It was that time of year again. Time for the Dallas Observer Music Awards, and with that comes the DOMA showcase.
Five different venues were participating this year, some of which boasted some outdoor stages, bringing it to a grand total of eight stages that sixty bands would rock over the course of eight plus hours.
And I figured, “Hey, why not get the most bang for my ten dollar ticket and get there as early as possible!”
The set times were staggered, with some acts at some venues beginning right on the hour, while at others they started twenty or even forty-minutes after the hour, which ensured you could maximize the experience. And I had sifted through all the acts and times and compiled a list of fifteen bands I could at least see some of.
My schedule called for me to begin the night/late evening at Club Dada, so after I arrived in Dallas at about 5:50, I headed towards the venue.
Sarah Sellers was performing there, and until this event, I had never even heard of her. She was however a constant on season 10 of American Idol (though I’m uncertain how far she got), so that should count for something. At least that was my thinking in deciding to see her performance.
Her set was comprised of both originals and a few covers, none of which I knew, though that didn’t matter. Because the 20 or so minutes that I caught, it was her powerhouse voice that was the most captivating thing. Yeah, it was readily clear how she got on American Idol. It was very forceful, sounding like a blend of numerous genres, such as Soul, Blues and R&B. She and her band (the two guitarists I recognized as Josh Goode and Daran DeShazo) played some songs, some of which fit into those previously mentioned genres, while others were a little more Pop and Rock sounding. And possibly the best moment was when all the instrumentalists, sans the keyboard player, took a backseat for a slower song, where her voice really soared.
Honestly, while I enjoyed it, I didn’t like enough to “become a true fan” by buying her music. That’s not to say she doesn’t boast a great deal of talent, though, and I wouldn’t mind seeing another show at some point in time.
Now, she doesn’t have any music for sale (that I can find), but you can enjoy plenty of her music either on YOUTUBE (where she is a bit of a sensation) or REVERBNATION. Also, check out the latter for future show dates.
Once they finished, I stepped out on to the patio at Club Dada, where The Rich Girls were already going. They are a Hall and Oates tribute band, and nothing against the music, but I’ve just never cared for it too much. Still, out of all the other acts playing the various stages at this time, these guys seemed to have the most potential in my opinion.
In the end, they didn’t do much for me, though. They were a rather large ensemble, having six members in all, two of whom were keyboard players. The main turn off for me was their singers voice, which sounded off on everything I heard. It didn’t seem too strong to begin with, either. They were entertaining, though, and the comedy they used in between songs managed to get some laughs from some of the crowd.
Once they ended, I ventured back inside where the next act was supposed to be starting shortly. It turned out though, that he was already playing.
The guy was Clint Niosi, a Fort Worth based musician who, somehow, I had never heard of until this.
He was at the tail end of one song, and next did a song from his latest record, “For Pleasure and Spite”, called “Little Heart”. I was instantly enthralled. It was quickly clear his the lyrics were the main focal point of his songs, and the simplicity of the music, which was just an acoustic guitar (at least for now), made sure you truly did focus on what he was singing. At least that’s how it worked for me. Most of the people who were in Club Dada, though, seemed to care less and were talking amongst themselves, making it hard to fully enjoy the performance. It was after that song he welcomed a fellow musician up on the stage, Claire Hecko, who added a violin to the mix for most of their remaining 30-minute set. The now duo did the song, “Shark In Your Water”, which, like several in the set, had a very ominous undertone to it. Aiding that quality was the fact that the first few lines, such as, “I was a shark in your water. You were drinking like a fish. You offered me a bite…”, were spoken rather than sung. It made it quite eerie, and even a bit frightening sounding. “New Light” came next, and afterwards, Clint announced the next song was titled “White Elephant”. After a lengthy instrumental intro, that, for a moment, had me wondering if the song even had any words to it, Clint began to speak them. I’ve always thought music needs to be song, but the way he does it in speaking adds such depth to it all. He achieves a slightly gruff, melancholy sound by speaking, packed with emotion. Granted, that emotion is more sadness than anything, but it’s still a strong feeling. They next did “The Sum of Parts”, which found Claire aiding Clint with some backing vocals, proving that not only is she a great talent on the violin, but also has a nice set of pipes on her. With “While I’ve Got You on the Line”, they finally did something that had more of an upbeat sound to it, albeit not much of one. Upon finishing it, Claire left, while Clint remarked they had done pretty good on time, and concluded his show with “We’ll Meet Again”, the final track from his 2008 album. It was an appropriate end to the show, but when he finished it, he was informed he had a little time left. “Does anyone want to hear another song?” he asked. Again, most people seemed like they could have cared less (I’ll get to that in a minute), but myself and a girl who was enjoying the music answered his question with a “Yeah.” “That’s good enough for me.” He responded, and proceeded to do one final song. If it was one of his, it’s not on any album. However, after searching online, I somewhat think it was a cover of the song, “True Lies” by the band Esqarial. At least after finding the lyrics to that song they seem to match up with what I remember he sang. Either way, I found it to be the best song of the set, and I’m glad he had time to do it.
