The Seattle based band Reignwolf has been working hard to get onto more of a national stage, and seeing as they have played festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, they’re well on their way.
Speaking of Austin City Limits, it, like SXSW and other Austin based festivals, usually work out well for us folks in North Texas, who get some of the spillover with some of the touring acts stopping by for shows. And this night, thanks in part to Parade of Flesh, Reignwolf was stopping by Club Dada, to make their Dallas debut before week two of ACL.
The 1969’s were the first of two local acts on the bill, and after more than two years since the only other time I had seen the group, I was looking forward to catching them again.
I was outside for the first couple songs of their 33-minute long set, but made it in as they got going on song number three.
“…There’s gonna be some good music tonight. Including us, I hope.” Singer and guitarist Scott Lindsey said after finishing that song, addressing the dozen or so people who were scattered about the room. They eagerly applauded the trio, definitely loving what they were doing so far, and it only got better as Scott led them into “And I Will”. Like their other stuff, it was great blend of of soulful blues and loud rock, bassist Troy Thibodeaux occasionally adding some backing vocals into the mix.
That was one of the songs they did from their “I Am the Road” album, which Scott mentioned afterwards, saying he had forgot to bring them to sell. “…Just use Spotify or iTUNES…” he said, noting their music was available on those sites, too. He went on to say this show had a few firsts for them, most notably how they were standing, something I knew they didn’t do the only time I saw them. He mentioned their stools they usually have, which make them look like more of a relaxed bar band, as well as the light that Chris Mancini had inside his kick drum, which was making its debut at this show.
They cranked out another one, before doing a song about “dear ol’ Texas” as Scott put it. “It’s a good ol’ foot stomper.” he added before they busted into the lead track from their full-length, “Where the Stars Are Alone”. It was a definite foot stomper, and they kept things going with a song I believe was titled “Blues Box”, before Scott let everyone in on a secret before their final song.
“…Every song we just played was in the key of G…” he stated, as he and Troy tuned to a different key for their final track.
The 1969’s were an excellent way to get this party going, their bluesy rock seeming to be just what the crowd wanted. Their stuff is pretty original sounding and very well crafted. Also, considering this was the first show they had done without their stools and looking like a juke joint band, you wouldn’t have known it.
They looked like they had done it hundreds of times over, packing a good deal of energy into their set, particularly Scott, who moved all over the stage, he, Troy and Chris displaying a great deal of chemistry with one another.
After seeing them this night, I found myself wondering why it took me two and a half years to see The 1969’s again. They easily belong in the cream of the crop of acts that this town has to offer, and their probably one of the more underrated ones as well.
Give this party blues band a listen. You can download two EP’s on BANDCAMP for free, and if you like that, check out “I Am the Road” in iTUNES.
They were rock, sure. But things were about to get a lot heavier and louder, thanks to Descender.
The band was doing their first gig in a little over two months, when they released their latest record, and I was excited to get yet another live fix of my favorite local band.
The main focus of their 35-minute long set was on their newest EP, though they did do one song apiece from their first two efforts, and opened with a cut from “Dark Water”, the series of drum beats Duncan Black knocked out giving it away as “Hats Off To Your Reflection”. That pulse pounding number isn’t often used to open shows, though it packs a serious punch, offering anyone unfamiliar with Descender a good taste of what lay ahead.
Soon, singer and rhythm guitarist Casey Hess started them in on “I Will Help You Find The Darkness”, the rest of the band gradually joining in on it. By the time that rip-roaring song had come to an end, Duncan had broken one of his drum sticks, hurling the now useless one out at the onlookers, somehow managing to not hit anyone. They marched on with the title track of the new EP, “Slow And Gold”, Zack Busby creating the songs eerie intro with some thick, pulsating notes. It was easy to miss that Jeff was using a slide on that song (or at least for part of it), and as it neared the end, he swiftly slid it off his finger and into his other hand, tapping a sting with it to create a captivating sound.
“This song’s about summer, dying and getting laid.” declared Casey, setting up “Spinning On The Surface”, which was followed by the longest song the record has to offer, “The Language”. “…We’re on the wall, we’re on your skin, we’re on the floor. Oblivion…” Casey sang before ripping into his guitar solo, which is damn near breathtaking, and when the rest of the band joined back in, Zack did so by viciously slapping at his bass, giving it a thundering effect. Perhaps, he was a little too fierce with it, or maybe it was just time for one of the strings to meet its end, snapping soon after. Once they finished the song, he pulled it off, but only after pointing it out to Casey who couldn’t help but laugh.
He even called it a “good omen”, basically saying that some bad luck can have a silver lining. “…It’s like if your car breaks down, but you’re like, “It’s okay, ‘cause I’m gonna get laid.” was an example he used, before asking what string it was. “Oh, it’s okay. You don’t really need that…” he joked before looking back at Duncan and continuing, “It’s like your hi-hat. Do you really need that?”
They made do with the now broken bass, doing a song that Zack wrote the music for, the fast paced and short “Silver Lightning”. It’s a beast of a song, and set them up for their final number. Before that, though, Casey stated how glad they were to be on this bill, and what a cool band name Reignwolf was. “…That one if the top three band names ever.” he said, spit balling that perhaps “Red Reignwolf” would perhaps be the only way to improve upon it.
To close out their show, they did none other than the title track from their 2010 EP, a song Casey routinely mentions is about the heart, “Army Of Elephants”.
I have to say, it was great seeing these guys back on stage again, playing the awesome stuff they’ve written, and even the broken bass string didn’t have any real negative effect on things. And you wouldn’t have guesses it had been so long since they had last done a show, as they’ve built some tight chemistry over the years, noticeable from the moment they get on stage.
I still say they’re one of the best bands currently in the North Texas music scene, and though it might be a while before they do another show, keep tabs on their FACEBOOK so you’ll know when they do. Also, check out their records in iTUNES (& HERE), and if you like vinyl, you can find their spilt record with Here Holy Spain on the Idol Records STORE.
The size of the crowd had grown quite large by the time Reignwolf was set to take the stage. Just guessing (and I am horrible at doing rough estimates of people), but I’d say there were around fifty people in attendance, give or take a few. An impressive number for a Monday night, plus the fact that the band had no real fan base in the area, sans some family and friends of two of the members who had called the Dallas area home for awhile.
Reignwolf may be a full band, but at its core, it’s singer and guitarist Jordan Cook, and at 10:49, just a little past their scheduled start time, he and he alone walked onto the stage.
As soon he picked his guitar up the aura changed, and he wasted no time in showing the audience what he was capable of, shredding on his guitar, strumming it so fast his hand literally was a blur. That alone was enough to leave everyone awestruck, but Jordan was just warming up, and soon began violently hitting the strings on the body of his guitar with such force it looked like they all should have snapped. He looked like he may have even been convulsing at times as he shook himself around the stage, clearly possessed by the rock gods, who were certainly on his side this night.
He was also a percussionist for this and many other songs, using a kick drum that bore the Reignwolf name and logo (a wolfs head), which he started to play as he launched into the fiery, blues guitar rock song, “Electric Love”. The only people who could have been prepared for what transpired were the few who had seen the band before, and with that one song, my mind was nearly blown, and in the end, it was just something to whet everyone’s apatite.
As Jordan finished it, guitarist “Stitch” and drummer Joseph Braley made their way on stage, with the first full band song of the night being “Come On, Come On”, a glorious mix of blues and rock, with Jordan cranking out some soulful notes at times. The stage show only grew more intense, too, and at one point during that track Jordan jumped atop his kick drum, shredding while standing on it.
“Let’s go!” shouted Jordan as they rolled that song directly into the next, which I believe was “Dead of Night”. It was pure, uncut Rock ‘n’ Roll in its finest form, and it enveloped and consumed everyone, fans and members of the band alike. Perhaps the best part of the song came at the end, when Jordan removed the microphone from the stand, and, with it hand, plucked away at his guitar, before raising it up to sing into, then played a few more notes, repeating that process a few times over. It was just a very cool moment.
Upon finishing that one, Jordan bantered with the crowd for a moment, thanking everyone for, “coming out on a school night.”, though I think work was more of a priority for the people than school. He then spoke about the next song. “This one’s for the girls. The boys can listen, too.” “Are you satisfied? There’s nowhere to go…” he sang, the opening line of the only song the band has released, “Are You Satisfied?”. In hearing it, it was clear why it’s a single, easily being one of if not the best song they did this night.
Jordan struck up another conversation with everybody after that, though this one went horribly awry. “Only in Aus-…” he said, before catching himself, though it was already too late. Having been in Austin for ACL, it’s an understandable mistake, but no one was going to let it slide, playfully booing him. “…I’m really sorry. I’ll make sure I never to that again.” he said, sounding somewhat meek, a far cry from the voice that spewed out of him while singing. Jordan was able to take it all, though, even joking himself. “I’m very lucky no one had a gun on them…” he cracked.
Once things were smoothed over they cranked out another song, before Jordan traded his guitar in for a mandolin that resembled a guitar, though it appeared even smaller than most mandolins. Perhaps that was just me, but either way, while it looked comical, that impression was a fleeting one. He set the song up by saying that it was a Mothers Anger song (the band that Stitch and Joseph were in before Reignwolf). “…But we did this to it.” Jordan said with a grin, before starting the aptly titled “Mandolin Song”. It sounded quite good, and was definitely set apart by that mandolin, which added an interesting vibe to the song that none of their other music had.
They marched on, but first Jordan pointed out his other guitar, which sit in a stand to the right of him. “The reason that’s sitting all the way over there is because your hometown hero Joseph has broken that guitar many times…” he laughed, though Joseph acted like there was a bit of truth to what he said. They then busted out “Neighbors”, a very powerful number, during which the strap on Jordans’ guitar came loose. He acted as though it was a non-issue, though, propping his leg up on the kick drum before resting the guitar on his leg, all the while tearing it up.
Next came a fan request, the innuendo laced “Bicycle”, which saw Jordan sit down on the kick drum, playing both it and his guitar, killing it on both instruments. It was another one of those moments that left your mouth agape by the time the song was over, and as he stood up for their next number, he left the mic stand at the same level he had lowered it to. That said, he sang most of the next song by standing on the kick drum and leaning down towards the microphone, making it look effortless. Eventually he moved it back by his amp and raised it back up, though as they got to the instrumental outro, he roughly kicked the mic stand over, shredding on his axe, and even laying it on the floor as he swiftly picked at it.
That was how their 51-minute long set ended, and what an explosive end it was. Everyone’s heads were no doubt still spinning from the massive assault of rock they had just witnessed, yet they knew they didn’t want it to be over quite yet, and no sooner had the trio ventured back stage the chants for an encore began.
A few minutes passed, and it seemed as if it would go answered, and that was when Jordan made his way back out.
“We were just talking about this back there, and we were not expecting Dallas to be like this.” he remarked, clearly pleasantly surprised at how well they were being received. “…You can go to all the festivals you want, but right here right now feels pretty damn good.” he said, a sentiment the audience readily agreed with.
Jordan than rearranged the full drum kit and took a seat behind it, his guitar still in hand. I never would have guessed that “Palms To The Sky” was a song he did solo, because it has such a rich, full sound, yet it was, and was one of the highlights from this night.
As it trailed off, Joseph and Stitch climbed back on stage, having been watching the show with everyone else, doing one last song for this 12-minute long encore, which had long instrumental outro, and there was one point where both Jordan and Stitch were standing on the kick drums.
First off, I have to say thanks to a friend (Brendan Williams) for making me aware of Reignwolf, and hyping them to me for the last several months. The point of saying that is because after you hear any type of continuous hype about a band, it can sometime lead to disappointing results when you finally see them live. That’s happened to me on numerous occasions over the years, but this night was not one of them.
Reignwolf delivered one of the best performances I think any band could ever do, and they seemed so natural in doing it. That’s to say it was all so organic, not like they were trying to be over the top or anything, but rather just doing what came naturally to them and letting it flow.
And the thing was, while all eyes gravitated to Jordan Cook, Stitch and Joseph were every bit the performer he was, Stitch thrashing around, while Joseph had a very dynamic style to his drumming.
In the end, it was Jordan who was the main show, though, his voice, which had an impressive range and quality to it, along with the songs he’s written having an older Rock ‘n’ Roll essence to them, somewhat in the vein of say, 70’s era rock.
They were nothing short of phenomenal, and even that may be an understatement.
The crowd left having witnessed history, Reignwolf’s first ever Dallas show, and I have to wonder if the next time they play this city it won’t be in even a bigger venue than what Club Dada is. With all these festivals the band has been playing, they’re clearly making a name for themselves, and even one guy I briefly talked with at this show had just seen them down at Austin City Limits, and had to see them again this night.
I’d be shocked if they’re not the next big thing within a few years or so, having one of those “overnight success” stories where no one has heard of them to all of a sudden everyone is dying to see them life. But in the meantime, it’s all about laying a strong foundation, a slow process, but one they are having no trouble doing.
Check out their single, “Are You Satisfied?” in iTUNES, and for all their tour dates, visit their OFFICIAL WEBSITE. They have dates coming up in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, as well as a date at Voodoo fest in New Orleans on November 2nd.
The Seattle based band Reignwolf has been working hard to get onto more of a national stage, and seeing as they have played festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, they’re well on their way.
IO Echo Pump it Up in Dallas
Trees Dallas (Deep Ellum, TX)
IO ECHO WITH HAIM
- Words by Jordan Buford (The Music Enthusiast)-
You have to respect the touring bands, and no, I don’t mean the big time touring acts that are guaranteed to make money. I mean the bands who dream of being a full-time touring act, making a living doing what they love, and actively pursue it.
That said, what is perhaps my favorite Canadian based band, Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk were back on tour, their Here We Go Again tour, and this night they were returning to what has become their Dallas home, the Prophet Bar.
Opening up this show was singer/songwriter Ashley Brooks, who played an electric guitar and was accompanied by band mate and fellow guitarist Andrew Lyon.
Their 22-minute long set got off to a somber start, as Ashley said Andrew wanted to say something. He wasn’t near a mic, so she ended up speaking for him, saying he wanted to dedicate the show to a friend who had recently died. “…This show’s also for my sister…” she said, adding she had passed away just a few weeks prior from suicide. She then set up her first song, “Simple Living”, saying it was about a guy she was with for three years. “…He was on drugs and just… a hot mess…” she said, noting she thought she could “fix” him.
That storyteller vibe continued for their next song, as well as most of their show, as Ashley said the next one was, “…Hard to sing.” She went on to tell a story of how she was diagnosed with a brain tumor at fifteen, and went she went in for surgery, there was nothing there. It was called “Miracles”, and it was a great tune, clearly being a testament to her faith. She gave her voice a rest afterwards, while Andrew played an instrumental piece. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of instrumental music, but this song had a good sound, and I really enjoyed it.
They then resumed their originals, first with “Maybe” and then another. “That’s my favorite song we’ve done…” Ashley remarked after the other song, which also happened to be my favorite tune of theirs this night, and both her voice and the music bed for it just had a great sound. Since starting, Ashley had promised a mix of originals and covers, and now they delivered their first and only cover of this night. “Does anyone know who Alison Krauss is?” she asked the handful of people who were there so early on, most of whom were either staff or other band members. The duo did a pretty rendition of “When You Say Nothing at All”, before ending with a track I believe was titled “Breathe”, which was a little more minimalist compared to her other songs, as Andrew lightly plucked the strings of his guitar, while Ashley just sang.
Before exiting the stage, though, she addressed the crowd, saying they had planned to do some more covers, “…But we’ll save those for next time…” she said. She went on mention she’s finishing up recording some tracks that will be released in the near future, saying all she wanted to do was help other people through music, just in the way it had helped her.
Though it was a short show, it was good one. Ashley had good voice, sounding delicate at times, though she was also capable of hitting some big notes. The songs were well written, and I enjoyed the connection she made with the onlookers by talking about her songs and getting more personal.
You can listen to some demos she has recorded over on her REVERBNATION PAGE, and those studio recordings she mentioned should be available soon. In fact, she said one would be coming out this month.
The first full band of the night was the main one I was there to see, and that was Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk.
This was the band’s second Dallas show this year, having hit The Prophet Bar back in May, and they had changed things around since then.
They opened with a very cool intro, led by Jay and Jessica Christman, the latter plucking some of the strings on her bass before he joined in with some light drum beats. Josh Akin soon came in on the guitar, though it was Zoltan Szoges who really set the piece off, using the numerous keyboards and synthesizer around him. All together, it sounded slightly heavenly, and it ceased suddenly once Lauren Mann grabbed a ukulele and approached the microphone.
I said they had changed things around, and much to my Lauren began whistling, signifying the start of the lead single from their “Over Land and Sea” album, “I Lost Myself”, a song that has previously been reserved as the show closer.
It worked quite well as an opener, Laurens’ rich, vibrant voice piercing the near silence as she eased everyone into the show, before the rest of the band soon joined in. A little over a minute in was when things sprang to life, though, as Zoltan began banging on a floor tom with one hand, while using the other on his array of keyboards. As it drew to a close, Lauren even acted as a percussionist, grabbing the drumsticks and pounding on the extra tom, before taking a seat at her piano at center stage.
