There was a lot going on this night.
More than a few shows in Dallas were calling my name, as well as a couple up in Denton; and for the second straight Saturday, I didn’t really know where I would end up until finally reaching my decision mid-afternoon.
My destination for the night wound up being the Double Wide, where Scott Tucker of The Orange had assembled a truly badass lineup.
Every band on this bill was headline quality (in fact, they often are), and the first two acts of the night were Do For It Records bands.
Starting off the night was The Phuss, who got off to a rough start before any music was even played.
Their start time was delayed by a few minutes, as they worked to figure out what was up with Joshua Flemings’ guitar. But, after changing the cord, which was loaned to him by The House Harkonnen, the problem was solved and they were ready to go.
Much like their show I saw a few weeks before; this 32-minute set was mainly about their music they’ve been laying down in the studio.
Trey Alfaro knocked out some hefty drumbeats at the start, spewing water in the air when bassist Forrest Barton and Josh ripped in to “Straight Line Impala”. I know they surely haven’t changed the song since I last saw them, but it sounded even more incredible than I remembered it being. It was venomous this night, and one of the best parts of it came during the instrumental break, which featured a lot of the kick drum, to the point you could even slightly feel your insides shaking.
“This song’s called ‘At the Bottom of it All.” Josh informed everyone, as they almost immediately tore into another new number. As good as those were, though, the fans favorite moment came during the next song, “Something to Die For”.
It was one of only two tracks they did from their self-titled album this night, and by the time it was over, the crowd that filled the sold-out venue had been whipped into a frenzy. The cheering and applause for that classic lasted a good fifteen to twenty seconds. Josh tried to quell it, but it didn’t do much good, and they just had to let it happen.
“…We’ve been recording…” Josh said, once things finally died down. He noted they were going to “play some new stuff”; and what they did next, was possibly the best song of this brief set.
I missed the title of the song, but it was classic Phuss through and through. That gritty, punk/rock sound that defines so much of their music was in full effect on that track, making it a brutally good experience. It also left me on pins and needles wanting to hear a recorded version of the song.
“Who’s here for HK?” Josh asked the audience after they had finished. “How ‘bout The Orange?” he asked. Both bands got some good applause, but nothing too major, which led Josh to ask, “Are you here for us?” That was when the noise level really spiked. “Show of hands: who here hasn’t seen us before?”
A few fans/friends jokingly raised their hands, but for the most part, just about everyone there was all too familiar with The Phuss.
Talk then turned to the setlist, and Josh let everyone know that they didn’t have one. “…We haven’t made a setlist in like, five years. So, why start now?” he told everyone. Saying they instead just play whatever they feel like. And what they felt like playing was another new one, titled “I Don’t Feel Good, but I’m Having a Good Time”.
No sooner had that fun rock number ended, then Josh started them in on their next tune, the vehement, “Bleed”. “You’re gonna bleed me dry!” Josh screamed on the blood-curdling chorus. It had been a little while since I last heard that one live, and as those longtime favorites get pushed backed in favor of their new music, it was good to know they haven’t fully forgotten about those songs.
Speaking of their older tracks, Josh played some random notes on his guitar, which eventually became the first few chords of “One for Now, Three for Later”. He glanced at Forrest and Trey as he played, who just looked at him. Bringing his face back to the mic, he simply said, “Overruled.”
Instead, they pulled out “21 Ain’t What It Was”, which wound up being their next to last song of the night.
“We’ve got a long one.” Josh said, responding to the sound guy, who had told them they had five or six minutes left.
This led to a first. Out of the nearly twenty Phuss shows I’ve seen over probably a four and a half to five year time frame, the one constant in their setlist has been “Preacher Preacher”. Tonight, that song was absent.
I’m not gonna lie, I missed hearing it, as I’m sure just about everybody else did. But there’s a difference between missing a song and being disappointed it wasn’t played, and my feeling was not the latter.
They instead chose to close things out with “Pointed Guns in the House of God”, and they were in fine form as they knocked out the six-minute (give or take) long track. The forceful rhythm section was in full effect, making it impossible to not get into this heavy-hitter. Then, as it came to a close, Josh began viciously striking the neck of his guitar with his fist, bringing it to an epic close.
I swear, this band somehow manages to get better each time I see them, and this show was even better than the one I had caught a few weeks before.
Granted, part of that was probably because of the droves of fans who were out, which gave the band a ton of energy to feed off of.
Aside from that, they just nailed it, and it made it clear to see why they typically do headline, because after what they did, I had my doubts about how the night could get any better.
If you’d like to see ‘em, they’ll be at Three Links in Dallas on March 7th. They have a SXSW gig at The Red Shed in Austin on March 15th, and then they’ll be in Fort Worth at Lola’s Saloon on March 21st. They’ve also been announced as one of the bands playing Homegrown Fest in Downtown Dallas on May 10th.
Also, go buy “The Phuss” in iTUNES.
I was unsure about the next band of the night, which was The House Harkonnen.
They’re pretty much royalty around here, and having been around for about twelve years now; they should be. But the one time I did see them - nearly six years ago, when they opened a show for The FEDS - I wasn’t all that impressed.
They were far heavier than what I like, with far more screaming than I cared to hear. So, for all these years, I’ve stayed away from HK. Even after The FEDS disbanded, which, eventually, led James David Shafer (who is my personally favorite bass player) to become the bassist for The House Harkonnen.
That said, I obviously wasn’t expecting to like their set this night, but I had already decided to stick it out regardless. Little did I know I would end up enjoying it far more than I thought I would.
“This song’s called Beastmode.” singer and rhythm guitarist Alex Johnson told the packed house once they got on stage and were all setup. In turn, the fans met that with excited screams, and were obviously quite giddy about hearing the lead track from “Volume 7”.
I was surprised I didn’t outright hate the song, which still had Alex doing some screaming, but in more moderation from what I remembered, and it was more than tolerable for me. Hell, it was actually even enjoyable.
It didn’t take long to play that short song (it clocks in at a little less than two-minutes on the album), and then they tackled another from their 2013 release. They got more into the swing of things with “Raildriver”, with Andy Grayson doing some dynamic drumming during the track. Actually, that was merely one of several songs to show off his wickedly good chops behind the kit.
There was a short pause in between songs, during which Alex let everyone know what was in store for them next. It was “A Blade to Take the World”, off “Volume 6”.
Yeah, I thought it took them just a little time to warm up, but they found their stride on that one. Dave Shafer was rocking out, quickly banging his head along to the rapid drum beats, while supplying the bass lines, and Michael Doty was tearing it up over on stage left, even doing a killer guitar solo on that beast of a song.
Not only was that the one where their show officially got underway; it was also the song that made me a House Harkonnen fan.
“So, fucking a. Here we are again. We’re happy to be back…” Alex said to the audience. He then dedicated the next song to all the “hammerheads” (one of their shirt designs had a Hammerhead Shark on it, along with the band’s name.)
Their fans got pretty excited about that, seeming to know what was coming next. What they cranked out next was an insanely good instrumental song (allow me to say again I dislike instrumental music… Well, typically.) called “The Standford Torus”. Dave was in magnificent form on that one, and I was reminded why for the past almost eight years I’ve loved him so much as a bass player. Near the end of that one, he was swaying back and forth, then plucked the neck of his bass in a downward motion, then hit another part by picking it upwards, before slapping the strings on the body. It was all so slickly done, with a lot of precision, but it appeared oh so effortless.
Much like on the record, they wound that song flawlessly into the subsequent track, “Tough Fucking News”. As much as the fans had loved that instrumental number; that sent people over the edge, and there was a lot of head banging going on… And not just from the band members.
Their following song got a set up, when Alex let everyone know it was a song about a town called Fort Worth. He said something along the lines about how, while he didn’t used to live in Fort Worth, he did now, and he decided he should write a song about the city.“…It’s called Ft. Worth Body Count.” he said. It was by far the heaviest song they did; being more along the lines of how I remembered them from that time I had seen them. But with just one song like that, it was durable.
“Fucking thank you!” Alex exclaimed when they finished. That led them to a couple of tracks I just couldn’t figure out afterwards.
The first of these two was quite good, and they rolled it seamlessly into the next, which again saw Michael delivering a guitar solo. An earth shattering one at that. Not only that, but they were, collectively speaking, in perfect form while playing that song. You seldom see bands who are even capable of being that tight, and it was something else to watch and take in.
Their 39-minute long set was almost over, and with only one song left, they had evidently saved their best for last (I’m guessing that based on how everyone reacted.) They began “Let Me Get to the Point”, before suddenly stopping twenty seconds or so in. The crowd was ravenous during the silence, before Alex finally spoke. “Was that it?” he asked, pretending like he didn’t know. “…I think there’s more. It goes like this.” he said, as exploded back into the song.
I’ve got to say, they made me into a fan this night. And that’s something I never thought would happen.
They’re a band that most bands should try to emulate; at least in terms of performance.
They’re a band of pros who have a lot of chemistry on stage, and I really don’t know what else to say about them, because I feel like I said everything else during the review.
Point is, they slayed.
It’s been a few years ago I was at another Deep Ellum venue to see one band, then ducked out before HK hit the stage, because I knew (or thought I knew) I didn’t like them. Trust me, that won’t be happening again.
They’re next show is going to be on March 15th at Lola’s Saloon in Fort Worth. If you’re in the area, go check ‘em out. You can also buy Volumes 3, 4, 6 and 7 in iTUNES.
Once they were done, HK was just another band who proved why they usually headline. That was going to be a tough act to follow, and in talking to Scott Tucker of The Orange before hand, he even admitted he felt weird playing after them. But they [House Harkonnen] had opted for the earlier spot, which gave The Orange the headlining slot.
The last time I had seen them was back in the summer. It’s not that they haven’t played since then, but they’ve kept their show schedule pretty sparse, as they retreated into the studio to work on their first ever full-length album.
Not everyone who had been there stuck around for The Orange, but those who did were no doubt glad they decided to.
“Everyone’s looking good tonight!” Scott told the crowd, before they even started. He also asked everyone to make some noise for The Phuss and The House Harkonnen, before they got ready to unleash their fun brand of rock music on everybody. “…We’re The Orange, and we’re here to rock your fucking assess off!” Scott shouted.
“I Want a Girl” began their electrifying 51-minute set. It’s one of their newest songs, and while it has been in the set for awhile, it was still one of those I had sort of forgotten about. Well, at least until I heard it, which was when I was reminded of what an excellent song it is.
They finished it and moved on to their next number, which I think was “Blow Up”. Scott took his guitar off after adding to the instrumental intro, then grabbed his mic; unraveling the cord from the mic stand, before eventually wrapping it partially around himself.
The stage at the Double Wide may be smaller than where The Orange usually plays, but they all made the best of it, and Scott roamed about what space he had, and, at one point, even managed to accidentally unplug the microphone. That made him have to improvise; and he first took up the extra mic that belonged to lead guitarist Kirk Livesay. Seeing as the volume level for it wasn’t turned up that loud, it was hard to hear him, but later in the song, when he switched over to bassist Jason Jessups’ mic, finishing up the track.
Scott even spun the mic around by the cord at one point; hitting Jason, who stepped into the “blast zone” so to speak.
“How the fuck are y’all doing?!” Scott shouted once the song was over. He then high fived several members of the audience, before getting ready to play their next song, only to discover his guitar was out of tune.
He gave a little speech, with the gist being about how different things come with the territory; and when it comes to seeing an Orange show, you have to put up with them “fucking stuff up” and then fixing it. He went on to compare it to driving and all of a sudden a cop turns his lights on and wants you to pull over. “…And you don’t want to pull over. Maybe you’re stoned or drunk, or whatever. But you just don’t want to pull over…” he said, noting that even if you didn’t want to, you still know you have to. It was an interesting comparison to say the least, and once they were ready to move on, they pulled out a song I had never heard.”
“This song’s called James fucking Bond!” Scott roared. “The world has gone to the dogs…” he sang at the start, stretching out some of the words ever so slightly, which in turn gave them a little more emphasis. It was a truly awesome song, and found The Orange completely in their element. It was a rocking tune that had plenty of moments for Jason and Kirk to get down, and Cody Waits laid down some strong drum beats, which were accentuated by Melissa Tucker, who had been shaking a tambourine for all of the songs thus far.
Now that I think about it, it has been a little while since I heard an Orange song for the first time, and have gotten used to the songs they do play. That made “James Bond” a semi-surprising moment for me, and they came right out of left field with that one, making it a great moment.
Cody bridged them into their next song, while Melissa left the stage before “Valium” truly got underway. I guess I’ve never paid too much attention to it before, but there’s a sweet bass and lead guitar break during that one; Kirk and Jasons’ instruments complimenting one another very well.
“Cityscapes” – one of the group’s longest songs – came next. There’s just a special quality to that one, and it’s one you really just need to hear live to fully appreciate it. It’s also fairly beefy on the instrumental sections, and towards the end of it, Scott knelt beside his amp and just shredded.
The four key members of the band had gotten their time on stage, but as they readied themselves for the next song, Melissa rejoined them; while Chicago Dan took the stage for a few songs.
Scott then again thanked the other bands for “kicking our assess”, then announced the next song was “for lovers”. He spoke of what will be one of their singles once the record comes to fruition, “Mr. Moneymaker”. Chicago Dan lent his spectacular set of skills on the harmonica to the song. And with him doing that one, I was hoping an older classic he also plays on would be coming next.
Afterwards, Scott again chatted with all those who were watching them, stating they didn’t have any shirts to sell, because the last time they did a show they “didn’t actually play”. “We still got paid, but we didn’t play.” he said, referring to a show from a month and a half or so before.
Instead, he said they just hung out and sold merch, and where left with only three shirts in their stock. “…Y’all actually came for the show. Supporting the scene as they say…” said Scott, referring to the fans who had come out this night. And really, isn’t what supporting the scene is all about? (Well, at least it should be.)
Chicago Dan’s last second and final song with them was the one I was hoping for, “Doomsday for Mr. Denton”; a song that has been around since The Orange’s first incarnation, and one that I’m glad is still hanging in there.
He left the stage when that was done, and that left the band with one last song to do before calling it a night.
“Turn the lights down.” Scott asked the sound guy (who doubled as the light guy). “Imagine what it’s like to drive out in the desert one night. And you’re lost…” Scott said, speaking figuratively (I think), adding he knew maybe not everyone knew what he was talking about, but he had been there “a couple of times”.
“…Close your fucking eyes and feel the vibes.” he encouraged the crowd to do, as “Thirty Minutes to Midnight” was already well underway.
I hate to sound like I’m repeating myself, but like that other song they had done, this one’s is special. It has its own aura; an aura that consumes you, as the track starts out slow, reeling you in, before growing into an incredible number. And, as it usually is, it was a perfect way to end their 51-minute long set.
I saw these guys several times real close together in the first half of 2013, and I’d have to say the best thing about having gone around seven months without seeing one of their shows, was that it all seemed fresh in a way.
I certainly don’t mean to imply that they had gotten boring to me before; they hadn’t. More, it was simply that I had no clue what was coming next. It’s not like I knew what setlist they were following, which kept things interesting. Actually, considering none of these songs are out on an album yet, I was even having trouble remembering song titles at first.
Anyway, they put on a great show this night. In some ways, I’d even say it was one of the best Orange shows I’ve seen.
No, the stage antics weren’t as off-the-wall as they have been at other shows, but they were just really clicking with one another.
Jason and Kirk – in terms of performance – I thought had improved then even what they were before; knocking it out of the park. I also enjoyed all the background vocals Cody was adding to several of the songs, and his voice mixed with Scotts’ exceedingly well.
In case I was in need of it, I was reminded of why I love The Orange, especially their live shows.
Their next gig is going to be a good one, and it will be happening at the Curtain Club on March 7th. As for their new album, which they are finishing up, it will hopefully be out before the middle of the year. But until it does drop, their first EP can be found in iTUNES.
It was yet another fun night spent here at the Double Wide, and it was great not only seeing a couple of bands I knew I loved, but also getting turned on to another.
There was a lot going on this night.
On this freezing cold night (or actually, slightly below freezing), there was a sweet show going on at Club Dada, and it was all presented by Parade of Flesh.
I’m not gonna lie; the sudden drop in temperature made me reconsider the thought of going out this night. But in the end, it sounded like it was going to be too good of a concert to miss.
For me, the guy who almost exclusively sees local North Texas bands, it was a bit of a different show; since two of the three acts were from out-of-state.
There was one Dallas band on the bill, though, and that was Dead Mockingbirds.
I had only seen them once before, and evidently was so eager to see them I arrived at Dada fashionably early (that’s a thing, right?), about forty-five minutes before what wound up being the start time. In fairness, I did think the show would start earlier than that, but at least it allowed for a good time hanging with the band.
The trio of Kenneth Everette Pritchard, Matthew Crain and Trinidad Diaz hit the stage at 8:41, as the rock music began to flow freely.
They were the odd man out on this bill, at least in terms of sound, but the already decent sized crowd (there were between twenty and thirty people there already. Not bad for the middle of the week) was very receptive to it.
Their opening song, like many of their tracks, had a fun vibe, and when he wasn’t having to do the singing, Kenneth was quickly swaying back and forth. Well, except for the little time he spent on the platform in front of the stage where the monitors set, where he tore it up on a guitar solo, dropping to his knees as he brandished his guitar.
The crowd got a few seconds to applaud them, before Matt laid into his drum kit, setting up their next track. Upon finishing it, Kenneth quickly thanked Parade of Flesh for putting this show together and putting them on it, before taking the conversation in a completely different direction. “It’ll cost five dollars to sniff us after the show.” On a related note; I don’t think anyone took them up on that offer.
They knocked out a couple more numbers, before Kenneth again addressed the crowd. “Y’all are too good looking.” he remarked, though he wasn’t looking at the audience. Instead, he was tuning his guitar. “Where the fuck did all y’all come from?!” he said, shocked by the ever growing number of people.
He then kicked off their next song with some slick sounding notes. A song that was yet another to feature a sweet, more old school sounding guitar solo. Kenneth noted that would be one of the songs on their next record.
Their 31-minute long set continued, as they seemed to pick the setlist as they went, and could be heard deciding on the songs during their breaks. “Fuck Alone and then…” Kenneth told his band mates at one point.
“Fuck yeah! We just went to jail!” Kenneth exclaimed after their next couple of tunes. He then thanked the other bands on the bill, and Club Dada for hosting the show. That brought them to the final leg of their set, which included a couple of songs I actually knew, but only after they did one more from their new(er) batch.
It was one I really enjoyed, and Trinidad and Matt gave it a real cohesive rhythm sound, complimenting one another nicely. Then you had the wickedly good guitar solo, which was just the icing on the cake.
The first of their next two songs was “Omega”, the b-side from their record. A fact Kenneth pointed out after they played it, before pointing over to their little merch suitcase, where they had that 7-inch vinyl record for sale. That brought them to “Munich”, which was a little more up-tempo than the recording is, as they blazed through it. The beginning was extra good, though, as Trinidad and Kenneth stood facing one another as they rocked out the intro.
Clearly excited to be here; Kenneth again thanked everyone who had a hand in putting this show together or was on the bill as the song trailed off. While he was doing that, Trinidad walked over the drum kit, kneeling by the bass drum as they bridged it into their final song of the night.
Like I said, this was only my second time seeing Dead Mockingbirds, and they were better than I even remembered.
It was an onslaught of raw rock music they cranked out this night, and their stage show matches their snappy sounding songs. And along those lines, the quick pace they gave their set this night ensured there was never a dull moment.
You can download a few of their singles –for free- over at REVERBNATION. You can also catch them on February 27th or on March 17th at the Double Wide in Dallas. Both of those shows are being presented by King Camel.
They may not have had the country elements to their music like the next two bands did, but they had something better; pure, quality rock music, in a vein you just don’t hear much in the music these days.
In fact, their show was so great, that after seeing the band that followed them, I found myself wondering if the show had already peaked.
The second band up this night was Promised Land Sound, who hails from Nashville, Tennessee.
They hopped on the bill a little more last minute, after the original booked band jumped off, but after checking out their music online, I liked it. They were certainly the most country-sounding band on the bill, with not as much rock flare to their songs as Futurebirds had, but they still fit.
Their 38-minute long set was made up mainly of songs from their debut full-length, which is self-titled and was released last year; though they threw in some other songs, as well.
Take for instance their first song, which was pretty good, but already had me feeling mixed emotions about the band.
I had only given their record a couple of listens (on Spotify), but there was one song that instantly stuck out to me, and that was “Empty Vase”, which was what they did next. The catchy song was as good live as I had hoped it would be, and it just has a fun vibe, with some strong beats from Evan Scala, and nice riffs from lead guitarist Sean Thompson, as well as Sean Cotton.
Singer and bassist Joseph Scala informed everyone that their next song was a cover, though I had trouble hearing who he said did it, and was unable to figure out what it was. All the same, it sounded quite good. It was followed by “Wandering Habits”, while the song that was billed as their slow one, which came after, was without question their best track of the night.
They were on fire while performing “Make it Through the Fall”. “I can’t keep myself from moving on. I can stand to do you any wrong. There’s a warmer season out there for us all. We’ve got to learn to make it through the fall.” Joseph loudly sang on the chorus of the song that could have easily been a sing-along, if only they had, had any sort of fan base here.
They truly killed it with that one, especially at the end, when the noise level rose up, commanding everyone’s attention. However, that was the only moment of their set where I felt that feeling.
They knocked out a couple more, one of which was “Fadin’ Fast”, before Joseph asked everyone if they wanted to hear a brand new song. Of course, everyone was indifferent to it, but nor did they mind it. It was a good one, one of their top three from this night, in my opinion.