Getting to the crowd, they were pretty loud in relation to this acoustic act, and it was visible that it upset Clint. “I’m sorry I’m not a louder act for you all…” he sarcastically told everyone, while he glared at the people gathered around the bar. It was an annoyance, even for me just trying to enjoy their music, so I can definitely understand his frustration.
That leads me to say this: Give the artist the respect that they deserve. If this had been some loud rock band, this would not have been nearly as big an issue, but it wasn’t. So really people, if there’s an act performing and you’re not enjoying what they are doing and want to talk with friends, then leave. Go out to the patio area (which I realize was also hosting bands this night) or go out front of the venue and chat. It’s not fair to the singer, who is trying to do their job, nor is it fair to people (even if there are only five or less of them) that are loving the music. It’s common courtesy and simple respect. I mean, how would you like it if someone showed up to your place of employment and started disrupting you when you were trying to get something done?
Well, getting something done is exactly what every musician is trying to do when they’re on a stage. Sure, it might not be their full-time job, and is most cases, they aren’t even making money doing it, but it’s a job nonetheless.
I don’t mean to sound like an a-hole by saying that, so I hope it doesn’t come across that way, but people really need to think before they start loudly talking to one another, or at the very least watch how loud they are being. Also, Clint deserves some serious props for not losing his cool during the show, because you could tell he wanted to go off on the patrons.
Anyway, while that did subtract from the show slightly, it was still an amazing performance. Clint Niosi is a great singer, but a phenomenal songwriter. The music was awe-inspiring and lyrically, is some of the best I’ve ever heard. Which makes me wonder, how am I just now hearing of this guy?!
He has two albums available, and you can purchase them in either ITUNES or BANDCAMP. You can also see him on December 17th at The Grotto in Fort Worth.
As soon as he finished that last song, I headed out the door and walked a few building over to LaGrange.
The Arlington Pop/Rock band, The Breakfast Machine, was playing there, and was scheduled to start anytime now. Keyword, scheduled.
They ran into some technical difficulties, and Brandon Reynolds couldn’t hear his bass, and it took them about ten minutes, give or take, to finally get everything in working order. You wouldn’t think something like that would impact their set time, seeing as it wasn’t the bands fault, but it did.
As soon as everything was in order, they took off, and got going with a pretty killer, Pop infused song. They kept the pace going with “Cloudy with a Chance of the Mondays”, though the song has some more dreamy sounding parts, especially when it comes to the guitar lines from Ryan Sobczak and Chris Mansfield. That song is the opening track from their “A Pitch to the Wind” EP, and they followed it up with the song that comes next on the album, “Meanwhile in the Cherry Fields”. During those first few songs, vocalist, Meghann Moore, took a little time in between to tell the decent sized crowd who they were and how to vote for them for Best Rock Acts in the Dallas Observer Music Awards. Though, from the next song out, they stepped into overdrive and did a rapid succession of songs, one right after the other. Drummer, Zach Mayo, informed the audience that their next song was a new one. “…It will be on the next record, just as soon as we record it…” he said, before they started it. As it drew to the end, Zach then rounded it into their next tune, “Jumble Jet”. Towards the end, Brandon sang a few lines of it, before getting to what I find to be the best part of the song, and that is the duet he and Meghann do. Her voice is impeccable, and there’s no doubt he is a good singer, too, and when combined, their voices sound rather heavenly. They raced through a few more newer songs, three to be precise, before asking how much time they had left. “You can do one more.” The sound guy informed them. They were shocked by that, and you could see Meghann mouth, “WHAT?!” I assume they had to cut a few songs, because it looked like they had a short band meeting as to how they should end their 32-minute long set, and settled on another newer one.
