Sunday, August 31st, 2014 – A Double Plaque Show at The Curtain Club

What better way to bring Labor Day weekend to a close (well, at least the actual weekend portion of it) then by going to a concert. To have a show on a Sunday night, especially on a holiday weekend, it’d have to be something pretty important, though. And that was exactly the type of show the Curtain Club was hosting this night.

Most notably, it was a double plaque presentation, with two more bands going up on the storied Wall of Fame.

You might think the crowd would be pretty thin on a night like this, and it did start off that way, though there were a fair amount of eyes on Agents of Solacewhen they hit the stage about 8:30.
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“Lesson Learned” was the lone song they did off their two-year-old self-titled, debut album, and it set the tone for the remainder of their set. The five of them were really feeling the song. Lead guitarist Tom Williamson tore it up on his axe, and while in the zone, he leaned against Macie, who was belting out the lyrics. Rhythm guitarist Jeff Williamson also lent his voice towards the end, making for a duel-vocal part that sounded killer.

Nearly all of their songs fed seamlessly into the next, as was the case here, when they transitioned into a song that I believe was called “Sundown”. Keith Watson definitely proved the drums were the backbone of the song, and he was responsible for some hard-hitting beats, which I found to be the best part of the track. Let’s not forget the few lines that Macie sang a cappella, though, which left several people in the room in a state of awe.

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Jeff then wound then in to their rousing rendition of Halestorm’s “Familiar Taste of Poison”, which plays to their strong suits; and bassist Chip Kohr went from using the keyboard in front of him for part of it to rounding out the rhythm section with some thick bass lines.

“Thank you for coming out tonight and supporting some music,” Macie said over the track that bled them into their next number. She mentioned a video of it could be found on Youtube. With Jeff handling much of the lead vocals on the first half of the large-scale “Voyeurs”, Macie was left to groove to the music for a bit, before it became more co-sung between them. A spacey sounding track mixed with the keys then bridged them into the following song; and while her band mates got ready for it, Macie savored the breeze from fan that set up at the front of the stage. “That feels so good!” she remarked, before asking how everyone was feeling. The response she got wasn’t nearly good enough, which led her to repeat the question.

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Jeff was now armed with an acoustic guitar, as they brought it down a notch or two with a newer song, “Gravity”. That wasn’t the only new song they did this night, though. They had one that was even fresher than that, and Macie pointed out they had just put it together a few weeks before this. “Hope you like it,” she told the crowd, also informing them it was titled “Take”. Once again, Jeff was doing much of the singing, making for a pretty balanced show in regard to sharing the vocal duties. The song got off to a slower start, and they took some time to build it up, but then it sprang to life. He was also responsible for a nice little guitar solo during it.

“Are y’all ready?!” asked Macie during the segue into the final song of their 37-minute long set. The singing was once again split amongst the two vocalists; and perhaps the best part of the song was the series of solos. Macie introduced each of the band members, and after each name was said, the rest of the band dropped out, allowing that one member a solo that lasted a few seconds. It made for a nice touch.

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Thus ended their time on stage, and having seen their show here at the end of June and then this one, this was a little different Agents of Solace.

I think a lot of that can be attributed to the flow they gave their performance this night. With next to no downtime, they had no option but to get more into it; and the longer they played, the more they were all vibing with one another. The chemistry they had going on this night was spectacular as well, and that was what made this such a great show to watch. Actually, they were worthy of a later slot than what they got, even if it was just by an hour.

Their next show is scheduled for October 3rd at O’Rileys in Dallas. You can also find a couple tracks for free download on their REVERBNATION, and get the full album in iTUNES.

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Next up this night was one band I had not heard of before, and that was Residing Regret.

I wasn’t sure about them during the first couple songs. That’s not to say they were bad, but I just stayed on the fence about them for a bit.

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Frontman Lennon Brown III asked for some crowd participation before their second number, asking everyone to yell, “Chains!”, along with them on the chorus. He conducted a test run, which went over well, and pointed out that their music had a message to it. In this case, it was about breaking through your chains that restrict you in life. “You better do it,” he added, speaking of the singing, before jokingly threatening to not take a crowd selfie if people didn’t get into it. “Why are we constantly hurting ourselves?” went one of the lines from the song, which seemed pretty striking to me.

The onlookers didn’t let them down, either, helping a bit with the singing. “That’s the first time that’s actually worked,” Lennon confessed afterwards, saying that from now on they’d expect it.

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“Visions” was the song where I started to really enjoy them. Guitarists Emanuel Villegas and Robert Griffith, as well as bassist Casper Morgan were doing a good job of moving around the stage; and after finishing that song, things got pretty entertaining. Lennon clearly felt right at home conversing with the crowd, which was like a double-edged sword in some ways, ‘cause at times it stretched on for several minutes, which didn’t help the flow of the show. Anyway, Lennon joked about how good the crowd sounded after that one, particularly one person who was raving about the band, and he had them repeat the noise. “I’m not going to tell you what that sounded like, ‘cause I’d get arrested,” Lennon cracked after the second time.

When they got to the final three songs, they threw them out pretty quick, ending with “Blackout”.

It might have taking me a little time to warm up to Residing Regret, but once I did, I thoroughly enjoyed the show.

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You could tell they were on cloud nine up there, especially Lennon, who was just having the time of his life chatting with everyone and playing their music for the people.

As for their music, it was more along the lines of alt/rock, with some curve balls thrown in here and there. It was a little different from what I’ve heard before, which was cool.

You can download a couple demos they have for free HERE. As for shows, keep a check on their FACEBOOK page.

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Now it was time to get to the doubleheader portion of the night, which began with Solice.

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The instrumentalists, guitarist Juan Brittos, bassist Rob Pummil and drummer Ryan Matthews were raring to go, and they began before the curtain was pulled open on them. The venue was pretty packed by now, and their throng of fans instantly got into the music, banging their heads along, while Rob jumped about.

“Dallas, Texas, make some noise!” shouted Xtina Lee when she stormed the stage a few moments later. “This first song is Sweet Escape!” she added, as the music soon let up. “I want to escape from this horrid place, but it’s captured me…” she crooned on the first verse, before it roared back into action at the chorus. It was then that she, Juan and Rob around in their spots. “Make some noise!” Xtina shouted at one point during the track, drawing a massive response from everyone; and at another point, the fans decided to start a clap along to the beats Ryan was knocking out.
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“Dallas, Texas, we are so fucking excited to be here. It’s all because of you,” she added, expressing their gratitude to all the fans for helping them receive a plaque. “Let me see your hands!” she then requested, leading the crowd in a clap along while Juan ripped into “Heart of Stone” with a wicked solo. The fans seemed to be loving that song — which is one of the newest in their catalog; and it seemed to be the song where they solidified their hold over the crowd this night.

“This is one of our favorites,” Xtina stated before their next one, asking to see some lighters or cell phones in the air. Both were raised towards the sky, and surprisingly, there were more lighters than phone screen present — at least from my line of sight. The tune was “Trapped”, which showed off the more delicate side they are capable of (at times, at least), but that didn’t last too long. Xtina threw out some merch to the fans, which ranged from wristbands to a copy of their debut LP, and then asked if anyone had checked out their Youtube channel. Those who had knew the song quite well, as Xtina stepped back by the keyboard and used it for just a bit at the start. “Do You See It Now?” was made all the more ominous by the eerie way both Juan and Rob uttered the title into their mics. The fans were once again brought into the show when another clap along moment arose, and everyone was more than willing to be a part of it.

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“Has anyone heard our single?” Xtina asked. Of course, some had, and a few fans shouted, “Save Me!” back at them. The heavy song was made even heavier by the backing vocals Juan does, screaming in a throaty and very metal sounding voice. Afterwards, a quick poll was taken, which showed not just how many people had seen Solice before, but also that there were plenty of first timers there. “This is one of the first songs we ever wrote,” Xtina then mentioned, setting up their next song. “…It’s about not being fake or something that you’re not,” she finished, before returning to the keys as she and her band mates got “The Mask” underway. Rob — who had now removed the vest he had been wearing so far this night — was furiously slapping his bass on that classic Solice tune; and about midway through, Juan was roaming around the stage, eventually jumping atop the center monitor.

“Never Enough” had a little prelude of sorts, which saw Xtina swaying to and fro in front of the microphone, before the drums and everything else kicked in, sending not only the song but also the band into overdrive. There came a moment when Xtina decided to crowd surf. The audience had thinned out some now that they were in the latter part of their set; and she didn’t get too far off the stage before slipping a bit. Those who did have her quickly put some extra muscle into it to ensure nothing would happen to her, before sending her back to the stage. Then, when the song reached its pinnacle moment, sounding quite metal, a mosh-pit was started by some of the spectators.

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The action packed “Break Free” came next, and Xtina noted that while they don’t play it too often, they were doing it for everyone this night. “BREAK FREE!” Rob screamed at the top of his lungs before each chorus, and he continued slapping his bass. The rhythm section in general sounds amazing on that song, and the mighty beats Ryan was producing made it all the more fitting of an environment for another small mosh-pit to break out.

For their final song, they did something a little different. Josh Woodward — who produced their album — joined them on stage. Rob handed him his bass, while he grabbed another guitar. “…This song’s very special to me,” Xtina stated, referring to “Solace”. “Solace comes when you accept your pain,” goes one of the lines from that emotion-filled song about getting out of a toxic relationship, a song that had all eyes glued on them.

It provided a good note to end on, and at 45-minutes, their set was the longest of the night.
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The audience applauded them, especially once their plaque was brought out. The group posed around, and it appeared that nearly every person in there had to phones up to take a picture of this landmark event in Solice’s history.

The excitement of the night was evident in every single second of the show, and you could tell there was just something special in it. It’s the kind of rush that comes with getting a plaque or even releasing a CD, and the fact that Solice managed to combine the two made it all the more memorable. Mix in a healthy crowd who was providing plenty of energy for them to feed off of, and the result was probably one of the best shows they’ve ever done.

You can get their record, Solace, on iTUNES. As for shows, they’ll be playing The Dirty Rooster in Allen on September 20th, and then The Wreck Room in Amarillo on October 18th.

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Closing out the night was one band I hadn’t seen in a while, and that was Faded Grace.

They aren’t quite as active as they were a couple of years ago, but the band hasn’t kicked the bucket, either; and now, after a few years of working towards it, they, too, were finally being awarded a plaque on the wall.

Their 43-minute long set got started with “Go Alone”, and even though it had been several months since they were last all on a stage together, you couldn’t tell it. Bassist Laura Paleczka and guitarist Jessica Bruns immediately began interacting with one another, getting face to face as the jammed; while towards the end, Jessica walked towards the center of the stage and did a little backbend next to frontwoman Tracy.

“We weren’t sure about today, until now,” Tracy laughed during their first break. “It’s been a while since the five of us have been together,” she added, also pointing out they were a little “tipsy” this night. “But that makes it more fun!” she stated, before they moved on with another song. They were all clearly just enjoying having a platform to share their music on again, as was evident when a couple of the band members were seen mouthing the words; and Jessica worked her way over to stage right, where she leaned against fellow axe-slinger Diane Contreras.

Despite what Tracy had said earlier, they didn’t appear tipsy on stage, which was a good thing, because several shots had now appeared on stage, and after downing them, Laura started them into “Side to Side”. They had a pretty good showing of fans out, and everyone was banging their heads along to the thunderous beats, which seemed to accent Tracys’ mighty voice at times.

“Thank you, guys…” the frontwoman told their dedicated fans afterwards, saying that was something she couldn’t say enough. “The next time we play live for you guys, we’ll have a brand new song,” she then added. That will be something to look forward to, but for now, the folks were treated to “Liar”, which highlights both their soft and heavy sides; and on some of the heavier parts, Laura spun her head in a circle as she slapped at her bass. They then tackled the subsequent track from the Volume 1.5 EP, but only after inviting a friend/fan on stage and singing happy birthday to her. “That’s the only time I’ve ever liked that song being sung for me,” the woman told the band as she rejoined the rest of the audience.

Jessica had set her guitar down now, and now held her mic in her hand. Their rendition of Deftones’ “Passenger” utilizes her voice as well as Tracys’; and as they got it going, Laura wandered down to one of the steps in front of the stage, where she spent the entire song, giving the crowd just a little better view of her skills. Shortly after they finished, Tracy got on her phone. “I’m not checking Facebook, I’m refreshing my memory,” she clarified, before later pointing out that if anyone wanted to get them something to drink, they quite liked Shiner beer and/or whiskey. That said, they kept the loud and heavy sounds flowing with “Sister”, which ended with Jessica and Laura giving each other a little kiss; and after again thanking everyone, and stressing the only reason this night was happening was because “all those other nights you fucking showed up”, as Tracy put it, they did “Self Ruin”. Jessica leaned in towards the lead microphone for parts of it, helping out with the vocals; and at the brutal instrumental break, all five of the ladies thrashed about.

There were mixed feelings when they got to their final song. On one hand, people were sad their set was practically over. On the other hand, they quite enjoyed hearing and singing along to “Bad Bitch”. “…You don’t know who you’re messing with tonight. We’ve got you by the balls!” fans shouted along to each chorus. “We will be back…” Tracy noted, before they reached the homestretch for the song, wrapping it up.

The shouts for an encore were swift, but having such little time all together to practice (Tracy mentioned earlier in the night that this day was actually their only one to practice), they had nothing of the sort planned. It was then that Doug, who’s part owner of the Curtain, stepped on stage. He held a plaque, and appeared sort of embarrassed. He apologized that their artist responsible for painting all the plaques had yet to finish the one for Faded Grace, and had only partially done it so far. “I like it like that!” Tracy shouted, saying she thought it was perfect with it more being a very basic outline of all five of them. Jessica did not feel the same. “I’m not done!” she yelled. Then came the jokes, like when Tracy seemed to speak a thought aloud. “I’ve never wanted a piece of wood so bad in my life,” she quipped; and shortly after, Jessica began to ride it.

In true Faded Grace fashion, this show was just as much about having fun as it was putting on a rock show. They balanced it well, and made sure the crowd was enjoying it every bit as much as they were.

Everyone had a blast; and even though I hadn’t seen them in probably going on two years, and considering they can only play once every several moths anymore, it didn’t look like they had lost a step in their live show. It was still powerful as ever; and the chemistry they have with one another was easy to see.

Who knows when they’ll play again, but until then, you can find their two albums in iTUNES.

Faded Grace capped the night off perfectly, and after such a long weekend, I think nearly everyone was ready to get out of there so they could start recouping.

Sunday, August 10th, 2014 - A Sunday Night Rock Show with The Circle

The Saving Abel show wasn’t originally supposed to be held at The Curtain Club, but that was where it wound up. I was okay with that, given my immense love for the venue; and actually, it made me all the more excited to see the stacked bill of local talent that had been assembled to open the show.

Talent like The Circle: who was fourth out of the six bands on the bill (and the final local DFW band of the night).

“It’s a Sunday night at the Curtain Club!” roared frontman Don Mills, while his band mates began their 27-minute long set by launching into “Break This”. The song had been debuted when they played here at the end of June, and it sounded even better this night than what I remembered. “Five, six, now your voice is making me sick… Nine, ten, now you’re never seeing me again…” went one of the lines, copying off the old kids rhyme.

“This place is fucking full on a Sunday night!” exclaimed Don once they finished. Indeed, it was; and The Circle had more eyes on them then any band this night. That includes the headliner, who he then gave a shout-out to, asking if anyone had heard of Saving Abel. Drummer Marc Berry, bassist Kenneth Henrichs and guitarists Craig Nelson and Alan Sauls were already beginning “Save Me”, which seemed to build on the energy and excitement they had established with that opener. At one point, all the instruments pretty much cut out for a second, and it was then that Kenneth pointed and looked out at the crowd, making a very metal face as he gritted his teeth together.

It was hard not to notice that strapped to Alans’ chest was a GoPro camera, because with the cramped conditions on stage (since Saving Abels’ gear was all backlined), Alan had been spending plenty of time on their boxes that have their logo painted on them, so the camera had been pointing out towards everyone. “…I want to see some of the stupidest shit I’ve ever seen…” Don told everyone, mentioning they planned to make a little video out of all the footage they got. “Who cares about work tomorrow morning?!” he then asked, making a toast to the audience. It’s worth noting said toast was made with a bottle of water on Don’s part.

The intro for the “The Other Side” had already begun, and now they started touching on the stuff from their Who I Am EP. They came out swinging, but it was with that song — one they’ve been playing for much longer — that they hit their stride. Some fans sang along; and in the back half on the track, Don proceeded to slap one of the cymbals on Marcs’ kit.

“We’re three songs in, so you know what that means…” he said as soon as they had finished. He asked everyone to get their drinks up, toasting all the local musicians. “Local music is by far the best music that’s never been heard,” he declared. Sad, but true. “I want to have your babies!” someone in the crowd shouted, causing a look of surprise to come across Dons’ face, as he said to Craig that, that was a first.