Before calling it a night, Joseph put a feeler out, asking if anyone might have a floor they’d be willing to let them crash on, before going into their final song.
I mentioned I had mixed feelings about these guys, and my main qualm came with their performance/stage presence.
It was rather dull and boring, even lifeless. I hate to even say that, ‘cause even when I don’t like a band, I still don’t like to be negative. But at the same time, I have to be honest.
This isn’t even about their music, as I did like it. It’s just that they never grabbed the audience. They never captivated me, and I never felt any type of connection with the crowd on their part. Rather, it seemed like four dudes just happened to show up there and thought, “I guess we’ll play some music for a bit.”
That just doesn’t work, and I know they’re a newer band, but still, I expected more from a touring act.
All the same, you can find their music (an LP and a EP) in iTUNES. And while I can’t find a page that has their tour dates (otherwise I’d list some), just check out their FACEBOOK PAGE to see when they might be coming to a town near you.
See, that was why I thought the best band of the night may well have been the first one, and I wasn’t sure if Futurebirds would be able to wash that taste out of my mouth or not. Spoilers, they were.
The six-piece outfit got their gear set up, before retreating back to the greenroom to prepare for the show.
It was 10:31 when they stepped back out, and the anxious crowd – which numbered probably 80 people or so, at least - made their way closer to the stage.
They may have put out a brand new record just last year, but their set this night was a nice spread from all of their albums, and getting their show going was “Battle for Rome”, off of “Hampton’s Lullaby”.
“…And the sun it won’t save my life this time.” sang Thomas Johnson, who was one of the groups guitarists; his band mates, guitarists Carter King and Daniel Womack, the latter of whom played an acoustic, backing him with some amazing vocals.
It only took a minute or two to realize what you were watching was something special; from the harmonies, to just the explosive performance they were already putting on, quickly proving that the stage is where they belong.
“It’s good to be back in warm, sunny Dallas.” Carter stated, so sarcastically he seemed dead serious. He then thanked the audience for “braving the cold” to come out to this show.
The lead vocal duties were tossed around a lot this night, though the bulk of it seemed to go to Carter, who sang lead on “Serial Bowls”. The lengthy instrumental section at the end allowed them to really let loose, even Brannen Miles, who I believe was the bassist, and pedal steel guitarist Dennis Love.
At this point, the momentum was flowing, and after some roaring applause, Carter spoke into his mic; “I guess we’ll play another.”
Thomas started jumping up and down as he started “Johnny Utah”, his movements quickly escalating, to the point he was springing around all over his portion of stage right. His vicious shredding on his guitar came at a price, though; it cost him a string. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal however, and they powered through the tune, which had Thomas adding some wonderful backing vocals on the chorus, hitting an extremely high falsetto tone I never would have guessed was within his range.
Towards the end, Carter dropped to the floor and laid back on the stage, quickly plucking the strings of his guitar, and as he gave in to the music, it created one of those perfect concert moments.
Their drummer brought them right into their next song, which finally gave Daniel, who had an American flag bunched up and attached to his acoustic axe, a chance to show off his singing chops. The song was “Happy Animals”, and Thomas was left out of the first few minutes of it, as he now had to worry about repairing that broken string, which was a task he got done quite quickly.
Once he did get that remedied, he returned to the front of the stage, but his strap wasn’t secured. Of course, he wasn’t going to let his guitar fall off, though, and instead held it vertically in the air, picking away at it until he had a break so he could get it fastened. That got him back in action with some time to spare for the epic ending they gave that one, absolutely throwing down at the end. The three singers turned their backs to the crowd as they took the chance to interact a little more with their other band mates, while slinging their guitars around and banging their heads in time to the mighty drumbeats.
The spell had been cast by this time, and everyone in Club Dada had fallen under it, and were completely glued to this band who hailed from Athens, Georgia.
“We’re gonna play a brand new one.” Carter informed the crowd, who loudly cheered in support of the idea. “Don’t cheer just yet. You haven’t heard it…” he joked. True, it might have been premature, but once the song was done, they were still worthy of the cheering they had already received, and got even more now.
“That was hyper speed!” Carter exclaimed, looking at his band mates with a smile on his face; giving the idea that they had done it a little quicker than they should have.
They got back to “Baby Yaga”, their newest album, with the lead track, “Virginia Slims”. Thomas was back in charge on that intoxicating number, which was one of the truest country sounding tracks they did, and at times, Dennis played some gorgeous notes on his pedal steel guitar. As it ended, their drummer kept the beat going, and he and Brannen had a little jam session, filling the gap in between songs.
After those more intense songs, they slowed things down ever so slightly with “Sam Jones”. “This sure brings me down. No one’s here to stay. We’ve got nothing to lose. And we’ll take it to our graves.” Daniel sang on the chorus of the more melancholy song. Despite the sad vibe it has though, it was far from being depressing.
He would continue to sing, but only after Carter thanked Promised Land Sound and Dead Mockingbirds for opening up the show. He also shouted out a printing company, who had printed up some silk-screened posters of the show poster for this show. “…Come buy something and we’ll give you one free.” Carter encouraged everyone.
If their show had a lull, it was the song they had just done, as well as “M J B”. That latter song worked to kick things back into high gear, though, and was just another song of theirs that had a dynamic ending. Carter spun in a circle, only once, his hands a blur as he played his guitar. After doing that, he and Thomas stood back-to-back with one another. They didn’t just lean against each other, though. Instead, they were pushing against one another, quite forcefully from the looks of it, making it look like they were trying to hold one another up.
“Sending you pictures from the naked beach, but all I want is you here naked with me…” sang Carter at the start of what had already become a personal favorite Futurebirds song of mine, “Tan Lines”. A lot of other people seemed to like it too, a few of whom were even singing right along to it.
After finishing it, banter again turned to the cold weather. “We were in Montana few weeks ago and it wasn’t even this cold.” Carter told everyone, again thanking everyone for enduring it.
Continuing with music from “Baby Yaga”, they went on into “Dig”, which, for a majority of the time, was one of the most authentic sounding songs they did, complete with Thomas singing in a very twangy voice. You could tell not everyone was very familiar with their music, because as they eased up at the end, the room was filled with applause. They even held the silence for a moment, before ripping back into the song, delivering one of their most dazzling displays of the night yet.
“I don’t know this song.” Thomas could be heard saying as they prepared for the next one. “Pay close attention to Thomas’s guitar playing.” Carter instructed the crowd, perpetuating the joke. Okay, of course they knew it, but it was one of a few songs they did that I didn’t, nor could I figure it out after the fact. All the same, it was a nice song.
Throughout their set, there had been a woman standing in front of the stage, often shouting out different songs she was wanting to hear. One that had been repeated was one I was also hoping to hear, “Heavy Weights”. “This isn’t Heavy Weights.” Carter informed her, while Thomas added, “Don’t get your hopes up, either.”
Instead, they did another song that required the heavy use of their three-part harmonies, “Death Awaits”. It might not have been that other song, but it was a great one. I’ll even admit, in listening to their stuff, that was one track that didn’t do much for me, but live, live it was something else entirely.
It was again time for some more thanks now, which this time went to Parade of Flesh for putting this show together. They then broke into a cover, and one you probably wouldn’t have expected them to do.
They put their own twist on Stevie Nicks’ “Wild Heart”, which was arguably their best song of the night. And the end, the a capella end where Daniel, Thomas and Carter crooned, “Where is the reason? Don’t blame it on me, blame it on my wild heart.”, that was to die for.
I think they only did one more song after that. I say “think” because a.) it was another I didn’t know, and b.) it sounded like it could have been a few songs mashed together. It made for one helluva way to end their 81-minute long set, especially because the further they got into the song, the more amped up they got. And by the time it was all over, no one was really ready for them to be done.
“Thanks. We’re Futurebirds.” said Carter before they jumped off stage.
Some people went on their way, either leaving, or going over to the bar to get a drink, accepting the show was probably over. Others weren’t ready to believe that though, and the chants of “One more song!” could be heard.
Is what was funny, it happened in small groups. Like, a handful of people would shout it, then, since the band wouldn’t have come right back out, they’d quit. But another group would just be joining in at that time, and keep it going for a moment, before some more people began chanting.
Eventually, it paid off.
“…Aw, shit guys!” Carter exclaimed as they retook the stage, getting ready for one last song. It added about four minutes onto their show, and I’m not 100% what this encore was, but I’m thinking it was “Yur Not Ded”. Whatever it was, it was the perfect way to end this performance, bringing it to a stellar finish.
I don’t really know what I was expecting from Futurebirds, but I wasn’t prepared for what transpired.
Their music may have some more country undertones to it, but they put on as solid a rock show as I’ve ever seen.
Their highly energetic performance made sure you couldn’t pull your eyes off of them even if you wanted to, and having three vocalists to alternate between kept things constantly fresh.
On that note, even though all three of them might have different tones and textures to their voices, they can also all sing. Damn well at that, and they all have just a subtle twang to their voices that serves as a binding characteristic between them all.
I’ll restate what I said when I posted the picture of them I took on Instagram. “This band; this band was something special to watch.”
They, all six of them, impressed me, turning me into a full-fledged Futurebirds fan with ease.
You can check out their tour dates HERE. And if they’re coming to a town near you, you shouldn’t hesitate to go see them. I know I’ll be trying to catch them next time they come through Dallas. Also, right here in iTUNES is where you can find all of their albums.
Couldn’t have been a better way to spend a Wednesday night then this, and I also need to give one more shout out to Kenneth of Dead Mockingbirds for getting my cover into the show. Thanks again, man!
Darrin Kobetich has been active in the music scene for awhile; a few decades to be exact.
While he’s always been a solo instrumentalist; much of his time in real bands was spent playing hard rock and thrash metal music.
However, in more recent years his focus has shifted back to his solo material; and he’s gotten truly creative with it.
His most recent album is “Sidetracked - A Soundtrack For An Imaginary Motion Picture”, which plays out exactly like the title suggests; as if it’s an accompanying soundtrack for a film. A film that doesn’t even exist.
The nearly eight and a half minute long track “The Order Within Chaos” starts you on this journey. It’s a semi-ambient sounding track; gradually intensifying the deeper you get into it, though there’s a certain level of serenity maintained throughout it. Some subtle yet thunderous percussion can also be heard in the latter half of the track; reminiscent of war drums from far off in the distance, before they die completely as the song recedes into “When the Rain Finally Came”.
A full-blown feeling of calmness washes over you while listening to the song, which is complete with the soothing sounds of raindrops mixed in, in the background. The tranquil guitar chords only accentuate the mood the song sets. It gets traded in for a banjo on the short “Banjer in the Bayou”. And while you would think that track would sound completely out of place given the previous songs; it doesn’t. In fact they go together quite well, and the transition into it is rather fluid.
The vast array of sounds continues with the low-key “Creeper”. It’s another song that’s worthy of the title it was given; and while it’s far from being ominous, it does just creep along, winding itself to an interesting end; an end that features good use of a theremin, which gives it a cool sci-fi like vibe.
Those first few songs manage to work together in ways you wouldn’t think possible until you actually hear it for yourself. However, they are but the calm before the storm.
With the acoustic intro, you might be thinking that “Giant Behemoth” isn’t going to live up to its name. Then you hear the shrill feedback, and Darrin brings forth the thrash metal sound of his earlier bands. It’s as heavy as the album gets, with some mighty drumbeats joining the roaring and intense guitar lines. Then, it suddenly dies out: the song ending about as calmly as it began.
“Winging It” brings things into a more rock pace, still using the drums from the previous song. Gradually though, those are pulled back; setting the album up for a completely different sound.
“Counter Cultural Tribal Dance Theme” and “Percussion Concussion” go together perfectly. The former incorporates a nice use of some type of woodwind instrument at various moments, and it executes the tribal sound excellently. In fact, there’s some Indian flare to it; and while I’ve never watched a Bollywood film, it sounds like something that would fit in one of those style movies.
The latter of the two is more toned down, yet still aggressive and possess a certain hypnotic quality to it. That’s actually appropriate, seeing as “A Trance Harp Beach Party” is utterly mesmerizing. It may be somewhat simplistic in some regards, but it’s great.
The remaining five tracks on the album all play out as another segment of the story; a story that has reached the climax at this point and is now headed for the resolve.
“The Gift That Came Here” starts the still lengthy journey to the records close; and as uplifting as it is, you can’t help but feel good and know that the most tumultuous times (“The Giant Behemoth”) are far behind.
“An Air of Pall” takes that mellow mood to new heights, while “The August Moon” continues it; at least until a sharp rise pierces the tranquility. It’s by no means on the scale of previous songs and instead serves to show that there’s still some surprises to come on this album.
“In the Misty Forest On the Edge of Time” is more of an interlude than anything, and the 48-second track gives way to “The Man Who Came From Wales”, which is the ideal last song for this record. It oozes joy, creating one of those picture perfect endings in your head before the credits proceed to scroll by.
For those who frequent my blog at all, then you probably know I often mention that I’m not a fan of instrumental music. Yet that’s all “Sidetracked…” is.
I liked it the first listen through, and I must confess; subsequent listens made me downright love it.
This isn’t just instrumental music, though. It’s more like a composition and it plays out in an epic fashion.
It’s even more remarkable that just one person was able to put all this together, doing all the instruments – and of course, everything else - entirely on his own.
It was a big undertaking, no doubt; but in the end, it all came together perfectly. You can tell Darrin has a lot of natural talent as a musician, and that talent seeps out of the speakers, clearly noticeable.
In the end, “Sidetracked…” is an impressive piece of work, and even without any lyrics whatsoever, it still manages to make more of a connection with the listener than a lot of records these days do.
Purchase the album on: iTUNES / Bandcamp / CDBaby
Visit Darrin Kobetichs’ websites: Official Website / Facebook / Reverbnation
(Photo credit: Scott Carson Ausburn)
Typically, I plan at least a few weeks in advance what concerts I’m going to see, which, at least for me, is pretty easy to do.
This night however, I really wasn’t certain where I would end up until earlier that very day.
There were only a couple shows going on this night that even had my interest in the first place, but none were screaming my name, making me feel like I had to attend them.
So, I wound up deciding to go to Three Links, where Baboon was headlining.
As you may already know, the band has been around for awhile, forming in 1991, and were a staple here in the local music scene, and even achieved some degree of national recognition, before disbanding… Sort of.
They still play shows periodically, and the first time I saw them live had been nearly five months before, when they played the Toadies sixth annual Dia de los Toadies music festival.
Baboon killed it that afternoon, and I said to myself then that the next time they did a show, if I could; I would have to go to it.
Getting to the show, the lineup was a little perplexing to me, because soundwise, none of the bands really seemed to go together.
Don’t get me wrong, I like shows where there’s a good diversity between each bands sound, but at the same time, I think they all need to mesh a little bit (wait, let me correct myself; before tonight I thought they should all mesh a little bit.)
The first two bands of the night were both electronic duos, which is a genre I’m generally not a fan of, and I’ll admit that I was expecting each of their sets to be a test of patience for me to get through. Luckily, I was proved wrong.
Cutter got the night going, diving into their 26-minute set at 9:19.
Their show looked like it would be an experience of sorts; with the house lights all dimmed, while Alex Velte, who did some of the singing as well as playing the keys and synthesizers, flipped on a strobe light. It was simple, yet it really set the tone and atmosphere for their show.
The only song I know they did for sure was “First On Their Family”, and I don’t even know where that fell in their set, but after only one song, they had my attention.
For the most, they bridged one song right into the next. Their third tune was sung by drummer Jared Coffey, who, despite his basic drum kit, along with an electronic drum pad, was making a lot of noise. So far, Alex had been using his synthesizer, which resembled a guitar, but sit it down, as he shifted his focus to the collection of keyboards he had.
They knocked out one more song, which Jared again sang, before taking their first actual break of the night. The crowd they had watching them never let their consistent pace keep them from applauding, but now that there was some actual silence, everyone was very vocal about just how much they were enjoying this.
They only had a couple of tracks left at this point, and after one, Alex got his synthesizer back out, while Jared set up the song with an awesome electronic drum beat. Once it was all said and done, Alex grabbed the strap and removed the synthesizer, letting it drop to the floor, where it made the most awful crashing sound upon impact, but it also made for a pretty cool way to end things.
I have to admit; I was quite impressed with Cutters’ live show.
They just had this aura about them while they were on stage that was hypnotizing to those who were watching them, and while I’ll admit that I didn’t like them enough to buy their music (again, it’s just not quite my style), in the live setting, their songs are something else.
Yeah, I liked it. Yeah, I’d see them again sometime down the road.
They’ll be playing at the Crown & Harp in Dallas on March 12th (a show that is being presented by King Camel), and they also have a Denton gig booked on March 17th at Rubber Gloves. You can also get their music for free over on their BANDCAMP page.
Second up was Pinkish Black, whose 30-minute long set got off to a rough start.
Some of Daron Becks’ keys and synthesizers cut out during the song, leaving him fumbling with all the cords on the power strip, as he made sure everything was still plugged in.
They, or rather drummer Jon Teague, kept on going like pros, and only after the song was finished did he ask Daron if everything was okay now, and he replied that it was.
If they were going to have any trouble, at least they got it out of the way early, and their three remaining songs went off without a hitch.
The turnoff for me when listening to their music online was the indiscernible lyrics, which was no better in the live environment in my opinion. However, their music just washed over you, and much like the first band, it had an entrancing affect on everyone.
In sampling some of the songs from “Razed to the Ground” on Spotify, I had drawn the conclusion that Pinkish Black was a band that just made jumbled noises, but that thought quickly went out the window as I was watching them.
These guys were completely in their element while they were on that stage, and owned it completely and effortlessly.
And while I was standing on the opposite side of the stage from Jon and my view was obstructed, my attention kept going to him, as he is an impeccable drummer.
I’m afraid the same sentiments I had about Cutter also apply to Pinkish Black; and I didn’t like their music enough to go buy and listen to their CD. But if you’re a fan of this genre, check ‘em out. “Razed to the Ground” as well astheir first album can be bought HERE.
Their show this night made me understand why they are such a buzzworthy band at the moment, and I would like to see them again sometime.
By the time they had finished, this show had officially sold-out, and was getting so crowded a few of the tables against the wall had to be taken out to the patio to allow the patrons more room.
Now, the music – in terms of genre - switched dramatically from those electronic bands, as The Black Dotz got ready to take the stage.
I was told beforehand by bassist Zack Busby that they were basically “James Brown soul rock”, a mix of genres that had me intrigued to say the least.
“Who’s ready for a Rock ‘n’ Roll revival?!” shouted frontman Wanz Dover, who, fitting with that question, was sort of treating the audience as a congregation; and he was the fiery preacher who was about to start an unforgettable sermon.
“This song’s called ‘There Was a Time!” he informed everyone, as drummer Clay Stinnett got the song going. There was no denying it was soul rock, with emphasis on the rock part. At least more so than what I think James Browns’ music has, but there were still some very vibrant soul qualities. As the song neared the end, Wanz stepped back on stage, turning to face the drum kit while still singing. He then jumped into the air, bending his legs before landing, no doubt hitting hard on his knees, though he landed in perfect synch with one of Clays’ beats.
For those like myself who had never seen The Black Dotz, that statement at the start seemed like just your typical talk most bands say these days to get people excited, but it winds up being nothing more than talk. That one song was all it took though to prove these guys were backing it up with action.
“Who’s ready to testify?!” Wanz asked, before saying he was going to give a testimonial to the audience. That, of course, came in the form of another song, after which the subject matter was switched over to sin.
“This song’s about sin. We’ve all sinned…” Wanz spoke to everyone, seeming like he had more to that speech before Zack, Clay and guitarists Ian Hamilton and Greg Prickett launched into the next song. It didn’t appear to be any big deal, though, as Wanz whipped right back into show mode at the first notes, as they did a song that again saw him jumping around, and upon landing (on his feet this time), he fell to his knees and belted out a line or two.
At first, I thought they did a couple of different songs that were blended into one another, but once the song was over, Wanz informed those who might not have known that the song was by Nina Simone. The song was “Sinnerman”, and considering the original version is over ten minutes long, I think they did the full version of it, which was quite possibly their best track of the night.
“POWER!” Wanz belted, as Zack and Ian shared another microphone and echoed that line, while at another point Greg dropped to his knees, facing his amp, and shredded on his guitar. Seriously, he tore it up in a way not many guitarists do, but never seemed flashy or showoff-ish while doing it. Shortly after that Wanz disappeared in the sea of people, before emerging on the bar, where he spent a couple of minutes singing, before jumping off it, into what was probably the only empty spot in the club.
He collapsed when he got back to the stage, laying on his back, catching his breath, which was where I thought the song ended, as it hit a bit of a lull. “Are y’all having a good time?” he asked when he finally stood up. Oh yeah, everybody there was a great time, and evidently, it was only going to get better as Wanz mentioned that they were “just getting started.”
Again backing his words up with actions, the entire band got wild at the end of that epic song, leaving everyone awestruck.
It was then Wanz mentioned Nina Simone had done that song. “…She was ten times angrier then I’ll ever be. But I’ll aspire to be.” he said, partially joking and partially being serious.
During their next song, he suddenly rushed the audience as they hit the first chorus, not really doing a proper stage dive, but still leaping out at everyone, mingling with the crowd for a few moments. The following song was another highlight of the night, and it was Greg who stole the show during it. As they progressed through the track, he started getting more into, and by the end he was slinging his guitar all over the place, and moving around erratically, just destroying it.