It did suck, both for them and their fans. In some ways I understand, because with an event of this magnitude, you have to strictly adhere to the allotted time slots. But it also doesn’t seem fair to me that their late start counted against them. Oh, well. Not much that could be done.
As for the show, it was alright. My main complaint was it was very hard to hear Meghanns’ voice, which is hardly the fault of the bands. But that aside, I thought they were really good this night. Despite the technical issues, and the smaller stage they had to work with, they still put on an energetic performance. And the way Brandon rocked out, you never would have known he had been having trouble hearing his bass.
The band has an EP, “A Pitch to the Wind”, available for FREE download on their BANDCAMP PAGE. And to keep up-to-date on their future concerts, then keeps tabs on their FACEBOOK PAGE.
When they were done, I returned to Club Dada, where Home by Hovercraft was finishing up their performance. I had hoped to catch a little more of them, but knew my chance of that was pretty slim.
This unique band, which features the use of a tuba, as well a step dancer, was finishing one song when I walked in, and afterwards started one of their newer songs, “Modernized”. I had seen them once before a few months before, and didn’t think I remembered much of their music, but once that song got underway, I realized it had left more of an impression on me than I thought. It’s pretty catchy, in a weird, offbeat sort of way. Their newest single, “Rocket”, came next, as Shawn Magill began playing the keyboard, while she and singer, Seth Magill, harmonized for the first line, and periodically throughout the tune. “If I die in the summer I want to be buried. If I die in the winter, I want to be burned. If I die in your arms I want to be put inside a rocket and shot up to the sun…”, they sang. It’s a lovely song, in a way that is completely its own. To end things, they did a song from the musical they’ve helped write, and were joined by some of the actors that will be a part of the musical. So, what’s the story of this musical you ask? Well, it’s about Marie Antoniette and the first time machine. Seth told everyone that general plot, then added something like, “So if you’ve wondered why we’re kind of weird. It’s because were also theater people, and theater people are kind of weird…”. There’s nothing wrong with being weird, though. Especially when it makes you stand out as much as Home By Hovercraft does.
They have an EP, “Seams”, that you can buy from their BANDCAMP PAGE. You can also listen to Rocket on there, which will be included on their full-length album, “Are We Chameleons?, due to be released sometime next year and it will feature songs from their musical. By the way, it runs through December 15th and will be in Dallas, so visit their FACEBOOK PAGE for more info on that.
It was back to LaGrange after that, where Jessie Frye was the next scheduled act, and was practically ready to play when I got back into the venue.
I was a bit surprised that it was only her and guitarist, Jordan Martin, since usually she does a full-band with her, though I didn’t think on too much. The duo opened the short, 25-minute long set with “Powerlines”. Out of the very few new tunes I’ve heard at previous live shows, this one has been one of my favorites, and this scaled back version sounded even better. The piano was hauntingly beautiful, while the guitar notes were rather soft and greatly complimented the piano. New songs were the main focus, though there were a couple of older songs thrown in, like “Red Angel White Devil” and my personal favorite, “Sleeping Tornadoes”, which has almost more of a classical sound when done in this format. Before that latter song, Jessie addressed why the other band members were missing, saying it just worked out that they were out of town this particular weekend. Really, that was fine with me, because it’s not too often you get to see her perform in this setting. As they finished that song, Jordan unplugged his guitar and left the stage, but after finding out they still had plenty of time remaining, he returned and they did a new tune. When it was over, he was done for the night, and watched from the side of the stage while Jessie did a solo version of the final song.
It was a great, albeit short set. Still, in watching it, there’s no denying that she’s one of the most talented female vocalists in the D/FW area (a category which she was nominated in for this year’s DOMA).
You can find her first two EPs, “The Delve” and “Fireworks Child” in either ITUNES or BANDCAMP. It’s also worth noting that on the Bandcamp site, you can get a free download of the latter EP. The band is also working on recording their debut LP, which will come out sometime in 2013. Because of that, shows have been pretty sparse lately, but just keep an eye on their websites to know when she and her band will be performing.
