Friday, May 24th, 2013 – Dallas Rocks! And so Does the Orange

The House of Blues was hosting another one of their Dallas Rocks! concert series, and this one seemed to come together rather last minute. But when a show is free (if you get tickets from the bands in advance), it doesn’t matter how last minute it is, and even if does happen to be at the start of a holiday weekend, people are going to show up.

The first of the five bands was the Fort Worth based Animal Spirit, who did the shortest set of the night, clocking in at 22-minutes.

“We’re here to remind you that your beautiful and that you matter and that we can spread love through music!” said bassist Joe Prankster after the band took the stage. It was quite the statement to begin a show, and definitely got your attention, even if there were only several handfuls of people scattered about the venue this early on.

During their short time on stage they played a few tracks that will presumably be on their debut record due out this year, and guitarist Andrew Stroheker did most of the singing on their first song, though he was occasionally aided by front woman Sam Wuehermann . With some riffs on the guitar, Andrew wound them right into their next song, after which they did a new single of theirs. “This song’s called House on a Hill.” Joe said, viciously slapping his as they started up the song.

If I’d heard the song before, I didn’t recall it, but it certainly left an impression on me this night. It was another song that was co-sung, though the best part of it was the lengthy instrumental portions. Drummer Parker Anderson, Andrew and Joe rocked out on their instruments, all the while Sam was kind of dancing along to the music and shaking a tambourine. It’s a very well written song, in every aspect, and it’s guaranteed to get your attention.

I think they did one more after that, and then got to what is probably their lead single, the highly original “The Planets a Lie”, another song that finds both Sam and Andrew singing together, though not quite harmonizing, and each of their distinctive voices mesh well together. And that was that.

Their set seemed to pass by too quickly, but so long as you’re enjoying a show it doesn’t matter how fast it goes by, I guess.

They are a rock group, but they are very creative with their music, and if you see them there will be at least one song they do that’s sounds unlike anything you’ve heard before. This was the third time I’ve seen them, and they are growing on me more and more each time, and you should check them out while they are still a relatively new band.

Keep an eye on their CALENDAR for upcoming concert announcements, as well as their FACCEBOOK PAGE for any info in general, like the progress of their record. In the meantime, head over to their BANDCAMP PAGE to download their single of “House On a Hill” for free.

It wasn’t even 8:30 and the first act was already done and the next band was getting setup, and around 8:45 the next band was ready to go, and that was Denton’s The Gypsy Bravado.

Lou Anderson pounded away at his drum kit, kicking off the first of many newer songs they did this night, “Make a Man”. “…Did you feel it, tell me did you feel it?” Mo Myles belted, while banging away on his keyboard. That powerful rock number was more than enough to instantly reel in the ever growing audience, and in my opinion it was one of the best songs of their set.

To make sure everyone was on the hook, Lou swiftly wound them into the lead track from their “Through the Rabbit Hole” EP, “Swagger”. There was even more of a Southern Rock vibe on that one, complete with some soulful and bluesy sounding guitar chords courtesy of Shawn Bratton, and both he and Mo handled the singing of that track. That’s the thing about this band, they have two incredibly capable singers, and even bassist Jeff Dacus throws his voice in from time to time, making some solid three-part harmonies. That was a nice warm-up for their next song, another new one from their forthcoming record, which at one point they mentioned would be out soon. The next number was called “Into the River”, and it had what seemed like an even longer instrumental break then their previous song, where the four instruments wove together harmoniously, and it was set off with fiery blues solo from Shawn.

They kept the music coming, going straight into “Mountaintops”, another track that Mo did the singing on, and during it Shawn got to rocking perhaps a little too hard, breaking one of strings, and upon finishing the song he simply switched to another guitar. “This song’s called Dreams!” shouted Jeff, setting up another song from their debut EP, which is also called “(Through The Rabbit Hole)”. That was one of their longest songs of the night (clocking in at nearly seven minutes on the album), but then again, most of their songs are lengthy, being at least close to six minutes, if not over. Anyway, on that song, almost all of them had their chance to shine, from a drum solo to a keyboard and guitar solo, while Jeff played some strong bass notes while he thrashed around to the music.