“Failure” followed it up; and as they hit the second chorus, Craig raised his axe into the air for a moment, while aggressively plucking the strings. Their abbreviated set contained one more newer tune, and that was “What Do You Say?” Craig got goofy on it, and when Alan approached him, he started to make all sorts of faces for the GoPro, looking right into it, and even dropping to his knee as he continued to stare at it. They had a solid flow going by this point, as they weaved each song into the next, and the transition to “I Am” was seamless.

Marc stood up behind his kit at the start, beaming at everyone for a moment; and after that heavy rock number, they were ready to close it out with “Sleep On it”. Don motioned and called to Kenneths’ nephew, Tyler, to join them on stage. He handed off the reins to Tyler on each chorus; and at the last one, he [Tyler] sang in a deep, throaty manner. It was fitting for the song. “Get ‘em up one last time!” Don bellowed as the song neared the end. It looked like a sea of drinks for a moment; and then they finished, with enough time left they probably could have done one more. If they hadn’t already done their routine closer that is.

It was a very solid performance, and I swear these guys just get better each time I see them. The crowd helped out a lot, because not only was the room packed for them, but they also had plenty of people as close as they could possible get, which helped create an excellent atmosphere.

Even with little space to work with, they still found plenty of room to move around, still delivering the type of show you’ve come to expect from them, and I think it earned them a few new fans this night. Also, I know I’ve said this the last few shows of theirs I’ve caught, but I’ll say it again: I love how fluid they’re making their shows. Diving headfirst from one song to the next really adds a sense of professionalism.

They’ll be back here at the Curtain on September 20th, but before that, they have a gig at Andy’s in Denton on August 28th. They’ll also be up in Greenville on October 11th at The Hanger. Lastly, if you don’t have Who I Am, go get a copy in iTUNES.

Sunday, August 10th, 2014 - Dialogue May be Rehearsed, but Saving Abels’ Show is Full of Heart

The Saving Abel show wasn’t originally supposed to be held at The Curtain Club, but that was where it wound up. I was okay with that, given my immense love for the venue; and actually, it made me all the more excited to see the stacked bill of local talent that had been assembled to open the show.

Of course, Saving Abel was who a lot of people were there to see, and they were ecstatic when the band finally hit the stage at 11:10.

“We! Are! Saving Abel!” Scotty Austin roared as they began the title track from the “Bringing Down the Giant” record. The four of them who were at the forefront of the stage all thrashed about in synch at the heaviest parts; and it didn’t take long before Austin pulled his shirt off and cast it aside.

“I’m gonna handle this a little differently…” he said to the crowd, saying he had played to more people than this in his living room. “This is like your own private Saving Abel show!” he told fans, mentioning he was holding them all accountable this night. “Now, how about a little Love Like Suicide?” he said while he stared out at the audience and tilted his head around. With that, guitarists Jason Null and Scott Bartlett, bassist Eric Taylor and drummer Steven Pulley opened up what is the newest single they have released. It kept the lively, hard-hitting pace up, and while new, their fans seemed to be loving it as much as they did the classics that were coming up.

“You guys are a lot of fun! For real!” Austin said with a smile on his face. He added they wanted to meet everyone after they got off stage and wouldn’t be going anywhere except their merch table. “…That shouldn’t take long. What, there’s like, fifty of us?” he joked. There were probably at least eighty people still hanging around, probably a little more.

They then worked their way back to their debut, self-titled album with “New Tattoo”. The high-octane number really got the crowd going, and when he wasn’t singing, Austin was speaking to the crowd. “This is a small room. I can see the whites of your eyes!” he spoke, with the point of that being he needed to see everyone getting into this. “I want to hear some hell raising!!” he shouted at another point. Taylor and Pulley gave the song a strong finish, as Taylor was facing him while dominating his bass; and as they wound it into the next song, a fan climbed on stage. The band didn’t seem to care much, though eventually one of the staff members at the venue led the guy off stage, but only after he had grabbed a pair of drumsticks and started lightly tapping on one of the drums. The song they had gone into was “Contagious”, and it was followed with a nice transition into “Stupid Girl (Only in Hollywood)”, which had most everyone singing along.

“We came here for one reason: to have a mother fucking party with you!” shouted Austin, as he proceeded to banter more with the crowd. There were younger kids in attendance, and he noted that if any parents were offended by that, then they just needed to remember they brought their kids to a rock show. Speaking of young kids, it was at this point a little girl who was just a few years old put her horns up. “…That’s the cutest shit I’ve seen.” Austin remarked, adding that if you didn’t think that was adorable, then there was something wrong with you; and he also joked that it was ruining his mojo.

He talked a lot of how small the crowd was this night, and now declared everyone here to be a member of Saving Abel. “You don’t get off that easy. That comes with stipulations!” he stressed, while shaking his finger at everyone. The stipulation was everyone had to sing, and for anyone who didn’t know the words, well, they were told to just make shit up. “That’s what I do every night!” Austin laughed. “…Because rock ‘n’ roll ain’t about being perfect. It’s about having fun.” Tis true. Now, not everyone did know the lyrics for what came next, but a vast majority of the crowd did, and at times they overpowered the band on “The Sex is Good”.

Afterwards, Austin gave it up for all the talented local acts that opened up the show, stating they were music fans first and musicians second. He outright said there are a lot of “shitty” bands out there and that Dallas was lucky to have so many talented ones; then, speaking to the musicians, told them not to let that (the “shitty” ones) jade them. He switched topics to how much touring they have done this year, and with shows in forty-seven states just since January 1st, they have been busy. That has led them to miss their home state of Mississippi. “…So we’re bringing Mississippi with us!” Austin shouted before “Hell of a Ride”. Bartlett showed off his chops as a guitarist on the killer solo, earning him some praise from the crowd.

“I’m not ready to leave Mississippi just yet!” said Austin, more speaking to Null. Null treated it as if Austin was his drill sergeant. “No, sir! I am not, sir!” he quickly spoke while standing at attention. He and Bartlett then stood side by side with one another and shredded as they opened up “You Make Me Sick”. “For real, we’re having a great ass time. This feels like a private party. Usually we have a barricade here…” Austin told the crowd upon finishing the track. They then took several minutes to allow him to introduce the entire band, and each member got their moment when they were named. Taylors’ bass was said to be the thing that made the ladies “shake their ass”; and when he stopped at the request of Austin, then so, too, did the fans stop moving. Austin himself admitted he can be long-winded, and told a story, with the moral being “you can do whatever you want to,” encouraging worlds for everyone there. “…All these songs came out of this guy’s head!” Austin said, pointing at Null. “He’s crazy as shit!” he added; and during Nulls’ piece on the guitar, he managed to break a string.

He played “Mississippi Moonshine” like that, with one of the strings dangling in the air. Before moving on, their manager joined them on stage, and he had bought drink tickets for everyone, causing the crowd to swarm the stage to try to get one before immediately going to redeem it. Once they had been passed out, their manager mentioned Saving Abel was working on a new record, calling it “their best stuff yet”, and now they did a song from it.

It was the following song that was the most emotional one. Austin mentioned he had a brother who had just finished a tour in Iraq, “…It’s the people in suits tell us who to fight. They tell us where to fight. They tell us when to fight, but it’s never them fighting. It’s our brothers and sisters,” he said solemnly. “18 Days” seemed to hit home for a lot of people, and there were a few who shed some tears, including Austin, who wiped his eyes once they had finished it. He stressed that the message was serious, but he did try to cheer people up after that poignant moment. “I tried to join the military. They told me I was “mentally unstable”, whatever that means,” he quipped.

With their 92-minute long set winding down, they had some fun, and Null and Austin switched places. “In my mind I’m a badass guitar player,” said Austin as he placed the strap around him. Null took on the lead vocals, but first, they brought nearly every audience member up on the stage with them. You couldn’t see Pulley from all the people, who sang and danced along to their rendition of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell”.

They were about ready to end it, but first, Austin shared his thoughts on musicians who took things too seriously, pointing out that’s not how Saving Abel does it. “…Life is shitty, and rock n roll mother fucking rules!” he declared, prompting the loudest response all night. That led them to “Drowning (Face Down)”; and after expressing that they truly would be nothing if it weren’t for their fans (as well as mentioning what a great venue Curtain Club was, and we needed to ensure it sticks around), they wrapped it up with “Addicted”.

Usually, that’s where the curtain closes and the band (whoever it may be) goes on their way. Not these guys. The urged everyone to buy every other bands merch. Not theirs, but those who opened. Their tour partners in Story of a Ghost, and while the locals weren’t mentioned by name, they were included in that, too, because if people didn’t, then “music will die” which would subsequently mean that “rock will die”. “Have a good ass time. We! Are! Saving Abel!” Austin again belted, bringing things to a close.

To me, much of the dialogue, at least that around this being like a “private show” or there being “stipulations” and such seemed overly rehearsed/scripted. Now, I know that’s something any touring band does. After all, if you’re playing a different city nearly almost every night, you can’t be expected to come up with new banter. On the other hand, you can make it sound spontaneous. It’s all in the tone of which you say it. Basically, parts of that just felt like they were going through the motions.

I want to stress, their love for the crowd, the support of the other musicians and anything along those lines was definitely legitimate and came from the heart. As for their show, in terms of performance, it was unrelenting; and I think they delivered everything everyone wanted to hear during their time on stage and did it in a memorable fashion.

They really do care about their fans, and that’s cool to see.

They have plenty of dates scheduled through this fall, and they can all be found HERE. Don’t forget they have a few albums in iTUNES, too, with another one apparently in the works.

Saturday, August 9th, 2014 – The Collective Crushes it at Their CD Release Show

This was a monumental night for me. Why? Well, it marked the 700th concert I’ve seen. Not too bad. How fitting, too, that it would just so happen to take place at my favorite venue: The Curtain Club.

As usual, the night consisted of four bands, a couple of whom I had seen many times before, while the others were either little known and even unknown to me.

The third band of the night was The Collective, and it was a big night for them, as they were celebrating the release of their debut album.

I had heard the name before, but knew nothing about them; and as I usually do with bands I’m not familiar with, I watched from afar.

“Happy birthday, Chad! Happy birthday, Kris! Happy birthday, me!” said frontman Derek, getting all those well wishes to the sound guy; the singer of Krash Rover (who played before them); and himself out of the way early. After all, this night was also about the birth of Inherent — their debut album — and they cut right to the chase with “Blessed Ex”.

They had a strong fan base of at least a couple dozen people who were already getting rowdy and singing along to the chorus, “Swallow this down now, it must be contained… Remember the target and take back my aim. No need to ever remember your name.” Each time he sang it, Derek pulled one arm back and took a stance as if he were preparing to fire a bow. He asked everyone to give it up for Scott, who tore it up on a guitar solo; and as the track neared the end, Derek, who had been moving all over the place, jumped atop their light box, causing a bright light to illuminate his face as they closed it out.

Their fans, old and new, applauded the chops and showmanship they had demonstrated on that song, and then Grego launched them into “Aspasia” with some rapid-fire drumbeats. They were part of the way through that one when I decided I had to get a closer view. For bands I’m a fan of, I’ll be front and center; but it has been some time since a band actually compelled me to go up to the front of the stage.

Derek made sure everyone knew Chad Lovell, and when asking those who did to raise their hands, the sound guy himself put his hand in the air. Derek found that to be hilarious; and he also mentioned they had achieved a hat trick on the birthdays, before stating that this next song was “about destroying your own fucking self”. It was titled “I, Saboteur”, and once it was done, Derek informed everyone they were just going to play “straight through the new album”. He added this next one was one he wrote about his father when he passed away in the previous year. It created a somber moment, though it was short-lived, because this was a band who didn’t want to nor know how to slow things down. Scot and bassist Jake were going full throttle on “All Tucked In”; and at one point, Derek made his way off the stage and out into the crowd, where he continued to thrash his body around as he engaged with some of their friends/fans. There was also a cool moment when Grego stood up from his kit during a quick lull in the song.

“Prioritease” came next, and the energetic frontman continued to demonstrate his prowess as he flipped the microphone in a tight spin on the second chorus, catching it without even glancing at it. “You ready?! Bob your heads!” Derek instructed at one point, while he knelt down on the light box. Bobbing your head was again required on “Calloused”, which was different from anything else they had done, as it was partly rapped. They’re certainly a diverse band; and it was pretty impressive how Derek could go from spitting out the words to singing at the drop of a hat. “When you bring me your disdain you’ll soon discover there ain’t nothing here but pain…” went the chorus, which was sung in a smooth, though mighty tone.

Derek now had an idea. “Let’s fuck Chad up!” he said, before adding they should at least wait until their set was over. “This song’s called The Torch,” he then announced, as they did a song that was equal parts reserved and hard hitting. They amped things back up with “Inward”, which saw Derek starting to crouch of the light box, singing while surveying the audience. He even lightly slapped his face after finishing one line; and when the song seemed to end, Grego ran out from behind the drums, rushing to the front of the stage where he beginning high-fiving people. Then, when he sat back behind his kit, they picked the track up where they had left off. It was a fun moment, and very cool.

More stellar guitar solos came flying during “The Charlatan”; and then came a sing along, which was made up of three simple words that no one had trouble shouting along, “Just say the word!” Derek continued interacting with the fans, kneeling down at front of the stage, but then he took it to the next level when he again jumped off the stage, headed to the back by the bar, and then went out the doors to the patio. A small handful of fans then got a mosh pit going as things came to an end.

“Here’s to being twenty-seven forever!” declared Derek as they downed some shots that had appeared on stage, and then busted out a non-album track called “Repair”. He shared a joke with everyone once it was done, asking if anyone liked Wendy’s. Of course, people did, and the joke he had recently heard went, “You gonna like it when des nuts get dragged cross yo face.” “I was, like, did I just get Puked or something?!” he finished, speaking of his reaction when someone pulled that on him. They did one more, possibly “Manumitter”, since it was the only track they hadn’t done from the ten-song release. Their fans weren’t satisfied with just one more, though, and immediately began demanding one more.

I’ve seen a few shows where the crowd wants to hear an encore from a band, but due to time constraints, they are seldom done. Actually, while I’m sure I have seen a few bands (who weren’t the headliner) do an encore, none come to mind at the moment. “You want one more?!” Derek said to the crowd, before speaking to his band mates, “They want one more,” and as he moved the mic away from his mouth you could hear him ask Scott, “What are we doing?!” “You don’t even have one more song!” one fan shouted.

He then looked at Chad. “When you were doing this,” he said, holding his hands out as if he were measuring something, “I thought you meant something else. I didn’t know you were telling us we had a really long set,” he laughed. Luckily, they did have something left in their catalog, and “T Gondii” was honestly my favorite song of their set. “Slow this down before I come unbound; you’ve got to turn it around and put your…” Derek and Scott harmonized on the first line of each chorus, doing it completely a cappella. The instruments came back in then, while the repeated the line a couple of times, finishing it with, “Put your trust in me,” which Derek sang in a growly voice.

And so ended their 57-minute long set, which made for a show I don’t think anyone will be forgetting anytime soon.

Part of me hates that it took me so long to actually see and hear The Collective. Another part is glad it did, ‘cause I didn’t have to anxiously wait for them to get an album done and out. And I do know I’ll be seeing them many times to come.

They impressed the hell out of me this night, with their incredibly dynamic performance that captivated everyone, and the songs were often catchy, while still retaining the ballsy sound rock music is supposed to have.

Perhaps this was all the culmination of a surge of emotions over the release of their new album, but I don’t think so. These guys have nailed down what a performance should be like, and it’s pretty clear it’s what they’re meant to be doing.

They have a couple Dallas shows coming up next month, one on September 18th at The Boiler Room, and the other will be at O’Riley’s on the 20th.

Saturday, January 25th, 2014 – Little Sisters of the Poor Deliver a Rock ‘n’ Roll Experience

The weekend before this, The Curtain Club had celebrated its sixteenth year anniversary with a couple of fantastic shows, and even though technically the celebration had ended, the streak of awesome shows was bleeding over into this weekend.

A slew of excellent rock bands were taking the stage this night, beginning with a newish band; Blacktie Renegade.

I happened to see what was maybe their last show here, several months before and really enjoyed them, and was looking forward to seeing them again.

Even though I got there early, shortly after 8:30, the heavier rock band was already on stage, and I wound up having mixed feelings about what I saw.

There were some songs, not all, where vocalist Mickeys’ voice was pretty pitchy, like he was having trouble hitting many of the notes. I wouldn’t say it was unpleasant, but it wasn’t all that good, either. Yet on other songs, he was on point and nailed it.

“We’re gonna slow things down a bit.” Mickey told everyone before “Take Off To Nowhere”. It lacked the heavy edge much of their other music has, but it was still a fairly loud song, with plenty of great drumming from Ricky.