“This is a traveler’s song.” she remarked as they launched into what is perhaps one of their most fun songs, “A Traveler’s Anthem”. It’s so upbeat it’s simply irresistible, and they followed it with another amazing sounding song, which I’m guessing was a cover. Zoltan broke out his keytar for some of that latter one, but the best part came at the end, when they broke into an unexpected percussion outro. Josh clapped along to Jay’s beats, while Jessica beat on the massive bass drum that sit beside the drum kit and Lauren shook a tambourine, while Zoltan again put the tom to use.
The briefly paused after that, taking a few moments to chat with the handful of people, and eventually Zoltan got to a joke. “I think I say this every time we play here…” he started out, saying he just ruined the joke, but laughed that since almost none of the people were familiar with them it would still be funny. “…Alberta is Canada’s Texas.” he said of their home province, “Or Texas is the U.S.’s Alberta.” he cracked, saying Alberta also had oil and cattle, as well as other things Texas as known for. He went on to make the very nice compliment of, “That’s why we always feel at home here in Texas.”
With that connection made, they got back to the music, and now did one of their new songs from their forthcoming third record. It was titled “You Don’t Look the Same”, and in comparison to the rest of their material, it sounded totally different. It just had a whole new vibe, though it still meshed with the rest of their cheerful tracks, and was all it took to get me really intrigued about what they’ll soon be working on. No sooner had they finished it then Lauren segued them into an older song from “Stories From Home”, “Stow Me Away”.
They’ve tweaked it from the album version, incorporating all of the band, though it’s still largely driven by Lauren and her piano, allowing for a nice lull in the show. Said lull was continued in the form of “Of Life And Of Death”, which ended with some very subtle sounds, though it was more than enough to propel to the song to another level. As it concluded, Zoltan picked up a bow, like you would play a cello with for example, and proceeded to pull it across the xylophone. He was very precise about it all, doing it in perfect synch to the music and Lauren’s singing, accenting it extraordinarily well.
They weren’t going to slow down from that, either, the sample track for “Love, I Lost” bleeding into the end of the previous song as the sounds finished resonating. With that, they were back on the upswing, and upon finishing it, Zoltan offered up some more banter.
He mentioned that it had been a weird tour so far, doing a show one day then having a day off, and that this was only the third show they had done in the U.S. on this tour. Talk also turned to impending hurricane that was headed for the other states on the Gulf Coast, and how they were going to be headed right for it. “…We’ll be going through our first hurricane…” Lauren said laughing, like it was going to be more of an adventure than anything. They also spoke of their new record, which they’ll be recording at the start of the new year, and how they’ll be launching a campaign to raise money for it. “We asked the bank for money to make it, and they said no. We asked our personal accounts for the money, and they said no. So then we asked our parents, and they said no.” Zoltan informed everyone, then clarified, “I’m kidding, we didn’t ask our parents. We’re in our late twenties and that would be awkward.”
When they got back to the show, they did “When I Feel Lost”, a more fleshed out rendition than what you hear on “Stories From Home”, giving the bass, drums and guitar more of a role, while Zoltan even dabbled on his keytar at times. The group then got a cool intro going for their next number, Josh standing by his guitar amp to create a bit of feedback, with things soon giving way to the ukulele intro of the ethereal, “Fragile”. Jessica and Zoltan briefly swapped spots at one point, as she struck the xylophone, and since Lauren had left her piano, he even put his keytar aside to play it at one point.
“We have one more…” said Lauren as they rolled it right into their final song, and she urged everyone to get a little closer to the stage. “We might have a little surprise for you.” she said with a smile on her face. Since the start I had been curious as to what they were going to end with, “How It Goes” seemed like it would be an excellent note to end on.
Jessica took over keyboard duty while Zoltan opened a suitcase and started throwing instruments out to everyone, from little shakers to tambourines and such. He then started clearing things out of the way, giving him room to eventually pick up that giant bass drum and roll it out into the crowd. They might not have had much of an audience, but those who were there were loving this, with at least half a dozen people picking up a drum stick or two and banging on the drum. And as the song and their 42-minute long set came to an end, Zoltan climbed on top of the floor tom, shaking a tambourine to the beat, before leaping backwards off it.
There are so many layers to the show Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk do, for starters, the performance itself. Zoltan mentioned they would be performing their five hundredth show on this tour, and while the members have changed since they first started, they’ve definitely broken in this new lineup. The five of them have incredible chemistry together and are nothing short of being a well-oiled machine.
They make the show much more intense than you would expect just from listening to their music, conducting themselves so fluidly with the music, and each member of the quartet packs in a ton of energy into their performance.
Aside from that, their just great musicians in general, writing some nice, catchy and fun indie/pop sounding music with a folk spin on it, and it’s music that is progressively getting better. “Over Land and Sea” is an exceptional record, but that one new song they did this night was even a bit above that, which is saying a lot.
In the end, though, it’s how fun and joyful they make their shows that will really stick with you. You’ll likely have smile on your face the whole time LM&TFOF are on stage, and the lightened mood their show puts you in is one that will stick with you for awhile.
They’ll be on the road in both the States and Canada through early December, so check out their TOUR PAGE for all the show dates. After that they’ll be in the studio working on their next record, with plans to get back out on the road next summer. So, stay tuned, help them fund their next record, and go see them if they come to a town near you, you’ll be glad you did. Also, check out their first two records in iTUNES. (Also, depending on when you see this, you can snag a FREE download of “Over Land & Sea” HERE.)
The mood of the night shifted drastically with the next band, Desert Noises, who were a serious rock band hailing from Provo, Utah.
The four piece delivered 38-minutes worth of rock on the crowd, the majority of which I believe came from a new album they mentioned they had just finished recording.
Is what made them stand out at the start was the harmonies their singer and rhythm guitarist and bass player created. He [the bassist] appeared to have a knockout voice as well, and they intertwined to make something outstanding.
After the first couple of songs, they did one from 2011’s “Mountain Sea” album, “Oak Tree”, another track that really utilized the harmonies, while also boasting some, at times, haunting guitar notes. They continued on with another new one, their singer announcing they had recently wrapped up the recording process, and that the next song would be on it. “What’s it called?” one person asked, speaking of the new album. “We don’t know yet.” the singer smiled and said.
They carried on with several more songs, eventually having a discussion amongst themselves to make sure that this was their first ever show in Dallas. By then they were almost done, and they closed out their show with a very interesting song that only featured the lead guitar and some beats from the drummer, while the other two musicians just sang. It was very different from their other stuff, but sounded oh so good.
Their rock sounds, which were some of the more original that I’ve heard, were also laced with some Americana undertones, and even Southern Rock to a smaller degree.
That, coupled with the killer voice their singer had and the nice mixture he and the bass player created, as well as the well written songs, they ensured they’d be a band you wouldn’t soon forget. Well, that and dynamic stage show they put on, really throwing down and rocking out.
Do yourself a favor and check these guys out. They have a few records in iTUNES, and I’m guessing this new record, whenever it drops, will be the best thing they’ve done yet. They also have a few shows left on their tour, which you can find HERE.
After those two touring bands, it was time for one last Dallas act to close out the night, and that was singer/songwriter, Steve Atkins.
They were a bit different, too, at least in comparison to the other acts. Steve was accompanied by two other musicians, one playing a ukulele and the other an electric guitar, without an amp, while he used an acoustic. The electric guitarist also had a computer in front of him, which had all the sample tracks for the other instruments they were lacking.
He of course mined a different genre than the other acts, his music being more of an acoustic pop style, which become readily clear just with their first song. After “Animal”, one of the tracks off his “Locals” record, he and the ukulele player donned some hats. “Now we’re settled in.” Steve remarked as they dished out another song.
“The Tide” continued their string of love based songs, as Steve repeatedly sang, “I would never let you down.” on the chorus. They had also worked a cover into their show, doing a rendition of Rihannas’ “We Found Love”, albeit a very different version from hers. It lacked all the electronics, a little more bare bones, which made the lyrics and Steve’s singing more of the main focal point, and they pulled it off nicely
They continued rushing through their 33-minute set, seeming to want to get it over as soon as they could. Probably because, as Steve mentioned, he knew just about everyone had to work the next day. They got back to tackling the EP with “New Beginnings”, then “Coming Around” before ending with “Stick & Stone”.
Personally, Steves’ stuff wasn’t quite up my alley, It was just too mushy and lovey dovey for my tastes, but at the same time, I can respect it for what it is. That’s simply his style of songwriting and singing, and it suits him well, being something he, and his band mates, pulled off with ease.
If that’s something that would appeal to you, give his stuff a listen. You can find “Locals” in iTUNES, and if you keep an eye on his FACEBOOK PAGE, he’ll no doubt announce another show sometime soon.
This fun got off to an early start and ended relatively early, too, which was a nice change of pace from one to two in the morning. Kudos to the Prophet Bar for continuing to give touring bands a chance, and if you weren’t here (which you probably weren’t), you missed out on one spectacular show
Trees (Dallas, TX)
- Words by Jordan Buford / Photos by James Villa -
The Los Angeles based family band Haim, which is comprised of sisters Este, Danielle and Alana Haim, as been around for a while. About seven years to be exact, though the sisters…
Four band bills are routine, even five bands on a show is pretty common, but this night the Curtain Club was hosting seven acts. Yes, seven. I think the only time I’ve ever seen that many bands or more on a bill is at festivals, which begs the question, could the show this night be considered a type of mini festival in a sense?
Yeah, I’m kind of joking about that, since there are other requirements to a festival, but all the same, this night was far from being your average concert.
The only downside to having so many bands performing is it has to start so early, and due to the traffic on 75, I didn’t get to the Curtain until around 7:45 or so, fifteen to twenty minutes since Noelle Bean had first started, doing an acoustic set.
I walked in towards the end of the incredibly catchy “Cookies and Cream”, and even though I only caught a snippet of it, it was definitely my favorite of the handful of songs I heard her do. “This next song’s called Lois Lane.” she said, adding, “It’s reggae.” Both she and acoustic guitarist Neil Swanson pulled off the reggae sound surprisingly well, being a bit different from the two poppy songs it was sandwiched in between, and she did an excellent job at adding a real reggae quality to her voice.
She even got the crowd to clap along to portions of that one, before setting up her final song, “Cops and Robbers”, which she noted was the first song she co-wrote. It’s even gotten some radio airplay, and she told a little story about a recent trip to Las Vegas where she happened to hear her song come on the radio. “…I got so excited, I was like, I think I peed a little.” she said, prompting some laughs from the audience. She quickly realized she might have over shared a bit, but all the same, it was funny, and they closed out their set with that short, catchy song, even getting the crowd to sing part of the chorus back at her.
I found myself really wishing I had caught more of their show, but what are you going to do.
Noelle has a sensational voice, and the acoustic setting allowed you to really see what kind of chops she has. And it didn’t hurt either that she had Neil playing guitar for her, and even though this was a far cry from the band he performs in, he could still be seen shredding on that acoustic guitar of his.
It’s also worth noting that I’m not always a fan of pop music like what she played, but Noelles’ stuff is certainly better than much of what you hear on mainstream radio, and with her smooth, golden voice, the music’s practically irresistible.
She has an EP available that was put out earlier this year, as well as a couple of singles which you can get HERE and HERE, and keep tabs on her FACEBOOK PAGE for news on future shows.
The first rock band of the night was the newer Analog I, which featured the drummer of Krash Rover, Zach Fuentes, singing.
He wasn’t just showing off his vocal capabilities, though, but also his guitar skills, at least for their first number, which he added some rhythm to. He soon ditched it, though, taking up the role as frontman as they knocked out a song which I thought had a fantastic music bed. Lead guitarist Logan Leavoy then rolled them into their next song, as they marched on with their 30-minute long set.
Afterwards, Zach said that there was a celebrity in the house. “Macklemore.” he said, pointing to his Krash Rover band mate Kris Newman, who greeted that remark with his middle finger. They kept the music flowing, toning it down substantially for their next number, at least at first, before Logan, bassist Daniel Pitts and drummer Dillon Pitts suddenly exploded in on their respective instruments, as it roared to life.
I found it to be a pretty captivating song, and to fill the silence in between it and Zach readying his guitar for their next one, the three instrumentalists riffed a bit, then closed out their show with one more tune.
It’s always interesting when musicians who you’ve basically type casted, step outside the roles you know them for, and such was the case with Analog I. Considering all I’ve seen Zach play is the drums, I was a bit taken aback by the voice he had and what a decent frontman he was.
Not only that, but he has surrounded himself with a tight group of musicians, particularly Logan, who’s a stellar guitarist.
They don’t have anything coming up at the moment, but stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE, ‘cause it looks like they do shows fairly often, and if you like good quality rock music, then Analog I is one band to check out.
Things went back to the acoustic side for the next group, Beautiful Disturbance, who is based out of Waco and was performing as a two-piece this night.
They did a short 28-minute set to basically no one, which was a real shame, because they wound up being one of the best bands on this bill.
Brenda Flores’s voice was gripping from the moment she opened her mouth, as she an acoustic guitarist Auggie Del Rey ran through their opening track. “Nearly Forgotten” was another track they did this night, and while it a stark contrast of the full band electric version that I’ve since listened to online, this acoustic take of it was hands down the better version. It allowed Brendas’ rich and powerful voice to be the main focal point, completely captivating the attention of the few people who were there, and even gave more weight to the lyrics.
Before continuing on with their next tune, she pointed out that it was one of her personal favorites to do, and while I missed most of the story, she said something about a friend who had battled (or was battling) a deadly disease, and that was what inspired this song. The basic message was living your life, essentially getting the most out of it. It was a very good song, and after following it with another original, they did a cover of Bill Withers classic, “Ain’t No Sunshine”. They put a good spin on it, making it fit their current acoustic rock vibe, before ending with one more great song.
The night came fairly close to belonging to them, and had it not been for all the other topnotch quality acts on this bill, they would have had it in the bag.
The music, even if it was coming from one lone acoustic guitar, was great, and after listening to some of their songs online, I actually think this setting was better. At the very least it was more behooving of Brendas’ voice, which was allowed to fully shine not having any other instruments to compete with, and it was made clear that she’s a vocal powerhouse.
They have an EP you can get in iTUNES, “Deadly Devotion”, and stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE to know when they’ll have more shows coming up.
I must say, it was a bit odd having the acoustic acts spaced out like that, rather than being grouped right at the start of the night, especially given the rock bands that played around them. And now, things were about to get back into that rock mode with a Houston area based rock outfit known as Soul in Tension.
The patrons (at least some of them) made their way back inside for this band, which was probably a wise decision, since the group later mentioned they had recently done some shows with Fuel and Hoobastank to name a few, and that alone should say something about the band.
They had the crowd under their spell from the get go, bringing a few more in from the patio while running through their first song. Later in the frontman Jacob Kitchens noted this was a smaller crowd, especially compared to the bigger shows they had done, but also said this was a lively crowd. “…Sometimes these smaller club shows are the most fun ones…” he noted.
“One Request” was their second track of the night, and it was an impressive heavy hard-rock song, with some thunderous rhythm dynamics from drummer Will Rollz and bassist Alex Robertson. “This next song’s called Ghost in a Shell.” Jacob informed everyone, following it with another killer number.
“Are there any Journey fans in the house?” asked Jacob, after finishing their last song. That was the last thing I expected, because these guys certainly didn’t seem like they’d be one to cover Journey. “…We figured we’d try to learn this one for you all…” he joked as they geared up for it. I was afraid it was going to be “Don’t Stop Believing”, which is just all too commonly covered, and personally, I couldn’t see Soul in Tension pulling that one off. Luckily, it wasn’t, and instead they tried their hand at “Separate Ways”.
They beefed it up to better fit their style, pulling it off quite well, and it added a fun element to their performance. Upon finishing it, they then cranked out one last song, “Hey You”, to bring their 33-minute long set to a close.
They were a phenomenal band, packing a good deal of energy into their show. Not only that, but they had a great sound, too, kind of going along the lines of your typical hard-rock bands, in the sense that their music has mainstream potential, yet also possessed qualities to differentiate them from other groups. And while on the topic of their sound, Jacob had an awesome voice.
Go see ‘em if you get a chance, ‘cause they won’t disappoint, and I’m hoping they’ll get back to Dallas sometime in the not too distant future.
With only three bands left to go, the night was only going to get better, and next on stage was the Arlington based Soilce.
There 34-minute set was comprised entirely of new(er) material. “…I’m glad it’s finally jacket weather…” remarked vocalist Xtina Lee after their first song, referring to the sudden cool down the rain from earlier in the day had brought. She went on to say that they had a video on Youtube for their next song, one from their forthcoming EP, “Sweet Escape”. Guitarist Juan Brittos let out an ear piercing scream towards the start of it, before it slowed down, hitting a bit of a tender spot there on the first verse. That pace worked well, giving the lyrics a little more depth, such as, “…How can something beautiful be so cruel?”, though they soon kicked it back up, Ryan Matthews supplying some rapid, pulse pounding beats on his drum kit.
They followed it with another song they’ve done a music video for, announcing it was “Do You See it Now?”. Juan and bassist Rob Pummill started it out, and while I thought it sounded good, you could tell the bass and guitar weren’t jibing as they probably should. That was because Rob had gotten ahead of himself and was playing the song after, which Xtina pointed out as they all laughed it off. Once they all got on the same page, things went smoothly for them, and Juan even cranked out a brief guitar solo as he dropped to his knees at the forefront of the stage, right next to one of the monitors, and shredded.
