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

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

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

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

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Saturday, September 6th – SpaceCamp shows Off a New(er) Sound at Liquid Lounge

The show at Liquid Lounge this night got off to a little earlier start then I expected.

It was a little before nine when I walked in the intimate room, and there were already three musicians on stage.

With just a couple more songs to go, I never caught the name of this instrumental band, who was good, though that’s just a style I’m seldom a fan of.

Following them up was a singer by the name of Charley Crockett. Now, if you’re like me, when you hear the name Crockett, you immediately think of Davy Crockett, and from what Charley said later this night, he is kin to the historical figure, and that is something he’s proud of.

To be the only person on that stage, he did an amazing job of filling it up. His music was incredibly soulful and very bluesy, and it all came from the heart, as he and his guitar produced one song after the other. “That’s a new one I’m working on,” he remarked at the end of one song, before bridging it right in to another.

“Down Trodden Man” was one of the cuts he did from his latest EP, and it was quite fitting of the wanderer role he had already cast himself in. “…I do believe if I had wings I’d still be lonesome,” he crooned on one line; and despite sounding like it would be a sad song, there were never even any slight undertones of it. Instead, he seemed almost cheerful; and at one point, when he cut out on his guitar, the onlookers decided to start clapping along, something Charley welcomed.

He threw out a few more songs, each one dripping with raw emotions, which was the quality everyone watching seemed to enjoy the most about his set.

Not only was he an exceptional singer and songwriter, he was also an extremely skilled guitarist. It was something to watch as he wailed on his axe, making music that spoke to people on a deeper level than many songs do.

Charley Crockett was the most surprising act to me this night, as I was not expecting to discover such a talented solo artist by coming to this show. I’m glad I did, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing him again.

He’ll be back in Dallas on October 8th at Adair’s Saloon, and he has plenty of other tour dates as well. They can be found HERE, and you can download a couple of free songs of his HERE.

Perhaps the most interesting band of the night was Skinny Cooks.

How often do you see a rap and spoken word band perform, using a cello and a xylophone. That’s exactly what Nigel Newton (who played the xylophone) and Brianne Sargent did, though. They were also joined by a drummer and bassist, who really fleshed out the sound, though it was those two core members who received everyone’s attention.

They only got 19-minutes, squeezing four songs into that time and rotating on who provided the vocals. As I said, at times it was more like spoken word, others it was rapped, but no matter what was going on, it was riveting.

Simple, yet complex; with the emotions being conveyed in the music.

I’d definitely be interested in seeing them again sometime.

Their music can found on BANDCAMP.

Paco Estrada was next up this night, and it had been far too long since I had seen the singer/songwriter with a full-band. Making this all the more special was the fact that Zuriel was joining him on the violin.

Zuriel was one of the first members Paco picked up when forming what eventually became Paco Estrada & One Love, a band that started about six years ago, and disbanded four years ago now (man, that makes me feel old.) In the aftermath, Zuriel has only played with Paco once, and that was just a few weeks before this show, making this a special treat for longtime fans.

The 50-minute set was an interesting one that covered a variety of albums (and bands), beginning with them going all the way back to Paco’s days in SouthFM. “Blue & Grey” was a song that iconic Dallas band never did much, as the slower pace didn’t fit with their noisy rock shows, though it worked this night, and caught longtime fans a little off guard as Paco started the first line, “Collected all these words to paint this picture for you and try to get you to see…” It was mostly Paco and his acoustic guitar for a while, with Zuriel, the drummer and bassist hanging back, before it really escalated towards the end. Zuriel was even wailing on his violin there at the end, reminding some people of some days long gone by.

From that song from nearly ten years ago, they jumped ahead to some of Pacos’ newer music, doing the sweet love song, which I believe is titled, “The Way That I Love You”. Following that new staple was another new one, and one that quite honestly sounded like a cover. I wasn’t alone in thinking that, either. It sounded phenomenal, though for some reason, it just didn’t feel like one of his, despite the fact that it was. The drummer was crushing it during that song, while the riffs burrowed their way into your head instantly. The lyrics stood out, too, with one line I remember being, “… Burn it to the ground, let the truth be found…”.

“Zuriel just made some shit up,” laughed Paco, who wasn’t really joking, as Zuriel is a master at improve. “This is the song about the girl behind the girl behind the girl,” Paco stated before “She”, a song off 2013’s How I Spent My Summer Vacation EP. “…I could never give you my heart; she left me black and mostly blue. You could give me all the love in the world, but baby, I’ll never give it back to you,” he belted on chorus of that emotional tune about being forever haunted by a past love.

“Harder!” one fan/friend shouted once that one was done, prompting Paco to ask, “Why is that always your go to word?” In retaliation, he said they were going to go softer, joking that, that was a shame for everyone, because they had a really “awesome” totally redone version of a Tool song planned, but instead would just skip over it. He bantered on, saying he and Zuriel were in counseling trying to work stuff out, before sitting up their next tune. “It’s a sad song. But they’ve all been sad,” he remarked, before pulling v2.0 of “Killing Me”, as was performed by One Love. Zuriel looked like this was all second nature to him, and at times, he plucked the strings of his violin, before using the bow later in the song.

“Just like we practiced, just like we practiced,” Paco laughed, who had just earlier stated he sends the tracks to the bassist, so he can listen to the songs he’ll be playing, and I’m fairly certain Zuriel was winging it all night long. The bassist then chimed in, saying he wanted to do “She Talks to Angels”, something Paco was easily persuaded to do. “I don’t know why that happened, but it did,” he stated after finishing the rendition of The Black Crowes song, which was followed by another original from The Anatomy of Letting Go, “Reckless Love”, which again found Zuriel in the zone, since it was from the One Love days.

They had one song left, but first, Paco thanked the openers, saying he happened to find Charley Crockett on the side of the road; and also mentioning the people who had come to this show wearing the band shirts (for the headliner, SpaceCamp), saying “There’s always that guy,” at shows. (For the record, I was one of the guys who had worn the band shirt.) To end things, they did the old standby, “Whiskey Kisses”, which once again saw Zuriel doing a bit of a solo towards the end.

Paco and his band did not disappoint. Then again, they never do.

It was a nice smorgasbord of his music, from his solo records, to his past bands, while also looking ahead to his future. I’m sure I got this point across by now, but it was also fun seeing Zuriel back on stage, going between playing his violin in a more traditional manner, to rocking out on it, to the point it can rival any electric instrument.

I say this every time, and I’ll say it again: Paco is the best singer/songwriter in the D/FW area, and that fact was proven yet again this night.

You can find all of his music on his BANDCAMP; and he should have a new release out by the end of the year.

Wrapping up the night was SpaceCamp; and they had changed things up since the last time I had seen them.

Paco Estrada got no downtime; however, unlike the past SC shows, he wasn’t using his acoustic guitar this time around. Instead, he just stood in front of the mic, using his voice. The other big difference was they now had a keyboardist, who was also responsible for running the live tracks, something they started doing more recently.

Rounding out the band was guitarist Mike Dove and bassist Emsy Robinson, along with frontman Jeremy Rodriguez (AKA Tomahawk Jonez), plus a drummer, whom I hadn’t seen with them before.

They opened with “The Dancer”, and right away, Jeremy  began rapping, “My fears, my pain fall upon your ears so they don’t feel the same…”, putting not only a ton of emotion into it, but also making it sound quite fierce. Paco took over on each chorus; and at the end, he was responsible for tacking on a part of a cover song, singing, “…So I’m never gonna dance again, the way I danced with you,” from “Carless Whisper”.

“We were in Lubbock last night,” Jeremy stated, saying the girls there liked to drink whiskey, and asked if that was true of the girls here. Paco followed that with a rhetorical question. “What college girl doesn’t?” “If This is Goodbye” sounded like a different song live as the sample track got it going; and Jeremy clapped along there at first, causing some fans to join along. He later pointed to Mike when the rest of the instruments cut out; making sure all attention was on the guitarist. When they got to the choruses, Jeremy hung his head, though still danced along; and Paco put an overwhelming amount of emotion into the second one. I’m not sure what caused him to make it even more charged than normal, but it made the already great song even better.

“Do y’all want to hear another song from that same album?” Jeremy asked, referring to the Full Moon EP. “That wasn’t too convincing,” he replied after a lackluster response from the crowd, who did better the second time around. Before they could move on, though, Mike had to change guitars, and then they were off onto “The Lover”. They had redone some parts of it, especially at the end, when both Paco and Jeremy each sang of their different parts in unison with one another, sounding absolutely amazing.

“Faster! Harder!” a patron shouted, leading Paco to inform him they were not Daft Punk. “That’s not a Kanye song?” Jeremy replied, believably feigning some surprise. “Reach for the Sun” came next, and while several of SpaceCamp’s songs are positive and uplifting, that one has to take the cake. As Paco began the final chorus, Jeremy beat his chest, then slowly raised his head until he was gazing towards the ceiling, seeming to look right past it and towards the stars.

“What the fuck is wrong with this stand, Gene? “Why are you trying to sabotage our set?!” Paco joked with the sound man; though the mic stand had been giving them some trouble. They slowed things down and got quite serious with “Surrender to the Night”; then picked the pace back up with “White Horses”, which Jeremy jokingly dedicated to all the women in line for the bathroom. There was no line, though he did say that right at the time one woman happened to walk out, which was hilarious. “What’s the worst that could happen?” Jeremy finished, creating his own echo effect when singing that final word, and it sounded awesome.

“You want to keep that mood going?” he asked afterwards, as the keyboardist started the track to “Dancing with the Devil”. It had barely got going when Jeremy had him kill it, something that perplexed his band mates. “Are you not ready to dance with devil?” Paco quipped, getting a laugh from the crowd. The track sounded fuller when it came back in, just like it should; and that number really exploded when they hit the last chorus, from the singing, to the instruments, everything was in high gear.

“These are all true stories by the way,” Paco informed everyone once they finished. With only two EP’s worth of music in their catalog, they had played nearly everything they had, except for one song. They ended their 50-minute long set with “Before you Die”, which sounded more relaxed this time around than I’ve heard it in the past. It was more behooving of the song, allowing it to become even more emotional than it already is. As usual, Paco added some of “Blue and Yellow” by The Used to the end. “…Rather waste my time with you…” he crooned, before getting to one line he put so much into and held for so long, his face visibly turned red.

Jeremy was excited when talking to me about them using the sample tracks now, especially after how it has gone over at their other recent shows. I was quite intrigued to hear it, but at the same time, I’m one of those people who’s typically not a fan of the use of tracks.

It doesn’t work for every band, often detracting from the sound in my opinion, but for SpaceCamp, it fits. The band has such a unique sound in the first place, describing themselves as trip-rock, and the use of the tracks really did help give all the songs the perfect feel. It really was like you were hearing the recordings live, though they had that raw quality that can only come with a live performance.

I dug it, and it sets the stage for a whole new SpaceCamp.

You can purchase both of the bands EP’s over in iTUNES.

This was a very diverse night of music here at Liquid Lounge, but one that was overflowing with talent, making it a solid night from start to finish

Here’s one of the pieces I’ve written for On Tour Monthly recently.
Alt-Metal Band Amongst Thieves Signs with Rogue Records America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information: www.facebook.com/amongstthieves

The Phuss Release New Music Video; Announce October Tour

imageDallas favorites, The Phuss, recently released a video for “I Don’t Feel Good”, one of the singles off their forthcoming LP - their first since signing with Magnetic Eye Records.