They debuted a brand new song afterwards, before doing another, which was followed by an impromptu instrumental riff. Guitarists Brandon and Eric, bassist Daniel and Ricky just started playing, and by all indications it seemed like the start of their next song. It was a solid little piece, but when they suddenly stopped, you knew it was something unplanned.

That was when Mickey said something along the lines of that being something they had just done on the spot.

“This next song is gangster.” stated Mickey after they had done a proper song, which opened up with some awesome riffs courtesy of Brandon. That left them with a couple more songs in the chamber, which they quickly knocked out, thanking everyone who was there watching as well as The Curtain Club for putting together this show.

I already mentioned my only complaint, but even that wasn’t a constant thing, and in other aspects, I think they’re a really solid group.

You can tell each of the guys has been doing this awhile, and brings a good deal of energy to the stage, often thrashing around. The music has a nice hard rock vibe to it to, to the point you’d even expect the vocals to be screams, which is why Mickey’s voice is such a nice counterpoint to it all.

I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing them again, and if you want to check out some of their music you can download their demos over on their REVERBNATION PAGE.

Second up this night was a band I had not seen in far too long, and that was In Memory of Man.

They’d been working on a new album for a little while now, and had only recently started selling some advanced copies of it. So, not only was this show sure to be filled with new music, but it was also going to mark the live debut of Matt Langley (formerly of Fair to Midland) as the bands new keyboardist.

They hit the stage with the force of a ten ton wrecking ball, opening their 35-minute set with the lead track from their new self-titled release, “Wanted”. It was quickly clear that this night they didn’t need any time to warm up; instead, they had already found their stride, as frontman Alex Lilly moved in synch with all the instruments, pulling back during the instrumental breaks, before again asserting himself as he belted out the lines. “Wanted! Wanted! Wanted! Bring your love to me!…” he and bassist Marcus Gonzales shouted during the chorus of that sensational rock number.

They had dozens and dozens of pairs of eyes looking on in awe, as Javier Garza used one of his cymbals to quickly count them right into their next song, “Headshot”. That was one of a few tracks they did from “The Reckoning” EP, mixing in the best of the old with the new this night, as they raced through that fast paced number, and hurried on to the next one.

Again, it was Javier who fired up another fiery track, “Something In the Taste”, which had its moments that allowed Alex to soften his voice, hitting some higher notes as he showed off the type of range he’s capable of. That was built upon during “New Eyes”, which they segued right into, and could easily be called their couples skate song. It also nicely showed off Matts’ ability as a keyboard player, and while my view of him was often obstructed, he was killing it back there, set up beside the drum kit. I also liked the way his two keyboards were set up, both slanted upward (or downward I guess, depending on how you look at it), with the backs of the keyboards angled towards the ground, which in turn resulted in a unique style of him playing them.

As the song ended, Johnny McConlogue placed a slide on one of his fingers, holding a long note on his guitar that resembled some feedback. Lead guitarist Chad Beck soon chimed in with his own subtle notes, stretching it out for a while, leaving the crowd wondering what was coming next. That question was answered with the first strike Javier made on his drums, revealing it to be their classic; “Paper Planes”. That song is still one of my favorites. And no, I don’t mean just one of my favorites form this band.

It’s a beautiful song, and at one point Alex reached out towards his girlfriend, holding her hand as he sang one of the lines, and the chorus of “…If only you and I could have that night again, to start again…” is just one of those that impacts you. On that note, the song packs a punch too, taking plenty of time to set itself up and establish that emotional connection, before they let loose as it peaked.

Their following song was the only one I didn’t know, but it had a brief part where Marcus churned out a bass solo. However, the best part came at the end, when they made one of the most seamless transitions I’ve heard a band do. Johnny suddenly switched gears, playing one note form that song, then the next instant doing the first note of “My Sweet”. His band mates the followed suit, making a truly perfect segue. AS it drew to a close, Alex faced stage right, throwing his left hand up in the air, then dropped it in exact time with Javier’s final drum beat.

“We are In Memory of Man, giving it all so you don’t have to.” Alex joked, which, aside from thanking people for watching, was the first real conversation he had struck up with the audience (I don’t mean that as a negative thing, seeing as they were so focused and driven to play everything they had planned.) He also took a moment to formally introduce Matt Langley, saying how privileged they were to have him in the band. “This should sound like liquid sex.” he stated, as they began their final song, which is also the final track from their new record, “Picture Box”, which capped things off well.

This show was almost as good as their CD release gig for “The Reckoning” about three and a half years before this, which, out of the few times I’ve seen these guys, is the best show I think I’ve seen them do.

All six of them were so in tune with one another this night it was ridiculous, and the performance they gave everyone was one that won’t soon be forgotten (if ever).

They each possess some superb skills as musicians, they can hold a crowds attention seemingly effortlessly, and Alex is one of the best singers I’ve come across, and the dude has an unmistakable voice.

I could say the band that followed them was the best band of the night, ‘cause personally, I’m biased. But being completely objective, out of the bands I saw here, this night belonged to In Memory of Man.

The new batch of songs they have is incredible, and while it took them a while to get a full-length put together, it’s nice to finally have.

You can find the new album in iTUNES, and head over to REVERBNATION to download all 5-tracks from their first EP. Then, if you’d like to see them live, head out to The Grotto in Fort Worth on February 28th and catch them then.

The main act of the night was Little Sisters of the Poor, who, with a 10:30 start time, had the prime spot.

The curtain opened on this local supergroup, which consists of Jason Jones and JP Dunn on guitar, Joe Becker on bass, drummer Gabe Muzquiz and frontman Dunagin Gaines, though they did bust right into a song.

Instead, the audience got a moment to find what they thought would be the best spot to witness this rock show, as the members gazed out at the crowd. Just a few seconds later though, and Jason and Gabe had ripped into “Spires”, getting their 41-minute long set underway.

Lovely guitar licks and solos abound in that good ol’ rock song, which does a good job of getting the blood flowing, and, like the last band, Little Sisters of the Poor planned to barrel through their set. As soon as it ended, Jason lit into the first notes of “Love, Money and Death”, a song that had been tweaked since the last time I had seen them, four short months before.

Jason added some backing vocals on the first line of each part of the chorus. For example, “…Put in a jar”, dropping out as Dunagin continued, “and save change like everyone else.” It was a nice touch to the track, and I was glad to see them working that element in to the show, especially since Jason has a great voice, something I don’t think many people knew until near the end of his final project (The FEDS). The onslaught continued with Gabe winding them into the next one, “You Animals”. That was one of two songs they did this night that they have yet to lay down in a studio, but hopefully that will change soon, as it’s a great tune.

While some of his band mates tuned their instruments, Dunagin noted that most of what they were doing this night could be purchased in iTUNES, as they’ve steadily been releasing some singles since around the time of their live debut last April. “They’ll be on our new album which will be out soon.” he informed everyone, letting it slip that their debut EP would be named after that song “Love, Money and Death”. He also shouted out In Memory of Man for, who “kicked ass”. “Yeah they did. They were good. A little too good if you ask me.” Jason chimed in, further proving what a good idea it was to give him a mic.

As they finished tuning, Gabe went ahead with “Headaches”, a song that’s set apart from their other rockers, being a little more low-key, which allows them to tap into a different side of the band, while still keeping the performance pretty energized. As it ended, Jason slammed down on his whammy bar, creating a bridge into another newer song.

This one really impressed me, and was quite intense, almost as much as their first and last songs of the night. I have to confess, being planted on the far left side of the stage, I found myself gravitating more to Jason, Gabe and Dunagin, though I looked over at Joe and JP during that one, and they were letting it all out. Here’s to hoping that whenever these guys go back into the studio, that’s another one that makes the cut.

The night got even more fun afterwards, when Dunagin welcomed the first of two special guests to the stage; Randy Stephens. The guy will always be best known for the now defunct Siren City, though his new project, LA Wedding, is starting to take flight.

He took his position to the right of the drum kit, where an additional microphone stood on the drum riser. “…I’ve seen you coming up around here, why did you leave?” Dunagin sang near the start of “Ruins”, which is one of their best songs. The music bed is, dare I say, brilliant, starting out slow and tranquil, becoming something else entirely on the chorus. It almost doesn’t even go together, yet it does. Speaking of the chorus, the chorus belonged to Randy. “I’m gonna get you. I’m gonna take you on. I’m gonna corner you and make you feel so small… Structures turn to ruins…” he belted out in that golden voice of his. He overpowered Dunagin, who, in all fairness, did hold back some, before screaming out the final line of the chorus, “Ruins turn to bones!”

That wasn’t even the best part, though. The best part came at the bridge, when the two were singing completely different parts, and though their voices are so different, they blended so well.

That. That was the highlight of Little Sisters of the Poor’s show, and even if it was for one song, it was great to hear Randys’ voice again. (Actually, the last time was when he did some guest vocals on a FEDS song at their reunion show, and that had already been a little over two years ago.)

Next up on the guest performance roster was Sean Dailey, from The Better Death and 90’s grunge rock cover band, Seattle. “…We’re just gonna keep rotating singers.” Dunagin said, joking that anyone who wanted in on the last song needed to put their name in a hat and they draw a winner. Jason then cracked that these two guys had won a contest on The Eagle (97.1FM), with Dunagin adding that they had to call in at four that morning to partake in the contest.

“We just released this one.” said Dunagin, referring to their seventh single; “Truckstop Heaven”. It’s another song of theirs that can full you with the slower start it gets off to, before growing into a roaring rock number, and it was only made more that way Sean’s help.

Like Randy, he joined in on the choruses, singing along with Dunagin, “And I’ve come here to save you my brother, want to find out if you’re still alive…”, while the last chorus Dunagin gave completely to Sean. “…And the battle is lost and you feel the bomb fall out. Rise up with a knife and bleed the chief.” he roared, creating another astounding moment from this show.

Seriously, those two guest vocalists were an incredible touch to this song. Dunagin’s already one of the best frontmen around, and is best known for the powerhouse group Moving Atlas (who will hopefully grace some stages a little more often this year), but Randy and Sean each gave their respective songs a whole new element. For starters, I didn’t know I could like “Ruins” any more than I already did, and Sean turned “Truckstop Heaven” into even more of a beast.

They had one last song to give for their 41-minute long set, and before Sean even started to make his exit, Jason was shredding on his guitar, as they closed with “Cooker”. I was glad to hear this one back at the end of the setlist, because this explosive, guitar-heavy number is a perfect closer, giving everyone one last rush of adrenaline, before leaving you craving more from the band.

Probably the best thing about a supergroup, especially with this caliber of musicians, is the fact that they all already know how to handle themselves on stage.

From their first show, these guys delivered a stellar rock show, and even though they haven’t played too many shows, you can still see how much better they get each time, strengthening their chemistry.

If you haven’t seen or heard this group of veterans, I promise you’re missing out, and you should, at the very least, check out their singles in iTUNES. They’ll sort of be back at the Curtain Club, playing the Liquid Lounge side of the venue on March 22nd. You can catch them on February 12th at Rubber Gloves in Denton, and they’ll be back there on March 19th. In between those shows they also have one at Trees in Dallas on March 14th.

There were a couple of bands left, though I had been tossing around the idea of going and catching another act at another venue -which I wound up doing- but only after sticking around for a few songs from The Commotion.

It had been some time since their last show, and it turned out they had revised their setlist since their last gig, ditching their traditional opener for a favorite of everyone’s; “Crim”. As an opener, it worked quite well, which was something I had never thought would be true.

Guitarists Josh Sanders and Justin Middleton and bassist Justin Hold let loose with a fury on that wonderful chorus that had nearly everyone singing along with singer and guitarist Micah Creel, “Your contagious smile spreads like wildfire, infecting everyone within sight.”

It had everyone enthralled, and out of all the bands, they commanded the largest crowd of the night, and afterwards they quickly moved on to song number two, their rendition of Hums’ “Stars”.

By that time I had already heard the one song I really wanted to hear, and had decided I would go catch that other show I spoke of.

Would The Commotion have been worth sticking around for? Absolutely, but I’ve seen them enough that I felt I could pull myself away from them. There also happened to be one more band on the bill, and that was Where Shadows Meet.

I sampled some of their music on Reverbnation, and it just wasn’t my style. All the same, this was one badass rock show that had been organized at the longest continuously operating venue in Deep Ellum, and if you weren’t here for it, you missed out

Saturday, January 18th, 2014 – The Curtain Clubs’ Sweet 16th (Night 2)

This night was going to be a busy one, and it was starting at my favorite venue, The Curtain Club, for the second night of the venue’s 16th anniversary weekend.

Like the night before, a couple of younger bands with teenage members were playing first, beginning with a band called The Neverending.

I walked in at not the best time, as they were having some technical issues.

“It’s usually our drummer who breaks everything.” joked their frontwoman, as it was now one of the bands guitarist who was having some trouble and had broken a string.

It seemed almost like a curse, seeing as the first band from the night before also suffered from a broken guitar string, and this guy in The Neverending just made the best of it and played through.

Getting back on track, that made for some long silence as they figured things out, and I never really thought they got any momentum going after that.

It’s not that I disliked them or anything, I just simply never got into it.

The same could be said about the next band, The Bombs.

I just never got into their darker brand of punkish sounding rock, though for what they did, these three girls (plus their fill-in drummer), did it well.

On another note, about both of those bands, not only was it good to see a younger generation of musicians down here, but it was especially nice to see they had brought out there friends/fans, who, for a short time, outnumbered the twenty-one and older crowd.

After them, was the band I was there for, seeing as they had requested my presence and given me a ticket to the show, and that was Alterflesh.

“In the incomprehensible vastness of the universe, how strange we’re even here…” singer Dayvoh could be heard saying, as the curtain began to open and reveal them. It goes along with spiritual, otherworldly aura the band strives so hard to create at their live shows, and like all the little speeches Dayvoh makes like that, it sets up the next song, which in this case was “Megahub”.

Once Kevin Mills came in on the track, Dayvoh, bassist Paul Kubajak and even guitarist Ben Schelin began jumping around, before Dayvoh entered frontman mode and started working over the audience as he began singing the song. “Most will go their entire lives without even understanding it. I recommend a much closer view of practical experience…” goes the bridge of the song, which, like all their other tracks, is supposed to make you stop and think about life.

“Welcome to the Curtain Clubs’ sweet sixteenth, take two…” Dayvoh said to the audience once the song had ended, and, like in that song, he continued delivering his words at a lightening pace to minimize the time spent talking. He went on to say how good it was to see some “young blood” down here and named the two opening bands, before also pointing out some of the other bands who were out supporting them, just a few of whom were The Circle (who had played the night before), Solice, 26 Locks and New Voodoo. Speaking of New Voodoo, Andrew Lewthwaite was lending his guitar skills to Alterflesh this night, serving as the bands second guitarist. Dayvoh finished with, “Support your scene.”, before hopping down on one of the steps in front of the stage while Paul started their next song, “So Much More”, with some sweet bass licks.

It features some knockout drumming from Kevin, and once it was done, Dayvoh continued to reel the crowd in and get them engaged. “Are you awake, Curtain Club?! Let me hear you!” he shouted, before doing another transition for their next song. “Mystics all around the world say we all slowly burn in time… This one’s called Embers.” he declared, as they went into one of their newest numbers.

“Brothers and sisters, everyday is a gift. Live it to the fullest.” were the encouraging words that preceded their next song, “Start Over”. As the name suggests, it’s a song about beginning anew, specifically without someone who used to be a part of your life, and as Dayvoh repeated the first line of the track, “Light a fire, burn it all away…”, Xtina, the singer in Solice, made her way on stage.

At their last show they had gotten her to join them on that one, and lightening struck this night as she again lent her voice to it, making a great song sound exceptional. As they hit the second chorus, both Paul and Dayvoh leapt in the air, in time with the drumbeat, then, as the song wound down, Dayvoh knelt down on the stage, as did Xtina, their voices sounding incredible as they intertwined with one another on “…Light a fire, burn it all away. Start over again without you.”

She and her band got some props thrown their way as she exited the stage, before Dayvoh turned his attention to the Wall of Fame. “…On these walls, you can see the marks of all who have come before…” he said, pointing at the dozens and dozens of plaques, ranging from those who were never more than local legends to those who went on to achieve national fame. “This next one’s a fun one. It’s a political rant. ” stated Dayvoh as they got ready for “Watch Rome Burn”. In short, this “rant” focuses on how this “Information Age” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and after the second chorus of the track, Andrew, who had already brought a lot to the table, went off on a several seconds long guitar solo, which sounded killer.

I’m going to get off topic for a minute, now. Since Alterflesh had started, there was a great energy from out in the crowd. You could feel it and tell that everyone was enjoying what they were watching. At one point a small mosh pit of three or so people started, which was no big deal, until one guy accidentally slammed into a woman, knocking her to the floor and causing her to lose her drink.