Next they did the song Rob had previously tried doing, “Paralyzed”, and I believe it was during it that Juan began experiencing some technical difficulties, mainly with his pedal board. They made the best of it, though, carrying on while he worked to [attempt] to fix it, joining back in on the track soon after.
As their show started to wind down, they debuted a new song they had cooked up, “Pathological”. “…It’s about liars.” Xtina said, as Juan opened up the track with some very haunting guitar notes. Overall, it had an excellent atmosphere to it, and wound up being my personal favorite song of theirs, at least for this night. They then had time for one more song. “…It’s eventually going to be our single.” Xtina said about “Save Me”, which was easily their tightest song of the night, and a great way to end it.
Solice had definitely tightened up since the first (and only) time I had seen them, coming across as being very cohesive this night. They owned it, too, with some great stage presence that kept you glued to them throughout, and a lively show, those that could jumping about at times. And while Ryan wasn’t able to do that, he made up for it with his aggressive style of drumming.
They have a few shows lined up, one in Norman, Oklahoma on October 18th at the Red Brick Bar. They’ll also be in Fort Worth on the 31st for a Halloween show at Tomcats West, and they’ll return to Tomcats West on December 7th. Go see them if you can, you’ll be glad you did.
There was one last band to go before the headliner, and was the female fronted group Autumn Stay, who had traveled here from Killeen, TX.
They quickly proved themselves to be a different band from the others, and just a couple of songs in vocalist Danielle Blizzard hopped off the stage and mingled with the handful of onlookers, even dancing with one person (specifically Dayvoh of the band Alterflesh).
“…We must really suck…” she joked after another song, citing that, that must be the reason they were getting so little applause. Props to them for being able to make that into more of a joke, which in turn actually got more people to clap for them. They knocked out another one, the semi dark sounding “Poison”, and afterwards Danielle asked for some crowd participation.
The song was titled “Dream Girl”, and she wanted the crowd to shout out one of the lines, “With her legs spread wide.” “It only happens three times…” she pointed out, after admitting they were a bit dirty. The audience obliged her, perhaps out of fear that they may be singled out, because, as she said, she didn’t have a problem with getting out in the crowd and giving those who weren’t participating a hard time. Possibly the best part of the song came at the end, when guitarists Stephen Troyce Harold Douglas and Jackson Taylor-Smith suddenly jumped off the stage, landing on the floor, and never missed a note.
Their 33-minute long set was almost over by then, with just enough time to pack in two more tracks.
They easily held their own against all the other bands on this bill, and while I personally wasn’t completely taken by their music, I did really enjoy it.
I’m not sure what it was, maybe the dark textures so much of their songs had, but something about it kept me from getting completely into it. On the other hand, they put on a great stage show, particularly with all the moving around they did in the audience.
They may not have won me over as a true fan, but I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing them again.
They do have a show in Austin on October 29th at Headhunters, and they have plenty of music up to listen to on their REVERBNATION PAGE.
Closing out this night was Krash Rover, doing what could be called a summer blowout show, even though, technically speaking, it was no longer summer.
All the same, with lead guitarist Ashton Quincey attending college in the Central Texas area, they aren’t able to play quite as much as they used to, meaning this could be their last gig for a little while, and they had the place fairly full by the time they took the stage at 12:36.
No instructions had to be given, merely the opening beats from Zach Fuentes’s bass drum, and immediately the fans began to chant, “Texas. Texas.” over and over. As usual, it was “I’m From Texas” that got their show going, and at first, you could kind of tell it had been awhile since they had last rocked a stage. It didn’t take them too long to start finding their stride, though, and after singer and rhythm guitarist Kris Newman sang the songs bridge, “…Sorry babe it ain’t what you get, it’s just what you see.” Zach tore off into a dynamic drum solo, seeming to signify that it was on.
Unlike the last show I saw them do, they focused heavily on their self-titled LP this night, and they continued with “SAS”, a song some fans were clearly ecstatic to hear, as Kris got it going, while Ashton, standing on the drum riser, soon joined in on the fast-paced song. Once they finished it, Kris held up a shot. “…Some of you may know this…” he said, going on to say he had taken the summer off drinking, and said shot would be his alcoholic drink in a few months. “We want to touch you!” a couple of fans screamed while he drank his shot. He then walked towards the front of the stage and held his leg out. “Go ahead.” He said, while the two girls rubbed his shoe, a moment that had everyone laughing.
They toned things back a bit with “Release Me”, or at least for the first half of the song, as Kris crooned into the microphone, “…Help me, help me, please someone come try to heal me.” They quickly followed it with “She Gets Around”, before again slowing it down with “Nobody Knows”, and this time Kris moved his guitar around to his back. It didn’t stay inactive too long, though, kicking into high gear shortly before the oh so catchy chorus, “I don’t need you anymore, I’m crutch less…”.
Upon finishing it, Kris decided to kill some time with a joke, beginning with, “Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” some of the audience responded. “Kris.” he said, which was of course met with, “Kris, who?” “Newman, you dumbass.” he finished, then admitted it may not have been the best joke, though it did get laugh from much of the crowd.
They next busted their cover of Lynyrd Skynyrds’ “Simple Man”, which saw Kris give his complete attention to being a frontman as he set his guitar aside. Last time I saw them they did that tune, and did it justice, but this night, they knocked it completely out of the park. Stellar, just a stellar rendition of it, and it left me hoping that it sticks around in their setlist for some time to come.
They got back to their own brand of rock with one of their newer songs, “Feel Good On The Inside”, which is gritty and dirty, filled with some wicked guitar solos and riffs, though my favorite of their new batch would hands down have to be the one that came next. It packs a punch, and is without question one of the most intense songs Krash Rover has ever churned out.
That said, the only song that was capable of following it up was “Russian Roulette (Part II)”, though no one was sure at first what it was, as Ashton, Zach and their bassist riffed a bit, before officially starting the song. The fans even got a chance to sing on the song, when Kris suddenly stopped mid-sentence after, “…Lost on the highway of souls…”, as everyone suddenly shouted, “And now I’m burning inside.”
The audience wasn’t done participating just yet, and as they started what looked to be their final song, Kris led everyone in a clap along, while his band mates fired up the track… Or at least he tried to. The music suddenly came to a halt, and in a friendly manner he asked everyone to, “Clap your damn hands.” They only needed to hear that once, as everyone clapped along to the beat Zach was supplying.
No one was quite ready for the night to be over, though, begging for one more from the band. “…You’re asking us to go over and beyond what he had planned…” Kris said, getting a loud cheer from the fans. “In My Mind” was the last song they had to give, knocking out the shorter song rather quickly, leaving everyone satisfied.
The way it started out, I figured this was going to be just another Krash Rover, and there wouldn’t have been anything wrong with that, but it wound up being so much more.
Kris’s voice was in rare form this night, hitting some notes on various songs that I’ve never heard him hit, and frankly, didn’t even know he was capable of doing it.
It wasn’t just that, though. The further they progressed in their show, the tighter and more in synch they got, making it very hard to tell it had been a little over a month since the last time they had played. I guess that speaks volumes about their skill and musicianship, that they can make it look so relatively effortless.
Aside from a small technical difficulty their bass player had during one song early on, things seemed to go off without a hitch for them, as they again proved they are one of the best rock bands here in the Dallas area.
If we Krash Rover fans are lucky, we might get one more show from the band before the year’s end. Otherwise, it’ll be 2014 before they play next, and hopefully sometime in this new year they can get an EP released of some of their new material, ‘cause it is truly killer stuff. Oh, and if you don’t have it, get a copy of their CD in iTUNES.
I feel like I always say this, but it’s always true, and this was another fantastic night music at the Curtain Club.
Trees (Dallas, TX)
- Words by Jordan Buford / Photos by James Villa -
The Dallas/Fort Worth area may not be home to any of the huge nationally known festivals like Austin is, but the cities don’t have to be to still be able to reap some of the benefits of…
Wednesday night is a real odd night for a concert, but touring acts don’t have the luxury of only playing the prime spots, like the Friday’s and the Saturday’s. Such was the case this night, when not one, but two touring acts from the East Coast (Blameshift and Super Bob) were stopping in Dallas, in part thanks to Torch Entertainment, who had put the show together at Wit’s End.
This was actual the first show I would catch at Wit’s End, having visited the spot when occupied by the former venue, but not since it had been re-opened. It had a different look inside, aesthetically speaking, so it didn’t feel like you were walking into the same old place it had been previously. The biggest difference, though, was the sound, which was always spotty the few shows I had seen there when it was The Bone. I dug it all, and props to the new owners for putting in the work the place so desperately needed, ‘cause it has definitely paid off.
Two D/FW acts were opening, and first up was The Circle, who had hopped on the bill rather last minute, at the request of Blameshift (the two had shared the stage last October), which should speak volumes about The Circle.
This was the first time I’d seen the band since their CD release show back in July, meaning this was the first time that I fully knew some of their newer songs, like the lead track from their EP, “The Other Side”. It’s a killer song that makes for a killer opener, and they didn’t allow for any downtime as drummer Marc Berry patched them into their next song, before lead guitarist Craig Nelson ripped into his guitar for the opening line of “406”. “Can you bring me back to life, ‘cause I’ve been dead for so long…” front man Don Mills belted out on the chorus, singing it rather forcefully, yet also in almost a melodic tone, making for a great combination.
They kept the ball rolling with a fairly new song, one that had only been done at four other shows according to Don. It was called “Save Me”, and it was the first brand new song I’ve heard them do in a little while. It still sounded very much like The Circle, but you could tell it was a newer one, written now that they’ve spent quite a bit of time together as a band, and just more cohesive. I guess I mean to say the cohesiveness was more than noticeable, and to a different degree then even their more recent tracks.
Upon finishing it, Don proposed a toast to everyone, thanking those who were there for coming out, as well as the other bands on the bill. “…It takes some big balls to play in Deep Ellum on a Wednesday night.” he stated. They then got back into some heavier stuff with “Beggars Can’t be Choosers”, before going right into their next song, and I believe that transition was handled by rhythm guitarist Alan Sauls, who fired up “My Trip to the Desert Sucked”. Right before hitting the last chorus of that one, Don, Craig and bassist Kenneth Henrichs (who had been adding some great backing vocals to it by the way) leapt straight into the air, in near perfect synch with one another.
They then cranked out another new one… Sort of. Upon finishing it Don (assumingly) joked that they had just rewritten it the day before. Personally, I don’t recall having heard “You Wanted This” before, or perhaps before it was overshadowed by some of their other songs. Whatever the case, it’s one you’ll certainly remember from now on when you hear it. While on the subject of songs that will stick with you, one of their album cuts, “Failure”, also has that effect, and Don pointed out that it was one of his favorites from the “Who I Am” EP.
“…I ate Serious Pizza before we started…” stated Don, remarking that, that was a “bad mistake”. Perhaps that impacted how he felt, but not how he acted, nor his stage presence, as they opted to work on closing out their EP as their 36-minute long set neared its end. That meant knocking out “I Am”, a song that is continuing to grow on me each time I hear it, before quickly launching into their single, “Sleep On it”, which is still the best way for them to wrap up a show, even leaving you wanting more.
It didn’t matter that they only had a handful of people giving them their undivided attention, they still rocked the place to the best of their ability, and on that note, you don’t often see a band that’s a fairly routine headliner opening up a show, and when one does, you know it’s going to be an excellent night.
They were incredible as always, and each time I see them, I somehow manage to end up liking them even more than I already did.
If you’re a fan of real rock music, head over to iTUNES and give a listen to their “Who I Am” EP. In regards to shows, they’ll be playing in Allen at the Dirty Rooster on October 19th. October 27th they’ll be at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, opening up for Nonpoint, and then on November 8th they’ll have a pretty big show at the Curtain Club in Dallas, and it’ll be one you don’t want to miss.
Second up on this bill was Waking Alice, another band that is more than capable of serving as a headlining act as well.
In what is becoming standard fashion, they opened their 36-minute long set with one of their newer (or at least unrecorded) songs, and one that I truly love. It’s the perfect flow the song has, the music bed complimenting frontman Rus Chaney’s voice, and vice versa, as they intertwine so well with one another.
Afterwards, they set to work tackling the “Retribution” EP. “This song’s called Treason.” Rus announced, guitarist Brandon Brewer starting the song no sooner had he spoke those words. That hefty and fast paced tune was followed by the darker, even slightly melodic “Scars”, which also boasts some spot on and impressive drumming from Jonn Levey
In a similar fashion as the band before them, Rus now offered up a toast to the fans and bands alike, thanking those who had come out to support, and after voicing his appreciation, a [female] fan shouted, “Take your shirt off!” He ignored the request, but Brandon had a response. “I was going to, but now I won’t.” he quipped, before Rus set up their one slower love song. “Fates Design” is one of my favorite Waking Alice tracks, and it was only made better this night by a slightly tweaked intro, different than that you hear on the recording, which made the song a little more impactful. Afterwards, they pulled out their newest song, which Rus noted had been released on iTUNES just a week or two before, repeatedly saying its name, “Hostage”. “So, yeah, this one’s Hostage.” he said (or something along those lines) after briefly talking about the song.
The tight combination of the guitar, drums and bass, played by Brayton Bourque, made for the best intro of any of their songs, while the track itself was their best of the night. I’d even say it’s the best thing the band has written with its current lineup, and it’s a perfect display of what rock music should be.
No WA show would be complete without the classic, “Biggest Lie”, and of course Brandon went into a guitar solo a little after the halfway mark. It started out sounding pretty close to how the song does, though that didn’t last long, as he pulled away from it, riffing and shredding. He wasn’t the only one with a solo, though, and in a change of pace, Brayton also riffed for a few seconds, before Jonn took charge with a short drum solo, allowing everyone to have their moment, before Rus started back in, “Cut it out of me…”
Their time had passed by quick, but they had one last song to do, a cover Rus informed everyone, getting a few cheers from group of fans who knew what was coming next. At least they thought they did. “We’re gonna do a little Pumpkins for ya.” said Rus, which would be a big difference from the other song they’ve covered at recent shows.
Jonn led them into it with a snare roll, before the rest of the group joined in, revealing it to be “Geek U.S.A”, which they did a great rendition of, and it was a good way to cap things off.
I’d say this was one of the best Waking Alice shows I’ve seen yet, delivering a great performance and set this Wednesday night, that hit their best stuff, and that cover they threw in was simply icing on the cake.
They’re not one of those bands that does shows every week, or even every month (in fact, this was their first show since the end of June), but each time they get on stage, the growth is noticeable, as they get a little tighter each time around, which is exactly what you want to see from a band.
You can catch them at least one last time before the year ends, and that one will be at the Curtain Club in Dallas on November 16th. In the meantime, go pick up that new single, “Hostage”, in iTUNES, plus their other assortment of music.
Super Bob was up next, who had traveled all the way from Washington D.C., and were doing their first ever Dallas show.
I had listened to them earlier in that day actually, and didn’t much care for their rap-rock style of music (at least that’s what I consider it to be), and wasn’t expecting much from them. In fact, at first I thought they were going to be the headline act, in which case I planned to leave before they even started.
Then the four-piece outfit got on stage, and proceeded to, at least in terms of stage show, blow everyone else out of the water.
They didn’t let the smaller, even somewhat awkward stage at Wit’s End impede them, as they got down with an explosive and brutal live show, that often had vocalist Matt Santoro, guitarist Adam Smith and bassist Drew Recny thrashing about.
Mixed in with their originals was a cover, a cover of what Matt said was “the greatest rock song ever”, and while that could be argued (specifically the rock part), they did do a fun and intense rendition of LMFAOs’ “Sexy and I Know It.”
While they were all electric performers, I thought it was drummer Chris Faircloth who truly owned the show, adding all sorts of moves into his playing. From the standard tossing the drumsticks up in the air and catching them, to something I had never seen before, which was throwing them in the air, then catching the stick perfectly in the palm of his hand, while it balanced there for a second or two. It was extremely impressive, and mind-blowing would be the best word to use to describe his drumming abilities.
Okay, I was still never won over as a fan of their music, but they do deserve props for the amazing show they put on, and for doing everything they could to get the audience into it, even getting some people to jump at different points in their set.
They’ll be on the road for a little bit longer, working their way back up the East Coast, and you can find all those dates HERE. And for those who do like rap-rock, check out their music in iTUNES.
The Long Island, New York based Blameshift was the headliner this night, and having only caught them once before (June of the previous year), I was looking forward to seeing them again.
With their newest record and first ever full-length album, “Secrets”, due out soon, new material was a guarantee, and they kicked their set off with the album’s lead track, “The Enemy You Need”. It was immediately different from some of their older stuff, which has had a bit of a pop flare to it, but not this track, nor most of the others. It was full-blown Rock ‘n’ Roll all the way, and in a very engaging way at that, and they further pulled the onlookers in by rolling it right into their next song.
Vocalist Jenny Mann started to clap, requesting everyone else join her, and it was impossible not to. “This song’s called Revolution!” she said as they got it going. That first song was all it took for them to get warmed up, and during that one guitarist Tim Barbour and their bass player could be seen racing around the stage, trading back and forth between stage left and right and jumping on top of their boxes, one of which read “Blame”, the other, “Shift”.
After that track, which had some superb percussion parts courtesy of Nathan Saake, Jenny asked everyone to take a few steps closer, saying that the empty space in front of the stage just didn’t feel right, and everyone obliged. “This one’s called Ghost.” She said as they pulled out a track from 2011’s “The Black Rose” EP.
