The other show I wanted to see this night was at Club Dada, and I got there just in time, walking in just a few minutes past eleven, right when The Virgin Wolves were starting their set.
The sounds of Chase Robbins and Carson Coldiron’s guitars swirled about and filled the room, as did the bass, played by Kristin Leigh, leading into “Slick Shoes”, and with that powerful opener the band immediately commanded the crowd’s attention. After a short pause they moved on to “Crawl”, which was packed with some aggressive and explosive beats courtesy of drummer Steve Phillips, who you could tell was quite dedicated to what he was doing as he was tearing things up on his kit. The at times sultry “What You Want To Hear” followed, and was occasionally co-sung by Chase and front woman Jaimeson Robbins, and it was the way she sang the final lines of the song that really made it stand out this night. “…Guilty-ty-ty-ty-ty…” she belted out, raising her voice and putting a little more fierceness into each enunciation.
They segued the end of that last one directly into “Lies”, and upon finishing it Jaimeson exclaimed, “It’s fucking hot outside.” A fan then shouted, “It’s fucking hot inside.” A fact she then reiterated. It was rather miserable, but the heat sure didn’t keep the fans from enjoying the show, nor did it hinder the band, who soon launched into the raw “Crooked Smile”, which as some blistering guitar solos at times. The well-crafted piece of rock known as “End Of The Line” was, as usual, a personal highlight of their set, and was followed nicely by “Oh, Sugar”, which starts out pretty intense, before getting a little more moody with some light bass riffs.
As their 36-minute long set neared the end, they made sure to pull out two of the biggest fan favorites, like their current single “Black Sheep”, and while shouting some of the final words to the song Jaimeson was banging her can of beer against her head, causing some of the cans contents to spew into the air. They then went all out for their final song, “Virtue And Vice”, which had many fans singing right along, some of whom even shouted along with Chase on his line on the second verse, “I rode all night through the motherfucking rain…” Then, during the songs potent instrumental outro, Jaimeson went over and grabbed Kristin, somewhat hugging her, catching her off guard just a bit, and soon she let her bass go as it hit the floor. She didn’t try to retrieve it, though, instead she just stomped on it a bit while the song wound down.
It was an amazing set, every bit as good as the one I saw them do just two weeks before, and even better in some ways. That probably had something to do with the fact that they had a larger crowd here at Dada, giving them more energy to feed off of.
If you want to see a phenomenal, energetic live show, they’re one of the best acts you could possible see, especially here in North Texas. Go check out their full-length album “Pretty Evil Thing” in iTUNES, and for those who live in Oklahoma City, they have a show coming up on July 13th at Leon’s Lounge inside the Chameleon Room.
The aren’t many bands that can compete with a performance like that, but one of the few that can was headlining this show, and that was The Phuss.
The trio got their gear set up with time to spare, taking the stage shortly after midnight, and singer and guitarist Joshua Fleming got their 44-minute long set started with “Something to Die For”, which beckoned everyone who was out on the patio inside, as the few dozen people clustered around the stage. As it drew to a close, Josh grabbed his guitar by the neck and held it in the air, screaming the remaining lines, “…I can feel you changing me…”, leaving bassist Forrest Barton and drummer Trey Alfaro to carry the song for a few seconds, something they did with ease. As soon as it ended then Josh fired up another longtime staple of their shows, “One for Now Three for Later”, and that shorter number soon gave way to another hit of theirs, “Stupid Girl”. The quick pace and sheer loudness of it always makes it a heavy hitter, but this night it seemed to be filled with a little more piss and vinegar than usual. From the pulsating beats trey was cranking out to Josh’s catch guitar riffs, it just seemed to have even more character to it than normal, and was one that everybody thoroughly enjoyed.
After that constant onslaught of punk rock music, they took a break while Josh made a little speech, starting by saying that a lot of things, like venues and such, change. “…But one thing that hasn’t changed are The Virgin Wolves and the Hanna Barbarians…” he added, speaking of the two opening acts. He went on to say how great it was to have such good friends on this bill with them, essentially making it one big party, which isn’t something you hear many bands say these day. At most, many acts just shout out the other bands on the bill simply for courtesy, not because they’ve forged a real relationship over the years, so that was nice to see.
Eventually Josh informed everyone they have been working on some new material, leading them into a couple of new tracks, the first of which was “Straight Line Impala”, a song I found myself even more fond of after hearing it for a second time now. The next one, “At the Bottom of it All”, was my favorite of the two, though, which Josh set up as being about “…Drinking too much and fucking someone you’re not supposed to fuck.” It’s a great song in true Phuss fashion, and Forrest has some truly killer bass lines on that track. Next, they kicked things up a bit with the brutal “Bleed”, before doing one last track from their self-titled album, “21 Ain’t What It Was”, and as they hit the chorus of that rocker, Trey spit some water into the air, as it spewed out and then rained down.
At this point, someone ion the crowd commented on Forrest’s beard, and Josh agreed on how amazing it looked, cracking a joke about (which I don’t recall specifically now), but the gist was that he could get lost in it. Once he had finished the punch line, though, he admitted the joke had sounded better in his head. It was clear they were almost done with their set, especially when the broke out “Preacher, Preacher”, which surprisingly didn’t round out their show, for the first time in a long time (at least out of the times I’ve seen them.) It was a bit strange not hearing it as the closer, but that didn’t have any impact on the song overall, and neither did the little slip up Trey had at the start, when he dropped one of his drum sticks during the intro. He recovered quickly and got them right back on track, and on an unrelated note, the way Josh sang the song this night, doing it in a slightly different vocal tone, made it sound better than I think I’ve ever heard it sound.
I was prepared to walk out of that, since that song usually means they are done, but once Forrest and Josh huddled around the drum kit, it was clear they still had a little left. After talking for a few moments, Josh informed everyone they hadn’t made a setlist in two years, a number which soon grew to four, and he said they were trying to figure out what to do next. Soon, they broke into their next song, which I didn’t know, and I assume it was a cover, because once they finished it Josh admitted they shouldn’t have played that, then gave a “fuck you” to any possible music critics, saying they had just done that one to have fun. “…Now we’re going to do one we actually know…” he told the fans, announcing it was another oldie from their first ever album, the “Wanted” EP. “…This is Pointed Guns in the House of God.” He stated before tearing into the song. While most of their stuff is fairly short and clocks in around three and a half minutes, that one goes nearly twice as long, though it didn’t seem it, and it gave an explosive end to their show.
It was a fantastic show, and from the moment the guys of The Phuss stepped on stage to the second they finished they had everyone entranced with their display of raw rock music laced with punk stylings.
The next show The Phuss has will be on July 12th at the Wild Rooster Bar in Fort Worth, and they’ll be back in the city on August 15th at The Grotto. In between that they’ll also do a show in Wichita Falls, TX on August 10th. Also, check out “The Phuss” LP in iTUNES.
Either of these two bands are great to see on their own, but whenever they share the stage it makes for a can’t miss night of music, and this night was no exception. It just proves that Rock ‘n’ Roll is alive and well in the D/FW area.
The other show I wanted to see this night was at Club Dada, and I got there just in time, walking in just a few minutes past eleven, right when The Virgin Wolves were starting their set.
It’s usually safe to say that most young musicians are still trying to find their niche in the business. From figuring out what style best suits them, to searching for their voice (literally and figuratively), and everything in between. However, that isn’t the case with twenty-four year old Jillette Johnson on her debut full-length album “Water in a Whale”.
A lot of that can probably be attributed to the fact that she has been performing live for around half her life, and while she may well still be finding her place (since that’s an ever evolving process for anyone), she’s certainly further along than most her age, and that becomes readily clear as you delve into “Water in a Whale”.
“Torpedo” is the lead track of the album, and is quite an appropriate first song. Lyrically it perfectly capture Jillette’s determination and grit, like with the line from the chorus, “…But I will not lay down in the road, I will not make it easy…”, while musically, there’s a certain ethereal quality to it that will both enthrall and rouse you instantly, ensuring you’ll be listening intently to the remaining tracks.
The next song, “Cameron”, has a more bare bones sound, at least at first as the piano beautifully sets up this serious track, though there’s a nice build throughout the song that happens gradually before it erupts into an anthem of sorts. On the surface, the song is about a transgender friend of Jillette’s and the struggles faced in his youth. However, when you truly listen to the lyrics, they transcend that situation, applying to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, race, etc., who has ever just felt out of place, as if you don’t belong/fit in. The chorus, “…The world is full of aliens But you are a real, live human…”, is rather brilliant, and Jillette packs it full of emotion and meaning with her powerhouse voice.
A favorite song of mine on the record is “Flood the Ocean”, which is made abundantly cheery with its catchy melody, and it breeds positivity. While the following song, “When The Ship Goes Down”, breaks away from the semi-pop mold cast by the other songs, exhibiting a more classical vibe, which is quite behooving of the elegant mood the song creates, as Jillette croons about wanting to get the most out of her life.
I don’t know if pop is necessarily the best category to lump her music in, because there is a certain sophistication to it that is lacking in much of the pop music you hear on mainstream radio these days, but one song that certainly doesn’t fit that pop classification is “Last Bus Out”. It’s much more up-tempo than the other ten tracks that comprise the album, and is borderline rock, as the band cranks things up and cuts loose. There are some nice electronic elements (in the form of auto-tune) thrown in on a few words here and there, too, and along with the reverb, it adds some nice effects to the song. It’s one you’ll surely be hearing in your head long after you’ve hit the stop button (in a good way, of course.)
If you still have any traces of doubt about what a vocal dynamo Jillette truly is, then “Pauvre Coeur” will be sure to squash it. Her voice is the primary instrument on it, and the listener gets to hear her show off exactly what kind of vocal range she is capable of on this gorgeously sad song, and it may well leave you breathless. The heartache of the song is conveyed perfectly and in much detail, as she paints a very vivid picture for a song that is teeming with emotion, and could be best summed up by the final line, “…I am far too beautiful to be yours.”
Like you might infer from the title, “Peter Pan” is a short number about not wanting to grow up (or at least having a part of you that doesn’t want to.) This rocking little track begins with her (presumably) reminiscing about events from her adolescence, “We don’t get drunk on Tuesday nights anymore. We don’t have the stink from the weed with the towel on the bathroom floor anymore…” It’s yet another great (and infectious) tune this album has to offer, and one that many listeners could probably connect with, as it speaks of your friends growing up, going about their life, while you’re “…the only one left in Neverland…”
Another dazzling track is “Basset Hound”, which tells a tale of being infatuated with someone, and a splendid tale at that. One of the best things about the song, at least in my opinion, is one of its more subtle traits, specifically the way she enunciates “Basset”, putting a little extra emphasis on the “bass” portion of the word, which in turn makes the pronunciation of it completely unique. Sometimes it’s the little nuances like that, that are the difference between an already great song being an excellent one, and such as the case here.
“…Cut split ends to save our strands…”, that seems like the line that would best describe the breakup song “Butterfly Catcher”, which has a slightly more delicate sound than the songs that precede it, yet it manages to have a certain upbeat pop quality, while emanating a melancholy feeling. Sure, those sounds and moods may be a little contradictory, but weaving them together in the way she does is what makes it sound so fantastic.
“Heathen” is easily the most inspirational song on the album, and is another favorite of mine. Like the lead track, it has a certain piousness about it, probably because there are some not so subtle religious undertones to it, like on what strikes me as being a rather profound line, “Cinder blocks around my brain. Came to mock but I remain to pray…” The music bed also boasts a sort of orchestral sound, albeit a scaled back one, which is what really sets the song off.
Bringing this excursion to an end is “True North”, which is a fitting song to close with, and seems to bring the story the album tells full circle. As stated in Jillette’s current bio, it’s about “…coming home and accepting the failures that you endure…” And in the end, it’s the failures as much as the successes that make you into who you’re supposed to be.
All in all, “Water in a Whale” is an utterly flawless record from start to finish, including the two B-sides that are also a part of it (“17” and “Box of Crayons”), which are up to par with the eleven core tracks.
There’s not a song on it that sounds second-rate or inferior to the others, and because it’s so well rounded, I’d say this record is at a caliber that some artists could spend a decade’s long career trying to create and still not manage it.
It traverses between soft and sweet, raw and edgy, and at times, even a bit sultry. But through it all, it’s the passion that really makes “Water in a Whale” so outstanding. I mean, a lot of people can sing, but there’s a more limited number of singers that can squeeze so much emotion into their music, let alone capture that quality so well in a recording studio. That rare feat is something Jillette has accomplished, making each song seem incredibly significant to her, which allows the music to transcend to a whole other level.
She has no doubt set the bar high with “Water in a Whale”, but with such a plentiful amount of natural talent, when it comes time for a sophomore record, I don’t think either her or her fans will have to worry about the dreaded “sophomore slump”.
Purchase the album on:
iTunes / Bandcamp / Amazon MP3 / Barnes & Noble / or physical copies from her Online Store
Visit Jillette Johnsons’ websites:
Official Site / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube
Current show schedule:
July 12th at Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, California / July 16 at Joe’s Pun in New York, New York / August 23rd at Fountain Square in Cincinnati, Ohio
Photo Credit: Rebecca Miller
The Curtain Club and Liquid Lounge (along with the Boiler Room) were hosting a benefit show this night, featuring something like forty bands (+/-), and presenting it was Jaro Productions. Proceeds from the show were benefiting West, Texas, which some of musicians pointed out had kind of been forgotten about, especially since a few days before this FEMA announced they wouldn’t be giving the town any aid. All the more reason this was a great show to be at and support a worthy cause.
Now, to fit all those bands on stage in a timely manner, most of them were doing acoustic sets that consisted of a mere three songs, and I believe the first band up in the Lounge was called The Hot Hello.
Based on their little acoustic gig they sounded pretty good. Very different than some of their electric stuff I later checked out online, but still had a really good sound to it all.
They have an older EP you can check out in iTUNES if you want, and keep tabs on their FACEBOOK PAGE for more show updates.
Always the Alibi followed them, doing a mostly acoustic show, with bassist Evan Scates being the only one playing an electric instrument. Their brief little set began with one of their non-album tracks, “Edge of the World”, which sounded incredible done acoustic. It was very easy to hear every single word sung by singer and rhythm guitarist Henry Coke, and that in turn seemed to give the song more weight and made it pretty deep. Next they did a scaled down version of “She’s Letting Go”, and upon finishing it, drummer Richard Muencklers’ phone could be heard ringing. “He’s a fireman, he has to take that…” Henry joked, referring to the shirt Richard was wearing. Then, to set up their last song, lead guitarist Kelly Panter told everyone they thought it would be a fitting song given the cause they were supporting this night. Indeed it was, and they closed with a moving rendition of the Foo Fighters “Times Like These”, and with the chorus of “It’s times like these you learn to live again It’s times like these you give and give again It’s times like these you learn to love again…” it was certainly fitting of the situation.
It was a nice little set they did, and by the time they were done I found myself hoping they start doing a few more acoustic shows here and there, preferably a little longer than what they were able to do this night.
You can buy their debut EP “We are Waiting” in iTUNES, and can even snag a free download of that one album track they did at this show over on their REVERBNATION PAGE. As for their show schedule, they’ll be back at the Curtain Club on July 5th. On July 14th they’ll be out at Six Flags in Arlington doing some sets throughout the day, while on August 22nd they’ll rock Fort Worth, doing a gig at The Grotto.
Afterwards, I headed over to the Curtain, where The Circle was getting ready to go on, and actually got set up several minutes before their start time. They were given two options by sound guy Chad Lovell; Do an extra song or just sit on their stools for a few minutes. Then the door guy, Sean, said something, which I couldn’t hear all that well, but was something about having the band tell a story.
Vocalist Don Mills, saying he was looking on Craigslist, “…And not the personal section…” he noted, looking for a band to join, when he came across one that was in need of a singer. It was humorous little story, during which he also noted they had auditioned Monica Koohi (who now sings fro Red Angel Theory), but she turned down the offer, so they picked Don instead, and he joked that he should have just kept on looking.
They then got ready to start their little set, which rhythm guitarist Alan Sauls began… By playing the intro to “Stairway to Heaven”. “…There are plenty of cover songs to do, but not that one…” Don said, as the four guys (they were missing bassist Kenneth Henrichs) shared a laugh. “My Trip to the Desert Sucked” kicked off their set, which is arguably one of their heaviest songs and was given a completely new flow now, not only with the more restrained music bed, but Dons’ voice, which was still loud and powerful, but it was clear he was holding back immensely. “…I feel like this is the first show I haven’t screamed at in months…” he said to his band mates after finishing that song, pointing out how weird it felt. Their remaining two songs were some newer ones that will be on their forthcoming EP, one of which was “Failure”, which sounded like somewhat of a different song. “The Other Side” wrapped up their set, and was hands down the best acoustic sounding song they did, with some nice riffs from Craig Nelson and Alan, while Marc Berry had a nice beat going on his cajon. It was still different from the full blow rock version, but it really translated nicely into this format.
They were another band I found myself hoping will do an acoustic show a little more frequently, because they’re such a heavy, hard rock band it’s cool to get to see another side to them, especially one they pull off so (surprisingly) well.
They’ll be right back here at the Curtain on July 12th, and that will be a real rock show, and one you shouldn’t miss. You can find their lead single “Sleep on it” in iTUNES, and hopefully in the next few months they’ll have their EP with that and three more songs released. But until then, check out their REVERBNATION PAGE where you can download some live cuts for free.
Following them up on the Curtain Club stage was Little Sisters of the Poor, who was taking the stage for only the third time ever.
They kept things a little closer to a true full-band, with Gabe Muzquiz playing the drum kit that had thus far gone untouched. That obviously made them much louder than many of the other bands, and they got their set going with a catchy number by the name of “Love, Money and Death”. They ran through their set relatively quickly it seemed, with front man Dunagin Gaines announcing the titles of their next two tracks before they started them, and if I heard correctly the second was “Truck Stop Heaven”, while “Headaches” wrapped up the little show.
It really wasn’t that far off from one of their normal shows. Now granted, guitarists Jason Jones and Jackson Dunn, as well as bassist Joe Becker don’t usually sit on stools, but music-wise, even with acoustic axes, it was still pretty spot on, and instead of loud, guitar rock music, it was loud, acoustic guitar rock music. Even Dunagin didn’t hold back much, still singing at almost full throttle and adding his own vocal effects by moving the microphone all around, to, at times, give his voice a distant sound to it.
Great little show and my personal favorite out of the acts I saw here.
They, too, will be back at the Curtain Club soon, specifically on July 26th. And if you’d like to get a feel for their sound, you can purchase their first two singles in iTUNES.
Up after them was another local heavyweight, and that was Adakain.
I had still had yet to see the band in their latest lineup (and I guess in some ways I still haven’t), and that lineup includes Ryan Ray at the helm, while Taylor Walding has also recently joined the band as an additional guitarist.
“…This is an old Adakain song…” Ryan Ray told the crowd, as they opened up with “Sky is Falling”, the lead track from the “Silhouette of Lies” EP. It was a quite different rendition, even with Ryan Carroll back on the drum kit and Joseph Kuban (who usually plays with Serosia) lightly plucking the strings of his bass, but the softer sound allowed the song to be heard in a new light, and there was a different gravity to it this night. Once they finished it, Ryan R. looked over at Joseph, noting it had been a long time since he’d been on stage with him. “…You’re an attractive man…” Ryan told him. He then moved things along, saying they were going to do one of their newest song, “Bleach it Out”, and see how it worked, since they wouldn’t be using the sample tracks this time. Even done in this format the song still packed a punch, and was even slightly eerie at times, with Ryan loudly singing one line, like, “…See me”, then whispering the next, “ch-ch—change my name…” Excellent vibe, and another one that had a great vibe was what Ryan stated was one of his favorite songs, and that was Alice in Chains’s “Rooster”, which they put a nice spin on and it concluded a great little set.
I’m definitely going to have to see one of their electric rock shows sometime, preferably soon, because they put on a mean acoustic gig, and I can only imagine what they’re like when they’re not confined to some stools.