That was a couple songs prior to the one they had just done, and that changed the whole mood of the crowd. For starters, the tension was palpable. The only reason a fight didn’t break out between that guy and the woman’s boyfriend/husband was because other people stepped in between them to make sure nothing happened. I won’t get much more into to it, but basically, the guy who hit the woman didn’t feel he owed her a replacement beer, while the other guy believed she was owed at least that.

Getting more on topic, this still persisted even now, and after that song, Dayvoh said something about he knew this was a rock show and he wanted everyone to have as much fun as they possible could. After all, that is the point of a concert. “…But the next girl I see fall, ‘cause some guy hits her and doesn’t help her up. I’m gonna jump down there.” he said firmly, earning raving applause from pretty much everyone in there.

That still didn’t quite settle it, though, and it only ended before the guy removed himself from the situation. But before that happened, one of the guys from The Circle went and grabbed an Alterflesh poster off of one of the walls here in the club and hung it on the monitor, right in front of the guy. They had used a quote on this poster, and it read, “Kindness… It doesn’t cost a damn thing. Sprinkle that shit everywhere.”

That’s what made this so ironic. Dayvoh is all about being a peaceful, kind individual, as really everyone should, and Alterflesh more or less preaches that exact message in their music.

The downside from all that, is all that energy that was going in the audience was no dead. Don’t get me wrong, the band themselves hadn’t lost any momentum, but with all that negativity leaving people wondering if they might have to jump in and break up a fight, it killed the carefree atmosphere, as everyone just stayed almost perfectly still and watched.

They were almost done at this point, and in regards to the next track, “Into the Sun”, Dayvoh said something about how we (collectively) are “…Like every other element, forged in the heart of a supernova…” It’s another newer one, and a great one at that, and it was also their final original track of the night.

“…If you’ve listened to the radio at all in the last ten years, then you’ve heard this song…” Dayvoh told everyone in preparation of the first ever cover song Alterflesh would do. It would a rendition of Staind’s “For You”, though of course they put their own unique spin on it. Ben and Andrew had been feeding off one another all night long, facing each other as they picked away on their guitars, and such, and the two again rocked out on this one, while towards the end Paul dropped to his knees and flat-out tore it up on his bass.

It was fun way to end their 39-minute long set, and this was one of the best shows I’ve seen these guys do.

Where to start…

How about back to Andrew and Ben. Yes, Dayvoh does play guitar on some songs, but he still has to focus on being a frontman even then, so he can’t interact as much with Ben. But like I said, he and Andrew had some real chemistry going.

That also freed Dayvoh up to really work the crowd for the entire show, and you could really feel the rapport he had going with everyone.

And for those who may not know, he spent many years as a spoken word poet, and brings that flare to his singing in Alterflesh, creating something that is purely original and different from anything you have ever heard before.

Then you had Kevin and Paul, both of whom were in the zone this night.

They’re one of those bands who doesn’t play too often (every few months), yet they’re tighter than a lot of bands out there, and they brought their A+ game to the stage of the Curtain Club this night.

They don’t have any music to buy at the moment, but you can sample several songs over on REVERBNATION. You can also see them right back here at the Curtain Club on March 8th as part of 26 Locks CD release show. They also have a show booked at O’Rileys in Dallas on April 4th.

I didn’t stick around long after they finished. It’s not that I didn’t want to see some of the other bands on the bill, but I had already committed to go cover another show, and headed out for the other venue.

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013 - Light the FIre’s Year End Dallas Blowout

The Curtain Club was hosting some heavier rock acts this night, most of whom were more on the metal side of things, including Light the Fire, who was doing their final Dallas show of the year.

Like Bridges We Burn opened up the night, and sadly I didn’t get there in time to see them. Well, at least not much of them. I did catch their final song, though, which frontman Jeff Nemec invited “Jefe”, as he said, or Jeff Gunter of Light the Fire on stage with them to help co-sing on the song, which made for a very fun way to end their show.

Check out their music in iTUNES (an EP and a couple of singles), and they do have one more show left for the year, on December 13th at the Prophet Bar in Dallas.

Up next was Deaf Angel, and upon taking the stage, frontwoman Tina Downs urged everyone to get closer. “…It’s cold outside.” Not many people needed that as incentive, though, as most of those who were there packed tightly around the stage, ready for the rock show to start.

Their shorter 27-minute long set began with the beast of a song, “Take Over”, which had many of their fans singing along to every word, a trend that continued for the duration of their time on stage. “This song’s called Directions.” Tina informed the audience, getting a few cheers from some who clearly loved the heavy song that had guitarist Duston Daulton often some very metal screams to it, echoing Tina near the end with a very throaty, “…I will not break down…”

The heavy assault continued with “Crazy”, after which drummer Scott Van Slyke sent them right into their next track. They had a couple more songs left, and like the previous ones they were from their newest album, “Brutally / Beautiful”, with things getting just a little more heartfelt with “Let You Go”, wit Tina seeming to put even a little more emotion into her singing on that one.

Before their last song, she took a moment to formally introduce their brand new bassist, Matt Harper, who had been killing it thus far with them, being a perfect fit for the band and their live show. The fans seemed to enjoy what he brought to the performance, too, and after that little welcome, they finished their show with the powerful, “Run to Me”.

It was a fantastic performance, with the only downside being that was over far too quickly.

It was the best Deaf Angel show I’ve seen yet, though (which in fairness has only been a handful of shows), and they just seemed more solid and cohesive then they’ve even been in the past. Scott and Matt created a vigorous rhythm section, without question being the backbone of every song they did, and I like the fact that Scott sets his kit up to the side, allowing the audience a better look at him as he plays. Dustin easily held everyone’s attention as well, from the deep screams he often made during the songs, and when he wasn’t adding any vocals, he was often seen standing atop one of the boxes they had borrowed from Light the Fire, shredding on his axe. While Tina has an incredible voice and knows how to put on a performance, too.

They’ll be back in Dallas on January 25th at The Boiler Room, and if you like free music, you can download their entire catalog at no cost over on their REVERBNATION PAGE.

Following them was Light the Fire, who hadn’t played the Curtain since releasing their newest EP back in July, and what better venue to play your last Dallas show of the year in.

In typical Light the Fire fashion, they had some fun at the start of their show, the four instrumentalists bobbing their heads to a rap song that played before vocalist Jeff Gunter ran on stage, and they show got underway. “Now’s our time to step up to the plate…” he screamed after his band mates played the short intro into “Don’t Fail Me Now”, offering a great start to their set, as it almost effortlessly puts the crowd in a state of excitement. “Are you ready tonight?!” Jeff roared at the fans as lead guitarist Ryan Dickinson and drummer Blake Hein wound them into another track from their first record, and the title song, “Note To Self”.

Audience participation was a must on that one, Jeff asking everyone to get a hand up and wave it back and forth during the instrumental break, while bassist Andrew Penland repeatedly shouted, “Hey!”, into his mic. “How the fuck are you doing?!” Jeff asked once the song was finished, still working on pumping everyone up, especially when he didn’t get the desired result. “You can do better than that!” he shouted, prompting a louder response from the audience this time around, while the sample track intro for “Thoughts” soon started to play. Andrew, Ryan and rhythm guitarist Felix Lopez staggered themselves in a line during the first verse of that one, thrashing about not only in perfect synch with one another, but also the beats Blake was cranking out.

“…We’re from D town…” Jeff said during their next break, adding, “We are D town.” That then led to talk of their new shirts, which had the Texas flag on them, but instead of a lone star, it bore Light the Fire’s emblem, a flame. He then asked everyone who hailed from the state to make some noise. “Some of you must be from Oklahoma or something…” he cracked in order to get a better response. They then tackled one of their newer songs, “The Masquerade”, a great song about being something you’re not. The song has a “slow, pretty part” as Jeff put it, and when they hit it he requested everyone put up their lighters or cell phones, and of course the phones outnumbered the lighters as the people waved them around until the song picked back up. And as it did, before the song hit the final chorus, Andrew lifted his bass up a little, giving his strap some slack, before thrusting it down in perfect time with one of the drum beats.

“Let’s get some movement going!” said Jeff before they started one of their heaviest numbers, “Under My Skin”, their final old track before hitting a string of songs from their self-titled EP. Jeff mentioned that, because of everyone’s help, they were able to play the Dallas date of the Vans Warped Tour this summer (on the Ernie Ball Stage), joking about how sweaty it was, and saying they met a guy there who said he wanted to shoot a music video for them. “…And we were like, “Okay!” Jeff stated, saying the video they filmed was for their song “Forever Grateful”. “But we don’t call it that, do we?!” he asked saying the name it is known as live, “Thunder Cunt”. The fans were asked to throw up their own “thunder cunts”, by extending their index fingers and thumbs, touching each finger to its counterpart. “Holy shit, look at Blake’s…” Jeff pointed out, as he had thrown up his drumsticks in place of his index fingers. Despite the name they’ve given it for live shows, it’s a love song through and through, take for example a line from the bridge, “…I can’t help myself, I’m yours ‘til the end. You are my reason for breathing…”

During that new fan favorite (and a personal favorite of mine), Felix broke a string, which led to a little downtime, but they never lost any momentum, as the crowd patiently waited for more. “Does it still say “suck it” on it?” Jeff asked Felix, who had earlier in the night flipped his guitar over, revealing the back of the body had “Suck It” written on it. He flipped this one over too, and sure enough, it did.

“…Get your horns up!” shouted Jeff, who also got a little chant of “Hell yeah!” started before their next song, “All Or Nothing”, which featured Jeff Nemec of Like Bridges We Burn adding his vocal touches to the song, making it sound even better than it already is. Their 49-minute long set was coming to an end, and at this point, Jeff mentioned that his brother, who is in the military, had recently gotten to come home, something he was clearly ecstatic about, and while he had planned to come out to this show to see the band in action, weather prevented him from doing so. The heartfelt speech continued for a moment before he added, “…So, I want you to experience the love he and his army brothers have for one another by bashing into each other.” The mosh pits had been pretty tame this night as far as LTF shows go, with the most action breaking out during the inspiring tale that is told in “Stick To Your Guns”, which saw one of Blake’s drumsticks breaking during the second verse, before he hastily grabbed a replacement.

Their final song wasn’t one of theirs, at least not entirely, and Jeff dedicated it to all the single ladies in attendance, but when asking how many were single, only one woman made any noise. “…You’re probably going to be raped…” he replied, getting a laugh from nearly everyone in the club. They then launched into The Scorpions “No One Like You”, and while it isn’t an original, they put such a unique spin on the song, it is certainly their own, and one that is well received by their fans. The best touch to the song came rather unexpectedly at the end, when the final guitars and bass lines were dying down and the last drum beat resonated out, as Jeff sang one of the last lines a capella, adding a beautiful finish to it.

They put on a phenomenal show this night, and though I thought their CD release show would be a hard one to top, in some aspects they did this night. They’re such a well polished and cohesive band, which is what sets their live shows apart from other acts, and also the fact that they manage to inject so much fun into their shows, while still keeping the professional demeanor every band needs.

They really are a superb band, and hopefully 2014 will have even bigger things in store for the band.

They don’t have anything on the books right now, but they are one band who plays very consistently, and you probably won’t have to wait too long in to 2014 for them to rock a venue near you. But until that happens, be sure to check out both of their EP’s in iTUNES.

The main act for the night was Low Gear, a long running Dallas band whom I had heard of, but not yet seen.

They proved to be too hard and heavy for my tastes (which I know is slightly weird given the fact I love Light the Fire), but after sticking around for three to four songs I just wasn’t feeling it and went ahead and left.

There was also one act after them, Driven Below, and I had watched some videos of them online to learn that they too were far to metal to appeal to me.

All the same, it was a great lineup at the Curtain Club this night, even if some of the bands weren’t my style, and it was certainly worth getting out on this cold night to see one last Light the Fire show for the year.

Saturday, November 16th, 2013 – Waking Alice

Having six bands on a bill means getting the show started early and having most of the bands do shorter sets. So, by the time I arrived to the Curtain Club this night, I had already missed Item 9 and A Life in Arms Reach, while Down to Friend was getting ready to take the stage for their CD release show.

Personally, I wasn’t much of a fan. They were heavier than what I like, with a hefty amount of screaming. But even I managed to find their high-strung show somewhat entertaining, and their fans clearly loved it, moshing pretty much the entire time they were on stage.

And if their genre sounds more like your style of music, you can find the EP they released, “So Awesome, It’s Stupid” in iTUNES.

The music style changed with the next set of bands, with Waking Alice ushering in the rock portion of the night.

They may have had an abbreviated 30-minute long set, but it was still long enough it allowed them to hit the highlights, and they packed it full of rock., an getting them off to an excellent start was “Treason”. As usual, the song was sped up from what you hear on the “Retribution” EP, drummer Jonn Levey providing a quicker beat for the song, resulting in it having much more of an urgency to it. It seemed like they might slow things down with the following song, which frontman Rus Chaney noted was a brand new one they had written a couple of weeks before. “It’s a love song.” he added, prompting a jokingly disappointed “awwwe” from their fans and friends. “Shut up.” he quipped, saying it was more of an atypical love song, and, if I heard the name right, was titled “Paper. Rock. Shotgun.”

It certainly wasn’t your normal love song, and music wise it even had some slightly dark undertones at times, though the lyrics were definitely that of a love song, and not in the generic way that so many songs like that are written in. And if there was still any doubt that perhaps it was not a rock song, than Brandon Brewer’s guitar solo quelled it, being slick, polished and all around awesome. It also further whets the appetites of their fans, giving everyone a little more insight into what Waking Alice has been working on, and already has me intrigued as to what will be coming down the pipeline next.

“Scars” had a super tight rhythm section this night, particularly at the beginning and before the choruses, when bassist Brayton Bourque swiftly plucked the strings of his bass in perfect synch to Jon’s drumming, which was pretty fast in itself. Very cool, and just shows how the band is still tightening up their live show.

They were already halfway done with their set, and continued on with their latest single, which Rus mentioned at the time may even still be up for free download on their Reverbnation page, joking that every now and then they can be nice and give stuff away. He was referring to “Hostage”, the heavy and intense track that has quickly become a fan favorite. “Fighting for myself to break free from your grasp. Now I’m on my feet, I’m gonna kick some ass.” Rus sang on that beast of a song, before they moved on to some classic Waking Alice. “…You might know it.” remarked Rus before they launched into “Biggest Lie”, which is always an interesting one to hear, due to the ever changing guitar solo Brandon does during it. The one this night was one of the best riffs I’ve heard him go on, having a very raw rock sound, and Jonn also got the spotlight for a few moments, as he knocked out a drum solo.

They then closed with a cover. “…It’s probably Jonn’s favorite.” Rus commented. Jonn then smiled as he led them into The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Geek U.S.A.”. They put a good spin on it, and I found myself liking it even more this time around than the (only) other time they did it. You could tell they’ve put some more work into it since their September show, and hopefully it’ll be a cover that sticks around for a little longer.

Their set did seem to pass by a little quick, and I think everyone of their fans would have liked to have heard another one or two tracks, but there’s always next time for that. Actually, this shorter set seemed to make them hustle a little more, invigorating them and making them even more dynamic than usual.

They have one last show for the year lined up on the last day of the year (December 31st) at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, for those who really do want to rock in the new year. And of course check out their music (new and old) in iTUNES.

InnrCor was next up, another band who was celebrating the release of a new record, as well a brand new lineup for the group.

I stuck around for a bit, but just never really got in to it, and since I had been feeling under the weather since early on in the week, still didn’t feel great and I knew I didn’t like the headliners, Mad Mexicans, I went ahead and called it an early night.

It may have been a relatively short show for me, but that should say something about Waking Alice, too, ‘cause they alone were well worth the trip to the Curtain.

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013 – The Deep Ellum Community Comes Together

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.

Saturday, August 24th, 2013 – We the Ghost

A weekend isn’t complete without spending at least one night at Curtain Club seeing a show. That’s not to say I’m there ever single weekend… But just about every single weekend, and this night was a good night to see a show there.

Five bands were rocking the stage, most of whom I had heard of before, though hadn’t seen, and ever others where brand new to me, which meant it was surely going to be an interesting night.

Starting off the show was a young band by the name of Outcast Hero, who calls the suburb of Flower Mound home. And by young, I mean that each of five members where in their mid to late teens.

They opened their 34-minute set with “Innocence”, one of many originals they did this night, instantly revealing they had some nice chops. It was a really good song, and guitarists Bill Hall and Ben Jester, bassist Marco Molina matching the song, exploding when it roared to life, as did front man Kevin Easley. They didn’t have many onlookers, but the handful of people that were there seemed glued to the stage. They knocked out several more songs, with Kevin occasionally adding a third guitar to the mix, and also playing a keyboard from time to time, before they got to a cover song.

“…You might know this one.” one of them said, before they busted into Jet’s “Are You Gonna be My Girl?”, doing a pretty spot on version of it. They then offered up a few more originals, and sandwiched in between these final three songs was the piano heavy “Home”, which was surprisingly beautiful, and probably the best song of their set, in my opinion.