I was really getting my exercise this night, especially between LaGrange and Club Dada, which was where I returned to at this point.
Already performing was Ronnie Fauss, who is an exceptional Americana/Country singer. I had only seen him twice before this, with the last time being a little over a year ago, and during that time a lot has happened for Mr. Fauss. He has signed with Normaltown Records (which is a division of New West Records, which some pretty notable acts on their roster.) He’s released a full-length record on that label, and instead of just being a solo singer, he now has a full-band that adds to the depth of the music.
There hometown shows had been very few since the release of that record, and I had been unable to make the one they had done, so I pretty excited to catch this one.
I had missed some of their show, but from looking at their setlist, I think it was only one song, while they were in the midst of their second tune. During that half a song I first caught, it was already noticeable that the pedal steel guitar, drums, bass and electric guitar improved the music exponentially, and I got the feeling this would be one of the best acts I saw this night.
A lot of what they did was songs from the new record, though some older ones were mixed in here and there, such as the first full song I heard, “Tia Maria”. It was slightly different from what I recalled, and was a little faster paced, though it still told the same story that makes it get the listeners interest. …This next one is called A Pretty Nice Night for Houston…” Ronnie told the audience, leading them into a song from “I Am the Man You Know I’m Not”. The song is laced with some sweet riffs on the pedal steel guitar, which is the quintessential instrument for any true Country band, well, that and the acoustic guitar, which Ronnie played for just about every song. The following number was possible the best of their set, and Ronnie set it up by saying they “get into trouble” when they play it anywhere outside of Texas, and that they even upset some people with it a recent show in Colorado. The song is about how Texas is better than any other state, “…Like we needed another one of those songs…” he said laughing, then added, “But I wrote one…” It’s called “Answers You Already Know”, and is a slower song with some deep lyrics (actually, that “deep lyrics” part is a trait that all of his music has.) “…Dreams they ain’t nothing but wishes that have not yet turned in to lies…” he crooned on the first verse, which is filled with other similar ponderings. And then there’s the line that probably upset their Colorado audience, “…And the stars shine brighter in Texas, then they do up in Colorado…”. Following it was the lead track and single from the album, “The Night Before the War”, which Ronnie mentioned had been getting some airplay on KXT 91.7 in Dallas. They started to wind things down with “Good Enough”, while rounding out the 28-minutes that I caught was another favorite of mine that had gotten a new spin put on it, “To Ease My Mind”. It’s a strong song to finish on, and also offers a more fitting end to the show then most other band’s closing songs do.
Like the singer/songwriter I saw here early this night, Ronnie is a true genius when it comes to penning songs, and not only does he write great ones, he writes ones that tell actual stories. And that is a true gift, and one that a lot of musicians seems to be lacking these days. He also has quite a distinctive voice that is unlike any other singer I’ve heard before, and it fits perfectly with the Alternative/Country style of music he plays.
Then you have his band, which is a team of great musicians that really help bring these songs to life. They put on a good stage show to boot, and Ronnie built a nice rapport with the crowd, too.
All of that is reasons to go check out a live show, such as his next full-band performance, right here at Club Dada on December 15th. The next night he’ll be doing a solo gig at the Kessler Theater, also in Dallas.
As for his records, you can find “I Am the Man You Know I’m Not” on iTunes, or probably on the website of any big name retailer (Amazon.com, Best Buy, etc.) There’s also another record on iTunes, “The Sun is Shining Somewhere, But Somewhere Isn’t Here”, which compiles many of the songs from his first three EPs he released over the years. Be sure to check both out and buy ‘em if you like it.
I also want to add that I am impressed and surprised that Ronnie remembered me. I think it has been about a year and a half or so since I saw him at Lochrann’s Pub in Frisco (a restaurant/venue that is now closed), yet after their set, when my dad and I approached him to tell him we liked the show, he looked at me, “I’ve met you before.” I know musicians meet a lot of fans, especially in the long of a timeframe. So I think it’s cool he did remember it, and “vividly” at that. I remember it rather well, too, and he’s really a nice guy to talk to.
Guess where I went to after his set? Yes, LaGrange.