They’ve been around for many years now, and in that time have made a name for themselves, even doing some national touring, but their music now, at least the two new songs they made available to listen to, are a step above their previous stuff. There’s just a certain quality to them, which in part probably comes from Ryan and his voice, or maybe I’m just a little biased from being a fan of his previous project. Either way, they’re a killer group, and one you should see whenever they do a show.
The Orange was scheduled to be playing in the Lounge after that, and they were already one and a half songs in to their set, as I walked in during the middle of what I believe was “Dead Nation”, the song that drummer Cody Waits sings, or at least one of them. He wasn’t acting as the drummer this night, though, instead he was playing an acoustic guitar, while front man Scott Tucker wielded another acoustic. Afterwards, Scott announced their last song was going to be “Blow Up”, which was still pretty fiery, with Chicago Dan adding some sounds from his harmonica, while Buddy neighbors stole the show with his sensational riffs on his electric axe. I never imagined that song could be so good acoustically, but it can and does, and they didn’t go without any percussion, either, as Melissa Tucker shook a tambourine during the tracks.
Like many of the other acts I saw, The Orange sounded much better acoustic than I thought they would, even if I only did see half of their show.
Check out their first EP in iTUNES and later this year they will be releasing their first ever full-length record, so stay tuned for that.
They were the last act I saw this night. Well, at least here at the Curtain. There was another show going on down here that I wanted to see, too. So, since I caught most of the bands I wanted to see here at the Curtain Club and Liquid Lounge, I left to go to the other venue, and experience some full sets by some more great bands…
Another Deep Friday was upon Deep Ellum, where five (and sometimes more) venues come together to allow you in to each one for the low price of $10 ($5 if you get your tickets in advance). It makes it very easy to barhop and see several different bands, and while there were some bands playing at The Boiler Room and Reno’s Chop Shop that I wanted to see, it was the Curtain Club and Liquid Lounge where I spent all my time at.
The first act of the night was Animal Spirit, who got going early, and by the time I got there, I had missed a portion of the set, but caught probably the last twenty minutes or so.
Still, it was a great twenty or so minutes, and much better than the last time I had seen them, just a few weeks before. Granted, that improvement was in the sound guy, but when you have a sound guy who’s doing his job as best as possible it makes a difference, and because of that the band seemed much tighter this night.
Some of the tunes I caught included their most recent single, “House on a Hill”, which bassist Joe Prankster pointed out everyone could download for free on their Bandcamp page, and that was definitely one of their most rocking songs of the show. Other highlights of mine included their intriguing, more experimental track, which is almost all percussion, with Andrew Stroheker trading in his guitar for a drum, and he and drummer Parker Anderson keep synch with one another, while front woman Sam Wuehermann strikes an empty wine bottle with a drumstick. It’s very unusual, in a good way, and is my favorite song of theirs, with a close second being their closer, “Planets a Lie”, which is one of many that both Sam and Andrew sing on.
They’re a great band, and grow on me more and more with each time I see them. Definitely one of the most original bands here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and one that should be on your radar.
You can get that free download on their BANDCAMP PAGE, with their debut record due out in the near future. Also, keep a check on their TOUR DATES page to see when they’ll be playing next.
After they finished, I wondered over to the Liquid Lounge side of the venue to see what was going on there, walking in on an interesting trio called Mora Collective.
The band was made up of Zach Puchkors on a saxophone, drummer Eric Yacula and bass player Christopher Isaacs, who combined their talents to make some very interesting instrumental music. I thought it was very jazz sounding personal, though they had some other stuff that was more rock, or even a fusion of the two at times.
It really was quite good, though far from fitting my personal music tastes. After the first song I heard I considered leaving, but they did manage to hold my interest, at least enough I stuck around until their final song. There was a good mix of humor thrown in, too, and at one point in between songs Eric mentioned they would have a record coming out soon, mentioning it was, of course, going to be a self-release. He then added, “That’s funny because…”, speaking of the last show they did, where he said he told the crowd there it was being released on a big name label and they would be doing a world tour in support of it.
They weren’t bad, and that’s coming from the guy who 99.9% of the time dislikes instrumental music. So, if you’re into the kind of stuff, check ‘em out, especially if you like some jazzy sounds.
You can get some free downloads of some live cuts on their REVERBNATION PAGE, and while there you can also find their show calendar, which is empty at the moment.
I headed back to the Curtain after that to, oddly enough, see another instrumental band, and this was one I knew I’d like.
Son of Swan was getting ready to take the stage there, and they are undeniable one of, if not the best instrumental act in town, led by the amazing guitarist Neil Swanson.
They got off to a strong start with “S.O.S.”, which has an explosive rhythm section, created by bassist Steve Wilson and drummer Billy Walker, while Neil Swanson was often seen effortlessly shredding on his guitar, with enough tact to not appear like he was showing off, but making it apparent that he’s essentially in a league all his own. They followed it right up with another song from their recently released self-titled EP, before taking a brief break where Neil said the next song was about the hot summer days in Texas. “…It’s called Dog Days.” He finished, setting up the lead track from the EP, which has a sort of classic rock vibe to it.
I’ll admit, I remember song titles based on the lyrics, and since their stuff doesn’t have words I’m still trying to learn the titles, but they kept going with some more songs from the EP, like “30K Curse” and “Children Of The Night”, mixing in some covers from time to time. Before one of those covers Neil again addressed the audience, all of whom were devoting their full attention to the band, saying, “…If you don’t know it, well, maybe you should.” Then before the other he mentioned that the best thing about the radio was that you can sometimes hear songs you had basically forgotten about, and when you hear it, it brings back some good memories, and he hoped that was everyone experienced with it. They even busted out a new song at one point, which was quite possibly their best song of the night, and somehow they’ve managed to go a step above their previous material.
In all they were on stage for about 35-minutes or so, and the best part came at the end, when Neil gave a little speech, which I can’t remember word for word, but he basically told everyone to find what they love to do, whatever that may be, and just stick with and do what makes you happy. Sound advice and an excellent note to start to end on, while I want to say it was “All Good Things…” that closed out their show (though I could be wrong on that).
If you haven’t seen this band yet you need to. I’ll say it again, I’m not one for instrumental music, but from the first time I saw Son of Swan, which was on this very stage last November, I was mesmerized, and I’ve continued to be amazed each time I see them. Neils’ musicianship is impeccable, and his guitar playing will amaze you more than most singers voices will. That’s why they don’t need lyrics to their music, and they’re the only band I’m aware of that I’ll say truly benefits from not having any singing, and instead they let the music speak to the people.
They also put on quite the show, and between the performance that Billy, Steve and Neil put on, you won’t leave disappointed.
You can purchase their EP in iTUNES, and for $6.93, it’s a steal.
Afterwards, I again headed over to the Liquid Lounge to see what was going on there, and on stage was a younger Dallas group known as Falling for Venus.
I believe I saw the majority of their set, which was good. The five- piece outfit was packed pretty tightly on the small stage, leaving little room to move around, but they made the best of it and it didn’t seem like it was a big deal to them in the first place.
Several of their songs had a slower, softer vibe to them, which was contributed by the acoustic guitar that vocalist Heidi Burciaga played. In turn, that gave their songs a pretty distinct sound, especially with the keyboard, electric guitar, bass and drums thrown in. There was one point they, or rather guitarist Jonathan Riojas, had some technical issues, right before doing a song that I believe was called “Dance Alone”, which forced them to postpone it for later in the set, but aside from that, their show flowed pretty smoothly.
Personally, their stuff never clicked with me, in some ways seeming monotonous after a point, but that’s me, and the guys and girl of Falling for Venus have found a sound that works incredibly well for what they do. If you want to hear it for yourself, head over to their REVERBNATION PAGE to listen to a few songs.
Once they finished it was back to the Curtain to see what the band Cosmic Trigger was all about, and I’ll admit I was curious about them, after having seen the name popping up all over the place over the last several months.
I don’t know what I was expecting them to be like, but it wasn’t the heavy metal sounds I walked into, nor did I expect to like it as much as I did.
The first full song I heard was “A Welcomed Rapture” from their “New Order of the Cosmos” EP. It, like all of their music, was a heavy, aggressive display of raw metal and rock vibes. It was impossible not to be reeled in by it, and they continued things with another track, and once it was done they followed it up with a killer instrumental song, where singer and rhythm guitarist Tyrel Choat, drummer, Josh Farmer, bass player Dustin Choat and lead guitarist Matthew Treadway really got to throw down. Well, that might not be the best way to phrase it, because that would imply that they weren’t all giving it their all while they were on stage, and they so obviously were.
They fit a couple more songs into their set before ending with “Slave” where Tyrel often shouted, “…Nobody wants to be a slave…”, a very simple line, but he gave it a lot of depth, while the rest of the band thrashed about.
There’s no denying that in terms of energy, these guys were the best of the night, at least at the two venues I split my time between. Their live show was phenomenal, and there was a reason they had the biggest crowd of the night, which was something they were certainly deserving of.
Now, typically I don’t care for metal music, but my main qualm with so much of it these days is the constant incoherent screaming so many of the singers do, something that Cosmic Trigger did not do, just keeping it raw, powerful and loud. By the time they were done, I was asking myself, “Why haven’t I seen these guys before now?” I don’t have an answer to that, but I know I’ll be seeing them again.
They do have a record, and you can purchase it in iTUNES, or of course at their live shows, of which they have a few lined up. One will be in Dallas at the Boiler Room on July 20th, while the other will be in their hometown of Fort Worth at Lola’s on August 13.
The next to last band of the night was Hawk vs. Dove, whom I still can’t get into, though I will say I enjoyed some of their material more this time around than the previous times I’ve caught them. It mainly has to do with their music, which has a definite sludge sound to it, and is just something I can’t get into.
However, if that is what you like, check out their record in iTUNES.
It was getting late, about a quarter to one in the morning, and the Curtain was pretty empty while Descender got ready to close the night out, but that emptiness didn’t last long…
They came out swinging, beginning their 50-minute set with what I feel is their best song, “Armor”, and I believe it had been some time since I last heard them open a show with that one. I liked that, though, because this song that so perfectly (and sadly) captures the dissension of a relationship is a mighty opener, and you could tell it was catching people’s attention. Next, they unleashed several of their newer songs on the audience, doing “The Language” and “Spinning on the Surface”. Before that last mentioned song, singer and rhythm guitarist Casey Hess told everyone what it was about, which was basically enjoying the summer, and then added some ways to enjoy it. “…Get in a pool, eat some pizza and just fuck…” he said, which got some laughs from the crowd.
“Silver Lightning” came next, another new one that is growing on me each time I hear it, and afterwards the group busted out an old classic. “This song’s about mercy.” Casey said, before drummer Duncan Black led them into “What Was Missing”, with Jeff Gruber and Zack Busby, on lead guitar and bass, respectively, joining in as soon as he laid into his kit. It may not have been that long, but it felt like forever since I had heard them do that one live, making it nice to hear it performed once more. They then brought things down a few notches, as Casey ditched his pick, plucking at the strings of his guitar with his fingers for the first half of the haunting “Dark Water”. Zack was the only one who didn’t have a part to play for that first bit, though he stood at the ready, his hands right at the spots they should be on his bass, patiently waiting for the song to take off so he could bring the rhythm section to life.
Afterwards, the usually silent (aside from backing vocals) Jeff had a few words for everyone, telling the crowd they did have CD’s available, noting they were free and instead urging everyone to go buy merch from any of the other bands. He went on to say the next song came from their current EP, “…And it goes something like this…” he said. It appeared that Duncan took in a deep breath as they ripped into the heavy hitter known as “Hats Off To Your Reflection”. To balance that heaviness out, they did my favorite song from their new batch of music, “Slow and Gold”, which gets off to a slow, yet amazing start. Before the second verse of that song, Casey gave everyone a small taste of his signature back-bend, though it was a quick one, and no sooner had he almost laid down on the floor then he raised back up.
“I Will Help You Find the Darkness” is another great new one they’ve worked up, and one that Casey began, with each member joining in just a few seconds after the last making for a dynamic intro, and despite the song title, the mood of the track isn’t very dark, and instead is just real Rock ‘n’ Roll. At this point, the band praised the sound guy Chad Lovell, but not just for the excellent job he does running the sound board. “…I grew up listening to the sound guys band…” said Casey, asking if anyone remembered Course of Empire. “You know, that band that had two drummers…” he added. That then brought them to their final song of the night, and one of the longest, “Army Of Elephants”, during which Casey did another back-bend, this time holding it for several seconds while shredded on his axe.
It was as great a show as they always put on, and just some good, heavy rock music from a band that has an overwhelming stage presence, and they were every bit as polarizing as Cosmic Trigger was, albeit in a different way. By the way, when thanking all the other bands on the bill, that was one Casey sang the praises of, obviously being impressed by their show.
Descender has a big show coming up on July 27th at Three Links in Dallas, where they will release their split record with the band Here Holy Spain, so make sure you’re at that one and add that record (which will be on vinyl) to your collection. As for their first two EP’s, you can find them in iTUNES.
It was another excellent Deep Friday, and mark your calendars for July 5th, when the clubs will host the next installment of what I guess could be called a concert series.
Criminal Birds has been around a relatively short amount of time, only a couple of years, but in that short time the quintet of younger musicians have managed to make somewhat of a name for themselves, even earning praise like they are “on par with any big ticket national act.” as said by Auditory Asylum’s Stephen Ellis.
They’ve obviously been able to make an impression on those who have managed to hear about them, but now, with the release of their debut album, a four track EP released in March 2013, they’re in more of a position to get their name out there, and probably turn a few heads in the process.
Right from the ringing guitar chords that begin “Chill Out” you know you’re in for a treat, as the music bed manages to successfully stitch together the genres the band classifies themselves as. There’s a nice texture to the guitars, which give off more of an ambient sound at first, and the notes are simple, yet complex at the same time. The soupy sound rapidly disappears as they hit the chorus, though, and they show they can rock with the best of them, from aggressive drumbeats to soaring guitar riffs, all of which is matched with Reggie Hastings’s singing, his voice suddenly springing to life. Speaking of his voice, I also quite like the way he enunciates certain words, like “breathe” and “breeze” during the first verse, putting a nice spin on them.
“Wait” starts off with a dynamic rhythm section and builds on the momentum created from the opening track, starting off as a fairly powerful rocker. However, you soon realize the track has a brilliant ebb and flow to it, as it switches gears from a percussion driven indie rock song on the verses to a softer love song vibe on each chorus. All of that combines to make it not only the longest song on the EP (at 5-minutes), but also the most beautiful.
The end of the previous track bleeds perfectly into “Slow Down”, and does exactly as the name suggests, while also evoking a melancholy feeling. “…Bring me to my knees, crippling my feet. Show me you’re lovely, then take it right from me…” Reggie croons near the start of the song, his voice almost completely void of any emotion, which serves to magnify the heartbroken mood the song conveys.
The nearly 18-minute long jaunt through the bands sonic soundscapes comes to a close with “End Daze”, which mines a sound similar to the first track, so it ends almost like it began. It’s another fantastic mix of full-blown Rock ‘n’ Roll with some ambient layers thrown in, and the lyrics, particularly on the bridge, demonstrate how rather profound their writing can be. The line; “It doesn’t matter how hard you try, you’re still a product of your own design. … It doesn’t matter how hard you cry, there’s no pity for those who lie, tangled up in your wicked insides, in your denial.”
In the end, their self-titled debut EP is a wonderfully woven tapestry of sounds that shows off various sides to the group, and it’s hard to fit them into just one category of music.
The music is much more mature than you might think younger musicians (in their early to mid 20’s) would be capable of. That just speaks to their great musicianship, and they come across as sounding like an incredible tight and well coordinated band and you can probably listen to the songs dozens of times over and still discover something new that will catch you interest.
Granted, Criminal Birds isn’t reinventing the wheel or anything (though that could happen in the future), but they are putting a very intriguing and interesting spin on it.
Criminal Birds is:
Reggie Hastings – Vocals / Guitar / Keys
Taylor Dondlinger – Lead guitarist
Gunnar Ebeling - Bass
Grahm Robinson - Drums
Purchase the album on:
BANDCAMP (the EP is FREE to download)
Visit Criminal Birds websites:
OFFICIAL WEBSITE / FACEBOOK / REVERBNATION
Photo credit: Zack Huggins
The Shiner Sunday events, which take place at Love and War in Texas in Plano and are presented by KHYI 95.3 The Range, are an institution at this restaurant located in the suburbs, particularly in the summer. However, since I’m not the biggest country music fan and that is the type of acts that play here, I’ve never attended a Shiner Sunday (which takes its name from Shiner Bock beer) and have seldom had reason to go one.
This day, though, the Band of Heathens were playing the stage, and after seeing them just a few weeks back at the Homegrown music festival, the band had made me into a fan, and I was looking forward to seeing a full set from them.
The Dallas based Prophets and Outlaws was opening up the show, or at least some of them were, and the five-piece outfit was operating as an acoustic trio this day, with singer Matt Boggs playing an acoustic guitar and James Guckenheimer keeping the beat on what looked like a cajon. The you had guitarist Stevie G. was the only one who used an electric instrument. I had heard of them a few years back on some website (perhaps even towards the end of Myspace), but I had never seen them before.
They had already started by the time my dad and I got there, and the first full song I heard was a cover of Bob Schneider’s “Honeypot”, which they pointed out is one people always seem to enjoy. It was nice rendition of it, especially given the fact that their set was so stripped down, and they managed to make the song sound very full. After that they got to some more original stuff, doing “Finally Alone”, a slower song from their first EP, which is also self-titled. It was more of a love song, and after doing another track, they did another love song, this one coming from the newly released “Wanted!” EP, “My Song to You”, which had a quick pace to it, and the way Matts’ voice flowed with the music made it all the more infectious. It was one of the best songs they did, and equally as good was “Mexico Tonight”, which was a true country song, especially in terms of lyrics. They then ended with the lead song from their first EP “Soul Shop”, which was a bit of a departure from their previous stuff, as it was more blues sounding with a certain dose of soul, too.
They were quite good, and Matt has a nice set of pipes on him, capable of some real range. I’m glad I finally was able to see them, and I guess now I just need to make it to a full-band show sometime.
You can see them at the City Tavern in Dallas on June 27th (and again on July 25th), then Fred’s in Fort Worth on June 29th. For July their calendar includes shows at Sambuca in the Uptown part of Dallas on the 11th, the Grotto in McKinney on the 13th and again on the 27th. As for their two records, check them out in iTUNES.
There was just a little bit of a break between them and the headliner, since The Band of Heathens had already set their gear up earlier, and just a minute after four the Austin band began entertaining the packed patio.
There were a couple racks of guitars on stage, guitars of all different types, and for their first song guitarist and singer Gordy Quist grabbed an acoustic as they got their 59-minute set going with a song from their first studio album, “Jackson Station”. It may have been a bit of a slower song at times, but it was clear from the get go that they were in charge of the audience, and it seemed like they were using it as a warm-up and something to ease the fans into the show with. As the music subsided, Ed Jurdi took over vocal duties for the next song, strumming his guitar then belted out, “Well, I should have known better this time…”, singing the first line of “Should Have Known” a cappella. They were definitely in the zone on that gem from 2011’s “Top Hat Crown & The Clapmaster’s Son”, particularly at the end, when Gordy swapped his six string electric guitar out for a twelve string, and he, Ed, keyboardist Trevor Nealon, drummer Richard Millsap and the bass player all jammed, giving the song a sweet instrumental outro.
They kept things moving right along with the subsequent track from that album, “Polaroid”, a song that evokes a certain amount of nostalgia and that emotion comes through perfectly in Gordys’ voice. Soon after finishing that one, Richard led them into a fan favorite from the “One Foot in the Ether” album, “Say”, which had many of the fans singing along with Ed on the chorus, “Say what you want to say, do what you want to do. Go on your own way, let me go on mine too.” Upon finishing it, Gordy switched back to an acoustic guitar for the next few songs, and one of the surprise standouts of their set was “Gris Gris Satchel”, which was rather spirited, despite its softer sound. Unarguably the best part of the song, which Ed and Gordy took turns singing on, was the chorus, where their voices came together as they harmonized, making a marvelous sound.