The footage was filmed a few months back, and takes place at a house party. Basically, it perfectly embodies everything The Phuss is about.

Both the video and the song are about letting loose and having a good time, and if debauchery happens to be involved, well… that just makes it all the better.

The release date for On The Prowl is slated for October 14th, and in support of the record, the trio will be hitting the road, going down to Florida and up the East Coast, before heading back and eventually ending it in Oklahoma.

They’ll be spending nearly the whole month out traveling, and if they’re coming to a town near you, you don’t want to miss out on the gritty, raw performance they are known for.

Tour dates:
10/2 - Dallas, TX @ Three Links

10/3 - Austin, TX @ Spider House Ballroom

10/4 - Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live

10/5 - Pensacola, FL @ The Handel Bar

10/6 - Orlando, FL @ Will’s Pub

10/7 - Gainesville, FL @ Loosy’s

10/8 - Atlanta, GA @ The Basement

10/10 - Johnson City, TN @ The Hideaway

10/11 - Richmond, VA @ Wonderland

10/12 - Washington DC @ The Velvet Lounge

10/15 - Baltimore, MD @ Club K

10/16 - Philadelphia, PA @ Dobb’s

10/17 - Asbury Park, NJ @ Wonderloft

10/18 - New York City, NY @ Piano’s

10/19 - Providence, RI @ Dusk

10/20 - Cambridge, MA @ T.T. the Bear’s

10/21 - Albany, NY @ The Low Beat

10/23 - Detroit, MI @ The Lovely Touch

10/24 - Louisville, KY @ The Mag Bar

10/25 - Ft. Smith, AR @ The Elephant Room

10/26 - Tulsa, OK @ The Yetti


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Mothership Reveal Details of Sophomore Album, Mothership II

imageRipple Music and Dallas, Texas-based riffers Mothership are excited to finally reveal the details of Mothership’s highly anticipated second release, Mothership II. After months of playing their new tunes to sweaty, ecstatic masses both in Europe and on across the United States, the trio is excited for fans to finally hear the album in its entirety. For the album art, the band chose good friend and incredibly talented artist Zach “EZ” Nelson (Instagram – @ezwheelin) to hand draw his version of the galactic Valkyrie who also appeared in another form on the cover of the band’s debut album. For the album’s engineering, Mothership returned to Kent Stump of Wo Fat, who also lent his magic to the group’s eponymous debut album, at Dallas’ Crystal Clear Studios. Mothership II will be released on single LP gatefold vinyl and on digipack CD.

RELEASE DATES:
US: November 11th
Europe/UK: November 10th

TRACK LISTING:
1. Celestial Prophet
2. Priestess of the Moon
3. Shanghai Surprise
4. Holy Massacre
5. Centauromachy
6. Hot Smoke & Heavy Blues
7. Tamu Massif
8. Astromancer
9. Serpents Throne

The CD will have two bonus songs:
1. Eye of Sphinx
2. Good Morning Little Schoolgirl

mothershipusa.bandcamp.com
mothershiphaslanded.com
facebook.com/mothershipusa
twitter.com/mothershipusa
ripple-music.com
ripplemusic.bandcamp.com

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Beauty In The Suffering Release “Juliet (You’re Mine)” Lyric Video

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Oklahoma City based Industrial Metal band Beauty In The Suffering have released their official lyric video for their new track “Juliet (You’re Mine).” The track, originally premiering with Bloody Disgusting was written, programmed, arranged, performed, and produced by DieTrich Thrall and features drums from Chris Emery (American Head Charge). The track can be purchased using the “name your own price” model on the band’s Bandcamp here.

Saturday, August 16th, 2014 – Larry’s Live and Local Showcase: August 2014

I’ve seen some concerts in the suburbs before. Plano, Frisco, but never Allen. However, Allen was where I wound up this night.

There were some good shows down in my normal haunts of Deep Ellum, but nothing truly screaming my name. So instead of making a thirty minute drive, I decided to make a ten minute one and go check out The Dirty Rooster.

Larry Bates, who fronts the band Generation Wasted, works at the restaurant/bar, and once a month, he orchestrates his own local showcase, getting bands who would normally be seen in Dallas, Denton or Fort Worth to instead play in Allen.

Not only was it convenient to get to for me, the price of admission was also free.

The first room you walk into is the one with the stage, and there were several rows of tables filling it. It’s certainly not the club atmosphere where you often have little option but to stand. Instead, it encourages you to set and relax while you enjoy the entertainment (along with a drink and even some grub). A little different for me, though I found it kind of nice.

A solo artist was on stage (I didn’t catch her name and only saw the last couple of songs), and once she got off stage, they guys of Daylight Industries began lugging their gear up there.

The stage was nice. Much better than what I’ve seen at some other restaurant/bar places I’ve been to, looking like it was built with that intention, rather than something that was hastily thrown together as an afterthought.

I had seen the Southern Gypsy rockers just a month before, on what was the biggest night of their career (they received a plaque on the Wall of Fame at The Curtain Club); and the setlist was very similar to that night.

The five-piece opened with one of their newer songs, which I believe was “Gravity”; and they didn’t let the different setting impact their show in the least. Actually, no band this night did. Lead guitarist Brandon Tyner was slinging his guitar around while brutalizing the strings on it. They didn’t allow for any downtime, and continued the onslaught by immediately going into “White Russians”.

They didn’t have as much room to move about, though everyone was making use of what they had. Keith Allen walked about — mic in hand — as he shouted out the lyrics; and there were two points when Stephen Smith rose up from his seat behind the drum kit, before striking the cymbals with a devastating force.

They took a break now, and while I had trouble hearing the full conversation, Keith said something about he had four kids, in response to something one of the onlookers had said to him. “…That’s not a plea for help. That’s the fucking truth,” he remarked. He then did the “obligatory glass raise” (as he called it), making a toast to all who were there; while Steve pointed out that his parents were there.

“Aphasia” brought the pace down a bit, with its more melodic, though technical riffs of each verse. Bassist Barry Townsend let loose on the chorus, however, jumping back and forth on his little slice of the stage. Rhythm guitarist Ruvayne Weber was more or less doing the same on stage right, and perhaps it was because I was seated looking directly at that part of the stage, but he had my attention more than anyone else this night. He killed it from start to finish, and honestly, I thought he was even better this night than any other show I’ve seen them do since welcoming him to the band.

Steve dove straight into “Wandering”; the in-your-face drum beats soon giving way to what is the most furious, and subsequently one of the best songs they do live. They even had a little fun with it, extending the break before the final chorus, causing all of them to look anxiously at Keith, just waiting for him to belt out the next line, their cue to come back in. No sooner had it ended, and then Brandon launched into the opening riffs of “Western Sky”, their slightly reggae sounding number.

“…We’re Allen’s premier Johnny Cash tribute band,” Keith joked once that song was over. The laughs continued when he asked if everybody had a drink. “This is a little game we play called ‘Drink’,” he said shortly before “Junkie Logic”, which saw Ruvayne showcasing his skills on the guitar as he simultaneously ran one hand up the neck of it and another down it at one point.

“Are we boring y’all?” Keith asked, checking in on everyone afterwards. There was no real response, prompting him to look at it as the glass being half-full. “I didn’t hear a no,” he laughed, before they got to another newer song that will most likely be on their upcoming full-length record. Upon finishing it, he said it was called, “Fifteen Beers”. It was followed with the title track from their current EP, “Faith Healer”, which came complete with a clap along moment the band instigated towards the end.

“…Are we doing all three?” Keith asked his band mates, trying to figure out how the remainder of their set was going to play out. “We’ll be here a minute,” he quipped, as they continued discussing things.

They axed one song from the list, and then did what Keith said was called, “Never give a drunk man a microphone.” It was actually “Sit In”, and Barry really came to life on that high-energy number, thrashing around and hopping about, while Steve again stood up from his kit at the tail end.

“…I’m trying not to curse…” Keith remarked in the pause before their final song. He had done pretty well this night, not using too many expletives, though, most likely with intended irony, he dropped a few crude words then. With that, Ruvayne started them off on “Weight of the World”, another new song and the closer to their 41-minute long set. It was one Steve was clearly enjoying, as he was often mouthing along to the words.

“Thank you, you’ve been a great crowd,” Keith told everyone as feedback from the guitars filled the room, lasting for upwards of a couple of minutes.

This was a stark contrast from their last show, and not just due to the different setting. They didn’t have nearly as much riding on this one, which allowed for them to be a little more carefree. They’re a band who always has fun in the first place, but they were able to go with the flow more this night, like when one of Brandons’ pieces of gear quit on him, (I honestly didn’t even realize it until he said something to me after the show. It didn’t really change the sound out in the crowd.)

This night was all about having a good time, but even when having fun, Daylight Industries still provides a quality performance that not just every band is capable of.

You can buy their music in iTUNES, and also get several free downloads on their REVERBNATION. As for shows, they have a gig at The Rail in Fort Worth on September 5th, then one at The Boiler Room in Dallas on October 18th.

After them, was Red Angel Theory, a band who I had not seen in far too long. A year or more to be exact.

“How you guys doing?” frontwoman Monica Koohi asked as they took the stage to begin delivering what was the longest set of the night (an impressive 53-minutes.)

They had some newer songs in the mix, some of which I had heard before, and others I hadn’t, like their opener. Early on in it, the microphone came unplugged, and I think it took everyone (including Monica) just a second or two to realize what had happened, before she quickly fixed it. She often prowled around the stage this night, resting her foot on one of the monitors at times as she surveyed the crowd, and at one point during this song, she even crouched down as she sang, getting more on eye level with everyone. It came to a roaring close with some aggressive beats from Nick Sarabia, while guitarist Brandon Deaton stamped his foot along to it.

“This song’s called Shattered,” Monica announced, while a sample track bridged the gap from the first song into it. It was one track that Nick added some backing vocals on; and Brandon violently thrashed about on the second chorus, to the point his head came fairly close to the floor. Nick then segued them into their next number. “This is called Quarantine,” Monica informed everyone, then shouted, “Let’s go!”

They were definitely in charge of the crowd by that point; and after racing through that number, Monica checked to make sure everybody was still with them, while a spacy sounding track softly played in the background. The already hard rock band tapped into an even heavier side with “Scream”, which saw not only Nick, but also Monica doing some vicious, throaty screams at times. When Monica was belting it out, she leaned back and held the mic above her head, making for an awesome pose.

They rolled it right into the next song, but only after a music bed that quickly transformed into a guitar solo. Monica dropped to her knees during that time, getting caught up in the music for a moment before saying, “…If you’re still breathing, that’s a reason to stay alive.” As the music picked back up, Phil Sahs added his bass to the mix of the song that, for any old fans, was once known as “The Darkness”, but has now been completely rewritten (lyrically), and tweaked just a bit. It sounded great.

“Did you like that?” Monica asked as they hit a break, during which time a patron asked who they were. She told him, and he responded with “Y’all are awesome.” “He said we’re awesome, what do you think?” she asked, checking on the rest of the room, who seemed to echo that sentiment. She touched on the fact that without fans, they wouldn’t be anything, and then they had some fun.