“I bet you’ve been through some rough shit…” Wanz stated once the song was over, mentioning all sorts of circumstances, such as being “broke” or “alone”, before they continued with the soul rock assault.
It was before the final song of their 38-minute set that Wanz got slightly reflective. He looked over at one of the guitarists for Baboon, Mike Rudnicki, as he said, “If it weren’t for bands like Baboon and Brutal Juice, I would not be here at all. Never would have happened…” he plainly stated, showing just how influential and impactful those legendary Denton bands were on him.
They then tackled their final song, which again saw Wanz standing on the bar, singing to everyone while occasionally batting the lights that hung from the ceiling out of his way.
That was quite the way to end what was an unforgettable show, a show that proved, just like was said at the start, there is a Rock ‘n’ Roll revival happening. It may not be on a large scale, but The Black Dotz are certainly at the forefront of it.
The music was great, acting as a sort of ode to James Brown and other artists of that ilk, while bringing in some modern elements, and the show was as explosive as you could ever hope to see from any band.
Obviously, the place was packed while they were on stage, and all eyes were glued to them as they showed everyone just how it was done.
If you’d be interested in seeing one of their shows, they’ll be right back here at Three Links on March 7th for the first night of the venues 1-year anniversary celebration.
You could feel the excitement as people packed in around the stage while Baboon set up, and for the first time in a long time (like, since I was still a teen), I felt like I was one of the youngest people in the room.
Not that there weren’t other twenty somethings there, but there were also a lot of people in attendance who had probably been seeing Baboon since early on in the bands career, and all these years later, they’re still supporting them, which is really awesome.
“Turn off this shit music!” ordered frontman Andrew Huffstetler, as the house sound (which, in my opinion, had not been too good this night) was silenced.
Yeah, that’s the way to start a rock show.
“So, how’s it going?” he asked, very nonchalantly, as everyone packed in tightly; the anticipation as to how this show would start mounting with every second.
They had the stage for the 63-minutes, and it was “Rise” that they opened with. “Hello, lonely soul. Welcome to my plan. We’ll set the world afire and crush it with our hands…” Andrew sang, after drummer Steven Barnett, bassist Bart Rogers and guitarists James Henderson and Mike Rudnicki had set up the rip-roaring music bed. All throughout the night, those old fan favorites had most of the audience singing along and pumping their fists in the air, as everyone was just grateful to have one more opportunity to hear them.
Steven segued them right into the next song, doing a long serious of drum beats, making everyone curious as to what was next. Sadly, not all their records are still available to purchase, so it was one of a few songs I didn’t know and couldn’t figure out. All the same, it was a good one, even though no one was as into to it as that first song.
The energy again spiked when they transitioned that song into “Lush Life”, which again had fans screaming back at the band, “…Here it comes again! Lush life! Lush life!”
Unlike the majority of the people here, it’s not like I even knew the music and couldn’t have sung along with the songs had I wanted to (believe me, I wanted to). But that sure couldn’t stop one from enjoying a fantastic rock show, and with only those three songs down, there was already a feeling of pure ecstasy rushing through me, and I think it safe to assume everyone else as well.
“We’re gonna mix some new ones in with the old ones.” Andrew told everyone, while his band mates took a break to tune their instruments. That led to another song I was unfamiliar with, and after finishing it, Andrew declared, “That’s it. I’m done. You can sing the rest of them.”
He then asked if anyone had any requests, and boy, the songs came flying out, as fans bombarded them with all sorts of different titles.
“How about Sucker? Do y’all know Sucker?” he asked. That seemed to appease everyone, and it was another song that became a sing-along. Actually, it was almost more of a fun screaming match, like the audience was trying to see if they could be louder than Andrew, as both parties roared, “…Some people! Sucker!”. Afterwards, they did the behemoth of a rock song that is “I’m Okay If You’re Okay”, which is nothing like the love song the title kind of suggests, and has Mike playing some killer guitar notes.
That slower love song came next, but only after Andrew filled the silence by thanking everyone for coming out, and saying they would be playing again in April. He knew it was somewhere in Denton and they would be playing alongside one of the other bands, that, along with Baboon, was referred to as the “Fraternity of Noise” back in their heyday; and that other band was Brutal Juice.
People looked at their friends, some whose eyes were as big as saucers, in pure glee about that tidbit of info. James then stepped up to his microphone and let everyone know which Denton club that would be going down at.
Their love song of the night was the beautiful; “Nation of Twos”. “…It’s a chance I have to take. I hope I’m what you crave. I just want us to be great.” Andrew crooned, his arms folded, which is something you don’t often see vocalists do, and could give the impression that he wasn’t completely comfortable on stage. You know, if you hadn’t seen him darting and jumping around the stage since they had started.
Afterwards, he dedicated that one to all of the fans, which was an appropriate move, and even gave the lyrics a slightly different meaning when taken out of context. For example, “It just started out as fun.” He also joked that after twenty years or so, they weren’t going anywhere.
One short song (that last one is around three minutes) was followed by another one, as they tackled the first of a couple tracks from their 2006 self-titled album; “Into the Sea”. It was a great song, but nowhere near as stellar as “Arms Around the World” wound up being.
It was another, rare, softer sided moment for the band, right up until the dynamic end they gave it, which was partly instrumental, and saw Andrew stepping behind James, so as to not be in the way.
Bart was doing a combination of chopping and slapping the strings of his bass, violently at that. Then you had Mike, who just brutalized his guitar, proving you don’t have to be playing a show on a weekly, or even monthly basis to have chops that are superior to most.
“Dracula Eyes” finished up that album, at least for a moment, before the band cranked out one everybody knew and loved. “Cut off the grip around my neck. I’m finally breathing for the first time since…” the now frenzied crowd could be heard singing, as “Evil” got underway.
That, was a truly fun song. I don’t mean to suggest that their others weren’t, but the atmosphere just changed during that song; as the fans and the band really fed off one another’s’ energy, which intensified things tenfold.
They got back to their self-titled album, doing the final track, “Can’t be Wrong”. James had a sizzling guitar solo during it, a solo that had Andrew more or less acting like he was worshipping the man, as he bowed a little to the greatness.
Now that they were finished with the new stuff (at least the newest stuff Baboon has done), their focus shifted back to the old material. “This next song’s off Secret Robot Control.” Andrew said, adding, and I presume kidding, that it was one that they had never played.
The song he spoke of was “BoxRotter”, and more towards the end of it, he stood right at the edge of the stage and busted out some dance moves, pulling out the classic; The Sprinkler. It was entertaining to watch, and after wowing everyone with those awesome moves, he went back to the amps and pulled out a trombone, just so it would be at the ready.
They were almost done at this point, and had saved “Closer” for one of their final songs. They added something to it, though, adding what I guess was another song onto the end of it. That was where the trombone came into play, as the music took more of a punk-ish turn, Andrew playing that brass instrument for a moment, before violently shouting, if I heard him correctly, “Aren’t you disappointed?!”
They had one last song in ‘em for the night, but before that, Mike stepped up to his mic. “Happy Chinese New Year!” he exclaimed, pointing out it was the year of the horse. “I had to say something tonight.” he finished.
It was fitting that this is the year of the horse according to the Chinese zodiac calendar, and Steven pulled out a rubber horse mask, placing it over his head. That made watching him drum on “California Dreamin’” all the more enjoyable to watch, and it was yet another fun song that provided a rocking note to end on.
I know they’re not a new band, but they kind of are to me, and I’m wishing I had seen them a little sooner than just last September.
I was talking to Wes of the band Here Holy Spain after the show, and he said something I had already been thinking, which was that, while watching them, this feeling just washes over you.
It’s a feeling of amazement, and it’s a feeling of going back in time to a point when rock music still had balls. (Okay, there are still some good rock bands out there. At least on the local level.)
I also have to say, I’m amazed they can go such long stretches of not doing shows, but as soon as they hit the stage, it’s all comes back; I’d assume not much different than they were back in even the early to mid-nineties.
They’re masters of the stage, no doubt, and sadly, they just don’t make bands like Baboon these days. Luckily, they’re still around to show people how it’s done.
Keep your eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE for a official announcement about their April show at Rubber Gloves in Denton. Then, head over to iTUNES and add the three records of theirs you can buy to your music library.
I’m very glad I wound up here at Three Links this night. Two of the bands I didn’t expect to like I wound up enjoying. The Black Dots ended up being the dark horse of the night, and Baboon was spectacular, outdoing even the expectations I had for the show.
As if The Toadies playing “Rubberneck” in its entirety (and then some) wasn’t enough; just minutes after midnight, Homegrown Fest announced another major score for the fifth installment of the festival: …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of the Dead.
The Austin based quartet will also be playing an album in its entirety, tackling all eleven tracks from 2002’s “Source Tags & Codes”, and no doubt some other songs just for good measure.
(Listen to “How Near, How Far?”)
So, with those two long running bands who each have two plus decades experience under their belt, it’s a sure bet that the rock portion of the festival is going to be in good hands. But what about the rest? After all, one of the best things about Homegrown is the eclectic mix of bands they bring together.
Well, it looks like there will again be a lot of diversity this year.
My eyes were immediately drawn to The Phuss and Goodnight Ned. The former has done some touring with The Toadies (Vaden Todd Lewis even produced The Phuss’s debut LP), and finding a better live band in the D/FW metroplex would be no easy task.
The trio has perfected a brutally good mix of Rock ‘n’ Roll with some punk elements thrown in; and the new batch of songs they’ve cooked up for their forthcoming LP is some of their best music to date.
(Listen to “Something to Die For”.)
As for Goodnight Ned, they’ve grown their style from when I first heard them, leaving the more folksy sound they had behind, and have transitioned into an excellent rock band with some Americana flare thrown in. And since all five of the band members are also capable of singing, they’ve worked up some wickedly good harmonies, the likes of which you just don’t hear too often.
(Listen to “When We Were Young”.)
Other bands announced The Suffers from Houston, who will be at least one of the acts filling the soul niche for the year.
(Listen to “Giver”.)
Wild Moccasins will be another act making the drive up from Houston, and while I wasn’t familiar with the indie pop outfit before, I was enamored with them upon the first listen. Their music is infectious and they just released a new album on New West Records at the start of February. You might just want to pick it up before May 10th rolls around.
(Listen to “Gag Reflections”.)
Another band catering to the indie music fans will be The Black & White Years; an Austin band who has played festivals like Fun Fun Fun Fest and Austin City Limits, as well as international festivals such as London’s Wireless Festival.
(Listen to “Little One”.)
Also not to be overlooked is Denton’s own Seryn. It’s been more than a few years since I last saw them, but with an assortment of different instruments they create a tapestry of beautiful music, complete with gorgeous harmonies.
(Listen to “We Will All Be Changed”.)
This might be premature, but this is looking like it’ll be the best year Homegrown has had yet.
Granted, you might not know all of these bands that were just announced, but neither did I. However, as soon as I listened to each of them I was smitten.
The talent level is already off the charts and with one more announcement of bands to come, it should be safe to bet that it will only get better.
Saturday, May 10th
Gates @ 11 AM
Tickets start at $20 for GA and go up. Buy them HERE. / Children under 10 can get in for free.
Arlington certainly isn’t the city you first think of when you think about going to catch a local rock show. In fact, the last few concerts I caught at clubs in this town were memorable, but for all the wrong reasons (that’s a whole other story).
I expected better results this night though, as I headed for The Chuggin’ Monk.
It’s still a relatively new venue, and only six months they’ve gotten quite a bit of great talent to play their stage, and while I’ve wanted to see more than a few of those past shows that have taken place here, the lineup this night was finally one I couldn’t pass up.
Zativah Kid was the first band on deck, a band I had seen nearly a year before, though they didn’t have my full attention, as I chatted with a variety of people, from members of the other bands who were playing, to Mike of the band Betray the Dreamer, some of the crew from DFW Undercover and so on.
All the same, what I did really watch of their set was entertaining, and I would definitely say they’ve tightened up since I first saw them, being more solid live, and just putting on a good old fashioned rock show.
“…You know what this one is.” frontman Benjamin Bachman remarked as their set came to an end, as their handful of fans who were there shouted out a couple of different song titles. “Freebird!” one guy shouted. “You got it! It’s Freebird.” Benjamin replied, going along with the joke, which was a welcome change from how many bands seem to get pissed about it. Of course, that wasn’t the song, though.
“This is Fast and Easy.” stated Benjamin, as they closed with the high-octane track.
It looks like their next show will be April 18th at O’Riley’s in Dallas, and if you’d like to get a taste of what they sound like, you can sample one track over on REVERBNATION.
Following them was the Denton based, Idler, who had, had some downtime over the last couple of months, as they restructured the band.
Back in October, their female vocalist, Katie Frank, made a personal move out-of-state, though the position wasn’t vacant for long, as they quickly welcomed Mercedes Ann into the mix as the sixth member.
I hadn’t seen them since that happened, though, and not only was I excited about simply seeing another Idler show, but I was also interested to see what this new version was like.
“Has anyone ever watched Top Gun?” frontman Micah Frank asked the crowd, of course getting some cheers from people who had. “…This song is from it…” he informed everyone, noting it had been written by Kenny Loggins.
He proceeded to let loose a flawless high-pitched scream to get “Highway To The Danger Zone” underway. It came as a surprise to me that they opened with that song (out of the handful of times I’ve seen them, it’s typically their closer), but it worked well, and in more ways than one. It was a good way to pump everyone up, as they do a killer version of the song, and it also didn’t take long to hear what Mercedes was capable of, as she did the singing on the verses.
Their first original song of the night was one of a few new ones, new to the point I don’t believe I had ever heard it before. It was titled “Give it a Rest”, and it was an awesome song with some cool breaks thrown in, as the lead guitar, drums and bass fell silent, while rhythm guitarist Nick Laracuente kept knocking out some sweet riffs.
“What’s up Arlington?!” Micah asked everyone, before mentioning their next song was one off their debut EP, and was called “Go for Broke”. Not only is it an awesome duet, but I still like the fact that it shows off the broad range Micah is capable of; going from his perfect pitched/toned voice one moment, to screaming the next, to the point he sounds like he belongs in a hardcore metal band. Hell, it’s even a fairly brutal rock song in general, with some often intense drumming from Ritchie Rangel.
“How’s everybody feeling?” asked Micah after that song had concluded. He pointed out the next track was yet another from their EP, and EP he said he’d give to anyone who wanted a copy, if only they had, had any with them. The song he was referring to was “Lose Control”, and once they were done with it, Nick started cutting up.
He and Mercedes died laughing, as Micah, Ritchie, bassist Bo Hutchinson and lead guitarist Mykey O’Neil gave them a funny look, just wondering what they had missed out on. “Nick just said, ‘peace in yo crease.” Mercedes answered, causing the rest of the band as well as the crowd to start laughing. “…Now I feel weird, ‘cause we don’t have any songs about peace to do.” Micah stated, as they instead settled for the first song they ever wrote as a band. “I’m glad y’all are here to see and hear it.” he said to everyone.
That was a fact I didn’t know before, and seeing as “Kings and Queens” is my personal favorite Idler tune, it was an interesting one to learn.
The banter with the crowd continued, when Micah asked one woman how many drinks she had, had so far, then asked a guy the same question. Each answered five. “…So, with five plus five, how many would be left if y’all had a twelve pack?” was the question he posed, and it was answered by Mykey. “You get a gold star!” Mercedes told him, as they joked that they do like College football programs, giving each other a star to go on their helmets. “They say ‘We’re proud of you.” Mercedes said while continuing to laugh, before Micah chimed in. “Yeah, we need to keep everyone motivated.”
“We have some people here.” he said, before they went on to their next song, calling out the folks from DFW Undercover, as well as myself. That led them to “Vendetta”, a song Mercedes flat out killed it on as she began the track. It was just the way she sang, “Your smile, it follows your two faced words…” that sounded so fantastic, and sold me on the fact that these couldn’t have asked for a better replacement.
“I keep pulling this fucking mic down.” Micah remarked as he raised the stand a bit. He then took a moment to formally introduce his band mates, adding “Mister.” before each person… Including Mercedes. There was a seemingly long pause as Micah had to think on his feet as to how to safe himself, and lucky for him he had not named Ritchie yet. “…I’m not a mister.” Mercedes emphasized, after she had congratulated Micah on that nice save.
They were about to start their next song, before stopping, as Ritchie got the spotlight, doing a pretty badass drum solo, that lasted a good minute or so. They then launched into my favorite new track of theirs, “Underneath Me”. It was a highlight of their set, due largely to the great chemistry Micah and Mercedes had going on during it. He handled the first verse, and she the second, when she turned to him and belted, “I’m number one, your number two, you’re underneath me.” pointing at herself and then him as she sang. She even added a hint of sass to the last line, “…Don’t fucking talk to me.”
They kind of segued the end of it into their next song, “Pitchfork”, as Nick lightly plucked the strings of his guitar. “I fucking love this song.” said Micah, talking out loud rather than informing everyone of that. There’s no denying that it is a great song, and arguably their best.
“Do we have time for one more?” Micah asked, and after finding out they did, they wrapped things up with another song from their newer batch, “Cigarette”. Well, at least it seemed like they were done.
Sure, it was pre-planned, but all the same, everyone who was watching them was grateful they had enough time for one more song, and it was another cover. “Do y’all want to do some Justin Timberlake?” Micah asked. “No, no. Not that. How about some Megadeth?” he asked. Mykey then played a few notes on his guitar, as Micah sang just one line from on of their songs, which I believe was “Symphony of Destruction”. That still wasn’t what they were doing, though.
Instead, they tried their hand at “Almost Easy” by Avenged Sevenfold. They did a cool rendition of it, and Idler’s sound (on some songs) is heavy enough that this one was well within their realm, and Micah let out a near deafening scream on the final line, “Come back again, it’s almost easy.”, bringing their 40-minute set to an end.
For me, it’s too early to say whether or not this newest version of Idler is an improved one, though they are every bit as great as they always have been.
Even their performance seemed improved from the last time I had seen them, and even with the smaller confines of the stage, they managed to make it work and still moved around a good deal.
And going back to that chemistry Micah and Mercedes had going; it adds a completely new element to their live show. It may not have been prevalent in every song they did, but it was there, and it really helps elevate their performance.
In the end, there’s no doubt this is only the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Idler, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.
If you like free music, you can get their self-titled EP as well as their cover of “Highway to the Danger Zone” on REVERBNATION, at no cost to you. You can also see them live on February 22nd at Hailey’s in Denton, or on march 8th at The Boiler Room in Dallas.
After them, it was, at least for me, kinda of like déjà vu from two weeks before, since the final two bands had been on the same bill at a club in Dallas.
One of those bands was The Raven Charter, who, like the last band was a six-piece rock outfit. However, since one of those instruments was a keyboard, the stage wasn’t quite as roomy for them. Still, they made the best of it, and it never seemed to impede them.
They kicked off their 46-minute long set by partially doing one of their classics, “Survival Kit”. The instrumental piece lays the foundation of what great musicians they are, like guitarists Brandon Bond and Daniel Baskind for example, who add a slick style to even the more relaxed plucking of the strings, before cutting loose on the monstrous rock number, which also boasts some awesome key parts from Erik Stolpe.
A few minutes in, Garrett Bond stepped on stage, entering from stage left. When he got to center stage, he turned towards Brian Christie and his drum kit, slapping some of the cymbals with his hand. “Survival Kit” died out then, as Brian quickly counted them into “No Direction”, doing an almost seamless segue. “I look to the left, and I look to the right, to avoid the darkness, but I haven’t found the light…” Garrett and Daniel crooned, harmonizing shortly before finally hitting the tracks chorus. There was even a cool reverb effect added to the tail end of the song, as “No direction and no reason to persevere and reclaim you…” resonated after Garrett snag it.
“What up, Arlington?!” he asked once the song was over, also asking if anyone else was drinking. “…I’m already half drunk…” he stated, before they knocked out a newer number. I think I said this same thing when I saw them a couple weeks prior, but I’ll say it again; this is one of the best songs I think they’ve ever done.
It packs one helluva punch, and even at the beginning Brandon and bassist Anthony Sosa were clearly having fun, as they faced one another and thrashed about. The music itself is so fast paced and intense, there’s just a real sense of urgency to it that demands and commands your full attention. “This won’t last forever, we’re on borrowed time. If this is our last night ever, I’m gonna make you mine!” Garrett, Brandon and Daniel shout on the pulse-pounding chorus. Needless to say, I can’t wait until they get some new music recorded, specifically that track.
Speaking of a new Raven Charter album, that was a topic Garrett tackled during their next break. He stated that, after six months, they had finally settled on a studio. “…We’re a bunch of high-maintenance, dipshit motherfuckers…” he joked, adding that next month would be when they started tracking.
That led them to a couple more newer (newish) songs, the first of which was titled “Stream”. “Like water. Not like piss.” Garrett clarified after it was done. It was a good track too, and Anthony spent much of the song standing on the stage left corner of the drum riser, getting down to the music he and his band mates were cranking out.
“What’s next?” Garrett asked the rest of the band, then quickly hurried off stage to grab an acoustic guitar. They went directly into “Freela Deela”, which was one of the songs that Daniel took over as the lead vocalist, with Garrett often backing him up, as well as singing the second verse. I’m sure I’ve heard that song live before, though I don’t remember it, and as killer as the single they released of it is, it doesn’t do the live version justice.