At this point, Gordy informed everyone that they had been in the studio for the last few months working on their next record, telling everyone they were going to do a couple of new songs. It seemed to show that some of their best stuff is yet to come, because “Caroline Williams” was an incredibly solid song, and both it and the moody “Shake The Foundation”, were some of my personal favorites, with Ed doing a majority of the singing on the former, while Gordy handled most of the latter. It was a nice glimpse into the bands future, and not the last of the evening, either, but for now they got back to some stuff that their fans would know with “Hurricane”. Trevor stole the show for a bit during that tune, jamming on his keyboards and creating an impressive piece, that was quite Rock ‘n’ Roll.
They started to wrap things up with “Right Here With Me”, saving their two biggest songs for last. One of those was “L. A. County Blues”, which tells a captivating story, while their current single, “Medicine Man”, concluded this first set, complete with what these guys do best, and that is extending the instrumental parts slightly and just jamming, and when they are doing that is when they seem truly carefree.
That first set was broadcasted on 95.3, and as soon as that final song ended DJ Brett Dillon rushed on stage and said some final words to the audience, both on the airwaves and those who were actually at the show. The Band of Heathens weren’t quite done yet, though, and Gordy told everyone after they posed for a few pictures (with Brett) they were going to play some more.
They literally only got a couple minutes of downtime, and they were off on their second set.
This set began in a very similar fashion, with another slower classic from their 2008 album, “Second Line”, before stepping things up a bit with their next song, which was possibly a new one, or at least one I didn’t know. It was a good one, though, and near the end of it Ed brought his voice into a falsetto range, which he pulled off nicely.
At that point, Gordy took a minute to clarify something Brett Dillon had said earlier, and that was that the band records both audio and video of every second of every show they do. He noted that wasn’t completely true, well, except for the audio part, saying what he thought was the most amazing part of it all was that fans could buy the recordings of the show they were at before even leaving the venue. While saying all that, he had grabbed an acoustic guitar for the at times ominous, yet gorgeous tune, “Judas ‘scariot Blues”, before unleashing another new song on the crowd. That song was the impeccable “Shotgun”, which has a brilliant hook, and is at its best when the two singers are co-singing, like on the chorus, “You came crashing through the window and it gave away so fast. All I hear now is the wind blow, riding shotgun through the past.”
Their next song included another instrumental break/jam, where Richard, Trevor and the rest again got to show off their musical prowess, and once it was finished Gordy exchanged the guitar he had for another one. He then pointed out that all the guitars weren’t theirs, and instead had been supplied by some “friends” for the day. “…I feel like I need to try a new one for every song…” he said, and he pretty much had been doing that, and to a lesser extent so had Ed. That led them to another song from “One Foot in the Ether” and one that a few fans had been shouting for periodically, which was “Look At Miss Ohio”. That deeper cut was another great moment of the epic show they were in the midst of, and after ending with some more fiery instrumental rock, they continued things nicely with “Unsleeping Eye”, another song they had a sort of a jam session during.
Before closing out this additional 49-minute long set, Ed made one final push for people to go buy some merch, telling everyone that they had all sorts of shirts over at their table. “…It’s almost Christmas anyway…” he said in his pitch, before they started what was their most electrifying song of the show, “I Ain’t Running”, which proved the five-piece outfit is as much a Rock ‘n’ Roll band as they are Americana or country.
It left the fans clamoring for more, but the band seemed done, and that was a great note to end on in my opinion. However, after my dad and I had left and drove by the patio, the crowd was again roaring as the band had evidently decided to do an encore.
Even having missed that last little bit, it was still an amazing show, and I dare say one of the best I’ve seen, certainly in awhile at least. Everyone’s musicianship is off the charts, having some serious chops, which is evident when seeing them live. While the fact that both Ed and Gordy are sensational singers allows them an interesting dynamic, being able to change things up with ease, and then you have their harmonies, which will knock you out.
They’re a band you should see at least once, and after one time, you’ll probably find yourself wanting to see them again. I know that’s the predicament I find myself in, especially after getting a taste of a full set. Speaking of that, I thought that was really cool, as well. They could have just ended things with that first set that was broadcasted. After all, they played all their big hits during that hour, and I doubt anyone would have blamed them if they had made that their show. It was almost like they did that other set because they wanted to play more just as much as the fans wanted to hear more, which resulted in a show longer than even many big name touring acts.
Point is, if you go see one of their shows, you’ll get your money’s worth.
Check out their TOUR PAGE for a list of their upcoming shows, and their next North Texas gigs will be on June 28th at the Magnolia Motor Lounge in Fort Worth. They’ll also be at Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton on July 17th and Ed and Gordy will be doing a acoustic show in Dallas at Poor David’s Pub on July 26th. They have plenty of other dates, too, though, scattered about the country. You can also find some free downloads from them HERE and HERE, and purchase their stuff HERE.
This was a great way to spend the latter part of the day, and who knows, maybe I’ll make another Shiner Sunday or two before summers end.
There was another fine night of local rock going on at the Curtain Club this night, featuring a truly stellar lineup of bands.
The first of those bands was Abandon City, whom I had been wanting to see for a little while now, but by the time I got there I had missed a little bit of their set.
The first song I heard from the trio was “For a Crown”, which comes from their self-titled debut record. It’s an intense rock song, with some dynamic beats supplied by drummer Kevin Geist, and said intensity was only magnified in the live setting, and while there were only a handful of people in the club at this time, they all were glued to the stage. If memory serves me correctly, it was bassist Chris Brockhan who sang that one, and that was one of the interesting things about the group, that they often traded off and the singing duties. Like on the next song, “Recall”, which guitarist Jeff Stark sang on.
Each one had a completely different and distinct voice, which gave the songs a change of pace without there being a big departure from their overall sound. Both could sing exceedingly well, however I thought they were at their best on the next song, which Jeff sang the majority of, but Chris chimed in at various points, harmonizing and creating a glorious and overwhelming sound. It was definitely something else, and they gave everyone another taste of it on their next song as well.
One of those previous songs they mentioned was a slightly newer song, and after doing one more number, they closed the show out with “Autophobia”, which overall came across as being the most solid song of their set.
All who saw Abandon City this night seemed pretty impressed, and that includes myself, who got even more of a show than I was expecting. Having listened to their music beforehand, I knew it would be good, but it translated even better live, and they’ve cooked up a killer rock sound, that sure, may not be anything new, but it works incredibly well for them and they pull it off excellently. Their live show was quite great to boot, and Kevin, Chris and Jeff can throw down, especially when neither of the latter two is having to sing.
They certainly made me into a full-fledged fan, and while Jeff informed me that they are going to be taking a little bit of time off to work on some new material, I look forward to their return to a stage. So, in the meantime, head over to iTUNES to pick up a copy of their full-length record, which consists of thirteen tracks and is well worth buying. Also, keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE for updates, like when they will have more shows.
Following them was the group Evenmark, who I had only seen once before, at the long since closed Skillman Street Pub, and that had been a few years ago. I remembered little about them, but since this was their CD release show I was looking forward to what they’d bring.
Their 41-minute long set was made up entirely of their newer material, and the hard-hitting “Paranoid” kicked things off and immersed the crowd in their slightly heavier rock sounds. Jack Fletcher then started them on their next song with a wicked little bass solo that begins “Blown”, and the band showed no sign of letting up, instead, things were only getting more explosive. Singer and rhythm guitarist Cody McCubbin announced the title of their next track, “Before too Late Arrives”, and then slowed things down a bit with “Revolution Within”, which may have been a little tamer, but was still filled with ringing guitar chords from Cody and lead guitarist Eric White, and pulsating beats supplied by drummer Yuri Torres and Jack.
“Leaving Evidence”, the lead track from the newly released “A Communication Disconnect”, provided another song for the guys to thrash about to, and “Fortune Teller” was another catchy number, being a highlight of their set. After “Save Yourself”, they did what Jack stated was his favorite song to do, and that was “Fallout”. Upon finishing it, Cody happened to mention that they had gotten busy earlier, so busy in fact they forgot their setlist. They must have rehearsed this a lot, though, because they did just fine without one, and were never seen asking each other what they were supposed to do next, and that led them to their final song of the night, “Ology”.
They put on a great show, far better than what I remembered them being and much more aggressive, too. I’d say they’ve definitely found their niche, and from the looks of it this night, they probably found it awhile ago. Also, they easily got the attention of everyone who was there, and never wavered, keeping everyone captivated throughout.
I know I’d like to see them again, and I’ll have to make a point to do just that.
You can find that latest record of the bands in iTUNES, and keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE for future show dates.
Up next was another band releasing a record, and that was Signs of Reason, another band I hadn’t seen in a little while, but instead of years this time could be measured in months.
For Signs of Reason, this night was all about the “Wake Me Up” EP, but they didn’t (and couldn’t) ignore their first EP, “One Bullet Away”, and lead guitarist Brandon Goforth got them started on the lead track from that album, “Adjust to Change”. Shortly after, drummer Michael Johnson, rhythm guitarist Chris Cole and bassist Randy Ashford joined in to flesh it out. “And take the time to adjust to what has become, don’t look forward and don’t look back…” sang front man Garrett Gale at the start of the dynamic opener, which later boasted a sweet little bass solo from Randy.
“The first woman to show her tits gets a free CD.” Garrett said to the crowd, making some banter (which was often repeated throughout this set) while his band mates wound things right into another song from that slightly older EP. It was another fan favorite (and my personal favorite of the bands) “Where Rockstars Go to Die”, a song that most musicians could probably relate to, since it deals with wanting to be successful and the fame and fortune that goes along with it, but never reaching that point. “…Does anyone have anybody you fucking hate or despise?” Garrett asked the fans after they finished the song. “If you don’t raise your hand, you’re lying.” He added, after a few hands had shot up in the air. That was the segue into “Choke”, one of their newer songs, and with it things were kicked back up a few notches. Mike delivered the beats at a rapid pace, which was definitely the backbone of the song, while Garrett belted out the angry chorus, “…I hope you go and choke on everything that you’ve become…”
Things only escalated further with “Back to Sleep”, a song where Brandon got to take the spotlight for a bit, shredding on his guitar for an awesome solo on what was one of the best songs of their show. After doing “Asshole”, which has more depth to it than you might guess, they did a song that was “about a date rape drug”. Well, at least that was what Garrett said before they started “The Thief”, another stellar track with a dazzling guitar solo from Brandon, whose fingers seemed to effortlessly dance across the guitars strings. Before the final song of their 35-minute set, Garrett stopped trying to get ant of the ladies to flash him, instead mentioning he had recently dropped his phone in whisky and had placed it in rice, asking if anyone else had done that. “It didn’t work.” Some yelled, before he got to the punch line of what ended up being a (good) joke. “It didn’t? It did for me, because it attracted some Asians who fixed it.” I had heard that before, but it was still funny. They then launched into their last song, which was the title track of this new release, “Wake Me Up”, which brought things to a great finish, and honestly, left me wanting more.
This was the best Signs of Reason show I’ve seen yet, and they are getting more cohesive with each show. Speaking of that, I believe this was the first time I’ve seen them with Randy on the bass, and he meshed well with them and had a good presence.
They’re a band that will definitely grow on you, and one you’ll most likely enjoy from the first song you listen to, especially if you like more radio friendly alternative rock.
They seem to play about once a month in different areas, so keep an eye on their REVERBNATION PAGE for future concert updates. While there, you can also download some of their older music for free. As for the new EP (and the rest of the first one) head over to iTUNES to purchase them.
There were still two bands left for the night, and the best truly was yet to come, with Daylight Industries being next up.
They opened with the lead track from their “Future of an Illusion” EP, “Something’s Wrong”, which was also the only track they did from that almost year old album, and it got them off to a robust start. Barry Townsend was often jumping about while slapping his bass, and during the halfway point of the song, while Keith Allen sang “And I’ve known it all along…”, drummer Stephen Smith rose from his seat behind the drums for a few seconds and continued to beat the cymbals. By the time they finished that song, the crowd seemed impressed, and that went for old fans and new spectators, who applauded the group. “Thank you, you didn’t do so bad yourselves…” Keith told the crowd, adding a good mix of humor to the show.
They then got into their newer material, beginning with “Junkie Logic”, which is much shorter in comparison to that five plus minute long song they started with, but no less intense, with Brandon Tyner letting loose some blistering riffs on his guitar. I believe it was “Aphasia” that followed it up, and afterwards Steve wound them into another heavy hitter, “Lesson Learned”. Their 32-minute long set continued with another jam, before they busted out “Wandering”, and its upbeat pace and raw rock sound it surely gave the audience an adrenaline boost, whether they needed one or not. “Faith Healer” did more or less the same and is one of their best new tracks, at least in my opinion, and it takes you for a ride. Upon finishing it, Keith told everyone they were going to bring free CD’s to give everyone, but the keyword there was “were”, as he admitted they had forgotten them. “Give yourselves a hand for making it…” he then said, thanking everyone for their attendance, then asked his band mates if this was the end. It was, and to close out their stellar performance they did “Sit In”, a song with some sweet bass riffs from Barry, lightning quick guitar notes played by Brandon, and towards the end of it, Steve again stood up from his kit during a brief instrumental pause before tearing back into the song to finish it off.
It was a phenomenal set, even better than the last show I had seen them do a little over a month before. They were just firing on all cylinders from the get go, and the further they progressed with things the tighter they managed to get (which is saying something). And these newer songs of theirs (which are still very new to me) are sensational, and I’m loving the direction they are taking their music in, making it more to the point and even more ferocious.
If you head over to their REVERBNATION PAGE you can keep up-to-date with their show calendar (none are scheduled at the moment) as well as get some free downloads of some live cuts of most of the songs they played this night. For their studio effort, go to iTUNES to buy it, and in the not too distant future (or at least by the year’s end) they should be releasing another record.
If I hadn’t known better I would have said there was no way that performance could be topped, but the final act of the night was The Virgin Wolves, and if any band could follow that up, it would be them.
It had been a little while since I saw this band, too. About five months to be precise, and at their CD release show last December there was one song absent that I was relieved to hear them open with now, and that was “Slick Shoes”. I was worried that with their new stuff that song may be on its way out of the live shows, but luckily that’s not the case, and it was an electric and vicious opener to an incredible set. Steve Phillips brought them right into their next song, “Crawl”, a where lead guitarist Chase Robbins started to do some singing. At times just adding some backing vocals, and others, like on the chorus, “…But if I’m so happy and you’re so sad, does it mean I love you or we’re through?”, he sang in unison with front woman Jaimeson Robbins, their voices intertwining exceedingly well and adding to the depth of the song.
Afterwards, they ran through most of the early to middle part of their full-length record “Pretty Evil Thing” in (mostly) subsequent order, next tackling “End Of The Line”, which is one of their best songs thus far, mainly because it’s so different from their other material. It still has the moments where rhythm guitarist Carson Coldiron, bassist Kristin Leigh and the other instrumentalists can rock out on, though. The at times in-your-face “What You Want To Hear” came next, and the end of it was then segued into their next tune with some soupy sounding chords, setting up “Lies”, another one of the many songs that Chase sang on here and there, and it times his voice prevailed as the dominant one.
It certainly hadn’t been dull, but at this point, in the homestretch of the show, they escalated things a great deal, having saved the best for last, and one of those “best” songs was “Crooked Smile”. It encompasses what the band is all about, which is raw, edgy Rock ‘n’ Roll, and things only got more edgy and even primal with “Bad”. “With her dirty little fingernails and her dark brown bloodshot eyes…” Jaimeson shouted on the chorus while roaming about the stage, while Kristin also helped out on singing the chorus. The remaining songs were a nonstop assault, beginning with the single from their newest album, “Black Sheep”, and near the start of the song Chase and Jaimeson stood back to back against each other. They then immediately ripped into “Oh, Sugar”, before ending their 38-minute long set with the most intense song of their set “Virtue And Vice”, which is a real beast of a song and allows the five-piece rock outfit to unleash one last burst of energy.
This night couldn’t have had a more perfect ending, and while there were just a handful of stragglers that remained at the Curtain Club, The Virgin Wolves didn’t let that hinder their performance, still being as outgoing as always.
If you want to see a band that truly embodies the rock spirit, than that band is The Virgin Wolves, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a band that puts more energy into their show and keeps things so raw.
For anyone in Oklahoma City, you can see them on July 13th at Leon’s Lounge, which is inside the Chameleon Room. And be sure to check out “Pretty Evil Thing” in iTUNES, ‘cause what you hear on the record is exactly what you get at a show.
This was a fantastic night of music, even better than what I expected it to be, and was just a killer bill from start to finish.
I was surprised this night when I arrived at one of Dallas’s best venues, the Granada Theater, this night. And it wasn’t just because of the line that stretched well outside the doors. It was also due to the age of the attendees, the majority of whom were minors, resulting in their hands being adorned with X’s. That made me feel like an old man at the show, which by the way, there were some elderly people seen about this night, too.
Age is simply a number, though, and the reason this largely young crowd had gathered at the Granada this night was to see Los Angeles’s own Best Coast, who was kicking off their latest tour this night, and the rabid, diehard fans were eager to see one of their favorite bands.
So eager in fact, that the Twitter board (where you tweet the Granada and then your tweet shows up on one of the projection screens) had numerous people saying things like they wished it was already nine so Best Coast would play. That couldn’t magically happen, though, and to get to the main course, first everyone had to witness another band from Los Angeles, The Lovely Bad Things.
The band was ready to go, but first they pointed out that this was their first ever show in Dallas, stating how glad they were to be here. They then launched into an aggressive, fast-paced 34-minute long set, which focused primarily on their new album “The Late Great Whatever”, and “Darth Lauren” opened up the show.
Their sound was a mix of punk rock with a surf-esque sound, and it was shown off quite well in that opener, which singer and guitarist Camron Ward sang, or rather slightly screamed, with a bit of anger mixed in to his voice. “…This song’s about people you hate…” Lauren Curtius told the crowd, setting up a song from 2012’s “New Ghost/Old Waves” EP, “I Just Want You to Go Away”. She did most of the singing on that tamer song (at least more tame by their standards), having a great voice, offering a stark contrast between in and Camrons’, which allowed them to keep things fresh.
Before their next song one of them made the remark that it was really hot in Texas, something I can’t deny, but that always makes me laugh, because almost every touring band mentions the heat here in the Lone Star State, and that’s something most Texans don’t even acknowledge unless it’s in the mid-90’s. They then did another newer tune, “Maybe I Know”, which was more the speed of their first song, and jam-packed full of rock in the little over two minutes it lasted, and boasted a tight rhythm section, which was currently made up of drummer Brayden Ward and bassist Tim Hatch.
“This next song’s called North Bend.” Camron told the crowd before starting what was a highlight of their set and saw him taking back the reins as lead singer. It was after that song when things got real interesting, though, and they totally switched things up. Lauren and Tim swapped instruments, leaving her with the bass, while Camron took over drum duties and Brayden stepped up to the stage left mic and put the other guitar to use. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band change things up that much, especially all at once, but it worked, as they ran through “You Done Messed Up”, I honestly thought Brayden seemed more at home as a guitarist instead of a drummer, while Camron did a nice job on the kit.
Lauren took back her guitar from Tim after that, and one of them mentioned that this next song was their oldest, kindly asking the audience not to judge if it sounded terrible. They also encouraged everyone to get into it and do some dancing. “…It’s not ‘Dancing optional” Tim said to everyone, “It’s dancing yes.” That got a laugh from the crowd and band alike, and once they started “Cult Life”, which definitely brought a West Coast surfer vibe to the Granada, there were a few people getting down to the song.
Upon finishing it, Tim and Camron swapped places in order to do “Fried Eyes”, and near the end of it, at the height of the track, both Camron and Brayden fell to their knees, shredding on their respective instruments, and that was certainly the most Rock ‘n’ Roll moment of not only their set, but also the whole night. Things only escalated with “Randell the Savage”, which was true punk rock that had a rather violent attitude about it.