By this point, the women working the door remembered me and no longer asked to check my ID. Awesome.
Bad Design was on stage here, and they are a semi-Punk band from Denton.
I’ve heard a lot about them over the last year or more, and decided to check them out for a bit to see what they were like. Honestly, I was none to impressed. They were brash and raw, which isn’t a bad thing, but their singers voice wasn’t all that great in my opinion. I caught a few songs, and that was enough for me.
On a side note, this was the last time I was ever at LaGrange (at least in its current incarnation). Sadly, the venue closed during the following week. It’s always bad to lose a venue, especially when it’s one that was as cool as this place. It was a smaller club, and offered more of an intimate connection between the fans and bands that played there. It will be missed, but maybe, hopefully, someone will buy the space and re-open it. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for that.
Trees was the next destination, where Mystery Skulls was scheduled to play. Unfortunately, either the schedule changed without me knowing it, or Trees got ahead/behind schedule, because a completely different act was just starting when I walked in, and since he was a Hip-Hop artist, I could have cared less for his music.
I’m still unsure what the deal was, and upset that I missed Mystery Skulls. While the Electronic band is from Dallas, they have been absent from the North Texas scene since the end of May, and have been doing shows in California and such. I’m also not sure when they will do another Dallas area gig, but I guess I’m just going to have to wait for it, even if it is another five and a half months.
Suddenly, I found myself with a large chunk of empty space on what had been a thoroughly planned out schedule. And with no other bands playing anywhere that appealed to me, it just made sense to go to the patio back at Club Dada and wait for The Blurries to start.
This gave me about a half hour long break of sitting in a chair, which did my legs some serious good. Otherwise, I’m not sure I could have made it standing for eight plus hours.
The quintet opened up their 36-minute long set with one of the singles from their “Paper Cuts” album, “Pretty Knife”. One thing about this band is that they tear through their songs, and soon after finishing it launched right into their next one, the fast paced, “Your Love”. The song is filled with some intense guitar shredding and nice vocal harmonies to boot, making it one of the best songs in their live performance. After the title track from their record, “Paper Cuts”, the bands singer stated that their next one was a cover song. I couldn’t hear him to well as he dropped the name of the band who originally did the song, though I think it was The Hollies. While I believe the song was “So Lonely”. If that is the right song, it was a great choice for the band, as they have an older Rock sound like that, though there’s a lot of Indie Rock flare added to The Blurries material. They got back to their own stuff with the shorter, percussion driven, “Jumping Up And Down On The Ice”, and followed it with “Sunlight”, which has one of the catchiest guitar chord progressions I’ve ever heard. The song will probably even act like a ray of sunlight and brighten you up a little, as it just has a cherry mood to it. Another upbeat song is “My Love Is A Fuse That Burns So Slowly”, which I believe was one of a couple of songs that required their singer to switch his typical, six-string guitar for a twelve-string one. They continued on with “For The Night”, and then did another fan favorite, “Little Marie”, before ending with “Pulling Teeth”.
My words on their set might be light, but that’s because they stick mainly to playing their music, and their music speaks for itself.
It’s undeniable great, and to help set it apart further from most other bands is the falsetto voice their singer possess. It has a real unique sound to it, I guarantee unlike any other voice you’ve heard before, and it fits well with the music.
As of right now, the bands next gig will be on December 14th at The Doublewide in Dallas. And be sure to check out the “Paper Cuts” record in either ITUNES or BANDCAMP.
Trees was the next destination, and I hoped the band I wanted to see would be playing this time around.
They were, in fact, they were already at least a song into the performance. Oh, “they” is the best Punk/Rock trio in the state of Texas, The Phuss.