Upon finishing it, a few fans/friends screamed loudly in approval. “I like screams…” Garrett remarked, before again thanking the Chuggin’ Monk for having them and all the other bands out. Soon, Brian started his fancy drum work that begins the lead and title track from their most recent release, 2011’s “Kidnapping”. I still like the little touch they’ve added to it, with Garrett singing along for just a sentence or two, before ceding things over to Daniel on the verses. This was also perhaps the best song of the night, because Anthony suddenly left the stage, mingling with the fans as he rocked out on his bass, while doing one of his signature moves; quickly high stepping. It didn’t take long before Garrett joined him out there, which was when Anthony started running circles around the singer.
It was a fun moment for everyone, and as they got ready for their next song, Garrett whispered in the microphone, “It’s about Mega Man.”
I don’t know if that’s true or not, however, “Thousand Worlds” is another classic from these guys, predating Garrett’s time in the band, and I’m glad it’s still sticking around. And the subtle use of the harmonica Garrett has started adding to the end of the song really adds to it.
After that, Anthony took a moment to shout out the media people who were there, from Charlie Vann of UTA Radio, to DFW Undercover, as well as thanking me for a “amazing review” about their last Dallas gig. On that note, there will never be a time where I won’t find something like to be incredibly humbling.
All of a sudden, Daniel and Garrett swapped spots, as they got ready for “Tailchaser”. Garrett hit some awesome falsetto notes on some of the backing vocals on that first verse, to the point it was impressive, ‘cause I didn’t know his range went that high. Still, it was Daniels’ show, as he sang in a smooth, even semi-soulful manner, “We’ve got all night to think ‘bout tomorrow. We’ll get lost in the passion, forget all our sorrows…” That’s just another one of the fantastic songs “The Kidnapping” EP has to offer, and as it neared the end, Brandon fell to his knees, shredding away on his axe.
“Go-go gadget Raven Charter.” said Garrett when the song had ended, which led to a story about how they were asked by Inspector Gadget to be a part of one of his devices, but told him they didn’t know how comfortable they’d be with six of them being inside him.
Man, not only were they on the mark with the music tonight, but the jokes were also topnotch.
They had one last new song to give everyone, a song that had a great lull during the middle of it. It actually sounded like the end, and had a certain lullaby quality to it. Then, just as you thought it was over, Erik, Brian, Brandon, Daniel and Anthony came back in strong, as it morphed into a forceful rock number.
“This song’s called Denton, TX.” Garrett informed everyone, as they launched into their final song of the night. “I’m free, let loose on the scene with a mind to disrupt and destroy all that I see…” he belted at the start. When you think about it, it’s really an interesting song, in the sense it doesn’t follow the traditional songwriting method, and has no real chorus. Instead, it just tells a story over several verses, and before the fifth one, Daniel went over to his amp, creating some feedback in advance of the song roaring back into action. They then finished it in style, and while it was somewhat hard to see, Erik was back there lifting his keyboard up with one hand, while using the other to continue playing.
What a show this was. In some ways, I even liked more than that Dallas one back on the 17th, because they had more time to not only play more music, but also be more themselves (i.e. the joking), as they weren’t quite as rushed.
If you’re looking for a phenomenal live band who knows how to handle themselves on stage and deliver a crowd pleasing performance, then you’re not going to find many better than The Raven Charter.
In fact, watching them this night, it was hard not to think of how far they’ve come.
It was sometime around ’09 or ’10 when I first saw them, and even then they set their shows apart from many other bands, and have since only tightened things up, putting them on a whole other level. Not only that, but even stylistically they’ve changed (are changing) their sound, but their music still retains the core elements that make them The Raven Charter in the first place.
Head over to REVERBNATION to download their two newest singles for free, and their two EP’s can be found in iTUNES. Also, be sure to keep your ears peeled for new music from them later on this year. As for shows, they’ll be at Leon’s Lounge in Oklahoma City on February 22nd, and then have a gig in Fort Worth on February 28th at The Grotto. Their next Dallas show will be March 7th at Trees, opening for Nothing More (DO NOT miss that one. Because if you haven’t seen Nothing More, then you don’t know what a real rock experience is.) You can also catch them in Denton at Rubber Gloves on March 29th.
(Photo credit: Mike Garcia of Betray the Dreamer)
Like I said, it’ll be hard to find a better live band than what those guys are, but following them, and closing out the night, was Daylight Industries, whose right up there in that same category.
Frontman Keith Allen stood out amongst the people once they were all set up (the stage here is maybe half a foot off the floor), and he bantered a minute before they even got going. “…We smoked a shit load…” he remarked, before they got one of their new songs underway.
Regardless of what they had done, it didn’t have much of an impact on their show (well, at least not in any negative way), and they destroyed the stage just during that first song. It helped with Keith being out there, too, giving bassist Barry Townsend and guitarists Brandon Tyner and Ruvayne Weber more room to dash about, and they’re one band who will utilize every inch of space they have.
Halfway through the song or so, Brandon joined Keith out there, his guitar cable knocking over Keiths’ beer, which he picked up as soon as he could, though a good bit had already spilled. He looked sadden by it, but kept on going nonetheless.
Stephen Smith used his drum sticks to quickly count them into the next song, which was one off the still fairly new “Faith Healer” EP, “Lesson Learned”. It’s one of the songs that really benefits from having Ruvayne on as a second guitarist, and he makes this already hard-hitting, catchy rock number even better.
“I see my friends. I see people in the back. I like you…” Brandon stated after the song, talking first of course about those watching them, and then all the other people who were grouped around the bar in the back. “I like you too, pool tables.” he finished, pointing over to the multiple pool tables on the other side of the room. “This song’s about Whitney Houston’s hospital ride…” Keith then informed everyone, leading to a little band debate on whether or not that was appropriate or not. “It’s not too soon, anymore.” Barry chimed in, as they kept the joking up, exchanging her name for Steve Irwin and I also believe Michael Jackson.
While that was going on, a couple of people evidently made their way to the door, and Brandon called them out on it, trying to get them to stay, but to no avail. “I was going to name my fifth child after you!” Keith yelled, almost trying to plead with them to stay. It was their loss, though, ‘cause they missed a stellar rock show.
During “Aphasia”, both Brandon and Keith made their way back on stage, though they didn’t stay there for the rest of the night. Before the second chorus of the song, there’s a pause of sorts, where Brandon is playing some sweet notes. It was during that time that Steve rose up from his kit, standing for just a second or two, before sitting back down, smacking the cymbals as he did so.
The joking with the audience continued during the next break, when Brandon said something along the lines of how much they loved everyone for sticking around. “Fuck you. We don’t love you. We don’t appreciate you.” Keith started saying, joking, of course. “No, that means we do love you.” Brandon started in, leaving Keith unsure of what to say or where to go from there. “Fuck it, I’m done.” he replied. Almost as if that had been planned, they took that as a cue to start the next song, which was “Junkie Logic”.
“What’s next?” Steve could be heard asking as soon as that song came to an end. “Oh, shit!” he replied after hearing what it was, a fitting response since I assume the song is a pretty taxing one on all of them. “This song’s about DUI’s.” Keith told everyone, before they kicked off “Wandering”. Brandon hopped back out in the crowd for that one, jumping all around, nearly hitting a few people, as he was so caught up in the music.
“Take your shirts off!” shouted some of their friends/girlfriends(?) after the song. “You don’t want that. We’re a bunch of fat guys with tiny penises and we have man boobs.” said Barry. Talk then went to the next song, which was about a recently passed law in Colorado they were about. “We’re talking about smoking weed.” Barry specified, as Brandon said something about partaking in it. “Anything said at the Chuggin’ Monk, stays at the Chuggin’ Monk.” he then shouted (well, unless of course I’m there and do a review of the show, that is. Ha.), like he didn’t want any of this getting out.
“We got the timing of song correct!” Keith shouted a few times, jumping around with glee, as Brandon started up the slightly Reggae sounding “Western Sky”. Yeah, it’s a bit of a departure from the rest of their music, but it’s quite a good song.
Upon finishing it, Keith thanked The Raven Charter for playing with them, shouting out their lesser known member, who he referred to as “Nips”. The Raven Charter had a partial mannequin with one of their shirts on it, and Anthony brought it over to Keith, who held it up and put his face where the crotch would have been, and well, you get the idea.
It was entertaining to see, for sure, and the laughs were still far from over. They, too, shouted out some people who were, before Keith looked at me. “How about Jordan The Music Enthusiast?” “Yeah, Jordan the Music Enthusiast!” Brandon exclaimed, before Keith again said the same thing, trailing off at the end into nonsensical gibberish, which was hilarious.
“Let’s hurry and finish so we can do more drugs.” he said to his band mates, before continuing to talk, pointing out they had CD’s and shirts for sale, which could easily be stolen since they were a bit preoccupied at the moment. “I stole a Coors sign.” he added, which he had lifted from the venue and placed behind their merch display, apologizing to the Chuggin’ Monk for the fact that it would probably be going home with them.
“Faith Healer” came next in the setlist, after which they called out a few guys who were playing pool, asking who was winning. “We haven’t started yet.” they replied, which prompted Keith to ask if they could place bets on them. Ruvayne went in at a whopping fifty cents, and while I was laughing at it, they didn’t seem to find it as funny. “Go on, get back to what you’re doing.” Brandon told them, before talk turned to the next track.
“This song’s about my bitch wife. I love her, but still…” Keith said, catching more than a few people off guard. Brandon stepped up to her defense, saying she was a sweet lady who makes some of the best pasta he had ever had, before Keith interrupted him. “If you buy our CD, it makes her dick bigger.”
It’s a good thing you can’t die from laughter, ‘cause I might have been close to it at this point. They then got back into rock mode with “Sit In”, which is possibly the best song off their EP. Steve again stood up at one point during the tune, while Barry hopped up on the drum riser and spent much of his time jumping back and forth while he slapped his bass.
They were almost done at this point, and for some inexplicable reason, Keith started speaking Spanish. Not much, but he said something. “…Whatever you call that green stuff that you smoke.” he finished, not knowing the Spanish word for pot.
“Chichi.” Ruvayne told him. “Wait, I thought that was boobs?” Keith responded, looking shocked, before disregarding it completely. “The point is; we’re trying to say we love tits and weed.” he finished. Brandon then called out some more people who were leaving, again saying they loved them. “No we don’t!” Keith yelled at them.
With all that, that went on, you would think they had probably been on stage nearly an hour, but they hadn’t. In fact, after wrapping their set up with the astounding “White Russians”, they had only been playing for 39-minutes.
It was a memorable 39-minutes, though.
First off, I want to go ahead and point out that, despite what I titled this, this show was far from a debacle (it just sounded good.)
Where they pretty drunk? Yeah. They even joked about that during the show, saying The Raven Charter had done a good job at trying to be the drunkest band of the night, but they had failed.
All the same, they still delivered a show a lot of bands couldn’t put on, on their best night.
They made this gig as energy packed as possible, even though there weren’t too many people watching them, they still gave those who were there their money’s worth… And then some.
They’re a fun band to see live, and not only do they want to entertain those watching, they’re also all about just having a good time doing what they enjoy doing, and they clearly do.
Go see them sometime, if you can. They’ll be at Reno’s in Dallas on February 22nd, and then the Curtain Club on March 8th. They also have a date scheduled at The Railhead in Lawton, Oklahoma on March 22nd. If you want to listen to their music, you can get their new album plus some live cuts for free on their REVERBNATION PAGE, and go to iTUNES to get their first EP, as well as a full live show recording.
(Photo credit: Mike Garcia of Betray the Dreamer)
When it was all said and done, this had been an awesome night here in Arlington.
The Chuggin’ Monk has something that will appeal to everyone, from the live music, to the pool tables and arcade games, and it’s a cool place.
No, the sound isn’t quite on par with the major venues of Dallas, Denton or Fort Worth, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good things sounded this night.
So, here’s to hoping they have a prosperous venture as this establishment, and keep getting the top grade talent in. Because if they do, I could see this becoming a destination for all of the areas local music lovers in no time.
Three Links was my second destination of the night, for another show I had put a fair amount of consideration going to.
Sealion was headlining the place this night, and while I won’t recount the whole story, I didn’t start out as a fan of theirs.
Actually, even now I wouldn’t consider myself a true fan, but after trying to give them more of a chance, I found myself slowly warming up to their 2010 debut album. Then, after seeing a small portion of their set where they opened for the Toadies in Denton almost a couple years back, I found myself enjoying their music a bit more.
That said, I hadn’t seen them since April of 2012, and this seemed as good an opportunity as any to see them again and give them another shot.
They were setting their gear up when I arrived, preparing for a show that was a mix of material from last year’s “Kenneth” album, along with some new songs.
The punk sounding quartet raced through their 49-minute set, beginning with what I believe was a couple of newer songs (admittedly, I didn’t recognize everything they played this night.)
And since I am honest, their first couple of songs, which were segued from one into the next, were ones I didn’t care for. Singer and rhythm guitarist Hunter Moehring screamed more than sang on those tracks, using a throaty sound I hadn’t heard him utilize before, and that’s just not something I care for from any band.
Drummer Alex Poulos then rolled them right into a song from their latest release, “Spruce Moose”. I did enjoy that one much more, as it was more along the lines of the bands almost surf-rock infused brand of punk, which is an interesting blend to say the least. Their eager fans were happy to hear it, too, shouting along while Hunter sang, “…I don’t to be like you…” That quick little tune started the process of reeling me in, and I have to say, it was a fun track.
They followed it with another (presumably new) song, after which Hunter informed everyone that they would soon start recording on album number three.
“Dudes, grab a dude. Ladies, grab a lady…” he instructed after saying they were going to slow things down with their next song. It was different from anything else I’ve ever heard them do, simply because bassist Samantha Villavert sang it. She’s a new addition to the outfit since I last saw them, and aside from being a good bass player, she brings a great voice to the table, and while this one did have a different sound for a Sealion song, it was still Sealion.
Samantha later acknowledged that her parents had come out to this, their first ever Sealion show, and she thanked them for staying up late to be there. They kept things going with a couple more songs, one of which was called “A Good Dream”, and, as Hunter said, was about “lying in bed all day”.
“If you wanna dance, we’ll dance with you.” he told the decent size crowd-, before he, lead guitarist Cole Denton and the rest knocked out “Finks”, which started another string of songs (three to be exact, back-to-back-to-back.) What came next I found to be their best track of the night, and there was one point during it where Hunter knelt beside his amp, tearing it up on his guitar, before creating some excellent feedback.
They brought it into their next song, one that was so new Hunter couldn’t even remember when they wrote it, first saying Wednesday before correcting himself, “No, Thursday.” By the time it was over, the fans who were gathered in front of the stage were feeling it enough they decided to start a small mosh pit while the quartet cranked out another track.
Their set was almost done by this point, and the fans were vocal about their displeasure for this, just not wanting the night to end, as they did what I believe was “T.V. Land”, another song off “Kenneth”.
Hunter then announced they were going to close with a cover, and though I didn’t understand who he said originally did the song, it was one they put on their album, and that was “All We Know”. It was as if everyone knew this would be their last chance to let it all hang out until the next weekend, with plenty of the fans getting into a semi-frenzied state as they got another mosh pit going.
Hunter even jumped out in it closer to the end, and just because he was part of the band didn’t make him impervious to getting caught up in the body slamming, and he held his, even bashing in to a few people, while never missing a note on his guitar.
That was quite a way to end the show; a show that made me a little more of a Sealion fan.
Like I said, there were a few songs I just flat-out didn’t like, but overall, from the music aspect, I enjoyed it.
The main qualm I had a few years ago was with Hunters’ voice, a voice that has both grown on me and gotten better with time. And though it’s not the best voice ever, it fits with what they do, and by no means does he come anywhere even close to being the worst singer I’ve ever come across.
As for their show, these talented musicians put on a good performance, while also keeping it light and fun. Actually, that was what I enjoyed most about them this night; it was all about having fun and just enjoying yourself.
No, they won’t be one of those bands I go see every chance I get, but I’ll try to see them again sometime, and probably much sooner than another almost two years.
They’ll be at the Double Wide in Dallas on Thursday 27th, as part of a show that is being presented by King Camel. You can also find all of their music on their BANDCAMP PAGE, either for free, or very cheap.
Overall, I was glad I decided to come over to Three Links for Sealion’s set, as they made it worth it.
Out of all the things and trends that have changed in music over the decades, one thing has remained the same; Britain has consistently been an exporter of fantastic bands.
It may not be on the scale of the “British Invasion” of the 60’s, but it is still there. And this weekend, White Lies – who could arguably be one of the best current British bands – will hit The States for a 20-city North American Tour in support of the “Big TV” album.
They have drawn comparisons to bands from Joy Division to The Killers. Admittedly, I think even some qualities of their music are reminiscent of The Smiths. However, you can’t deny that White Lies have manufactured a sound that is entirely their own.
The way the trio of Harry McVeigh, Charles Cave and Jack Brown blend rock and indie rock stylings is breathtaking, intertwining the genres so gorgeously. While the electronic undertones given to all their songs are really what sets them apart.
It’s their newest album, the six-month old “Big TV”, that is the crowning achievement of the bands career thus far, though. It’s a collection of ten brilliant songs (plus two instrumental interludes) that are a perfect combination of uplifting yet dark, moody and atmospheric tracks. They’re songs that don’t just make you feel−and will possible even strike a nerve−, but they also make you think.
So, when White Lies stops at the historic Granada Theater in Dallas for the second date of their North American tour (a tour that includes dates at Coachella); expect to be taken on a journey through the highs and lows of life. And when it’s all said and done, I’d imagine you’ll be in a better place because of it.
(Listen to “There Goes Our Love Again” and “Getting Even”.)
Saturday, February 15th at the Granada Theater
Doors @ 8 / Frankie Rose @ 9 / White Lies @ 10
$29 cover (buy advanced tickets HERE.)
The weekend before this, The Curtain Club had celebrated its sixteenth year anniversary with a couple of fantastic shows, and even though technically the celebration had ended, the streak of awesome shows was bleeding over into this weekend.
A slew of excellent rock bands were taking the stage this night, beginning with a newish band; Blacktie Renegade.
I happened to see what was maybe their last show here, several months before and really enjoyed them, and was looking forward to seeing them again.
Even though I got there early, shortly after 8:30, the heavier rock band was already on stage, and I wound up having mixed feelings about what I saw.
There were some songs, not all, where vocalist Mickeys’ voice was pretty pitchy, like he was having trouble hitting many of the notes. I wouldn’t say it was unpleasant, but it wasn’t all that good, either. Yet on other songs, he was on point and nailed it.
“We’re gonna slow things down a bit.” Mickey told everyone before “Take Off To Nowhere”. It lacked the heavy edge much of their other music has, but it was still a fairly loud song, with plenty of great drumming from Ricky.
They debuted a brand new song afterwards, before doing another, which was followed by an impromptu instrumental riff. Guitarists Brandon and Eric, bassist Daniel and Ricky just started playing, and by all indications it seemed like the start of their next song. It was a solid little piece, but when they suddenly stopped, you knew it was something unplanned.
That was when Mickey said something along the lines of that being something they had just done on the spot.
“This next song is gangster.” stated Mickey after they had done a proper song, which opened up with some awesome riffs courtesy of Brandon. That left them with a couple more songs in the chamber, which they quickly knocked out, thanking everyone who was there watching as well as The Curtain Club for putting together this show.
I already mentioned my only complaint, but even that wasn’t a constant thing, and in other aspects, I think they’re a really solid group.
You can tell each of the guys has been doing this awhile, and brings a good deal of energy to the stage, often thrashing around. The music has a nice hard rock vibe to it to, to the point you’d even expect the vocals to be screams, which is why Mickey’s voice is such a nice counterpoint to it all.
I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing them again, and if you want to check out some of their music you can download their demos over on their REVERBNATION PAGE.
Second up this night was a band I had not seen in far too long, and that was In Memory of Man.
They’d been working on a new album for a little while now, and had only recently started selling some advanced copies of it. So, not only was this show sure to be filled with new music, but it was also going to mark the live debut of Matt Langley (formerly of Fair to Midland) as the bands new keyboardist.
They hit the stage with the force of a ten ton wrecking ball, opening their 35-minute set with the lead track from their new self-titled release, “Wanted”. It was quickly clear that this night they didn’t need any time to warm up; instead, they had already found their stride, as frontman Alex Lilly moved in synch with all the instruments, pulling back during the instrumental breaks, before again asserting himself as he belted out the lines. “Wanted! Wanted! Wanted! Bring your love to me!…” he and bassist Marcus Gonzales shouted during the chorus of that sensational rock number.
They had dozens and dozens of pairs of eyes looking on in awe, as Javier Garza used one of his cymbals to quickly count them right into their next song, “Headshot”. That was one of a few tracks they did from “The Reckoning” EP, mixing in the best of the old with the new this night, as they raced through that fast paced number, and hurried on to the next one.
Again, it was Javier who fired up another fiery track, “Something In the Taste”, which had its moments that allowed Alex to soften his voice, hitting some higher notes as he showed off the type of range he’s capable of. That was built upon during “New Eyes”, which they segued right into, and could easily be called their couples skate song. It also nicely showed off Matts’ ability as a keyboard player, and while my view of him was often obstructed, he was killing it back there, set up beside the drum kit. I also liked the way his two keyboards were set up, both slanted upward (or downward I guess, depending on how you look at it), with the backs of the keyboards angled towards the ground, which in turn resulted in a unique style of him playing them.
As the song ended, Johnny McConlogue placed a slide on one of his fingers, holding a long note on his guitar that resembled some feedback. Lead guitarist Chad Beck soon chimed in with his own subtle notes, stretching it out for a while, leaving the crowd wondering what was coming next. That question was answered with the first strike Javier made on his drums, revealing it to be their classic; “Paper Planes”. That song is still one of my favorites. And no, I don’t mean just one of my favorites form this band.
