A great concert seldom happens on a Tuesday night, unless of course it’s some national band touring through the area. But tonight, Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton was hosting a fantastic line-up of all local talent.
Up first was Bethan, a band I had wanted to see for probably close to a year now. At this point, this is old news to those in the know, but the band is the latest project from Jessi James, formerly of Novaak, a band that was short-lived, but a great band nonetheless. From listening to Bethan’s music, though, it is in some ways better, as it has more of a unique approach, and I was eager to see what they were like live.
Most of their music has more of a minimalist sound, such as their opener, “Pyewacket”. The bass, drums, guitar and violin had their parts, but it was Jessi’s voice that was most prevalent on that catchy number. They followed it with “Vague”, and afterwards, guitarist, Kevin Howard, put down the ax and sit down at the keyboard, while Becki Howard started a brief violin intro/solo for “Breakable”. The song has a sound all its own, that does seem fitting of their self-described Alternative Noir music genre, as it has a nostalgic vibe in some ways. Most of their songs this night came from their debut EP, but next they pulled out a newer one, called “Greedy Song Bird”. They switched things up a bit for the next tune, as Kevin passed the guitar off to drummer, Daniel Hall. What they had in store was a cover song, “The World is Green” by Tom Waits. I can’t say I’ve ever heard the original version of the song, but their rendition of it was both gorgeous and chilling, and quite possible the best song of their set. “Bad Valentine” came next, and then Daniel grabbed the guitar again, as Jessi set up the next song by noting that he (Daniel) was her “mister”. It was a love song she said they co-wrote titled “In Our Paris”, and it’s sound fit the title perfectly. It had a sort of foreign, French sound to it, giving it a certain elegance. Their time was almost up, and they ended their 35 minute long set with “Katie K”, and Jessi pointed out that Katie was in attendance, “…Except her name is now Katie P.” she said, as they closed it out with a song that was equally as catchy as their first.
It was as good as I had hoped for, and their recorded music is a very fair representation of what you get life. That is to say, they pull it all off exactly as on the album, and probably even a little better. They’ve also found a style of music that is completely original and sets them apart from any other band here in the D-FW area, and frankly, I could see all of their songs being great tracks to use in films.
Keep tabs on their FACEBOOK PAGE to see when they will have another show, and you can purchase their 7 song EP, “Chapter 1:”, for $6 via their BANDCAMP STORE and it is also available in ITUNES.
Bravo, Max! was next, and while I did like all the bands on this bill tonight, it was these guys who really made me want to make that hour-long drive to Denton. The band was getting ready to head out on a little tour of the region, and this was the kickoff show.
The bands vocalist and guitarist, Johnny Beauford, also has a solo side project, and they worked in a few of those songs along with the traditional Bravo, Max! stuff, and because of that, there were some songs, like their first one, that I didn’t know. Next they did their newest single “Pills”, and it became evident early on that this show would not be a perfect one. Johnny was constantly having trouble with his guitar, which they tried numerous times to fix, but to no avail. They pressed on though, as he started the instrumental song, “Before The Party”, which is mesmerizing, and after awhile Jonathan Jackson began to edge his way into it with some drumbeats, signifying the start of their album title track, “Dog’s Light”. When listening to their music, either the album or at a show, there’s no denying that Johnny has sensation voice that will captivate your attention, and it does just that on this song better than any other, as he raised his voice and belted out, “…It’s too late to say goodbye. It’s too late to ask for more.” It’s the emotion he pours into that line, that is what makes it so wonderful and made me think to myself, “Wow!”. Garrett Padgett had been over on stage left playing the keys so far, but for the next song he got up to add a second guitar to the mix, as Jonathan started them into “Hotel Denalian”. I believe it was towards the end of that one that more guitar issues arose, causing Johnny to just put it down for a minute. You could tell he didn’t know quite what to do for a second, before grabbing the mic stand as he sang, but he deserves some props, because he made it look natural, like that was what was supposed to happen. They did another song I wasn’t entirely sure of, and while I don’t know where exactly they played it, I know of those songs from Johnny’s solo project was ““Empire State”. So, after the next song, Garrett went back to the keys as they took things down a little with “Take Your Fill”. At this point, the technical difficulties were still persisting, as they took a few minutes to try to fix them once more. “Play some Jazz…” Johnny asked his band mates, Jonathan, Garrett, and bassist, Ben Gastright, riffed a bit before suddenly stopping. “That wasn’t very long.” Johnny said, half joking. Jonathan said something like, “Well, that’s how Jazz is…” in response. It still wasn’t completely fixed, and eventually Johnny just used Garretts’ guitar, as they did “Kiss”, another song, and then really slowed things down with what I think was “All Your Grace”. Certainly not one I expected to hear, but it sounded pretty good. They had played a lot longer that I thought they would, which was a good thing, and for their last song of their 46 minute set, Garrett shredded on the guitar once more.
