several more shows planned in different parts of the U.S. throughout March and into very early April. They’ll also be back in North Texas on April 2nd, playing Dan’s Silver Leaf in Denton. Yeah, that happens to fall on a Wednesday night, but they’ll make it more than worth your while. They also have a European tour planned beginning in late April, and they’ll be playing, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland. Just refer to their TOUR PAGE for dates on all the U.S. and European dates.

Of course, also check out their music in iTUNES, and you can find tons of live cuts (full shows) over at their STORE.

Man, this wound up being a show I don’t think I’ll ever forget, or if I do, it won’t be happening anytime soon. By far one of the best overall performances I’ve ever seen from any band, and The Kessler was the perfect place to enjoy these soulful rock and Americana sounds.

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014 – Local H Destroys it at Three Links

There was one reason and one reason only why I was at the show that Tactics Productions was presenting at Three Links this night, and that was Descender.

They were the lone local Dallas band on this bill, and with them being my favorite currently active band, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see them. That’s not to say I had doubts about the other two acts on the bill, including headliner Local H; they were simply just bands I was unfamiliar with.

Descender was up first, taking the stage promptly at nine.

“Hey, we’re Maleveller.” said singer and rhythm guitarist Casey Hess. Some people may not have gotten the joke, though he was messing with Brian Smith, who is the singer in Maleveller; and also happens to be a bartender here at Three Links.

He kept on, saying, “We’re
from The Colony. This is only our second to third ever non-church gig…” Like I said, I don’t think everyone there (and for this early on a Tuesday night there was already a good sized crowd) got the joke, but I was chuckling at it.

“We make the gold do more than spin. We make it float and disappear again.” sang Casey on the chorus of their opener, “Spinning On The Surface”. I’ve seen them so much that I honestly can’t remember if I’ve heard them open with that song before or not, though it worked well at the start of the set. It’s one of the few overtly happy sounding songs they have, and that mood radiated from the stage out to the audience.

Lead guitarist Jeff Gruber held the notes he was playing; transitioning them into their next song, while Casey cleared things up. “We’re Descender from East Dallas. Not Maleveller.” Zack Busby then slapped his bass, the notes ringing out before they exploded into their shortest and quickest tune, “Silver Lightning”. Them to balance it out, came one of their longest, “The Language”.

“…We’re on the floor. We’re on your skin. We’re on the wall; oblivion.” Casey sang at one point, and when he got to that last word, Jeff began quickly tapping one of his pedals, giving a sweet effect to it all, while Casey’s guitar shortly after seemed to who the crowd; regardless of if they had seen Descender before or not.

They followed it up with “I Will Help You Find The Darkness”, before doing the title track from their newest EP, the moody “Slow And Gold”. It’s definitely one of their coolest sounding tracks, especially at the end, when Jeff uses his slide to tap the strings of his guitar, resulting in a pretty cool sound.

With that, they had played all five tracks from “Slow and Gold”, but still had some time to fill in their 33-minute long set, and I was wondering what classics they’d be pulling out.

Turns out, it was two that they last did in November (this was only their second show since then). They appeared to have a little discussion at first regarding what was next.

I was ecstatic to hear “Hats Off To Your Reflection” was one of those songs. That song has (mostly) been a staple since shortly after they started in 2009, and even now it’s still Descender at their best, especially with the heavy and thick drumbeats Duncan Black knocks out.

Casey stated that they only had one song left now, and thanked the venue for having them on this bill. “We like Three Links. A lot-ish.” he said, before they fired up the title track from their debut album, “Army Of Elephants”.

Jeff, who periodically does backing vocals, did some on one of the lines that is also the song title, giving a nice sound to it. The best part of it though hands down has to be the instrumental breakdown portion. As usual, Casey winged it on his solo and just played what he felt like. However, Jeff also went into a lighter solo at that same moment. It made for a dueling guitar solo for a moment, which was incredible.

I think I say this every time, but I love this band.

They’re a rock band plain and simple, and being veterans of the local music who spent their early days in some of the most storied Dallas area bands of recent times, they definitely know what they’re doing.

So far, they’ve played a show a month this year, and with a gig at the Double Wide on March 20th, it looks like that trend will continue (at least for now).

Catch that show if you can, or at the very least, head over to iTUNES (HERE and HERE) to check out their three EP’s.

It was uncharted territory for me after that, though with the next band having a name like We Were Wolves, I figured they had to be good.