They made one more big change, as Brayden returned to the drum kit, while Lauren was handed the bass again, while Camron did most of the singing on “Honeycomb Cocoon”. Tim then got the bass back for their final song, “Hear or Anywhere”, which Lauren first told everyone was a song about ADD. It was a dynamic tune an brought their song to an explosive end, especially for Tim, who was having such fun, he somewhat dived off the stage near the tail end of it, and was caught by the adoring crowd.
To say the bands first Dallas show was a success would be an understatement, and the people who had been wishing there was no opening band just an hour before, were now smitten with the band, again taking to Twitter to say how amazed they were by this band that was new to them.
It was an amazing show, filled with piss and vinegar as the band wildly thrashed about the stage on their quicker songs, and didn’t let up much on the slower ones, either. All four of them are great singers with very different sounding voices, allowing them to project several different moods on whomever happens to be in attendance at the time, and the harmonies they occasionally created were pretty killer, too.
My only complaint would be that Camron could work on his enunciation a bit, because often when he was singing, I had trouble deciphering the words that were coming out, only being able to understand every sixth one or so.
Aside from that, they were a phenomenal act, and while I still thought they were an odd choice to open for Best Coast, just because of the contrast in musical styles, it worked out well and gave the fans a taste of something different.
They have a couple shows coming up in California, one on July 27th at the Glass House in Pomona, the other at the El Rey in Los Angeles on August 18th. And to check out and purchase their music go to either iTUNES or BANDCAMP.
Over the next twenty plus minutes the fans packed in as tightly as possible, making personal space nonexistent, anxiously awaiting the bands arrival on stage.
Once the lights dimmed and the screen covering the stage began to retract upwards, there was a massive, deafening cheer. I half expected some dramatic entrance from the band, but there was nothing like that, instead, the four-piece band were in their spots and ready to go.
“My highs are high, my lows are low…” sang front woman and rhythm guitarist Bethany Cosentino, and with that opening line from “Goodbye” the crowd fell silent and gave the band their full attention, and nearly everyone was passionately singing right along with Bethany. They immediately moved on to the title track of their 2010 album “Crazy for You”, which was laced with hooks, then she led them directly into the subsequent song from that record, “The End”.
It took roughly five minutes to play those three songs, and the shortness of their music made sure they could fit in a multifold of songs during their 59-minutes on stage.
There was little banter done this night, but that’s not to say Bethany ignored her adoring fans, and at this point she mentioned this was the fourth time they had played the Granada, even going as far as to say it is one of their favorite spots to play. While she was saying that, the bass player placed that instrument on the rack, trading it out for a guitar in order to do the dreamy sounding “Summer Mood”.
They may have released a new album just last year, but you wouldn’t have known it thus far, since they had only played stuff from their first record. But that was about to change as the drummer segued them into a track from “The Only Place”, “Last Year”, which the fans of course turned into another sing-along. Upon finishing it, they took another little timeout, and Bethany said something she admittedly said she thinks she says at every show they do in the state. “…Texas is my favorite state besides California…” she stated, seeming to genuinely mean it and not just saying it to get a reaction from everybody. With that said, however, it only made sense to do a song about the bands home state “The Only Place”. It’s one of the most surf style sounding songs they have and with both the music and the lyrics it does an excellent job of evoking the stereotypical carefree West Coast attitude, particularly on the chorus, “…Why would you live anywhere else? We’ve got the ocean, got the babes, got the sun, we’ve got the waves. This is the only place for me.”
By this time it was abundantly clear that the music was what they were all about, and for good reason, since that is what they excel at, and now continued by slowing things down with “No One Like You”. By this time, the other musician had been using his bass for several songs, and now traded with Bethany, taking her guitar. He then started them off on another slower number, “How They Want Me to Be”, and was soon joined by lead guitarist Bobb Bruno and the rest. It may not have been as upbeat as most of their other material, but there was a little more of an emotional depth to it, making it seem incredibly personal.
What happened next was also slightly personal, and once the song was over Bethany suddenly asked something to the effect of what stinks, then lifted her left arm and took a whiff, quickly deducing it was she who smelled. Bob then made his way towards center stage and she quickly told him not to come smell of her. That wasn’t his intention, and instead he made a remark which she then repeated so the audience could hear it. She then asked everyone if it was alright if they did a new song, which everyone seemed down with. The song was “Fear My Identity”, which is more along the lines of their early sound, though it came across as sounding more mature and solid, seeming like proof that some of Best Coast’s best stuff has yet to be written.
Things started getting to get more upbeat and poppy with that last song, which is definitely the bands area of expertise, and at this point they got back to doing some songs like that with the “When the Sun Don’t Shine”, and afterwards they launched right into “Our Deal”. A somewhat surprising highlight of their set was “Let’s Go Home”, which is really good on the album, but in the live environment was transformed into something else entirely. “Who Have I Become” was a nice one to follow it up with, and this other newer song left most of the crowd just admiring it and soaking in what should become a future staple, since they had yet to commit the lyrics to memory.
Now, as they neared the end of their performance, they pulled out a few songs that Bethany pointed out they hadn’t played in a little while, and with “Honey” she asked everyone to forgive any mistakes that might occur. The rhythm heavy song seemed to go off without a hitch, and before doing their next song, which was another that didn’t require the use of the bass, Bethany remarked that she was sweaty. “AND SEXY!” yelled a guy in the audience, a comment she barely acknowledged, and pointed at Bob saying, “He’s the sexy one.” They then tackled “I Want To”, a song that contained what was arguably the best part of the set, as Bethany held the final word of the last “…And I miss you so much.” I’m surprised she didn’t run out of air as she stretched out the word “much” as much as she possible could, and if there were still any doubters, that moment was proof that she is a vocal powerhouse, which was only further proven once the song exploded into a driven pop number.
Their final few songs were a nonstop onslaught, from “Something in the Way” to “When I’m With You”, two songs that capture the bands lo-fi sound very well on the recordings, but live there’s a whole different aura to them. “…I Don’t even know if I’ll remember all the words to this next song…” Bethany told the fans, noting it was another they hadn’t played live in quite awhile, then they busted into “Each and Every Day”, which seemed to played a little faster than what you hear on “Crazy for You” and that was part of what made it so good this night, and brought their set to an epic finish.
That of course wasn’t the end though, despite the fact that some people went ahead and bolted for the doors, but only a small handful did that.
It took just a couple minutes, but they returned to the stage and Bethany told everyone this was normally the part of the show she would do some pushups. “…But I’m wearing a dress.” She added, which was her reason to not do them this night. She told everyone to just imagine the worst pushup ever done and that was her, saying, “I’m no Gwen Stefani.”
“Do You Love Me Like You Used to?” kicked off the encore portion of the show, and capping off the additional 6-minute long set was their breakout single about pining over someone, “Boyfriend”, during which Bobb dropped to his knees at one point, proceeding to tear it up on his guitar.
Thus ended a truly spectacular show, and rather early, too, as it wasn’t even quite a quarter after ten.
As many positive things that I’ve heard about Best Coast, I’ve also probably heard just as much negative stuff, from other blogs labeling the subject matter of the songs as generic, to saying their hipster band.
Sure, there were more than a few hipsters at the Granada this night, but I wasn’t one of them. I was there because in listening to their music, it caught my ear and I wanted to see what they were like live. And sure, the songs are almost exclusively about love (either being in it or falling out of it), but what band doesn’t write songs about that, and besides, while playing them this night, there was a certain emotional depth added to each of them, and rather than just songs they acted as a window into Bethany’s personal life.
As for their live show, I thought it was superb. The songs sound more fleshed out live than on the albums, and honestly, those recordings don’t do justice to what you get at a show. The drummer and bass player meshed well with them, but took more of a backseat to, say, Bobb, who could go from meticulously plucking the strings of his axe to shredding in an instant. Still, Bethany managed to be the most entrancing member of the group, and fittingly so. She said herself that she was “no Gwen Stefani”, but in her own right she’s every bit as good and there’s no denying that she is a true vocal dynamo.
The band has several shows booked around the U.S. stretching into September, and for their full calendar go HERE. If they’re coming to a town near you, go see ‘em, and also be sure to check out their music in iTUNES.
As I left Dallas’s best premier venue and walked to the parking lot behind it, there was already a throng of people surrounding the stage door, waiting for the band to make an appearance in hopes of meeting them and having them sign some merch. That’s more than just dedication on those fans parts, that’s absolute love.
The bands of the Dallas/Fort Worth music scene have been banding together a lot lately for various causes, from the fertilizer plant explosion that destroyed the town of West, to the tornado that ripped through Moore, Oklahoma, which is fantastic. It’s great to see people come together for stuff like that, but it’s even better to see bands unite for a cause that isn’t also a major news story, and that’s what was going on this day before Memorial Day.
This night was in support of a 7-year-old boy, Micah Creed, who has a rare brain tumor, with the proceeds of this night going to benefit his family to help with the expenses incurred by his treatments.
Over a dozen bands had been assembled to play three clubs, The Curtain Club, the Liquid Lounge, which hosted several acoustic artists, and the Boiler Room.
The Curtain Club was my first stop of the night, where Mara Conflict was getting ready to rock the stage, and it had been a few years since I had last seen them.
Their 39-minute long set began with a sample track, a speech rather. It was the “Mad as Hell” speech from the 1976 film Network, making them one of a few bands I’ve seen recently who have used that speech at some point in their show. Perhaps that says something about the state of our country right now.
The five-piece then ripped into their first song, and they were a lot more hard rock than what I remembered, especially with these first couple of songs, where front man Joshua often let out some brutal screams, something I’m not always a fan of, but I didn’t mind it.
“How the fuck are y’all doing?!” he asked the handful of people after finishing their second song. He then went on to say they have been working on some new stuff and had with them a demo they would be handing out later with two new songs, and the next one was one it. It was “Broad Brush”, which in my opinion was their best song of the night. It’s borderline metal, with Dylan rapidly firing off the beats from his drum kit, while Ben and Jarrod roamed about the stage, quickly hitting the strings of their guitars, giving an energetic performance to accompany this killer song.
They moved on to what I assume is another newer one, “You Sleep”, then did another track, which had a very lengthy instrumental part, allowing bassist Charlie, Dylan, Jarrod and Ben to show their prowess as both musicians and performers. They lightened things up ever so slightly with “Closure”, which didn’t seem to have quite as much screaming as their previous songs and made clear what a great singer Joshua is, and his voice has got a nice range to it. Make no mistake, though, this was still a song you could headbang to. They cranked out one more before ending with a track from their self-titled EP released in 2009, “The Fault is Mine”, which gave a strong finish to their set.
It was a good show, and despite the lack of fans they still hold back, and gave it their all. They’re an awesome band, and I had forgotten how entertaining their stuff is, especially their new songs, and if you’re a fan of hard rock music, than you definitely need to give Mara Conflict a listen.
You can buy their three song EP in iTUNES and they do have another show lined up for June 30th at Wit’s End in Dallas.
As soon as they finished I headed over to The Boiler Room to see what was going on there.
A band by the name of As Above, So Below was rocking out, a little ways into their set, and for a Sunday night they were playing to a very sizable crowd. They definitely had the largest draw out of any of the bands that I saw.
The group was fronted by Jacob Pierce, perhaps best known from the defunct band Faint the Fiction, who made a name for themselves, even if it was mainly just here in the D/FW music scene.
He and the rest of his band mates, bassist Johnny Reeves, guitarist Max and drummer Joey Payow were putting on a real performance, which was enhanced by the lights they had brought with them, which set up the amps as they shone all over the stage. “This next song’s called Paint it Red” Jacob told the audience, who was soaking in every little detail of the show. They followed it with the single from their upcoming debut EP “Built to Fail” as well as a few other songs, one of which was a cover, before ending with “Truth be Told”.
Their music was heavy and loud, with a bit of a sharpness to it, which alone was more than enough to get people engaged, but the stellar performance made sure they held everyone’s undivided attention.
That’s what really captivated me, the primal attitude they had towards the show, giving it their all and letting it be very raw and real. Oh, this also happened to be their first ever live show, and they managed to make a big impression on people, both old and new fans alike, and as soon as they finished almost everyone in the club was talking about what they had just seen.
It may be a little different from what I typically like, but they instantly made me into a fan, and I look forward to seeing them again, and many other times at that.
They have a show coming up at Trees in Dallas on June 22nd and from the way they talked this night, their debut album should be out in the near future (say a few months from now) so stay tuned for that as well.
I stuck around for the next band, which happened to be Red Angel Theory, whom I had last seen on this same stage about a month and a half prior to this.
One of their newer tracks, “Psycho”, got their show going, right after an intro song played, and they tore into the song with a fury, in particular Phil Sahs who thrashed about and rocked out on his bass, and later in the song guitarist Brandon Deaton let loose some sweet riffs on his axe. Next they got into their older, fan favorite stuff with the heavy “It Often Lies”, which was immediately followed by “Shattered”. They experienced some technical difficulties on that one, and while drummer Nick Sarabia was singing the backing vocals throughout the song, his voice went unheard by the crowd. He didn’t stop singing, though, but without his voice the song lacked the fierce punch it usually has. That’s not to say it was a disaster either, though, as Monica Koohi can muster an equally as vicious sound to her voice, so it still sounded great, even if it was silent for a second or two here and there.
Afterwards, they wound things into another new song, before doing the song I was most hoping to hear before heading back to the other venue. That song was “Inception”, which Monica set up by saying it was “…About starting over and new beginnings…” That masterpiece song was a definite highlight of their set, and I stuck around for the one after it, which happened to be another newer one, “Suffocate”, during which Brandon owned a brief guitar solo.
It’s not that I didn’t want to see the rest of their set, but I’ve seen Red Angel Theory more than a few times, and I couldn’t say that about the other band.
As for their set night, sure there was a little technical hiccup, but aside from that it was great, especially in terms of energy. They seemed like a completely different band than the one I had just last month, appearing more dedicated than ever, like they were on a mission and they weren’t going to stray from it. Presumably that mission was to put on as spectacular a show as possible, and they accomplished just that.
You can find their three song EP in iTUNES and they do have a few shows coming up over the next months, beginning with June 29th at Hailey’s in Denton. On July 12th they’ll be at the Curtain Club in Dallas and then on August 3rd they’ll be in Greenville, TX at Hartline’s.
I ducked out and headed back to the Curtain Club. Hazeland was getting ready to rock the joint, and I had been wanting to see them for months now but just hadn’t been able to. Actually, I had seen them once before with their original vocalist, and with all the screaming they were too hardcore for my musical tastes, but they had a new singer now and what I had heard online I really liked.
The band began right about the time I got over there
The rhythm section of bassist Mike Hayes and drummer Clay Wise got them going on their first number, “Look Here”, which was made to be an opener. “Hey, hey, hey turn on the gas and kick a little ass…” sang front man Brad Amos on the chorus, before formerly introducing each member during the instrumental break, which was ruled by Robert “Ozz” Veliz, who did a wicked guitar solo. They followed it with another track from their newest EP, the rhythmic “Hustle”, which had Mike and Brad singing most of the song in unison, their voices combining together to make a very interesting sound, and a fantastic one at that. And when he wasn’t singing, Brad was often seen jumping about center stage, obviously getting into the music they were making.
The next song they did was a new one, a brand new one, and Brad mentioned they would soon be heading into the studio to work on a new record due out in the fall, and this song “Control” would be on it. I found it to be one of the best songs of their set, maybe even the best, and it was the furthest away from their old material, and there was even a noticeable difference between it and the bands current music, with “Control” sounding much more solid. It wasn’t all new music, though, and next they did the slightly older “Killer of the Year”, which was a very tune, both in terms of the song and performance that went along with it, making it easy to get into.
Upon finishing it then Ozz started having some problems with his gear, when one of his pedals messed up, then a sample track began to inexplicably play, causing all four of them to look around wondering what was going on. That got resolved (well, somewhat) quickly, and they carried on with their next song, a track from 2011’s “Carnival of Dreams” record “Backstabber”. It did sound better with Brad at the helm, and I liked the funkiness of the first half of it, before it turned into a full-blown rock song near the end with dazzling guitar riffs, some pulsating bass lines and thunderous drumbeats.
They had saved the best for last, and “Empty” started to close out their set. “You never loved me, you used me like a toy… but I won’t be fooled again, I know it’s just all one big empty LIE!” Brad sang on the songs bridge, or rather spoke part of before belting out that last line. That’s definitely the best song in their arsenal, but they weren’t quite done just yet, closing out their 28-minute long set with a cover song that had reggae vibe to it, and they owned it.
I hate that it took over six months for me to see the band with their new lineup, but it was worth the wait, and they put on a great show.
There was a bit of theatrics to their show, with Ozz wearing a hockey mask of sorts, though it was painted blue with some black mixed in on it making a very cool pattern that was very attention getting. Then you had Mike, who looked kind of Slash-esque with the hat he sported, but not in a copycat sort of way.
All around I really enjoyed it, Brad’s a great singer, it was good seeing Clay back on the drums, even though he has been with the band for a few months now, and they all made for a very entertaining show. That’s all the more reason I’m glad I was able to see this show, because this would be the final time that Brad and Ozz would perform live with Hazeland, and one short week later they both announced that they had resigned from the group, and with Ozz gone that makes Mike the only original member left.
Hazeland shows no signs of stopping, still going into the studio to record, and it will be interesting to see how the reforming process goes. Best of luck to everybody involved, both current and now former members. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for everybody.
If you’d like to purchase their music, you can find both records in their store on REVERBNATION. They also have a show scheduled for July 12th back here at the Curtain Club, but I guess that could all depend on if they can solidify a new lineup by then or not.
Part of wished they had played a little longer, but on the flip side I was alright with the shorter set, because when they finished I hightailed it over to the Boiler Room to see The Circle.
I think they were still on their first song when I walked in, and being the headliner here at the Boiler Room coupled with the fact that it was still so early (they started around 11:30) that afforded them a rare opportunity to play as long as they wanted to.
After their first song (or at least the first one I caught) the band wound things right into their next song, but first singer Don Mills raised a toast to all bands that played this night, commending them for coming together in support of this worthy cause. They then tackled one of my favorite songs of theirs “406”, which is raw and brutal in the best possible way with Don screaming on some parts of the track and singing on others, like the chorus, “Can you bring me back to life, ‘cause I’ve been dead for so long…”. The song didn’t go off without a hitch, and not too far into it Kenneth Henrichs started experiencing some trouble with his bass.
To kill some time Don said he had tried to see all of the bands that played, but pointed out there was no way anyone could and again praised everyone who partook in the event, from the organizers to the bands and of course the fans for coming out. The bass still wasn’t up and running, but they weren’t going to wait around anymore, and Don plainly pointed out they weren’t the first band to ever have something like this happen, and sometimes all you can do is push on. They did just that, and while “Beggars Can’t be Choosers” lacked the full rhythm section, Marc Berry was able to compensate for it with his massive drum kit, and guitarists Craig Nelson and Alan Sauls didn’t seem affected by it, still rocking out on their axes.
Kenneth rejoined the band sometime on their next song, and to solve the problem„ the bassist from Enamored (who played earlier) set up his rig and let Kenneth use it. He seemed to be making up for last time, instantly getting into the song and just dominating things as he slapped the strings of his bass. The gritty “I Am” came next, and around the final chorus Don asked everyone to give them a thumbs up or thumbs down to let them know if it was good or not. “I hope you liked it.” He said, adding it would be one of the cuts on their debut EP. They kept things moving with a couple more songs, and after the first one Alan rolled them right into the next with some great guitar chords, while Don counted them in to it.
“Skeptical” was another personal highlight of mine, and by this time they were all operating in perfect synch with one another, becoming a true force to be reckoned with. After finishing it, Don glanced at his watch to check the time, then remarked, “I don’t know why I keep looking at my watch, it’s dead.” That led them into another song, during which Alan broke a string on his guitar, though he continued to play it, switching to another one before doing “My Trip to the Desert Sucked”. Near the start of it Craig leapt into the air at the same time Marc pounded out a beat on his drums, which was pretty cool to see. Then at other times, mainly on the chorus, Kenneth added some backing vocals to the song with his loud, vicious scream, complementing Dons’ voice nicely.