The got back to the newer stuff with “Josephine”, and before starting it Mo said, “I guess you could say it’s kind of about animal instinct?“, phrasing it more as a question as he glanced at his band mates to make sure that was an accurate description. They agreed. Shawn took back over vocal duties on that, and Jeff finally got a true solo, throwing down on his bass. To close out their 50-minute long set, they did a favorite from the “Through the Rabbit Hole” EP, “Dillinger (Rebel Son)”. At one point during it, almost as if to make sure they would leave an impression on all their potential new fans, Lou stood up from his stool for a few moments, still playing some beats on his kit, before sitting back down. During their instrumental jam, Shawn again broke a string on his axe, which he quickly fixed by getting yet another replacement, and they finished in a very strong fashion.

I had only seen them once before, at least recently, and while they were good then, you could tell they brought their A-game here at the House of Blues. They were on fire, bolting right out of the gate, and with each song they just became more of an unstoppable force and I don’t see how anyone in attendance could not have had their eyes glued to the stage, soaking in the pure rock sounds they were churning out and enjoying the lively show that accompanied it.

Honestly, when they were done I found myself wondering, “If they’re like this all the time, why don’t I see them more often???”

I’m gonna have to try to fix that, I guess.

They’ll be back here at the House of Blues on July 6th for a battle of the bands style show, where the winner will perform at this years BFD, opening for acts like Megadeth, Slash and many more, so go support them. Also, while you’re waiting for their new record to come out, go into iTUNES and check out their old one, it’s well worth picking up.

After them was the headliner, even though they were going on at almost ten o’clock. The band was Ducado Vega, a duo who incorporates multiple genres into their sound, though they predominately consider themselves a funk outfit.

I’d heard great things about them, though I was a bit skeptical, since it is a genre I’m not a huge fan of, nevertheless, I was curious to see them live.

“Seven” was their opening number, a heavily synthesized track where most of the vocals had been pre-recorded and were playing as part of the sample track. I wasn’t too fond of that, and even though singer and guitarist Ducado Vega and keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Zenya Vi were doing some singing, it was overpowered by the backing track. Things did get better with the next song, one of many new tracks they unleashed on their fans this night, which I believe was titled “Define Beautiful”. It still wasn’t my cup of tea, but I did find it a little more appealing.

Zenya took over singing on their next song, and while Ducado was tearing it up on his guitar, he broke a string, which caused a bit of a delay.

He mentioned the guitar was a pretty new addition, being very proud of it and the furry pink strap he had on it and asked if one of the other musicians could restring it for him so he could continue using it. “…I don’t even know what string broke…” he said, letting everyone in on a “secret” that he can’t read music, pointing out he just plays it. Eventually a stagehand came and got it from him, and after Ducado grabbed his spare guitar, he told everyone that he and Zenya were going to do something a little different for Ducado Vega.

Different, indeed. The song was “I Dare You”, another new one, and it was performed more as a rap. For what it was, I guess it was good, though I was unable to get into that. They kept the music flowing with “Love Freak”, which found Zenya playing some beats on the drums, before again singing on the following song, and during that one Ducado collapsed to the floor, picking at his guitar while he lay there, completely engulfed in the moment.

Things proceeded to get a little more funky with “Sex in Da Club” and “Help Me”, with another song being sandwiched in between those two. On the next song, they again switched things up, with Zenya playing the guitar (by this time Shawn of the Gypsy Bravado had brought out one of his guitars as Ducado’s replacement, adding the pink strap onto it), while Ducado added some bass lines, and about halfway through it they traded off. However, it was their final song that was the most interesting and fun, especially when Ducado jumped into the crowd, saying beforehand that he wanted everyone to “make a train” like they used to as kids in elementary school. He led, and quite a few people joined in as this train/conga line wound its way through the crowd, eventually breaking up as Ducado climbed back on stage to finish out the song and their 65-minute long set.

Performance wise it was a really good show, filled with energy, and considering they were just a two-piece they managed to own the massive stage. Even technically it was great, and Ducado has some serious chops as a guitarist.

However, it’s just not the type of music that appeals to me, being mostly a mix of funk, electronic and rock, and I was never completely drawn into it. Would I mind seeing them again? No. Would I go to a show specifically to see them? Doubtful.