If they only did one old song this night, that one was definitely the best choice, and still meshes well with what they’re doing now, and once it was over, they got back to their new material with “Not Enough”. “…Rock ‘n’ Roll is on a decline…” Jenny said after they finished that song, which is all too sad a fact, and she thanked everyone for coming out in the middle of the week to see them and the other acts, and help keep rock music alive. She continued by noting that while they had played the area before, this was their first time in “The Deep Ellum”, saying she didn’t even know Dallas could be divided into different sections like that. “…Am I saying that right? The Deep Ellum?” she asked, before The Circle’s singer, Don, corrected her, telling her she didn’t need the “The”. “You’d think I would have researched it a little before I got up here…” she joked, adding she wanted to hear the story and why it is a significant part of town after their show.
During all that, Tim was swapping out to an acoustic guitar, while Nathan left the stage. “…We don’t do this often…” Jenny said, after mentioning this was going to be a cover song and referring to the fact that they apparently don’t always do covers. They put their acoustic spin on the Foo Fighters classic “My Hero”. It was a nice way to break things up, and after finishing it they got back to their all electric mode, while Jenny asked everyone to call their radio station and request this next song. “…Tell them to stop playing Nickelback and start playing some new shit.” she said as they got “Let Go” going.
They were at the tail end of their set, doing the title track itself, “Secrets”, which became a bit of a sing along as Jenny led everyone in what to sing on one part, while at another Tim said he wanted to see everyone jumping up and down, something everyone seemed eager to do. They then brought it into the final song of their 37-minute long show, which I think was “I Swear, I’m Gonna Leave This Town”.
Their time went by too quickly, but with a show as fun and enthralling as the one Blameshift puts on, it’s easy to get caught up in it and lose track of time.
It was a fantastic show they did, filled with energy and passion, and they were much better than even what I remembered them being. No doubt a product of the near non-stop touring they do.
As for their new stuff, it’s without question their best music to date, even sounding a little more mature than their previous EPs. And live, it translates exceedingly well.
I don’t believe “Secrets” will be officially released until early November, but if you go see a Blameshift show, you’ll be able to get a copy there (the record is incredible, by the way). Otherwise, wait it out and check out their EPs in iTUNES. They also have a few dates left on this current tour, including October 9th at the Drunk Horse Pub in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The 11th at the Wizard Saloon in Hickory, North Carolina. The 12th at the Chili Cook Off at the Shenandoah Fair Grounds in Woodstock, Virginia. Then on the 17th they’ll be in Toledo, Ohio at Mainstreet.
Props to Torch Entertainment for setting up the show and once again bringing Blameshift through town, as well as getting some killer local bands on the bill. The turnout might have been weak, but those who were able to make it out this Wednesday night saw a show they surely won’t be forgetting any time soon.
If you’ve been in Deep Ellum at all over the past years (and probably further back than that), you’ve no doubt seen Anthony Streeter, who often worked security at the Curtain Club. Hell, out of the nearly six and a half years I’ve been going there I remember seeing him at almost every show I caught there.
Recently, he was diagnosed with MS, and to help him out with the bills he incurred, a couple of benefit shows were put together, one of them being this night at, where else, the Curtain Club. And for the first time in a long time (or ever?), I went to concert not because I wanted to see the bands playing, but for the cause, despite having never known the man personally.
Enamored was the first band I caught this night, getting their short 25-minute set going the same way their “Requiem” EP does, with “Empty”. The turnout may have been small so early on, but those who were there should have been hooked immediately by that one, and a handful of people gravitated towards the stage. They then brought things into a little more of a raw rock mode, Thomas Stewart pounding out the drumbeats of “Release” with a fury, while Aaron Heles and Robert Albritton walked about the stage, picking at their guitar and bass, respectively.
Soon, Aaron led them into the next track and one of my favorites, “Bring Down”. “I’m never coming back now, I’m leaving this all behind. My life is moving forward…” belted out front women Jules at the start of the track, her deep, powerful voice gripping the listeners. One of their non-album tracks, “Better Off Alone”, came next, before kicking it back into overdrive with “Escape”.
A little break followed as Aaron had to tune his guitar, while Jules (somewhat) joked that it was “beer thirty”, before laughing that they needed a new guitarist who could tune faster. Once he got it ready, they showed off their softer side with “Free”, which has a great ebb and flow to it. “…This one’s called Slaves and Toys.” announced Jules before their next song, and before one of those songs she informed everyone they would soon be going back into the studio to record some of those, which will definitely be something to look forward to.
With that, they had reached the end of their performance, having time for only one more, which was “Never Again”.
Enamored keeps getting better, and even in just the few months since their CD release show (when I last saw them) I’d say they had stepped it up a bit.
Robert and Aaron seemed to have a little more presence, at times being very meticulous and calculated with what they were doing, and at others simply attacking their instruments. As for Thomas, he’s a machine on the drums and is a good fit with the group, while Jules has an amazing vocal range capable of hitting all sorts of notes.
Go see ‘em if you can, they won’t disappoint you, and you can check out their EP in iTUNES.
Eaglesnake was the next band up, and personally, I wasn’t a huge fan… At least not of some of their stuff.
Along with the typical band lineup, they had a singer who also played a keytar, and then a hip-hop vocalist. Now, I’m just not a real fan of hip-hop, which made it impossible for me to get into some of their stuff. On the other hand, the songs the other guy song, which were more rock based, were quite good and very enjoyable.
They did end their show in a killer way, though, as the keytar player used the instrument to play the Star Spangled Banner in its entirety, delivering a stellar version of it.
Next up was Fantasma, whom I was looking very forward to seeing, not just because they’re a great band, but also because it had been around a year since I had last caught one of their shows.
In that year’s time the band has been working on some new music for their sophomore release, material that filled their show this night, including their opener. It was great tune, featuring some killer bass lines from Daniel Castaneda. Only one track from “Stories of Earth Women” found its way into their set list this night (at least only one they played), and that was “Panda”, drummer Michael Kudlicki cutting loose on each chorus when the song exploded, truly getting wild on his kit.
A string of new songs followed, beginning with “Fire and Blood”, and after another one this loud rock band who has electronic elements laced into their music slowed things down. Dale “DJ” Wilkerson Jr. started singing, mostly a cappella, knocking out the first few lines of the song before his band mates eased into the song. It was (at least to start with) very different from most of their other stuff, which allowed it to stand out even more.
That different pace was continued as they pulled out a cover I had forgotten they had even done, and one you certainly wouldn’t expect from them. “I had a way then, losing it all on my own…” DJ crooned over the sample track for “Lights”, of course originally done by Ellie Goulding. It’s a far cry from the same song you’ve heard blanket the radio, though, as Fantasma puts much more of a rock spin on it.
While gearing up for the next song, DJ passed the time by cracking a joke. “I think the band before us made up half the crowd.” he said, before looking at guitarist Chad Abbott. “Was that a bad joke? I’m sorry, that was a bad joke.” he added, however, I found some humor in it. They were then informed they had enough time for one more, and with another new one already queued up, they went with it to close out their 29-minute long set.
I thoroughly enjoyed it all. First off, this was the first time I had seen them since Chad (best known as rhythm guitarist for SouthFM and in slightly more recent years Social Jab), and his slick, precise style of playing meshes well with the band. And while on the subject of new things, those songs seem to be a grade above what was on their first album, which is saying a lot.
As for the rest of the group, Dan, Michael and DJ all turned the heat up a bit, too, and put on a fierce live show.
Do check out their record in iTUNES, and keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE, as they do have a few more shows before the years end.
Closing out the night was local heavyweight Adakain. I had seen the band a few years ago (at least) at a show here at the Curtain, but that was well before they went through a lineup change, adding Ryan Ray on as the lead singer. Needless to say, I was looking forward to this.
They proved themselves a force to be reckoned with right from the start, with their high-octane show, guitarist Taylor Walding, bassist Jason Schauer and singer and guitarist Ryan Ray all thrashing about to Ryan Carroll’s drumbeats. That energy never ceased as they tore through their first couple of songs, before getting to one that was a staple of Ryan’s past project… Sort of. Assuming the title is still the same it was “How Could You?”, albeit a reworked version from what I was used to, which in the end seemed to bring the song new life.
Upon finishing it they took a breather. “…The music scene is badass…” Ryan stated, talking about how we take care of our own, and all came together this night for such a worthy cause. He then ditched his guitar for their next song, allowing him to be even more mobile than before, even doing a bit of jumping around the stage.
“…This song’s about never giving up on your dreams…” Ryan told everyone in setting up their next track, elaborating that so long as you have that drive you need to keep at it, because your dreams can’t come true if you’re not pursuing them. “This one’s called That Feeling.” he finished as the ripped through it. The following song also got a little explanation, and it was about letting people change you to please them, and how you shouldn’t. “…Fuck that, am I right?” Ryan said before they launched into one song that really stood out to me.
They wound it right into the next one, and in the little lull that connected the two Ryan again thanked everyone for coming out, acknowledging that everyone had to probably be up early for work the next day and how they appreciated the audience staying late. Not much noise was made when he asked who all did have to go to work the next day. “What, are you all drug dealers?!” he joked.
Now, in the final stretch of their 43-minute show, they pulled out some of the songs they’ve recently written, even working on them with Jeff Blue out in LA. One was the heavy hitter that is “Honey”, a vicious song that has some mainstream rock elements to it, and it’s my personal favorite from this new batch.
Longtime Adakain fans cheered as the band then pulled out the lead track from the “Silhouette of Lies” EP, “Sky is Falling”, which was proof to the adage, “save the best for last”, ‘cause it was without question one of their best songs this night. “Bleach it Out” came next, giving it a run for its money, and then they wrapped up the night with “Hello World”.
I’m going to have to try to make it to some Adakain shows a little more often…
The incredibly high-energy show they put on was more than enough to completely captivate you, and mixed with their great songs, they’re a pretty powerful force.
Adakain has been around for a little while now, making waves in the D/FW area and even across the country when they’ve toured, and maybe now, with this newest lineup, they can finally break through. The potential is definitely there.
You can buy the bands older stuff in iTUNES, while they have their three newest tracks up to listen to on their REVERBNATION PAGE, and stay tuned to it for future show updates the band will have.
It was a great night, and it was nice to see so many people come together to help a guy out. The turnout could have been better in my opinion, but still, for a Sunday night, it wasn’t bad at all.
Kudos to the bands who played and the fans who came out, whose sheer attendance proved how much they care not just about the local music scene, but the community, and the people who are a part of it.
It seemed like it had been a little while since I had caught a show at the Doublewide, but with the one the venue was hosting this night, it was impossible to pass up.
Here Holy Spain was headlining, doing their first show since releasing their latest EP at the end of July, and they had a couple of other Dallas acts opening up for them.
Dead Mockingbirds was first up (despite being listed as second on the Doublewide’s website), and this trio got the night off to an excellent start.
They crammed quite a few songs into their 41-minute long set, and their fifth one in was one of my favorites, just being a killer song that singer and guitarist Kenneth Everette Pritchard shredded on, and the bass intro that Trinidad Diaz started it off with was very enticing. Upon finishing it, Kenneth thanked the people who had made their way into the showroom. “…It’s one of the new ones…” he stated.
They weren’t all about rock music, though, throwing in some humor here and there, like after their next song when Kenneth thanked the sound guy, referring to him as their new best friend. “…He doesn’t know it yet, but we’re going to go hang out at his house after this…” he joked, before assuring the sound guy they weren’t going to do that.
They knocked out a couple more, and near the end of one Kenneth dropped to his knees at the center of the stage, fiercely and quickly plucking the strings on his ax for a knockout solo. Matthew Crain then got his turn at a solo, banging about on his kit as they fired up another song. After that one that proceeded it, Kenneth announced it was about “schizophrenia”, which made sense, since it was a pretty wild and crazy sounding number.
They then headed for the end, cranking out four more tracks, including one of the cuts from their recently released 45 record.
I was pretty impressed by these guys, who threw down with the best of them, being very forceful in their performance.
With that, the live show is definitely where it is at for this cohesive trio, who were obviously there to entertain and had fun doing it.
I did have a little trouble hearing Kenneths’ voice at times this night, though I’m not sure if that because the mic volume could have stood to be turned up or what. Still, that was far from being a strike against them.
If you go to the bands REVERBNATION PAGE, you can download some of their songs for FREE, and also keep an eye on that page for future show updates.
Sandwiched in between the opener and headliner was Plissken, and with a name like that, I was interested to hear what they were like.
Personally, they were way too heavy for my tastes, what with the throaty screaming their singer did, and because of that I zoned out on them.
It just wasn’t my cup of tea, but if that’s something you enjoy, check ‘em out.
A little after midnight Here Holy Spain was ready to go, and they had a set planned that would traverse their entire career, from old to current, and even some new material.
A sampling of that newer stuff began their show, kicking off an onslaught of songs. It was titled “Boss Level” (according to the set list), which they quickly sailed through, bleeding it seamlessly into the title track from their 2009 LP, “Manic”. Drummer Scott Brayfield and bassist Erica Guagliardi created a tight knit and quick rhythm section on that one, which eventually gave way into one of their other new ones, “Warning Signs”.
They didn’t stop there, Scott transitioning them right into the next song, before singer and guitarist Wes Todd fired up the first notes of “Drive Out West”, one of the instant classics from the newly released “Under the Undertow” EP. Now only “Division” remained untouched, and they fixed that quickly with the lead track from that full-length, “No Love”. Most of the tracks from that album are filled with a lot of bitterness and anger, which Wes harnesses well, as the raw emotions seep out into his singing. They had a couple more offerings from that record, too, continuing with “Waiting, Wearing Your Skin”.
It only took 15-minutes for them to work through those six songs, and while some of them are shorter, that still speaks to how efficient the members of Here Holy Spain are. As they paused to tune, Ben could be overheard confirming with Wes what the next song was, which was “Can’t Control”. “…They just can’t control it. They try, but they can’t…” Wes joked with his band mate, while they readied themselves. On one of the lines from the second verse, “…My beating, bruised, screaming bleeding heart…” Wes took most of the aggression out of his voice (compared to the album version), giving it a different feel, and it actually made the song sound even better.
To eliminate anymore downtime, Scott tapped on some of his cymbals while the rest of the group tuned, getting things ready for one last song from their new batch. It was called “Physics”, and Ben seemed to be the one that stole the show on that one, having some killer and catchy parts on both the verses and choruses, simply killing it. That one was definitely my favorite from this new set of tunes, and it was followed by my favorite from that new EP they put out in July.
While simple, the opening chords of “Golden Gun” are mesmerizing, and lyrically it’s easily one of the best, deepest things Wes has written. “…How long ‘til the dawn is coming? how long ‘til I drop? I never knew you better than I never knew my god…” he sang before the rest of the outfit joined in as it roared to life.
After one last timeout to get prepped for their final songs, they pulled out the emotional “Even The Bright Ones Burn Out”, before segueing it right into the turbulent “Way Out One In Five”, which concluded their 36-minute long set.
As usual, they knocked it out of the park, and I (and I’m sure other fans) enjoyed hearing the assortment of songs from their previous, current and coming albums. Speaking of that, their new, new material is fantastic, and even though their new EP is barely two months old, it has me looking forward to what their next release will be like, even though that’s probably at least a year away at this point.
If you want to hear some good rock music with a flare of punk, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a group better than Here Holy Spain, especially in the live setting. On that note, they do have a show at Club Dada on October 12th. And don’t forget to pick up their music in iTUNES, and if you collect vinyl, you can get a hard copy of their split vinyl release from IDOL RECORDS online store.
Trees had put together a rather last minute local rock show for this night, with it coming together only about two weeks before. I knew nothing about it, aside from that Paco Estrada was playing it, doing his first full band Dallas show in three months, and it had been even longer than that since I saw him last, so there was no way I could miss this one.
There were only two opening bands, and I never caught the name of the first, probably because they had so many friends/fans out they didn’t think to drop their name, assuming everyone already knew who they were.
They didn’t do a lot for me, and part of that was due to their singers’ voice. In fairness, he did note he had been sick, even saying himself, “…My voice sounds like a bag of dicks…”, but all the same, there was only one song they did where I thought he sounded good and it was enjoyable. Aside from that, their music seemed a bit generic, very of pop/rock, and in a tiresome way.
A trio took the stage next, known as Nine Left Dead who had made the trek from Oklahoma City.
They opened with an instrumental song, which made me curious if that was going to be all they were, but starting with their next song, one of the members began singing (I believe it was the bass player).
The further they got into their show the more I enjoyed it, and some of their songs I thought were pretty well crafted, having some excellent music beds that were even catchy at times.
The only bad thing was they never really got any momentum going, often taking lengthy pauses in between songs, and at one point near the end the singer apologized to everyone, citing they were currently in the studio working on some stuff and they didn’t have much planned.
They could definitely stand to polish and tighten things up, but they are on the right track.
Last minute like this, you can’t expect to get an all-star lineup, but at least they were able to get one all-star act, and Paco Estrada and his band were about to take the stage.
When it came time for Paco and his band to start, pianist Scotty Isaacs began, softly striking the keys as he created a heavenly intro to “American Girls”. That was just one of several songs they did from the upcoming “Bedtime Stories” record, and Paco led them in winding it into their next song with some licks on his acoustic guitar.