The turnaround was quick, and the Houston quartet got started shortly before ten o’clock.

It took no time at all for the to prove they were a force to be reckoned with, as they played some primal and energetic rock songs. Those are two adjectives that also fit with the performance they put on.

Bassist Jake Hooker did most of the singing on their first song, before one of the guitarists and the other vocalist Drew Haught took over; again rotating on the next song, which they went seamlessly into. In fact, it was almost hard to tell if they were doing some separate tracks or one massive song.

“…This next one’s on our seven inch.” Jake told the crowd, pointing back to their merch table where it could be purchased. “It’s called Hell in Spades.” said Drew, as he drummer Zach Elizondo, guitarist Vinc Prihoda and Jake ripped into the short number. They bled it perfectly into their next track, which I believe was “Crash and Burn”, a borderline metal sounding song that only amped up the intensity of their performance.

By that time it was pretty clear they were good with the segues, and they proved they had mastered the art by diving right into another song, this one from the “Lost at Sea” EP, “Lovetits”. There were some sweet tones to the guitars, especially at the start, just pulling you in, as Drew sang/shouted an often repeated line, “Oh my god, she gets it from her momma!”

They took a break at this point before getting ready for their final stretch of material. They took a moment to thank Local H for having them on this show, before Drew got into more of the bands goings on. “…So, we just got back from playing the torch lighting ceremony in Sochi.” he said, adding, “…Everything was so nice there. I don’t know what people were complaining about.”

It was good little dose of comedy, but they soon got back to their area of expertise: finely tuned rock music. “…I’m a fish, I’m a shark. I’m anything you can’t see in the dark…” Drew sang on the more low-key, yet still heavy “Heavy Shrimp”, before getting to the chorus,  “…But I know what I want. I want you.”

That was a favorite of mine from their set, and it started them on an epic run of songs, with Jake handling the next one, which I think was “Strange Mud”. Two more came in rapid succession, leaving no time to recover or really even applaud the band. When they did stop, they told the audience in the now nearly sold out venue to feel free to come say “hey” once they got over to the merch table.

“…We’ll let you buy us beer.” Jake said, jokingly making it sound like it would be a privilege for any new fans they may have just made. “I mean, we might buy you one, too…” he said, noting it was a “two-way street”, but that they’d really like to have some bought for them. “This song’s about growing up in a shitty town…” Drew then said, referring to another track from the newly released “Wolf House” album, “Lost at Sea”.

They then cranked out one last song, bringing their 37-minute long set. “Local H is next!” Jake shouted excitedly. “How many times do you get to say that?” he asked, more thinking aloud than anything. In their case, it was the first of three times, since they were opening all of Local H’s Texas shows.

I’m kind of glad I didn’t take time to listen to them beforehand, because it was nice being completely surprised—and blown away—by this incredible band.

The music they play is a good mix of modern rock/hard rock and the more classic rock sound, with some dashes of metal thrown in. Then you have their live show, which is clearly where the band is in their element. The fact that they got so into the music they were playing made you, the listener, want to, and they packed their performance full with as much rock as they possible good.

Give a listen to (or buy) their music in either BANDCAMP or iTUNES; if you like it, threw ‘em a like on FACEBOOK so you’ll know when they have more shows coming up.

Part of me was thinking there was no way the night could get better, ‘cause We Were Wolves brought their A game. Also, I had no idea what to expect from Local H. Like I mentioned at the start of this, I hadn’t even heard of them until this night, and I was about the only person here who hadn’t.

Three Links was packed by the time the duo of Scott Lucas and Ryan Harding got their gear set up and did the sound check, while the fans screamed at them with excitement over the pending show.

They, of course, had to drag it out, too, disappearing after finally getting things in working order, allowing the anticipation to build.

The fans cheered them on minutes later when Scott and Ryan returned to the stage; the lights fading to a mix of dark red and deep blue. They’d remain that way for the duration of their 93-minute set.

The duo tore right into one of the songs from the “Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles?” album, “Buffalo Trace”. I’ll admit, I wasn’t digging the vocal effects Scott used for the first part of the song. It made it to trippy sounding for me, and I was more worried that, that was going to be how their entire set was. Luckily, it wasn’t, and in a small dose like that I was more than capable of handling it. I did like it overall, and it became readily clear during the final minute just what kind of show this was going to be, when Scott and Ryan rocked out, giving in completely to the music to they were playing; while the fans ate up the sweet guitar solo.