Given their age, they were quite good, and came off looking like they had been rocking stages longer than what they probably have been. That’s not to say there’s not some room for improvement, as far as becoming more cohesive and such, but that will no doubt come with time and getting more experience under their belt.

Taking the stage next, and on the opposite end of the experience spectrum, was Spill.

I had seen these veteran rockers once before, doing an acoustic set here at the Curtain a few years back, and it became readily apparent that they were a completely different beast when they were plugged in.

They hit the stage with the strength of a hurricane, and only managed to get better the longer they played. Todd Hunter was a beast of a front man, jumping around here and there, even spinning in the air while doing so, and just commanded your full attention. Guitarists David Binnings and Seth Ludeman, bassist Larry Henderson and their new drummer did a great job at holding their own, though, each one being energetic and slick with their playing, so no matter where you looked, there was something constantly going on.

They ran through several songs during their time on stage, I believe doing the three singles that comprise the “The Cruelty of Time” EP, which would be “The Sway” and “Silly Little Things”. It was “Promised Heart” that was a truly gripping song, though, and one that I could easily see being widely played on the radio, if it can only get that kind of attention first. “This is a song I promised my son I’d do a music video for, but I didn’t take the proper steps…” Todd stated to the crowd before starting the song, adding that he’d appreciate anyone who wanted to film it with their phone and send him the video. “…That way I won’t be a failure of a father, again…” he joked.

It was a sweet love song at its core, and balancing out the serious stuff was some more humorous covers, like their rendition of Taylor Swifts’ “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. Yes, they really did cover that pop song, but they stepped it up so much, making it a true rock song, I didn’t even know what it was until they reached the chorus, proving it was a far cry from Swift’s original version.

there show was filled with many other songs, which I sadly don’t know, as well as some jokes, like when Todd pointed out they were probably one of the only bands to get two plaques on the “Wall of Fame” at the Curtain Club, pointing out their current one at the very end. “…We’re on the way out… After this I think it’s just going to fall off into this trash can over here…” he said laughing, referring to their plaque being on the very end.

They were by far the best, most professional band of the night, and they brought an arena-sized show to this club setting. So know I have to ask myself, “If Spill has been around for thirteen years, why have I barely heard of them?”

Yeah, I have seen their plaque(s) over the seven and a half years I’ve been a patron of the Curtain Club, but had never seen them do a real show until now. Perhaps I’ve just been living under a rock or something, and didn’t even know it.

Hit up their FACEBOOK PAGE to stay up to date on their future shows, and you can buy their three current singles in either iTUNES or BANDCAMP. At the very least, just give the music a listen.

Following them was another long running band, The Farstar, who has a decade long career under their belt.

They were another group I had heard of before, going as far back as the days of Myspace (that dates things, doesn’t it?), but had never seen them, and recalled little about their music. In fact, through all these years I, for whatever reason, assumed they were an indie band, and I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Their first song got them off to an explosive start, and they didn’t let up much with their second song. I think part of why I was so impressed was because it was so different from what I was expecting, being full-blown Rock ‘n’ Roll.

“This song’s called The Healing Kiss of a Blowtorch.” said front man Shannon Barrett, setting up the song from their “Strange Kids” EP, before segueing it into the subsequent song from that record, “I Used to Dream of Astronauts”, which was a bi slower than what they had been doing. Afterwards they dug deep into their catalog, pulling out a song from their first release, “It All Boils Down to Speed”. That wasn’t the only thing they had planned from “Broken Down and Wandering”, though, and they followed it with the lead track from the album, “Welcome to the Show”. I believe it was also on that song that they welcomed former guitarist Chris Hathcock on stage, adding a third guitar to the mix. Shannon explained it afterwards, saying that Chris was part of the band when they wrote and performed that song, and that it only seemed right to have him join them as a guest on it.

They cranked out another song before finding out they had enough time for one more, which Shannon left up to the crowd, giving them three or four options to choose from. “Cash Only” won out, concluding their 38-minute long set.

Kind of like the band before them, I began wondering why I hadn’t seen The Farstar before now., and how I’m going to have to start seeing them a little more often.

Their songs are fantastic, especially the lyrics, which are usually pretty deep, and their performance was really enjoyable. Each of them, bassist Michael Maney, guitarist Chris Lockaby, drummer Lance Lindsey, as well as their other guitarist and Shannon killed it on stage, constantly moving about and doing things to keep you watching.

I don’t think they play just too often now, but stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE for show updates. As for their music, you can get most of it for free on BANDCAMP, while their latest LP is only five bucks. Check it out.

Considering I had been here since early on, things were moving rather quickly, and next up it was time for We the Ghost.

The Tulsa, Oklahoma based group was returning to their Dallas home one last time before releasing their new record a few months from now, which meant this would be the last time for their Dallas crowd to hear some of their older songs live. They made that point clear on Facebook in advance of the show, and honestly was a key reason I came to the show in the first place, to get one last live fix of some of their “classic” material.

Not only that, but this was also the first time (at least that I had seen them) where they had the full band in Dallas, with violinist Jocelyn Rowland finally accompanying them. I caught just a few songs with the full band at one of their gigs during SXSW back in March, so I knew what a difference that one instrument could make, and was looking forward to hearing/seeing a full show with it.

The night wasn’t all about the older stuff, though, and they opened their 37-minute long set with their newest single, “Take Somebody Home”. “All eyes up front, all eyes on me…” sang acoustic guitarist and lead singer Beau Tyler, which seemed to serve as a call to the audience, and one that was hard ignore, given their catchy, original brand of music.

“…I think I sprained my ankle last time we played here…” Beau mentioned, joking that it was nice to be back and on two feet, before doing a song from the “White Noise” EP, “Let Me Know”. Jocelyns’ violin proved to be a critical part of the song, and one I never really realized was missing before, but it made this love song all the more beautiful. As it came to an end, Beau hopped up on one of their boxes at the front of the stage, which had the band’s name written on it, holding his guitar in the air as he picked at to bring the song to a close. They then wound it right into another newer song, which I’m guessing may be called “Love in Reverse”, since that’s part of the chorus, and followed it with yet another song I was unsure of.

Dain Samuelson, who stood on the drum riser next to drummer Jimmy Adams, really got to put his djembe to use on their next song, the more reggae sounding “She’s Gonna Fly Again”, which also featured a special guest. Towards the end of the track, Matt McHan ceded his guitar over to Neil Swanson, who briefly joined the band on stage. “The Son of Swan, himself.” Said Beau introducing the stellar guitarist by referencing the instrumental trio he plays in. Neil riffed for several seconds, adding a great element to the song. While Neil was shredding, though, I couldn’t help but look at bassist Ben Mosier, who’s a killer bass player with some serious swagger, but as a guitarist, he is still one of the best I’ve ever seen.

The hits from their first EP kept coming with “Your Remedy”. “I can be your cure. It’s the only thing that I ever know for sure…” Beau crooned on the chorus of the song, a song that I really hope isn’t one that’s being worked out. The mood got a little more fun when they busted out their rendition of Paula Abduls’ “Straight Up”, which they’ve certainly left their mark on, keeping a fairly pop based song, while making some changes so it better fits their style of music.

With their 37-minute long set drawing to a close, they pulled out some of their best material, like “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, and their small gathering of fans seemed ecstatic that they ended with “Right Where You Want”, a song from Beau’s previous band, that has (thankfully) found a new life with We the Ghost, because it really is one of their best songs.

This was probably the best WtG show I’ve seen, and despite a favorite of mine, “Wash These Sins Away”, being noticeable absent, it was still a nice assortment of songs they played. It was also nice to see a full band We the Ghost show, and that violin does help propel their already unique sound to a whole new level. And on another note about the show, I enjoyed the incense they had burning during their set (an element that I’m guessing they’ve borrowed from singer/songwriter and friend  Paco Estrada), which creates more of a setting and seems to make the show more intimate.

If you want to hear something different, you should really give We the Ghost a listen, because I’ll guarantee it’s different then just about anything else you’ve heard before.

You can find both of their EP’s in iTUNES, and they will have another record coming out sometime before the year’s end. As for shows, they’ll be playing a couple of gigs at the College Bar in Stillwater, OK, one on September 20th and the other on November 1st. They’ll also be back in North Texas at the Queen City Music Hall in Fort Worth on September 21st.

It was late, around one in the morning when the Bedlam Brothers took the stage to round out the show. The time didn’t deter their small army of fans and friends, though, who moved right up front once they started.

“…Please save me, save me from myself…” crooned guitarist and vocalist Nick Santa Maria, as the southern rock trio kicked things off with the very southern rock sounding song, “Save Me”. Despite the softer start it gets off to, it proved to be an excellent opening song once it sprang to life, and if anyone was feeling tired, it surely woke them up.

“Dallas!!!” screamed Nick as soon as they finished that song, with drummer John Flores immediately firing up the next one, the heavy and loud “We Ride Tonight”. They weren’t about to slow down after that, either. Perhaps they were trying to make up for some of the lost time (since they had told fans they’d be going on earlier than when they actually did), or maybe they had planned to have this flow in the first place. Nonetheless, they barreled right along, launching into the rocking “First Time”, which got nearly everyone moving around.

They had definitely hit their stride by this point, and in taking a short break in between songs, bassist Craig McLaughlin mentioned that their next song required the audience to sing along. Nick led the audience in what to sing, just to make sure they knew, though it didn’t seem like people not knowing or forgetting it would be a problem, what with this dedicated little fanbase. The crowd did their part, shouting out, “Mary was a tortured soul!” after Nick belted out the name that is the songs title, “Mary Rose”.

They, or rather Nick, got a little nostalgic with their next couple songs, doing one that was from his previous band, Skylines. They entered into more of a rock realm with “Not Enough”, which featured a truly wicked guitar solo, and followed it up with another song from past projects, which Nick noted also happened to be a Skylines song for a bit. In between those two tracks, it was mentioned that John had thrown his back out recently, but was still playing, a feat that was both applauded and laughed at. Craig said something along the lines of, “Give it up for premature ageing.”, getting a laugh out of everyone, band mates included.

John’s back wasn’t the only that was out, either, and after that other song his hi-hat cymbal broke. It didn’t seem like a big deal, though, and was fixed quickly, and while he worked on in, Nick filled the dead air with ease, chatting with everyone and thanking them for coming out and staying out late.

They got back to it with “Run Run Run”, then slowed things down a bit with “240 Miles”. Upon finishing it, Nick joked that they had now met their quota for the night, and that they were going to bring it back up for the final song of their 38-minute long set. It was another older one of his, which had, had life in two of his previous bands, and he added he was fortunate enough to have a band mate from each of those past projects in attendance this night. Everyone seemed all too familiar with “My 9 to 5”, again singing along as the band cranked it out, and at one point in the song, Craig hopped up on the drum riser, facing John, as they both rocked out.

The Bedlam Brothers rounded out this night perfectly, delivering a pretty intense show, that I think was the best one I’ve seen them do yet.

They have that great, gritty southern rock sound, from the music to the vocals, and a raw, explosive show to match. A show that gets better each time I see them, I might add.

Give a listen to their “Saddle Up” EP, which is under six bucks in iTUNES, and keep tabs on their FACEBOOK PAGE for updates about future shows.

It was another killer night at my favorite Dallas haunt, and I’ll say it again, because I haven’t in awhile. The Curtain Club is the best place to go if you want to see a good local rock show, and every weekend, there’s at least something that will catch your interest.

Friday, August 2nd, 2013 – Deep Friday’s with Serosia

Deep Ellum was thriving this night. For starters, there was a huge national show going on at one venue, while five others were taking part in the Deep Friday’s event, where for one price you can get into all five venues on the first Friday of every month. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great seeing so many people down in the area, even if it may be a one-off night, but the downside to that is it makes finding a parking spot a pain.

I’m not used to spending five minutes looking for parking, let alone twenty to thirty, but eventually found a spot and headed to my destination, which was, of course, the Curtain Club.

Yes, the purpose of Deep Friday is to be able to bounce between venues, but the Curtain’s lineup is always so stacked, I can never seem to pull myself from the place, as was the case this night.

Blacktie Renegade was the first band up this night, and due the parking thing, I’m not sure if they had just started when I got there or if they had been playing for just a little bit. Either way, I think I saw the majority of their set, and I was very glad I did.

This newer band (they’ve only been around since earlier this year) has some killer music, and it was matched by an incredible performance. That’s what really got me, especially after learning that they are newer to the scene, was how cohesive they were. They gave the impression that they’ve been doing this for years as this group, with Brandon and Eric running about the stage, shredding on their guitars, while drummer Ricky and bass player Dave tore it up on their instruments. The you had Mickey, who has a great set of pipes and did a really good job of commanding the crowd, being quite energetic.

Mixed in among their originals were a couple of covers, and their next to last song Mickey mentioned was an old one, but a good one. It was a rendition of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name”, which surprised me, because Blacktie Renegade was nothing like Rage, yet they pulled off a pretty spot on cover of it, and it was very fun at that.

Mickey even jokingly apologized after they finished it, saying something like, “I didn’t use much language, did I?”

I was turned into a fan instantly, and after listening to the few recordings they have, I think they sound much better live than even what their recorded material reflects. So, if you get a chance, go see them live. They don’t have anything on tap at the moment, but from the looks of it, they’ve been playing every other month or so. Also, on their REVERBNATION PAGE, you can download their three singles for FREE.

They did a very good job of kicking things off, and the night was only set to get better with Alterflesh taking the stage next.

Alterflesh doesn’t just put on a show, they create an ambiance, and when the curtain opened on them the stage was adorned with a few paintings of varying sizes, a nightstand with a lamp and some books, as well as some candles scattered about, plus a statue of Buddha, adding to the spiritual effect of their shows. Singer and rhythm guitarist Dayvoh greeted everyone with one of his messages, and while I don’t recall word-for-word what he said, I believe he mentioned the vastness of the universe, “…It’s so strange we are even here at all…” he said, then officially welcomed everyone to the show with, “Step through the portal my brothers and sisters.”

“Megahub” kicked off their 35-minute long show, and they instantly sprang to life, evidently not needing much of a warm-up period. Paul Kubajak was jumping about while slapping the strings of his bass, while Ben Schelin slashed away at his guitar. Dayvoh was tearing things up, too, at least when he wasn’t rapidly spitting out the lyrics in a style that is most comparable to spoken word poetry. That’s definitely the most standout quality Alterflesh has, setting them apart from any other band, and as they wrapped up that song Dayvoh segued them into the next one, throwing a bit of humor in to the show. “Sometimes if you make mushroom tea, strange things happen. This song’s called So Much More.” he said, getting a laugh from their large audience.

The heavier percussion tune was a good lead in to their next song, a new one that had only been played live once before. It was titled “Believe It”, and it was the first of a few songs this night that saw Dayvoh sitting his guitar down to instead focus exclusively on being a front man. He’s quite a front man at that, and is extremely energetic, moving about, actively engaging the crowd, while also getting very into the song itself. At the end of he walked up on to the drum riser, and in perfect timing with a loud beat supplied by drummer Kevin Mills, Dayvoh leapt from the riser, back to the forefront of the stage. As for the song itself, I really liked it. It was much heavier and thicker than their other songs, in a hard rock way, showcasing another layer to their already completely unique sound.

“…This next song’s a social rant…” Dayvoh stated, speaking of my favorite song of theirs, “Watch Rome Burn”. Paul got downright wild on that song, bouncing all over the stage, from his post on stage left, over to where Ben stood and back again, all the while fiercely plucking and slapping the strings of his bass. It was brilliant. Afterwards, Dayvoh picked his guitar back up for what I believe was “Start Over”, before he placed it back down for their final two songs.

“Into the Sun” was another new one, and despite the title, there some darker musical elements to it at times, adding some depth to it. They then capped off their 35-minute long set with what is arguably the most inspirational song they have, “New Horizon”, which spreads a message of making the most of every day, and it was a fitting song to end with. “Stay positive and cultivate your dreams.” said Dayvoh, uttering his signature phrase.

It had already been a few months since the first time I ever saw Alterflesh, and they had only played one gig in the three and a half months from that show to this one. You wouldn’t have guessed it from watching them perform this night, though.

They were a completely different band than I saw back in April, being even more cohesive, operating as a skillful unit. They had all stepped things up, and while I admittedly usually watch the other members over the drummer, Kevin made sure you kept an eye on him. Ben shredded on his guitar with a passion, while Paul managed to pack even more energy into his performance than he had last time. The same could be said for Dayvoh, too, whose head and arms were covered with blue dots he had, had painted on. I’m not sure of the reason, aside from being something to get attention, and in the end, that’s what it’s all about, because you want people to remember the show, and that’s something that will last in people’s minds for a long time.

They truly are one of the most unique bands I’ve ever heard and they put on a very strong show. Nothing is scheduled at the moment, but keep an eye on their REVERBNATION PAGE for future dates. While there, you can also listen to some of their demos.