Afterwards was when Paco formally introduced himself to everyone, though most of the meager crowd was probably already familiar with him. After another one of their new jams, they launched into one of the true gems from Paco’s recent years, and one that is just starting to find a life in the live set, “The Girl with the Heart of Steel”. “…The love you gave that could never be returned. So you took the knife and you cut your hand. You swore by your blood they could never break your heart again…” Paco belted out before they reached the chorus, “And that’s when you became the girl who could never feel…”.
He has penned a number of excellent songs over the years, and that one is close to the top of my list for being one of his best, especially in terms of lyrics. The new stuff kept coming with another catchy song, after which Paco slightly joked about one of the cities he frequents. “…Austin’s a good place for music, Dallas is of course great… But there’s just something about Tyler…” he said, not meaning any disrespect to the town at all, rather just saying it had a different vibe to it.
Things got more lively when they busted out “She”, whose more rock sound allowed Joel Bailey and Ryan Thomas Holley to cut loose a little more on their bass and guitar, respectively. Still, no one seemed to take more advantage of that song than drummer AJ “Irish” Blackleaf. He went ballistic on his kit, having almost a robotic style of playing by keeping his arms fairly rigid, but he tore it up, all the while wearing a smile, quite obviously having the time of his life.
As they wound up most of the upcoming music, they started to tap some of Paco’s (more recent) back catalog, with the fan favorite “Whiskey Kisses”, which sounds so much better when fleshed out by the full band. It was followed by another song all about love, which Paco explained was about a fairytalesque love, where you’re more or less caught up in the moment. It was a beautiful track, with the line (which I think I got right), “…These are the moments that make the hard times worth it…” being one that really stuck out to me.
That flow kept going with “When We Were Made”, Ryan adding some excellent notes to the end of it, which, while somewhat subtle, were enough to take the song to a whole other level. “Breaking Down” then brought the night to a close, the song springing to life towards the end when Paco crooned parts of the chorus. I really don’t think I’ve ever heard that song sound so intense before, as they embarked on more of an instrumental portion. As it drug on, I started to wonder if they were going to tack a cover song onto the end of it, as is tradition, or if they had switched it up in their time off. Eventually, it was met with the one response I was hoping for, the music subsiding as Paco sang, “Did I disappoint you, or leave a bad taste in your mouth?” I still say the addition of U2’s “One” is the best cover they’ve mixed with that song yet, and it seemed to sound extra amazing this night.
Paco had stated that would be their final song of the night, so as soon as it was over, the house music started coming back up, while a handful of fans begged for an encore. Their request was met when Paco stepped back up to the mic and said they did have one more for everyone. That last song was “Haunting Me”, and it was a nice end to their 59-minute long set.
It was an excellent show, and after again hearing some of those new songs, it got me all the more excited for “Bedtime Stories”, which will no doubt be a great collection of songs.
Also, the full band serves Paco, well, and after years of having a rotating cast of musicians accompanying him, it’s good to finally see some starting to became mainstays, like Joel and Scotty. Hopefully Ryan will be able to make this permanent, too, because his voice and slick playing added some nice elements to things this night.
Next up, Paco will be doing a couple of Austin shows, one on September 26th at 219 West Rooftop on 6th Street. The following night he’ll also be playing Darwin’s Pub, with Ryan Holley helping him out on both shows. Also, check out his records, including the very new “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” EP on his BANDCAMP PAGE. (Also, check out this interview Paco did with DFW Undercover.)
Despite the low turnout (which was expected for a last minute show), it was good night, and Paco and his band were more than worth the cover price.
It took six years, but the Toadies finally brought their roving music festival known as Dia de los Toadies to their hometown of Fort Worth.
Actually, with the festival having been stationed in New Braunfels for the last three consecutive years, it was easy to forget the festival was meant to roam about the Lone Star State in the first place.
I must admit, it felt a little strange to me, though, being only the third time I attended the festival it was also the first time I (or rather my dad and I) didn’t have to trek south to Central Texas for the event. Instead, it was just a short(er) little jaunt over to Fort Worth and the Panther Island Pavilion, which was the spot for this year’s event.
It wasn’t a little slice of heaven like the setting of the past few years, but it was a nice space. Still, it could benefit from some shade trees, and while it was fairly removed from Downtown, leaving the attendees unable to see or hear any traffic or anything, the buildings of downtown Fort Worth still served as a reminder that you were in the city.
Being in North Texas this year, the lineup drew almost exclusively from the areas talent, and getting the day long festival going was some students at the School of Rock, but not just any students, they were students from the dean’s list.
Their nearly 30-minute long set consisted entirely of covers, including some Fleetwood Mac and Janis Joplin, among others.
The group consisted of a large collection of musicians, who often played musical chairs, with five of them beginning with an instrumental piece, before a girl who looked like she was perhaps ten joined them on stage for their first song with lyrics, and surprised me by having a more powerful voice then I was expecting.
It was a good glimpse of what could perhaps be a future crop of local area musicians, and while all of them were already good at their craft, there were two that really got my eye. One was the first bass player who was on stage with them, and played most of the set. He killed it, having an awesome style of playing while slapping the bass. The other was one of the other vocalists, and before their final song, an instructor or someone with the School of Rock walked up to the mic, informing everyone that Zoe (the singer) would soon be graduating from the school after something like four years, and this would be her last time performing as a student.
She had a wicked voice, often conjuring more of a sharp growl, and as a front women had a great presence, getting into the music and moving accordingly to it, and just had an aura about her that ensured they had your undivided attention.
Kudos to the School of Rock for doing what they do, and to all the kids for putting complete dedication into their set and best of luck to them as they continue to improve.
Over on the smaller stage, the Play.Rock.Music. stage (of course named after the Toadies most recent release) was the Fort Worth based, The Cush.
Their 28-minute long set featured a hefty bit of new material from the album they are currently working on, and I believe their opening song was one from it. They did throw some more rock stuff into their performance to better fit with all the other acts, however this song was a little softer, and featured some truly gorgeous harmonies and textures from the husband and wife duo of Burette and Gabrielle Douglas, the former playing a guitar, while she rocked the bass.
She did most of the singing on it, and afterwards they did another new one, which if I heard correctly was titled “Orange Like Water”. Afterwards, drummer Todd Harwell led them into a song from 2010’s “Between the Leaves” with a mighty drum roll, launching them into the explosive “I Shout Love at the Heart of the Atom”. They might be more of a low-key outfit that does more indie like songs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t throw down when they need to, and that song served as a prime example of that, and really allowed guitarist Josh Daugherty to cut loose.
“This song’s called The Drone.” Burette said to the small crowd of onlookers, before they did the more soupy, dreamy sounding song which was drenched with some sounds courtesy of a synthesizer. They were almost done, now, doing two more newer ones, and “Cover Your Eyes” kicked things back up into high gear. It was easily the most intense thing they played this afternoon, and Todd knocked out some strong beats on the song’s outro, which all but belonged to him, before they did their closing track.
In fairness, I haven’t see The Cush much, with this being only the third time I’d caught them, but they grow on me each time around.
In fact, Gabrielles’ voice sounded better than I’ve ever heard before, being absolutely beautiful. Part of may have also had to do with the new songs, which I found to be some of their best stuff to date, particularly the more rock oriented songs. They pull of both styles exceedingly well, though, and the duel vocalists adds an interesting component to their whole dynamic.
Check out their records in iTUNES, and stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE for future show updates and news about their forthcoming record.
Back over on the main stage (which was the Panther Island Pavilion stage I should add) a newer Dallas group was getting ready to perform, and that was These Machines are Winning.
The band has earned praise since their debut, and especially after releasing their first record earlier in the year, but I had yet to see them, and in fact, had never even listened to their music, so I was clueless on what to expect.
However, I did not expect to see three guys (they did not have a drummer by the way) dressed in solid black, which included hoodies, and yes, they did have the hood drawn over their heads. Probably one of the crazier things I’ve seen a band do in in heat that was pushing 100 degrees, but that also earns them some serious props for sticking with their signature look regardless of how hot it was.
“It’s Been So Long” kicked off their set, and I was a bit surprised to find out how electronic based their music was, with the percussion also being thrown in on the sample tracks. I don’t mean that as a bad things in any way, it just wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It was a striking sound right from the start, and I mean that about just the tracks themselves, let alone with the slick guitar parts that lead guitarist Dave Christensen and singer and guitarist Dylan Silvers, were adding on, as well as the rhythmic bass lines Hightower was cranking out. It completely enveloped me, and they had me mesmerized throughout the duration of their 26-minute set.
With a little bit of feedback they brought it right into the following song from “Defender 1”, “Get a Little Closer”, which was eventually bridged into “Brains Inside Our Head”. Dylan ditched his guitar for “Just One More (Monolith)”, taking up more of a front man role and proving he was just as comfortable on stage without a guitar as he was playing it, walking around a bit while delivering the lyrics. “This song’s called Beat S.” he announced after placing his guitar back around him. “…You’ve been looking at me like I was somebody else. You’ve been looking at me like I could fix this whole god damn mess…” he sang on the second verse of the song which somewhat breaks the mold of traditional songwriting by lacking a true chorus, something it really doesn’t need.
Upon finishing it, Dylan then named their next song, “Fornication”, which I thought was probably their most rocking number, even though it still had a real electronic element to it. It eventually gave way to “You Have Been Talking to a Ghost”, as they continued to power through their set as quick as they could to fit everything in, and once it was done they took a pause. Dylan spoke more to the ever growing crowd, rather than thank the people for coming out and the Toadies for having as he had done at other points in their set. “It’s fucking hot. It’s gonna cool down. It’s gonna rain.” he said.
The first part of that was very true, but sadly the other two sentences never did happen this day. With that said, the trio tackled their final song of the day, “If This City Won’t Sleep”, capping things off nicely.
Sometimes, when it comes to electronic samplings, I think they can sound fairly cold and sterile, but that was far from the case with These Machines are Winning. It was very vibrant, and while I’d hesitate to say they are breaking new ground, their music is highly original and very different from most of the stuff currently out there.
It is very creative music, and the synth sounds work in perfect combination with the rock flare Dylan, Dave and Hightower bring with their live instruments.
Since seeing them, I’ve listened to “Defender 1” a few times, and the songs do translate well on the record, and they do pull them off live exactly how you hear them, though it is the live show where things are really at for them. They put on a pretty energetic show, as well as a fun one, and one I hope to see again soon.
To keep up to date on their shows, just stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE, and do be sure to preview and even buy “Defender 1” in iTUNES.
Over on the other stage, an old iconic Denton band was about to be doing one of their occasional reunion shows.
That band was Baboon, who was part of the “Fraternity of Noise” (a title that was collectively given to three bands back in the early 90’s), and while that may have been well before my time, I was still somewhat familiar with Baboon, and have been for a little while now. (side note: this was the second year that Dia de los Toadies has featured one of the bands from the “Fraternity of Noise”.)
Baboon has been in business for over two decades now, and semi-retired would probably be the best word to use for them. They’ve never actually hung it up and called it quits, though their reunion shows are few and far between, and because of that they had quite the audience.
They traversed much of their lengthy career, at least as much as they could, the fiery “Rise” was how they began things. It definitely piqued my interest as they jumped into action, and each member of this quintet was pretty spry, and certainly didn’t let their age show on them.
“Lush Life” wasn’t quite as aggressive as that first track, but still packed a good punch, and they quickly followed it with “Breaking Glass”, which I thought had some sweet guitar lines, which in turn made it a catchy little tune. Before the next song, vocalist Andrew Huffstetler noted they were doing it because it was a request, pointing out that is something they don’t always take. They named the evidently longtime fans, who I assume were in a relationship of some type, since they said the guy had requested it for the lady, and fittingly so, because “Nation of Twos” was somewhat of a tender love song.
The mood changed when they fired up “I’m Okay if You’re Okay”, which I found to be the most interesting song of their set. There was an eerie atmosphere to it at times, with some haunting riffs from guitarists Mike Rudnicki and James Henderson, while Andrew forced his voice into a falsetto tone, letting loose a violent scream shortly after, while the rhythm section of drummer Steven Barnett and bassist Bart Rogers was off the wall. At times, parts of the song seemed so opposite one another it was almost contradictory, yet it worked.
With some beats on his kit, Steven wound them into “Dracula Eyes”, which wound up being one of my favorite songs they did. It may not have been an all-out onslaught of rock like some of their other material, but it was an all around brilliant song. They continued busting out the classics with “Closer”, then eased into “California Dreaming” with some light guitar chords, at least until the song took off. By the time it was done, they only had one song left, and it was “Evil”.
It was a great 32-minute set in my opinion, but for the longtime fans, it evidently was not long enough, with the chants for an encore starting no sooner had the final notes been played, making them the only band (aside from the Toadies) to get demands for an encore. It was a request Baboon really seemed to want to grant, but with the time constraints of the festival, they were unable to do so.
Obviously, I can’t attest to what a Baboon show was like back in the day, but from the looks of it this afternoon, I’m going to guess that they haven’t lost much of their edge.
In terms of a high-strung, energetic show, Baboon was the best there was on the festival, constantly moving about, and in Andrew’s case even jumping, proving they could run circles around the fresher bands they were sharing the stages with.
There were times when Andrews’ voice would crack a little, but that was only on some of the high notes he hit, and that’s the only compliant I can make about their show.
In regards to their music, I think it has withstood the tests of time, still sounding creative and fresh compared to any rock you’d hear now days, probably because they just don’t make rock bands like Baboon anymore (at least not in mainstream rock).
Who knows when these guys will be pulling out the drums, guitars, bass and microphone again, but whenever they do, I’ll definitely try to be there to witness another show.
Back over on the main stage, another trio was ready to go, and the rock continued with Oil Boom.
The band is readying a brand new record, and they squeezed in several songs from it, but also threw in some current and older stuff, like “45 Revolutions Per Minute”, a smart, fun little tune that was completely consuming. Dugan Connors kept the drum beats going, bringing them into one of those songs from their upcoming record, and it was followed by another.
Once it was done, bassist Steve Steward made a reference about how big the stage was, and it wasn’t your typical reference. “Remember that part in the Batman movie, where Batman, or Bruce Wayne and Vicki Vale are in the dining hall on opposite sides…” he said, speaking of the 1989 Batman film. “That’s what I feel like…” he said, then added, “Ryan’s Vicki Vale, obviously.” talking about his band mate, singer and guitarist Ryan Taylor.
That made for a great laugh, and served to only make them more entertaining than they already were, before they continued on with two more songs, tied together nicely with a little bit of guitar feedback. “…Here’s one you all will know, maybe.” Ryan said to the crowd. It was one from last year’s “Gold Yeller” EP, and though I didn’t know it, I quickly became a fan of “The Great American Shakedown”. “Shaking down, shaking down, shaking down, you know I’m all shook down…” Ryan sang on the chorus, the unique tone his voice has making the song all the more irresistible.
The next song they did featured a stellar guitar solo from Ryan, and while it was the most prominent instrument at the time, Steven and Dugan held it up with a tight rhythm section, then after one more new song, they reached the final song of their 37-minute long set. It was one off their first record, and even though “Bite Your Tongue” was older and had been written with the bands original singer, it still came across as a staple of their set, and was one of the highlights.
Having heard of Oil Boom for a few years prior to this, it was good to finally see them live. In fact, I had listened to their music a few years back (around the time of their first album, so circa 2011), and wasn’t really drawn in by their music, but damn, their stuff this day sure got me hook, line and sinker.
A lot of that has to do with Ryan, who, just in comparing their two EP’s, is a much better singer, in my opinion, giving their sound a whole a new style. And speaking of their sound, it is rock first and foremost, but there’s some underlying blues and soul qualities to it, some of their songs even having a revamped 50’s to 60’s era sound to it.
Now that I have seen Oil Boom, I’m wondering why it took me so long to do so, and I’ll have to make it a point to see them a little more often when I can.
They’re keeping busy, with a show in Austin on September 28th as part of the Pecan Festival. On October 4th they’ll be in Houston at the Continental Club, then Sundown at Granada in Dallas on the 5th. The 12th will see them in Fort Worth at the Flying Saucer for Beerfest, and the following weekend they’ll be back in Cow Town for Lolaspalooza at Lola’s Saloon on the 19th. On the 25th they’ll be at the Blue Note in Oklahoma City, with a Tulsa gig on the 26th at the Mercury Lounge. Lastly, on November 9th they’ll be back in Dallas at the Granada Theater, opening for Johnny Marr of The Smiths. As for their music, you can of course pick up their EP’s and some singles in iTUNES.
The pace of the day was about to take a drastic change over on the Play.Rock.Music stage, though not everyone (myself included) knew just what they were about to experience.
This San Antonio based quartet known as Piñata Protest was on their way out to California to start a tour with Guttermouth, but they were stopping here first to give the Dia attendees a taste of their self-described (according to their Facebook page) “Mojado punk” brand of music.
I was expecting the punk part, though, especially not after seeing singer Alvaro Del Norte wielding an accordion. Not the most punk rock sounding instrument, at least you wouldn’t think it would be.
The outfit recently released their new record, “El Valiente”, and they opened with the first full song on it, “Vato Perron”. It quickly became apparent they’ve carved out their own little niche for themselves, the accordion adding a real Mexican flare to their music. Actually, all of the instruments did, from the notes Matt Cazares played on his guitar, to the rapid fire beats drummer JJ Martinez was cranking out, working in perfect tune with Marcus Cazazres’s bass lines.