It’s a beautiful song, and at one point Alex reached out towards his girlfriend, holding her hand as he sang one of the lines, and the chorus of “…If only you and I could have that night again, to start again…” is just one of those that impacts you. On that note, the song packs a punch too, taking plenty of time to set itself up and establish that emotional connection, before they let loose as it peaked.
Their following song was the only one I didn’t know, but it had a brief part where Marcus churned out a bass solo. However, the best part came at the end, when they made one of the most seamless transitions I’ve heard a band do. Johnny suddenly switched gears, playing one note form that song, then the next instant doing the first note of “My Sweet”. His band mates the followed suit, making a truly perfect segue. AS it drew to a close, Alex faced stage right, throwing his left hand up in the air, then dropped it in exact time with Javier’s final drum beat.
“We are In Memory of Man, giving it all so you don’t have to.” Alex joked, which, aside from thanking people for watching, was the first real conversation he had struck up with the audience (I don’t mean that as a negative thing, seeing as they were so focused and driven to play everything they had planned.) He also took a moment to formally introduce Matt Langley, saying how privileged they were to have him in the band. “This should sound like liquid sex.” he stated, as they began their final song, which is also the final track from their new record, “Picture Box”, which capped things off well.
This show was almost as good as their CD release gig for “The Reckoning” about three and a half years before this, which, out of the few times I’ve seen these guys, is the best show I think I’ve seen them do.
All six of them were so in tune with one another this night it was ridiculous, and the performance they gave everyone was one that won’t soon be forgotten (if ever).
They each possess some superb skills as musicians, they can hold a crowds attention seemingly effortlessly, and Alex is one of the best singers I’ve come across, and the dude has an unmistakable voice.
I could say the band that followed them was the best band of the night, ‘cause personally, I’m biased. But being completely objective, out of the bands I saw here, this night belonged to In Memory of Man.
The new batch of songs they have is incredible, and while it took them a while to get a full-length put together, it’s nice to finally have.
You can find the new album in iTUNES, and head over to REVERBNATION to download all 5-tracks from their first EP. Then, if you’d like to see them live, head out to The Grotto in Fort Worth on February 28th and catch them then.
The main act of the night was Little Sisters of the Poor, who, with a 10:30 start time, had the prime spot.
The curtain opened on this local supergroup, which consists of Jason Jones and JP Dunn on guitar, Joe Becker on bass, drummer Gabe Muzquiz and frontman Dunagin Gaines, though they did bust right into a song.
Instead, the audience got a moment to find what they thought would be the best spot to witness this rock show, as the members gazed out at the crowd. Just a few seconds later though, and Jason and Gabe had ripped into “Spires”, getting their 41-minute long set underway.
Lovely guitar licks and solos abound in that good ol’ rock song, which does a good job of getting the blood flowing, and, like the last band, Little Sisters of the Poor planned to barrel through their set. As soon as it ended, Jason lit into the first notes of “Love, Money and Death”, a song that had been tweaked since the last time I had seen them, four short months before.
Jason added some backing vocals on the first line of each part of the chorus. For example, “…Put in a jar”, dropping out as Dunagin continued, “and save change like everyone else.” It was a nice touch to the track, and I was glad to see them working that element in to the show, especially since Jason has a great voice, something I don’t think many people knew until near the end of his final project (The FEDS). The onslaught continued with Gabe winding them into the next one, “You Animals”. That was one of two songs they did this night that they have yet to lay down in a studio, but hopefully that will change soon, as it’s a great tune.
While some of his band mates tuned their instruments, Dunagin noted that most of what they were doing this night could be purchased in iTUNES, as they’ve steadily been releasing some singles since around the time of their live debut last April. “They’ll be on our new album which will be out soon.” he informed everyone, letting it slip that their debut EP would be named after that song “Love, Money and Death”. He also shouted out In Memory of Man for, who “kicked ass”. “Yeah they did. They were good. A little too good if you ask me.” Jason chimed in, further proving what a good idea it was to give him a mic.
As they finished tuning, Gabe went ahead with “Headaches”, a song that’s set apart from their other rockers, being a little more low-key, which allows them to tap into a different side of the band, while still keeping the performance pretty energized. As it ended, Jason slammed down on his whammy bar, creating a bridge into another newer song.
This one really impressed me, and was quite intense, almost as much as their first and last songs of the night. I have to confess, being planted on the far left side of the stage, I found myself gravitating more to Jason, Gabe and Dunagin, though I looked over at Joe and JP during that one, and they were letting it all out. Here’s to hoping that whenever these guys go back into the studio, that’s another one that makes the cut.
The night got even more fun afterwards, when Dunagin welcomed the first of two special guests to the stage; Randy Stephens. The guy will always be best known for the now defunct Siren City, though his new project, LA Wedding, is starting to take flight.
He took his position to the right of the drum kit, where an additional microphone stood on the drum riser. “…I’ve seen you coming up around here, why did you leave?” Dunagin sang near the start of “Ruins”, which is one of their best songs. The music bed is, dare I say, brilliant, starting out slow and tranquil, becoming something else entirely on the chorus. It almost doesn’t even go together, yet it does. Speaking of the chorus, the chorus belonged to Randy. “I’m gonna get you. I’m gonna take you on. I’m gonna corner you and make you feel so small… Structures turn to ruins…” he belted out in that golden voice of his. He overpowered Dunagin, who, in all fairness, did hold back some, before screaming out the final line of the chorus, “Ruins turn to bones!”
That wasn’t even the best part, though. The best part came at the bridge, when the two were singing completely different parts, and though their voices are so different, they blended so well.
That. That was the highlight of Little Sisters of the Poor’s show, and even if it was for one song, it was great to hear Randys’ voice again. (Actually, the last time was when he did some guest vocals on a FEDS song at their reunion show, and that had already been a little over two years ago.)
Next up on the guest performance roster was Sean Dailey, from The Better Death and 90’s grunge rock cover band, Seattle. “…We’re just gonna keep rotating singers.” Dunagin said, joking that anyone who wanted in on the last song needed to put their name in a hat and they draw a winner. Jason then cracked that these two guys had won a contest on The Eagle (97.1FM), with Dunagin adding that they had to call in at four that morning to partake in the contest.
“We just released this one.” said Dunagin, referring to their seventh single; “Truckstop Heaven”. It’s another song of theirs that can full you with the slower start it gets off to, before growing into a roaring rock number, and it was only made more that way Sean’s help.
Like Randy, he joined in on the choruses, singing along with Dunagin, “And I’ve come here to save you my brother, want to find out if you’re still alive…”, while the last chorus Dunagin gave completely to Sean. “…And the battle is lost and you feel the bomb fall out. Rise up with a knife and bleed the chief.” he roared, creating another astounding moment from this show.
Seriously, those two guest vocalists were an incredible touch to this song. Dunagin’s already one of the best frontmen around, and is best known for the powerhouse group Moving Atlas (who will hopefully grace some stages a little more often this year), but Randy and Sean each gave their respective songs a whole new element. For starters, I didn’t know I could like “Ruins” any more than I already did, and Sean turned “Truckstop Heaven” into even more of a beast.
They had one last song to give for their 41-minute long set, and before Sean even started to make his exit, Jason was shredding on his guitar, as they closed with “Cooker”. I was glad to hear this one back at the end of the setlist, because this explosive, guitar-heavy number is a perfect closer, giving everyone one last rush of adrenaline, before leaving you craving more from the band.
Probably the best thing about a supergroup, especially with this caliber of musicians, is the fact that they all already know how to handle themselves on stage.
From their first show, these guys delivered a stellar rock show, and even though they haven’t played too many shows, you can still see how much better they get each time, strengthening their chemistry.
If you haven’t seen or heard this group of veterans, I promise you’re missing out, and you should, at the very least, check out their singles in iTUNES. They’ll sort of be back at the Curtain Club, playing the Liquid Lounge side of the venue on March 22nd. You can catch them on February 12th at Rubber Gloves in Denton, and they’ll be back there on March 19th. In between those shows they also have one at Trees in Dallas on March 14th.
There were a couple of bands left, though I had been tossing around the idea of going and catching another act at another venue -which I wound up doing- but only after sticking around for a few songs from The Commotion.
It had been some time since their last show, and it turned out they had revised their setlist since their last gig, ditching their traditional opener for a favorite of everyone’s; “Crim”. As an opener, it worked quite well, which was something I had never thought would be true.
Guitarists Josh Sanders and Justin Middleton and bassist Justin Hold let loose with a fury on that wonderful chorus that had nearly everyone singing along with singer and guitarist Micah Creel, “Your contagious smile spreads like wildfire, infecting everyone within sight.”
It had everyone enthralled, and out of all the bands, they commanded the largest crowd of the night, and afterwards they quickly moved on to song number two, their rendition of Hums’ “Stars”.
By that time I had already heard the one song I really wanted to hear, and had decided I would go catch that other show I spoke of.
Would The Commotion have been worth sticking around for? Absolutely, but I’ve seen them enough that I felt I could pull myself away from them. There also happened to be one more band on the bill, and that was Where Shadows Meet.
I sampled some of their music on Reverbnation, and it just wasn’t my style. All the same, this was one badass rock show that had been organized at the longest continuously operating venue in Deep Ellum, and if you weren’t here for it, you missed out.
My mind is a receptacle of useless information, most of which happens to revolve around concerts I’ve seen (i.e. there was a time I could list the exact date of almost all 25 FEDS shows I saw. I may could, still.)
So, along those lines, I can say without even thinking that On January 24th of last year I found myself at the Double Wide, when the St. Louis based Kentucky Knife Fight came through Dallas.
Guess where I wound up exactly one year later?
Yep, the Double Wide, to see who else, but Kentucky Knife Fight.
The band had been on the road about a week, after getting off to a rough start when their van was stolen and then totaled. They managed to get a loaner so they could at least get out on this long awaited tour, but nonetheless, it’s still a big setback for this independent band.
There were a couple of great Dallas bands that Kentucky Knife Fight was sandwiched between, the first of whom was Dead Flowers.
This made for back-to-back shows of theirs I had seen (the last one being just six days prior), and knowing that they’d have a shorter set this night, I was curious as to what their setlist would be like.
As it turned out, it was almost entirely new material, though they began with some wisecracks. Singer and rhythm guitarist Corey Howe urged everyone to get a little closer towards the stage, saying those who did might have a better chance of seeing a “nip slip”. Oddly enough, that didn’t seem to entice anyone to get closer.
They opened their 46-minute long set with the very rocking, “I’m Leaving”, which was one of a handful of songs where lead guitarist Vince Tuley had a killer little guitar solo. At one point near the end, everything fell silent, while the crowd in the pretty packed room began cheering and applauding. Corey, who had been facing Ed Chaney and his drum kit, turned around. “Oh, you guys are still here?!” he said, feigning surprise, before they broke back into the track.
A song by the name of “I Don’t Know” came next, and as soon as they had finished it, Corey strummed his guitar, leading them the first of only a handful of songs they did from their first record, “You’re Wrong”. Vince spent a fair of amount of time teetering at the edge of the stage, allowing everyone a good view of him shredding on his guitar, before jumping out in the crowd after the second chorus, giving out high fives to several spectators.
“I didn’t get any high fives.” Corey remarked after they had finished the song. “That’s because you suck!” joked Vince. Corey went on mention the other bans on the bill, saying the first show he ever played in Dallas was with Somebody’s Darling, more or less professing his love for the band by pointing out that he hadn’t missed one of their shows “in a long time”.
“This song’s a couples skate.” Cory announced after he had sit his guitar down. For whatever reason, I liked the song even more this time around than I had the past weekend, and while it is a little more calm from their other songs, I don’t know if you could really classify it as a true “couples skate”, either.
“Evan Wiener Johnson, everybody!” shouted Corey after the song had concluded, pointing out the bands bass player, whose middle name is actually Winston. They knocked out another new one, “Pieces of Me”, which, until this night, had been my favorite new song of theirs I had heard. That was about to change, though.
“Guess what we did today?” Corey asked their friends and fans. Some people responded with some jokes, but the correct answer was that they had made the down payment on their next album earlier that day, as their February recording time draws ever closer.
While on the subject of their new album, they had added a couple of brand new songs to their repertoire that they had only finished earlier in the week. They had shared one with everyone earlier, and now it was time for the other. “This one’s called Anyone But Me.” Corey announced. That was the song that instantly became my favorite new track of theirs, and it may well be the best damn thing they’ve done in general. It was an absolutely killer song with an incredible music bed, and at the start of it Evan and Ed could be seen working in perfect synch with one another, as he slung his bass around in time with the drum beats.
The one thing with new songs that no one knows, is that if you make a mistake, no one’s going to know it. However, Corey pointed out the wrong notes he played at the tail end of it. “We almost made it!” he exclaimed when it was over. “But I owned it! The mistake, that is.”
That brought them to the cover portion of the night, as they did The Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait”, dedicating it to the guys of Kentucky Knife Fight. “Burt Fucking Reynolds!” shouted Vince, during the momentary silence towards the end of the song. The next one was, as Corey later said, an impromptu song, immediately after the other one he fired up “I Will Dare”, looking at his band mates like, “Why not, let’s do this one!”
“Did someone yell ‘Yanni?” Vince asked after the second cover song. “I’m going to have to start using that during Can’t Hardly Wait.” he remarked, before confessing that the first concert he saw was one of Yanni’s. “And I went back, because my dad liked him.” he added.
“Do y’all like country?” Corey then asked the audience, who roared back at him. “Good. This is a country song.” he said. It was the title track from their debut album, “For You”, complete with Evan leading the crowd in a clap along before the second chorus. I missed what happened, though I assume Corey broke a string, as he suddenly switched out guitars early on in the song. Then in the final part of the track he and Vince leaned on one another, resting their heads on the others shoulder, while still picking away at their axes, before Ed got a brief drum solo at the end.
With that, they were on their final song of the night, ending things with their single, “I Won’t Go”.
The only downside with them not having as much time to kill is they didn’t have as much time to goof off. Yeah, they made jokes as often as they could, but nothing to the extent they do when they have another half hour or so.
Still, it was a rocking set they did, and the fact that they had to adhere to a certain amount of time did work in their favor, too, ‘cause as they powered through the songs, you got to see what a tight group they really are.
This made the third time I’ve seen Dead Flowers in just a little over a month, and I have to say, they are quickly becoming a favorite of mine.
They’re taking a little break from doing live shows, with their next one being right back here at the Double Wide on March 1st. Also, go check out “For You” over in iTUNES.
With it being so cold outside this night, most of the people who were in the venue part of the Double Wide never really left, meaning it was already pretty packed in here, and only got more that way as Kentucky Knife Fight got their gear set up.
It had been a few months since their last area show, which had been over in Fort Worth.
Even though their tour got off to a rough start with their van, the guys spirits were high, and you could tell they were excited to again be taking this stage.
Their show got off to a surprising start, far different from the last two times I had seen them. They began with a song from their 2007 debut album, “The Wolf Crept, The Children Slept”, “Herschel Walker”.
Their fans were glad to hear that classic, though, and the softer verses and roaring choruses made for a nice warm up as they eased the crowd into what was to come.
“We’re Kentucky Knife Fight from St. Louis, Missouri. We’re glad to be back in Dallas.” frontman Jason Holler told everyone, while James Baker started a drum roll into their next song. Ah, this was how those other two shows I had seen had began, and “Bad Blood” is, at least for me, one of those songs that as soon as you hear it starting, you feel a euphoric rush come over you. He kept it going, and eventually Curt Brewer and Nate Jones layered their guitars over it, as he excitement mounted.
“Been up for days at the Tic-Toc Inn, with some old habits and some new found friends…” Holler wailed in his unique semi nasally sounding howl. “…Momma know, I won’t be home by Tuesday morning for the funeral…” he, along with Curt and bassist Jason Koenig sang on the third verse, as Holler suddenly raised his voice, hitting an incredibly high note as he sang “funeral”, before bringing it right back down to his normal register. Some four part harmonies were employed near the end, with everyone but James repeatedly singing, “Bad blood.”, their voices mixing well with one another and sounded absolutely sensational.
I’d say they were sufficiently warmed up at this point, though they were still merely scratching the surface.
There was just a few seconds downtime before Nate started up the next one, as they got my two favorite KKF songs out of the early. “She looks bereft in her Sunday dress, ruby red with the lips to match. Her eyes crawl up my legs to my chest. She conducts a room with the shake of her wrist.” Holler gently sang on the first verse of “Always A Bribe, Never A Bride”, which is always one of their best songs live. Take the second chorus for example, which is different from the recording, and they did it almost a capella. James lightly tapped the edge of one of his drums, while Curt, Nate, Koenig and Holler crooned into their microphones, “She can tell I’m an only child. She knows why I can’t sleep at night. Has her fingers wrapped around the necks of every man, every woman, every breath.”
The harmonies on that were nothing short of amazing, and they still weren’t done enhancing the song for the live version. “…Every man.” Holler sang at the end, which was followed by a brief instrumental piece, during which Curt dropped to his knees, shredding on his guitar. That was repeated for the next line as well, before the four guys turned their attention to their singer, who allowed the silence to linger, before that final line, “Eve-ry breath.”
They caught everyone off guard by doing another track from their 2007 record, bringing the mood down temporarily with “Wild Irish Rose”, which ends by giving all their other rock songs a run for their money.
Afterwards, Holler thanked Dead Flowers for opening this show, as well as Somebody’s Darling for hosting it and having them on the bill, giving Curt time to swap out to his banjo. Holler then picked up his harmonica and bullet microphone, playing into it as he swayed back and forth at the start of “Dream So Sweet”. It’s a good, catchy song that’s easy to get into, and best of all, while it’s a clear-cut song about sex, they managed to give it a different spin so it’s not cliché or stereotypical.
That would be the final older song of the night, and they were now done with “We’re All Nameless Here” and “The Wolf Crept…”, and now the attention turned back to “Hush Hush” and beyond.
Holler recounted what happened to their van for those who might not have been in the know, pointing out how lucky they were to have a friend loan them theirs. While he spoke, Curt proceeded to softly pluck the strings of the banjo, very gradually getting faster as the instrument grew louder and louder, eventually, as the murderous tales from “Hush Hush” continued with “Paper Flowers Two”, another fantastic track from an album where the band truly outdid themselves.
Before their show, I was told by James that they had two new songs worked into their shows. Only one got played this night, and it came next. It was different from what they’ve done in the past, and certainly lacked the darker undertones that are so abundant on their current record. In the end, it was still Kentucky Knife Fight, though, and I really enjoyed it. “Let my love wrap you up. Drag you in and tie you up…” Holler sang at the start of the second verse.
As soon as it ended, “Theme” for No One” kicked in as a sample track, but only played for a second or two before stopping. The band looked a little perplexed, but made it work, with James going ahead and leading them into what is, at times, one of their slowest songs, “Love the Lonely”. “This is the sweetest, this is the sweetest part. Your fragile features can only get you so far…” Holler crooned at the start, showing off the softer side he is capable off, while the song was still filled with plenty of head banging moments, making sure the grip they had on everyone was only tightened.
They weren’t done with their songs about various forms of love just yet, and after allowing everyone to applaud the song, Koenig let loose knockout bass riffs that begin “Misshapen Love”. Curt was back on his guitar by this time, and he could be seen getting very into this song, bouncing around his little spot over on stage left. He and Nate led a clap along of sorts during one of the choruses, each keeping a different pace/beat, adding a very cool quality to it, while Holler picked up his bullet mic again. “Why you wanna go and wreck my life? Why you wanna go and bleed me dry? Why do your words seem so insincere? Why do your intentions seem so unclear?…” he sang, getting that nice gravelly sound the microphone helps create.
“We have a lot of friends here in Dallas. We couldn’t have said that three years ago.” Holler told everyone, even saying that out of all the shows on this little tour, this one was probably the one they had all been looking forward to most. He then checked with the sound guy.
“One or two more?” he asked.
They had already been up there about forty minutes or so, and were told one more, getting their set cut short a bit. They were swift in deciding what their final song of the night would be though, and you could hear them unanimously saying, “Father”.
It was a better closer than I thought it would be, bringing their set to a total of 44-minutes, and during the instrumental break after the second chorus, Nate just cut loose and tore it up on his axe. That brought them to the final portion of the track, and I know I said this last time, but I’m going to say it again. It’s utterly amazing how Holler sings the final lines, constantly repeating, “Walking for the door, gonna see if you really mean it when you say you’re not afraid to spread my brains across the ceiling. Officer, there’s no stopping what’s lurking in the weeds this season, so much evil unborn in this world for no rhyme or reason.”
There’s no break between either of those sentences, and it only gets progressively, yet the man never, in any noticeable way, takes a breath. If you paid attention, you could see him inhaling here and there, but as he did so, he kept right on singing. It’s quite impressive, and the semi-abrupt silence that came at the end was quickly meet with applause and cries for “One more!”
Like Holler said earlier in the night, a few years ago they didn’t have any friends here in Dallas. But now, now they are adored by many, and have certainly created their own following here.
As a band, especially a live band, they are impeccable. Their musicianship, performance and stage presence are all off the charts, and each time I see them, they only seem to keep getting better. That’s what touring is about though, getting in even better shape and pushing yourself to a whole other level.
If you don’t have “Hush Hush”, you NEED to buy it. Personally, I feel it was the best album put out last year, and it’s starting to get some recognition from a few radio stations. Check out their other albums, too, which can of course be found in iTUNES.
As for shows, this tour may be over, but they do have a few dates currently scheduled for mid to late February around Illinois. For specific details as to where and when, go HERE.