I wouldn’t say they perfectly segued every song into the next this night. More, as soon as one was done they just went right into what they had planned next. In this case, it was “Deep Cut”. The song may be about sixteen years old now, but parts of it are timeless, like the line from the chorus, “What do you do when opinions are everywhere? What do you do when it’s nothing you want to hear?”, a thought that will always apply to anyone who hears the song.

They left no time for applause, as Scott led them right into the catchy “Eddie Vedder”, before winding it into what was one of my favorite songs of theirs. “I want you DEAD!” shouted Scott at different times throughout the song, which had a stellar vibe; and while I had this thought many times this night, it really surprised me that they were able to create such a heavy, thick sound on that one with just a guitar and some drums.

Thus far, they had they had a nice mix of songs spanning different times of their career, and now they turned their attention to 2012’s “Hallelujah! I’m a Bum” by doing “Blue Line”. In listening to their music afterwards, you can really hear the progression over their career. I’m not trying to slight their classic stuff by any means, I simply mean that even after a two-decade plus long career, Local H is still cranking out great music that has an even more mature sound and style of songwriting, leading one to think that some of their best stuff may not have happened yet. Still, it was, of course, their older stuff that had the fans most engaged this night, and the at times punk-rock sounding “Chicago Fanphair ‘93” had a lot of people moving around and banging their heads to the music.

Some of the most emotionally raw material of their set came from the glorious “12 Angry Months” record, and now they slowed things down briefly with the lead track from it, “January: The One with “Kid”. “Don’t take this for granted. You’ll leave here empty handed. So hateful, so shameless; won’t let you leave here blameless.” Scott sang towards the end. The anger and hatred in his voice was palpable as they performed that track that tells the story of the beginning of the end of a relationship.

“Hands On the Bible” was another gripping song, while the next one, “California Songs”, got everyone more thrilled then they had been thus far this night. It was another one that still has a lot of meaning, even ten years after the album was released, since it attacks all the songs that talk about how wonderful California is. “Yeah, we know you love L.A., but there’s nothing left to say…” roared Scott on the song that’s humorous, while still hitting the nail on the head. I mean, it has all been done before, people singing about The Golden State and how heavenly it is, yet it’s still being done. “And fuck New York, too!” the audience shouted along with Scott at the very end of the song, after which they finally took a break.

“We’re Local H.” Scott announced (as if no one there already knew that), before asking how everyone was doing. “…I’m glad to be in TX.” he then said, continuing the banter. “It beats the shit out of Chicago.” yelled one guy in the audience. “Yeah, it does…” Scott replied, before saying he wanted to thank Texas for Matthew McConaughey. That same fan then spoke up again, saying something about how much he liked Mr. McConaughey, and that he (the patron) was from Longview, which was Matthew McConaughey spent a portion of his life. It was more detailed then just that, though.

“Oh, yeah? Really?” Scott remarked, feigning interest, and once the guy finished he asked the rest of the audience, “Did anyone give a shit about what he just said?” He treaded a fine line of being an asshole, without actually being one; and you could hear just a faint hint of jest in his voice.

The guy wasn’t offended at all, and said something to the effect of, “Hey, it’s your show, Scott. Do what you want.” “Well, thank you!” Scott replied in the most sarcastic voice you’ve ever heard. He let it be known he was partly just giving the guy a hard time, though. “You’re a very gregarious gentleman…” he told the guy, before moving on with the show, formally introducing the newest member, Ryan Harding. “…Man, watch him go on this next one…” Scott stated, informing everyone the next song was “June: Taxi Cabs”.

It began another series of songs, which was followed by “Another February”, and then one of the other handful of songs I wasn’t able to figure out. “Bryn-Mawr Stomp” came next, which was the first of a few more tracks that got the crowd a bit rowdy. “All-Right (Oh, Yeah)” had some light movement going (nothing more than people getting into the music; no moshing or anything), while their next song was a bit of a sing-along. “One more thing before we go; I’ve stepped over everyone I know. Everyone I know, everyone I know.” echoed the fans on “Fritz’s Corner”.

That led to another pause in the show, and Scott acted like he was about to take his shirt off, which excited a few of the lady fans in the audience. “I’m not doing that.” he said, shaking his head as stepped back up to the mic. Instead, he took a moment to thank both We Were Wolves and Descender (calling them out by name) for opening the show. “…It’s a pleasure to play with great bands.” He said, noting what a rarity it is to have two high caliber bands like that on the same bill.