It was all fast paced like punk music, is though, and they lowed through their 34-minute long set, going almost straight into another number. That new album of theirs wasn’t the only source of music for them, and actually, they seemed to draw equally from it and their first release, “Plethora”, running through the short “Jackeee”, before doing the title track of album two, “El Valiente”.
They were both throwing down and making for a very fun live show, but it was about to get a little more hardcore. Alvaro took off the accordion he was using. “Are there any punk rockers out here?!” he asked, saying he meant real, true punk rock fans, not pretenders. Some of the onlookers roared back at him to signify there were. “…Prove it.” he said, “Start a fucking circle pit…” he commanded. As for the song, I don’t know exactly what it was, but I’m leaning towards “Que Pedo”. Regardless, once they tore into it, a mosh pit erupted, lasting the whole not even complete minute the song did. Actually, some of the people looked confused, surprised the song was already over, but hey, that’s a true punk rock song right there. Short, intense and to the point.
After another tune, they did an Irish song for everybody. At least that’s what Alvaro told the spectators. “…This is an Irish drinking song for all you Irish motherfuckers.” he laughed. I believe it was “Life on the Border”, and upon finishing it, they geared up for their next song by getting the audience to clap along. Alvaro asked for everyone to get their arms higher in the air, making a wisecrack once they were fully stretched upwards. “Oh, I can smell your armpits from here.” He said, waving his hand about as if he were trying to waft the smell away.
That song was “Guadalupe”, which was relatively tame by the standard Piñata Protest had so quickly set, before rolling it into “Suckcess”, kicking things back up. The full-blown punk rock side they are capable off showed itself again with their next song, another pit forming, as a handful of people slammed against one another for the duration of another song that was unknown to me.
By now it seemed like their time should be running out, but with very few songs that are even three minutes long, they kept powering on with “Volver, Volver”, which JJ wound into “Rocket”, Marcus banging his head about to the drum beats of that partially instrumental song.
A very catchy song was “Tomorrow, Today”, and once they finished it, it was time to put their spin on a couple of traditional songs. “…This song’s about a little cockroach, who likes to smoke weed…” Alvaro said to the crowd, who both laughed and cheered at that, before he went on to dedicate it to all the “officers in uniform” for keeping everyone safe this day. I promise you, you have never heard “La Cucaracha” sound like the way these guys did it, putting a very punk twist on it, even complete with a trumpet. They then wrapped up their set with Alvaro said was another traditional song, “Cantina”, another one they no doubt made much more punk sounding than it originally is.
Piñata Protest was easily the most original sounding band of the festival (and that could actually be extended to most original band I’ve ever heard in general), and they also stuck out as being one of the highlight acts of the day.
Fun and aggressive is an interesting mix, especially in the way they mixed it, but that was made them so enjoyable. It was something fun that you could cut loose and have a good time listening to, though also doubled as a fierce and tight rock show.
These guys pull off their unique style incredibly well, and their live show is one to behold, because they won’t disappoint. There’s also a good chance they might be near you on this tour they are a part of. For all their dates, click HERE, and they will be on the road through mid-October. Also, do your ears a favor and give them a taste of something different by checking out their records in iTUNES.
Back on the main stage, it was time for another drastic shift in music (compared to the band that had just finished), and everyone was about to get countrified by the duo, The O’s.
“Thunderdog”, the band’s latest LP, was the main source of their music this day, but they also drew from “Between the Two” a little bit, like with their opener, “We’ll Go Walkin’”. “Every morning, when we wake up, I brew up some lovin’ and pour you a cup…” sang John Pedigo at the second verse of that sweet love song. That overwhelmingly happy song transfers its emotions well onto the listeners, making it impossible to be in a bad mood.
“…This song’s called Dallas.” said acoustic guitars and other vocalist Taylor Young, who also adds the percussion by stomping on a pedal to hit the bass drum that sat at his feet. That tune was the only bumpy part of their set, as I had trouble hearing Taylors’ voice, and even John’s as he harmonized with him. Whatever the issue was, it resolved near the end of it, which was just in time for them to do the lead track from “Thunderdog”, “Outlaw”. It’s perfect proof that this new record features their best collection of songs yet, and this song’s at the top of the list. “…We’ve all got the right to fix things that we don’t like… Revolt, reshape and reload…” the two sing on the chorus, which I think sends the message that if you want something to change, you can and need to be the one to make it happen.
“Found the One” continued their show, and they shared a little bit of the banter they usually make, something Taylor mentioned earlier when he apologized, “…We’re trying not to talk as much today as usual…” Here, they pointed out the producer of their recent record. “…You look hot…” Taylor told, before pointing out he meant in hot in the sense of the temperature. John then chimed in, saying something to the effect that he thought his band mate meant the physical sense, because he was looking pretty good.
They then started a real gem from the new album, “Rearranged”, which was also a very captivating moment of this performance. “Well Taylor, it looks like wearing black wasn’t a good idea after all…” John said to his band mate, as they began to talk about some of the other bands, like These Machines are Winning and their outfits, while saying Baboon probably had the smartest idea by dressing in all white. “…That joke never gets old.” Taylor stated, giving the impression they used that before, which only made the joke that much finnier. They then stepped it up with the only song they have that is borderline rock, and that is “Kitty”, which sees John shredding on his banjo at the end.
There was a long build up to their next song, John doing a lengthy harmonica solo before the two started the music bed of “In Numbers We Survive”, which they segued nicely into “Pushin’ Along”, which required John to use his pedal steel guitar. It then came time to end their 42-minute long set, and what better way to conclude it than with “Everything’s Alright”.
I believe I said this the last time I saw The O’s, and I’ll say it again, they’re growing on me each time I see them. This was definitely the best show I’ve seen them do, even topping the festival I saw them play back in May, mainly because they were able to squeeze some additional songs into this one.
If you’re looking for great, quality country music, then they’re a group to check out. Both John and Taylor are fantastic singers with their own unique sounding voices that can add different tones to their music, and they can harmonize like no one’s business. They also write some topnotch music with brilliant lyrics.
You can find their three records in iTUNES. They’re also keeping busy through the rest of the year, playing Three Links in Dallas on October 4th, with a gig at the State Fair of Texas on the 11th. The 20th will find them back in Fort Worth at Lola’s Saloon, then on the 25th they’ll be up in McKinney at Hank’s Grill. For November they have shows planned in Grapevine, Dallas, Plano and Denton, and even a show in Nashville, TN come early December. For all of those dates, go HERE.
The Burning Hotels were ready to go over on the other stage, having amassed quite a crowd.
While everyone loves these guys, they’ve never won me over, but I was open to perhaps this being the time the band finally clicked with me.
Their 35-minutes on stage began with “Always”, with a couple of other songs (I suppose newer ones) coming next, none of which did much for me. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of Chance Morgans’ voice. However, I have enjoyed the songs that guitarist Matt Mooty sings on, and had been somewhat looking forward to “Days are Gone”. It was the first song of the night where Matt really had a part in singing, and maybe he was just having an off night, but his voice was far from good.
It really caught me off guard how incredibly pitchy he was, and the same could be said of Chance, as they continued on with “Lovely Lovely Lady” and “Sound City”. By that time, I had all but zoned out, making it seem like the perfect time to go ahead and get a place in line to buy some Toadies merch, as The Burning Hotels finished up with three more songs, including “Allison” and the closer, “Beard”.
I’ve tried to get into The Burning Hotels, I really have. There even a handful of songs that I really like the recorded versions of, but in the end, honestly, I just feel these guys are overrated.
All the same, if you want to listen to/buy their music, you can do so HERE and HERE.
Now after seeing a few acts I had caught before, I was looking forward to checking out another act that was new to me… Well, sort of.
I had heard of The Dirty Rivers Boys before, about a year ago, and loved their music, but hadn’t managed to see one of their shows when they had come through town, at least not until now.
They looked much different than any of the other bands this day, with the bass player, Colton James, wielding an upright bass, while drummer Travis Stearns sit atop a cajon, with only a partial drum kit of a snare and a tom around him.
No sooner had the MC of the event introduced them, then they got down to it, opening with the lightning quick, “Letter to Whoever”. The catchy beat reeled you in immediately, and I believe it was Nino Cooper who handled the singing on that one, while also playing a guitar, and he spit out the words just as rapidly as the song was quick. There wasn’t even really time to applaud their efforts as they continued on to their next song, “Heart Like That”. “She’s just a girl with a ramblin’ heartache, he’s grown a hard, lost man…” went the chorus of that infectious track, which wound up being my favorite of theirs and a real sing along quality to it.
Those two songs had come from their first full-length record that came out last year, but now they went back to the first two EP’s they released, playing a song from “Train Station” and “Long Cold Fall”, respectively. They switched things up slightly with “My Son”, which showcased what incredible harmonies the quartet is capable of, as Nino, fellow guitarist Marco Gutierrez (who did the majority of the singing on it), and even Travis all chimed in, their voices blending together to make a beautiful sound. Nino then took back the reigns for their next number, briefly saying it was a song he wrote about a union painter he had met, aptly called, “Union Painter”, and had a true country sound to it.
“This is what we like to call a Chinese fire drill.” Marco told the crowd, as they all took on different roles for the next song. If I got it right, it had Travis playing a banjo and singing, Marco on bass and Colton rocking the mandolin. Once they finished it, they reverted back to their typical instruments for what they said was a “drinking song”, which was “Draw”. They rolled it into another song I wasn’t able to figure out, though it was more of a heavy hitter than the previous song. “…There’s this brand new thing on the streets called punk rock…” one of them said before ripping into the song, which did have a slight punk rock feel to it.
Their 40-minute long set was nearing the end, cranking out one more softer song in the form of “Youngblood Blues”. They then prepared to go out with a bang, Nino switching out to a mandolin for their last two songs, “Boomtown” being one of those, and it got everyone pretty active. It was wound pretty fluidly into their final song “Raise Some Hell”, which at times sounded like an Irish jig, making it all the more fun.
That was actually somewhat of an abrupt end to their set, because I figured they might do a little more, and they were one of the only bands this day that had me wishing they had gotten a longer set time. And really, it’s always good to leave the crowd, even if it’s only some of them, wanting more
Everything about The Dirty River Boys was phenomenal, from the lively show to the killer music and just the attitude they seemed to have about it all. By that, I mean they were just having fun doing what they love to do, with just enough seriousness that any band needs, while still being pretty relaxed and just going with the flow.
Their show was one you could just cut loose at and have a good time, though it certainly didn’t hurt that each of them had exceptional voices, and the harmonies were to die for.
Check out all of their records in iTUNES, and even go catch a live show if you can. They’re keeping busy with shows all over Texas, Oklahoma and even a few other states, spread out through the end of November. For all those dates, go HERE. They will be back in the D/FW area on November 22nd at the Granada Theater, then the next night they’ll be in Austin at Antones for their last show of the year.
Night had finally fallen and the heat was finally more than bearable now, as the show entered the headliners portion of the night.
I had been pretty excited about the Tyler based family band, Eisley. I had missed their last stop or two through Dallas, and they were finished touring for the year, but thankfully they were doing this one-off show.
They played an assortment of songs from various points in their careers, though opened with the title track of the album they put earlier this year, “Currents”. It seemed slow at first, but by the time they hit the chorus, when guitarist Sherri DuPree-Bemis joined sister Stacy King in crooning, “Do you believe in fate, baby? Ask me, ask me…” it roared into a force to be reckoned with.
Dialogue was kept pretty minimal, simply thanking the fans for coming out and the Toadies for having them, as they worked to fit in everything they had planned, and next moved on to “Invasion”. Afterwards, Sherri took over lead vocal duties as they busted out a few from what is their best record in my opinion, “The Valley”. “Better Love” was one of those songs, and by the time they finished it, Sherris’ guitar had a broken string. “…Do we have an extra guitar? We probably don’t, do we?” she asked, before choosing to “rock it out”. “What string is that? G? Who needs the G string?” she joked, before pointing out is was another that had snapped. Drummer Weston DuPree then started them into “Sad”, he and bassist Garron DuPree creating a knockout rhythm section on that one.
“I feel like I have to hold my head on when I sing that one, ‘cause it’s so hard.” Stated Sherri while she caught her breath, Stacy joking with her that it might just fall right off if she didn’t. She didn’t have to exert herself quite as much on the next two songs, “Save My Soul” and “Mr. Moon”, the latter one finding Stacy fully focusing on her keyboard. Upon finishing it, they did chat with the crowd for a few minutes, as Sherri recalled her, Stacy, Chauntelle DuPree-D’Agostino and the rest of the group cutting their teeth at the clubs in the Deep Ellum part of Dallas. “…None of us were old enough to legally get into the clubs, but they still let us play…” she said, before cracking, “Now we’re just old moms with babies…”
Fitting along the lines of that reminiscing was their next song, and old one from 2005’s “Room Noises”, which they said they were doing just for their fans in their home area. No, it wasn’t the ever popular single from that disc, but it was one that’s every bit as good, “Golly Sandra”. It was quite nice getting to hear that more classic song of theirs, which is one of my favorite Eisley tracks, and it was balanced out by the title track of one of their newest releases, “Deep Space”.
Chauntelle added some commentary after they finished it, laughing as she said she had forgotten some of the chords near the end of that song, so she just winged it. “…We’ve been off for two months and I’ve been painting a house…” she informed everyone, noting that between that and being a mom she didn’t have much time to practice. Her sisters agreed with her, that two months in “mommy world” keeps you busy enough that you would forget some things. They followed it with another track from the EP, and considering what had just happened, it seemed apt that it was “Laugh it Off”, which eventually wound into one song that never disappoints, “I Could Be There For You”. It’s nice how it features all three of the sisters singing at least a few lines apiece, particularly Chauntelle, who doesn’t show off her voice on any other song but that one.
They had one last song to do from “Combinations”, and that was “Many Funerals”, after which they once again thanked everyone for coming out. They then wrapped up their 58-minute long set with their current single, the ethereal sounding, “Drink the Water”.
I must say, I was slightly disappointed they weren’t able to fit “The Valley” into their set, but that one stellar song missing didn’t do anything to diminish they knockout show they put on.
The rush they seemed to be in only aided them, making them appear to be even tighter than they already are as they tore through all those tracks, while simultaneously giving it a very fluid feel.
This was definitely one of the best Eisley shows I’ve seen (even though I’ve only seen a handful), and even though it was a one-off performance, the group was more than on point.
Expect to see them back out on the road sometime next year, and in the meantime, hit up iTUNES to check out the collection of albums they have put out over the years.
The main support slot for this year’s Dia de los Toadies went to the Austin based Gary Clark Jr., who is a mix of rock, blues and even some soul.
“When My Train Pulls In”, one of the singles from his debut full-length, “Blak & Blu”, kicked off their set, quickly proving they can also add jam band to their style, too. The recording of that song is close to eight minutes, but this live version lasted slightly over ten, as Gary Clark Jr. riffed and shredded on his guitar, while his band mates, a drummer, bassist and guitarist, tore it up right along with him.
They kept the jam fest going with “Don’t Owe You a Thing”, and then roared into full rock mode with “Travis County”, which was also one that could have and did have some people dancing along to its contagious, poppy vibe. It had quickly become apparent that Gary wasn’t much for chitchat, and he only occasionally offered a “Thank you.” in response to the cheers he was getting. He was all about the music and letting it consume him, and as they carried on, they switched things up from those first few songs.
The falsetto tone of voice he suddenly switched to for “Please Come Home” was enough to catch those who were unfamiliar with him off guard. It was truly impressive how well he pulled that off, though, keeping it up for the duration of the more tender song, which, like every other song, was complete with a guitar solo to demonstrate mastery of the instrument.
“I don’t believe in competition. Ain’t nobody else like me around…” he smoothly sang at the start of “Ain’t Messin’ Round”, which saw their return to the rock genre. It was followed by an instrumental song, which I’m guessing was “Third Stone from the Sun”, Gary lightly picking at the strings on his guitar, and as the time went on, he progressively picked up the pace. It eventually gave way (rather seamlessly, too) into the soulful and even somewhat funky “If You Love Me Like You Say”. The long instrumental segment of the song also featured a good little drum solo, before the full band broke back in to march the song along to its end.
Next up they did the title track itself, “Blak and Blu”, bleeding it into what was arguably the best song of their 63-minute long set, “Bright Lights”. “…You’re gonna know my name by the end of the night…” Gary crooned on various parts of the song, which, when taking out of context, was very fitting, because everyone who was getting their first taste of his music certainly wouldn’t be forgetting him anytime soon.
It was complete with a jam portion, and once they finished it, their set suddenly ended, as he again thanked everyone and he and his band left.
I was kind of mixed about them. On one hand, I’ve stated many times before my disinterest in instrumental music, yet their songs abounded with them, at times causing me to lose some interest. On the other hand, the musicianship (especially on Gary’s part) was superb, and even standing a good ways back from the stage his intricate playing was something to marvel at, making the instrumental parts more than bearable to me.
Overall, I did thoroughly enjoy their show, and it truly was a show they put on. They have a different sound about them, one you don’t hear much of these days, and the crisp, fresh sounding voice of Garys’ is what sets is all off.