They dusted off one of their oldest songs, “Somewhere”, and later in the song Craig owned it, shredding on his guitar during his little solo. That led them to their final song of the night, which was of course their current single, “Sleep On It”. It has something different than any of their other songs, making it standout even more than their other stuff already does, and was (and is) the perfect way to end their set. Before getting to the bridge, Don brought Kenneth’s nephew, Tyler, to the stage and the young kid helped in the singing/screaming, and did a great job.
That seemed like the end, but the final notes had barely finished resonating when someone shouted for one more, then the sound guy joined in, in egging the band on for one more. Don told everyone there was one song they had decided to cut from the set this night, and that ended up working out rather well, because they were now able to do it for the encore of their nearly hour long set.
The set was one of the best I’ve seen them do, even with the small technical issues, and they’re clicking better now then even, at least out of the year that I’ve been seeing them. They’re definitely improving with each show, and then I think their time in the studio has helped them excel even further. So, if you want to see an amazing live show from a band that writes killer music, then go see The Circle. You’ll be glad you did.
Head over to their REVERBNATION PAGE to download some live cuts of their songs, and buy “Sleep On it” in iTUNES for a mere $.99. Hopefully that will hold you over until their EP is released. Also, they have a show coming up on July 12th in Dallas, at, you guessed it, The Curtain Club.
They were the perfect end to what had been an excellent rock show, and I enjoyed seeing a band I was unfamiliar with, a few I was but can never see enough, and then one I had been wanting to see for some time. It was a fantastic night, and it was great seeing people come out to support such a worthy cause.
The Levitt Pavilion. I had heard of it before, probably around this last year, but I had never been there.
What is the Levitt Pavilion? It’s an outdoor concert venue located in downtown Arlington. It’s also a park that takes up a whole city block, with the massive stage located on the East end of it, and they bring all sorts of bands in to play the stage, from local and regional bands that frequent the clubs of the D/FW area, to bigger national touring acts, such as the headliner this night.
The concert season at the venue had just kicked off the night before, and this night there were two openers on the bill, the first of whom I missed completely, while the other was Calhoun.
I had seen the band once before, a few years ago, and didn’t really care for them much, but I was certainly up for giving them another chance.
I only caught their last 20-minutes or so, but I must say I enjoyed their music. I don’t remember much about them from that first occasion, but I think they’ve changed their sound up a little since then, and it works well for them. I really enjoyed it, and wouldn’t mind seeing them again, and getting the experience of a full set.
After them was the headliner, The Polyphonic Spree, who began their set a little after 8:30, but not before some of the workers at the Levitt name dropped the sponsors and also encouraged everyone to donate some money when they came around collecting it, reminding everyone that while the concerts are free to attend, they aren’t free to put on.
It had been two weeks to the day (and almost even to the exact time) since I first experienced The Polyphonic Spree live, and after seeing they were doing this show, how could I pass it up, especially at the low cost of free?
The show this night was very similar to that other one, including the beginning, where a large banner stretched across the stage, covering all of the band members, while the nineteen-piece band/choir proceeded to play a light piece.
As that was going on, the twentieth member, singer Tim DeLaughter, began to use some spray paint on the banner, having to write backwards so it would be readable by the audience. The message this night was different, reading, “This nite is for you”. He then grabbed a pair of scissors, cutting through it, but not in a straight line, cutting off small pieces of it and throwing them out the fans, before finally cutting all the way through it, and as the banner dropped to reveal the band, the music rose to its height.
Suddenly, it stopped, and as the instruments fell silent, the band froze, not even moving a muscle for a few seconds, before diving back into the instrumental track, which they eventually wound into their first song, the vibrant, upbeat “Section 22 (Running Away)”. The six-piece female choir, the guitar and drums were on full display on that song (among other instruments) as Tim bounced about the stage, singing in his cheery voice.
Upon finishing it, he talked about having “weathered the storm”, as it had rained late in the afternoon, and thanked everyone for sticking around. “…I see a lot of you who were out here earlier…” he said, then basically promised to make this a night that wouldn’t soon be forgotten. I think they next did “Section 7 (Hanging Around the Day Part 2)”, after which Tim again expressed his excitement about the night, saying it was “…Gonna be a hootenanny tonight.” His voice acquired a real southern drawl when he said that, sounding more country than he really is, or at least acts. They next did a track from the “Together We’re Heavy” album “ Section 14 (Two Thousand Places)”. It was a highlight of their set, as Tim marched about the stage giving everyone what could be considered some words of advice, crooning “…You gotta be good, you gotta be strong, you gotta be two thousand places at once…”.
The energetic front man conducted his band at the start of their next song, thrusting one of his arms out in the air and as he did so, the cello player, violinist and multiple other musicians plucked and or struck a string on their instrument. That went on for quite a few times, and there was only once where the band jumped the gun and struck their instruments ahead of his cue. Like I said, this show was similar to the one I had seen a few weeks prior, that includes the setlist, which wasn’t a bad thing, and I was getting pretty excited at this point knowing what was coming next. The band soon tore right off into “Section 23 (Get Up and Go)”, with Tim singing the first line of this amazing rock song, “You’re satellite cover’s blown…”
The crowd was diverse, with people coming from all walks of life, and if any them hadn’t been feeling the band yet, then that song surely did the trick, because it’s hard not to be reeled in by its catchiness. “…Did y’all know it’s been seven years since our last record…” Tim said to the audience, seeming to be in a state of disbelief about that himself. He mentioned that, that will soon be changing when their new record comes out on August 6th, and that set up a new song from it, “Hold Yourself Up”, which I foresee as being my favorite track from the forthcoming record. It’s classic Polyphonic Spree, mining the same vein as many of the songs they performed this night, and has what I think is a wonderful line, “…She’s got roller coaster eyes…”, which is also periodically sung by the choir, all whom harmonize on it.
They were definitely on a roll, and after doing one of their new songs, Tim told everyone to store the next one away in their mind. “…This is for you Arlington, you won’t forget it!” he exclaimed, as the band created the gorgeous textures that make up their medley of The Who music, first doing a bit of “See Me, Feel Me”, which was slower, then stepped it up as they suddenly did a bit of the true classic, “Pinball Wizard”. Tim wasn’t lying, that really was a moment worth filing away in your mind. They didn’t let up either, patching things seamlessly into “Section 11 (We Sound Amazed)”, which they then eventually bridged into “Section 2 (It’s the Sun)”, doing it all so flawlessly that you might have thought it was one massive long song if you were unfamiliar with their music.
They had one last new offering for everyone and that was “You Don’t Know Me”, another fantastic song that elevated the mood by sending the message that you can’t let anyone bring you down. “…This is our night!” Tim excitedly said when he addressed the crowd after that song, mentioning that everyone had “shared a moment” from that little rainstorm earlier, adding that everybody was now connected for having stuck it out, and while there set was winding down, they still had quite a bit left to do. One of those still left in the chamber was big choir and sing along number “Section 8 (Soldier Girl)”.
Afterwards, Tim tried to evoke more of the raw Rock ‘n’ Roll spirit from everybody, asking, “Can I get a hell yeah?!” There was an audible response of that, though he also got something unexpected which he called attention to, and that was a peace sign. “…Only at a Polyphonic Spree…” he said laughing, truly loving it. The laughs weren’t over yet, though, and out of nowhere Tim suddenly began singing the theme song to the old children’s show The New Zoo Review, humming over the parts he couldn’t remember, but that was only a few words. It was completely random and had more than a few people cracking up.
“This song’s called Tripping Daisy!” he shouted, throwing in a reference to his legendary Dallas based rock band, then pointed out they didn’t have a song by that name. “We do have one called Light and Day, though.” He added, leading them into the dynamic “Section 9 (Light and Day - Reach for the Sun)”. That same word could also be used to describe the performance that went along with that spectacular song, which would have been a fine way to end the show, but they still had a little left in the tank. Tim again began a conversation with the crowd, speaking in his southern voice, finally saying, “…I’m sorry, the country comes out when I get excited…”. He had reason to be excited, as he spoke about Tripping Daisy, mentioning there’s not a day of his life where he doesn’t think about that band. I knew what was coming next, though frankly I hadn’t been expecting it to happen, despite wanting to.
At that other show of theirs I caught they had dusted off a Tripping Daisy song, and now they were going to do it again. “My Umbrella”, which sounded like a true rock song, even with instruments like a harp, French horn and an array of other instruments being played, and that track brought their 70-minute long set to an astounding end.
That could have been a fitting end to the night, however the stage lights stayed on, turning a nice shade of blue, giving the impression that there would be more. Sure enough, they weren’t quite done yet, and all twenty members soon walked back out on stage and resumed their posts for the 13-minute long encore.
They kicked it off with the bright “Section 12 (Hold Me Now)”, which is another personal favorite of mine, and I was ecstatic to hear them do it live. There next and final song was another cover, and before starting it Tim mentioned it was by a band that really influenced him in his younger days. “…No, it’s not Soundgarden…” he said, though he professed his love for that band, too. He built up some suspense as to what it might be, finally dropping the band name Nirvana, which the crowd seemed pretty excited about.
The song was “Lithium”, and they did a killer rendition of it, putting a different twist on it, yet still keeping it fairly close to form. They all made sure to give it their all, making one final push, and the harp player even picked up his harp near the end of the song, holding it out over the crowd, a move that amazed me.
That was the end of the show, but as the massive group huddled around one another to show their appreciation to everyone, Tim started into one final speech, thanking everyone for coming out and being a part of the night, sounding absolutely sincere about it.
It was a stunning performance they delivered, and while not everyone stuck around for the whole thing, they did all seem thoroughly captivated by it while they were there. Bear in mind that does include all age ranges, from some preteens to even a few people who appeared to be in their seventies, and everything in between. That just goes to show that the music that The Polyphonic Spree makes and the lively, high-energy show they put on don’t have a targeted age range, rather, it can and does appeal to everybody.
The show was just as much of a spectacle as it was the first time I saw them, and while the entire band will dazzle you, just in the way that such an array of instruments are able to fit together sound-wise and create such rock sound. However, it definitely is Tim DeLaughter that will capture and hold your attention more than anyone, and this night he was constantly moving around the stage, often running, and mingling with his band mates, or looking out at the audience and doing everything he could to make sure the people were fully enthralled by the show.
They seemed like they were, and I can’t imagine a single person left here disappointed this night.
Be sure to check out the bands TOUR DATES, of which they have some around the U.S. and even various parts of the world. Also, head over to their store in iTUNES to find their older records, and mark your calendars for August 6th, when the band will release “Yes, It’s True”, their first original album in seven years. And do be sure to come out to the Granada Theater in Dallas on August 9th for the bands official hometown CD release show.
As for the Levitt Pavilion, it’s a wonderful venue and I love what they’re doing, not only by putting on free concerts, but there making a town that isn’t a real destination for live music (at least not like Fort Worth and Dallas are) into one, even if it is for a few months out of the year. Actually, a lot of other cities in the D/FW metroplex could take a cue from them in my opinion. For example, I know Plano has a venue similar to this, but as far as I know it’s barely used, and I’m sure there are other cities that are the same way, yet here’s Arlington, one-upping everybody else.
They have a lot of great acts coming through the Levitt, and they are as follows:
June 19th – The Lone Star Circus
June 20th - Chubby Carrier
June 21st – Sara Hickman
June 22nd – The Light Crust Doughboys
June 23rd – Snarky Puppy
June 26th – Vocal Trash
June 27th – Carabali
June 28th – Monte Montgomery
June 29th – Jason Eady
June 30th – Billy Joe Shaver
July 3rd – Atlanta Rhythm Section
July 5th – Del Castillo
July 6th – The Quebe Sisters Band
July 7th – Terry Hendrix & Lloyd Maines
July 11th – Girl in a Coma
July 12th – The O’s
July 13th – Ruthie Foster
July 14th – Radney Foster
Those above concerts are all free to attend, then there will be one they charge for on September 14th which will feature Foreigner. So, go check out one or several of those, and starting in late August they will also have another concert season starting up.
Great night, and best of all it was over with early.
The House of Blues was hosting another one of their Dallas Rocks! concert series, and this one seemed to come together rather last minute. But when a show is free (if you get tickets from the bands in advance), it doesn’t matter how last minute it is, and even if does happen to be at the start of a holiday weekend, people are going to show up.
The first of the five bands was the Fort Worth based Animal Spirit, who did the shortest set of the night, clocking in at 22-minutes.
“We’re here to remind you that your beautiful and that you matter and that we can spread love through music!” said bassist Joe Prankster after the band took the stage. It was quite the statement to begin a show, and definitely got your attention, even if there were only several handfuls of people scattered about the venue this early on.
During their short time on stage they played a few tracks that will presumably be on their debut record due out this year, and guitarist Andrew Stroheker did most of the singing on their first song, though he was occasionally aided by front woman Sam Wuehermann . With some riffs on the guitar, Andrew wound them right into their next song, after which they did a new single of theirs. “This song’s called House on a Hill.” Joe said, viciously slapping his as they started up the song.
If I’d heard the song before, I didn’t recall it, but it certainly left an impression on me this night. It was another song that was co-sung, though the best part of it was the lengthy instrumental portions. Drummer Parker Anderson, Andrew and Joe rocked out on their instruments, all the while Sam was kind of dancing along to the music and shaking a tambourine. It’s a very well written song, in every aspect, and it’s guaranteed to get your attention.
I think they did one more after that, and then got to what is probably their lead single, the highly original “The Planets a Lie”, another song that finds both Sam and Andrew singing together, though not quite harmonizing, and each of their distinctive voices mesh well together. And that was that.
Their set seemed to pass by too quickly, but so long as you’re enjoying a show it doesn’t matter how fast it goes by, I guess.
They are a rock group, but they are very creative with their music, and if you see them there will be at least one song they do that’s sounds unlike anything you’ve heard before. This was the third time I’ve seen them, and they are growing on me more and more each time, and you should check them out while they are still a relatively new band.
Keep an eye on their CALENDAR for upcoming concert announcements, as well as their FACCEBOOK PAGE for any info in general, like the progress of their record. In the meantime, head over to their BANDCAMP PAGE to download their single of “House On a Hill” for free.
It wasn’t even 8:30 and the first act was already done and the next band was getting setup, and around 8:45 the next band was ready to go, and that was Denton’s The Gypsy Bravado.
Lou Anderson pounded away at his drum kit, kicking off the first of many newer songs they did this night, “Make a Man”. “…Did you feel it, tell me did you feel it?” Mo Myles belted, while banging away on his keyboard. That powerful rock number was more than enough to instantly reel in the ever growing audience, and in my opinion it was one of the best songs of their set.
To make sure everyone was on the hook, Lou swiftly wound them into the lead track from their “Through the Rabbit Hole” EP, “Swagger”. There was even more of a Southern Rock vibe on that one, complete with some soulful and bluesy sounding guitar chords courtesy of Shawn Bratton, and both he and Mo handled the singing of that track. That’s the thing about this band, they have two incredibly capable singers, and even bassist Jeff Dacus throws his voice in from time to time, making some solid three-part harmonies. That was a nice warm-up for their next song, another new one from their forthcoming record, which at one point they mentioned would be out soon. The next number was called “Into the River”, and it had what seemed like an even longer instrumental break then their previous song, where the four instruments wove together harmoniously, and it was set off with fiery blues solo from Shawn.
They kept the music coming, going straight into “Mountaintops”, another track that Mo did the singing on, and during it Shawn got to rocking perhaps a little too hard, breaking one of strings, and upon finishing the song he simply switched to another guitar. “This song’s called Dreams!” shouted Jeff, setting up another song from their debut EP, which is also called “(Through The Rabbit Hole)”. That was one of their longest songs of the night (clocking in at nearly seven minutes on the album), but then again, most of their songs are lengthy, being at least close to six minutes, if not over. Anyway, on that song, almost all of them had their chance to shine, from a drum solo to a keyboard and guitar solo, while Jeff played some strong bass notes while he thrashed around to the music.
The got back to the newer stuff with “Josephine”, and before starting it Mo said, “I guess you could say it’s kind of about animal instinct?“, phrasing it more as a question as he glanced at his band mates to make sure that was an accurate description. They agreed. Shawn took back over vocal duties on that, and Jeff finally got a true solo, throwing down on his bass. To close out their 50-minute long set, they did a favorite from the “Through the Rabbit Hole” EP, “Dillinger (Rebel Son)”. At one point during it, almost as if to make sure they would leave an impression on all their potential new fans, Lou stood up from his stool for a few moments, still playing some beats on his kit, before sitting back down. During their instrumental jam, Shawn again broke a string on his axe, which he quickly fixed by getting yet another replacement, and they finished in a very strong fashion.
I had only seen them once before, at least recently, and while they were good then, you could tell they brought their A-game here at the House of Blues. They were on fire, bolting right out of the gate, and with each song they just became more of an unstoppable force and I don’t see how anyone in attendance could not have had their eyes glued to the stage, soaking in the pure rock sounds they were churning out and enjoying the lively show that accompanied it.
Honestly, when they were done I found myself wondering, “If they’re like this all the time, why don’t I see them more often???”
I’m gonna have to try to fix that, I guess.
They’ll be back here at the House of Blues on July 6th for a battle of the bands style show, where the winner will perform at this years BFD, opening for acts like Megadeth, Slash and many more, so go support them. Also, while you’re waiting for their new record to come out, go into iTUNES and check out their old one, it’s well worth picking up.
After them was the headliner, even though they were going on at almost ten o’clock. The band was Ducado Vega, a duo who incorporates multiple genres into their sound, though they predominately consider themselves a funk outfit.
I’d heard great things about them, though I was a bit skeptical, since it is a genre I’m not a huge fan of, nevertheless, I was curious to see them live.
“Seven” was their opening number, a heavily synthesized track where most of the vocals had been pre-recorded and were playing as part of the sample track. I wasn’t too fond of that, and even though singer and guitarist Ducado Vega and keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Zenya Vi were doing some singing, it was overpowered by the backing track. Things did get better with the next song, one of many new tracks they unleashed on their fans this night, which I believe was titled “Define Beautiful”. It still wasn’t my cup of tea, but I did find it a little more appealing.
Zenya took over singing on their next song, and while Ducado was tearing it up on his guitar, he broke a string, which caused a bit of a delay.
He mentioned the guitar was a pretty new addition, being very proud of it and the furry pink strap he had on it and asked if one of the other musicians could restring it for him so he could continue using it. “…I don’t even know what string broke…” he said, letting everyone in on a “secret” that he can’t read music, pointing out he just plays it. Eventually a stagehand came and got it from him, and after Ducado grabbed his spare guitar, he told everyone that he and Zenya were going to do something a little different for Ducado Vega.
Different, indeed. The song was “I Dare You”, another new one, and it was performed more as a rap. For what it was, I guess it was good, though I was unable to get into that. They kept the music flowing with “Love Freak”, which found Zenya playing some beats on the drums, before again singing on the following song, and during that one Ducado collapsed to the floor, picking at his guitar while he lay there, completely engulfed in the moment.
Things proceeded to get a little more funky with “Sex in Da Club” and “Help Me”, with another song being sandwiched in between those two. On the next song, they again switched things up, with Zenya playing the guitar (by this time Shawn of the Gypsy Bravado had brought out one of his guitars as Ducado’s replacement, adding the pink strap onto it), while Ducado added some bass lines, and about halfway through it they traded off. However, it was their final song that was the most interesting and fun, especially when Ducado jumped into the crowd, saying beforehand that he wanted everyone to “make a train” like they used to as kids in elementary school. He led, and quite a few people joined in as this train/conga line wound its way through the crowd, eventually breaking up as Ducado climbed back on stage to finish out the song and their 65-minute long set.
Performance wise it was a really good show, filled with energy, and considering they were just a two-piece they managed to own the massive stage. Even technically it was great, and Ducado has some serious chops as a guitarist.
However, it’s just not the type of music that appeals to me, being mostly a mix of funk, electronic and rock, and I was never completely drawn into it. Would I mind seeing them again? No. Would I go to a show specifically to see them? Doubtful.