Closing out the night was Somebody’s Darling, and by the time they were all ready to go, they had the Double Wide more packed than I’ve ever seen it, with everyone crammed in as close as they could get to the people around them.
If anyone could match what Kentucky Knife Fight had done, it would be these guys, but I have to admit, I was skeptical if they even could.
“How you doing, Double Wide?!” asked singer and rhythm guitarist Amber Farris. The fans responded whoops and hollers, letting it be known they were ready for the show. “Let’s get fucked up and play some music, dammit!” she said, before letting loose the first line of their opening number, “Cold Hands”. “Put your cold hands in my warm jacket, keep ‘em there till we leave…”
That was one of only about half a dozen tracks they did from “Jank City Shakedown”, hitting the highlight songs while also focusing on what they’ll have coming down the pike in due time. Nate Wedan bridged them right into their next number, laying down the drum part, while Amber quickly chatted with the rabid fans. “We’re just warming up.” she remarked, noting it had been a little while since they had done a Dallas show. Perhaps the best part of “Back to the Bottle” was the jam outro, which highlighted Mike Talleys’ skills on the keyboard, and had David Ponder throwing a sweet little guitar solo in.
“Give it up for Dead Flowers!” Amber shouted during the next break. “They got me in the mood.” she added, before they launched into my personal favorite, “Weight of the Fear”, which concluded the fan favorites portion for a bit.
Amber announced that along with these old ones, they were going to be throwing in some new ones, the first of which was titled “Set It Up”. In comparison to some of their other songs, it got off to a slow start, but not in a bad way. It was just more tame, especially from the first few songs they had done, but that didn’t last too long, as it slowly grew, becoming a fairly hefty rock number. Amber quickly wound them from it into another new one, which was followed by yet another. “This one’s about being in a relationship and the same shit keeps spinning, and it’s time you gotta change the fucking record.” she explained while setting up “Same Record”. It was another number that had David laying down a guitar solo, which was what brought it to an end. I have to say, after hearing some more of their new stuff later on, I would discover some songs I personally liked even more than “Same Record”, but that song has a certain quality to it that I’d bet will ensure it a spot as the first single from their next record.
“Here’s another new one!” Amber informed everyone in her distinctive Southern drawl. She then joked, “We gotta practice these songs of bitches.” They did bring the mood down with this one, a very poignant song about trying to figure out what went wrong in a relationship. “…Was it me? Was it you? Why’d you let me go?” she crooned at the very end, packing it so full of emotion it damn near brought a tear to your eye.
“We’re Somebody’s Darling. We’re happy to be here tonight!” stated Amber as they brought things back up with one everyone was familiar with, “Keep Shakin’”. As it hit its lull after the second chorus, Amber and David faced one another as they plucked away at their guitars.
It appeared they were going to take things back down afterwards, when David swapped out to an acoustic guitar for another new tune. Keyword; “appeared”. He got the song going, and if I hadn’t seen him shredding away on that acoustic, I never would have guessed that was what was producing the music, ‘cause it sure didn’t sound like an acoustic guitar. This one was called “Keep This Up”, and on the chorus, bassist Wade Cofer and Mike added some nice backing vocals to it. After the fans had, had some time to warm up to it, Wade even got a clap along going with some of the audience, while Amber asked for help there at the end. Not everyone in attendance helped out, but some sang the simple chorus of “How can I keep this up?” back at the band.
The next song came by a request from one fan (mind you, it was made before the show), and whoever requested “My Own Medicine” deserves a pat on the back, ‘cause in some ways, it’s the best song in their arsenal. There’s no denying Amber is an exceptional vocalist, and that voice carries this soft song that exudes heartache. Some may disagree, but in many cases. I think it’s a bands slow song(s) that show off exactly what they’re capable of and just how good they are, and that’s certainly the case with that song of Somebody’s Darling.
“Smoke Blows” was the song that followed, and this new one found Amber pulling out the acoustic. “I’m playing the acoustic guitar for some reason. Deal with it!” she joked before it got underway. Wade and Mike again lent their voices to this one, and something about it, the way their voices mixed with Ambers’ sounded absolutely phenomenal.
Nate and David kept the music going after that one was over, the rest of the band gradually joining in once Amber got back to her electric guitar. Suddenly, the song took shape, as everyone grew excited that it was “Wedding Clothes”. Seeing as that’s their typical closer, I expected that to be the end of the show, but they had one left.
Amber thanked everyone for “sticking around so late, when the witches come out.”, before noting that this final song of their 65-minute long set was a dancing one. I’m unsure if it was a new one or perhaps even a cover, but the song was titled “Generator”, and it brought things to an end in a spectacular fashion.
Amber got to take a break from her guitar periodically, at one point grabbing the microphone stand and walking around what free space there was on the tiny stage. She even pulled the mic out of the stand, still singing, then later asked if someone could hold it for her once she had to start playing guitar again. That left one fan upfront with the duty of holding the microphone up so she could sing into it, while at the end, David dropped to his knees, picking away at his guitar before he began fiddling with the pedal board to add some nice effects to the mix.
There’s a reason why Somebody’s Darling is a band on the rise here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, essentially to the point that they’re a big fish in a little pond, and if you witnessed their show this night, it’s clear what that reason is; they’re just a well-oiled machine.
Everything they do is so precise and tight, without seeming over rehearsed.
You can tell they’re having just as much fun playing the music as their fans are listening to it, creating the perfect rapport between fans and band.
“Jank City Shakedown” definitely helped put these guys on the map, and the touring they did in support of it gained them a good following across the U.S. And after hearing so many new tracks this night, I get the feeling that their next release, whenever it comes out, will leave an even bigger mark on the music world.
If you don’t have any of their records, give ‘em a listen in iTUNES, and they are planning on having another LP out sometime this year, though, as Amber pointed out this night, they don’t have any of that new stuff recorded yet.
Somebody’s Darling’s next show is going to be at The Kessler Theater in Dallas on February 28th, opening for The Band of Heathens (trust me, you won’t want to miss that one.) They’ll also be at Off Broadway in St. Louis, MO on March 1st.
It was a helluva night here at the Double Wide, and this show was even better than I had expected it to be… And I had pretty high expectations.
My second stop of the night was Three Links, were singer/songwriter Johnny Beauford was celebrating the release of his second solo album, “A Pig Eating Past Love”.
Deadmoon Choir had been the first band, and unfortunately, I had missed them completely.
The Birds of Night on stage when I arrived, and almost done, but after having heard of them a little while and doing what I could to promote their “Movember” benefit show a couple months back, I was glad I was finally going to get a little taste of what they were like.
I walked in at the end of one song, and shortly after the quartet started the lead track from the “Snaps” album, “Bite”.
This goes for all of their music (well, at least the handful of songs I heard this night), but you instantly gravitated to it and were pulled in by it. That song in particular just had a fresh rock sound to it with some doses of indie rock thrown in. Just in listening to their music online I liked ‘em, but that was the song that cemented me as a fan of The Birds of Night.
“I don’t mean to sound like my Twitter account…” singer and rhythm guitarist Andrew Rothlisberger told the crowd before encouraging everyone to go buy some of their merch, which was setup on the back patio. “…Meet us out back…” he said, as he proceeded to give his sales pitch in a low, eerie, voice, as if he were trying to lure a young child into a windowless van. “…We’ve got candy, liquor and shirts out there…” he said, before dropping the act. “I’m gonna quit talking like that now…” Andrew told everyone, adding it wasn’t really creepy out there, it just sounds weird to say “go out back” to buy some merch.
They followed it with a short and sweet little love song, aptly titled “I Belong to You”, before getting ready for another love song. “It’s a fifties era love song…” Andrew told everyone. “You know, if the guy’s possessive…” he said, listing off several other traits that wouldn’t work well in a relationship.
They were about to do the song, and I believe still did, but then a fan shouted out a request, “Prayer Party!” “Do y’all want to do that?” Andrew asked band mates Brooks Martin, who was the bass player, drummer Jon Aisner and lead guitarist Alex Adams. They all agreed to, and I’m glad they did. It wound up being my personal favorite song I heard, and you really got to see what a cohesive rock band they are, and they’re chops as musicians were on full display, especially during the little instrumental intro.
They still had enough time left they went back to the song they had planned to do, then cranked out a new one. “Be gentle, that’s only the third time we’ve done that one.” Andrew remarked when they had finished it. It was a good song, and it did seem like they had performed it more than just twice before. They had just one more after that, finishing up their set before hurrying to get their gear off stage.
I’m definitely going to have to catch a full set from these guys sometime soon, ‘cause I highly enjoyed those few tracks I heard, and their energy was pretty good, too.
They have a few albums up for sale over on BANDCAMP, two of which are listed at the name your own price setting, making them potentially free. Check ‘em out, and if you like it they’ll be doing a show at The Dram in Dallas on February 20th.
Up after them was Johnny Beauford, but while his record was recorded almost completely on his own, this show wouldn’t be performed that way.
He had enlisted the help of some of his band mates from Bravo, Max!, Jonathan Jackson and Garrett Padgett, the drummer and guitarist, respectively, and it didn’t take long for this trio to get set up and ready to rock.
“Good morning, sit down and read me your will…” sang Johnny, as they got their 38-minute long set going with the title track from the new record, “A Pig Eating Past Love”. It was nothing like what you hear on the album, though. The same can be said for the other songs they did, too, but they had all been tweaked and were more fleshed out with the drums and guitar in the mix (Johnny was playing the bass). It wasn’t just that, though. The pace of the music and even the way Johnny sang had been altered, doing something I didn’t think was possible; making some already great songs even better. Especially the line, “…Look me in these eyes when you curse me with those lips…” packed even more of a punch.
They segued themselves right into the next song, another one from the album, and got some light laughs (at least amount the band) when Johnny got his bass cord stuck on the bass drum, and despite shaking the cord several times to free it, it didn’t seem like it was going to happen, until it finally did. “You’re Evaporating Anyway” didn’t sound like the same song, either, and admittedly, it’s not my favorite track on the record, but it sounded great this night. Johnny used a tambourine at the start of it, and near the end Garrett was responsible for a slick and killer guitar solo.
The tambourine was again used on the next song, before Johnny threw it back behind so he could focus on his bass. “…Sometimes, white turns black…” went part of the chorus of this song that instantly had me hooked. “Thanks!” he exclaimed when they were done. “That’s a new Bravo, Max! song. These guys are in Bravo, Max!” he clarified, pointing to Jonathan and Garrett. It’s been all too long since I’ve seen that band (a little over a year), so I haven’t heard any of the brand new stuff they’ve worked out, but man, that song was exceptional and already has me salivating over that bands next release. It wouldn’t be the only new song from that band they did this night, either.
Before going on, Johnny told all of his fans plus the other onlookers that just by being here they were entitled to a free copy of “A Pig Eating Past Love” which he noted was located on the “creepy table out back”. He took a cue from the last band, joking that it wasn’t really creepy out there. “…It’s just weird to say ‘go out back and get some merch.” he said, before they did another song that was unknown by me.
Upon finishing it, Johnny thanked those who were there for coming out, as well as thanking Dead Flowers, who had lent them not only their drum kit, but also their bass amp. “Thanks for letting us play your home venue.” Johnny finished, looking at Dead Flowers’ singer Corey Howe, noting they are, in fact, the house band.
They got back to business with another song, which Garrett started by singing the first few words, before ceding things over to Johnny. Johnny then exchanged his bass for a guitar for their next song, a straight up rock number, much like what Bravo, Max! has done (in fact, this may have been another one of their new songs), which found Johnny roaring near the end as the song escalated, “Why don’t you just follow your heart?” with the next line being something like, “After all, it’s your heart.”
The three musicians harmonized at the start of their next song, before Johnny and Garrett swapped instruments, and places on stage, for their closing number. It was only the third song they did from the seven track album they were doing this CD release show for, and that was “Ann Marie”. Johnny brought his harmonica out for the song, which had a whole new spring in its step with this format, , and left you feeling satisfied with the show, but also wishing they had time to do more.
Johnny Beauford really is one of the best singer/songwriters in the area. Since first hearing of Bravo, Max! a few years ago I’ve been a fan, not just of the band, but of him as a musician, and this newest album of his really cements his place here in the music scene.
He may not be one of those musicians that every single person knows, but he is one of those musicians you need to acquaint yourself with if you aren’t familiar with him.
As for their show this night, I’ll keep it short and sweet; I’m still blown away by what they did with these songs, and it’s amazing how some touch-ups and slight liberties with the songs can enhance them so much.
Check out his solo albums in iTUNES, especially this latest one. And if you’re a fan of that, then you might want to check out Bravo, Max!, too.
Oh, and check out the remainder of their tour dates HERE (dates are at the bottom of the page.).
Since some of their gear was already on stage, it didn’t take too long for Dead Flowers to get ready and go through the sound check, and at 12:04, they were ready to roll.
Before starting any song, singer and rhythm guitarist Corey Howe gave a shout out to Johnny Beauford. “…He’s my favorite songwriter in Dallas. You can quote me on that.” He told the sizable crowd they commanded, urging them all to go pick up a CD since they were free.
Then they got into party mode.
“…Let’s get trashed.” Corey said to everyone, before offering up some advice: “Drink more, love less.”
“Here I Am” was their first song of the night, as well as the first of a few newer songs they did, beginning with Corey and drummer Ed Chaney adding some light sounds before it exploded into action. There was also a point on one line, “…I think it’s better this way…”, that the sound guy added some reverb to it. It sounded amazing, and caught everyone a little off guard, including Corey, who, as he pulled his face away from the microphone, appeared surprised by the effect, though you could tell he was pleased/impressed with it.
“We’re gonna be recording that in February…” stated Corey once the song was done, which would mean a new album from these guys later this year is pretty likely. “It’s a party. Have fun!” declared Corey, before saying they’d need some help on the next one, “You’re Wrong”. Some of the fans obliged, signing along with bassist Evan Winston Johnson and guitarist Vince Tuley when the two added their backing vocals throughout the vengeful track.
“That feels pretty good.” Corey remarked after they finished the song, then went on to tell a little story about his Police shirt he was wearing, which he said he would be retiring after this night. “How ‘bout that beard?” Vince chimed in, causing Corey to promptly defend it and say it wasn’t going anywhere. “There’s nothing sharp enough to cut it.” he added. “How ‘bout that wit?” Vince replied. “Oh, burn!” he told Corey, who couldn’t even make a comeback ‘cause he was laughing so hard.
Once they had composed themselves, they did another new song, and I’m quite partial to, after which Evan took of his jacket off, while Vince had removed his a song or two back. “…Now that we’re through with the costume changes…” joked Corey, before they knocked out a cover of one of The Replacements songs, followed by another new one, which saw Corey sitting his guitar aside for it.
Afterwards, Corey made the sales pitch that they had shirts and CD’s out on the patio, and someone from the audience asked if they had Police t-shirts. “Yes…” he answered. “They cost five hundred dollars and they come with a Cici’s gift card.” Their show would be good enough with just the music, but it’s the frequent quips like that set them apart of many other bands and adds a whole different level of enjoyment to their show.
“…Speaking of that record, this is the title track on it.” Corey announced as they started the very rocking song, “For You”. It was another one that required some fan participation, and everyone was eager to sing along on the chorus, “…’Cause no one likes a boy who falls right down on his face. She said, ‘Pick you head up, boy, don’t lose your pace!”, and Evan got the crowd to successfully clap along with him at one point, as well.
“Y’all still having fun?!” Corey roared in his gruffer voice, inciting some raucous cheers and applause from everyone who was present. “I’m Leaving”, another new song of theirs, came next, after which the four members partook in some shots that had been bought for them. “Do y’all want to do John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt?” Corey asked his band mates after downing his shots, which they all agreed to. Again, the fans were enlisted to help sing along on that short kids song, with Ed bridging them from it right into “Murder Shuffle in a (Minor)”. Vince jumped around in circles a few times after the second chorus, tearing it up on his axe, while Corey cut loose during the instrumental breakdown, darting back and forth, as he succumbed to the music, almost hitting Evan a time or two. When it was time for him to start singing again, he didn’t go back to his mic, instead walking over stage right, using Vinces’. The two then made their way over to the main microphone, each singing into one of the sides.
They did one more rendition of a Replacements song, which I believe was “Can’t Hardly Wait”, and in some ways, it was their best song of the night. Even, Vince, Ed and Corey all just cut loose on it, giving it 110% as they rocked out on that mighty number.
It was sometime around this point in the show that Corey pointed a friend in the crowd, asking everyone to turn around and wave to him. “No, that’s not for you, Peebles.” he told one of the staff members there at Three Links, whom he had been flipping off periodically throughout the night. He know instructed everyone to give Peebles the finger, some of whom did, while others didn’t. “That was almost as bad as the stage dive I did last time we played here.” Corey remarked.
Back to the show, they did one last new song. “Do we have a name yet?” he asked, speaking more to himself as he looked deep in thought while pondering it. “Nope. No name yet.” He said, speaking of their sophomore album. Right at the end of it, he drew a surprised look from Evan when he suddenly sang, “Sweet home Alabama.” It was just that one line, not the actual song or anything, and Corey quickly explained his reason for it.
“I just realized that song kinda sounds like ‘Sweet Home Alabama.” he stated, asking if they had noticed it. He only had one word for that similarity: “Gross.”
Corey made one last push on their merch, noting that if anyone got back to the table quick enough they could steal a CD. “…Or buy it, that’d be cool, too. Then again if you’re broke and don’t have money to buy it I’ll probably just give it to you, ‘cause I know how it is to want a CD but not have money for it.” He was sincere in that, too.
They slowed things down a bit with the closing song from “For You”, “Thank You”, pausing about halfway through and holding it for several seconds, before kicking the song into high gear.
With one song left to go, that also gave them one last chance to get some laughs, and while Corey’s introduction of his band mates started seriously, it quickly became an excuse to get the audience cracking up again. “He gets the most gas.” Corey said of Ed, pausing briefly, before adding, “From me, every night. Except it’s not every night, ‘cause we’re not on tour and we live just right over there.”
Once he named them, Evan asked everyone to give it up for Corey, before they closed out their 69-minute long set with their single, “I Won’t Go”, which seemed to have an even longer jam outro than what is heard on the record.
It was a great show, almost just as memorable as their one here last month.
Corey joked at one point early on in the night; saying something to the effect that he hoped no one thought that they were an actual serious band.
That’s one of the best qualities about them, though. They’re good at the banter in-between songs and it does get genuine laughs, then, when it’s time for a song, they get into a serious rock mode, and are clearly professionals.
It’s the best of both worlds, sort of like dinner and a show, all in one.
Dead Flowers may be the “house band” here at Three Links, but it’ll be a little while before they get back to the venue. Their next show is scheduled for March 1st at the Doublewide, and if you don’t have it, check out “For You” in iTUNES.
This night was going to be a busy one, and it was starting at my favorite venue, The Curtain Club, for the second night of the venue’s 16th anniversary weekend.
Like the night before, a couple of younger bands with teenage members were playing first, beginning with a band called The Neverending.
I walked in at not the best time, as they were having some technical issues.
“It’s usually our drummer who breaks everything.” joked their frontwoman, as it was now one of the bands guitarist who was having some trouble and had broken a string.
It seemed almost like a curse, seeing as the first band from the night before also suffered from a broken guitar string, and this guy in The Neverending just made the best of it and played through.
Getting back on track, that made for some long silence as they figured things out, and I never really thought they got any momentum going after that.
It’s not that I disliked them or anything, I just simply never got into it.
The same could be said about the next band, The Bombs.
I just never got into their darker brand of punkish sounding rock, though for what they did, these three girls (plus their fill-in drummer), did it well.
On another note, about both of those bands, not only was it good to see a younger generation of musicians down here, but it was especially nice to see they had brought out there friends/fans, who, for a short time, outnumbered the twenty-one and older crowd.
After them, was the band I was there for, seeing as they had requested my presence and given me a ticket to the show, and that was Alterflesh.
“In the incomprehensible vastness of the universe, how strange we’re even here…” singer Dayvoh could be heard saying, as the curtain began to open and reveal them. It goes along with spiritual, otherworldly aura the band strives so hard to create at their live shows, and like all the little speeches Dayvoh makes like that, it sets up the next song, which in this case was “Megahub”.
Once Kevin Mills came in on the track, Dayvoh, bassist Paul Kubajak and even guitarist Ben Schelin began jumping around, before Dayvoh entered frontman mode and started working over the audience as he began singing the song. “Most will go their entire lives without even understanding it. I recommend a much closer view of practical experience…” goes the bridge of the song, which, like all their other tracks, is supposed to make you stop and think about life.
“Welcome to the Curtain Clubs’ sweet sixteenth, take two…” Dayvoh said to the audience once the song had ended, and, like in that song, he continued delivering his words at a lightening pace to minimize the time spent talking. He went on to say how good it was to see some “young blood” down here and named the two opening bands, before also pointing out some of the other bands who were out supporting them, just a few of whom were The Circle (who had played the night before), Solice, 26 Locks and New Voodoo. Speaking of New Voodoo, Andrew Lewthwaite was lending his guitar skills to Alterflesh this night, serving as the bands second guitarist. Dayvoh finished with, “Support your scene.”, before hopping down on one of the steps in front of the stage while Paul started their next song, “So Much More”, with some sweet bass licks.
It features some knockout drumming from Kevin, and once it was done, Dayvoh continued to reel the crowd in and get them engaged. “Are you awake, Curtain Club?! Let me hear you!” he shouted, before doing another transition for their next song. “Mystics all around the world say we all slowly burn in time… This one’s called Embers.” he declared, as they went into one of their newest numbers.