I have never seen Red Angel Theory do a cover song before, but within the last year, they’ve apparently started trying their hand at it.

They spiced up the Simple Minds’ classic, “Don’t You (Forget About Me”), giving it more of an edge, yet it still retained its catchy, poppy style. “Do you remember that one?” Monica asked once it was finished. Brandon then leaned in and said something to her. “He said he heard it in movies when they were in the theater,” she said, of what Brandon had told her. “I only saw it on VHS,” she added. They then switched gears from that 80’s pop classic and did “Voodoo Child”, where Brandon really got to showcase his chops with one solo after another. Simply put, he slayed.

“Can I get more water? I’m making a mess up here,” Monica requested after that one, laughing a bit. The glass she had up there had been knocked over during that last tune. What came next was another new song (to me, at least), and it was the rawest thing I’ve heard the band do. It caught me off guard, because it was much more intense than anything I was expecting from them, and that was a nice feeling. More monstrous screams were prominently featured during it; and then they started winding down.

“Are you still with us?” Monica asked before “Suffocate”, a song that had Phil getting quite into it. “Inception” is still my personal favorite Red Angel Theory tune, and the rest of the onlookers seemed to react pretty strongly to it as well. On the first chorus, Monica stood in front of the microphone and waved her hands about in the air. Before going any further, she wished a happy birthday to Nick, and then they wrapped things up with “When the Dust Settles”, which brought things to a powerful finish.

The one good thing about going so long without seeing a band as you can instantly see their growth, and Red Angel Theory has undergone a lot in the last year.

They were even tighter and more cohesive than before. Brandon has gotten even more lively, as has Phil; and even in an environment like this, that’s a little different from your normal concert experience, Monica was constantly a riveting figure whom you couldn’t take your eyes off of.

You could tell all four of them have been pouring a lot of time into the new songs and even the band itself, and they’ve reached a whole other level because of it.

You can find the Rise for Something EP in iTUNES. Hopefully later in the year they’ll have another record to add to their discography, too. Their next show will be September 6th at The Rail in Fort Worth; and on the 13th they’ll be at Trees in Dallas. They also have a gig in Greenville at The Hanger on October 11th.

Wes Ford and The Foundry had the final slot this night. I’ve been hearing great things about the trio for about a year or so now, but had yet to see them play; and based on all the rabid fans they had brought out this night, it looked like it was going to be a great show.

Before getting to the Southern hard rock music, they began with some humor, as bassist Scott Arndt mentioned they could be found on Facebook, Reverbnation and such. You can find Wesley on Porn Hub…” he cracked, speaking of singer and guitarist Wes Ford. He named a few other adult oriented sites. “What’s the new one?” he asked Wes, who didn’t have an answer for him. They then started to lay down some heavy and thick tracks that immediately had you thinking, “These guys are awesome!” In just a couple of songs, they were definitely living up to the hype I had heard.

After a few songs, Scott said he was going to introduce everyone, and in an original twist, he proceeded to name off members of the crowd. “Oh, you meant the band!” he suddenly realized, as he pointed out drummer Jeff Michnal and Wes. “…My name’s None ya businesses. I got warrants out and shit,” Scott then quipped. He wasn’t through with the comedy yet. He now asked if everyone was tipping their bartenders. “…It’s not just a city in China,” was the unexpected punch line; and then he added someone had confused him earlier when they told him the city was in South Korea.

They got back to it with “Dying Bed”; and right at the start, Jeff flipped a drumstick into the air. It went way off to the side, where he didn’t stand a chance at catching it. Still, it was cool in a slightly funny way. The lengthy song was as much of an instrumental jam as it was sung, making for a nice balance. “Swamp Chomp” came after, and while it was a similar structure, it was a little more bluesy sounding.

“Do you like love songs?” asked Scott before their next track, one that Wes pointed out afterwards was written about his ex-wife (it wasn’t a good thing). They then finished their 47-minute long set with what was a bit of a sing along at times, though the raw rock vibe was still there; and at one line, when saying, “Fuck”, Wes waved his middle finger in the air.

They had an overwhelming presence about them; and I know there were several people there who hadn’t seen the band before and found themselves unable to pull away while they were on stage.

The music may not be cutting edge, but they bring a refreshing element to it, and every song brought something different to the table.

Their next show will be in Dallas at The Curtain Club on September 6th.

The Dirty Rooster is really a great place to see live music, and all three of these bands helped make my first experience there an excellent one.

The lighting and sound are both high quality (not necessarily equivalent to venues that are specifically suited for this, but also far superior to many of their counterparts.) It provides a good atmosphere, very welcoming; and it caters to all types. From people who may want to grab a drink, to those looking to relax with a game of pool or darts, and, of course, the music lovers.

Larry presents this showcase on the third Saturday of every month, so September 20th will be the next installment. If there’s ever a band playing you like, or maybe you don’t have anything to do, go check it out. It really exceeded my expectations. It’d be nice if this could also become a little more frequent than once a month, too. Who knows, it could even make Allen a hotspot to go hear some local music.

Sunday, August 31st, 2014 – A Double Plaque Show at The Curtain Club

What better way to bring Labor Day weekend to a close (well, at least the actual weekend portion of it) then by going to a concert. To have a show on a Sunday night, especially on a holiday weekend, it’d have to be something pretty important, though. And that was exactly the type of show the Curtain Club was hosting this night.

Most notably, it was a double plaque presentation, with two more bands going up on the storied Wall of Fame.

You might think the crowd would be pretty thin on a night like this, and it did start off that way, though there were a fair amount of eyes on Agents of Solacewhen they hit the stage about 8:30.
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“Lesson Learned” was the lone song they did off their two-year-old self-titled, debut album, and it set the tone for the remainder of their set. The five of them were really feeling the song. Lead guitarist Tom Williamson tore it up on his axe, and while in the zone, he leaned against Macie, who was belting out the lyrics. Rhythm guitarist Jeff Williamson also lent his voice towards the end, making for a duel-vocal part that sounded killer.

Nearly all of their songs fed seamlessly into the next, as was the case here, when they transitioned into a song that I believe was called “Sundown”. Keith Watson definitely proved the drums were the backbone of the song, and he was responsible for some hard-hitting beats, which I found to be the best part of the track. Let’s not forget the few lines that Macie sang a cappella, though, which left several people in the room in a state of awe.

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Jeff then wound then in to their rousing rendition of Halestorm’s “Familiar Taste of Poison”, which plays to their strong suits; and bassist Chip Kohr went from using the keyboard in front of him for part of it to rounding out the rhythm section with some thick bass lines.

“Thank you for coming out tonight and supporting some music,” Macie said over the track that bled them into their next number. She mentioned a video of it could be found on Youtube. With Jeff handling much of the lead vocals on the first half of the large-scale “Voyeurs”, Macie was left to groove to the music for a bit, before it became more co-sung between them. A spacey sounding track mixed with the keys then bridged them into the following song; and while her band mates got ready for it, Macie savored the breeze from fan that set up at the front of the stage. “That feels so good!” she remarked, before asking how everyone was feeling. The response she got wasn’t nearly good enough, which led her to repeat the question.

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Jeff was now armed with an acoustic guitar, as they brought it down a notch or two with a newer song, “Gravity”. That wasn’t the only new song they did this night, though. They had one that was even fresher than that, and Macie pointed out they had just put it together a few weeks before this. “Hope you like it,” she told the crowd, also informing them it was titled “Take”. Once again, Jeff was doing much of the singing, making for a pretty balanced show in regard to sharing the vocal duties. The song got off to a slower start, and they took some time to build it up, but then it sprang to life. He was also responsible for a nice little guitar solo during it.

“Are y’all ready?!” asked Macie during the segue into the final song of their 37-minute long set. The singing was once again split amongst the two vocalists; and perhaps the best part of the song was the series of solos. Macie introduced each of the band members, and after each name was said, the rest of the band dropped out, allowing that one member a solo that lasted a few seconds. It made for a nice touch.

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Thus ended their time on stage, and having seen their show here at the end of June and then this one, this was a little different Agents of Solace.

I think a lot of that can be attributed to the flow they gave their performance this night. With next to no downtime, they had no option but to get more into it; and the longer they played, the more they were all vibing with one another. The chemistry they had going on this night was spectacular as well, and that was what made this such a great show to watch. Actually, they were worthy of a later slot than what they got, even if it was just by an hour.

Their next show is scheduled for October 3rd at O’Rileys in Dallas. You can also find a couple tracks for free download on their REVERBNATION, and get the full album in iTUNES.

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Next up this night was one band I had not heard of before, and that was Residing Regret.

I wasn’t sure about them during the first couple songs. That’s not to say they were bad, but I just stayed on the fence about them for a bit.

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Frontman Lennon Brown III asked for some crowd participation before their second number, asking everyone to yell, “Chains!”, along with them on the chorus. He conducted a test run, which went over well, and pointed out that their music had a message to it. In this case, it was about breaking through your chains that restrict you in life. “You better do it,” he added, speaking of the singing, before jokingly threatening to not take a crowd selfie if people didn’t get into it. “Why are we constantly hurting ourselves?” went one of the lines from the song, which seemed pretty striking to me.

The onlookers didn’t let them down, either, helping a bit with the singing. “That’s the first time that’s actually worked,” Lennon confessed afterwards, saying that from now on they’d expect it.

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“Visions” was the song where I started to really enjoy them. Guitarists Emanuel Villegas and Robert Griffith, as well as bassist Casper Morgan were doing a good job of moving around the stage; and after finishing that song, things got pretty entertaining. Lennon clearly felt right at home conversing with the crowd, which was like a double-edged sword in some ways, ‘cause at times it stretched on for several minutes, which didn’t help the flow of the show. Anyway, Lennon joked about how good the crowd sounded after that one, particularly one person who was raving about the band, and he had them repeat the noise. “I’m not going to tell you what that sounded like, ‘cause I’d get arrested,” Lennon cracked after the second time.

When they got to the final three songs, they threw them out pretty quick, ending with “Blackout”.

It might have taking me a little time to warm up to Residing Regret, but once I did, I thoroughly enjoyed the show.

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You could tell they were on cloud nine up there, especially Lennon, who was just having the time of his life chatting with everyone and playing their music for the people.

As for their music, it was more along the lines of alt/rock, with some curve balls thrown in here and there. It was a little different from what I’ve heard before, which was cool.

You can download a couple demos they have for free HERE. As for shows, keep a check on their FACEBOOK page.

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Now it was time to get to the doubleheader portion of the night, which began with Solice.
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The instrumentalists, guitarist Juan Brittos, bassist Rob Pummil and drummer Ryan Matthews were raring to go, and they began before the curtain was pulled open on them. The venue was pretty packed by now, and their throng of fans instantly got into the music, banging their heads along, while Rob jumped about.