I don’t have much room to speak, because I was late getting on this bandwagon, too, but if you have not seen Bravo, Max! yet, then shame on you. There’s no question that they are one of the best bands in the area at the moment, especially if you like high-energy live performances. They will be at Club Dada in Dallas on Saturday, October 6th, and you can buy “Dog’s Light”, in iTunes. Or, if you want to preview their music first, you can listen to pretty much everything they’ve ever recorded HERE.
The two opening bands had been from Dallas, so it only made sense to have a local headliner on the show. And when you think of Denton bands, who comes to mind? Think duos. Yes, it was RTB2, whom I hadn’t seen in far too long.
Their 62 minute long set got off to a slower start as they did a cover of “Blind Love”. It was the most impressive song of their set, and Ryan Thomas Becker’s voice pulled off a very sullen tone to fit the story the song told. Then the real rock commenced as they got into some original material, and a newer song at that, “Hands Where Words Cannot Go”, which Grady Don Sandlin began with a brief drum solo. To be a two-piece that only use a drum set and a guitar, it’s amazing the full, lush sound they create, as they guitar chords mingle perfectly with the drums on that song, as well as soar all on their own. Grady wound that song right into the next, as they did an oldie but a goodie, “My Butterfly Collection”, and followed it with another newer one. I believe it was “Cool In The Dark”, a song that has a very intriguing instrumental bed. I was unsure about their next three songs, as Grady again brought one right into the next, and they followed it with another number. Tonight’s show had already featured a few songs from their record, “The Both of It”, and the good selection continued with “Wishy Waltz” and one of my favorites of the bands, “Bottle The Bees”. Afterwards, they decided to do another cover, this one originally by Teddy Thompson, and the song was “Psycho”. Wow. Both cover songs they had done sounded fantastic, in some ways even better than their original stuff. After it, Ryan had to take a minute to tune, and he began to chat with the crowd, saying something about how they were keeping everyone out. “…Well, I can’t do that. I’m keeping myself out, and on a work night, but I can’t force y’all to stay here.” The he suddenly said, “Do people still say that? Work night? Yeah. Yeah, I think people still use that.” It was pretty funny, and the laughs only continued as he and Grady tried to decide what to do next. Ryan said he didn’t think he could do the song Grady wanted to, but Grady said he could sing it. “Are you sure?” Ryan asked him. “Yeah.” he replied. Sure enough, he did, and Grady did a great job on the song. Ryan took back the lead for “32”, then, before their final song, he thanked the handful of people that remained for coming out. “…And happy birthday.” he added. “Hey, that’s a Boxcar thing!” someone in the audience yelled, referring to the band, Boxcar Bandits, which also happens to have Grady Don Sandlin as a member. “…I didn’t copy that from you guys. I heard it somewhere else…” Ryan told him as they playfully argued over if Ryan could even use that before beginning their last song.
It was an awesome set they did, and well worth staying to catch it all, even if it didn’t end until a little after one in the morning. And not only was it a stellar rock show the two delivered, but there was also a good bit of comedy, rather it was intentional or not, putting them in rare form this night.
They will soon be releasing a brand new record, “2”, which will be for sale at any of their upcoming shows from here on out, such as August 31st at The Doublewide in Dallas, or October 12th at LaGrange, also in Dallas. You can get “The Both of It” for free, while “In the Fleshed” and “In People” are very reasonable priced. You can also get a free download of their single, “Goon”, “Hands Where Words Can Not Go” and “Another Black Beauty” by clicking on each corresponding link.