“Brothers and sisters, everyday is a gift. Live it to the fullest.” were the encouraging words that preceded their next song, “Start Over”. As the name suggests, it’s a song about beginning anew, specifically without someone who used to be a part of your life, and as Dayvoh repeated the first line of the track, “Light a fire, burn it all away…”, Xtina, the singer in Solice, made her way on stage.
At their last show they had gotten her to join them on that one, and lightening struck this night as she again lent her voice to it, making a great song sound exceptional. As they hit the second chorus, both Paul and Dayvoh leapt in the air, in time with the drumbeat, then, as the song wound down, Dayvoh knelt down on the stage, as did Xtina, their voices sounding incredible as they intertwined with one another on “…Light a fire, burn it all away. Start over again without you.”
She and her band got some props thrown their way as she exited the stage, before Dayvoh turned his attention to the Wall of Fame. “…On these walls, you can see the marks of all who have come before…” he said, pointing at the dozens and dozens of plaques, ranging from those who were never more than local legends to those who went on to achieve national fame. “This next one’s a fun one. It’s a political rant. ” stated Dayvoh as they got ready for “Watch Rome Burn”. In short, this “rant” focuses on how this “Information Age” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and after the second chorus of the track, Andrew, who had already brought a lot to the table, went off on a several seconds long guitar solo, which sounded killer.
I’m going to get off topic for a minute, now. Since Alterflesh had started, there was a great energy from out in the crowd. You could feel it and tell that everyone was enjoying what they were watching. At one point a small mosh pit of three or so people started, which was no big deal, until one guy accidentally slammed into a woman, knocking her to the floor and causing her to lose her drink.
That was a couple songs prior to the one they had just done, and that changed the whole mood of the crowd. For starters, the tension was palpable. The only reason a fight didn’t break out between that guy and the woman’s boyfriend/husband was because other people stepped in between them to make sure nothing happened. I won’t get much more into to it, but basically, the guy who hit the woman didn’t feel he owed her a replacement beer, while the other guy believed she was owed at least that.
Getting more on topic, this still persisted even now, and after that song, Dayvoh said something about he knew this was a rock show and he wanted everyone to have as much fun as they possible could. After all, that is the point of a concert. “…But the next girl I see fall, ‘cause some guy hits her and doesn’t help her up. I’m gonna jump down there.” he said firmly, earning raving applause from pretty much everyone in there.
That still didn’t quite settle it, though, and it only ended before the guy removed himself from the situation. But before that happened, one of the guys from The Circle went and grabbed an Alterflesh poster off of one of the walls here in the club and hung it on the monitor, right in front of the guy. They had used a quote on this poster, and it read, “Kindness… It doesn’t cost a damn thing. Sprinkle that shit everywhere.”
That’s what made this so ironic. Dayvoh is all about being a peaceful, kind individual, as really everyone should, and Alterflesh more or less preaches that exact message in their music.
The downside from all that, is all that energy that was going in the audience was no dead. Don’t get me wrong, the band themselves hadn’t lost any momentum, but with all that negativity leaving people wondering if they might have to jump in and break up a fight, it killed the carefree atmosphere, as everyone just stayed almost perfectly still and watched.
They were almost done at this point, and in regards to the next track, “Into the Sun”, Dayvoh said something about how we (collectively) are “…Like every other element, forged in the heart of a supernova…” It’s another newer one, and a great one at that, and it was also their final original track of the night.
“…If you’ve listened to the radio at all in the last ten years, then you’ve heard this song…” Dayvoh told everyone in preparation of the first ever cover song Alterflesh would do. It would a rendition of Staind’s “For You”, though of course they put their own unique spin on it. Ben and Andrew had been feeding off one another all night long, facing each other as they picked away on their guitars, and such, and the two again rocked out on this one, while towards the end Paul dropped to his knees and flat-out tore it up on his bass.
It was fun way to end their 39-minute long set, and this was one of the best shows I’ve seen these guys do.
Where to start…
How about back to Andrew and Ben. Yes, Dayvoh does play guitar on some songs, but he still has to focus on being a frontman even then, so he can’t interact as much with Ben. But like I said, he and Andrew had some real chemistry going.
That also freed Dayvoh up to really work the crowd for the entire show, and you could really feel the rapport he had going with everyone.
And for those who may not know, he spent many years as a spoken word poet, and brings that flare to his singing in Alterflesh, creating something that is purely original and different from anything you have ever heard before.
Then you had Kevin and Paul, both of whom were in the zone this night.
They’re one of those bands who doesn’t play too often (every few months), yet they’re tighter than a lot of bands out there, and they brought their A+ game to the stage of the Curtain Club this night.
They don’t have any music to buy at the moment, but you can sample several songs over on REVERBNATION. You can also see them right back here at the Curtain Club on March 8th as part of 26 Locks CD release show. They also have a show booked at O’Rileys in Dallas on April 4th.
I didn’t stick around long after they finished. It’s not that I didn’t want to see some of the other bands on the bill, but I had already committed to go cover another show, and headed out for the other venue.
Really, it only took one year for the Homegrown Music Festival to become a Dallas tradition.
That first year featured predominantly local North Texas bands, but most of them were high caliber enough that plenty of people flocked to the oasis that is Main Street Garden Park in Downtown Dallas to experience what the festival was like.
Like I said, it was a tradition after that first year, but the next couple made it an institution for area music lovers, as the festival organizers started to branch out, considering bands from all over the Lone Star State to play the festival, which, of course, allowed them access to a smorgasbord of topnotch talent.
Take for example the headliner from last year’s installment (which, I might add, was easily the best year Homegrown has had yet), Divine Fits; a supergroup made up of members from Spoon, Handsome Furs, New Bomb Turks and Wolf Parade.
So, how do you top that? Well, you get one of, if not the most beloved rock band to come out Fort Worth, Texas, during what is one of the biggest years of their career thus far; The Toadies.
Shortly after midnight this day (February 4th) it was officially announced that they would be the headliner for HG5, making this their Dallas show for their 20th anniversary tour of the iconic “Rubberneck” album.
Somehow, I knew they’d be playing the festival this year. Then again, if you’re a fan of both Homegrown Fest and The Toadies, it was easy to speculate, since The Toadies had announced many of the shows on their nationwide tour, sans a Dallas gig, saying details on it would be released soon.
The band is promising to play “Rubberneck” front to back, and will surely throw in some of the bonus tracks that will be included on the albums twentieth anniversary edition (due out April 1st), plus many more songs from their other four records.
The last several Toadies shows I’ve seen have been incredible, and the band is possibly at one of, if not the best points in their career, and can still outperform many acts whose members are half their age.
That said, The Toadies will be the perfect way to cap off this year’s festival, and for those like me, who will be out there from the time the very first band hits the stage, I think they’ll serve to re-energize everyone’s batteries after the long day.
The excitement level will no doubt be at a fever pitch when they hit the stage on the night of May 10th, and the sounds of “I Come From the Water”, or whatever song they may choose to open with, flood the air.
(Listen to “Tyler”, “Rattler’s Revival” and “I Burn”.)
Saturday, May 10th
Gates @ 11 AM
Tickets start at $20 for GA and go up. Buy them HERE. / Children under 10 can get in for free.
More acts performing will be released in the coming months.
What club in Deep Ellum has been open for sixteen straight years?
The answer is The Curtain Club, and that makes it the longest continuously running venue in the Deep Ellum area.
This weekend the venue was making it official, doing a two night extravaganza with seven bands hitting the stage (that’s only counting the Curtain stage, not the Liquid Lounge stage) each night (Friday and Saturday), and just considering the bands I was familiar with, Friday’s lineup was not to be missed.
A couple of younger bands (both in terms of being new as well as the age of their members) were on deck first beginning with No Regrets, who was already playing when I got there a little before eight.
To clarify that about the age, these guys and girl were maybe about as old as the Curtain Club is, give or take a year or so.
Essentially, they were a cover band, and I didn’t take time to keep up with what they did, but I did enjoy what I saw of them.
In the sake of being honest, I was often on the fence about their frontwomans’ voice, which was often throaty sounding, and on some songs it just didn’t seem to fit, while on others, it really sounded great.
Some props also have to go to one of the guitarists, who broke one of his strings just a few songs into what was probably around a 30-minute set. He didn’t have a replacement, nor time to restring it, so he made do, readjusting one of his strings to compensate for the sound as best as he could and kept rocking.
Come on, how many musicians, be them a professional or just a teenager, would power through like that? I’ve seen just a little over six hundred concerts and I’ve never seen any musician play almost an entire show with a broken string like that, which should say something about this kid’s ability.
Not only were the sets from each band kept short this night, so was the time in between bands, as they hustled one bands gear off stage and the next ones on, giving about twenty minutes or so downtime between acts.
Vannah Red was up next. This trio was an original band, but I wasn’t feeling them much at first.
The music wasn’t necessarily bad, but I was none too keen on their singer/guitarists voice. I can’t even really pinpoint one thing wrong with it, except it just didn’t really appeal to me for the majority of their set.
I did start liking them a little more towards the back-end of their set, though, and there was one song they did that had a wickedly awesome bass solo.
Regardless of my thoughts on those first two bands, it was nice to see some kids down here playing music for a change, since so many of the bands in this scene have been kicking for awhile, or at the very least the members in them have been playing in different bands for years.
That said, now it was time for the pros to hit the stage, and first up was The Circle.
“Curtain Club, it’s been sixteen long years!” bellowed frontman Don Mills, who went on to point out what an achievement it is that the venue has never shuttered its doors. The curtain remained closed during that time, then finally began to open, revealing Don clutching the mic stand while standing on one of their boxes with the band’s name and logo on it, while bassist Kenneth Henrichs stood atop the one on stage right.
They then did something no one expected; they opened with “Sleep On it”. Allow me to put that in perspective. Before this one, I had seen The Circle eight times, and since they wrote it, this song has always been how they close their shows. “How are you doing?!” asked Don during his very brief break before they hit the first chorus. He held his beer up more towards the end of the song, toasting the Curtain, while Kenneth started in with some softer screams for the backing vocals. “I fall from my throne. I can’t stand alone.” It was a nice gradual build he gave it, before he and Don wound up alternating, each repeatedly screaming one of those lines.
I never would have pegged that one is being such a good opener, but damn, was it ever. It packs a little more of a punch than even most of their other songs, and here at the start of it all it set the tone extremely well, pumping everyone up and personally, it got me more excited than I’ve ever been at the start of a Circle show (for the record, that is saying something.)
“If you can’t read, we’re The Circle.” Don said, pointing out the boxes. “I know it’s cold outside, but if you start bouncing around you’ll warm up.” he added, while drummer Marc Berry, guitarists Craig Nelson and Alan Sauls and Kenneth were already well into the intro of “I Am”. They were on point with that first song, and that carried over into this one, like on the instrumental breakdown after the second chorus, where they all thrashed around to the drumbeats, in perfect synch with one another. Don even took some liberties on the chorus, yelling on it more and adding a little more roughness to it, “Why do you try to walk away? Why do you try to bring me down? Why can’t you just understand this is who I am? This is who I am.”, which in turn gave it even more emotion.
They pretty much went from one song to the next, with next to no downtime in between, and followed that one up with “Save Me”. “There’s some cool artwork up there.” Don pointed out on their first real pause of the night. He was pointing to their plaque they had gotten two months before, which now adorns the storied Wall of Fame at the club. “There’s gonna be another one of those going up tomorrow night.” he said, referring to Generation Wasted, who would be getting their plaque.
That led them to the remaining two tracks from their debut EP, the first of which was “Failure”, and is about the closest thing to a love song as this hard rock outfit gets. Like everything else they did this night, it just a little extra kick to it. Part of that was probably because of the urgency their set had, as they tried to rush through things, but even lyrically and musically, it still seemed to heavier hitting. “I can’t hear it.” The five of them could be said saying to one another, looking puzzled. They were referring to the sample track that sets up “The Other Side”, which was completely inaudible out in the audience, until right at the end of it, when they ripped into the song. “I can see the tear that’s in your eye. Years of bad decisions on your face. You blame everyone for your mistakes. Can you hear me screaming that I’m here for you?!” Don crooned at the start, before the song, which is my personal favorite from their EP, entered its full-blown rock mode.
Up next was the special treat for the night. After their Wednesday night rehearsal just a couple of days prior a post was made on Facebook saying they had written a new song and would be debuting this night. “…Be honest. Give us a thumbs up or down if you think we should keep playing this one or not.” Don told the crowd before they started it. It was called “What You Say”, and I enjoyed it. It had a bit of a different sound from most of their other songs, but it was still The Circle. “Should we keep it?” Don asked everyone upon finishing it, while Marc led the charge into the next song, their final one for the night, “My Trip to the Desert Sucked”.
I had loved the way they had gone from one song right to the next, giving the show a fantastic flow, but it turned out that made them so efficient, they actually had time left to kill. “The last time we played here we went thirty minutes over our time. But it was our plaque show, so who cares. Well, the band after us kind of did…” Don stated, while they worked out what the next song would be. Craig quickly fired up “406”, another one I’m quite partial to, and was glad they wound up having time to play it.
As a closer, it worked nicely, and the curtain began to draw shut on the band. But guess what… They still had five minutes left.
“Do y’all want to hear more?” Don asked, truly leaving it up to the audience, who made it known they did. They quickly figured out what they were going to do, and Don pointed at me. “Jordan Buford, this one’s for you, since you said you like it so much.”
The song’s called “Monster”, which I later found out, is an old/new one. Old in the sense it has been around since the band had their first singer, but was only recently dusted off; allowing Don to start putting his mark on it. It really is an awesome song, with some somewhat simple, yet killer lead guitar lines on the verses, which is the primary reason I like it so much. Aside from that though, it’s just a solid song, and one that will no doubt be a staple song soon enough.
With that, their set stood at 36-minutes, and they really were done now. Don even joked about that after they finished, noting they really were getting off the stage now.
I’ve seen these guys put on some great and even memorable shows, but the one this night was something else entirely.
I enjoyed the way they rushed through it, giving the show a nice flow. That also made them push themselves to a different level, having to be so precise and in time with one another, which in turn allowed you to see just how tight they are.
As I mentioned earlier, they were spot on this night. The musicianship from Craig, Alan, Marc and Kenneth was outstanding, and Don was screaming on some lines I haven’t heard him do that on before, while other screams were even more forceful than usual, and it gave their set a whole new dynamic.
I’d say they were impeccable this night, and I think it might be awhile before this Circle show gets topped.
They do have a show coming up at Click’s in Tyler on February 1st, if you’re in the area. Also, go grab their “Who I Am” EP in iTUNES. It’s cheap and well worth it.
The remaining bands were some I hadn’t seen in a little while, and the first of those was The Raven Charter.
The opening song was still the same as it has been for a few years, and the dark, ominous sounds of “Survival Kit” beckoned everyone to the stage.
The curtain finally opened on the groups five instrumentalists, guitarists Brandon Bond and Daniel Baskind, bassist Anthony Sosa, keyboard player Erik Stolpe and drummer Brian Christie, all of whom came to life once the song hit its stride about a minute in. It still works as a great intro song, letting their musical prowess be the only thing you as an audience member can focus on, and they take full advantage of it, with those who can jumping and thrashing about, often brandishing their instruments in the air.
They had changed the song up slightly, though, and after a few minutes frontman Garrett Bond walked on stage, greeting the crowd. He didn’t start singing that song, though. Instead, they cut the remainder of the song, and whipped things right into one of their newer tracks, “No Direction”. “I sit on top of a hollow world…” Garrett wailed at the start of it, before the song eventually hit its lull, where he and his brother harmonized on some of the lines. It’s actually an up and down song, being an action packed rock number most of the time, but then there are moments like that, or when Garret does some near a cappella singing, and it’s that back and forth sound that makes the track so clever.
“How are we doing tonight?” he asked the tons of people who now had the club packed out. They cheered in response, but it wasn’t loud enough. He didn’t give the standard “Y’all can do better than that.” retort though. Instead, he was a little more honest with everyone. “Bullshit. I want more.” he declared, getting a bigger rise out of the people this time.
For the most part, their 35-minute set consisted of older songs, but they did have a couple of new songs worked in. Much newer than “No Direction” is, and ones I had never heard. Their next song was one of those, and it was the highlight of their set if you ask me. It was an adrenaline pumping number that had a killer and truly spectacular music bed, and I thought they pushed things to the limits with it. They even stepped things up from the previous song, as Daniel added his voice to the mix at times for some three part harmonies, like on the line, “If this is the last night ever, than I’m gonna make you mine.”
I’ve seen stuff online where they’ve talked about these new songs, saying it’s a different style for them, but it’s still them. That’s very accurate, and that song was a perfect example of that, because it was a far cry from the songs on their self-titled EP, or even their most recent EP, but there’s no denying it was still The Raven Charter.
Speaking of their first EP, they next dished out the single from the 2009 release, “Thousand Worlds”. There’s a central message to all of the songs from that album, a line said in several of the songs, which is; “Anything is possible and everything will happen.” It’s all a bit of uplifting, and as that song drew to a close, there wound up being a new touch they had added to the end. I was a little stunned when Garrett reached for his mic stand, which his vocal effects pad was strapped to, and pulled out a harmonica, which he proceeded to play during the instrumental outro. More surprising was how great it actually sounded, adding a new layer/element to the track.
There was a short pause, during which Garrett started to set up their next song, stopping after he started tripping over his words. “Let me think about this for a minute, ‘cause I’m going to get it wrong.” he said while laughing, then informed everyone that the next song was the title track from their most recent EP. “Let’s fucking do this!” he shouted as Brian began “Kidnapping”. The verses were left mainly to Daniel, but they added some nice alteration to it. For example, Garrett would join him on some lines, like on the second verse, “I went back inside.” before dropping out as Daniel kept on, “To find his parents standing at the end of the hall. I knocked them cold with the butt of my .45…” It just gave a nice effect to it, and was something they weren’t doing the last time I saw them.
“We’re gonna chase some tail with this one.” Garrett told the crowd, before swapping spots with Daniel. He was of course setting up the ultra steamy “Tailchaser”, which often found Daniel gripping the mic stand, getting really into the song as he sang it. “…All the bittersweet things that I do to you…” he sang at one point, then continued repeating, “That I do to you.” in a falsetto tone. I mentioned that about him grabbing the mic stand, well, he evidently unknowingly loosened it, ‘cause he continued singing, it suddenly collapsed. They couldn’t help but laugh, and he quickly pulled it back up and tightened it to ensure that wouldn’t happen again.
At the end of it, Daniel made his way onto the drum riser, facing Brian, and slammed his guitar down in synch with each of the final beats he knocked out.
They were almost done, and next knocked out another new track, which found Erik laying down some incredible parts on the piano, and Anthony even had a short but sweet bass solo on it, before Garrett again brought out the harmonica. I have to say, so far I’m really liking how their new material is shaping up, but so much of their older stuff are still classics, like the song about their old hometown, “Denton, TX”. “If you know this next part than sing along.” Garrett encouraged as he shouted; “Now I’ve gone and done it. So point the finger at me, point your fucking finger at me…” They wrapped the song up in style, and shortly before that line, Erik lifted his keyboard of the stand, holding it at an angle as he continued to play it. Think something like a keytar, except it was is full size keyboard and there was of course no strap.
For one reason or another, The Raven Charter is one of those bands I don’t see just too often, but I’m perpetually blown away by them, and after seeing a show think to myself, “I need to see these guys more often.”
Those harmonies they employ on so many of their songs, and just their music in general is highly original, ensuring they’re not your typical rock band. The raw energy they pack into their show is also better than most, and yes, they’re all excellent musicians. Especially Anthony, who’s just an outstanding and vigorous bass player.
Over on their REVERBNATION PAGE you can snag a couple of free downloads of a couple of their newest songs (“No Direction” and “Freela Deela”), and check out their two EP’s in iTUNES. As for shows, they’ll be fairly busy over the next few months. January 31st will find them at the Chuggin’ Monk in Arlington. February 22nd they’ll be up in Oklahoma City at Leon’s Lounge, then they have some more Texas dates on the 28th and then March 1st and 29th. The first of those will be at The Grotto in Fort Worth, with a date in Dallas at the Boiler Room the next night. The last March date will take place at Rubber Gloves up in Denton.
That’s plenty of opportunities to see them, and if you do, you’ll be glad you did.
Up next was a band who had a relatively quiet 2013; Redefine.
They just didn’t do many shows last year, and the last time I had seen them was back in April, so the better part of a year.
That meant this show, their first of the new year, was long overdue, and I was eager to hear some of their old hits along with the music from their upcoming EP.
Like the two bands directly before them, Redefine got their show going before the curtain was ever opened, as Daniel “Dano” Taylor opened things up with a drum solo. The crowd was liking it, and their fans liked it even more when lead guitarist Chris Apaliski jumped in, revealing the song to be “Like a Vision, a Ghost”. “When everything just broke down, you yourself broke right down, too…” sang frontman Scott Headstream, using his megaphone with the Redefine logo plastered on the side, giving the song a nice effect. It’s only used sporadically, though, and he ditched it just a few lines later and grabbed the microphone, “But you never even listen, you never opened yourself that way. And all these things fell apart, dear. Lost on love, found decay…”
I was already enjoying this immensely, seeing as they opened with my favorite track from the “Blur On the Horizon” EP, and they were merely getting started. “Are y’all ready to do this?!” Scott asked the crowd from atop the drum riser, leaping off moments after their new single, “All That Ever Was”, got underway. It’s a little different than their other stuff, mainly because it’s not quite as heavy, but it’s still an exhilarating rock number, complete with a dynamite guitar solo from Chris, and bassist Mike DiQuinzio and Dano create a tight and intricate rhythm sound.