“Dallas, Texas, make some noise!” shouted Xtina Lee when she stormed the stage a few moments later. “This first song is Sweet Escape!” she added, as the music soon let up. “I want to escape from this horrid place, but it’s captured me…” she crooned on the first verse, before it roared back into action at the chorus. It was then that she, Juan and Rob around in their spots. “Make some noise!” Xtina shouted at one point during the track, drawing a massive response from everyone; and at another point, the fans decided to start a clap along to the beats Ryan was knocking out.
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“Dallas, Texas, we are so fucking excited to be here. It’s all because of you,” she added, expressing their gratitude to all the fans for helping them receive a plaque. “Let me see your hands!” she then requested, leading the crowd in a clap along while Juan ripped into “Heart of Stone” with a wicked solo. The fans seemed to be loving that song — which is one of the newest in their catalog; and it seemed to be the song where they solidified their hold over the crowd this night.

“This is one of our favorites,” Xtina stated before their next one, asking to see some lighters or cell phones in the air. Both were raised towards the sky, and surprisingly, there were more lighters than phone screen present — at least from my line of sight. The tune was “Trapped”, which showed off the more delicate side they are capable of (at times, at least), but that didn’t last too long. Xtina threw out some merch to the fans, which ranged from wristbands to a copy of their debut LP, and then asked if anyone had checked out their Youtube channel. Those who had knew the song quite well, as Xtina stepped back by the keyboard and used it for just a bit at the start. “Do You See It Now?” was made all the more ominous by the eerie way both Juan and Rob uttered the title into their mics. The fans were once again brought into the show when another clap along moment arose, and everyone was more than willing to be a part of it.

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“Has anyone heard our single?” Xtina asked. Of course, some had, and a few fans shouted, “Save Me!” back at them. The heavy song was made even heavier by the backing vocals Juan does, screaming in a throaty and very metal sounding voice. Afterwards, a quick poll was taken, which showed not just how many people had seen Solice before, but also that there were plenty of first timers there. “This is one of the first songs we ever wrote,” Xtina then mentioned, setting up their next song. “…It’s about not being fake or something that you’re not,” she finished, before returning to the keys as she and her band mates got “The Mask” underway. Rob — who had now removed the vest he had been wearing so far this night — was furiously slapping his bass on that classic Solice tune; and about midway through, Juan was roaming around the stage, eventually jumping atop the center monitor.

“Never Enough” had a little prelude of sorts, which saw Xtina swaying to and fro in front of the microphone, before the drums and everything else kicked in, sending not only the song but also the band into overdrive. There came a moment when Xtina decided to crowd surf. The audience had thinned out some now that they were in the latter part of their set; and she didn’t get too far off the stage before slipping a bit. Those who did have her quickly put some extra muscle into it to ensure nothing would happen to her, before sending her back to the stage. Then, when the song reached its pinnacle moment, sounding quite metal, a mosh-pit was started by some of the spectators.

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The action packed “Break Free” came next, and Xtina noted that while they don’t play it too often, they were doing it for everyone this night. “BREAK FREE!” Rob screamed at the top of his lungs before each chorus, and he continued slapping his bass. The rhythm section in general sounds amazing on that song, and the mighty beats Ryan was producing made it all the more fitting of an environment for another small mosh-pit to break out.

For their final song, they did something a little different. Josh Woodward — who produced their album — joined them on stage. Rob handed him his bass, while he grabbed another guitar. “…This song’s very special to me,” Xtina stated, referring to “Solace”. “Solace comes when you accept your pain,” goes one of the lines from that emotion-filled song about getting out of a toxic relationship, a song that had all eyes glued on them.

It provided a good note to end on, and at 45-minutes, their set was the longest of the night.
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The audience applauded them, especially once their plaque was brought out. The group posed around, and it appeared that nearly every person in there had to phones up to take a picture of this landmark event in Solice’s history.

The excitement of the night was evident in every single second of the show, and you could tell there was just something special in it. It’s the kind of rush that comes with getting a plaque or even releasing a CD, and the fact that Solice managed to combine the two made it all the more memorable. Mix in a healthy crowd who was providing plenty of energy for them to feed off of, and the result was probably one of the best shows they’ve ever done.

You can get their record, Solace, on iTUNES. As for shows, they’ll be playing The Dirty Rooster in Allen on September 20th, and then The Wreck Room in Amarillo on October 18th.

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Closing out the night was one band I hadn’t seen in a while, and that was Faded Grace.

They aren’t quite as active as they were a couple of years ago, but the band hasn’t kicked the bucket, either; and now, after a few years of working towards it, they, too, were finally being awarded a plaque on the wall.

Their 43-minute long set got started with “Go Alone”, and even though it had been several months since they were last all on a stage together, you couldn’t tell it. Bassist Laura Paleczka and guitarist Jessica Bruns immediately began interacting with one another, getting face to face as the jammed; while towards the end, Jessica walked towards the center of the stage and did a little backbend next to frontwoman Tracy.

“We weren’t sure about today, until now,” Tracy laughed during their first break. “It’s been a while since the five of us have been together,” she added, also pointing out they were a little “tipsy” this night. “But that makes it more fun!” she stated, before they moved on with another song. They were all clearly just enjoying having a platform to share their music on again, as was evident when a couple of the band members were seen mouthing the words; and Jessica worked her way over to stage right, where she leaned against fellow axe-slinger Diane Contreras.

Despite what Tracy had said earlier, they didn’t appear tipsy on stage, which was a good thing, because several shots had now appeared on stage, and after downing them, Laura started them into “Side to Side”. They had a pretty good showing of fans out, and everyone was banging their heads along to the thunderous beats, which seemed to accent Tracys’ mighty voice at times.

“Thank you, guys…” the frontwoman told their dedicated fans afterwards, saying that was something she couldn’t say enough. “The next time we play live for you guys, we’ll have a brand new song,” she then added. That will be something to look forward to, but for now, the folks were treated to “Liar”, which highlights both their soft and heavy sides; and on some of the heavier parts, Laura spun her head in a circle as she slapped at her bass. They then tackled the subsequent track from the Volume 1.5 EP, but only after inviting a friend/fan on stage and singing happy birthday to her. “That’s the only time I’ve ever liked that song being sung for me,” the woman told the band as she rejoined the rest of the audience.

Jessica had set her guitar down now, and now held her mic in her hand. Their rendition of Deftones’ “Passenger” utilizes her voice as well as Tracys’; and as they got it going, Laura wandered down to one of the steps in front of the stage, where she spent the entire song, giving the crowd just a little better view of her skills. Shortly after they finished, Tracy got on her phone. “I’m not checking Facebook, I’m refreshing my memory,” she clarified, before later pointing out that if anyone wanted to get them something to drink, they quite liked Shiner beer and/or whiskey. That said, they kept the loud and heavy sounds flowing with “Sister”, which ended with Jessica and Laura giving each other a little kiss; and after again thanking everyone, and stressing the only reason this night was happening was because “all those other nights you fucking showed up”, as Tracy put it, they did “Self Ruin”. Jessica leaned in towards the lead microphone for parts of it, helping out with the vocals; and at the brutal instrumental break, all five of the ladies thrashed about.

There were mixed feelings when they got to their final song. On one hand, people were sad their set was practically over. On the other hand, they quite enjoyed hearing and singing along to “Bad Bitch”. “…You don’t know who you’re messing with tonight. We’ve got you by the balls!” fans shouted along to each chorus. “We will be back…” Tracy noted, before they reached the homestretch for the song, wrapping it up.

The shouts for an encore were swift, but having such little time all together to practice (Tracy mentioned earlier in the night that this day was actually their only one to practice), they had nothing of the sort planned. It was then that Doug, who’s part owner of the Curtain, stepped on stage. He held a plaque, and appeared sort of embarrassed. He apologized that their artist responsible for painting all the plaques had yet to finish the one for Faded Grace, and had only partially done it so far. “I like it like that!” Tracy shouted, saying she thought it was perfect with it more being a very basic outline of all five of them. Jessica did not feel the same. “I’m not done!” she yelled. Then came the jokes, like when Tracy seemed to speak a thought aloud. “I’ve never wanted a piece of wood so bad in my life,” she quipped; and shortly after, Jessica began to ride it.

In true Faded Grace fashion, this show was just as much about having fun as it was putting on a rock show. They balanced it well, and made sure the crowd was enjoying it every bit as much as they were.

Everyone had a blast; and even though I hadn’t seen them in probably going on two years, and considering they can only play once every several moths anymore, it didn’t look like they had lost a step in their live show. It was still powerful as ever; and the chemistry they have with one another was easy to see.

Who knows when they’ll play again, but until then, you can find their two albums in iTUNES.

Faded Grace capped the night off perfectly, and after such a long weekend, I think nearly everyone was ready to get out of there so they could start recouping.

Saturday, August 30th, 2014 – An Anniversary Party Fit for a King (Camel, That is)

In just a year’s time, King Camel Productions has established itself as a key player in the North Texas music scene. Perhaps the best quality founder Jeffrey Brown brings to booking his shows is his love for the more obscure bands, bands that you may have never heard of before, but after seeing them, you’ll most likely be a fan.

That’s happened to me on more than one occasion when I’ve attended some King Camel shows, where I’ve walked into the venue with no prior knowledge on some of the acts, but have left a new fan. I was hoping that would repeat this day at Club Dada, for the first annual King Camelversary.

Sixteen bands had been tapped to play the daylong event, and with the exception of a handful of acts, I was unfamiliar with most of them.

The shindig began at 4:30 in the afternoon, a little earlier than I was able to make it, since I had spent much of the early afternoon in Fort Worth at The Kimbell Art Museum. That meant I missed Howler Jr., who started off the event on the outdoor stage, along with Tidals, who got the party going indoors.

It was about 5:45 when I walked inside the venue; greeted the friendly promoter; and then headed out to the patio, to see what I could of International Bitterness Unit.

I caught the last few songs from the band that plays pure rock; and they exceeded their 30-minute time slot by a bit, choosing to do one more quick number. Singer and rhythm guitarist Britt Tucker moved his guitar behind for it and often gripped the mic as he belted out the lyrics. Marco Elizondo was a force to be reckoned with back on the drums; and at one point, bassist Andrew Magilow leaned against Britts’ back, making for a very rock ‘n’ roll moment.

What I saw was great, and the band seemed even better and more cohesive than the first time I saw them a few months back (which just so happened to be at the Local Education concert series King Camel does from time to time.)

On September 20th, IBU will be playing at Tradewinds Social Club in Dallas.

For me, that was a good way to get this King Camelversary going; but now it was time to experience the other side of the festival.

“It’s like stepping from one world into another, isn’t it?” Jeff remarked to me when I happened to walk up beside him.

Indeed, it was.

Botany was on stage, and this was the first of many bands this day whom I had never seen, let alone heard of.

Spencer Stephenson is responsible for the sounds, and a series of synthesizers and keyboards were laid out in front of him. In terms of style, it was not at all what I like. However, there was some sort of enchanting quality it had. You really couldn’t help but get into it, as Spencer darted from keyboard to keyboard, creating what sounded like one massive song, as there was no real stopping point until right at the end.

He even tried some singing on a couple latter songs, though he used about as much reverb as possible, and it was so gauzy and distant sounding the actual words were pretty much indiscernible.

Botany may not be my typical style but even if I had wanted to, I don’t think I could have pulled myself away. There was just something the music. It entranced you; and I wouldn’t mind seeing a second show.

