Thursday, March 20th, 2014 – Abacu5 Shows Off Their New Lineup to Dallas

And so it continued…

My third straight night out in Dallas found me at The Boiler Room, where a couple bands I was familiar with were playing. One I had seen before, though it had been a long time, the other was one I had been wanting to catch since they came into being in the latter portion of last year.

Singer/songwriter Natalie Gore (who was joined by an acoustic guitarist) opened the show, and was already part of the way through her set by the time I got there. “This is my ode to Taylor Swift…” she said of her next song, noting it was “self-explanatory”. Indeed, the song “Dear Jon” was self-explanatory, telling a tale of heartbreak and letting go.

The whole show (at least what I was there for) had a sort of storyteller vibe like that to it, which I enjoyed. Like her next song, a cover of The Band Perry’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely”, when she mentioned she lived in Nashville for some time, and never really liked country music until she was immersed in it then. She also joked that she knew this might not be the right crowd for a country song, but no one really cared, and the rendition was quite good.

Then you had “Something More”, which acknowledged was her pride and joy for many years, as it was the first song she ever wrote on a guitar. That came after a story where she said she begged her brother to teach her how to play guitar, but he never would, so she took up classes once she started college. She joked about how good she thought she was once she had learned three chords (which was when she wrote this song), before making things a little more complex as she learned more.

That was followed by “Falling”, before she ended with a song that “everybody would know”, which wound up being Katy Perry’s, “Roar”, and it was highly enjoyable.

Given that every other act on the bill were rock bands, she was the odd man out (or rather, odd woman, I guess), and she did mine a slightly poppy sound, though she still fit with it all.

I enjoyed listening to it, and she has a great voice. I guess maybe that’s why she sings the national anthem at the FC Dallas games (the soccer team).

Check out her music. She has a few singles available in iTUNES, and keep an eye on her TOUR DATES page for future shows.

Now it was time for the rock portion of the show, and getting that going was Pseudo Future.

It was only last June when Vinyl Pilot played their final show, and from the ashes of that band, a couple of the members (Jeff Lowe and Patrick Hunter) formed this new group, teaming up with drummer Justyn Gomez.

They may not have been together long, but they’ve already played several shows, and quickly got a debut EP released, with another on the way.

Their 29-minute long set this night was a mix of those recorded songs and the ones that are yet to come and it was of the latter that they opened with. It was actually one of my favorite songs they did this night, and it showed everyone just what kind of alt rock sounds they were in for.

As it ended, Patrick knelt down and fiddled with his pedal board; creating some great sounds that served as a wicked segue into “Loss Of Light”. Jeff than took the reins, striking his guitar to start the song, a song that highlighted just how tight a group they are. After the second verse, Patrick raised his bass in the air, doing so in perfect time with one of Justyns’ beats. Yeah, it was pretty solid.

“Hey guys, we’re Pseudo Future. How are you tonight?” Patrick asked the small cluster people who had ventured out on this Thursday night (those who didn’t don’t know what they missed out on). “I’ve lost all control; trying not to show…” crooned Jeff on one of his rare light moments, shortly before the rhythm section took over and dominated on “Drawing Board”.

Some mangled feedback and drumbeats led them into their next track, which Jeff dedicated to his “beautiful wife”. He sang the first line or two of “Love Of My Life” into the bullet mic that was attached to his stand, before switching to the other microphone for this sweet song. I was slightly surprised to hear it, since it struck me as probably being a deep cut that wouldn’t be played live, but when you don’t have many songs in the first place, you gotta do all you can. Don’t misinterpret that as me saying I don’t like the song, either. They did change it up to be better suited for the live environment, though; and the end was downright explosive. The trio roared into action on it, and Patrick even backed up Jeff on the chorus, their two voices sounding fantastic together.

“How’s everyone’s Thursday night going?” Patrick asked, again bantering with the onlookers for a moment, before mentioning the next one was another new one, and one they had just recorded. Justyn used his electronic drum pad at times on this one, like at the start and end, where it had a cool sound that resembled metal striking metal. It added a great quality to what was their most intense song of the night.