They took a breather before their next song, during which Scott shouted out their friends in The Raven Charter. “…The Raven Charter had our baby.” he remarked, stating it like it was a fact. He chatted up the crowd for a minute before they launched into their next song, a track from “The Power Of Persuasion” EP, and it so happened to be my favorite from that album; “The Darkest Night”. It’s a good ol’ heavy, fast paced rock song with some nice additional elements thrown in. For example, on the bridge, when Scott hit the notes in an even higher voice than I think I’ve ever heard him do, as he sang, “Breathe me in, hold me there in your skin…” “Let’s do this.” he said, as the instrumental jam portion of the bridge came to an end; the quintet kicking it into high gear for the last little bit.
Dano kept the beat from that song, patching it into their next number, while Scott took a moment to congratulate the Curtain Club on its sixteen years of success. “…The Curtain Club’s home base…” he said, not only speaking for Redefine, but countless other North Texas bands who have, be it in the past or currently, been regulars here.
Once his speech was done, Chris, Mike and rhythm guitarist Matt Jones jumped in over the drum beat, giving shape to “Arcana”. For quite awhile after they released “Blur…” in 2011, I was just indifferent to that song. It’s not that I disliked it, but I wasn’t crazy about it, either. However, in the last year or so it’s really grown on me, and it is one of their best live songs.
While performing that one, someone bought a shot for Scott and set it on the stage. “What’s this?” he asked holding it, looking at his friend who had bought it. “Semen?” Scott asked the guy, who had shouted what it was to him. “Oh, bull semen. It’s bull semen.” he said right before drinking some of it, making a face as he did so. “Yeah, that tastes like bull semen.” he said after downing it. He got more serious for just a moment, promoting their merch they had for sale, saying they could really use the money to keep Mike out of jail. “…He is a lawyer now…” Scott clarified. Mike seemed less than amused, though, which probably had something to do with the fact that he was sick and was doing good to even make it through their show.
After all those old hits, it was now time for some more new stuff, beginning with “Whole”. The last time I saw them, I mentioned this song was one of the best I’ve ever heard them do, and I found to be almost better than those other favorites of mine they had done earlier this night. Well, this night it found a permanent place in my heart, and is quite possibly the best song they’ve ever done. It’s intense, yet emotional, particularly more towards the end, when Scott sang in a pleading tone, “Before you get up and leave, consider this moment…” Then came the best part, when the guitars, bass and drum slowly died out, making you believe the song was over. Quite a few people even started clapping, before they ripped back into the song with a vengeance, harder and heavier than it even had been before for this final stretch.
In turn, that served as a great way to set the stage for the next song, “Battle Hymn”, which began with some quick and furious beats from Dano, taking the pace from the end of “Whole” and then building on it. “Bless you, children.” Scott told the raving fans, before the final song of their 33-minute set; “Fall Down, I Believe It”, another song that required the use of that megaphone on a line or two, and, as it usually is, was just a great way to close to the show, leaving everyone in a euphoric state.
In terms of stage show, no, this wasn’t the best Redefine gig. Mike certainly can’t be held accountable for being sick, and deserves props for even powering through and being there, but he certainly wasn’t his usually active and jovial self. They compensated for it pretty well, though. Chris is always entertaining to watch, keeping busy by rushing around the stage and shredding on his axe, and Scott’s a powerful frontman with a voice unlike any you’ve ever heard.
On a related note, Matt’s still fairly new to the band, and with their light show schedule in 2013, they didn’t have many opportunities to work on their live chemistry with one another last year. That said, I thought they were all clicking better this night, in terms of working with and feeding off one another, and they proved that even a Redefine show that’s lackluster by their standards, is still a helluva show, and superior to most other bands.
They have an extremely rare Austin show planned for February 28th at The Parish, so if you live down that way, go check ‘em out. Their next show in the D/FW metroplex is slated for March 29th at Rubber Gloves in Denton (playing alongside The Raven Charter). As of right now, you can still get a free download of “All That Ever Was” on their REVERBNATION PAGE, so check that out, especially if you haven’t heard of these guys. Then, if you like that, go buy their two EP’s in iTUNES.
Oh, and they recently signed with DoForItRecords, who will be releasing their new album sometime this year.
One of the last bands for the night was Daylight Industries, who had added an extra member to the group since I had last seen them.
Ruvayne Weber had joined as the second guitarist in the band, and not only that, but they had also released their second EP, “Faith Healer”, since I last caught one of their shows.
They were raring to go as soon as they got their gear setup, and the curtain opened on a band who was pretty much all smiles.
Bassist Barry Townsend beamed at the packed venue, then turned around and pressed his bass against the amp, creating some feedback. “…This is all we’re gonna do all night. Just fucking feedback…” laughed vocalist Keith Allen, who was enjoying it as much as everyone else was. When they did finally rip into their first track, it was a brutal powerhouse of a song. Everything about it was blistering, and it instantly had you glued to the stage, watching in awe as they darted about and jumped around on stage.
If there was any doubt about this night being a party, Daylight Industries squashed it, and after that song Keith held his beer up, then reached out to toast some of their fans. “Hey, he was trying to take my beer. Did you see that?” he said, pointing out one of his friends and then ribbed him about trying to steal his drink.
Next, they knocked out one of the shortest songs on the “Faith Healer” EP, “Lesson Learned”, intensifying their performance, as Barry bounced back and forth, while lead guitarist Brandon Tyner stood closer to the forefront of the stage, bouncing around while shredding on his guitar.
“How are y’all motherfuckers doing?!” shouted Brandon once the song was over. He was more vocal this night than I’ve heard him be, acting almost like a second frontman in terms of how he interacted with the crowd, which was something I quite liked. “That was good, but we’re gonna need some more.” He told everyone before they started “Aphasia”, a slightly more melodic sounding song. Brandon was having so much and getting so into it, at one point he knocked over the mic on his bass amp, something he and Barry shared a laugh over while he quickly set it back up.
A few songs later, Keith mentioned something about how they weren’t a band that was afraid to resort to humor, and that perfectly displayed during this break, when someone in the crowd made some remark to him. “I’ll pay for the abortion!” he exclaimed in response. “I already have four kids. I’m done with that shit.” Yeah, they’re definitely not afraid to resort to humor of any kind, and Keith had everyone cracking up with that. They brought things back up with “Junkie Logic”, which features some thunderous and tight drumming from the one and only, Stephen Smith. They kept going, full steam ahead, with the invigorating “Wandering”, which honestly, was their best song of the night.
They were just all in the zone while knocking out the furious number, while the fans eagerly banged their heads about to the music, and some very light moshing even got going.
“Hey! Y’all want to hear a Reggae song?!” Brandon asked enthusiastically. “…We were very happy to hear about what happened in Colorado.” Remarked Keith, referring to the legalization of selling marijuana, which was the lead in to “Western Sky”. In terms of sound, it’s very different from anything Daylight Industries has ever done, and does have certain Reggae elements to it, especially with the guitar tones. At its heart, it’s still a rock song, though.
“This is the title track from our new EP!” Brandon informed everyone right before Steve kicked off “Faith Healer”. Barry incited a clap along during the slow part in the tracks final minute, as Keith sang, “Carved it out of you, I felt the pieces in my hands”. With that one done, there was only one song that remained from their EP, and that was “Sit In”. “If I’m a saint, than I’m the patron saint of fools. The prison guards who run this town have made up all the rules…” roared Keith on each chorus. Then, as it drew to a close, Barry began jumping around wildly, all the while still slapping his bass.
Their 34-minute long set was almost over, but they had one more new song to offer to everyone. “…This one’s called White Russians.” It fit the short song structure of all their newer material, clocking in at about two and a half minutes, but aside from that, it was another song that showed off a slightly different style of rock for these guys. It was very heavier in the rhythm sense, more so than their other stuff, but all around, this hard-hitting number is an instant classic.
The only good thing from me not seeing Daylight Industries too much lately is that it makes it easy to see how much they’ve grown; and they’ve grown a lot since last Spring.
I’ll start with the most noticeable, the addition of Ruvayne Weber. Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention to him this night, as I was standing on the opposite side of the stage and just couldn’t see him that well, but that extra guitar elevates their sound to the next level.
I never would have thought they needed it, ‘cause for just the few years I’ve been a fan they’ve gotten by fine as a four-piece, but man, it really does make a difference.
Moving on, Keith, Brandon and Barry have even stepped up their respective performances (who knew that was possible?), and even though space seemed kind of tight on stage, they all found plenty of room to move about, rock out and just cut loose and have fun.
They all fed off one another and interacted well, and as for Steve, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; the guy’s one of the best drummers I’ve seen.
They are one of the best bands to see live, and if they’ve come this far in just about a year, I can’t wait to see what level they push themselves to next.
Over on their REVERBNATION PAGE you can download several free songs. Most are live cuts (including two of the new songs they did this night, from this show), but they also have the entire “Faith Healer” EP available. Of course, if you really like it, go pick it up in iTUNES, where you’ll also find their first EP as well as a live show from an old Curtain Club gig.
As for shows, they’ve got a full schedule coming up. February 8th they’ll be up in Denton at Rubber Gloves. The 15th will find them at Union Station in Denison. They have a couple more Dallas gigs after that; the first on February 22nd at Reno’s, and then they’ll return to the Curtain Club on March 8th. They also have a show booked at The Railhead in Lawton, OK on March 22nd.
There was one final band for the night, Green Mild Bell Peppers, who were a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band. I didn’t stick around for them, mainly because it had already been a fairly long night, and the night after was going to be more or less the same.
Still, this was an incredibly night of music here on the first night of the Curtain Club’s 16th anniversary weekend. Hell, it was almost, ALMOST as good as the triple reunion show featuring The FEDS, Space Cadet and Upside a couple years back.
There’s seldom much going on, on Wednesday nights, especially not on the local level of the music scene.
This night was a bit different, though. This night saw the launch of a new concert series, all thanks to promoter/concert booker King Camel. He decided to call it Local Education, and Three Links was the venue hosting the first installment of it, which featured three trios.
First up, you had Chase Ryan & The Grave, a still semi new band that has some seasoned musicians in it, most notably the namesake himself; Chase Ryan. Being the lead guitarist of The Virgin Wolves is probably how most people know him, but with that band taking some downtime recently, it has allowed him more time to push this one.
They cranked out the first song of their 29-minute set, after which Chase thanked those who were there for coming out to the show. They kept the gritty Rock ‘n’ Roll coming with another tune, with Chase playing some nice notes at the start of it that gave the track a very slick tone. “Honey, there’s something wrong with you…” Chase howled at the start of the next song, another roaring number which eventually ended with drummer Joel Herrera rolling them right into the next one.
“Is everybody having fun yet?” Chase asked the patrons as he tuned his guitar. “We’re from Denton.” he said, looking back down at his axe, before going back to the microphone, adding, “We never leave.” He also mentioned that this was the first time, at least in this band, that he had performed here at Three Links. “We wrote this one last night.” Chase remarked, as he Joel and bassist Nate Maxwell shared a little chuckle before ripping into another action packed song with some irate lyrics. “…You greedy bitch, you fucking slut, I think I’d rather die…” Chase yelled at the top of his lungs on that fast paced, seething song.
I didn’t catch what it was Chase did at the end of the song or immediately after, but the notes he played prompted Joel to say to him, “That sounded like a premature ejaculation.” That got a good laugh from everyone who was there, and once it subsided they resumed the rock show, doing a couple more songs, which were split by a brief calm, before Chase counted his band mates into the next one.
“We’ve got one more…” Chase informed everyone, saddening myself and surely a few others that their set was already coming to an end, as it had passed all too quickly. That is a sure sign of having a good time, though. Their closing song was a heavy one, in the sense that the bass and drums were in full effect. Chase had demonstrated the rougher side of his voice plenty this night, and now, just for a few moments at the start of the song, he sang some falsetto notes, nailing them with ease, showing off the full range he is capable of. As it neared the end, Nate and Joel aided him with some backing vocals. “You come from the water that you drink and you take that poison and you put it in my mouth.” The three repeatedly sang into their respective mics, a line that had some bluesy elements to it, and also sounded a bit tribal.
Their time on stage may have been slightly short, but they completely owned it for those 29-minutes they were up there.
Their music is pretty much just unadulterated rock, with some light hints of blues-rock thrown in here and there, depending on the song. It was nice to get a real taste of what Chase is like as a singer, since in his other band he’s mainly just a backing vocalist. He has a wickedly good and unique voice, as well as some awesome stage moves.
Joel and Nate are a perfect fit for the band, too, making the show even more energetic, and each had a nice charisma about them.
Keep an eye on Chase Ryan & The Graves’ FACEBOOK PAGE for updates on future shows, and they do happen to have one on Saturday, January 25th at the City Tavern in Dallas. And now that I’ve had the experience of one of their shows, I’ll certainly try to see them a little more often.
Second up was probably the band I was most excited about seeing this night, and that was Panic Volcanic.
I haven’t seen them much, catching one of their shows in late 2011, when they were still a very new band, and the only other show of theirs I caught had been nearly two years before this.
They primarily play in Fort Worth, a town I just don’t get to often, and since that last time I saw them, they finally put out their debut album, “Freak Fuzz”, which was released last summer.
“We’re Panic Volcanic. We’re from Fort Worth.” stated frontwoman Ansley Dougherty as soon as they took the stage, adding, “We’re gonna play some rock music.” Bassist Zach Tucker then launched them right off into the lead track from their album, “Skin and Bones”. It’s a catchy number, and served as a good warm-up, which was actually what Ansley referred to it as after it was done. “Now that we’re all warmed up.” she said, trailing off before they fired up the first of several new songs they did this night.
It did pack even more of a punch than their first song, and Chris Cole picked things up a bit, getting more explosive with his drumming. “I’ve been sick all week. I’m probably gonna lose my voice with y’all tonight.” Ansley told everyone, seemingly in a way preparing the audience in case things got rough. It never did though, and her voice maintained well.
After a couple of originals, they threw in a cover. It was Deep Purple’s “Cry Free”, which they pulled off very well, and even put their own little touch on it. Being largely instrumental, it allowed Zach and Chris to be the main focal point of everyone’s attention as they jammed, while Ansley thrashed about to the music. It was also a song her voice is well suited for, since it’s a little deeper, and she also nailed the higher notes as she sang the line, “…Cry free.”
Afterwards, she pointed out to everyone that, that had been a cover and who did. “Fitting, since I’m wearing my purple pants today.” she laughed, before they knocked out another new song. It was quickly followed by another newer one, which Zach began with low-end bas riffs. In some ways, it was a simple song, with the line “Why don’t we do it in the middle of the road?…” being repeated often, but they kept it short and sweet, to the point it never seemed too repetitive. Actually, out of this new batch of music I heard this night, it was one of my favorites.
The new songs continued, and they had three more in the chamber before their show got ready to end. The second of those saw Zach using both of his hands to play the fretboard of his bass, something he does periodically anyway, though he used the style very heavily on that one. Chris burst into their final original song of the night, one that Ansley noted they would soon be releasing on a split. “We’re gonna close with a cover. ‘Cause why the fuck not.” Ansley remarked, as they ended their 30-minute set with Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire”. It was appropriate, because that’s the kind of rock music they play, and Zach leaned in on most of the choruses, helping her sing, “…Let me stand next to your fire.”
There’s no doubt that Panic Volcanic has come a long ways since the bands inception.
I thoroughly enjoyed the other two shows of theirs I saw, but you could definitely tell the difference from then and now. They were all far more confident on stage and more natural, instead of looking like they had to think about what their actions were going to be.
Overall, they’ve just grown into solid performers. Zach killed it on the bass, having that certain laidback persona most bassists seem to have, making everything he did appear rather effortless. Chris was a machine back there on the drums, making it clear he’s been perfecting his skill, and he often held my attention. As for Ansley, she’s turned into an excellent frontwoman, taking a backseat when she’s not doing any singing so her band mates will get more of the focus, yet she keeps active. That last part was especially true when she was singing, as she was constantly moving around.
Give their album a listen on either ITUNES or BANDCAMP, and if you dig it, go see a show. They’ll be playing The Grotto in Fort Worth on January 31st, with a couple more Fort Worth dates lined up for late February. One will be the 22nd at J J’s Blues Bar, the other is back at The Grotto on the 28th.
Closing out the night was one of the area’s most prestigious bands, The Phuss.
I hadn’t seen them since back in the summer, when they were just starting to work in some of their new songs, and I was eager to hear what they might be doing this night.
They got set up quick, and just a couple minutes after eleven were ready to go. Singer and guitarist Josh Fleming even told the sound guy that before bassist Forrest Barton leaned over to him and said something. “Oh, can you come mic the bass cab?” Josh asked the sound guy.
That quickly killed the excitement that had already mounted, as the fans were suddenly left with dead air. Josh decided to fill the time, though, and started what I presume was a cover song. It was one I didn’t recognize, but this impromptu number sounded fantastic as Josh played some light guitar notes and showed off a seldom seen softer side of his voice, without any of the guttural screams that make The Phuss’s music. He did a couple verses and choruses like that, by which time the bass amp was finally miked, and, as if they had practiced this several times before, drummer Trey Alfaro ripped into the song, livening it up quite a bit.
“Alright, that was a warm-up…” said Josh, who then added, “It’s a Wednesday night. We’re drunk. Let’s do this.” They did a string of new songs here at the start of their 42-minute long set, officially getting their show going with “Straight Line Impala”, which, out of the new songs I’ve heard, is my personal favorite so far. “At the Bottom of It All” gives it a run for its money, though, and is a song that pure Phuss, with some heavy and thick bass lines on each verse, while Trey became the main rhythm force on the choruses, banging wildly on his kit.
“We’re playing a bunch of new stuff tonight. ‘Cause we want to.” Josh simply stated, before pointing out that Forrests’ birthday happened to be this day. He expressed how much he likes him as a friend and what a great bass player he is, calling him the best he has ever seen. “He’s damn near my girlfriend.” finished Josh, before he reached over and slapped Forrest on the ass.
They churned out one more new song, “On the Prowl”, which was about exactly what you’re probably thinking it is, before breaking things up with one song their couple dozen or so fans would know. That one was “Something to Die For”, and as good as those first songs were, you could feel the excitement level spike at the start of this one, and more than a few people were singing right along with it, “…Sometimes I feel like I don’t, like I don’t belong…” Trey added a few extra and rapid beats to the end of it, while the notes from the bass and guitar resonated.
“Sometimes, you get really excited about playing new songs…” Josh remarked, which led them into another new one. “Y’all sound like a bunch of Wednesday night pussies!” Josh said after the applause from that last one had subsided. “But you’re not, ‘cause you’re here…” He proceeded to pluck the strings of his guitar, stopping for just a second to make a quick adjustment to his guitar. The song had already been revealed, though, and I was glad to hear that “The Romantic” had found its way into the setlist for the night.
There was a momentary pause for the fans to applaud them, before Josh fired up the final song they’d do this night from their self-titled album, “21 Ain’t What It Was”. It’s almost like an anthem of sorts, and like the other fan favorites from the night, there were a few people who were singing along with them, like on the second verse, “Twenty-one with the middle finger in the air, scream it out at the top of our lungs…”
They were in the final portion of their show, and had saved a new single for one of their last songs. It was titled “I Don’t Feel Good but I’m Having a Good Time”, and Josh told everyone they’d be releasing a music video for it soon. “I know y’all don’t really care about that, but this is the only time get to talk about it. Otherwise I’m like, ‘How are you? How was your day? Do you have a lady? No, well okay…” He went on to give what was no doubt the short story behind the song, saying it was about a party he went to but wasn’t really supposed to be there at it.
“This song’s about Jesus.” Josh said as they pulled out a couple oldies but goodies from their first EP from 2009, “Wanted”. Trey set up the beat for “Preacher, Preacher”, constantly tossing one of his drumsticks in the air while striking one of the drums with the other. “Preacher, preacher you can have my soul. I’m gonna be a holy man.” Sang Josh in a higher voice, right after the second chorus, before they kicked things back in and ended it. They then went into the subsequent track from that EP, “Pointed Guns in the House of God”. They’ve changed their style a lot since they first wrote those songs, and while “Preacher, Preacher” has always been a staple at shows, it’s nice to hear “Pointed Guns…” making a comeback, ‘cause it does still fit them.
They extended the end of the song a bit, more or less just making noise while Josh proceeded to thank everyone for coming out, as well as the other bands who played, even telling Ansley of Panic Volcanic that her voice had gotten even better in the two months since he had last seen them. “…And then you have us, The Phuss, who’s so lackluster you just can’t resist us…” he said.
He’s right about that. Well, with the exception of the lackluster part.
This seems like a good time to say something I haven’t in awhile, and that’s that when I first saw The Phuss, probably sometime in ’09, when they were just a duo, I wasn’t a fan. It took just happening to see them several times before they finally started growing me and I got to a point where I could appreciate them and their music.
That’s proof though that they are pretty damn irresistible, even if it takes you some time to realize it.
They put on a thoroughly entertaining show, and their music is a very captivating mix of rock and punk. They even sound like they’re branching out a bit with these new songs, still keeping the same basic essence that makes them, them, but just adding some different flares to it over what their past material has had.
They’ll be kicking off a night of great music at The Doublewide in Dallas on February 8th, and be sure to check out their self-titled EP in iTUNES.
It was a solid night of music, and kudos to King Camel for putting it all together. He already has several more installments of Local Education scheduled for February, and if you can, by all means, go see one.