They have a couple EP’s you can pick up in iTUNES, and with the music they played this night it sounds like another record is on the horizon, even if they are just currently writing material for it. As for shows, check out their REVERBNATION PAGE to see when they will have future gigs.
Thus far the night had been fantastic, and now, a little after eleven, it was time for the band that was the primary reason I was there, and that was The Orange.
The bands three core instrumentalists, bassist Jason Jessup, drummer Cody Waits and guitarist Kirk Livesay launched the band into their 45-minute long set, creating a music bed that was somewhat recognizable as the fan favorite “Teleprompters”. Soon Scott Tucker bounded out on stage and song truly got underway. It’s about as explosive as a song can be and I’m loving it being their current opener, as it just gets things off to a sensational start, and throughout it Scott was running about the stage, singing to the audience and making sure to pay equal attention to all sides and sections of the stage.
“This song’s called I Want a Girl!” he declared after getting his guitar, as they moved on to one of their best new songs. They seemed in perfect synch on that one, particularly on the chorus, when Scott, Jason and Kirk plucked the strings of their instruments in exact time with the heavy beats Cody was cranking out. Early on in that song Scott broke a string, though he carried on and paid it little attention until the song was over when he switched to another.
Cody started them off on another newer track, the trippy sounding “Valium”, which was followed by one of their most epic songs, “Cityscapes”. Jason and Cody definitely pulled their weight on that one, and out of all their songs I believe it was that one that had the loudest rhythm section of the night, and a very cohesive one at that. There are some long instrumental pieces on that song where the group rocked out, and near the end Scott dropped to the floor and shredded on his axe, in true rock star fashion.
They invited one of their friends on stage for their next song, and, as Scott said, it was a man who came all the way from Chicago, Chicago Dan. “What do you want to do for ‘em, Dan?” Scott asked him while he tuned his guitar. Dan, who stood at stage left mic, already had his weapon of choice, a harmonica, out. “How about some doomsday.” He said. They did just that, busting out one of their classics, “Doomsday for Mr. Denton”, which seemed to be a real crowd pleaser. Some of that might have had something to do with the fact that the fans seem to love Dan in general, but all the same, that’s a killer song.
The number of people on stage grew as blues guitarist Buddy Neighbors joined the mix, as did Scotts’ sister Melissa Tucker who played a tambourine. Scott informed everyone that this next song was the single from their forthcoming album, which they are working on with producer Eric Delegard, whom Scott shouted out, saying he had seen him walking around this night. The song was “Mr. Moneymaker”, which is extremely catchy and upbeat, definitely worthy of being the lead single for their long awaited full-length record.
Everybody stayed pretty much where they were, well, for the most part, as Cody and Scott swapped places. “…I never imagined I’d be playing drums on stage at the House of Blues…” Scott stated, evidently still finding this to be a surreal experience. Cody did the singing on this one, and while there’s a completely different sound from his voice and Scott’s, it still sounds great, growing on me each time I hear it, and it’s especially appropriate for the song he wrote, which I believe was “Dead Nation”. Afterwards, they returned to their normal posts and the quartet, along with the three essentially honorary members of The Orange, ended with the most dynamic song they could have, “Blow Up”.
It was another extraordinary show by The Orange, one of the best I’ve seen them do, even though Scott was a little more subdued and didn’t jump onto the drum kit this night.
All joking aside, they were phenomenal this night, and you could tell they were not only wanting to make an impression on the crowd but also the higher ups who could bring them back as an opener for future big shows at the House of Blues. I definitely think The Orange accomplished that.
They gave it 110% on stage, both wowing old fans, and from some of the chatter I overheard, won over some new ones, too.
They have at least one show on the books for the summer, and that will be on July 5th at the Kessler Theater in Dallas. They’ll be headlining that one, so don’t miss it. Also, head over to iTUNES to pick up their first EP, especially since they are sold out of hard copies of it, so online is the only place to get it.
There was one final band up this night, Nerdface, whom I didn’t stick around for. Sure, it was still relatively early, but the ticket I got for the parking lot I parked in expired around midnight, and here it was about ten minutes after, so, to make sure I didn’t get a ticket or anything, I went ahead and called it a night.
I can’t say I really regret leaving, though, because after the show The Orange put on I don’t see how this night could have gotten any better. Besides, it had already been an amazing night anyway.
This night found what has become one of my favorite Canadian bands, Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk, returning to Dallas in support of their new/old record, “Over Land and Sea”. Their third Dallas show found them back at the Prophet Bar, the same venue they did their first Dallas gig at, and this was almost the halfway point for their North American tour, which boasted an impressive 70+ shows.
Opening up this show was a Dallas singer/songwriter whom I’ve heard a lot about, even having listened to some of his music, but had never seen live. His name is Kirk Thurmond, and he was doing a solo acoustic set this night.
It seems like it’s been awhile since I saw a musician whom I hadn’t heard seen before that wowed me with an acoustic set, but Kirk blew my mind this night, and amazed the handful of people that were in the venue.
He played a lot of stuff from last year’s “Only Love” album, at least I presume he did. He mixed in a new song or two as well, saying when he was about three-fourths done with that most recent record he had already began writing some songs for his eventual next release.
His next to last song seemed to be the audiences favorite of the night, and definitely was mine, as the slower, more tender song really highlighted is smooth, soulful voice and he packed that tune full of emotion.
Not many musicians are able to get up on a stage and captivate a crowd with merely their voice and an acoustic guitar, but Kirk Thurmond is one of them, and nearly everyone there seemed completely enthralled by his 30-minute long set (give or take a few minutes).
Hurry on over to iTUNES and check out his records, which include one EP and a LP. Also, keep an eye on his FACEBOOK PAGE for future show updates.
The good thing about starting with an acoustic artist was that the next band was already set up, and within five minutes after Kirk left the stage, Sean Michel and his band were ready to rock.
They were one of two touring bands on this bill, but this trio was a little closer to home, hailing from Little Rock, Arkansas.
“Truth, Soul and Rock ‘n’ Roll” That was a phrase I had noticed on one of the shirt designs at the bands merch table, which piqued my interest to say the least, and I was wondering if that would be an accurate description of their sound, or merely a slogan that just sounded good.
Much of their 33-minute long set this night came from the “Electric Delta” album, and I believe they opened with the albums closing track, “Lord I Wait”. The bands namesake, Sean Michel, had an impressive beard that stretched down most of his torso and hair nearly as long, and if you happened to see him on the street and judge his appearance, you’d most likely guess he was in a heavy metal band. It couldn’t have been further from that.
His voice immediately pulled you end, having a very soulful quality, but also had some blues and southern characteristics to it, making it unlike anything I had heard before. The stage become more of a pulpit as he and band mates Seth Atchley and Bradley Batterton, the bassist and drummer, respectively, proceeded to play their music that dealt with all sorts of religious aspects, and very bluntly at that.
They continued bringing everyone into the music by stepping things up a bit with their second song, then got more upbeat with “He Is The One”. It was, to an extent, about Seans’ experience of being saved, as he shouted the chorus in his strong voice, “…He is the One, He is the first born Son of the God you cannot see, now plain as day to me…” It was great song, especially live as they went all out during it, and it was one of a few highlights of their set.
Upon finishing it, Sean mentioned they had some albums for sale at their merch table. “…We got vinyl for the hipsters and CD’s for the normal people…” he joked, before he started them into another cut from the album, “Unbelievable”.
It was a knockout song, and secured the attention of the small crowd who watched from a distance, but seemed in complete awe. Sean setup their next song, saying it hit radio airwaves back in 1958, adding, “…I like to think that was one of the first times anyone ever heard Rock ‘n’ Roll… And now we’re gonna try our hand at it.” My knowledge of ‘50’s era music is horrible at best, and I don’t know what they covered, though it did sound familiar. Regardless, they did a stellar job on it, giving it a real Southern Rock vibe, with a heavy rhythm section and some in-your-face guitar licks.
They brought things down with a seven-minute long (give or take) number called “The River Song”, which was gospel rock at its finest, and told a full story to boot. The best part was one the second chorus, and when he was signing a line that a preacher in the song was saying, Sean adapted a character voice that fit the part. I believe it was on the next verse that Sean added some additional lines, speaking to the audience, in short telling everyone that when the world tries to get you down, or there are people saying it would be a better place without you to not “listen to the devil’s lies”. Overall, the message that everyone has a purpose here.
I was loving it, but already it was time to bring their set to an end, and they did so the lead track from “Electric Delta” which is hands down the most intense song in their arsenal, “Mississippi Mud”, and Seans’ Southern Rock voice sounded better here than it had all night, which is saying a lot.
“Truth, Soul and Rock ‘n’ Roll” that’s not just a good saying to slap on a t-shirt, it also perfectly describes this amazing trio.
They have some killer chops, with both Bradley and Seth holding their own on stage, whereas some musicians can fall into the background, especially when the front man as is overpowering as Sean was. Speaking of Sean, he was as good a guitarist as he was a singer, and shredded on his axe with absolute ease.
As for their music, yeah, it deals with God, Christ and all related things, topics that I realize can be off-putting to some, depending on personal beliefs. I want to say though, that Sean is simply singing about what he’s passionate about, which is what makes the show so enthralling, because he’s able to get behind it wholeheartedly. And for the record, there isn’t a single song that comes across as being “preachy” to the listeners, in the sense of him trying to impress his beliefs on anyone. So, take it for what it is, which is incredible music that needs to be heard.
To pick up his music, head over to iTUNES to find the two records he has available. You can also purchase physical copies in both CD and vinyl format in his ONLINE STORE. As for shows, check him and his band out at the Lifelight Festival in Worthing, SD on August 31st.
If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought no band could out do that, but I had seen Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk a few times before, and knew it was certainly possible.
Once they had everything setup and ready to go, Jay Christman counted them in on the drums, soon joined by guitarist Josh Akin, with the rest of the band following suit, too. It was a brief instrumental piece, a prelude of sorts, and moments after finishing it they began their first full song, “Let’s Make Our Escape”.
Musically it served to ease everyone into the show, being a bit of a slower song, but the group had instantly flipped the switch into performance mode, and Zoltan Szoges was multi-tasking. He played a keyboard with one hand, a tambourine with a kick pedal he worked with his foot and also alternated between a xylophone and an extra tom, flipping the drumstick in the air at the end of the first chorus, during one of the few breaks he got.
After finishing it, Lauren Mann announced their next song, before getting right back to striking the keys of her piano as they began what is one of their best and most beautiful songs, “A Traveler’s Anthem”. “…We-e-e-e-e-e could sail to new frontiers and le-e-e-eave behind all that we hold dear…” she sang on the chorus of the song that really fits this touring band, and the enunciation of some of those words is part of what makes it such a breathtaking track.
Those first two songs came from their 2012 album “Over Land and Sea”, which was re-released this year on a record label, but with their next song, they tapped their 2010 debut record, “Stories From Home”. It was the more tranquil “When I Feel Lost”, though it seemed a little more amped up for the live version, with Zoltan switching out instruments and rocking a keytar.
No sooner had they finished it then he took a seat behind the piano, which Lauren had just vacated. “…Don’t trust computers…” he said into the microphone, making fun of the technical issues that arose during those first few tracks with the laptop, which was presumably adding some sample tracks to the music. There were no devastating results from that, though, at least not as far as I could tell.
He continued talking at a rapid pace, making sure they could stick to their allotted time, and he kindly asked everyone to dance along to the next song if they felt like it. “…We’re from Canada and dancing is our national pastime.” He said, then added, “I’m just kidding…”
I didn’t see many dancing along, but before getting the song underway they did manage to get quite a few people clapping along to the beat. Then Lauren proceeded to pluck the strings of her ukulele, and Josh and bassist Jessica Christman finished fleshing out “How It Goes”, an infectious number that found Zoltan adding some extra percussion as he steadily beat on the floor tom. Lauren then wound it right into the lead track from their current record, the at times eerily beautiful “Fragile”. There were also a few lines here and there that Jessica chimed in on, harmonizing with Lauren, creating a lovely mixture of the two voices.
With some mangled guitar chords, which was more like feedback, Josh transitioned them into their next song, another oldie and favorite of mine, “The West Coast”. Upon finishing it, Lauren took a few moments to thank the crowd and such, as well as talk about a charity they’ve partnered up with, Charity Water, which helps bring clean drinking water to people in developing countries. It’s a cause they obviously feel strongly about, and it’s rather nice to see a touring band, who needs all the financial help they can get, promoting a worthy cause like that and trying to raise some money for them.
They resumed playing some music with another instrumental piece, the title escapes me at the moment, but it was a rendition of a more classical piece, with a very modern twist on it. That segued them into another standout song of their set, “Love, I Lost”. “…And we’ll find the place where we first embraced. Beginning and the end, could we begin again?” Lauren crooned at the end of this rather triumphant sounding track.
Josh swapped out to an acoustic guitar for the first part of the enchanting “Dance With Me”, switching back to the electric as the music began to culminate, and that led them to their final song of the night. Zoltan made one final bid to get people engaged in their set, saying he was going to be throwing some instruments out to anyone who wanted them. While Lauren whistled into the mic, the signature beginning to the single “I Lost Myself”, Zoltan was tossing out various percussion instruments to anyone and everyone. He started with some small shakers, then a few tambourines, but it was the last instrument that really surprised me.
Their massive bass drum had been setting to the right of the drum set, and aside from a few taps by Jay here and there, it had gone unused this night. Actually, the last time I saw them Zoltan even played it on a song or two, but not tonight. Instead, he hoisted the thing above his head to get it out of its tight spot, bringing it to the edge of the stage and then laying on the floor, rolling it out in the midst of the audience. He then threw out multiple drumsticks, enough that at least six people could have played if they wished. Everyone loved it, even though most had most likely never even heard of the band before, you could tell they gleefully excited to be a part of the performance, and that made for an excellent way to end their 37-minute long set.
Definitely the best band of the night, and out of the three Dallas shows Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk have done, I can say without hesitation this was the best.
With the exception of Lauren and Zoltan (who do happen to be husband and wife) and rest of the Fairly Odd Folk is often a changing cast, made up of whoever is able to join them at the time they need to tour. However, with Jay, Jessica and Josh I think they’re starting to get some more stable band mates, and they are definitely solid together.
A lot of that can probably be attributed to all the time they’ve spent on the road, doing a tour of Canada earlier this year, while I believe Zoltan said this was the thirty-third U.S. show on this tour, which boasts more than a whopping seventy shows. Yeah, all that time on the road has done them good, as they all operated in perfect synch with each other, having everything down to a tee, but kept it all spontaneous enough that you felt like you were watching something rehearsed. Rather, everyone here this night was getting their own experience of the band, as this show was different than, say, the one they had done the night before in San Antonio, or the one they would do after in Kansas City, MO.
They play a mix of folk/indie/pop music, with some touches of rock here and there, but don’t think they’re like any of the folk bands that are currently dominating mainstream music. Their sound is much different, and in my opinion it’s the lyrics that are more folk sounding, and they also have a lot of depth to them.
If you have chance, do go see Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk. Their live shows are a spectacle to watch, and their passion for what they are doing is constantly on display. Find all their tour dates HERE, and they do include some more throughout parts of Canada through June, with a West Coast tour starting in early July. Also, head over to iTUNES to find both of their records.
Robert Baker was the final band this night, and the band was a duo, consisting of Robert on an acoustic guitar as well as drummer. I stayed for probably about 20-minutes or so, but his music never clicked with me, so I just decided to leave.
Well, part of it was because I wasn’t feeling the music, but it also because after the show Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk put on, it was impossible to top.
Still, it was an excellent night of both homegrown talent and some amazing bands from abroad. I’m fortunate to have been able to see all three shows LM&TFOF have done here in Dallas thus far, and I’m looking forward to their next trip through town.
The music scene here in North Texas is a little more of a community, and of course many of the bands are connected one way or another. And today at the Richardson Wildflower Festival, several local and national touring acts were taking over the MetroPCS stage, all of whom had some deep-seated connections.
While bands had been playing since noon, I didn’t arrive until around four, which was when 76 was setting up, prepping for their 4:15 start time.
It was a few minutes after that scheduled start time when they actually began, and drummer Taz Bentley led them into their first of many polarizing classic sounding rock tracks. They didn’t let up at all either, and while singer and rhythm guitarist Terry Glaze was telling everyone who they were, Taz rolled things right into their next song, eventually joined by Kinley Wolfe who laced some bass lines over the beat. The song was one of my favorites of theirs, “The Drill”, which lead guitarist Brian Harris shined during as he cranked out a truly wicked solo. They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.
“We are now sufficiently warmed up and lubed…” said Terry once the song was finished, with his banter being the best thing about their show, right after the music of course. He then invited everyone over to Kinleys’ place after the show to eat some pancakes, and while he was saying that, Taz was adjusting the cowbell on his kit, because, as Terry said, they wanted to give it “optimum sound”. “This song’s called Try!” he shouted as they launched into the song, which was then followed by the fast paced adrenaline rush known as “Another One”, which loud and thick rhythm section and some stellar guitar riffs.
Their audience had been growing continuously, and if the fans hadn’t been “warmed up and lubed” before this, they most certainly were after that last song.
The witty banter continued as Terry jokingly informed everyone that they had written this next song while watching Honey Boo Boo and wishing they could be famous like her. He was setting up “I Want to be Famous”, which is about exactly what the title suggests, and it’s another very solid rock song. Afterwards, most of the band cleared off the stage, leaving Kinley up there alone to tear it up on his bass solo. It had been so long since I had seen the band, I had forgotten he even did this, but I hadn’t forgotten how amazing the solo was. The sounds he slaps out of it don’t even sound like a bass, instead being more comparable to that of a guitar as he attacked the four strings.
That lasted around a couple minutes before his band mates made their way back on stage, with Terry informing the audience that their next song was called “Meathead”. They kept the rock flowing with a song “about enabling your child” titled “Leave Me Alone”, where Terry screamed some of the lines in a higher falsetto voice, reminiscent of what you hear in some of the classic rock songs from the 70’s. “That’s what you say to your child the next time they ask for something reasonable.” He said to everyone, seeming dead serious. “Red Dress Woman” was their next song, and one I don’t recall hearing before, though it sounded great, and then they ended things with “Don’t Know Why”… Or at least that’s how it seemed.
“Do you want to play a song from that band on your shirt?” Terry asked Brian, who responded with a hesitant, “I guess.” It was no act, they were definitely going off track with this one.
The shirt he wore was a Thin Lizzy shirt, and he asked what song they should do, with Terry telling him to pick. Brian slowly strummed his guitar, while Terry admitted they “don’t usually do this”, adding, “But this is our last show, we’re breaking up after this…”, which was hopefully a joke. The song they choose to do was “Cowboy Song”, doing a great rendition of it, and with it their 42-minute long set came to a close.
What a show this was. They’re all old school musicians and the music they create is pure, straight up Rock ‘n’ Roll, similar to that of the 70’s and 80’s, you know, before so many mainstream rock bands of today lost their way. Their live show is filled with stage presence and they pack in a lot of energy, too, while knowing how to work the crowd and make sure they’re getting the most out of the experience.
Unfortunately, 76 doesn’t play too often, but when they do, you better make sure you see the show, and to make sure you don’t miss out on their next gig, go throw them a like on their FACEBOOK PAGE.
So, how is 76 connected to the other bands that would follow, well, Taz played drums for The Burden Brothers, which was the band Vaden Todd Lewis formed after the Toadies initial breakup in 2001.
Next up on the stage was my local favorite, Descender.
“We’re Descender and we’re from The Colony.” Said singer and rhythm guitarist Casey Hess, using one of his go-to jokes. He then added, “This is our first show ever. We’re nervous” Their fans knew otherwise, but any new listeners may well have thought that was true.
With the release of their new EP on the horizon, they’ve been working all the new stuff into the live show, beginning with two of the heaviest and most intense songs, the first of which I believe was “Silver Lightning”. They patched it perfectly into “The Language”, which is more of a guitar rock track, with some killer lines from both Casey and lead guitarist Jeff Gruber. The always awesome “Spinning On the Surface” followed, before they finally got into some of their older material, but first, Casey had some more banter for the audience.
