This night was ladies night at The Curtain Club. Something that doesn’t often happen. In fact, I don’t remember them ever doing a ladies night in the eight plus years I’ve been going there. That’s not to say it hasn’t happened though (I mean, my memory’s not perfect.)
It was more than that, though. This was the night the yearlong hiatus Night Gallery had taken came to an end. They were just one of several great bands playing this night, though, and everyone was headline quality.
Around 8:30 isn’t usually late to get to a show, but it was this night, and when I walked in Agents of Solace was finishing up their first song.
It had been awhile since I last saw the band, after first stumbling across them here at the Curtain sometime about a couple years ago, probably.
The group’s female vocalist, Macie — who did most of the lead singing this night — chatted with the crowd for a second before the alt/rock band tackled another song, one that was quite good at that. “Are there any Halestorm fans out there?!” Macie asked after it was over, getting a reaction from some of the people. “Familiar Taste of Poison” was the track they tried their hand at, and it sounded amazing. Everyone, old fans and those who were hearing of Agents of Solace for the first time, were in total awe of Macie’s voice. They put their own little twist on the song in some ways, and it was one of their best ones of the night. It wasn’t the only cover they did, either.
Macie mentioned they had a Youtube channel, and on it, they had a video for their next song. “It’s kinda freaky. Whatever freaky means to you.” she said, as they began “Voyeurs”. Jeff Williamson had been adding some backing vocals here and there throughout the first couple of songs, though his guitar had been his primary focus. However, he showed off his voice much more now, as they split the vocal responsibilities, even harmonizing at times. It was a beast of a song, too, with Jeff and Tom Williamsons’ guitars roaring to life, then eventually tapering back off, while Keith Watson delivered some vicious beats.
That won them some more rave applause, and once it subsided, Macie mentioned they were going to do an older song, one off their debut, self-titled record, per a fan request. It was switched up from the recording, and again showcased Macies’ voice more than Jeffs’, though he did chime in at times on “City of Man”. Chip Kohr seemed to get into it, too, and was rocking out on his bass quite hard.
Upon finishing it, Jeff unplugged his electric axe and swapped it out for an acoustic, as Macie informed everybody they were going to do a new song, one they had just learned the week before. “Actually, just last night.” she joked. It was called “Gravity”, and the outfit’s softer side was on display during it. Every act needs a song like that, and it added some diversity to the set. I’d say the track is a keeper, too.
Macie noted their last song was all about having fun, and some audience participation would be required. “So you better fucking participate!” she said, before threatening to slap those who didn’t. It didn’t sound like a threat to be too afraid of, though. I’ll admit, I knew that I knew this cover, though it took me forever to place it, which is kinda bad, since I’ve seen The Pretty Reckless twice in the last month. Agents of Solace put their own little spin on “Heaven Knows”, complete with a clap along at the start and other points throughout the track. They even got the audience to sing along with them on one of the later choruses, “Oh, Lord, heaven knows we belong way down below.”
Thus ended their time on stage, and I have to say, AOS was better this night than I remembered them being.
Honestly, I can’t remember if Macie was in the band when I first saw them, though I don’t believe she was. She adds a remarkable dynamic to the group, though. Apart from that, these seasoned musicians make some excellent music. I mean, “Voyeurs” has a pretty original sound to it; and they put on a highly enjoyable stage show as well.
As of now, it looks like their next show is going to be on September 27th at Andy’s in Denton. Regarding their music, you can grab a couple of free downloads on their REVERBNATION page, and pick up the full record in iTUNES.
After them you had The Circle, who had not played Dallas since back in January, when the Curtain Club was celebrating their sixteenth year in business.
At 9:33 their intro music started, and drummer Marc Berry, bassist Kenneth Henrichs and guitarists Craig Nelson and Alan Sauls quickly ripped into their first song. “We thought we’d start off with a new on! Is that alright?!” frontman Don Mills asked as he walked on stage. People seemed game for it.
They came out swinging with that new number, “Break This”, which was one of the most impressive songs I’ve heard The Circle do. It was heavy, it was loud and it was in-your-face. The performance that accompanied it was rather savage as well, as the five of them went all out; and towards the end Don, who had been standing atop one of their boxes with The Circle name and logo on it, jumped off it, landing close to the drum riser. It gave everyone quite the rush, including them.