There was another big shift in the genres when folks stepped back onto the patio and the dreadful heat that came with standing in the sun (at least there was some shade to find refuge in).

Matthew & The Arrogant Sea were ready to doll out their jazzy style of roots rock for everyone, and they were doing so without a drummer. Actually, there were so many band members on stage it took me a couple minutes to even realize there was no drum kit set up behind everyone.

Their first tune had a heavy jazz presence, which seemed most prevalent in the trumpet Sammy Strittmatter played, as well as Brent Buemi and his oboe, though even the electric and acoustic guitar contributed. They rolled it into another track, and upon finishing it, singer and acoustic guitarist Matthew Gray let everyone know they were “fucking thrilled” to be there at the Camelversary.

They had some lengthy tracks planned for everyone, and given the tight schedule, they didn’t waste much time on banter. Another cool jam — even tranquil in some ways — came next, and it was during it that Rahim Quazi was sidelined. His keyboard was having some technical difficulties, so he decided to handle some percussion instead, and began clapping along to the music his band mates were making. The problem never was officially resolved, so for the bulk of their set, Rahim wound up being an unexpected member of the rhythm section.

“Let’s get a hand for Bob,” Matthew asked during the next break, referring to the man that is often affectionately called “Keyboard Bob”, who had showed up. Though he didn’t have his keyboard with him this day. “Do y’all know any Beatles?” Bob asked later on, while the band just laughed it off.

As they wound down, Matthew declared they had some “fucking cocktail rock” left for everybody. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of that genre before, but the Arrogant Sea pulled it off. Electric guitarist Tony Whitlock and bassist Blake Vickrey added some true rock layers to it, though it was kept more relaxed; and the harmonies much of the band contributed at times sounded phenomenal. They actually had time for one more after that (most of their songs spanned several minutes); and then thanked those who were there for watching.

They may have had some setbacks, what with the keys, and even not having a drummer was different for them, but they pulled it all off. Rahim deserves some props for just going with the flow, and he never appeared displaced by not having a keyboard to play. The songs sounded great, too, and even without a full rhythm section, they still had a robust quality to them; and Matthews’ voice was pleasing to all the ears that were listening.

They were another band I had first seen at a previous King Camel show a few months back, and like the earlier mentioned band, I enjoyed M&TAS even more the second time around.

Keep an eye on their Facebook page for news on future shows. They also have an older release available in iTUNES, with some new music (hopefully) due out by year’s end.

Back on the inside stage was the husband and wife duo of Ian and Mila Hamilton, who make up Mannequins with Kill Appeal.

The name was every bit as intriguing as their music wound up being.

They did all of four songs in a set that was only about 15-minutes, and regularly alternated on who did the singing, with Mila starting them off.

The music was rooted in electronic elements, all of which were controlled by Ian, who had a laptop and some other gear in front of him, though each also wielded a guitar.

Fitting with the electronic vibe, the lyrics were hard to hear, but that didn’t hamper the music. They quickly built up to an explosive finish to their third song, which saw Ian shredding on his axe; and even after mixing it flawlessly into their final song, his playing just got progressively faster.

It’s not that I’m not open to electronic music, I’m just very selective to what I listen to. The fact that Mannequins with Kill Appeal married some rock music to their synthesized sounds made me like it all the more, and I was actually a little sad their set didn’t last any longer than it did, ‘cause I had just started really enjoying it.

There was yet another duo ready to rock now on the outdoor stage, and the was the slightly psychedelic, Mercury Rocket.

They tore things up on that stage; and when he wasn’t doing any singing, singer and guitarist Ben Fleming broke away from the mic stand and walked around. That may not have been a good idea at first, because as they concluded their first song, and he stepped away, the mic stand began to fall. Luckily, one spectator was quick to react and saved it.

Despite just being a two-piece, it was instantly clear Mercury Rocket had a fleshed out sound, and that first tune was even quite rich sounding. They rolled it right into the next song; and after another one, Ben killed some time by chitchatting with the onlookers.

“…We keep fucking up,” he remarked, adding, “It’s not your fault,” just so none of the crowd felt responsible for their issues. They got things in order and then ended their 23-minute long set with a song that featured some heavy use of an electronic drum pad that Graham Brotherton split his time between, though he still using his kit. There was also a nice delay effect in the guitar, creating an excellent sound.

Mercury Rocket is one band I’ve heard about, but hadn’t seen until this night. They were even better than I expected; and they packed a lot of energy into those handful of songs they did.

They’re a killer band in general, and an excellent duo; and that’s something the D/FW music scene can never have too much of.

You can find a collection of singles they’ve recorded on their BANDCAMP site, each for the low price of $1.

There were a few minutes of downtime, and then it was time for Bashe on the indoor stage.

“…That’s bash with an ‘e’ at the end…” singer and guitarist Joe Cepeda Overman informed everyone before they began. “And these are our songs,” he pointed out, before they embarked on their 31-minute long set. His twelve-string guitar helps add a more distinct tone to their shoegaze brand of rock; and as their first song reached its end, he walked back over by his amp to create some feedback.

That served as a bridge into the next one, which had a grand sound to it, with the drums from Zac Travis and TC Olivers’ bass all working in excellent harmony with one another. Another track got started with some ominous bass riffs, and upon finishing it, Joe circled back to where they began.

“We’re Bashe, and that was our music,” he remarked, before wishing a happy anniversary to King Camel. They had one more, though. “I’ll let you serenade me with this one,” shouted Jeff Brown, who wasn’t far off, because on this final track, Joe tapped into his falsetto voice at times.

Bashe helped continue the greatness of this day, giving the crowd (which was rapidly growing by this point) a solid performance with a near non-stop pace.

I first saw Bashe on this stage a few months before this (you guessed it, it was a King Camel show), and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, they, too, were a band who I thought was even better the second time around.

Their music is pretty fresh, in my opinion. For me, it’s just a perfect blend of indie rock and electronic, but unlike some of the bands who played before them, the vocals are still strong and easy to understand. It’s like they picked out the strongest attributes of each genre, and then got creative.

You can find two variations of their debut EP, Open Up, on BANDCAMP (one features the songs performed at a slower pace). Check it out; it’s a good piece to have in your collection.

Back on the patio, Fogg was already beginning their performance, and it was something to behold.

The trio was more hard rock, but merged a few different genres into their sound, including a little psychedelic and even some slight metal. They were equal parts instrumental, too, producing some killer, dirty rock sounds, with constant shredding from guitarist Chase Jowell (who also provided the vocals), and even bassist Brandon Hoffman. Drummer Ethan Lyons was also a machine, and just slayed on the kit.

“Is it too loud?” Chase asked at one point, responding to a couple of people who kept screaming for it to be louder (and faster). He quickly answered his on question with, “It’s probably not loud enough.”

Fogg could have had it cranked all the way up to eleven, and I don’t know if that would have been loud enough for people. They put on a spectacle of a show, and are skilled musicians who were even semi-technical with their styles. That made the instrumental segments all the better, because you could just watch them on their weapon of choice.

They were a surprise for me, as I was not expecting such a powerhouse show. It wound up being one of the best of the entire day.

They have some demos and fully produced songs you can get for free or just a few bucks over at BANDCAMP.

Hex Cult was about the only band on this bill I wasn’t able to get into.

I’m just not a fan of the screaming each member of the band does. Still, the two guys put on a ferocious show, and even if you don’t care for the music, that can be enough to keep you interested.

It peaked right at the end, when their singer jumped into the crowd, threw a bottle of water into the air, and then began acting wild as he thrashed around, rolled on the ground and even started a small mosh-pit with some of the fans who were willing to partake in it.

They, too, had kept their set short, and didn’t even start until about 9:15, and then did their thing in just fifteen-minutes.

War Party was another act I wasn’t expecting to like. I’m pretty confident I had seen them a couple years or so ago, and just didn’t care for them then. I think they’ve changed a little in that time, though.

I don’t recall a trombone being used, yet that was one instrument Chris Waldon added to many of the songs they squeezed into their 23-minutes on stage.

From a wicked bass solo on their first number (which Tyler Moore was responsible for), to a song that drummer Peter Marsh did most of the singing on, they kept you on your toes. Some of their pop/punk numbers were co-sung between lead singer and rhythm guitarist Cameron Smith and other band mates, and others saw Chris laying down the trombone to focus on the keyboard.

The constant was that the songs were always catchy and full of life, and they were getting some members of the crowd overly excited.

“Faster! Louder!” a couple of people shouted, prompting Cameron to say before a brand new song that he didn’t know how fast and loud it was. “But I don’t give a fuck,” he stated, dedicating the new tune to the one and only King Camel. Their closing number saw Cameron running the neck of his guitar along one of the cymbals, which made for a nice effect.

My thoughts on War Party from a few years ago and War Party now are completely different. They’ve found a style that really suits them, and they made it pretty hard not to love them this night. The show was energetic and fun, as I said, the music was pretty infectious, and with the different voices at their disposal, they managed to change things up often enough that you were constantly interested.

I’ve dismissed them over the years since my first encounter, but I won’t be doing that anymore.

They have several albums and singles to pick up over on BANDCAMP.

Back inside, Nite was having some trouble. Eventually, after nearly ten minutes of their set had been lost, they decided to play as a duo, as there were some technical difficulties with the drums.

“Hello, everybody. We are Nite, from Dallas,” one of the Mendes brothers announced, as they began to use the remaining 21-minutes they had.

The lead track from their debut album, “Are You Afraid?”, got things going; and I think pretty much everyone in the room felt a sudden primal urge to dance. Not that everyone did, but the music was so catchy that you had to move about in some regard, even if it was just swaying. Their electronic pop mixture was reminiscent of that of the 80’s new wave.

Kyle sat his bass down, while Myles ditched his guitar so they could just focus on their synthesizers (the “stands” for them were a couple of ironing boards, which I thought was pretty inventive). “The Waking” showed off their full electronic side, but they went back to the instruments as they wound things right into “City On Fire”. Even with the instruments, there was a real dreamy sound to the song, though there was also a good moment when the brothers stood next to each other as they jammed for a bit.

“This goes out to all of you, especially King Camel himself,” one of them said, before sending everyone into a frenzy with the unmistakable beginning to Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”. They pulled of a great rendition of the beloved song; and with each of them doing some singing this night, they were able to do some killer co-singing at times on that one, as well as covering all the backing vocals.

That was definitely a highlight of their set; and now, they found themselves apologizing for their technical issues earlier, and how it cut into things. It was sad, especially knowing that they could have fit another song or two in, but stuff like that happens, and what are you going to do?

“We Were Strong” was another good one, and “On the Edge of Darkness” wrapped things up for them; and it was on that song that Myles found a point he could really get into it, and violently thrashed about.

Nite provided yet another highlight of my day at the King Camelversary. They offered another pleasant surprise; and compared to the other electronic bands, it was a good change of pace to see one who focused on a totally different area of the genre.

It would have been interesting to see them as a three-piece, but even as a makeshift duo they commanded the crowd, entertaining their old fans and making some new ones fall in love with them.

You can find their I Am Not Afraid record in iTUNES, as well as BANDCAMP. If you’d like to see them live, well, they’ll be back here at Dada on September 13th.

I then headed back outside, to see and hear Dead Mockingbirds, who had gotten off to a slightly early start and were just finishing what I believe was their opener.