He asked for a Platinum Miller Light, saying “…There are some afternoons you just need one.” but he couldn’t contain his laughter for long, adding, “I’m kidding, there are never afternoons like that.” Good think Miller Light wasn’t a sponsor of this stage. The only way to follow that assault of intense songs was with a fan favorite from the “Dark Water” EP, “Hats Off To Your Reflection”. Jeff was constantly jumping around stage left on this song, all the while shredding on his axe, while Zack Busby took a few liberties with his bass lines on the songs chorus, changing them up slightly, which worked to make the song even more incredible than it already is.
There were only a couple of new songs left, and now they did the title track from the forthcoming EP, “Slow and Gold”. Somehow, this song continues to grow on me, despite it already being one of my favorite Descender tracks. It’s the way Duncan Black’s forceful drum beats weave with the lyrics, particularly at the start, giving the song almost an eerie vibe, before it soars to life, then ends with a unique sound created by Jeff repeatedly tapping a string with a slide on his finger.
“I’m feeling the power of Richardson…” Casey said, before they cranked out another newer track, “I Will Help You Find the Darkness”. He then introduced their next song as being “about the human heart”, leading them into the title track from their first EP, “Army Of Elephants”. That long song, which has a lengthy and dynamic instrumental break, is typically their closing song, and it seemed like it would be this day, but after finishing it they had a band discussion, quite possible deciding to add a couple more songs to their set.
“This song’s about divorce.” Casey said, offering the simple explanation to their tune “Armor”, which they immediately jumped into. Being such a personal song is what makes it their song, and there’s an abundant amount of emotion packed into to it, as they tore through the song. They weren’t done quite yet, though, tacking one more song on to their 50-minute long set and I’m pretty certain that out of all the times I’ve seen them this was the first time I’ve heard them cap things off with “Dark Water”.
The thing about their show, while it may have been just short of an hour, it didn’t seem like it, and passed by all too quickly, which in the long run is a good thing.
They were phenomenal, and at the very least the second best act I saw this day, though I think they kinda tied for first. They’re all amazing musicians in their own right, and with each show, even after being a band for years, they’re still tightening up and becoming even more of a well-oiled machine. However, I feel they’re one of Dallas’s most underrated bands, not receiving the recognition they really deserve.
Come check them out on July 27th at Three Links in Dallas. It’ll be the album release show for their split vinyl album with fellow Dallas act Here Holy Spain, and I imagine that will be a night not to forget. Also, visit their store in iTUNES and check out their first two EP’s.
As far as the connection between Descender and at least one of the other bands, well, Casey and Zack also played in The Burden Brothers.
So far, even before I got to the Wildflower Festival, this stage had been dominated by rock acts, but now it was time for a change of pace as a Texas favorite, Eleven Hundred Springs, got ready to take the stage, bringing with them their sound of Outlaw Texas Country music.
After greeting their large audience, the quintet kicked off their 62-minute long set with a cover of ZZ Top’s “Thunderbird”, which immediately caught everyone’s attention, and at the end they wound it right into one of their originals. “Roll up another joint…” sang the bands singer and guitarist Matt Hillyer, the opening line of “Thunderbird Will Do Just Fine”. There was a little crowd participation on this one, with many of their diehard fans shouting the backing vocals on the start of the second verse, “Trying hard not to fall.” They kept things moving right along with a track from 2011’s “Eight the Hard Way” called “We’re From Texas”. It’s a classic, especially for any Texans, and one this song Burton Lee got to demonstrate his skills on the pedal still guitar, doing a solo, which was then followed by Jordan Hendrix rocking out a solo on his fiddle.
Matt took a moment to chat with the crowd at this point, speaking almost as fast as an auctioneer does, mentioning, among other things, how glad they were to be on this bill, saying it was “a perfect storm of friends”. He was talking about all the other amazing bands on this bill and how they had all known each other for many years, noting it was great to finally be sharing a stage together.
Soon enough, they launched into a single from the “This Crazy Life” record, “Show me The Money (Or I’ll Show You The Door)”. Near the start of it, drummer Arjuna Contreras had a short break from banging on the kit, so while he was waiting to re-enter the song he was twirled one his drumsticks, continuously, spinning it about between his fingers for several seconds. They next did another song from that record, “Great American Trainwreck”, before doing one of many covers they tackled this night. It was a rendition of George Jones’s “Nothing Ever Hurt Me (Half as Bad as Losing You)”, which they gave a fuller sound to, complete with a pretty strong rhythm section from bassist Steve Berg and Arjuna. The wind was blowing a lot this day, and early on in the song it lifted Matts’ cowboy hat right of his head, sending someone who was back stage watching the band racing to catch it. Matt barely even acknowledged it, though, and really didn’t even break eye contact with the audience as he continued to sing.
They got back to their original material with another single of theirs, “This Ain’t the First Time (But it’s the Worst Time)”. “I came home loaded again… We all know how the story ends, D-I-V-O-R-C-E…” begins the song, being just another example of witty their songs are, telling an actual story that also happens to be laced with comedic elements. They picked up the pace a little more with “Every Time I Get Close To You”, and that quicker song had a lot of people moving around, even dancing along to it.
Afterwards, Matt took a few seconds to address country music and the two main topics that all real country music is about. One of those was cheating while the other drinking, “…Or sometimes a song’s about both of those together…” he said, then added a few more acceptable topics, kind of like they were sub-genres. That served to set up “Hard Working Just Ain’t Working Anymore”, a song that touches on the current economic situation that a lot of people could probably relate to, at least in some aspect. Upon finishing it they did another quick cover, which truly began the cover portion of their set.
Once it was done, Matt again exclaimed how happy they were to be on this bill, before they launched into what was a highlight of this show, “Why You Been Gone So Long” which was done by Carl Perkins, and their version appears on the “Bandwagon” album. Matt’s good about shouting out all his band mates, especially before they do a solo, giving it up to Burton before he did another solo on his pedal steel. “Matt Hillyer on guitar!” he shouted not long after Burton finished, when Matt did a little solo. He began laughing right after he did it, glancing over at Steve, who was also laughing and shaking his head over what his friend and band mate had done. Just for the record, it was all in good fun, and certainly not done in a conceited way.
Their covers continued with a song originally done by Terry Fell, “Truck Drivin’ Man”, which ended up being another personal favorite of mine this night. “Whose Heart Are You Breaking Tonight” came next, and the more serious song offered a break from the covers, as did the catchy “Stuff You Can’t Refuse”. They resumed playing some stuff from other various country greats with a song by Ronnie Dawson, “Rockin’ Bones”, which was a good fit for the guys of Eleven Hundred Springs. They also tried their hand at a track made famous by Waylon Jennings, putting a very upbeat take on “I’m a Ramblin’ Man”.
They kept the music going, though brought it down some so Matt could address the crowd, giving a little speech basically acknowledging that while we all come from different walks of life, we’re really all the same. You could feel the fans excitement grow, knowing they were about to do “Long Haired Tattooed Hippie Freaks”. Perhaps the best part came when Matt sang the line, “Well, it’s been some time since I cut this long ass hair…”, shrugging as he sang it. It was funny because since the last time I had seen them (July of the previous year) he had cut his hair, a lot. His appearance may not have matched the lyrics, but regardless of what he looks like, he’ll always be a “long haired tattooed hippie freak” at heart.
They had been going for awhile at this point, probably playing a little over their allotted time actually, but no one minded a bit, and to wrap things up they did one more fan favorite, “Raise Hell, Drink Beer”. It’s almost more of a rock song, just because it’s so loud, and it offered a perfect note to end on.
There are still great country acts out there, and Eleven Hundred Springs is one of them. The music they play does justice to the true country sound created by the most iconic musicians of the genre, in regards to both the music and lyrics. Their songs predominately are about the two subjects mentioned earlier, cheating and drinking, as well as some other fun topics like heartbreak, smoking weed and many other things.
Their shows are incredibly fun, and you’ll find yourself glued to each of the band members at various points throughout their set, and really, how many bands have an entire lineup so riveting they can do that?
They have plenty of records that you should definitely check out in iTUNES. They also have a plethora of gigs coming up, and for the full schedule, go HERE. Some include a show in Austin on June 21st at the Broken Spoke. June 22nd at the June Bug Festival in Ben Wheeler, TX, June 28th at Three Links in Dallas, July 4th at the City Park in Lake Dallas and many, many more.
And really, do check out EHS in some capacity. I know a lot of people don’t like country music, and to an extent I’m one of those people, but I love Eleven Hundred Springs, even if I do only see them a few times a year.
So, you’re probably wondering how a country band is connected with all these rock acts. Well, the most notable connection again goes back to when the Toadies broke up and drummer Mark Reznicek was without a band, eventually finding a home with EHS.
The one remaining act before the main course was another Dallas based band, the rockabilly/psychobilly outfit known as the Reverend Horton Heat.
A few years back I had seen a bit of the bands set, leaving then because personally, I didn’t much care for them. But tonight leaving was not an option, so I went and found a place to sit to rest my legs and prepared to see if they could change my opinion of them.
They opened with their song “Psychobilly Freakout” from 1990’s “Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em” album. Upon finishing it, singer and guitarist Jim Heath mentioned that, that song came from “album number one” and now they were going to do something from album number two. They continued this unique trend, tackling one song each from their albums in chronological order.
They kept it pretty straightforward, going from one song almost right into the next, but once they got to the fifth record, they took a timeout of sorts while Jim mentioned that “Space Heater” is widely regarded as being their worst album. Now, I might not be a fan of the bands, and granted, I haven’t actually listened to the album in full, but just judging from the song they played, it wasn’t that bad.
A track from their six release came next, and then seventh, which I believe was the track “Galaxie 500” (if it wsn’t played then it was played sometime in their hour plus long set), and by the time they got to their eighth song, Jim added some humor to it, saying, “Y’all are probably wondering how many albums we have.” The answer to that question is ten, though some are compilation albums, and I believe it was after the track from album eight, “Revival”, that they began to deviate from the established pattern.
Along with some more originals, they also did a few covers, during which Matt “The Cat” AKA Matt Hillyer of Eleven Hundred Springs joined them for, and he even sang on one of them.
At one point in the show they even did a song that found Jim taking over the upright bass played by Jimbo Wallace, while he picked up guitar duty and sang a song, having a pretty good voice. While a highlight of their set, and one even I enjoyed was “$400”.
In the long run, no, I didn’t much care for their set, and I have never been able to get into the rockabilly or psychobilly genres. They just don’t appeal to me, and in the case of the Reverend Horton Heat, while it would be unfair to say all their music sounds the same, there were several songs that sounded awfully similar to me.
If you’d like to see the Reverend live, visit their TOUR DATES page, as they have a ton of shows on the books. And of course you can find their records in iTUNES.
One connection between them and the other acts is Taz Bentley, who spent some time as their drummer from the very late 80’s until the mid-90’s. Also, at live shows The Burden Brothers were known to cover “$400”, while the Toadies featured a recording of the track on their 2012 album, with the song being available exclusively through iTUNES.
Speaking of the Toadies, the time was drawing ever closer for them to start, and no sooner had the Reverend Horton Heat finished their set than the Toadies fans began to fill in what few spaces became available, staking out the best possible spots they could get.
10:30 came slowly, and it was even after their scheduled time before Richardson’s Mayor pro tem stepped on stage, thanked all their sponsors, then finally gave it up to the Toadies. It still wasn’t quite time yet, though, but luckily their intro track seemed rather short.
They didn’t bust right into a song after assuming their spots on stage, instead, Vaden Todd Lewis asked everyone how they were doing, waiting for a response, which was deafening. Really, how could everyone not be doing well and excited, knowing that the Fort Worth rockers were about to unleash all their hits and then some.
After Todd and lead guitarist Clark Vogeler made some final adjustments to their guitars, they suddenly ripped into “I Come from the Water”, much to the crowds delight. Sticking to tradition, Todd shouted at everyone to “Sing it!” right before hitting the chorus, and just about the entire mass of people yelled it at the top of their lungs. I’ve said it before, but those moments where everyone is singing along in unison makes for one of the best concert moments I’ve ever experienced, and I’d even say it’s an experience every music fan needs to have at least once.
There was just enough pause after that song to allow some applause before Todd began “Push the Hand”, really taking off once Mark Reznicek and Doni Blair entered in, on the drums and bass, respectively, along with Clark, and with that track the energy they were exuding continued to mount, and drastically so as the song neared its explosive end. No sooner had it ended and then Clark wailed on his guitar, jumping and doing a 360-degree turn. There was a moment of silence after the notes rang out, before they dove into one of the best tracks from last year’s “Play.Rock.Music.”, “Animals”. The song seemed to fit best here, verses being played later on in the set like the more recent times I’ve seen them. The primal song really added to what they had been building on with their first two.
The thing about their new stuff though, is while performing it (or at least most of it) everyone around me started blankly ahead at the stage, as if they had suddenly started singing in Chinese or some other language no one knew. They were enjoying it, but no one really knew it, making me feel slightly out of place that I was singing along.
I guess that goes to show that, at least to the majority of fans, where it’s at is with the Toadies old stuff, and the throng of fans went wild when they moved on to their next song, “Backslider”. I get it, 94’s “Rubberneck” is as solid a record as a band can make, and it’s pretty iconic at that. But on the flipside, their newer stuff from the last five years can be every bit as great, and with their next song, a single from their current record, the crowd showed they have embraced some of the Toadies new music.
“Summer of the Strange” is one of the most unique songs the band has done, from the bass riffs that get it going to the odd ebb and flow it has, and there were quite a few fans singing along to it. Sometime around this point Todd mentioned he had no banter, as he had used it all on Abilene the night before when they played out there. So, instead of making small talk with the audience, they just focused on the music, which is what they are best at after all, and no sooner had that previous song ended, then Todd proceeded to play the hypnotic notes of their next track. “Peel away your skin, just a little more. You can let me in, just a little more…” he sang, the opening line of one of my favorites, “Sweetness”. They weren’t done with the constant onslaught of rock, though, winding that song right into another classic, “Happy Face”.
After a break just long enough to fit some applause into, Mark got their next song going by producing some steady beats on his kit, leading them into “Waterfall”, the only song from the “Feeler” record they do these day, but is much as I love that song, things really got good with their next one.
There’s one of their hits that I haven’t heard much of the last few times I’ve seen them (granted that’s only a couple shows a year usually), and all day, hell, all week I had been wondering to myself, “I wonder if they’ll do Quitter.” Well, guess what they pulled out now. It’s arguable one of the bands most intense tracks and aiding it is the at times eerie mood it creates with the lyrics, for example, the last verse, “In the coming days the dust will cover all the evidence of your first lover. I hope wherever you are now you’ll wake up…” It was a three and a half minute long (give or take) thrill ride, and a definite highlight of the show.
“No Deliverance” came next, a song where Todd really put his bullet microphone to use, and afterwards there was a break while he switched to another guitar. I heard someone around me telling a friend to “get excited” and that, that was a good sign, and indeed it was, as Clark ripped into his guitar, using his whammy bar a bit to create the opening of “Away”. The fans participated a little on this one, too, shouting out “When I’m away!” a few times on what is somewhat the bridge of the song.
From here on out they rotated between tracks from their 2012 record and their 1994 major label debut, first doing one of the most gripping songs from “Play.Rock.Music”, “Magic Bullet”, which again had people looking dumbfounded in a way, though you could tell they were digging the tune. “That’s off our fifth record?” Todd began to state, before it turned into a question. He looked at Clark who confirmed he was right, “Yeah, our fifth record.” He said. “Here’s an old one.” he then said as they broke out “Possum Kingdom”, which got the loudest roar from the crowd. It goes to show how music can truly stand the test of time, since that was a radio hit nearly two decades ago now, and still to this day it’s the song all their fans are dying to hear.
The slow(er) and dark “Sunshine” switched things up a bit, though they kicked it back into high gear as they bridged the end of it into “Mister Love”. They weren’t quite done yet, either, and after things got set up, they cranked out the lead track and single from their newest release, “Rattler’s Revival”. It’s a rock song through and through and the Toadies at their finest while playing it, easily holding its own against their older music.
That could have been a perfect way to end the main set, but they had something even better in store, bringing to the stage Taz Bentley and Arjuna Contreras, who set up some small partial drum kits. Well the roadies were taking care of that, Doni’s younger brother Zach Blair also walked on stage, adding a third guitar to the mix. To kill time Todd mentioned that Zach played in Rise Against. “…I don’t know how he managed to get in…” he joked. Once everything was set up, they kicked off the final song of their 71-minute long set, “I Burn”. “We got stupid!” shouted the crowd after Todd sang the line “Through the ages…”. Shortly after was when their guest drummers joined in as the song truly sprang to life. It was the perfect way to end the show, but of course they weren’t done just yet.
After a minute or two of the audience chanting for more, the four members returned to the stage, starting their 11-minute encore with “Hell In High Water”. The heavy percussion is where it’s at with that song, with Mark owning his drum kit, which resulted in many of the fans thrashing about to the beat. Once they finished it, Todd again thanked everyone for coming out and spending the night with them, saying they only had one left. Everyone had to know “Tyler”, but they were still elated to hear it, and celebrated the amazing song that ended what was one of the best Toadies shows I’ve seen.
Since last year’s Dia de los Toadies music festival the band has been on fire, and that show and the one they did in Fort Worth last October found them reaching new heights, at least out of the time I’ve seen them, and their performance this night was pretty close up there with those two.
It’s kind of amazing that now five years into their second coming the band is still tightening up their live shows, but they are, and they pushed themselves to a whole new level. Believe me, after all, it was this very festival and this very stage where I first saw the Toadies four years ago. It was a great show and I’ll always remember it fondly since it was the first time I saw them, but the difference between that show four years ago and the one this night is like night and day.
Part of that’s probably because they now have two more albums to draw from, and then the show staples just seemed enhanced, and have reached new heights.
The bands show calendar is somewhat empty at the moment, but they do have a few shows coming up. One will be on July 6th at Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels, which has been the home of their music festival for the last three years, but not this year. This year the sixth annual Dia de los Toadies will be held at the Panther Island Pavilion in their hometown of Fort Worth. The almost acoustic show will be held on September 13th and the next day, the 14th, will be the day long rock fest featuring several different bands. And also, do check out their records in iTUNES.
This was a fun day at the Richardson Wildflower Festival, and even if I went just for some of the bands, the it’s much more than just a music festival. It focuses heavily on the arts, too, with several vendors setting up shop for three days. It’s a great festival, and I’m already looking forward to what acts they’ll get to play it next year.
It was a bit of a somber night here in Denton at Dan’s Silverleaf this night.
The reason was because the Denton based Spooky Folk, who have made a name for themselves not just in the college town, but the whole North Texas music scene, was calling it quits. At least temporarily. The bands singer and rhythm guitarist Kaleo Kaualoku was getting ready to move to Denver with his fiancé, meaning it’d be basically impossible for the band to play regularly anymore, and this was a sendoff show for him, and even the band in a way.
Only one band was opening this show, and that privilege went to Tony Ferraro and the Satans of Soft Rock, who kicked off their set a little after nine.
Lead guitarist Ryan Thomas Becker jumped into the air, strumming his guitar as he did so, and as soon as he landed drummer Justin Collins and the rest of the band started “King Run-a-Thon”. It was an electric opener and seemed even more vibrant than the recorded version, or at the very least Tony Ferraros’ voice grabbed your attention more here in the live setting.
Their set had an excellent flow to it, as they smoothly transitioned from one song to the next, and as soon as they finished that first song Ryan proceeded to play some different notes, leading them into “Satanic Verses”. Out of all their material, it arguable has the best music bed, being very catchy with the bass lines that David Howard plays, the piano notes provided by Chris Gomez, as well as the guitars and drums intertwining incredibly well with one another. They work in some nice points of crescendo, too. As soon as they finished it, they whipped right into “Children In Fur Coats”, where Tonys’ distinctive voice shined as he sang the chorus, “You will always have a home here…”
They did two more songs afterwards, doing both in rapid succession, and finally they took an actually break where Tony again thanked everyone for coming out for this special night. “…Let’s do Children In Fur Coats.” He said, before his band mates pointed out to him they had already done it, causing Tony to laugh at himself. I guess that just goes to show how truly excited he was about this gig. Instead, they did the last remaining track from the “Friend of Man and Beast Alike” EP, “I Am The Engine”, which was a true highlight of their set.