On a side note, it was remarkable how many local bands were out to support these guys. Born and Raised, Solice, Agents of Solace, 26 Locks, and those are just the few I remember, while in all I think Dayvoh counted 14 bands represented, many of whom didn’t even have shows in the area that night, they were there simply to see Alterflesh. It was cool to see so many bands supporting their comrades, and as Dayvoh said a few times while on this subject, “For anyone who says that Deep Ellum is dead, fuck you!” So true. It might not be thriving, but it is very much alive and well.

Things took a turn with the next band, Mara Conflict, as the night entered the harder rock portion of the night…

They opened with one of their numerous newer songs, “Tempting the Mind”, which got things off to a heavy start, even brutal at times. Brutal in a good way, of course. It allowed them to quickly establish their dominance, Joshua doing a mix of singing and screaming, but most often it was the latter, fitting well with the raw sound it had. As soon as it ended the front man walked towards the drum riser, facing it as he bellowed, “Why don’t you, why don’t you…”, the first line of one of their new singles, “Broad Brush”. There are tinges of a progressive style mixed in to that hard rock number, noticeable in both Ben and Jarrod’s guitar parts. That tune is just a solid wall of sound, and if the first song hadn’t done the trick, then “Broad Brush” surely had everyone banging their heads to the music.

They followed it with a couple of brand new songs, the first was titled “Solstice”, while the next one was “…so new it doesn’t have a name…” At least that’s what Joshua said of it. It was an utterly amazing song, my favorite of the night (not just confined to their set, either, but out of all the bands), having a killer music bed, with the drums, played by Dylan, the bass, which Charlie rocked out on, and the guitars meshing in perfect harmony, with a slight chaotic feel.

To balance out the new, they next did an old song, “Excuses Never Fly”, from their self-titled EP. The devastatingly awesome, “You Sleep”, which is just another one of their songs working together well enough it gives the song a much larger scope. Things began to wind down with “Cleareye Pane”, and they had enough time in their 35-minute long set to (aptly) conclude with the rip-roaring, “Closure”.

Mara Conflict is an awesome band, and they seemed better this night than they were when I saw them here at the Curtain at the end of May. I imagine the fact that they had a real audience this night made a lot of the difference, since it’s always easier for a band to get more into their playing when there are people truly enjoying it.

Joshua has a great voice, capable of an excellent range, and he can both scream and sing with the best of them. He, Ben, Dylan, Charlie and Jarrod also exude a lot of energy during their time on stage, ensuring you won’t take your eyes off of them, or at least not for long.

You can find their three song collection of singles in iTUNES, so buy and even go see a show (of which they will surely have coming up in the near future). Just support them, maybe that way they can get their next album out a little sooner than planned.

The headlining spot went to Serosia, who had rocked the place barely a month before. That didn’t their fans were any less eager to see them, though, especially because the day before on Facebook they mentioned they had some exciting news, which would be heard first at this show.

Their intros are always different, and this night, before the curtain was even parted, some low, pulsating riffs could be heard from Joseph Kubans’ bass, while Derek Troxell slapped the neck of his guitar, giving it a real distorted sound. That placidness didn’t last long, as Anthony D’Agata exploded in on the drums, the other instruments roaring to life, too, as they got “Ventriloquist” underway. It was a dynamic start to their 43-minute long show, and continued with the momentum they had going, the three instrumentalists bridging them into the next song, while vigorous front man Lucas D’Agata commanded the crowd to “fucking jump”. He was doing just that, and some of the fans did the same as they launched into “Friendly Fire”. That beast of a song had everyone moving around, and I believe it was one of a few songs that even incited a small mosh pit, and fittingly so, since Lucas was switching back and forth between his smooth, somewhat melodic singing voice and his savage screams.

“Criminal” had nearly all of their devoted fans singing along, quite enthusiastically I might add, and after finishing it Lucas asked the crowd a question. “Is it hotter in here than usual?” There was a bit of a mixed reaction, with some people agreeing, and others shrugged, as if to say, “No.” Lucas then got to the punch line, “That’s cause we’re up here…”, a remark that got a boisterous  response from the audience. “Sway” touched on the bands lighter side, Derek carefully plucking at the strings of his axe, though it was after the second verse when things really took off. One minute, Lucas was knelt down on the floor crooning, “…You have the power to fly but you fail to try…”, the next he sprang up, jumping into the air. He raised his outstretched legs up, while lowering his head down, and for a split second, while he appeared bent in two in midair, his legs even went above his head, before he quickly lowered them again, planting them back on the stage, and all the while he didn’t skip one of the lyrics.

The further along they got, the better the performance became, but took a timeout here, during which Lucas mentioned it had “been an emotional week” for all of them. That was the start of a very heartfelt speech, as he talked about how you spend years chasing your dreams, ultimately getting to a point where you think they will never pan out, and then, something happens. “…Stick with your dreams…” he said, pointing out that the moment you give up is the moment they can never come true. Already the fans were eager to know what was going on, but that would come later. Instead, they marched on with “The Architect”, and it and the following song, the newer “Reduced to Memory”, were prime examples of the banter that came in between those two songs, when Lucas said he was excite about the future of rock music, asking everyone if they were “sick of hearing banjos”, a sentiment everyone seemed to agree with.

“Wanna hear what’s up?” Lucas asked the crowd. It was answered with a resounding yes, but they were going to drag that announcement out, and instead, Anthony, Joseph and Derek started a little intro. It wasn’t until Derek played the beginning chords of “Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars” that the song became recognizable. Evidently, the best had been saved for last (and I include that previous song in that statement), and now Anthony banged on his kit, but only for a few seconds before his brother stopped them. “Do y’all want to hear the news now?” he asked, getting the obvious response. “…Let’s wait…” he said, as they returned to the hardest hitting song they did this night, “The Eye of Providence”.

Now, as their set neared the end, it was finally time to share their big news with everyone, and it proved to be worth the prolonged wait. Lucas beamed as he said they would be touring as the main support act for Sevendust, with 10 Years also being on some of the shows. “…Has anyone been to the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas?” he asked everyone, saying that was where they would be joining the tour, kicking things off in style, no doubt. He even noted that the lead song from their “Variables” EP, “Superposition”, would be making its way to radio airwaves, soon, so to call and request it. That wound up being a nice segue, because that was the song they had planned next, closing out their show with what became a sing along for a few moments, the audience chanting “I feel a war.” back at the band.

This was one of the best Serosia shows I’ve seen, and I think it’s safe to say they were riding high on that good news this night, renewing their hope in their career path, which translated into the live performance.

If you’ve seen Serosia before, you know all too well why they’ve gotten the opportunity to do some shows with Sevendust. If you haven’t, well, they are without question one of the most professional bands currently in the local Dallas/Fort Worth area music scene and they put on one of the most raw, organic rock shows a band can. Performance-wise they are topnotch, putting on a show that could rival many touring acts, while their music has radio friendly qualities, yet remains highly original, and there’s an excellent chance they’ll leave your mind blown.

Their dates with Sevendust are as follows: September 18th in Las Vegas, NV at the Hard Rock Live / September 19th in Salt Lake City, UT at In The Venue / September 20th in Billings, MT at Babcock Theatre / September 23rd in Ft. Collins, CO at Aggie Theatre / September 24th in Colorado Springs, CO at Black Sheep / September 25th in Cheyenne, WY at Atlas Theatre / October 1st in Kokomo, IN at Center Stage / October 2nd in Battle Creek, MI at Planet Rock / October 9th in Asheville, NC at Orange Peel / October 10th in Wilmington, NC at Ziggy’s By The Sea.

If one of those cities is near you, don’t pass up the chance to see them. Also, between iTUNES and their store on REVERBNATION, you can purchase all of their releases.

There was one final band left this night, but a little while after Serosia finished I decided to leave, before the tiredness I was experiencing got worse.

It was another fantastic Deep Friday, though, and be sure to mark your calendars for the next one, on Friday, September 6th. If you buy tickets in advance you can get into five venues for only five bucks, otherwise it’s ten at the door, but you still get into all the clubs.

Friday, July 12th, 2013 – Who I Am

Apparently, this is the time of year (at least for 2013) to be releasing new albums, because this was the fourth straight Friday I went to a bands CD release show, and this night it was The Circle’s turn to release an album. Not just any album, though, their debut EP, and this long awaited event was taking place at their Dallas home, the Curtain Club.

Days before the show Hazeland had to drop off, though a replacement band was found, and things got pushed back a bit, since that new band took the opening slot. I never caught their name and missed the majority of their set, though they did sound all right based on what little I heard.

That last minute opening act benefited the next band, the Tyler based The Truman Syndrome, who got bumped up to the second slot instead of being the opener. I was quite excited about this, because it had already been five and a half months since the first (and only) time I had seen the group, and out of the numerous times they’ve played D/FW since, I just hadn’t been able to make it to their show. Lucky for me, that was finally about to change.

During their 34-minute set they ran through the bulk of their self-titled debut EP, doing most of the songs in subsequent order. As the curtain opened on them, bassist Jim Taylor held his bass in the air, playing it by using the classic windmill motion, while he and guitarist James Barrera got some feedback going to set up “Never”. They didn’t seem to need any time to warm up, being in show mode almost instantly as those two tore it up on their instruments, while JC Childress ran back and forth across the stage, often jumping up on the monitors while belting out the lyrics.

“This next song’s called You Will Find…” he informed the audience, as Tim Mitchell wound them right into that song. Things only continued to escalate with that one, growing more lively, and on the bridge James jumped down on to some of the steps in front of the stage. That allowed the crowd a better glimpse of his fast paced picking, before he returned to the stage on the chorus, “One day you’ll find, that in time, they will let you down…”

Upon finishing that song, JC took time to state who they were and where they hailed from, adding they felt like they were “…the bastard sons of Dallas…” Indeed they are, what with all the gigs they play here in the metroplex, and I doubt anyone would argue that the Dallas and Fort Worth area is now the bands home away from home. They then launched into a newer song they’ve cooked up, “By the Wayside”, which was quite killer, and at the very least is on par with every track from their EP and left me interested to see what else they’ll write in the future. They returned to their material from the album with a single, but first JC noted they had filmed a video for it, and if I’m remembering right he said shot it in one of the remaining buildings from the OKC bombing, coincidently doing it just a few weeks before the Boston bombing. The onslaught of hard rock music than continued with “Overcome”, which is easily one of their most standout tracks, and had a majority of their fans singing right along.

The brief explanations of the songs continued with JC mentioning Hollywood and how a lot of people move out there hoping for fame and fortune, only to lose it all. He went on to say that there are also a lot of good people out there, too, basically people who don’t only care about themselves, using all that as the segue into my personal favorite song of theirs, “Hollywood Divine”, which boasts a thunderous rhythm section and some soaring guitar riffs. Afterwards, talk turned to religion when JC said something about us (people of Texas) living in the Bible Belt, quickly pointing out he meant nothing by that and didn’t care what anyone believed in personally. Their hometown is definitely part of that Bible Belt, more so than most, and he said the people of Tyler had only recently voted and passed a bill to make the town wet, and he sounded rather impressed when saying you could now get booze in places like convenience stores. “We’re all gonna burn in a lake of fire. We’re all gonna burn by our own desires…” he sang on the first line of “Lake Of Fire”, a song that definitely has some slight religious undertones to it, as it should since beforehand he said they wrote it about people in their hometown (and presumably other smaller towns across the country).

“…Well, I hear the story in you, and you have been abused…” goes one of the later lines, and while singing it JC beat his fist against his head on “abused”, and shortly after James fell backwards (intentionally, I think), laying on the floor for a few seconds while still cranking out the guitar notes. That was their final original song of the night, and Jim took over the spotlight for a bit during his bass solo at the start of their final song, jumping about and moving his legs every which direction while he slapped his bass. I had completely forgotten that they covered the Tool classic, “Sober”. Tim soon entered in as they began to flesh it out more before it roared to life. They do a fantastic rendition of it, and even JC has a voice that is pretty fitting of the song, allowing them to pull it off pretty much to the tee. When they hit “trust me…”, Jim let go of his bass and sent it spinning around his body, making several rotations before he grabbed it and got back to business, which all in all made for a memorable moment and one hell of a way to end their show.

These guys know how to put on a show and command the audience, and they did just that this night. All four of them are extremely energetic performers who certainly pull their own weight, making it hard sometimes to decide who need to be focusing on. And that’s a good thing. On top of that, they write some killer music, and if you like heavier rock to hard rock than you must check out The Truman Syndrome.

They’ll be up in Denton on July 19th at Andy’s Bar, while on July 20th they’ll be playing their hometown of Tyler at Click’s. They’ll be back at The Curtain Club on the 27th, and then on August 3rd you can catch them at Venue717 in Longview, while Click’s will again host them on August 17th. Also, check out their debut EP in iTUNES.

That was an incredible way to get the night started, and on a more typical night, you could probably say they would have been near impossible to compete with, let alone top. But this wasn’t just another typical night, and next up was Red Angel Theory.

They began with one of their newer tracks, “Psycho”, and with its raw rock sound it makes for a fitting opener, as they took charge of the crowd with it. “This next song is called It Often Lies” said front women Monica Koohi, and right after Nick Sarabia beat down on his drum kit while Brandon Deaton proceeded to shred on his guitar. They weren’t about to let up after that, and they immediately tore into one of the songs from their EP, “Shattered”. It’s a very different version than what you’ll find on the EP, though, since much of the lyrics have been rewritten, and the changes seem to be better suited for Monicas’ voice, letting her leave her own mark on the song, verses singing it the way it was originally written with their original front man. Perhaps the best part of it, though was the brutal and primal scream she let out before the final chorus, showing off a whole other side to her vocal abilities.

Brandon, Nick and bassist Phil Sahs never quit playing, and with a few rocking notes and chord changes moved them seamlessly into another new number, “Quarantine”. I had loved the flow their show had, had thus far anyway, but that was a killer segue into what was an awesome song and only made me like the new direction the band is headed in even more. The music finally ceased after that, but not for long, and soon Nick started the sample track intro for one of my favorite songs of theirs, “Inception”. It just has a nice flow to it as far as ebb and flow goes.

No sooner had they finished it then another sample track started, and while it played out it allowed Phil and Brandon to switch out to a different guitar and bass and do some tuning. “It’s about to get a little dirty.” said Monica when they were just about ready, as they launched into another badass newer track, “Suffocate”. That put them at the tail end of 35-minute long set, and now Monica made a little speech about there being “… a lot of negativity in the world…”, and how one of Red Angel Theory’s goals is to help you stay positive and not let things bring you down. “…That’s what this next song is about.” she finished as they started “The Darkness”, which is a bit of an uplifting/inspiring song, despite the heavy sound. No sooner had it come to an end, then the quartet tore into their final song, “When the Dust Settles”, bringing things to an impressive finish.

Over the past few months, Red Angel Theory has really stepped up their show schedule, even doing a slight bit of touring, and you can tell all of that is really starting to payoff for them. They’ve become incredible tight and in synch with one another and I love the methodical approach they take to their set, often bridging the songs together, to give it an epic flow.

It’s only been about six months since they played this stage and Monica made her Dallas debut with the band, and really, that’s not all that long ago, so it is kind of remarkable that they’ve found their groove with one another so quickly. They’re clearly not stopping there, though, and are continuing to push themselves to the next level.

Their next gig (and last one on the books at the moment) is going to be Saturday, July 20th at The Hanger in Greenville, so check that out. Also, listen to and buy their “Rise for Something” EP in iTUNES.

Next up was the main course of the night, and that was The Circle, who no doubt had the biggest crowd this night.

A minute or two before the curtain opened, vocalist Don Mills suddenly addressed the crowd, encouraging everyone to pack in tightly around the stage, saying they would soon be taking a picture of the audience and wanted everyone to be a part of it. He then stopped, as their intro began to play.

When the curtain finally opened, it was only the instrumentalists on stage, guitarists Craig Nelson and Alan Sauls, bassist Kenneth Henrichs and drummer Marc Berry, who fired up their first song, which I believe was the lead track from their “Who I Am” EP, “The Other Side”. Don then rushed on stage, grabbing the microphone, and they were off. They, too, decided to throw one song after another at the fans, though on a smaller scale than the previous act, and as the song came to an end Craig immediately started “406” with some rip roaring guitar action. It was slightly different from how I remembered it in the past, and that was due largely to Don, who sang it differently. I certainly don’t mean that as an insult, though. In fact, it made me like the song even more (an it’s already one of my favorites of theirs), and the different tone he used on it gave it a lot more depth in my opinion. Oh, and the occasional backing vocals Kenneth threw in only intensified it.