They have a couple EP’s you can pick up in iTUNES, and with the music they played this night it sounds like another record is on the horizon, even if they are just currently writing material for it. As for shows, check out their REVERBNATION PAGE to see when they will have future gigs.

Thus far the night had been fantastic, and now, a little after eleven, it was time for the band that was the primary reason I was there, and that was The Orange.

The bands three core instrumentalists, bassist Jason Jessup, drummer Cody Waits and guitarist Kirk Livesay launched the band into their 45-minute long set, creating a music bed that was somewhat recognizable as the fan favorite “Teleprompters”. Soon Scott Tucker bounded out on stage and song truly got underway. It’s about as explosive as a song can be and I’m loving it being their current opener, as it just gets things off to a sensational start, and throughout it Scott was running about the stage, singing to the audience and making sure to pay equal attention to all sides and sections of the stage.

“This song’s called I Want a Girl!” he declared after getting his guitar, as they moved on to one of their best new songs. They seemed in perfect synch on that one, particularly on the chorus, when Scott, Jason and Kirk plucked the strings of their instruments in exact time with the heavy beats Cody was cranking out. Early on in that song Scott broke a string, though he carried on and paid it little attention until the song was over when he switched to another.

Cody started them off on another newer track, the trippy sounding “Valium”, which was followed by one of their most epic songs, “Cityscapes”. Jason and Cody definitely pulled their weight on that one, and out of all their songs I believe it was that one that had the loudest rhythm section of the night, and a very cohesive one at that. There are some long instrumental pieces on that song where the group rocked out, and near the end Scott dropped to the floor and shredded on his axe, in true rock star fashion.

They invited one of their friends on stage for their next song, and, as Scott said, it was a man who came all the way from Chicago, Chicago Dan. “What do you want to do for ‘em, Dan?” Scott asked him while he tuned his guitar. Dan, who stood at stage left mic, already had his weapon of choice, a harmonica, out. “How about some doomsday.” He said. They did just that, busting out one of their classics, “Doomsday for Mr. Denton”, which seemed to be a real crowd pleaser. Some of that might have had something to do with the fact that the fans seem to love Dan in general, but all the same, that’s a killer song.

The number of people on stage grew as blues guitarist Buddy Neighbors joined the mix, as did Scotts’ sister Melissa Tucker who played a tambourine. Scott informed everyone that this next song was the single from their forthcoming album, which they are working on with producer Eric Delegard, whom Scott shouted out, saying he had seen him walking around this night. The song was “Mr. Moneymaker”, which is extremely catchy and upbeat, definitely worthy of being the lead single for their long awaited full-length record.

Everybody stayed pretty much where they were, well, for the most part, as Cody and Scott swapped places. “…I never imagined I’d be playing drums on stage at the House of Blues…” Scott stated, evidently still finding this to be a surreal experience. Cody did the singing on this one, and while there’s a completely different sound from his voice and Scott’s, it still sounds great, growing on me each time I hear it, and it’s especially appropriate for the song he wrote, which I believe was “Dead Nation”. Afterwards, they returned to their normal posts and the quartet, along with the three essentially honorary members of The Orange, ended with the most dynamic song they could have, “Blow Up”.

It was another extraordinary show by The Orange, one of the best I’ve seen them do, even though Scott was a little more subdued and didn’t jump onto the drum kit this night.

All joking aside, they were phenomenal this night, and you could tell they were not only wanting to make an impression on the crowd but also the higher ups who could bring them back as an opener for future big shows at the House of Blues. I definitely think The Orange accomplished that.

They gave it 110% on stage, both wowing old fans, and from some of the chatter I overheard, won over some new ones, too.

They have at least one show on the books for the summer, and that will be on July 5th at the Kessler Theater in Dallas. They’ll be headlining that one, so don’t miss it. Also, head over to iTUNES to pick up their first EP, especially since they are sold out of hard copies of it, so online is the only place to get it.

There was one final band up this night, Nerdface, whom I didn’t stick around for. Sure, it was still relatively early, but the ticket I got for the parking lot I parked in expired around midnight, and here it was about ten minutes after, so, to make sure I didn’t get a ticket or anything, I went ahead and called it a night.

I can’t say I really regret leaving, though, because after the show The Orange put on I don’t see how this night could have gotten any better. Besides, it had already been an amazing night anyway.

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