“So, I was saying to Jordan earlier, next time there’s a ladies night, we need to call it guys night out.” Don joked. Yeah, as he and I had said earlier in the night, it was kind of a sausage fest, especially early on. I blame another show that was happening elsewhere in Deep Ellum, featuring an acclaimed Dallas act. That was probably where most of the ladies where choosing to spend their night at. But I digress.
Don’s statement was made over the transition his band mates made into their next number, “Save Me”, which was one of a few songs they did this night that seemed to pack even more of a punch than it has in the past. Honestly, until they got to the chorus, I was thinking it was another new one they were debuting. Don used a break he got during the song to dedicate the show and the night in general to all the beautiful women who were in attendance.
The last time I saw The Circle, their show had a nice flow to it, and that applied for much of this night as well, and now Craig segued them into “What Do You Say?”, showing off his skills later on while playing a killer solo. Don used his breaks to have some fun, saying that they don’t lip sync their songs. “…You don’t do that in Dallas, Texas!” he roared, which I believe was a jab at Puddle of Mudd and their debacle of a show a few months back where they were caught faking it. “I don’t care who you are, you sing your damn songs!” Don declared at the end, while his band mates rolled them right into “My Trip to the Desert Sucked”.
Kenneth was his usual highly energetic self during the track, screaming into his mic as he aided Don on parts of the chorus, while tearing it up on his bass, and even jumped atop the box on his side of the stage at times. At the final chorus, Dons’ mic stand fell apart on him. He grabbed the stand and carried it over to the staircase, then returned for the base, singing the whole time he was getting it out of the way.
“I got told this was my last show as the singer.” he said during the first break they took this night. “If you saw Agents of Solace, you know why.” Don added, mentioning how amazed he was by their set as he piled on the praise. As he spoke, the intro for “Failure” suddenly started to play, signifying they were ready to move on (and finally get to the debut EP they released about a year ago.) It was pretty action packed, and Kenneth spent the last bit of the track up on the drum riser, while Marc let loose the thunderous beats on his massive drum kit.
Right as it came to an end, Dayvoh, of the band Alterflesh, approached the stage, carrying several shots he had bought for his friends. “You know what I’m going to say…” Don said after they all had one in hand, as he made is typical, “Local music is the greatest music that never gets heard” speech. Truer words have never been spoken, and it’s a sentiment everyone always agrees with. He went on to say that, they had a song that they had retired some time back. Then it got rewritten, and then it made a comeback to the live show. The song in question was one that has become a favorite of mine over the last few times I’ve seen The Circle, and it’s called “Monster”. It sounded like a brand new song this night, though. It had an even harder edge than what I recall from the past few times, and Don did a hefty amount of screaming on the track, something that he doesn’t do often, but he can pull it off with ease when he needs to. It ended with Alan and Craig each stepping onto the boxes, spending some time on one before alternating, brandishing their axes in the air.
I think they were warmed up by now, and they drew a sudden startled look from the crowd when a piece of techno music began to play. “We’re gonna start going techno.” Don said rather matter-of-factly. Another toast was then made, again going to the woman. “…Deep Ellum have some of the most beautiful woman around.” he remarked, something else everyone there agreed with. Out of nowhere, the techno track broke into the sample intro for “The Other Side”. I must say, it was strange not hearing them open with that one, though the choice they made was a good one, and it worked well at the tail end of the show. Actually, I had been waiting all night for them to get to it.
With fifteen minutes left, they broke out “You Wanted This”, which, in comparison to some of their other stuff, I thought was a slightly chill track. Still rocking, though it wasn’t as hard and heavy as some other songs. It did feature another solo from Craig, though, a solo that was comprised of some incredibly cool notes. “Are you with us?!” Don bellowed as they moved right into the next track, “Tonight”. It was another new one, and one he said they had written about a week ago.
“There’s a huge list of who’s who here tonight.” Don mentioned as they geared up for their next song. From band members to other media outlets, there were a lot of people there, and too many to name.