They were really on a roll now, and didn’t let up as they cranked out “Assemble The Bitch Wolves”, which may be a slower song, but it’s still loaded with rock, and both Tony and Ryan skillfully plucked the strings of their axes, proving themselves to be masters of the craft, or at the very least experts. They stepped things back up with the rip-roaring “Diaspora”, then did one more non-album track before showing off a couple of surprises.
Tony invited Kaleo and Petra Kelly of Spooky Folk on stage with them, saying they could use their help singing along. He then extended the offer to the other three members of the group, which Jesse Perry took them up on, and Tony apologized, saying they were just “afterthoughts”. “That’s terrible, who would say something like that?!” Ryan said to him, just giving him a hard time. The song was “No, We Can’t Be Friends”, which was a true sing along, with many of the fans joining in with the collection of musicians on stage, all belting out the chorus, “No, we can’t be friends, we can’t be friends…” It made for an awesome moment, and typically, I believe that’s how they end their shows, but this was a special night after all, and they had one last trick up their sleeve. They covered a song by one of music’s greatest icons, John Lennon, putting a more rock spin on “Instant Karma”, with Tony, Ryan, Jesse, Petra and Kaleo all singing on the chorus.
It was an amazing rendition they did, and given the circumstances of this night, it was a perfect way to conclude their 45-minute long set.
This was only the second time I had seen Tony Ferraro and his Satans of Soft Rock, and I thought they were even better this time around. Everything was very on point and they were all in perfect synch with one another, being one collective unit that dominated.
Unfortunately, this was a bit of a sad night for these guys too, because David Howard is also moving to Denver, making this his final show with the band. Each band is different in how they handle a band member leaving, but I hope his departure doesn’t result in a big change in the bands dynamic, because they have something great going on.
You can download all of their music for FREE by going to their BANDCAMP PAGE, so do check that out, and to keep up-to-date with the future of the band and what shows they might have coming up, go give their FACEBOOK PAGE a like.
As it approached time for Spooky Folk to start, the intimate venue began to fill up quickly. It may have been a Monday night, but that hadn’t stopped their fans from all over the area coming out in droves to experience the last Spooky Folk show for some time.
They had promised a lengthy show for this night, saying they were even going to do some songs they hadn’t done in quite awhile, however, as they got going, their focus was on their newer material from their forthcoming album, segueing their first two songs into one another and doing one more after that. At this point singer and rhythm guitarist Kaleo Kaualoku took a moment to inform everyone that over at their merch table they could pre-order a copy of the new record, which would in turn help them pay for it. Violinist and backing singer Petra Kelly then chimed in with her own commentary by saying that everyone should “cry tears of sadness” over Kaleo moving and leaving them there. I think she was trying to make light of the situation, despite the fact that she looked like she could burst into tears at any moment.
The barrage of new stuff continued with another song, before they slowed things down, doing a short track from their debut album, “Diddle”. Live the song was overwhelmingly beautiful, especially the final lines as Kaleo and Petra harmonized, crooning, “Looking for love in all the wrong places seems to be common these days.” Their voices mixed magnificently, and that song was almost more of a prelude in a way, because shortly after they finished they started in on another newer one, “Kicking and Screaming”, which was greeted warmly by the crowd. It’s the band at their best with a constant ebb and flow, and Kaleo is constantly changing up his voice to match Chris Brown’s drumming, going from almost a whisper to full on shouting and then back down again all in mere seconds.
They finally touched some stuff from their self-titled debut record (or at least full songs from it) by doing the mostly serene “Modern World”, then picked things back up with a fan favorite, “Polaroid”. The crowd and the band livened up on that one, especially in the speedy final minutes of the song, which saw Jesse really start to throw down and race about the stage, while Scarlett Wright got a little faster in playing the bass in order to keep up with the beat, but still maintained that traditional calm swagger bassists have.
Upon finishing it the band asked everyone to raise a glass to Grady Don Sandlin, because the well known area musician who also produced and recorded Spooky Folk’s first record couldn’t be here this night because he was on his honeymoon. “…He’s busy having sex…” Jesse added, a blunt comment that got a laugh from just about everybody. Things then turned back to their music, and while Jesse was taking over on Scarletts’ bass, and she in turn was readying her melodica, Petra played a petty solo on her violin, which set them up for “Resurrect!”. It was one of the few songs that had nearly everybody singing along, shouting the chorus right back to the band, “…Everything is wrong when you know that’s right, reach down, deep down somewhere inside, let me know that one day everything is gonna be just fine.” Since first hearing that’s always been a favorite Spooky Folk of mine, and I’d even say it’s one of the most interesting songs in general, due largely to the unique sound the melodica gives it.
They unloaded one more new song on their fans, before doing a golden oldie that, as Petra said, they hadn’t “played in years”. It was one of the longest songs from their album, “Stars”. “Now it’s time for us to rest our heads, watch the stars go up and go to bed…” crooned Kaleo when the song hit its lull, and at that part Jesse mimicked the words, as he placed his hands together to make a pillow and rested his head on them, pretending to sleep. As serious as they are about putting on a good show, they’re also all about having a good time, and that proved it.
Thus ended their 48-minute long set, or at least the first one, as they told everyone they were going to take a little break and then get back up there to rock some more.
Sure enough, a little over an hour after they started their first set, Petra and Kaleo again took the stage, performing a song as a duo, and I believe that song was “Darkest Shade Of Gray”. Chris, Scarlett and Jesse then returned to do the song that used to begin their shows, “My Niagara Heart”.
The pulse-pounding track made it obvious they had saved most of the best for last, even if it was followed by the rarely played gem “I Am A Ghost”, which may be slow and rather gloomy for most of it, but it has some very poignant lyrics. They followed it with “This Sleep”, which worked well and bridged from them back into a full blown rock mode.
Once they finished it, someone bought some shots for them and they were handed out to the band. “…Scarlett is a heavy drinker and you should all pray for her…” Said Jesse, right after Scarlett had said that she doesn’t drink.
At this point in the show, Kaleo had broken a string on his guitar, and he had to borrow one from one of the earlier musicians, namely Ryan Becker. Once he said something about it Petra noted how appropriate that was. See, it was appropriate because they next covered an RTB2 song, specifically “Bottle The Bees”. They put an interesting twist on it, part of which was probably due to them having three more instruments than RTB2 does, but it was a killer cover all the same. They kept things going with what I believe was another newer track of theirs, following it with another tune from their first record, “Rare Bird”, which I’m pretty certain was the song that before starting Petra told everyone it was okay if they cried during it. I don’t think anyone did, but if they had than this song about love and loss would have been the perfect song to shed a few tears to.
As the show began to wind down, Kaleo again informed everyone that this was not a goodbye or a final farewell, saying that once the record was done he would come back to Denton in order to do a CD release show, making it sound like it would be much like this night with multiple sets involved. He also made sure to let the fans know that the new record was nearing completion and is going to be released one of these days. With that they ripped into yet another new song, before doing their final three tracks.
The crowd was elated to hear “Disheveled”, which, in its relatively short existence has already become a hit, and rightfully so, because it’s just a step above their other stuff, being catchy and aggressive, and also features some wicked guitar notes from both Jesse and Kaleo.
All night, on stage right there had been a pedal steel guitar, which I wondered when they were going to put to use, and now Burton Lee, who is best known for playing the pedal steel in the Texas Outlaw Country group Eleven Hundred Springs, joined them on stage and took his seat behind the instrument. The first song he helped them with was a bit of a shock, as they covered Garth Brooks classic, “Friends in Low Places”. Mind you, their rendition wasn’t nearly as country as the original, in fact it was quite electrifying and they did a delightful version of it, with most of the band singing on each chorus.
Then it was time for their final song, which Burton stuck around for. Kaleo knew everyone here knew their final song, and he requested that all the fans join in, saying if they didn’t they’d break up right here and now, noting it wouldn’t be a pretty break up, either. Everyone gladly obliged, though I think they would have sung along to “Bible Belt” even it hadn’t been made into a requirement. “I was born on the bible belt, give me something sharp so I can kill myself, because I can’t go on living this way…” the crowd roared each time on the chorus. The five core members were obviously having the time of their lives performing that song, with Petra happily shaking the tambourine she had swapped out with her violin. In all this second set lasted 57-minutes, and those 57-minutes seemed to pass by too quickly.
The band didn’t just exit the stage, instead they all surrounded Kaleo, hugging him and surely telling him what a fun ride it has been. They then showed their appreciation to everyone by taking a bow and then posing for some group shots, and once they were done Petra quickly left the stage, noticeably wiping away a few tears that she had been holding back all night.
Even if the other members didn’t show it so easily, I imagine they felt the same, and you really can’t blame them, because after all this is the end of a near in a sense. No, they aren’t breaking up and yes, they will do more shows, but they’ll never again (or at least not for a long time) be playing multiple shows a month around the Denton/Dallas/Fort Worth area. Sadly, things will probably never be the same, for them or their fans.
Personally, I can’t say I’m too torn up about it, because as much as I love Spooky Folk, I never saw them on a very regular basis. Still, it was nice knowing I had the option to go see them.
As far as this show goes, it was the eighth time I had seen the band, and hands down it was the best. You could tell they put a lot of work into it with rehearsals and such to make sure it was as big a spectacle as possible. Not only that, but they poured their souls into it, even more so then usual, and left it all on the stage.
They might still be a band, but nonetheless, North Texas lost one of its best, most original, unique and even somewhat quirky bands this night.
According to the talk this night, they are hoping to release their new album sometime this summer, so maybe a few months down the road they’ll be back for another party to mark the release of it. In the meantime, you can listen to/buy their first record on their BANDCAMP PAGE.
What a night and what a show this was. I’m glad I was able to bear witness to it and the drive to Denton was more than worth it.
NOTE: All photos are courtesy of Geoffrey Ussery and all rights belong exclusively to him. Visit his BLOG to see all the great pictures he takes of the various bands he sees. For the full photo set of Tony Ferraro & the Satans of Soft Rock go HERE. For the full photo set of Spooky Folk go HERE.
A few different venues throughout Dallas were hosting what they billed as Homegrown after parties, and the one I most wanted to see was at Three Links, the new venue that has moved into the old LaGrange space.
The venue is essentially the same, though it has undergone some aesthetic changes, which were all for the best. A luxurious looking red curtain now hangs on the wall behind the stage, with the same fabric acting as trim around the stage. It makes things look pretty classy.
As for the music, it was an interesting mix this night, with a couple punk rock bands opening, while the electronic group Ishi was headlining the show.
The first act up was PVC Street Gang, who was almost done by the time I arrived.
I’m kind of glad all I saw was their final song, because I didn’t much care for their stuff. It was just too rough around the edges for me, with the bands singer/guitarist doing more screaming than I care for.
The second trio of the night mined a similar vein as the first, but the one big difference was I knew I liked The Phuss, and it had been far too long since I last saw one of their shows.
The aggressive punk rock act began their set with “Something to Die For”, which seemed especially fierce this night. In fact, during one of the instrumental breaks when Joshua Fleming was slinging his guitar (and body) about the stage, he knocked his mic out of the stand, resulting in a loud sounding thud. A fan tried to fix it, but he didn’t have enough time before the next line of the song, so instead he held it for Josh while he shouted into the microphone.
Eventually it got put back in place and stayed, and mere moments after finishing that song than Josh started them in on their next one, “One for Now Three for Later”. As usual, during the brief silence before the second verse the fans helped out by shouting “BITCH!”, as did band members bassist Forrest Barton, drummer Trey Alfaro and Josh, all off mic. Already they were seeming more driven than usual and their raw, primal energy had everyone’s full attention in the packed venue.
“Are you fucking ready, Dallas?!” yelled Josh as he tuned his guitar. The audience roared to signify they were, while his response was, “Yeah, I fucking doubt it.” It was also during this time that some of the fans were asking for things to be turned up louder, and Josh told the sound guy to “blast everyone out” ‘cause it was what they wanted. It nearly did too, and from “Stupid Girl” on out you could feel the bass lines Forrest was cranking out as they shook several internal organs. Now that’s rock at its best.
Afterwards, Josh mentioned to everyone they had been in the studio for just a few days and were about to go back in the next week or so for a few more and try to finish recording. That was the segue into some of their newer material, the first of which, if I heard correctly, was called “Straight-line Impala”, and it was pretty badass. I favored the next song even more, though. They then did some more stuff from last year’s self-titled record, with Josh saying they had been having fun so far, but they were about to get serious for a minute, as they tore into “Bleed”. It’s filled with pain and anger, and both emotions are apparent in Josh’s singing, as he angrily yells, “…You’re gonna bleed me dry…” It was also during that song that Trey broke one of his drumsticks, hurling what was left of it to the crowd, quickly replacing it and barely missed a beat.
Their onslaught of rock continued with the gritty “The Romantic”, and at the end of it they wound it right into another one of their newer songs, which is my personal favorite of their new stuff, as it evokes the true spirit of Rock ‘n’ Roll. They began to wind things down with their song about being young, sorta, “21 Ain’t What It Was”. That led them to their final song, as Trey started laying down the beat, tossing his drumsticks up in the air one at a time, then barely flipping them again once they got into his left hand as he hit one of his toms. That’s one of the most entrancing moments of “Preacher, Preacher”, but the song didn’t’ fully take off until the bass and guitar roared to life and the fans started shouting along to what Josh was singing.
It creates a wonderful concert moment, and that song alone is an experience. Josh again encouraged everyone to come buy some of their merch, which they had on sale, before leaving the stage, but he didn’t get far before the crowd started chanting for an encore and the request was undeniable. “..>We’ll do one more…” he said after returning to the stage, “But it’s gonna be a short one god dammit!” It wasn’t short, at least not my definition of short, but it was a kickass tune and brought their set time to a lengthy 46-minutes.
The last couple of Phuss shows I saw, which were at the end of last year, they had pushed themselves to a whole new level in regards to their performance, and they’ve only built upon that since.
They’re more precise and in synch with each other than a lot of bands will ever be, and their live show is a raw, violent explosion of rock, just like it should be, and that makes them one of the best bands in the D/FW area that you could see right now.
Pick up their self-titled album in ITUNES, and expect a new release from The Phuss sometime later in the year. Also, they’ll be headlining Club Dada in Dallas on June 14th, with some great talent opening for them.
Now it was time for the headliner, and just eight short days after Ishi had done their monumental CD release show, they were giving their hometown another dose of love, and Dallas was more than ready for it.
The fans packed in tighter than sardines as they got ready to start, and for the first time in my few short years of being an Ishi fan, I was going to see them as a three-piece, sans the backing female vocalist, a role which has been filled by Becky Middleton for the last few years.
Right before they got going, singer John Mudd left the stage, making a few additions to his wardrobe, as he returned looking very similar to how he did at their CD release show. He wore a mink stole of sorts draped around his shoulders and sported a hat that was covered with reflective pieces of glass, like what a disco ball has.
Much of the audience sang right along with him as he made something of an “Ooooooh” sound to start of their opener, “Mirror Ball Sky”. It also didn’t take anyone long to succumb to the music, as much of the crowd started dancing and even jumping around, fully engulfed by the peaceful sounding song.
They threw the songs out quickly, and they had barely finished it when drummer Jonathan Merla, who was also in charge of the computer and sample tracks, started the one for “Our Time”, resulting in a massive cheer when they realized what track it was. Since this is one song that typical uses the female singer, I was curious as to how that part would be done, if it was at all. It was, with John singing the bridge, giving it more of mystical feel, before he jumped back into action with the final verse, “Don’t let go of who you are…”
They got back to focusing on their new material, as Rocky Ottley plucked the strings of his guitar as “Moon Watcher” began to build. Despite it being a slower song, it’s still one of their best in my opinion, and certainly didn’t slow down the dancing that was going on, and at the end of it John bowed to the crowd, in perfect time with the music. “Emotional Hard Drive” was another tune that sent the audience into somewhat of a frenzy, grooving to the infectious beat. Various moves were made on this song to correspond with the lyrics, looking at his imaginary watch on the line “…I look at my watch wondering when…”, or making a move like he was flexing his arm as he sang “…As you strut you stuff, looking so tough, well I don’t buy it.” All the while, the stunner shades he wore were lighting up colors of neon red and lime green.
They followed it with “Touch The Future”, yet another song that had some fans singing along, aiding in the backing vocals. Near the end of the song, once Jonathans’ drumming and Rockys’ guitar playing got a little more intense, John grabbed the mink, slinging it in the air as he twirled it about, sending small bits of the fur flying around the air. That made it apparent they were starting to step things up this night, and they only kept pushing themselves with “Slowly But Surely”. Shortly before the first line, John and Rocky, who were standing on opposite sides of the small stage, ran towards the center and leapt into the air, each landing on the side the other had started out on. It was neat to see, and very well calculated on their part. Things only got more interesting though, and closer towards the end John fell to the floor and began to hump it, as if there was woman there only he could see. It’s far from a new move, but it is one I hadn’t seen him do at a show in awhile, and this night I think it earned him some looks of disbelief, while other people just couldn’t keep from laughing.
They switched up the mood with the almost eerie “Digital Wounds”, and after finishing it, Rocky had to ask his band mates what was next. “I.S.H.I.” you saw Jonathan say to him, but then John decided they needed to deviate slightly from the setlist, and instead do their new song, which, to the best of my knowledge hard first been debuted eight days before. I liked it even more this time around and it’s an incredible song that I think will, in time, become the bands next anthem.
A sign that their set was coming to an end was one of the singles from the “Digital Wounds” record, “Disco Queen”, because after all, you need to save your best songs for last. “Rocky Ottley!” John shouted at one point in the song, giving him the spotlight for a bit as Rocky cranked out his killer solo. Before carrying on with their next song, John reached behind an amp and pulled out his Native American headdress, complete with neon elements adorning the feathers which are constantly lighting up. Everyone knew what was coming, and they eagerly awaited the start of “Mother Prism”. It’s a song that truly is something else and it promotes a real feeling of camaraderie. In fact, for the six plus minutes the song spanned, everybody seemed like they were one, and as a unit everyone was fully engaged by that masterpiece.
With the two singles from their new record out of the way, it was time to focus on the remaining highlights from the “Through the Trees” album, and with “Pastel Lights”, this dance party was kicked into high gear. Every single person in there was doing some type of moving around on that one, even if it was as simple as swaying about. “This is our last song of the night, Dallas.” Said John as the track for “Shake Your Dandelion” started, and he again thanked everyone for coming out and supporting them two weeks in a row. There’s a real seductive quality to the song and it left everyone satisfied as it concluded their 58-minute long set, however, my favorite part of the song was a brief guitar solo Rocky embarked on, taking some liberties with it, which resulted in something amazing.
No, the show wasn’t nearly the spectacle they had made their CD release gig into, and the setlist this night wasn’t as beefy either, but the performance was still every bit as good.
Ishi isn’t much different as a trio as they are as a four-piece, in fact, with it just being the core members this night, I thought they seemed even a little more cohesive. It was all top-notch in every aspect.
And in regards of the turnout, that speaks to what a force Ishi currently is. I can’t think of any local band right now that could do a big event like a CD release show, then turnaround eight days later and do another concert in the same town, and come awfully close to selling out both. Especially when practically all of their fans were at the show the week prior, which would mean the only reason they’d want to see the band again is sheer love for their music. And really, that’s more than enough reason, and just goes to show how much the music fans of Dallas (and beyond) have embraced Ishi.
June will be a fairly active month for Ishi, with shows in San Antonio at The Korova on the 7th, then Fitzgerald’s in Houston on the 8th. On the 21st they’ll bring the part to the Wild Rooster in Fort Worth, while the following night they can be seen at the Grand Stafford Theater in Bryan, TX. Also, be sure to check out both of their albums in ITUNES.
It had been a great night. Hell, it had been an amazing day, but at this point I had been listening to live bands for over thirteen hours, and I was ready to call it a day.