Most likely “Strike You Down” was their opening number, so sadly I had missed it, and they were at the very end of another tune. It was too late to do anything about that, but damn, I hated that I had missed that song. After that song, singer and guitarist, Joshua Fleming, began plucking the guitar strings, leading them directly into their next song. “You make it so hard to love you, that’s not to say I don’t try…” he sang, the first line of “One for Now Three for Later”, while drummer, Trey Alfaro, added some hefty beats during each pause between the lyrics. The venue was pretty full, and everybody was either a dedicated fan of the bands or were in the process of becoming one, as they gazed at the band. I’d go with the former, though, because after Josh sang, “…Just give me my chance to speak.” the audience knew what they had to do, and yelled out, “BITCH!” during the short pause. They kept on going with the heavy-hitter, “Stupid Girl”, which bassist, Forrest Barton, really rocked out on. While the band released a new record only seven months before this, they already have cooked up some new songs, and did one of those next. If memory serves me correctly, Josh prefaced it by saying he hoped everyone got “…high and laid…” this night. “…That’s why I started a band in the first place…” he added, before saying the song was about, “…Fucking someone you shouldn’t.” The song has a line that goes something like, “…If god don’t agree, then the devil’s got a friend in me…” I’m sure I’m paraphrasing that, but it’s something similar. They were on a roll at this point, and Josh kept things going by leading them into “Bleed”, which has some intense, near blood curdling screams. “So Hard to Swallow” came next, and was a nice little surprise to me, as it’s one they don’t do much these days, but has been one I’ve always loved. Upon finishing it, Josh asked how much time they had left. “…Okay, we got ten minutes left and three more songs…” he told everyone, before asking everyone to pack in as close to the stage as they could get. The final three songs of the 30-minute set included “The Romantic”, with its sick guitar solo, and “21 Ain’t What it Was”, which could be construed as being an anthem of sorts. Then they were on their final song, which is possible one of the best songs that has been written. Trey started in with a steady beat, tossing each drumstick in the air after hitting his kit, juggling them if you will, which is the coolest part of “Preacher, Preacher”. “…I want to be born again, and again, and again…” Josh continuously growled at the end of the song, before the closed it out, by all either rocking out some notes or pounding out some beats on their instruments.
In terms of performance, there’s no question that The Phuss takes the cake for putting on the best one this night.
The band has always been a beast live, and even I didn’t care for their music much at first, though was captivated by their live show, before finally being reeled in as a true fan. But as good as they were, they’ve now greatly exceeded that.
I think that can largely be attributed to their two East Coast tours they’ve done (the second of which they had only recently returned from). There’s no better way to become more cohesive then spending weeks together in a van, and no better way to tighten up a live show then by performing almost nightly for a few weeks, and in the case of The Phuss, all of that has really paid off.
They’ve transcended what they were before, and if you don’t think they’re one of the best Rock bands in the state of Texas, then there’s something wrong with you. It’s as simple that.
Their next two shows will be in Fort Worth and Denton, The former will take place on December 7th at Whiskey Girl Saloon, while the latter will be December 21st at Hailey’s. You can also find their self-titled record in ITUNES.
Once they finished up, I headed to another venue, which was where I planned to spend the remainder of the night. That venue was Reno’s Chop Shop.
Somebody’s Darling was the first band I wanted to see here, and they were about halfway through with the first song of their 38-minute set, “Weight of the Fear”. I hate that I had missed part of my favorite song of the band, but I at least walked in at the best part, as the guitars, bass and drums subsided, and singer and rhythm guitarist, Amber Farris, belted out a few lines, like, “…So, here’s my rebel screaming, you hear it loud and clear…”. They didn’t waste much time, mainly because they couldn’t afford to, so drummer, Nate Wedan, wound them right into their next tune, “Back to the Bottle”, with a little drum solo/intro. There’s some killer instrumental parts on that song, which nicely show of all the instruments, from Mike Talley’s skills on the keys, to David Ponder’s ability to seriously shred on his axe, though Amber can almost rival him, while Wade Cofer meticulously (and casually) pounded out his bass notes. Next was a cover song, which was one of the best things they did at their CD release show the previous month, though I wasn’t sure what song it was then. But now I know it. It was an out-of-this-world rendition of Jack White’s, “Love Interruption”, which was given a more Americana based sound to fit the bands style, and sounded heavenly as Amber’s rich, soulful voice delivered the lyrics. Here’s to hoping that song is kept in their live show for a while, because they definitely do it right. They then did some more stuff from the new album, “Jank City Shakedown”, one of which was “Pretty Faces”, while the other was “The Middle”. They slowed things down with that latter song, though Amber didn’t break out her acoustic guitar like she had done at their CD release show. It didn’t greatly affect the song, though it does sound more like the recorded version when the acoustic is used. Another cover song was played next, and I’m not sure what it was. Regardless, they cranked it out and made it sound just as good as their originals. Speaking of their originals, they had saved some of the best for last, such as the impressive number, “Cold Hands”. “Keep Shakin’” followed, and it comes across much stronger in the live setting than it does on the record, before Amber announced they had one last song to do, and that was “Wedding Clothes”.