Their 41-minute long set began to wind down with the two remaining songs from their EP, like the powerful “I Am”. “…Every time I see your face you’re bringing me down. Turn your back on me, like you did that day…” goes the start of the chorus of the song that has a message of acceptance with it. They whipped it right into their single, “Sleep On it”, and as soon as it began, Don began joking with the guitarist of Solice, Juan, asking if he’d catch him when he jumped off the stage. It didn’t stay a joke for long, and soon a group of a dozen or more people formed, just waiting for Don to make his move. It came after he invited Kenneth’s nephew, Tyler, on stage, letting him sing part of the bridge. Don then got his mic back, walked to the edge of the stage, turned his back to everyone and fell backwards. He was caught, and the group carried him back just a few steps before walking back towards the stage, lifting him up and back on it to finish out the show.
This was an incredible Circle show. Maybe it was because I hadn’t seen them awhile, but still, this one of the best performances I think they’ve put on. They were as tight as I’ve ever seen them, and the near constant pacing of music ensured there was never a dull moment.
It was also nice hearing some new music from them. New music that with any luck will be recorded soon so we fans can have more than just four tracks to listen to.
Go grab the “Who I Am” EP in iTUNES. It’s cheap and it’s worth the price tag. They also have a show lined up at The Rail in Fort Worth on July 18th, and then a show at RBC in Dallas on August 10th, where they’ll be opening for Saving Able.
The turnaround time this night really surprised me. The bands were doing an amazing job of getting their gear off and on stage incredibly quickly, and as much as I love Curtain Club (as I’ve said countless times in the past, this is my favorite venue), quick turnarounds is something the place is known for.
So, around 10:30, the curtain began to open. Then close. Then open again. The members of Night Gallery were having some fun (hence, why the worker wasn’t sure if the curtain should be opened yet or not.) Frontman Patrick ”Otter” Gonzales was walking back and forth on the drum riser as if it were a tightrope, teetering on the edge. The audience (which numbered more than a hundred from the looks of it) was surprisingly quiet, and just stared at them. Then Otter threw his hands in the air, as if to say, “Come on, aren’t you more excited to see us than that?!”
Of course, people were, and now the noise level spiked.
The five guys shared a brief look at one another, making sure they were ready for this, and then, the new lead guitarist Brian Manly began the old, familiar sounds of “My Friend Pretend”. Three-fifths of the band may have been new, but the song sounded just like it always has. Well, maybe a little better, ‘cause as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Opening with the single from the “Loud as the Sun” record made it feel just like old times; and it didn’t take long for Otter to get back in his lead singer role, dragging his mic stand with him all around the stage. The mic stand that had a Cookie Monster plush toy taped to the bottom (along with tape over his mouth) and a small plush Incredible Hulk fixed more towards the top of the stand. Oh, how I had missed that one-of-a-kind mic stand.
The crowd was given little time to applaud, as drummer Mikael Aguilar and the rest of the group launched into “Dirty Side”. “And I don’t want to speak to you, unless you want to speak the truth. I wipe the sand from eyes, and I see your dirty side.” Otter belted on the chorus, clearly feeling the rush of adrenaline that came with being back on a stage and performing these songs in front of people. “Those who know this song, feel free to sing along.” he remarked afterwards, as they went directly into the next track. “It’s called She Runs.” he mentioned. The only other old member, Jeremy Root, was also in the zone, quickly strumming his guitar on the chorus, getting caught up in the moment. As it neared the end, during the instrumental break before the final line, Otter spun and stamped around the stage, bringing the mic stand with him, as if it were a dancing partner.
Another fan favorite came next, and their fans rejoiced when “Crazy Brave” got underway. It was also the song that made me miss the old drummer, Randall “Duckie” Etherton, the most, because this was always one song that heavily featured him with backing vocals. “You feel the need to push the weak around; now you’re praying as your knees hit the ground. The time has come to break you of your ways, so lay down your arms and begin to beg.” Otter sang, while leaving the mic stand at the center of the stage and removing the mic from it. He dropped to the floor, gradually raising his voice each time he sang, “Beg”. That part still sounded good, though there was a definite forcefulness lacking without the additional vocals.
The way they had been going, I wasn’t sure if they were even going to stop, but now they did. “…We’ve burned through four songs and I haven’t even said anything to you yet…” Otter remarked, adding his usual sense of humor to the banter, saying that while it may have been ladies night, he would not be taking his shirt off. “…That’s too much sexiness…” he joked. However, they did have a couple songs for the ladies, the first of which was the ever so gorgeous, “Lynne”.