Upon finishing it, Don made a toast to all the bands playing this night, using his signature line, “…Local music is by far the best music that has never been heard…”, a statement I certainly agree with. “Can I get an amen?” he then roared as the crowd cheered and applauded. They didn’t have much time to spare, though, and soon they moved on to “Beggars Can’t be Choosers”, another song Don sang in a slightly different manner, and again it made me like it even more. “Skeptical” was another great song from their set, and definitely one of the heaviest, and when it was done they tapped another cut from the EP, “Failure”. It’s one of their deeper songs, emotionally speaking, and after wrapping it up, the man responsible for it (at least the recording of it) Alex Gerst, who owns Empire Sound Studio and produced The Circle’s EP, got pointed out by Don.

He praised the man, who is arguably the best producer in the area, and eventually was interrupted by his band mates who started “My Trip to the Desert Sucked”, causing Don to quickly whip back into performance mode, getting into the strong rhythm section the track has. It was followed by what I assume was one of their newer songs, since it was one I wasn’t familiar with, but they soon got back to the stuff from their EP, doing what is essentially the title track, “I Am”. “Why do you try to walk away? Why do you try to bring me down? Why can’t you just understand this is who I am…”  Don smoothly sang on the chorus of that heavy hitter, mixing in a slight growl from time to time, which only makes the song pack more of a punch. While the final notes rang out, Marc suddenly got their next song going, and if the beats weren’t enough of a giveaway, then it was certainly clear what the song was once Kenneth, Alan and Craig layered their bass and guitars over it. That song was their single, “Sleep On it”, which meant they were at the end of this show, but before embarking on that final number, Don first got the crowd to participate some, by having them clap along to the beat. Towards the end, Don held the microphone down towards the audience, allowing Kenneths’ nephew to sing (or rather, scream) a few lines before taking back over, as the band brought their 36-minute long set to an epic close.

Usually, that’s that, as they always end on their lead single, but I found myself wishing they could do at least one more song, and evidently so did everyone else, because the chants for an encore soon started. It seemed possible, not only because it was their big night, but also because four-fifths of the band were still on stage, and didn’t look like they were about to unplug their instruments and call it a night. So, the fact that they did end up doing an encore wasn’t too surprising, though the song choice was.

They had a few more originals they could have done, but instead, they had worked up a cover to make this show even more memorable, and it was by Dallas natives Drowning Pool. The song came from the iconic “Sinner” album, but wasn’t the one most people would think of, instead they busted out a rendition of “Tear Away”. It was a perfect for the group, though it wasn’t just the killer cover of it they did that made it stand out, but the ensemble cast they had (unexpectedly) join them to help out. JC from The Truman Syndrome joined them on stage and sang a portion of the song as Don ceded control to him. Eric Hawkens, front man of Awake in Theory, was even in attendance, and while reluctant at first, he was eventually coaxed up on stage to help on singing a few of the lines, while Don and Xtina Lee from Solice finished up the song.

This was definitely one of the best Circle shows I’ve seen thus far, and as is the case with all CD release shows from any band, there was a certain level of excitement in the air, from the fans and band alike, and that was an energy they fed off of, using it to propel their show. And the fact that they paid tribute to what is one of the most well known metal bands from Dallas, well, I still find that cool, and it was a nice treat, because I got the impression they had readied that song specifically for this one show.

This EP of theirs, “Who I Am”, you can already purchase it on iTUNES, and at around four bucks, it’s a steal. They also have a couple of gigs lined up this weekend, the first of which will be in Austin at Spinner’s on July 19th, while on the 20th they’ll be in Waco at Fast Eddies.

There was one final act up this night, and that was Phavian, who had come all the way from Los Angeles, and this Dallas show was one of the early gigs on their over three month long tour.

Earlier this year they released their latest EP, “Meridian II”, and were now embarking on a nationwide tour in support of it, and fittingly so, most of their material this night drew from that release.

Not their opening song, though, which came from “Meridian I”. That song was “Feldgrau”, and got their 39-minute long set off to a good start, and I found it to be a nice introduction to their music. By the way, their music was a mix of progressive rock and metal, played quite well by guitarists Puyan Hassani and Rob Cubillos, while Patrick Hassani and Jason Lobell solidified the rhythm section on the drums and bass, respectively. The you had the vocals, which weren’t quite what one would expect to accompany that genre of music, and I mean that in a good way. I felt front woman Elizabeth Matson had more of a classical sound to her singing, which complimented the music quite well. The final minute and a half or so of that song was all instrumental, during which time Elizabeth really got into the music, alluringly dancing about the stage.

The journey through their concept albums continued with the softer “Adam’s Ale”, the lead track from “Meridian II”, and without the roaring guitars or deafening drums to compete with, Elizabeths’ voice was truly able to shine, revealing what a truly impressive voice and range she is capable of. Afterwards, she got behind the keyboard that sit on stage left as they cranked out the subsequent song on the record, “Purl”. They ventured into more of their jam band side with that track, as that eight minute long song is largely instrumental, covering the spectrum from sounding nearly acoustic at times, to some hefty parts you could bang your head to.

However, it paled in comparison to their most epic song of the night, “Watersong”, which on the album clocks in at almost twelve minutes. They hit a snag a few minutes in, though, when the music suddenly ceased and Patrick began desperately asking if he could borrow one of the other band’s snare drums. “…I broke mine…” he said. It took a few minutes, but The Truman Syndrome eventually came to the rescue, giving them their snare. “Now to pick up where we left off.” Elizabeth said as they jumped right back into the song, which I felt wound up being the best song of their set, despite that little hiccup.

As things drew to a close, Elizabeth thanked the other bands, saying it was nice to be a part of what was such a special night for The Circle, and also shouted out her “sister” in Red Angel Theory, saying it’s always great to see women rocking out. She then pointed out that Monica wasn’t her actual sister, just in music. That then led them to their final offering of the night, which was a track from their upcoming “Inversion” EP, “Green Iris”. It served as a book end of shorts for their show, ‘cause much like the opener, this song was pretty metal, more so than some of their stuff, making it seem like things had come full circle. And while not singing, Elizabeth could again be seen succumbing to the music as she danced and swayed about, conducting her body in excellent synch with the song.

Earlier in the week, I had checked out some of Phavian’s stuff online and liked it, but I was pretty impressed with how their songs translated live. There’s multiple layers to each and every song, all of which are very intricate and you actually get to see that at a live performance, which is why I enjoyed their music even more live. That and because of the rocking live show they put on. Puyan, Rob and Jason put on a high energy show, often thrashing about while shredding on their instruments, while Patrick was killing it on the drums, and there’s no do doubt that Elizabeth was able to hold her own with them performance-wise.

Their tour will continue through October 5th, and for a list of all the dates they have, go HERE and see if they’ll be coming to a town near you. I’d also recommend downloading their “Forward” EP, which features one track from each of their four concept records, each of which tell a piece of a much larger story. If you enjoy those samples from that FREE release, buy their music in iTUNES, and in the near future they should be releasing the final two EP’s that are part of that story arc.

They’re a very interesting band, highly original and very creative, and one I’ll definitely be seeing again whenever they return to Dallas.

As usual, this was another excellent night of music hosted by the Curtain Club, and another big congrats to the guys of The Circle on the release of their debut record.

Saturday, June 23rd, 2013 – Light the Fire

This was a bit of a monumental night for me at the Curtain Club. Why? Because the show I went to this night marked the one-hundredth concert I’ve seen at the storied Dallas venue. It only took a little over seven years to rack up that many shows here, and I think the fact that I have been here so much should be some type of testament as to how fantastic the venue truly is.

The Greenville based Drag the Waters was the first band up this night, and were already most of the way through their set when I got there.

This was the second time I’ve seen a portion of their set (I saw a little bit of a show they did here back in April), and I liked them even more this time around. The four-piece just plays some good hard rock music, in more of the classic hard rock vein. It’s good stuff, and they added some humor into their show, too, whether it was intended or not. Like, when promoting the other bands on the bill, bassist Dewayne Dickeson couldn’t remember the act following them, which was Tejasmosis, and one of the band members from that group shouted out their name. “…I’m sorry, I only speak Texan and English…” he said, being completely sincere about not remembering the name.

As of right now their next gig is going to be a hometown in Greenville at the Texas Beach Club, so check it out if you’re in the area.

As mentioned, Tejasmosis was next up, and they proved to be just a little too metal for my tastes. I know that might sound funny given the remaining bands on the bill, but their stuff was just too heavy for me. They do what they do quite well, though.

The band did mention they would be dropping a new album the following week, which by now is out and should be available in iTUNES. So, if you like metal music, check it out.

Following them was yet another bad I was mostly unfamiliar with, and that was the Denton based Like Bridges We Burn.

They kicked their 34-minute long set off with the lead track from their “Fresh Out the Kitchen” EP, “With a Smile”, which reeled me in from the get-go. They were as much rock as they were metal, and front man Jason Mckee had a pretty good singing voice, and could also muster quite the scream, and he alternated between the two styles often, not only on that song, but throughout the set.

They played a majority of that 2011 EP this night, and next cranked out another quick-paced number, “This World”, during which guitarists Aaron Burcombe and Jonathan Dancause darted around the stage, rocking out on their instruments, and Joel Kunze did the same with his bass. “…This is Down the Rabbit Hole” said Jason before they ripped into one of the most intense songs of their set, where a lot of screaming was done in a very guttural way, though I enjoyed it and it added a certain depth to the song.

Once they finished it up, Jason pointed out they had a new member in the band, asking everyone to say, “Hello, Jonahthan.” He quickly realized his mistake and laughed at it, as did the crowd, and he corrected it with the right name, Jonathan. Soon, they started a newer song they’ve done, “Melting Hearts”. “It’ll melt you heart.” One of the band members added before they started it. It was a great song, and another one I really liked was the one they followed it with.

They continued on the heavier metal streak with their latest release, “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guy”, which was a very solid, catchy track, though they gave it an unexpected ending when there was some feedback from the guitars. Yeah, it was noticeable, but hardly bad enough to ruin it or anything, and they joked that, that was the new “feedback ending”.

“Reckless Keri” began to wind things down, and almost seemed like it might be their final song, at least until Jason asked the audience if they wanted to hear one more song. “This songs about zombies?” said one of the guitarists, making it into more of a question instead of a statement, before they closed with a song called “Over My Undead Body”, which was another good blend of metal and rock.

Yeah, they were heavier than what I typically listen to, but my main qualm with metal music is the bands that constantly scream on a song, something Like Bridges We Burn did not do, and in small(er) doses, I can certainly handle some violent screams.

Their live show was great, and so was their music. Actually, I’m regretting not having listened to them sooner. Definitely a group to check out.

You can purchase their music in iTUNES, and they have several shows coming up, including another show here at the Curtain Club on July 27th. Before that (in early July) they’ll be at Tomcats West in Fort Worth on the 13th, then Andy’s in Denton on the 19th, with a show in Tyler at Click’s on the 20th.

Up next was a band in a similar vein as them, and one I knew I would like, since I was here to see Light the Fire.

It had already been about four months since I last saw the band, and at that time the new singer they had found only had a few shows under his belt as part of the band, and I was eager to see how solidified they were now.

Like usual, they had some fun at the start of their set as a rap song began to play, and drummer Blake Hein was playing along with it. The other instrumentalist sported some glasses and bobbed their heads along to the music before firing up some of their own stuff as singer Jeff Gunter ran on stage, his energy being obviously abundant and it was also a little infectious as they tore into their first song. Like normal, that opener was “Don’t Fail Me Now”, which seemed to have even more urgency to it than usual, and Jeff did a great job of commanding the crowd from the start, hunkering down on the monitors at times, surveying the crowd at more of an eye level.

Speaking of urgency, their whole set was laced with it and they had things tightened up even more than usual, and no sooner had the final notes of that song been played then Ryan Dickinson and Felix Lopez started the guitar lines that begin the title track of their first EP, “Note To Self”. Lyrically, that is still the song that perfectly sums up the band’s determination, from talking about pushing forward to matter what, and the brilliant line, “…My dreams are everything I can’t let slip away…”. They kept things going as the sample track for “Thoughts” kicked on, giving Jeff plenty of time to hype the crowd up some more by asking everyone to jump up and down to the heavier track.

“Has anyone heard of a band called Killswitch Engage?” Jeff asked everyone after finishing that previous song. Of course the people had, and he mentioned that late last year they got to use the same recording studio that band does, which segued them into one of their newer songs which they laid down during that trip. It was a “couples skate” song as Jeff put it, but not in the sweeter manner that you might expect. In fact, a mosh pit was more likely to break out during that heavy-hitter, and I’m fairly certain one did (people were moshing often enough it’s hard to remember which songs it was going on and which ones it wasn’t.) Also on that number, Ryan rocked out a sweet guitar solo, and soon that song gave way to the explosive “Under My Skin”.

Bassist Andrew Penland started jumping up and down during the songs second chorus, still slapping the bass strings as he did so, completing the songs powerful rhythm section. Once it was finished, they took a little time out to connect with the crowd more, and Jeff mentioned they had played in Fort Worth not long, and asked everyone if Dallas was better. “…There’s a reason it’s called Dallas/Fort Worth and not Fort Worth/Dallas, right?” he asked everyone as the roared back at him in agreeance. They soon continued on with their next song, another new one, which Jeff stated was his favorite. A fan instantly started shouting the songs title, and Jeff lowered the mic down so the guys could say it, and he shouted, “Thunder Cunt!” That beast of a song grows on me each time I hear it, and is one of my favorites, too. Sure, it’s much heavier than what I typically like, but these guys make it sound fantastic.

They followed it with another new song, which Jeff said was for the “local music lovers”, and it was titled Salute”. Felix got that one going, jumping up on one of the light boxes they had placed on either side of the stage which bore the bands logo and was illuminated with a red light, and shredding on his axe. There was also another good moment during that one when Andrew and Felix seemed to be chasing each other as they ran around in circles after one another, just having fun and they didn’t miss a note while doing it.

That brought them to the final song of their 34-minute long set, which wasn’t an original. A little while back the band recorded and released their take on a Scorpions tune. That song was “No One Like You” and they put a very metal spin on it, making it a good, fun way to conclude their set.

In the end, this was one of if not the best Light the Fire show I’ve seen yet. Even early on it was evident Jeff was a good fit with them, but now that he’s had plenty of time to get worked in and they’ve established some chemistry you could tell he was much more comfortable with them on stage.

That wasn’t even confined to just him, either, because they’ve been playing so much lately they’ve really tightened up and expanded on the already high-energy performance they put on. For example, the segues from song to song helped with the flow and, and something as simple as connecting songs together like that can make a band seem so much more professional.

They’re an incredible band, and the show this night was proof of that.

Next month will be a big one for them, as they return to the Curtain Club on July 27th to celebrate the release of their sophomore release. That will be part of their tour with their friends Like Bridges We Burn, and Light the Fire will also be playing Tomcats West in Fort Worth on July 13th, Andy’s in Denton on the 19th and Click’s in Tyler on the 20th. They also have some dates scheduled for August and September, so check out their REVERBNATION PAGE for those dates. As for their music, check out their first EP in iTUNES, and in the next month or so you should also be able to find their next EP there.

The night was already getting late, but there was still one band left to go, and that was Social Jab, who was doing a reunion show.

I never really thought the band was as big as they deserved to be. Not that they should have been famous, but locally they just never seemed to have the fan base they should have. Sure, I never saw them much either, but I was a fan of theirs and was disappointed that there was never a real farewell show or anything. Instead, they just faded in obscurity. But that’s what this reunion show was for, to give a little more closure to the hard rock outfit.

The lineup this night wasn’t the original one, as they lacked Dave Shafer on bass and had gotten a replacement, and also Chad Abbott, who was later welcomed in as the rhythm guitarist, was absent, but three-fourths of the core members were there, and that was what really mattered.

It had been about four years since the last time I had seen the band, but as soon as they got “Actors” going it sort of refreshed my memory, and vocalist Joel Purifoy repeatedly asked everyone to “get the fuck up” to the stage. I had forgotten what a killer song that was, and it sounded every bit as good as it did a few years back, and got their show off to a nice start. The substitute bassist rolled them into their next song with some at first soupy lines, before guitarist Dan Rivera and drummer Thomas Stewart joined in, and it suddenly became the best of their 33-minute long set.

There were only a handful of people who had stuck around, most of whom applauded the bands efforts after that song, but it wasn’t loud enough for Joel. “We’re all schizophrenics here…” he said, “It should be twice as loud as that!” The rock than continued with “Slow”, which opens with some sweet guitar lines, and one cool moment of the song was when Dan ran up on the drum riser, standing right beside Thomas as he shredded on his guitar. After “Reflections”, they did another knockout track, “All Away”, after which Joel formerly introduced the bass player, Graham, as he asked everyone to cheer for him. “…We’re not playing another song until you do…” he told the people, though they soon moved on to one of their final songs.