I haven’t seen many Somebody’s Darling shows, but this one was proof that the band doesn’t cut corners, even if they have to cut songs.
I certainly wasn’t expecting an hour long set like they had done at their CD release show, but they packed just as much energy and intensity into those 38-minutes as they had in sixty. That’s the sign of a true performer. Well, that and the fact that their passion and dedication for what they are doing shines through during each performance.
As for their CDs, they have two available, and you can purchase both of them in ITUNES. As for their next few concerts, they have one on December 7th at Hopkins Icehouse in Texarkana, Arkansas. You can see them at the Firehouse Saloon in Houston on December 29th, while on the 31st they will do a hometown gig at The Granada Theater in Dallas. They also have a couple scheduled in the new year on January 4th and 5th. Those will both be at the Parrot Bar inside the Choctaw Casino in Durant, Oklahoma.
I stepped outside on to the patio/deck area when they finished, where some more great Americana/Country music was already being played, by the wonderful, J. Charles & The Trainrobbers.
I had been wanting to see these guys ever since my first (and only encounter) with them back in January, but had been unable to. And sadly, a few songs would be all I would catch this night, but that’s better than none at all.
The “stage” out here on the patio is set up in the corner, and isn’t much of a stage. Because of that, three of the four band members, singer and guitarist, J(effrey). Charles Saenz, drummer, Steve Visneau, and pedal steel guitarist, Danny Crelin, were squeezed onto the stage, while bassist, Justin Young, was a bit removed from them, standing in front of the stage. They finished the song they were doing, then did a couple others, none of which I recognized, though they sounded quite good. The they got into a few songs I recognized. “Something Wrong” was one of ‘em, and damn it is a solid song. Jeff somewhat shouted much of the song, and a fiery passion could be heard in his voice, growing with each passing second. “I’m a man that’s been searching for something wrong!…” he declared . I was blown away just from that one song, and if you are going to listen to just one song of the bands, make sure it’s that one. Then you’ll be itching to hear more. They then toned things down a little with “Three Shades of Black”, though the quality of the song was every bit as good as the one that preceded it.
Those four songs were all I caught. But I’m definitely going to have to make it to another one of their shows soon. By the way, they’ll have a free on coming up on December 7th at Adair’s Saloon in Dallas.
As good as I remember them being, I think they were even better this night. To the point that I’m fairly certain that this was not the same band I had seen earlier in the year.
Also, go give a listen to their debut record, “Upon Leaving”, and buy a copy if you dig it.
After that, I returned inside. I had been wanting to see Zhora for quite some time, now, and the acoustic set I saw part of a few weeks prior to this didn’t cut it for me. So I wasn’t going to risk missing any of their set.
They were finishing setting up, which involved having some screens placed behind them to project some video onto. So, it looked like it would be interesting enough.
The first song of their set was really good. Both catchy and had a trippy, spacey vibe to it. The bands computer/electronics expert, Taylor Cleveland, who is a DJ of sorts, segues them right into their next song, while lead vocalist, Taylor Rea, picked up a bass. That added a whole new element to the show, and made “Sunset” a pretty heavy rhythm based song. Her softer, yet powerful voice soared on it, though, offering a nice counterbalance. At this point, Taylor R. told the massive crowd that she wasn’t too good at talking in between songs. “…So I just don’t do it…” she noted, though she also thanked everyone for coming out and choosing to see them over all the other great bands that were performing opposite them. They then got going with another song, and after it did the dreamy, “The Hold”. When it was done, Taylor ditched the bass she had been using, and this were I felt the show reach a whole different level. There’s no argument that the additional instrument adds a lot to their sound, but she’s better suited at being a frontwoman, and moved somewhat seductively around the stage as she sang their next song. Upon finishing it, she picked the bass up again, this time to do “Futuristic Land”, and like most of their other songs it required her using her vocal pad to add various effect to the sound. Then you had final two songs of their 33-minute set, which were done sans the bass.