Gary and his band will be out on the road from the end of September through the end of November, hitting up several parts of the country. For full details go HERE, and they will also be performing at the House of Blues in Dallas on November 27th. Also, be sure to pick up a copy of “Blak & Blu”. You’ll surely love it.
For the first time in nearly eight hours, silence fell on Panther Island Pavilion. Well, at least silence from the live music. The roadies set to work on getting their stuff off stage and setting up the Toadies gear, allowing the fans to make a beer run or do anything else without fear of missing anything.
By around 10:30, things were all set as the intro song for the Toadies began to play. It wasn’t one of their typical intro songs, though it fit well given where they were. It was George Straits’ “Big Balls in Cowtown”, and after the song had nearly played all the way through, Vaden Todd Lewis walked on stage.
Now, if you’ve seen the Toadies a few times within the last several years, you know they typical stick with the same tried and true set list, usually opening with the same song with many others falling in the same spot each time. There’s nothing wrong with that, hell, I love their traditional set list, but for this year’s Dia they decided to throw everyone for a loop, throwing a multitude of surprises in.
I’ll preface this by saying I find “Play.Rock.Music.” to be every bit as good as the iconic “Rubberneck”, with not a single track on that record being one you should skip over, and one of my personal favorites from their latest disc is “We Burned the City Down”. So, I was pleasantly surprised when Vaden began strumming on his guitar, singing, “Well, misery loves company, that’s why we’re thick as thieves. Let’s move out to the country and live just the way we please…” Soon, Clark Vogeler made his way to stage left while Mark Reznicek took a seat behind his drum kit, joining in after the first chorus, as if they had done this song a few dozen times over already. Once the song kicked into high gear, Doni Blair stepped on stage, bass in hand, as they concluded that deep cut/rarity, and it wouldn’t be the last one of those this night, either.
Their wasn’t even time to applaud that one before some cheers erupted from everyone, excited at the start of “Backslider”. After all, it is those classics that are still the bands bread and butter, even all these years later. Afterwards, they moved on to that follow up to that album, “Hell Below/Stars Above”, Mark counting them in on the rather unexpected “Jigsaw Girl”. That’s an easy song of theirs to overlook, but in hearing it your reminded what good track it is, especially in the live setting, with its nice ebb and flow, while Doni and Mark created an impressively tight, albeit soft rhythm section on the verses. They weren’t about to stop there, and with a mix of mangled feedback they swirled things into their next song, another one I had not experienced live.
Even by their standards, “Cut Me Out” is an extremely intense song, allowing all four of them to get wild, Clark tearing it up on his axe at lightning speed. The crowd seemed to enjoy it, and in a set that was comprised so much of songs that they have seldom done in recent years, it was must play. They rock kept coming as they segued the end of it seamlessly into “I Come from the Water”, the only song that was fit to follow that other up. “Sing it!” Vaden shouted into the mic as he stepped back from it, giving the audience their routine chance at singing the chorus back at them, the shouts of “I come from the water!” flooding out of the fans mouths.
So far, this was shaping up to be what was probably the best Dia de los Toadies yet, and after a quick time out where Vaden thanked everyone for coming out, saying, “…We’ve had a blast for the last two days…”, they continued to crank out some more music.
In recent years, only a couple of songs still get played from the record that officially marked the bands comeback, “No Deliverance”, but they were looking to change that this night, and next did one I hadn’t heard in a few years, “Don’t Go My Way”. As that semi-dark and haunting song came to an end, Clark led them into the next, one of their newer cuts, and it was the best intro I’ve heard him do yet for “Animals”, really putting his whammy bar to use for it. It was just more exaggerated than what you hear on the recording, and that heavy song about the most primal human instinct fit perfectly with the one that came before it. It was then Todd’s turn to start the next one, the pulse pounding “Push the Hand”, before offering up another classic in the form of “Quitter”.
The banter resumed after that one, with Todd pointing out he recognized a few faces from the almost acoustic show the night before. “…That’s always weird and cool…” he said, referring to how it gets them out of their element. He then thought back to the early days of the Toadies. “…They would run us out of the clubs when we first started…” he said, pointing out it was nice now how they get to do this festival each year and play as late as they want to. He even stated that the best part of this night was yet to come, and that they were even going to have some surprise guests join them.
Doni then got them going on “Summer of the Strange”, a song that garnered some very audible cheers from some, seeming to signify that, while new, it’s already become a fan favorite. They then dusted off “I Am a Man of Stone”, which was were one of only two mistakes were made out of this night. Todd got a bit tangled up before the second chorus, flubbing the line, “…Now you’ve got me branded. Broken but still standing, watching you wreck everything…”, starting by uttering one of the earlier lines, before realizing his mistake, which only threw him further off as he tried to recover. Those couple sentences certainly couldn’t ruin the song, but it happened nonetheless.
However, no mistakes were made on “Away”, another song that briefly became a sing along, the crowd chanting, “When I’m away.” a few times over. What happened afterwards, though, was by far the best part of the night for me. Four and a half years is a good chunk of time to have been seeing these guys, and each time I’ve seen them I’ve hoped to hear the lead song from “Hell Below/Stars Above”, and within the last year I finally gave up hope of ever hearing it. So, I was both ecstatic and shocked when Todd began rapidly strumming his guitar, churning out the opening part of “Plane Crash”. The brief jolt of high energy Rock ‘n’ Roll that song offered was something else, and after all those years of hoping beyond hope to hear it, it was everything I hoped it would be.
They had already thrown several curve balls had their fans, and another one came next when they started into “Hell In High Water”. Sure, it has been a staple of their shows since 2008, but more recently it has been reserved for an encore. Yet here it was, in the main part of the set, begging the question, “What did they have planned for their encore?” As fans know, near the end of that one Clark has a sort of solo, knocking out a few lines while pressing his guitar against his amp. Once he finished that he returned to the front of the stage, when Todd made the remark, “I feel like we need one more.” Prompting Clark to return to his amp, letting out wicked and near deafening note.
Upon finishing it, Todd again thanked all the bands who played the festival. “…If you’re wondering how we put all this together each year, fuck, I don’t know…” he laughed, before thanking Kirtland Records and Sonar Management for helping organize it all. “…If it weren’t for you guys I’d have more gray hairs than normal…” he remarked. They then suddenly jumped back into the show, the fans hollering after quickly realizing it was “Possum Kingdom”, and shortly before making his entrance on the drums, Mark struck a pose by angling his arms towards the sky, as if he were a super hero about to take flight.
All these years later that’s still the one most fans love the most, which may not be a good thing, because shortly after they finished was when a very steady stream of people began to leave, and they kept filing out until the night came to an end. It was sad, really, but on the other hand, it showed who the true fans and diehards were.
That song was a sure sign the night was coming to an end, yet at the same time, there were still several songs I could think of they hadn’t played yet, making me wonder how much more they really were going to do. It turned out they had a lot left to give before wrapping up the main portion of the show, and next dug out “Unattractive”, before hitting another favorite of mine, “Sweetness”. “No Deliverance” changed the pace up a bit, being one of the few songs where Todd uses his bullet mic almost exclusively, and once it was over, he mentioned they only had a “couple left until the fake ending”. “…Do you know about the fake ending?” he asked the crowd, all of whom of course did.
During those last few songs a small mosh pit had broken out semi close to the stage, and Todd asked everyone to be careful, saying no one wanted to see anybody get hurt. “Well, there are some people I’d like to see beat up.” Todd said, adding, “Sorry, Doni.” Once the jokes were finished, they continued going off the beaten path by doing “Tyler”, which is normally reserved as an encore, and again begged the question, “What do they have planned for this encore section?”
“This is a good one to shake your ass to, if you brought it. I brought mine.” Said Todd before the final song of their 81-minute long set, which was none other than the high-speed “Rattler’s Revival”.
They took their leave, as did some more of the fans, obviously not concerned with the special guests the band said they had coming up.
A minute or two past before they returned, and once the four-piece reconvened on stage, Clark did the talking. He introduced the first of their series of special guests, a man he said was responsible for much of the Toadies sound, the bands original guitarist, Charles Mooney. Clark ceded his guitar to him and left, and as Charles struck a few notes, a technical issue arose. “…It can’t be a festival without an issue.” Todd said, demonstrating some quick wit by adding, “It has to do with my dad…” To pass the time he got the list of every band who had played and named them all, then bantered on, pointing out that he has been doing this for twenty-four years now, and what a nice privilege that has been.
By that time, the issue with the guitar was resolved, and for this song with Charles, they dug deep, all the way back to “Pleather”, doing “Ruth”. You couldn’t tell it had been about two decades since he had played with the band, owning it on that song, even using his teeth to pluck the strings at the end, all with a vicious stage personality. It was great moment, and he seemed to have a lot of fun doing it.
Clark took back over once it was done, and Doni welcomed their next guest on stage, his little brother, Zach Blair. Vaden pointed out he plays in Rise Against. “..I think they have some potential…” he joked, while handing his guitar over to Zach. It appeared that for one song he was going to be nothing but a front man, and that song was “Velvet”, which saw him pacing about the stage, taking advantage of the mobility he suddenly had.
Shortly after, Zach was replaced by their next guest, James Hall, who had been an opening act for them on the previous night. The thing I hated most about one song from “Play.Rock.Music.” was how nearly impossible it would be to do live, and even worse was it was another favorite of mine from that disc. So, I was quite surprised when Vaden announced the song, “Laments of a Good Man”, with James singing what, on the song, is the devilish voice heard inside the characters head. It translated pretty well live, and James had a good voice for it, sounding a bit wicked. The only hiccup came right at the very end, when he flubbed one line, which in turn made Vaden stumble over his part, laughing about it once they finished the tune.
No Dia is complete without a cover song, and this year (at least for the rock set), they did was Vaden joked was a “obscure” cover. It was a rendition of Joe Walshs’ “Rocky Mountain Way”, and while it didn’t sound like anything the Toadies would do, that was what made it so great, because it put them out of their element a bit, proving they can tone it down a bit.
After nearly twenty minutes this encore was surely close to an end, and their parting song to everyone was “I Burn”. It’s the only way a Toadies show should end in my opinion, capping off the 23-minute long encore nicely.
I’ve only seen three Dia de los Toadies, but out of those three, performance wise, this was the best one, hands down. I return to all the deep cuts they did. That’s how you make this an experience for the fans, perform songs you haven’t touched in awhile or have perhaps have even never played live to make it even more of a spectacle.
It sure worked well for the toadies this night, who were in rare form, even for them, and the banter, which can be lacking at some shows, was well above par, further making everyone feel like they were more of a part of this whole thing.
You can say what you want to about the Toadies, but there’s a reason why they were able to rise from the ashes of their seven year breakup and prove they were not only still relevant, but also a force to be reckoned with. Dia de los Toadies is a testament to that. Well, that, and how many people still love the band and the music they create.
There’s nothing on tap for the band right now, but who knows, they might do one or two more shows before the year’s end. And if you don’t already have them, go check out all their records in iTUNES.
This was a very fun Dia, even without the road trip to Central Texas, but now the question is where will the seventh installment of the festival be held? All of Texas is fair game, and while it could return here to Panther Island Pavilion or New Braunfels, it could just as easily could be held anywhere else.
SHOW REVIEWS: Sick Puppies at House of Blues Dallas
THE HOUSE OF BLUES (Dallas, TX)
Tuesday, September 17th, 2013
by Jordan Buford (The Music Enthusiast)
Emma Anzai – Sick Puppies (House of Blues Dallas, 9.17.13) // James Villa Photography 2013
The crowd at the House of Blues had grown…
THE HOUSE OF BLUES (Dallas, TX)
Tuesday, Spetember 17th, 2013
by Jordan Buford (The Music Enthusiast)
Charming Liars – House of Blues Dallas (9.17.13) // James Villa Photography 2013
First on deck at the House of Blues this night was Charmin…
This weekend was going to be spent in Fort Worth, and originally, I planned on seeing the Toadies this night as they kicked off the sixth edition of their music festival. Then I happened to check the show calendar for one Hayes Carll, only to see he was going to be playing at Billy Bob’s Texas this same night.
That show had already won out beforehand, but was only made better when I happened to score a pair of tickets via a contest Hayes did on Twitter a few hours before the show.
I had only been to Billy Bob’s once before, to see the aforementioned band, actually, and the set up this night was much different this time around. The substantial floor in front of the stage, which was completely empty on my first trip here, was now filled with seemingly endless rows of tables, stretching as far as possible from side to side and front to back. I assume this is probably how Billy Bob’s typically is, when they don’t have a rock band playing that could bring some rowdy fans.
It was a nice setup, and I was glad to find out that not only were there seats, but also what a good spot they were, being in the second row back from the stage and a little to the left of it.
It was a little after the 10:30 scheduled start time when someone there from Billy Bob’s got on stage and welcomed everyone to the show, plugging some of their other events while also noting what a big Hayes Carll fan he was, and how excited he was for the show. Once that business had been taking care of, he then welcomed the man of the hour to the stage, as Hayes Carll and his Gulf Coast Orchestra took the stage.
Hays got things going by plucking the strings of his acoustic guitar, slowly giving the first song shape, before singing the first line of “The Letter”. “I meet some wild people out here, those who are pretending and others more sincere…” he crooned on the seemingly appropriate opener that’s somewhat about his journeys on the road.
Upon finishing it, he officially announced who they were. “…All the way from Austin, welcome Hayes Carll and the Gulf Coast Orchestra.” Hayes said loudly as whipped into “Faulkner Street”. His Gulf Coast Orchestra got to step it more with this song, particularly Scott who no longer had to gently play his lap steel guitar, and electric guitarist Travis was able to cut loose on a brief solo or two. They moved right along to the next song, the crowd cheering after the first few chords that Hayes played. He then softened his playing, “I have two songs that start this way. I hope it’s the one y’all want to hear.” he said to the sizable audience. I believe it was the one fans were most excited to hear, and that was one of the fan favorites from the “Trouble in Mind” record, “Girl Downtown”. It had much of the crowd enthusiastically singing along, and it was also the first of a few consecutive numbers that found Travis holding the side of his guitar against him, picking at it as if it were a lap steel, while I believe Scott switched over to an electric guitar.
Even though they were only a few songs in, they had been knocking them out left and right, but now it was time for a story, as Hayes mentioned his hometown on the Texas coast, which was around Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula, and it got a roaring applause from everyone. “…That’s the loudest applause Crystal Beach has ever gotten.” He said while laughing. He talked about a variety of things down there, but the central focus was one Bob’s Grill and World Famous Sports Bar, a club he used to play, which he said had a “misleading” name. “…The whole place was probably about as big as this stage is…” he said, adding that no one who was currently in attendance would have been there. He then backtracked slightly, “Well, you two might have been, but you would have been watching a fishing tournament or something.” He stated he was a bit of a wonder down there, being the only person who could both play a guitar and sing at the same time, so he quickly made a name for himself and started picking up more and more shows. “…My show at Jeannie’s One led to my show at Jeannie’s Two, which was a bait shop located right behind Jeannie’s One…” he said, while rattling off a few other venues.
He then wound things back to Bob’s, which was owned by (of course) Bob, who, as Hayes put it, “…was a drug dealer.” He went on to say he bought some exotic animals with his profits from selling drugs, “…But the prized possession in his collection was a African Lion.” said Hayes, adding that there was a window behind the stage at Bob’s, and when Hayes played there, Bob would often bring the Lion’s cage there and place it behind the window. He continued own, mentioning that Hurricane Ike had devastated the area a few years back, but before it hit, Bob did “the Christian thing” and let all of his animals loose to give them a fighting chance. “Now, instinctually, that lion went to higher ground…” Hays told everyone, with higher ground happening to be a church, a church which some people also took refuge in, entering only to see a lion already in there. “…It was three days before the National Guard could get in there to assist everyone, so for three days those people were on one side of the church, while the lion was on the other… Like a sort of redneck Life of Pi…” he added. “Now, the reason for that long winded explanation is because this next song has a line about a lion tamer, and I didn’t want anyone to get confused.” he pointed out.
The intro alone to “I Got a Gig” had an excellent sound, with one of the guitarists starting first, while the other followed suit shortly after. Oddly enough, it gave it somewhat of a haunting sound, but was soon broken when the rhythm section, bassist Cody and drummer Mark, as well as Hayes joined in. And that explanation does indeed help the song make a little more sense, as he sings on the third verse, “There’s an old lion tamer parked behind the bar, a hundred pounds of weed in a stolen car…”.
They then slowed things down as Hayes led them directly into “Rivertown”, a personally favorite of mine from the “Little Rock” record, and one I was ecstatic to hear them do. “…And time will bring you down, time make you cold. I turned my back some time ago, and now I’m going home…” he sang on the rather somber track, before they immediately picked the mood back up with the title track from that 2005 release. Both Scott and Travis used an electric guitar for “Little Rock”, a very rocking number, and while they were doing more intense songs, it only made sense to the title track from his most recent release, but first, it was time for some more witty banter.