Something was then said (by a fan) about buying them a drink, specifically: red wine. “I’m a fan of red wine.” said Scott, before pointing out that white wine was “for assholes”. “Does anyone here drink white wine?” he then asked the audience. Someone spoke up and said they did, to which Scott replied, “See, you’re an asshole.”

The joked kept coming when someone requested “Every Rose Has its Thorns”. He attempted to play it, but couldn’t get the chords right, and even then it was done in a mocking manner. “…Isn’t it enough to be touring? I mean, do you have to also be a cowboy on a steel horse you ride?” he then asked. “I’m know I’m going out on a limb by saying this, but that song sucks.” No one seemed to care much about the diss he had just giving Bon Jovi. “…It’s a controversial stance in the music industry to hate Bon Jovi.” Scott remarked, and he could have cared less that he had just made it.

Requests flew at them, but they opted to do a fun song, and covered the “Spider-Man Theme”, before getting more serious with another song I didn’t know, though I loved it.

There was an interesting moment during “What Would You Have Me Do?”. I couldn’t see it all clearly since I was right in the middle of the room, but Scott requested one of the fans over by the side of the stage to give him his phone. He was either taking pictures or video of the band, and gladly handed it to Scott, who I’m pretty certain dropped it right in his pants. They kept on with the song, not missing a beat, and after awhile it looked like Scott used his other foot to pull his shoe off. He then began shaking his leg, and I’m assuming the phone eventually fell out from his pants leg. “Don’t act like you’re not impressed.” he said to guy, before going right back to singing the song.

It was an interesting moment, and I can honestly say I’ve never seen something like that before.

Scott created some deafening feedback at the end of that one, and before moving onto the next song, he stepped up to the forefront of center stage and looked at the speakers that hung from the ceiling. You could see the gears in his head turning, as he contemplated maybe jumping on and hanging from it, but eventually decided against that idea.

Instead, he shredded away on his axe next to his amp, then spewed some water from his mouth as they fired up “High-Fiving MF”. The audience chanted right along with them every time “You high-fiving motherfucker.” was said, which was quite a bit on the song that’s actually pretty simplistic when it comes to lyrics, yet manages to never get repetitive.

That left one song left, as the mighty duo went right into “Heavy Metal Bakesale”. Near the end, Scott removed the microphone from the stand and roamed around the stage briefly, before holstering the mic and laying his guitar down. The feedback was a bit nerve-racking, but would to grow to be truly god-awful by the end.

Not that anyone really cared, though. Everyone in Three Links was having a moment, which started when Scott again walked to the forefront of the stage and surveyed everyone who was there. It was obvious what was coming, and the crowd was just waiting for Scott to fall into their arms. Eventually, he did, and wound up crowd surfing all the way to the front doors. At a certain point, he actually ran out of people to get passed back to, so the group that did have him just carried him, his arms extended in front of him as if he were a superhero flying through the air; and to just about everyone here this night, he was. Yeah, “everyone” includes me.

I guess I’m probably showing my age by saying I had never heard of Local H before this night (though I have been around a little longer than the band has), but I’m glad I happened to stumble across them this night.

I definitely plan on adding their entire discography to my music collection; and as good as their music is, it’s the live show where they excel.

It should be criminal for a duo to be this great and put on such an explosive and dynamic performance. Sure, there are some great duos out there, even just here in the local D/FW music scene, but Scott and Ryan packed more energy into their set than even a lot of five-piece bands do.

Just the musicianship they displayed was off the charts, and you could tell Scott has honing his skills as a guitarist for awhile, to the point he’s become a master. And going back to the whole duo situation, I think that was what allowed them to be so tight, because they didn’t have to worry about anyone else. Instead, it was all about feeding off one another, as well as the audience, and just delivering a Rock ‘n’ Roll show.

Their current tour has come to an end now, though I can guarantee I’ll be at their next Dallas show, whenever that may be. And for those like myself who don’t have any Local H music (yet) go into iTUNES and check out their records.

Much love to Tactics Productions for putting on such a killer concert on a Tuesday night, and I’m glad Descender ended up on this bill, because if they hadn’t, I would have missed out on this entirely. Worst of all, I never even would have known what I had missed out on.