“How you doing, Dallas?” asked singer and guitarist Kenneth Pritchard afterwards. As they had been doing all night, a couple of people shouted, almost demanding they play faster and louder. “We’re trying to,” Kenneth answered. “We’ve been here all day, fucking with those doors,” he said, pointing at the set of doors that led to and from the venue, and it took a while to get used to them, constantly confusing people on whether they should push or pull, and they often stuck, making it even trickier.

They kept barreling through their set, doing a track that had a great guitar solo worked in (it was the first of handful this night); and on that, the bass Trinidad Diaz was wielding really helped in accenting the other instruments. “We have merchandise for sale,” Kenneth remarked after another song, though he soon confessed, “I don’t remember where it is, though.”

Kenneth continued wailing on his axe, while Matthew Crain hammered away on the drums; and the smile he wore for pretty much the entire show let you know that he was in his happy place. “Are we getting fast enough yet?” Kenneth asked after a few more songs, one of which was an instrumental piece.

They were certainly getting there; and now, they had a brand new song for everyone. Kenneth began what was largely an instrumental jam, before Trinidad and Matt layered their instruments over a song that was titled “Jeffrey Brown”. It was pretty catchy, too. Kenneth pointed out the title upon finishing it, getting a laugh from nearly everyone, especially the promoter. I don’t know how seriously anyone took that, but after chatting with them later on this night, they did tell me that really is the title.

“You guys are just so good looking!” Kenneth exclaimed before their up-tempo version of “Munich”, which really got everyone going. The music tapered off, and then, with a speedy drum roll, Matt launched them into their final song.

Before this, it had been several months since the last time I had seen Dead Mockingbirds. Too long, in fact.

There were a few new songs this night, mixed with some of the others that, while they may not have been recorded, have still become fan favorites.

A Dead Mockingbird show is a fun one. There’s a lot of energy and great musicianship involved, all of which makes for a great concert experience. At least it did this night.

You can snag their singles in iTUNES, and they are currently working on a full record. Maybe it’ll be ready by the second King Camelversary. Also, you can find some more songs of theirs for free download on REVERBNATION.

That was the end of things outdoors, and now people headed back in for Cutter.

I had seen this two-piece electronic outfit before, and surprisingly, it was not at a KC show.

They set a nice atmosphere, supplying their own lights. So, while the house lights were completely out, the stage was illuminated by some high-powered clear light bulbs that shown on each member.

The duty of singing was often rotated, and drummer Jared Coffey handled it on their first song, using both his drum kit (which consists of only a few pieces) and the electronic drums, while Alex Velte hunched over some of the keys and synthesizers, banging his head along to the music.

They had a smoke machine at the ready, too, and before one song, a large cloud covered the stage, before slowly spilling out towards the audience. The band really is about the mood as much as the music and that smoke goes a long way for it.

“This is the most badass song I’ve ever listened to!” Jeff Brown shouted before one of the bands tracks; and during it, Alex grabbed the smoke machine and held it up, allowing it to billow out in every direction. They only slowed down when Alex had to go get his laptop — which he had left in the green room — and once he returned, he picked up a bass to give the rhythm of the next song more of a kick.

They were on a roll now, going right into their next song, and then jumping into the final number of their 28-minute long set.

Cutter knows a great concert isn’t just about the performance, but the overall aesthetic, and while it may be nothing fancy, the little elements they bring in make a huge difference.

They have a couple EP’s you can get over on BANDCAMP; and if you ever have a chance to go see them, take it. You won’t be disappointed.

For the first time all day, people actually had to wait on the music. Luckily, my wait was shortened since I stepped out on the patio and chatted with the guys from Dead Mockingbirds, right up until Sweet Spirit started.

The Austin-based band was just finishing their first song when I walked back in; and soon after, Sabrina Ellis thanked everyone for being there. Aside from the lead vocals, she also acted as the third guitarist for most of their set,; and they cranked out a couple more songs, which were primarily rock, though some even had little hints of soul thrown in.

“We’re here because we’re friends of Jeffrey’s!” Sabrina stated at one point, noting that he got them into some trouble last time they played one of his shows. “…I peed my own puke off the sidewalk,” she said, speaking of their last Dallas visit. The promoter was once again standing near me, enjoying the band, and when I asked if that was a true story, he neither confirmed nor denied it.

Andrew Cashen and Joshua Merry were then left as the only guitarists for a bit, which worked out for the best. Sabrina was better suited for the frontwoman role, as was seen on the next song, and after adding several lines to the track about how they were here for their friend Jeffrey, she grabbed her stretchy pants and hiked them, making a camel toe, before turning around and shaking her ass in Jeff’s face. If there was still any doubt that this was not a party, that solidified that it was.

Several more songs followed, and even with the tight conditions having six members on stage created, they still found enough room to move about. Bassist Jon Fichter walked back by Danny Lions’ drum kit on one song, propping his leg up on the bass drum; and while it was often masked by the roaring guitars and such, the keyboard Jake Knight was playing added a nice underlying element.

After finding out their time was almost up, the six of them had to figure out what final songs to do, and there were some split opinions. They compromised, though, first doing “Rebel, Rebel”, which had nearly all the band singing different parts of the song, often handling some of the lines in rounds. The song Sabrina was adamant they play was “Take Me to a Party”, which was one awesome track, and seemed appropriate to end with.

Sweet Spirit provided another memorable set here at the King Camelversary. The performance was untamed and very primal, just like any rock show should be. They kept it all quite fun, too (until this night, I had never seen a band member parade around on stage showing off a camel toe).

It was all highly entertaining. Even the music was a little more original sounding, and different from most of the stuff that’s out there.

I’m already looking forward to seeing them again, whenever they might come back this way.

After that final rock band, the night ended on an electronic note, thanks to Blackstone Rangers.

They eased everyone who was still there (which was a decent crowd) into their show with some softer songs, that more heavily relied on the synth and keys Ruth Smith was playing, along with singing the gauzy vocals. However, the deeper they got into their second number, the more they started showing off their rock side, with guitarist Derek Kutzer and drummer Daniel Bornhorst growing louder and more fierce with their playing.

That seemed to be when people really started getting into it; and they followed it with another song that started off pretty light, though experienced a sudden sharp rise in the music. “Now comes the good part of our set,” Ruth remarked shortly after, and on the song that followed, Derek wound up breaking a string. Luckily, it didn’t happen until late, and he was able to replace it during the next break.

Ruth killed time by making clear how unsatisfied she was with the mic stand. Indeed, the fact that the microphone was secured by a clip seemed odd, and just in watching them this night you could tell it had already created some setbacks. She made that known, saying she didn’t know who thought that would be a good idea, and when she did remove the mic to move around a bit, it complicated things when she had to work to put the mic back. “It fucking sucks,” she said at one point, also calling it a “joke”.

No, she was not at all fond of it.

They had a friend, Ben, join them on a song, who rounded out the outfit with a bass; and then threw in a couple more songs, one of which Derek just shredded on.

Blackstone Rangers was yet another band on this bill who doesn’t fit the mold of what I typically like, but actually, I enjoyed them even more this night than I had the first time around (and I liked them then.)

They pull off the electronic rock style quite well, even adding some shoegaze elements into it. The crowd really liked it this night, and it just felt like a good note to end on.

Their next show is going to be at Hailey’s in Denton on September 19th.They also have a tour of the Mid-West and West Coast starting in late October through mid November. Those dates can be found HERE. You can also find their EP’s on BANDCAMP.

This was one helluva day. Kudos to King Camel for putting together such a sweet spectacle of a lineup. From start to finish, there was never a dull moment, and all day long, this did feel like a party.

Not just a party for his success in the past year, but also a party for anyone and everyone who has had any part in that, which includes the fans who have supported him by coming out to all the shows. In turn, he booked this show for the fans as much as he did himself, with the end goal being that everyone would just enjoy themselves and have a good time. Mission accomplished.

Thursday, August 28th, 2014 – The Music Community Rallies for The Phuss’ Trey Alfaro

After being hit by a car while riding his bike a few weeks prior, several benefit shows for Trey Alfaro had popped up around Dallas, as his extended family in the D/FW music scene came together to help raise money for his medical expenses. In terms of the lineup, the one at Club Dada this night looked to be the overall best in my personal opinion, though; and since I had been unable to make any of the others, I had to be at this one.

Three bands The Phuss is close with were set to play, as was Josh Fleming of The Phuss, doing a more rare acoustic show. Then, just a couple days prior to the gig, it was announced that Trey was wanting to play drums and would be making his return behind the kit at his own benefit show.

Getting the show started was It Hurts to be Dead, who had made the drive from Wichita Falls to be here.

The band was a mix of garage rock and punk, focusing more on the former for much of their set. They powered through their opener, and then Kevin Gilmore struck his drumstick together to count them into their next number. “Club Dada, how’s it going?” the drummer (who also provided some backup vocals) asked once they completed the song.

At just a little after nine, there weren’t too many people there, but those who had showed up early made some noise. The band kept the chatter up, establishing a friendly rapport with everyone, like when asking if everyone was drinking, and then Kevin simply said, “Well, keep it up.” Singer and guitarist Sean Snyder dedicated their next song, “Smoke and Mirrors”, to Trey, who happened to be right up front for all of their set.

“…This song’s about ruined relationships and moving on…” Sean informed everyone before one of their tracks, while the following one dealt with “fucking up and ruining apologies.” Fittingly, it was called “Slurring My Apologies”, and it was with that one that their punk rock side started coming out. The pace picked up substantially from even their previous stuff, with Nick Thornton knocking out some aggressive riffs on the bass.

“That’s the disheveled end to that one,” Kevin remarked, as the song did come to a slightly abrupt end. Sean mentioned they would have a new album out soon, and “Suit Yourself” would be on it. They had one song left after that, something about a switchblade butter knife, which brought their 36-minute long set to a humorous and strong finish.

The band really grew on me as I watched them, especially with those last few songs, the ones that stuck true to the punk rock genre, as that was where It Hurts to be Dead really seemed to excel.

They fit well with the rest of the lineup, having that raw sound the other acts possess. By the time they were done, they had made me a fan; and I’m looking forward to this album they spoke of.

The Virgin Wolves were second up this night; and this was only the third show of the year.

They may not have been too active lately, but they still have the same spring in their step they always have, as was seen when they opened with “Lies”. Lead guitarist Chase Ryan sang the first few lines before ceding control over to frontwoman Jaimeson Toon. They continued to alternate on the verses of that slightly bluesy sounding rock number, showing off their more aggressive side as they hit each chorus.

“Hey guys, were The Virgin Wolves, and we love the shit out of this dude!” Jaimeson exclaimed as she pointed at Trey, who was front and center watching their set. As she finished speaking, Chase and fellow guitarist Carson Coldiron, as well as drummer Steve Phillips and bassist Kristin Leigh started on the rip-roaring intro to “Oh, Sugar”. They were quickly building up to their all-out rock material; and as they got to the final chorus, Chase, Jaimeson and Kristin all huddled up, while Chase flashed a big smile, clearly glad to be sharing a stage with his band mates once again.