They had some fun after that, as Jeff picked up a couple of drumsticks and assisted Justyn in playing his kit. While he did that, Patrick was again using his pedal board to create all sorts of distorted sounds, then eventually joined them by banging on the drums. That was entertaining to watch, and once it ended, Justyn showed off his chops as a drummer, knocking out an insanely good solo that soon bridged them into another hefty number.

Their time on stage had passed too quickly, and they were already at their final song, which Jeff set up as being “about your friends” and “being fed up with them”. He elaborated a bit more by saying it was about when they should be there for you, but they’re not. “’Cause they’ve gone to a place, a place they don’t belong.” he said, using the chorus of “All My Friends” to explain it. That was what they closed with, and during the slow part after the second chorus, Justyn stood up from his kit, before they ripped back into it, and gave the tune a very memorable end, that found Jeff and Patrick plucking some strings in time with the beats, while Justyn ended it with some incredibly rapid drumming.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t a show of this caliber; and by simple surprise, I was blown away.

The energy they put into it was off the charts. If you saw their previous band, it was at least on par with that, perhaps even better.

They had ample room to move about and they took advantage of it, but Patrick and Jeff still almost ran into one another at times, just because they got so carried away.

I’m definitely going to have to start trying to make their shows more often, ‘cause this was great. In fact, I was wondering if any of the other bands could top it.

That debut EP they have out, you can get it for FREE on their BANDCAMP PAGE. As for shows, they’ll be at Lola’s Saloon in Fort Worth on April 26th, and they have a show at the Curtain Club in Dallas on May 24th.

A band from Plano by the name of Afterzoo was up next, and they share a similar story to that of the band before them. The group was formed after other bands collapsed, and they haven’t even been together a full year, during which time they’ve already released a full-length album. Granted, I didn’t know any of that prior to seeing them.

Their first two songs were bridged together, and that time was all it took for the spectators to realize how incredible bassist Terence Shipp was. He was owning it on the bass; swinging it back and forth, almost as if he were going to send it flying around behind him and back, though he never put that much force into it. It ensured all eyes were on him, though.

“That last band was kickass…” said singer and rhythm guitarist Dave Aslan Kendrick, who asked everyone to give Pseudo Future another round of applause. “…This is one we haven’t played in awhile.” he remarked before they ripped into the catchy and finely written “Hazard Lights”, which brought just a hint of Southern Rock into their alt rock style.

Terence continued bringing his A game, and again took the spotlight on “Odd Numbers”, after which Dave mentioned the next song was one they had done a video for. “If you want to see Terence and his dreads.” he added. The song he was speaking of was “Away We Go”, and it was a highlight of their set, simply because they got so into it. Lead guitarist Chris Hendrik was shouting along to the chorus – despite not having a mic – and you could tell it was one they were really feeling.

“I know most of these are new for everyone, but this next one’s new for us as well.” said Dave before they broke out a newer jam, and Tommy West let loose some thunderous drumbeats on that one; while the end of it had them all crooning, “Wooo”.

They knocked out another great tune, before Dave took a moment to officially introduce his band mates to everyone, then grabbed  a drumstick and used it to hit one of the cymbals as they began “Happiness Ensued”, which ended their 31-minute long set.

It was mostly an instrumental piece and an epic one that, where you got to see the musicianship all four of them posses really shine.

They impressed the hell out of me, and by the time they were done, they had left it all on the stage.

You wouldn’t know they’re still such a new band by watching them, and since I didn’t know that at the time, I found myself wondering, “How have I not heard of these guys before?”, figuring they had been together at least a couple of years.

Really, the live show was something to experience. Hell, at one point, Terence shoved Dave out of the way, because they were about to collide with one another. Yeah, it was just a bit intense.

On another note, no, they aren’t reinventing the wheel with their sounds, but they make it so enjoyable, it doesn’t matter. The passion’s there, and that’s what matters.

Check out the “Shoplifter” album in iTUNES, and if you want to see them, their next show is on April 19th at Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas.

Closing out the night was Abacu5 (pronounced abacus). I don’t even remember the last time I saw them, though I’m guessing it had been well over a year ago.