“I feel alive! I feel tickled down in my neither regions!” Otter exclaimed once the song was over. “Without Regret” came next, and I was more excited to hear that song than I thought I would be. Actually, it was probably my favorite of the night. “Shhhh.” Otter whispered into the mic during the soft instrumental break towards the end, and action I had forgotten he did every time. “This time there’s no safe bets, so let’s love without regret.” he crooned when the track came back to life.
“Feel free to sway.” he instructed, as Mikael led the charge into their next song. It wasn’t until Jeremy started his part that people knew it was “The Tide”. Something about the song made it sound even better this night than I think I’ve ever heard it. The rhythm section, which was completed by bassist Trey Williams, sounded great, but the biggest difference came after Otter repeatedly shouted, “Hey!” Brian then ripped into a guitar solo, something new that they’ve worked in during their time practicing. The solo itself sounded incredible, and it was a fantastic addition to the song. Another guitar solo spiced up “Separation Anxiety”, a tune that I wouldn’t have thought could possibly get any better, but they somehow found a way to improve it.
Given that it was ladies night, their song about Jack The Ripper, “Mr. Ripper”, seemed quite fitting, and it is another track that everyone of their fans love. Especially live. Despite the murderous content, it’s actually a very fun song. It was also the third straight that featured a new guitar piece, as Brian ran his finger along one of the strings, starting down on the body and going up the neck. Otter again danced about with his mic stand, succumbing to the music; and as it ended, Mikael stood from his seat to deliver the final drumbeats.
Their 39-minute long set was nearly over, and Otter thanked everyone for coming out and for not forgetting about them. “The Signal” was one song that would have worked just as well as an opener as it did a closer. It’s a song that, on select occasions, has had more of a personal meaning to it. One of those was their CD release show a couple years back, and this was the second time I’ve seen them where that has applied. “…They tried to conform us, phase us out. Through shutting us down…” Otter sang on the first verse, before reaching the chorus, “They can’t stop the signal now…” The boxes belonging to The Circle had been left on stage, and at the bridge, Otter hopped on top of the one on stage right. “With one single voice, we resonate choice. Fight till the end, to overcome trend. Now coming in clear, no more static you hear. So take it from me, we’re not changing, you see?” That sums the band up perfectly, especially on a night like this.
I guess I’ll start by saying both Otter and Jeremy deserve some kudos for actually keeping this thing going. I can only imagine having to find three new band members is a daunting task, but they persevered, and it paid off.
This was one of the best Night Gallery shows I’ve seen. Were certain people missed? Yeah. Mikael’s a great drummer, though, and I thought he did a good job of filling the large shoes that were left. He was energetic and precise with his drumming; and I already mentioned how much I enjoyed the solos Brian had worked in, and when he needed to, he could shred. As for Trey, he was a solid bassist.
They meshed well with Otter and Jeremy, and even made it look like they actually had some live experience with one another under their belt.
Speaking of Jeremy, he really is a great guitarist, and he makes it all look pretty easy; and Otter, who for personal reasons has lost some weight in the last year, was more fiery than ever. Even he later said that made jumping and running around much easier to do, and he did more of it.
It was five years in this month of June since I first heard of Night Gallery, happening across them when I went to the Curtain Club to see a band who hasn’t been together for years now. They’ve been through their share of hard times in those five years. If memory serves correctly, Brian is the fourth guitarist they’ve had since I heard of them and Trey’s their third bassist. Night Gallery is no stranger to lineup changes.
But on the flip side, they’ve celebrated a lot of victories, many of them on this very stage. They got a plaque up on the Wall of Fame before they even had a CD out (June of 2010); they released their debut EP here in late 2010; they released their debut full-length here almost two years to the day of this show; and this night, this night they celebrated yet another rebirth.
As “The Signal” ended, Otter sang the final words as usual. “They! Can’t! Stop! Us!” he bellowed. The last notes filled the room and resonated; and then, in a defiant tone, he added, “But they sure as hell can try.”
Yeah, they’ve got a bit of a resilient spirit.
Night Gallery won’t play again until August 22nd at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, and from what I heard, some fall dates are already booked as well. But while we wait for more shows, be sure to pick up “Loud as the Sun” in iTUNES if you don’t have it.
Mad Mexicans were closing out the night, and personally, I’m just not a fan. I saw them a few years ago, I know what they’re like, and it’s just not a style of music I’m into.
So, I didn’t stick around too long after Night Gallery finished. Well, at least not inside. I was out on the patio mingling for a while, though.