“This song’s about a soldier who has a morphine induced coma…” Hayes informed everyone, then outlined all the things that happen in “KMAG YOYO” as being hallucinations from the drug. The funny part came when he said he has young singer/songwriters ask him what the formula is to have a hit song in the Top 40 country charts. “…Some people write songs as a story…” he said, also giving a few other examples of writing styles, calling them “irrelevant”. “…The thing you need in your songs is keywords. See, I know this, obviously.” he said, in perfect deadpan humor. He went on to say, “…I usually teach a seminar about this…”, before telling anyone who wanted to learn a thing or two to grab a pencil and some paper. “Those keywords are…” he said, then preceded to list off “Taliban”, “IED, or any other acronym you can think of”, “Trucks” and “Spring break” were some of the words he said every song needed to have to be a hit, and once he had dropped that knowledge on everybody, they ripped into the very rhyme based “KMAG YOYO”. Scott truly got to show off his chops as a guitarist on that one, killing it on the guitar solos, even embellishing them from how they are on the record, subsequently giving it even more rip-roaring action.
There was just enough of a pause to allow the audience to applaud them, while Travis took a seat behind the pedal steel guitar, finally putting it to use on the gloomy “Chances Are”. Things got a little more uplifting after that semi depressing track when Hayes announced the next song was (and I’m sure I’m paraphrasing this) “drunks, and the women who love them.” Between that and pointing out that it was one he had co-written with Ray Wiley Hubbard, the fans knew exactly what song it was, loudly cheering for “Drunken Poet’s Dream”, which featured Travis on the mandolin. They didn’t let up, segueing it right into the next one. “I haven’t done this one in awhile, let’s see if I can remember the lyrics.” said Hayes before he started spitting out the lines of “Down the Road Tonight”. He didn’t seem to have any trouble with the words, and probably around halfway through the song they lightened up on the playing, allowing Hayes to formally introduce each of his band mates. Once he had done so, he left the stage, leaving Mark, Cody, Travis and Scott to do an instrumental jam, and quite a great job at it, at that.
After a minute or two, Hayes returned as they finished out the song, “Jukebox gypsies, mustang sally’s, don’t go walkin’ down dark alleys…”.
Most of his band left after it, leaving just he and Scott on stage, with Hayes informing everyone he was going to do a new song from his upcoming album, due out “…In the spring… Of 2017.” he joked. This was one he wrote about his son, who told him he wanted to be a magician. “Not a musician, a magician.” Hayes reiterated. He mentioned that’s a hard thing, because “…you see a life full of suffering ahead…” for your child, even saying his son wasn’t very good at first, and he would tell him when he was doing tricks for him that he could see what he was doing. “…But he didn’t listen to me or any of the other naysayers…” Hayes said, adding he had recently even become a member of the Austin Association of Magicians, an accomplishment that received some applause from the crowd. “You’ve heard of them?!” Hayes jokingly said, with surprise in his voice. He went on to say that his son is “…the youngest member, by about fifty years or so…” and they meet every other week “…At the IHOP, right by my house.” he finished.
There was an overall meaning to that story, though, as Hayes said he wished he had, had that spirit and determination his son does when he was his age, pointing out that everyone could benefit from picking what they really want to do and doing it, if only it were that simple. “…I hope he never loses that.” he said in closing. The song is called “The Magic Kid”, and it’s a sweet song with a message that everyone could take to heart, as he sings a few different times during it, “Who we are is who we are. Why is that so hard to be?”
While acoustic, it was a good change of pace from the other slower songs which dealt more with heartache, and as the Gulf Coast Orchestra filed back out on stage, Hayes again lightened up the mood by saying the next song was about license plates.
He named a few states and their slogans, like how Oklahoma is the OK state. “I like that, they’re like, “We’re not great, but we’re ok.” He said, and after mentioning North Carolina’s, he joked that that South Carolina’s was, “We wish we were North Carolina.” Talk then turned to the “Live Free or Die” state, New Hampshire, which Hayes said he felt was the best motto, eventually wrapping things up by saying how horrible it would be to be in prison in that state, having to make license plates that read, “Live Free or Die”. “…If you all listen to the third verse of this song, we might learn something tonight.” he told the audience before pulling out a track from his debut album, “Live Free or Die”. It was a humorous song, and that lesson he mentioned, well, it was, “…So if you catch your wife with another man, it’s best to hold off as long as you can. Then shoot him in another state where they got a different license plate.” That is just another example of what a brilliant writer Hayes is (and evidently always has been.)
“Bad Liver and a Broken Heart” came next, albeit a much different rendition than that which you hear on “Trouble in Mind”. Hayes used a harmonica on parts of it, doing a very scaled back acoustic version of it. Personally, I am more of a fan of the album version, probably ‘cause I’m a rock fan first and foremost, but even acoustic the song sounds really good. Fitting with that tone was “Hard Out Here”, which again saw Travis playing the pedal steel. In what I’m guessing is typical fashion, Hayes added some additional lyrics near the end of the song, drawing from experiences on the road, as recently as that day.
He spoke it more than singing, telling the audience of how they played a show in Marfa the night before, and didn’t get to bed until about five in the morning. He continued by saying the hotel room was infested with various bugs and such, like a tarantula, which happened to be in his bed. So, after (literally) a couple hours of sleep, he said he and his band mates woke up and got in the van to head to Fort Worth, only to discover their van had broke down, resulting in some of them riding in an Impala to the show, while the others drove a U-Haul with the gear loaded in it. Such is the life of a touring musician.
Soon after finishing it, they pulled out another blistering number, “Stomp and Holler”, which was a signal that they were at the tail end of their performance, and they wound it pretty fluidly into “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”. Then, to wrap things up, they did the one song I had anxiously been waiting to hear since they first got on stage, “Beaumont”. That beautiful, straightforward love song about the feeling not being mutual was a perfect way to close things out, and that’s actually one of the few songs I’ve heard any band do that works well as both an opener and a closer (Hayes opened with it at a Dallas venue a few months back).
By the time that was all said and done, they had been on stage for an impressive 90-minutes, leaving me wondering if there even would be an encore or not.
Everyone was hoping for one, though, making sure the band knew it, too, by chanting “Hayes!” repeatedly. It had only been a minute or so since they had left when they made their way back out, Travis picking up the mandolin, while Scott was finally going to use the accordion. “I say this every night, but I would do this every night rather anyone shows up or not, but it’s sure a lot more fun when you do.” he said to everyone before embarking on a 12-minute encore portion. It was nearly impossible not to smile as they ran through the upbeat and incredibly catchy “Bottle in My Hand”, before an electric guitar and the lap steel were put back to work for “Wish I Hadn’t Stayed So Long”. They had one last song left for anyone, another one that came from “KMAG YOYO”, “The Lovin’ Cup”, offering a good, upbeat way to call it a night, and after again thanking everyone for coming out, Hayes and the Gulf Coast Orchestra retreated back stage.
It was a fantastic show with a nice selection of songs from all of his releases, hitting just about every song the fans were wanting to hear and then some.
This was only the third time I’ve seen him live, and it was definitely the best, due mostly to the song selection in this lengthy set.
Hayes is a true entertainer, in terms of a singer and songwriter in the witty and/or honest songs he writes and the almost non-stop doses of laughs he adds to the live performance. So, if you want to see a very enjoyable and memorable show, go see Hayes Carll.
For a list of his tour dates, go HERE. He’s staying pretty busy through the end of September, with a few dates in the Mid-West and the East Coast, and will n doubt be announcing some more shows throughout the rest of the year, so stay tuned. And to check out/purchase his music, head over to iTUNES.
It was a very fun night at Billy Bob’s, and at least now I can say I’ve seen a legitimate country show at the world’s largest honky tonk.
It had been quite awhile since the last time I had caught a show at Hailey’s in Denton. Probably about eight months or so (give or take, and evidently a lot can happen in that time.
For starters, it smelled very different when I walked in, lacking the scent of tobacco and hazy fog the cigarette smoke created. Evidently, back on August 1st, the venue adopted a no smoking policy, which gets no compliments from me, and was a nice surprise, since I was already prepared to leave there reeking of smoke. That wasn’t the only change the venue had made, though, with the other one being more aesthetic.
The stage had been encompassed by a nice looking red curtain on the sides and front, giving it a more professional feel, somewhat reminiscent of that of my favorite Dallas haunt. It’s a really nice touch, and while I had never thought of Hailey’s having a curtain around the stage, it definitely works.
The trio known as R.L. Jones had made the trip down here from Tulsa, OK to open up this show, and took the stage just a little after 9:30.
They tore into their 32-minute long set with what is one of their most explosive songs, “Relay”, and with it they ensnared the handful of people who were in the showroom portion of the venue. I believe it was the only track they did from their debut EP, with the rest being some newer stuff, like their next song for instance, which was quite killer. “…I just wrote that. Me. Just wrote it…” said singer and guitarist Matt Wright, which came across in a comical manner, getting a few laughs from some people.
He led them into the following song, softly plucking the strings of his guitar, progressively getting quicker and louder. It then roared into action when bassist Tom Pritner and drummer Brent Blackburn joined in, eventually winding it into the next song with a mangled mix of feedback.
“This is a new one.” Matt informed the crowd before another song, stating it was brand new. “So if we fuck it up, I don’t give a shit.” he added. It was a great track, though the one that came next I thought was a true beast of a song, being my favorite of the night. The laughs continued when they finished it, when Matt said, “If you like it, I wrote it. If not, Tom wrote it.”, before doing another couple songs to conclude their show.
Brent was a new addition to the group since the first and only other time I had seen them, and he meshed well with them, having a certain aggressive style of playing that fit well with Matt and Tom. It’s Matt that is the main focus of the show, though (at least for me, which may have something to do with all The FEDS shows I saw over the years.)
He’s a stellar guitarist, and he adds a lot of tones with many of these R.L. Jones songs, often fiddling with his pedal boards to create all sorts of textures and effects. It’s really something to marvel at.
You can pick up their five song EP in iTUNES, and keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE for future show updates.
Second up was a Denton based band whom I’d heard of for awhile, but had never seen before, and that was Werewolf Therewolf.
Their 41-minute set was a mix of older and newer (or at least unrecorded) songs, with their opener being one of the latter. “This next one is going to be another song.” said front man Daniel Galvan, giving everyone a glimpse of his slightly awkward style sense of humor. It was track from their “Initium” EP, “Something Else”, and it was a really good track, getting me a little more into it all.
Carlo Decanini had a pretty sweet bass solo during their next number, and after another song they did “Prelude”. “If you like video games, then this is the song for you.” Carlo told the crowd. They segued it into their next song, knocking out three more after that, one of which was “Current Event”. “It’s not current anymore, but it’s too late to change the name…” Daniel joked.
In the end, I was a bit mixed about them. On one hand, it was a pretty good live show they put on, and they were all fantastic musicians. Brandon Bond is a exceptional guitarist, that’s fact, and Aaron Caruthers also had a very slick style of playing, often shredding, yet did so somewhat meticulously. Drummer Rydell Guajardo and Carlo completed a very solid rhythm section, and Daniel has one of the most interesting and unique voices I think I’ve ever heard.
However, while their music was good and forceful, it never completely drew me. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, even, I just never truly felt it.
Maybe (and hopefully) things will be different if I see them again sometime, we’ll see.
You can find their EP on their BANDCAMP PAGE where you can pay what you want, meaning it is potentially free.
With two acts left, things were bound to continue to heat up, especially with Little Sisters of the Poor making their Denton debut.
Gabe Muzquiz started in with the thundering beat of the bass drum, which is the backbone for “Spires”. The first single they ever released certainly works well as an opener, showing what kind of unadulterated, adrenaline pumping rock this quintet is capable of cranking out.
That tune was wound perfectly into the next, as lead guitarist Jason Jones cranked out the opening riffs of another heavy hitter, “Love, Money and Death”. It’s a pretty infectious rock song, with JP Dunn playing some pretty catchy parts on his guitar. Things seemed like they’d slow down after that, but instead of pausing, Jason, JP, and even bassist Joe Becker created some roaring feedback to bridge them into their next track. “This song’s called You Animal.” stated vocalist Dunagin Gaines 9that is assuming I heard him correctly.)
It didn’t pack quite as much a punch as their first two songs, but was still a serious rocker. They branched out afterwards, though, with their song “Headaches”, which Gabe began by lightly tapping on various drums and cymbals on his kit. It just has a different flare to it than most of their other stuff, in a good way, showing they are capable of pulling off different styles in their music. When he wasn’t singing, Dunagin paced around the stage, slinging the microphone around as he spun it by the cord. Most of the times he’d then catch the mic in his other hand just in time to belt out the next line, except for one time. The cord got unplugged from the mic, and by the time he realized it, there wasn’t enough time to plug it back in. Luckily, Jason happened to be standing on the drum riser rocking out, so Dunagin slipped over to stage right, making-do with the boom mic.
It worked just fine, at least until they hit another break so he could get his microphone plugged back in. After some more feedback, they tore into “Cross That Line”. “If you like it and want to buy it, tough shit…” Dunagin said once they finished it, noting it wasn’t one they had recorded yet. Another one they have yet to lay down was one of their newest ones, “Truck Stop Heaven”, which is also pretty different compared to the rest of their material. It’s more low-key, almost acoustic sounding at times, while it soars at other points. That contrast is part of what makes it grow on me each time I hear it, and even though this was only the second time I’ve heard it all electric, I could tell they’ve tightened it up a bit.
As their 40-minute long set neared its end, they raised things back up, blowing the roof off the place with “Cooker”, which is surely tied with “Spires” for being the most intense song in the bands arsenal. The last time I saw them, that song capped off the show, so I assumed that was it for this night, too, but it turned out they had one more left. Dunagin filled the silence of his band mates tuning by informing everyone that their last song was “Ruins”, and it would be available to purchase before too long. It’s another song that operates on a few different levels, being, dare I say, somewhat pretty on the verses, before getting more dark and heavy on each chorus. “I’m gonna get you, I’m gonna take you on. I’m gonna corner you and make you feel so small…” Dunagin belts out on the chorus.
I love “Ruins”, it’s one of my favorite songs that Little Sisters of the Poor has done, but from my perspective, I didn’t feel it worked as well as a closer. It’s one helluva song, but it has a nice build to it before taking off, unlike the next to last song they did, which more or less grabs you by the throat right from the get go and is unrelenting. And for these guys, I think a track that’s completely dominating like that works better to close on, going out with a strong finish that is bound to also leave fans (and everyone in general) hungering for more.
That shuffling of songs is pretty insignificant in the end, though, and certainly doesn’t mean that Little Sisters of the Poor didn’t kill it.
All five of these musicians have spent many years in the local music scene, and they’ve combined to form a rock outfit of absolute pros that can easily hold your attention with their dynamic live show and amazing music.
Throw them a like on their FACEBOOK PAGE, and keep a check on it for future show updates. As for their music, you can find all five of their singles in iTUNES, each one well worth the .99¢ price tag.
Vinyl had the headlining spot for this night, and they even seemed to get the star treatment, so to speak. The curtain had been opened on the other bands in advance of them starting so the sound guy could see them as they ran through the sound check. That wasn’t the case with Vinyl, and it stayed tightly shut for the first few moments of their opening number.
Once the curtains were pulled apart, the sudden light that flooded out at the crowd was almost blinding. Instead of using the house lights, the band had brought their own lights, simple, plain white lights, with a few scattered about the stage, which created a very good ambiance.
For the first time with this project, Justin Hawkins was dabbling on the keys this night, using the keyboard for all of the first song, which was a very entrancing track that you couldn’t resist being drawn in by. It was absolutely incredible, and the lengthy song (which lasted somewhere around eight to nine minutes) left me a bit awestruck.
It was a brilliant opener, and as they flawlessly segued into their next song, Justin readied his guitar. They got into some serious rock with “Trucker”, during which drummer Steve Phillips was beating so heavily on his kit, he broke one of his drum sticks, quickly replacing it and not skipping a beat.
They wound it into another song, which I believe was one of the newer ones they were trying out this night, and it was nothing short of being a wall of sound. It just had a massive sound to it, different than most of Vinyl’s other stuff, and in the best possible way. They didn’t really stop with that style, either, and after a short pause, lead guitarist Dustin Fleming led the charge into another full-throttle assault of a song. I’ll say this, I REALLY hope those two songs make it onto their record.
Upon finishing it, things were scaled back slightly (and momentarily) with “Electric Sheep”, the beginning part of it possessing somewhat of a soothing quality while Justin croons out the words. They knocked out another tune, which bassist Hunter Johnston and Steve greatly complimented each other on, resulting in an insanely tight rhythm section.
Afterwards, they pulled out their cover song, which is a rendition of Chris Isaaks’ “Wicked Game”. It’s a much different version than that of Isaak’s, with the full band helping flesh it out and making it into more of a rock song, as they definitely put their own spin on it. They trudged on, Steve segueing them from that cover back into another original, one which again had Justin putting his keyboard to use.
And after one more, they brought things to a close with what I believe was “No Halo”. When it was all said and done, they had been on stage for 54-minutes, putting on an unbelievable show.
I thought they were great when I saw them a couple of months before, but the performance this night blew that one out of the water. I think that can be attributed to the fact that they more or less had free reign this night, being able to use their own lights to make for more of a mood, and not having to work on a shorter time constraint allowed them to do what they wanted song wise.
And speaking of songs, what I liked about most was how fluid so much of their set was, making each song seem like a small piece of a larger puzzle.
I believe their show schedule is starting to slow down as they get ready to record their debut album. In the meantime, listen to the songs they have recorded over on their SOUNDCLOUD PAGE.
Considering I don’t see that many shows in Denton these days, this made for the second straight week I’ve trekked up there for a show. I like that, and hopefully it’ll happen a little more often in the future.