The band took some time off, and the few times they did play I was unable to make it; and during all that time, they’ve undergone some changes.

Jonathan Sprang stepped down from the lead vocalist role, though is still with the band, being a guitarist and backing vocalist now. They also welcomed Cory Martin into the fold as the frontman, and this was only his second show with the group.

Their 49-minute long set was filled with a bunch of newer songs (or at least some that have yet to be recorded), like their opening track, which saw Jonathan and bassist Adam Manning interacting a bit as they jammed together, while lead guitarist Samuel Holder broke off into a solo at one point. It would be the first of many this night.

Jonathan then rolled them right into one of the tracks off the “Sandwich Squad” EP, “What I Said”. It was a little weird not hearing him singing it, but the word “weird” isn’t to be confused as meaning not good. On the contrary, Cory was crushing it; moving around what space he had and stepping onto the drum riser, all the while focusing on the crowd to make sure they were engaged. They had also improved on that one a bit, and Samuel added a truly wicked solo into the mix.

“Thank you all for coming out. We’re going to play some serious Rock ‘n’ Roll…” Cory informed everyone. There’s no denying they had the biggest fan base of the night, so the thank you was well deserved; and shortly after they dove into the next tune. “…I can’t believe what you’re going through; life is crashing down on you…” Cory sang on the chorus, being a little restrained as he showed off a lighter side of his voice, but still packing some intensity into it. It had an excellent sound, and was one of the standouts from their set.

Eric Petrinowitsch began the next number by banging about on his drum kit, before his band mates suddenly opened up their single, “Say What You Want”. This was when you got a good glimpse of what this new version of Abacu5 is capable of, and Cory and Jonathan co-sang the track. They shared the lead responsibilities, even harmonizing at times — which sounded great, I might add. “You’re words hurt like spikes to the eyes…” the two sang on the chorus; making this already great song a force to be reckoned with.

They tore right into what Cory noted was the newest song they had, and while it got into the more alt/rock sound that all their songs have, I thought the first verse was a bit dark, a quality that I enjoyed. They explored some more new territory with the next song, which had Adam adding his voice to the mix at times, making some wonderful three-part harmonies.

A sample track bridged them into their next one, and the sound of rain falling was a rather cool lead in to the aggressive “Dark Night”, which was one of the other songs that Samuel got to shred on. He and Adam then launched the group into “Pretty Lady”, which almost seemed to have undergone some tweaks. I thought it just had a more vibrant sound now.

“We got you feeling pretty sexy…” Cory said as the song concluded, prompting one friend/fan to shout, “I always feel sexy!” “…You like the Foo Fighters?” he asked, setting up a cover of “Dear Rosemary”. It fit perfectly with their style, and I thought they nailed it with the song. I also point out I thought it was cool that they did a Foo Fighters song that was not a single. You seldom see bands go with the atypical when it comes to covers, and while there’s nothing wrong with bands covering “Everlong” or one of the other hits (still using Foo Fighters as an example, though this applies to any artist), it was refreshing to hear a band try their hand at a “deeper cut”.

With that, their time on stage was pretty much over, though they did have one last song from that four-track EP to do, and wrapped it all up with “Blow You Away”. Jonathan and Cory alternated signing lines each time they got to the chorus; while Cory stood atop the drum riser and belted out the final line as the song wound down.

Man, this new lineup has elevated these guys to the next level.

That’s not to say they weren’t good before, though it helps now that they have a singer who can solely be a frontman. Jonathan still has his presence too, though; and the harmonies they displayed at multiple points this night were awesome.

They’ve really pushed themselves to a whole new level since I last saw them, and I am speaking the all the members collectively.

As for Cory, in terms of vocals, he fits right at home with Abacu5, and for their chemistry with one another to already be as good as it was this night, I can’t wait to see what they’re like once they get all the wrinkles ironed out so to speak.

Their next show is scheduled for April 12th at The Adelaide in Terrell, TX, and head over to their REVERBNATION PAGE to listen to and download their EP for free.

Not a bad way to spend a Thursday night, and it turned out even much better than I had expected it to be.