It was a pretty straightforward show, which is cool. And while I’m not usually a big fan of bands using visuals, as I think they subtract from the performance, it was quite the opposite with Zhora, as the footage they used fit well with their music. And speaking of their music, they need to get a full-length record, or at the very least another EP, released soon, because after hearing the other songs that are a part of their arsenal, they have some extraordinary sounding tracks.
They are also all real good at what they do. I already mentioned Taylor R., who was great as a backing singer in the band Ishi, however has reached a whole new depth, both as a singer and performer, now that she is the primary vocalist. Taylor C. has a real knack for what he does, and could easily compete with some of the best DJ’s around, and I also like the fact that he blended almost every song into the next, which gave the show a nice flow. The you have drummer, Ross Martinez, who to be honest, I couldn’t see too well this night, though it sounded like he did a spot-on job, while guitarist, Logan Kelson, rocked out.
I’m glad I finally got to see what all the fuss is about, and Zhora is definitely worthy of it. You can catch them on December 22nd at The Doublewide in Dallas. Also, head over to their BANDCAMP PAGE where you can download their self-titled EP, as well as a cover of The Cure’s, “Just Like Heaven”.
At this point, there were no other bands playing that I had any desire to see, meaning for only the second time this night I had some downtime. That wasn’t a good thing, though, because as always when you have nothing to do, you get bored. Thankfully, there was only about 40-minutes to kill before the last act of the night (that I wanted to see), The Roomsounds, hit the stage.
They didn’t start too much later from their scheduled 1:20 start time, and embarked on their 35-minute set with the lead track from their debut record, “Ripper”. That’s a nice, powerful Rock song to start off with, especially when they got to the chorus, where lead guitarist, Sam Janik, bassist, Red Coker, drummer, Dan Malone, and singer and rhythm guitarist, Ryan Michael, really cut loose on their instruments. While Ryan soulfully shouted out, “…You don’t want me there, I don’t want you there, let me be and take you jealousy with you…” As soon as that one concluded, Ryan announced their next one. “This next song is called Chasin’ a Fox.” he said, as Dan led them off on it with some rapid beats. I believe they followed it with one of their newer songs, but then got back to their material from “We’re #1” with the upbeat, Classic Rock sounding, “Honest Man”. Somewhere around this point in the show the encountered some technical difficulties, which caused them to be inactive for a couple of minutes or so. I wouldn’t say it was really detrimental to their show, though it did kind of ruin the flow they had established thus far. I’m fairly certain “Don’t Come Home” was rocked out next, and then came a single of the bands, “Couldn’t Break My Spirit”. They did a couple more newer ones, and before starting the second one, Ryan told the fans they had “a couple left”. I think their time ran out, though, because when they finished it, they bid everyone goodnight and thanked them for coming out.
It was a bit strange, since the two other times I’ve seen them they’ve played for a little over an hour, so it was weird for me to see such an abbreviated set from them. Still, I thought they were a bit more raw this night then those past couple of times, and that goes a long way in making an incredible show. Basically, I’m saying this was the best The Roomsounds show I’ve seen yet.
Both their shows and music are incredibly lively, and out of any band in the North Texas area that is mining the Classic Rock genre, these guys are doing the best job at (somewhat) emulating it and paying it the respect it deserves.
You can purchase their “We’re #1” record in iTunes, and even download the single version of “Couldn’t Break My Spirit” HERE. As for shows, they have one tentatively scheduled at The Curtain Club in Dallas on February 23rd, but will no doubt be doing plenty of others in between now and then. So just keep a check on one of their websites.
It was 2:01 AM when they finished, which is pretty late for me when it comes to being out in Dallas. It was an awesome night, though, chocked full of fantastic music. It was also nice to see so many other people out roaming the streets and packing the clubs. Deep Ellum is on an upswing, but still, you don’t often see this many people down in the area, which is a real shame. But at least there are a few events like the DOMA’s each year which are guaranteed to bring people down there.
And while this should go without saying, do check out all those acts I blogged about. They’re true talents, especially The Breakfast Machine (who days later won the award for Best Rock Act) and Somebody’s Darling (who took home the award for Best Country Act).
The Breakfast Machine
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