“Crawl” had all of their fans singing along; and the backing vocals Chase and Kristin added on the final lines, as they and Jaimeson sang, “…I just love to watch you crawl,” led to a dynamic finish for the fiery number. “We’re all here for one reason: Trey Alfaro,” Chase said afterwards, which got another round of applause going for the drummer. He also added that Mothership was up after them. “The real one,” he joked, saying that according to Spotify, there were two in existence.

“Bad” was another classic that the crowd really got into, banging their heads along to the furious beat; and afterwards Carson launched them into “End Of The Line”, as he began gently plucking at the strings of his guitar. Shortly into the first verse, Jaimeson grabbed the mic cord and wrapped it around a few of her fingers as she continued to prowl around the stage; then lightly hit her head with her fist while singing the second chorus, “‘Cause I don’t want to take my precious time. I don’t want to talk about till the end of the line…”

The audience exploded into cheers as they immediately wound that into their rendition of Danzigs’, “Mother”. They’ve quickly made that a beloved staple of their shows; and it just fits with The Virgin Wolves style perfectly. All five of them really let loose on that number. Kristin and Jaimeson doing some interacting as they stood face to face with each other at the start, getting some good chemistry going; while Carson often pulled back from his mic stand during the short second or so the music trailed off, then sprang back towards it in synch to the next beats. They were even joined by Kyle Juett of Mothership, who helped with some of the backing vocals.

“…Dancing with a dobro…” Jaimeson remarked afterwards, poking fun at Chase, who had been using a dobro all night. “He would be so fucking mad if he saw someone playing his song with a dobro,” Carson added, getting a good laugh from his band mates and the audience.

“I was just informed we have merch for sale,” Jaimeson then pointed out, noting that didn’t always happen, so if anyone wanted anything, they should take advantage of it. Steve then struck his drumsticks together to count them into “Crooked Smile”, which was another high-energy track. While Kristin was rocking out on her bass towards the end, Jaimeson walked up behind her, leaning against her while she sang; and all of them except for Steve helped in singing the final line, “Your soul is just as dirty as the ground beneath your feet.”

Kristin mentioned that thanks in part to everyone here, Trey would soon be getting his smile back; and then they tackled the first single from the Pretty Evil Thing record, “Black Sheep”. That hefty track set the stage perfectly for their closing song, which was, of course, “Virtue And Vice”. “…I rode all night through the mother fucking rain!” Chase shouted at the start of the second verse, while Carson waved both of his middle fingers in the air. They went full throttle on that final song of their 34-minute long set, a set that was arguably the rawest and grittiest one of the night.

Even though The Virgin Wolves don’t play on a regular, consistent bases much anymore, you’d never be able to guess it watching them. The chemistry hasn’t changed or weakened a bit; and each of the five members still possess an overwhelming stage presence that ensures you focus an equal amount of time on all of them.

Luckily, it won’t be several more months before they play again. They have a show on October 2nd at Three Links in Dallas; and if you don’t have their record, as least give the songs a listen in iTUNES.

Following them was one of the busiest bands in North Texas: Mothership.

I hadn’t seen the trio in far too long. It seems that when they have played, I’ve been somewhere else, and then they’ve spent a good chunk of time on the road this year, from a European tour a little while back, to traveling across much of the U.S. on a couple different tours. In fact, just a couple weeks before this, they returned from a short stint in the South, dubbed The Southern Shred Tour.

“Good evening Club Dada,” said singer and bassist Kyle Juett, as he, drummer Judge Smith and guitarist Kelley Juett ripped right into the final track from their debut album, “Lunar Master”. A smaller gathering of fans crowded around the stage as they began, and instantly people started to bang their heads along to the resounding beats; while Kelleys’ solo earned him everyone’s undivided attention.

It provided a stellar start to their 40-minute long set, and they never really let up from there.

“This is what you call a rock ‘n’ roll community…” Kyle said after that tune, elegantly expressing his sincerity for the peoples support this night. “…When a brother falls, you pick him back up…” he stated, adding he was glad so many people didn’t “give a fuck” what night of the week it was, they were just out there to support.

Having gotten that out of the way, he moved on to their next record, which he said was slated for release in November, and now they did something from it. It was heavy, with a very thick sound. Even heavier than much of their other material. “Are you ready to lose your mind?!” Kyle asked at one point, right before the track really intensified. Shortly after, Kelly led everyone in a chant of “Hey!”, and once the crowd had picked up on it, he showed off his skills as he shredded on his axe.

There was a lengthy instrumental outro attached to that one, too, which set up their next track quite well. Kyle got it underway with some pulsating bass notes before the rest of the band came in. It was an instrumental jam, something these guys truly excel at. Kelly downright killed it on his guitar solo, and his prowess on the instrument is remarkable; and Josh Fleming of The Phuss — who had walked up there to watch them — began bowing down to him, worshipping his skills.

“Here comes the fun part of the set…” Kyle informed everyone once they were finished. He said they had woke up this morning and just decided, “Let’s play some old songs”, so that’s they did. “You probably know it better than we do,” he half joked about these songs from their debut album, some of which he pointed out they probably hadn’t played in a year or so.

“Elenin” was one such song. They pulled it off like it was something they still do on a regular basis, though; and upon hitting a brief drum solo that Judge has, Kelly pointed back at him, making sure he was the center of attention. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it, and afterwards, the band had some fun. Some of the staff from Trees had walked in, and in tow was a blow up doll. “Where’s my girlfriend at?!” shouted Kyle, who was now looking for the doll. “Bring her up here,” he said, though she seemed to have some stage fright.

He went back to the music community, saying how proud he was to be in this room, because he knew that if anyone who was there was ever in some kind of accident, everyone else would be out to support a benefit event for them. It’s all about brotherhood, after all. He then shifted to their next song, saying it was about freedom. “…We need that right now… to get through the plague of hatred,” he finished, speaking of global events, as they busted out “Eagle Soars”.

“Are you still out there?!” Kyle asked during the lively jam that is filled with great licks from the guitar and bass. “Thanks, Dallas,” Kyle said once it was done. “I want to thank my wife for coming out, too. Been a long time since I’ve seen you. You got some party tattoos…” he joked, as he now held the blow up doll, who was covered in writing from a sharpie.

Mothership does long songs, probably five minutes bare minimum; and while it didn’t seem like they had been playing too long, their time was nearly up. They had just one more left, and as Kyle put it, it was about a “wild night, getting black out drunk and maybe doing something you wouldn’t do sober”. “Are you fucking ready, Dallas?!” he asked before the explosive “Shanghai Surprise”. It was brimming with more guitar solos and a massive rhythm section, all the while keeping a fun atmosphere, making it a good note to end on.

Mothership quickly ascended the ranks of the D/FW music scene, becoming a favorite of all the harder rock fans; and they mix a certain amount of nostalgia (i.e. 80’s era hard rock) with a modern style, leading to a dynamic sound.

All their time on the road has done wonders for them, too. Off the top of my head, I can’t remember exactly when I saw them last, but they weren’t the same band this night as what I recalled. It was an incredibly tight performance that was constantly highlighting their musicianship, but even cooler than that was the fact that you also got to see their true colors and how genuine they are as people.

After such a hectic touring schedule over the last few months, they’ll be taking some time off, though they do have a show at Gas Monkey Bar & Grill on September 10th opening for The Sword. You can also pick up their debut record in iTUNES; and that November release for their sophomore album isn’t too far off.

Originally, Josh Fleming was just going to be doing an acoustic set to start off the night, though rather last minute, it became a full-fledged The Phuss show.

I know everyone was overjoyed to see Trey Alfaro setting up his drums, grateful for the fact that he actually felt like playing already.

While his band mates finished sound checking, Josh began to play a little song to kill time, until they were given the go ahead.

“Alright, we’re fucking ready to do this. I was supposed to play acoustic…” he mentioned, but you could tell that having Forrest Barton beside him on bass and Trey back on the kit made this night all the sweeter for him.

With the On the Prowl album on the horizon, the band primarily did newer songs, but opened with one of their old staples off their self-titled release, “Something to Die For”. It got the fans going, with nearly everyone who was there shouting along; and in the latter part of it, Josh made his way over to Forrest and stamped his foot to the thunderous beats Trey was delivering. It was readily apparent he was glad to be swinging those drum stick again.

They allowed just a moment for applause, and then Josh rolled them right into the subsequent track of that album, “One for Now Three for Later”. “You make it so hard to love you. That’s not to say I don’t try…” he sang at the start, as the pace of the track quickly escalated. As always, fans knew just what to do on the second verse, shouting “BITCH!” at the top of their lungs during the brief silence that followed the line, “…Just give me my chance to speak.”

“We’re not a dead band…” Josh remarked, as they continued right on to the next song. “We’ll be putting something out, and it’s not going to suck,” he laughed. Indeed, it will not, and the first single off it, “Straight Line Impala”, should alone be definitive proof of that. It’s chocked full of vibrant bass lines and deafening beats, providing a sensory overload in the best way possible. “Thank you, thank you, and thank you,” Josh said in a funny tone of voice, and bowing to everyone each time he expressed his gratitude.

A fuzzy mixture of the guitar and bass led them into “At the Bottom of it All”, a track that boasts a rip-roaring rhythm section. “…Feedback makes me more confident…” Josh joked over the garbled noise at the end. He then asked everyone to give it up for Trey, which was something the people were all too happy to do.

Josh again let his funny side shine after they unleashed another new song. “This is our non shitty stuff. Performed in a non shitty way…” That’s true, too, but it also implies that they have shitty songs, which just isn’t the case. “Hammer and Nail” was another great jam; and upon finishing it, all the other bands who played this thing were thanked, especially The Virgin Wolves, who had apparently put this whole night together, and then played at ten-o’clock. The opener It Hurts to be Dead was mentioned, too, and coincidentally, their next song was titled “It Hurts to be Dead”. “It’s our slow pop punk song. Don’t ruin the moment,” Josh told everyone over the softer intro. It got a little louder as they progressed through it, and it dealt with some heavy subject matter. “It hurts to be dead, worse than being alive…” went one of the lines.

“ We’re trying to be a professional band. The first step is tuning,” laughed Josh as they readied their final song of the night. They went back to their debut EP, Wanted, and pulled out one of the two songs they still routinely do from it. I don’t think it was the one everyone was expecting, though. “Pointed Guns in the House of God” is still a beast of a song, though; and running more than five-minutes, it has a grand sound to it, too. A couple girls made it into a clap along at times, when the beat really allowed for it; and while finishing up the instrumental end, Josh used his hand to hit a few of the cymbals, while Trey just grinned at him.

The show clocked in right at 40-minutes, and before leaving the stage, Josh thanked everyone who came out, as well as for “dealing with us playing.”

This was a very special Phuss show, and you could see and feel that. Each member was glad to be sharing the stage with one another again; and after what happened to Trey, I doubt they will ever take the feeling of performing for granted again.

They’ll be taking a little time off to get ready for an October tour, which will cover Florida, parts of the East Coast and plenty of other states. Full dates on that can be found HERE. As for their new album, you can listen to a couple songs and pre-order it on BANDCAMP. You can also find their old record in iTUNES.

It was great to see so many people come out and support for this. As Kyle Juett said during Mothership’s set, there’s a sense of brotherhood in all of this, and when it’s needed, people will band together for it and anyone involved in this scene. While on the note of camaraderie, you saw something between the bands this night that almost never happens: members from the other bands were helping set up and tear down each bands’ gear. Sure, The Phuss, Mothership and The Virgin Wolves especially are best friends and have done plenty of gigs with one another, but that’s still behavior you almost never see. Out of all the shows I go to, it almost never happens, but it was good to see this night.

After all, this scene is a community, and that fact was proven yet again at Dada this night.

Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen Earn 4 IBMA Award Nominations, Including Instrumental Group of the Year

imageHot on the heels of their Aug. 12 Compass Records release, Cold Spell, Washington, D.C.’s Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen learned they received multiple 2014 International Bluegrass Music Award nominations, including a repeat nomination for Instrumental Group of the Year. And last week, the album entered Billboard’s Bluegrass Music Chart with a Hot Shot Debut at No. 3.

The Nashville-based International Bluegrass Music Association also nominated bandleader Solivan for Male Vocalist of the Year and Mandolin Player of the Year, and 2013 Banjo Player of the Year winner Mike Munford earned another nomination for that award. In 2013, guitarist Chris Luquette received the Momentum Award for Instrumentalist of the Year, a performance award. The band, which also includes bassist Danny Booth, was nominated for Recorded Event of the Year and Emerging Artist of the Year in addition to the Instrumental Group nod.

The 25th annual International Bluegrass Music Awards will take place October 2 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh, N.C., as part of IBMA’s World of Bluegrass Week.

In addition to appearing in Raleigh, the band’s got a full schedule of tour dates through October, starting with a week in Sorrento, British Columbia, at the Nimble Fingers Bluegrass & Oldtime Music Festival. (See list below.)

Following their appearance in June at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, No Depression’s Jake Schepps wrote: “Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, with their blazing IBMA Banjo Player of the Year Mike Munford, put on a fantastic show … I love this band. Great energy and superlative musicianship.”

The band’s 2013 Compass Records debut, On The Edge, reached the top 10 on Billboard’s Bluegrass Albums chart. With guests Leon Alexander, Sam Bush, John Cowan, Rob Ickes and Megan McCormick, Cold Spell is poised to do the same. For a look at what the excitement’s about, view their performance of “No Life in This Town,” recorded by videographer Dan Foldes at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

For ticket information and show updates, check dirtykitchenband.com/schedule.

Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen tour dates:
Aug. 23-29 – NimbleFingers Bluegrass & Oldtime Music Festival, Sorrento, B.C., Canada
Aug. 31 – Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival, Woodstown, N.J.
Sept. 4 – The Tractor Tavern, Seattle
Sept. 5 – Alberta Rose Theatre, Portland, Ore.
Sept. 6-7 – Sisters Folk Festival, Sisters, Ore. (with Peter Rowan)
Sept. 12 – Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Sept. 13 – The Cooperage (RiverFolk Concerts), Honesdale, Pa.
Sept. 14 –Hill Center (American Roots Music Series), Washington, D.C.
Sept. 14 – Hampstead Hill Festival, Baltimore 
Sept. 18 – Ashland Coffee & Tea, Ashland, Va. (CD release show)
Sept. 19-20 – Berlin Fiddler’s Convention, Berlin, Md.
Sept. 20 – Dogfish Head Brewpub, Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Oct. 1 – IBMA World of Bluegrass (live broadcast), Raleigh, N.C.
Oct. 2 – MerleFest Bluegrass Ramble, Raleigh, N.C. 
Oct. 4 – Albino Skunk Music Festival, Greer, S.C.
Oct. 10 – Station Inn, Nashville
Oct. 17 – Bloomin’ Bluegrass Festival & Chili Cook-off after-party, Night Hotel, Dallas
Oct. 18 – North Caroline High School (Caroline County Council of Arts benefit), Ridgely, Md.
Oct. 19 – Philadelphia Folksong Society (with Spuyten Duyvil), Philadelphia
Oct. 24 – Palmetto Brewing Co. (the Loading Dock Series), Charleston, S.C.
Oct. 25 – Edisto Island Mostly Bluegrass Festival, Edisto Island, S.C.

Follow Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen:
dirtykitchenband.com

facebook.com/frank.solivan.and.dirty.kitchen

twitter.com/franksolivan

Lost & Nameless Hits Its Stride with New ‘When You Walked Into the Room’ on Sept. 9

imageWith their second EP of 2014, fiddle-driven folk-rock band Lost & Nameless are actually making quite a name for themselves. When You Walked Into the Room, releasing Sept. 9, continues the musical adventure the Austin-based foursome embarked upon with their March EP,Empty Spaces. That one earned them a succession of positive reviews, and the new one, also recorded in Nashville with Grammy-winning producer Bil VornDick, is poised to do the same.

In fact, When You Walked Into the Room was recorded during the same sessions that produced Empty Spaces, their fourth release since the band solidified its lineup in 2008. That was the year Patrick Conway (vocals, guitars and banjo), Chris E. Peterson (mandolin, fiddle and vocals) and Nathan Quiring (piano, organ, accordion and vocals) added Kimberly Zielnicki (vocals, fiddle, bass and piano) — then an 11-year-old fiddle protégé of Peterson’s. Four years later, she won the 2012 Old Settler’s Music Festival Youth Talent Competition.

Together, they create a lively blend of old and new that draws from a vast array of influences. Michael Corcoran, the dean of Austin music journalists, wrote of the last EP in Austin Post: “[It’s] full of songwriting a bit punchier than most of the newgrass stuff going around, with Zielnicki’s smooth belting a bonus.”

Austin Monthly added, “The latest feel-good collection of songs from this country-folk quartet might jolt you into a full-blown foot stomp.”

And Twangville noted, “Right from the get-go you know this is going to be an interesting listen.”

EP features six tracks; the title tune reflects Conway’s experience with love at first sight, while Zielnicki’s “Say Goodbye” revisits a relationship’s end.

The closing track, the only non-original, combines “Matthew’s Reel” by Erin Shrader and “Reel a Levis Beaulieu,” a traditional French Canadian fiddle tune. It’s made for dancing; come step out with Lost & Nameless when they walk into a room near you.

Lost & Nameless performance dates:
Sept. 4 – Heritage Place Amphitheater, Conroe, Texas
Sept. 12 – Cactus Cafe, Austin (EP release show)
Sept. 20 – Montgomery Wine & Music Festival, Montgomery, Texas
Oct. 19 – Central Presbyterian Church, 175th anniversary celebration, Austin
Oct. 19 – St. Richard’s Episcopal Church Great Pumpkin Festival, Round Rock, Texas
Nov. 8 – Fischer Fest, Fischer, Texas

Follow Lost & Nameless at:
lostandnameless.com
facebook.com/lostandnameless
twitter.com/LostAndNameless

Here’s one of the pieces I’ve written for On Tour Monthly recently.
Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 – Sidewise Serves Up a Heavy Dose of Rock at Cain’s Ballroom

For the first time in a little more than five years I went to see a concert in the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The only other time I’ve made the drive up there from Dallas was when Dallas (and Mid-West) legends The FEDS performed their farewell show in early ‘09.

At least this show was under happier circumstances.

I was pulling double duty, reviewing Sevendusts’ set for On Tour Monthly and Gemini Syndromes’ for this site. A couple other bands were joining them at Cain’s Ballroom this night, though. The Kansas City, Kansas-based Sidewise was one of them.

The quintet mixed metal and hard rock together, which was readily apparent from their opener, “Farewell to Virtue”. There was a lot of force behind it, making it easy to head bang to; and one of the guitarists, Matt Wilkinson, viciously screamed on some of the backing vocals. On the flipside, frontman Nico gave the music a semi-melodic component, singing in a hevy, yet smoother tone much of the night.

“…We’re from Kansas City…” he informed everyone afterwards, before announcing their next song was titled “Reconnect”. It was catchy in some regards, with potential to even be a good sing along to audiences that are familiar with it, something they didn’t have this night. “Make some noise, Tulsa!” roared Nico towards the end of it. It was around then that Sean Thibodeaux wound up breaking one of his guitar strings, and he quickly retreated to go grab a new axe. “We have a new album out…” Nico mentioned while killing time, adding that everything they were doing this night was off the Made of Matches record.

“The Fool I Am” was another song that had Jason Dean pounding out some hefty beats on the drum kit, and Josh Graves rounded out the good rhythm section with some good bass lines, while Sean and Matt ran about the stage. “Give it up for our brothers in Moks of Mellonwah who opened,” requested Nico, before they did what I thought was one of their best tracks of the night, “Prism”. “…Here I stand before you with my heart engulfed in flames…” went one of the lines on the first verse, before getting to the chorus of, “Why can’t you see this light that I’m shining through you? It never burned so bright, but I still can’t get through to reach the other side…” Lyrically it was an awesome song, and the music bed packed a serious punch, again mining more of the metal variety.

“Make some noise for yourself, Tulsa,” Nico told the crowd once they were done, really liking how much people seemed to be enjoying it. He let everyone know they might recognize the next one. Singing along was also encouraged, but before they could get it going, they lost the kick drum. “We can’t have a show without kick,” Nico halfway joked with the sound guy while he tried to resolve the issue. It delayed them just a few moments, and then they got to the song going. “Do you know it yet?” Nico asked shortly into the intro. It was “Head Like a Hole” by Nine Inch Nails, which struck me as funny in a way, considering I had seen NIN just two days prior to this. They did a good cover of it. They gave it more of a harder edge to fit their style; and Nico packed a lot of energy into it, really getting into the song. The audience liked it, too, and several were singing along.

“That was great,” he told everyone of their participation. The people weren’t done yet, though. “Let’s see some hands!” shouted Nico, as his band mates got “The Final Awakening” underway. Some horns went up in the air, while others started clapping along with the beat of what is the final track on their latest release. “If you guys feel like I do, I want to hear you scream!” declared Nico before an instrumental break, succeeding in getting a rise from people.

The band showed off more of their metal side with “Our Last Words”, which was a drastic change of pace from their other material in my opinion. I’m not even saying that was a bad thing, but the extreme screams that Nico and Matt did at times definitely woke you up and got your attention. The four of them on the forefront of the stage all thrashed about in unison with one another at times; and there was even a point when Sean jumped into the air and spun around.

“Cain’s Ballroom, we have one more…” Nico said, a little sadness seeping into his voice over the fact their time was almost up. “…Let’s see you guys moving out there,” he finished. With the last couple of songs, they had been getting progressively heavier, and “Breath to Breathe” took the cake as being the most intense thing they did this night. Nico offered one more word of thanks as he finished the vocals, then left the stage for Matt, Sean, Josh and Jason to do an instrumental outro as their 30-minute long set ended.

They worked great on this bill, being very similar in style to the headliner and main support act they were setting the stage for; and based on the interactions they had going on at times with the crowd, I think a lot of people enjoyed them, too.

Their stage presence was pretty strong, and the energy they put into it all ensured they had your attention. Nico was a compelling frontman; and your eyes gravitated towards all five of them, as they each excelled at different points on everything they did this night.

Especially if you like heavier rock music, then Sidewise is a band you at least need to listen to. If they ever get down to Dallas, I’d be game to see them again, too.

Along with their newest album, they have a few others available in iTUNES.