With “Over Now” Joel got to put his pedal board to use a little more than he had, adding some effects to his voice at various times, which was what made the song stand out so in my opinion. Joel mentioned several times that this next song would be their last one, but for a little while I thought it was all a ploy, since it was a cover song. I had completely forgotten they used to do an old U2 song from time to time, and now they rocked out “Bullet the Blue Sky”, which was a bit heavier than U2’s version and Joel did much more screaming than Bono did. That’s what allowed them to make it their own, though, and during the instrumental outro Dan removed his guitar, laying it on the floor as he grabbed the massive chain that is his guitar strap, using one of the links to play his axe, almost in the manner that a steel pedal guitarist plays that instrument. It was cool to see, and caused several people to rush towards the stage so they could snap a picture of it.

Sure enough, that did end up being the show, and while that was a memorable way to end it, I was a slightly disappointed they neglected some songs, specifically their single, “Blurred Vision”. It was a great show all the same though, I guess.

Considering they hadn’t played live in years and one of the members was a hired gun, they did excellent, and it was as if they picked up exactly where they left off. And while Social Jab might officially be done now, I wish the best of luck to the guys on their future endeavors, which will hopefully include performing more original music in different projects. Dan’s a killer guitarist, Thomas is a bad ass drummer, and Joel has one of the more distinctive voices I’ve heard and can pen some great songs.

All in all it was another night of awesome local music at the Curtain Club. Now, to start to work on seeing another set of a hundred shows here.

Saturday, June 15th, 2013 – Krash Rover

It was back-to-back nights at the Curtain Club for me this weekend, and there was a pretty killer rock show lined up for this night, culminating with Krash Rover. The band hadn’t played in North Texas in about six months, and it had been nearly a year since I had last seen them, so for that reason alone this was bound to be a great night.

The Results were the first band up, and like the other times I have seen them open up shows here at the Curtain Club, they were mid-set when I arrived.

I didn’t much care for them this time around, as they have gotten a new lead singer since the last time I had seen them, and with her throaty screaming gave their music a real metal sound. Simply put, it just wasn’t my style.

However, Waking Alice was my style of music, and they were second up this night.

The quartet got off to an excellent start with, being in full show mode right from the start as they tore through the opener, which proved to be one of the best songs of their 39-minute long set. Towards the end of it front man Rus Chaney and guitarist Brandon Brewer stood back to back, the former belting out the last few lines of the song while the latter was shredding on his guitar. They amped things up even more with “Treason”, which seemed a bit more up-tempo than the recording, and drummer Jon Levey appeared to be in a rush to get through the track. But then again, that’s not unusual for that song in the live environment. “…That was an inside joke.” Rus said once they finished. He continued, “See, I have this condition where my heart races really fast…” he stated, speaking of a recent medical condition that arose, then added, “…Very funny, Jon.”

At least he could laugh at it, and while on that topic, Rus didn’t seem to let that affect him much this night, and while he maybe showed a little bit of restraint, he was still pretty much the same, energetic front man as always. The slightly heavier “Scars”, another track from their “Retribution” EP, came next, and featured a more dominant rhythm section than some of their other material, and that section was rounded out by Brayton Light on the bass. Towards the end of the track, Rus exited the stage, leaving Brandon, Jon and Brayton to rock out on the outro. As the song trailed off, he returned, and they got ready to do a cover they had worked in for the night.

Rus set it up by “addressing some rumors”, noting that he was on pain meds, but it was all from prescription, so he wasn’t “…an addict…” That clever remark was their transition into a more hard rock spin on K’s Choice’s “I’m Not an Addict”, which they pulled off quite well, and I dare say they even made it completely their own. The talk about drugs continued after they finished the song, as Brandon clarified the message of the song. “…It’s about not doing drugs.” He said, “Unless you have enough for everyone. Or if you’re sad, or depressed, then it’s okay…” That got both some laughs and cheers from the audience, and on another note, they picked a great song to cover, and hopefully that one will be heard at future Waking Alice Shows. Next up, they got back to the original material, doing an oldie by the name of “Biggest Lie”. During the middle of the song Rus took a seat on the drum riser. “I never know how long this is going to last.” He said, as Brandon took the spotlight, doing his routine guitar solo, which is always different and lasts a couple of minutes or so. At one point Rus even got up and joined the audience, standing on the steps that are in front of the stage, egging on his band mate.

They kept things rolling with their love song, “Fates Design”, before getting back to what they do best with one of their best rockers, “Wasting Time”. Rus stated they had a couple left, and that their next song was one they often make fun about due to the title they gave it, which is “Handcuffs and Honeybees”. Brandon said something however, saying he thought they should do their newer one, the one they debuted about two months before, which was “That One”, and it was played for only the second time ever live this night. I dug it the first time I heard it, but it sounded even better than I remembered now, and is truly a killer song, and was a great one to go out on.

I’ve seen some really good Waking Alice shows in the past, and they’ve been continuously getting better as the current lineup, and at the show this night, they were clicking like I haven’t seen them do before.  Right from the start they were in perfect synch with each other, having excellent chemistry on stage, and they flat out owned it.

They band will be taking some time off for a bit, mainly to let Rus recover from his current condition, but you will no doubt be able to see the band rocking a stage near you soon. In the meantime, head over to iTUNES to pick up their music.

Following them was a band by the name of Honey, who was making their live debut this night.

The band featured some notable musicians, like lead guitarist Krishen Anthony, and bassist Holly Wood, while drummer Vinnie Parma rounded out the rhythm section, and fronting the group was Kes O’Hara, who was also the rhythm guitarist.

Vinnie was evidently pretty excited about the night, because after their first song they had to pause because he had broken his snare drum, and soon got a replacement lent to them by one of the other bands. Kes chatted with the crowd, having no problem bantering to kill time, and once they were ready to go again they launched into an extremely heavy number, that was fairly metal sounding.

They were quickly finding their footing, and after another track, they did one that had a sweet rhythm intro, with Holly playing some lower bass notes and Vinnie somewhat tapping his kit, before things began to escalate. That ended up being my favorite song of theirs, and it was filled with some blistering guitar riffs from Krishen. As far as I’m concerned it was that song where they hit their stride, and they weren’t about to let up. Before their next song, Kes asked her band mates what song they were on, confirming they were on the fifth one, which she said she didn’t have a real title for, but was calling it meow. “…It’s called meow song five…” she joked, adding that if they ever recorded it she’d probably have to come up with a better title.

The jokes continued once that song was finished, when Kes said this show wasn’t about the band, but rather the fans who were in attendance. “…I could have fun doing this by myself in my bedroom, this is for you…” she said, quickly adding, “That’s what she said.” That led them to a song called “Wasted”, which was about exactly what it sounds like, and after cranking out another tune, they slowed things down ever so slightly, as Kes grabbed her acoustic guitar. “…This is the song where you can hug each other and make out…” she told the audience, though the song was still pretty rockin’. They pumped everyone up by asking if there were any Thin Lizzy fans, and then delivered a great cover of “Bad Reputation”, before ending their 46-minute long set with one more quick tune.

I wasn’t expecting to be wowed like I was, but Honey killed it, and for their first ever live performance they were in great synch with each other, and it’ll be interesting to see how that chemistry evolves once they get more shows under their belt.

They may not be doing anything cutting edge with their music, but they pull of what they do exceedingly well, and it’s a great mix of harder, heavier rock with tinges of metal. Fitting that perfectly is Kes’s voice, which has a raw, dirty sound to it, sounding great both when she sings and screams.

You can listen to some acoustic tracks over on their REVERBNATION PAGE, or better yet go get a live taste of them, and their next show is going to be July 6th at Trees, where they will open for Black Stone Cheery.

Next up was the headliner of the night, and that was Krash Rover, who had the Curtain Club pretty packed by the time they took the stage exactly at midnight.

Before the curtain opened on the group, you heard Zach Fuentes hitting his drums. It wasn’t even all that frequent, but it was enough to immediately give away their opener song, while singer and rhythm guitarist Kris Newman worked to get some noise from the crowd. “…We’re gonna start things a little differently tonight.” he said as the curtain began to part, and as the steady beat of the drums ensued, and, working almost like a cue, so too did the fans start chanting, “Texas!” over and over. Thus began the lead track from the band’s self-titled album, “I’m From Texas”, which is typically the closer at their gigs. It’s probably a good thing they opted to changes things around this time, though, because that was an excellent song to start off with and helped set the tone for the rest of their 54-minute long set.

Once the music fell silent, Kris told everyone that their next song was about a girlfriend he had in high school, who was overly friendly. “…Not in a good way…” he said before they tore into “She Gets Around”, another favorite from the album with soaring guitar riffs from lead guitarist Ashton Quincey as well as Kris. So far it had seemed like a normal Krash Rover show, but whereas they usually play most of the material on their record, they had opted not to this night. Instead, they tried out some new songs on the crowd, but before getting to their newer stuff Kris commented on how great Honey, saying he thought they’d have a hard time following that.

Starting off their handful of new tracks was a great one that I thought came across as having an anthem-ish vibe, and they followed it with a track that showed off their other side. You know, the softer, more emotional side, with a song that Kris said was a “…girly, pussy ass song…”  It was reminiscent of “Nobody Knows”, which is the only other truly slow track they’ve done, but the lyrics seemed slightly deeper on this one, as Kris crooned the lyrics at the start of it and slightly plucked the strings of his guitar. It soon took off, though, and bassist Matt Ayers and the rest of the group were able to get more into it and let loose. Afterwards, Kris pointed out that every band has to have a song like that for the ladies, but they were about to get back to their normal stuff. “…This next song’s about sex, and that’s fun, right?” he asked everyone before they started one of their forthcoming singles, “Feel Good on the Inside”.

They then took a break from their original music to do some covers, something the band rarely does, and the moment was made even rarer when Kris handed his guitar off to Ashton. He seldom acts solely as a front man, but he did now as they busted out a killer rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man”, and he’s got a strong enough voice they owned it with ease. Upon finishing it, Ashton reminded everyone that Fathers Day was the next day, “…And that motherfucker has been to every one of my shows…” he shouted while pointing at his dad. He then went an retrieved a keyboard that had been stuck by the stairs, and was almost unnoticeable. “This one’s for you, Quincey.” Ashton handled the keys for most of the song, as they did one of the beautiful songs from Shinedown, “I’ll Follow You”. That was the highlight of their set in my opinion, and they put an awesome touch on that song.

They got back to some stuff from their record with “In My Mind”, and at the beginning of it Kris asked everyone to clap along to the beat. Much of the crowd obliged, but he soon said he was kidding, laughing as he added that was “stupid”, something the fans laughed at as well. They sandwiched another newer song in between that and one more fan favorite, and Kris pointed out that he was going to go finish up vocals on this new one the following week, with hopes that it would be on iTUNES in a few weeks. The adrenaline rush that is “Russian Roulette (Part II)” came next, and sounded even better than I remembered it being, but that wasn’t the end of their set, not quite yet, at least.

They had one more song in store for the fans, and said they had put together a brand new song just for this show, and it had only been written the previous week. It was a glorious song that personified all of the bands best qualities and was one of the best, most intense things I’ve heard them do. Honestly, I think it was even better than my personal favorite of theirs, “Russian Roulette (Part II)”.

They were simply on fire this night and never let up, which made for the best Krash Rover show I’ve seen yet. Great dynamics this night, and if they had gotten rusty at all over the last several months, they made sure to clean it all off and leave it in the rehearsal room.

The good news is the bands Dallas/Fort Worth area fans won’t have to wait another six months to see Krash Rover, as they have a show coming up on July 11th at Trees in Dallas. And if you haven’t heard it, go to iTUNES and check out their debut full-length album.

There was one final band up this night, and that was The Young Ones, but I ended up leaving once Krash Rover was finished.

Nevertheless, this was still an amazing night of music, and it was great to see Krash Rover back in action.

Friday, June 14th, 2013 – Part I: A Benefit for West, Texas

The Curtain Club and Liquid Lounge (along with the Boiler Room) were hosting a benefit show this night, featuring something like forty bands (+/-), and presenting it was Jaro Productions. Proceeds from the show were benefiting West, Texas, which some of musicians pointed out had kind of been forgotten about, especially since a few days before this FEMA announced they wouldn’t be giving the town any aid. All the more reason this was a great show to be at and support a worthy cause.

Now, to fit all those bands on stage in a timely manner, most of them were doing acoustic sets that consisted of a mere three songs, and I believe the first band up in the Lounge was called The Hot Hello.

Based on their little acoustic gig they sounded pretty good. Very different than some of their electric stuff I later checked out online, but still had a really good sound to it all.

They have an older EP you can check out in iTUNES if you want, and keep tabs on their FACEBOOK PAGE for more show updates.

Always the Alibi followed them, doing a mostly acoustic show, with bassist Evan Scates being the only one playing an electric instrument. Their brief little set began with one of their non-album tracks, “Edge of the World”, which sounded incredible done acoustic. It was very easy to hear every single word sung by singer and rhythm guitarist Henry Coke, and that in turn seemed to give the song more weight and made it pretty deep. Next they did a scaled down version of “She’s Letting Go”, and upon finishing it, drummer Richard Muencklers’ phone could be heard ringing. “He’s a fireman, he has to take that…” Henry joked, referring to the shirt Richard was wearing. Then, to set up their last song, lead guitarist Kelly Panter told everyone they thought it would be a fitting song given the cause they were supporting this night. Indeed it was, and they closed with a moving rendition of the Foo Fighters “Times Like These”, and with the chorus of “It’s times like these you learn to live again It’s times like these you give and give again It’s times like these you learn to love again…” it was certainly fitting of the situation.

It was a nice little set they did, and by the time they were done I found myself hoping they start doing a few more acoustic shows here and there, preferably a little longer than what they were able to do this night.

You can buy their debut EP “We are Waiting” in iTUNES, and can even snag a free download of that one album track they did at this show over on their REVERBNATION PAGE. As for their show schedule, they’ll be back at the Curtain Club on July 5th. On July 14th they’ll be out at Six Flags in Arlington doing some sets throughout the day, while on August 22nd they’ll rock Fort Worth, doing a gig at The Grotto.

Afterwards, I headed over to the Curtain, where The Circle was getting ready to go on, and actually got set up several minutes before their start time. They were given two options by sound guy Chad Lovell; Do an extra song or just sit on their stools for a few minutes. Then the door guy, Sean, said something, which I couldn’t hear all that well, but was something about having the band tell a story.

Vocalist Don Mills, saying he was looking on Craigslist, “…And not the personal section…” he noted, looking for a band to join, when he came across one that was in need of a singer. It was humorous little story, during which he also noted they had auditioned Monica Koohi (who now sings fro Red Angel Theory), but she turned down the offer, so they picked Don instead, and he joked that he should have just kept on looking.

They then got ready to start their little set, which rhythm guitarist Alan Sauls began… By playing the intro to “Stairway to Heaven”. “…There are plenty of cover songs to do, but not that one…” Don said, as the four guys (they were missing bassist Kenneth Henrichs) shared a laugh. “My Trip to the Desert Sucked” kicked off their set, which is arguably one of their heaviest songs and was given a completely new flow now, not only with the more restrained music bed, but Dons’ voice, which was still loud and powerful, but it was clear he was holding back immensely. “…I feel like this is the first show I haven’t screamed at in months…” he said to his band mates after finishing that song, pointing out how weird it felt. Their remaining two songs were some newer ones that will be on their forthcoming EP, one of which was “Failure”, which sounded like somewhat of a different song. “The Other Side” wrapped up their set, and was hands down the best acoustic sounding song they did, with some nice riffs from Craig Nelson and Alan, while Marc Berry had a nice beat going on his cajon. It was still different from the full blow rock version, but it really translated nicely into this format.

They were another band I found myself hoping will do an acoustic show a little more frequently, because they’re such a heavy, hard rock band it’s cool to get to see another side to them, especially one they pull off so (surprisingly) well.

They’ll be right back here at the Curtain on July 12th, and that will be a real rock show, and one you shouldn’t miss. You can find their lead single “Sleep on it” in iTUNES, and hopefully in the next few months they’ll have their EP with that and three more songs released. But until then, check out their REVERBNATION PAGE where you can download some live cuts for free.

Following them up on the Curtain Club stage was Little Sisters of the Poor, who was taking the stage for only the third time ever.

They kept things a little closer to a true full-band, with Gabe Muzquiz playing the drum kit that had thus far gone untouched. That obviously made them much louder than many of the other bands, and they got their set going with a catchy number by the name of “Love, Money and Death”. They ran through their set relatively quickly it seemed, with front man Dunagin Gaines announcing the titles of their next two tracks before they started them, and if I heard correctly the second was “Truck Stop Heaven”, while “Headaches” wrapped up the little show.

It really wasn’t that far off from one of their normal shows. Now granted, guitarists Jason Jones and Jackson Dunn, as well as bassist Joe Becker don’t usually sit on stools, but music-wise, even with acoustic axes, it was still pretty spot on, and instead of loud, guitar rock music, it was loud, acoustic guitar rock music. Even Dunagin didn’t hold back much, still singing at almost full throttle and adding his own vocal effects by moving the microphone all around, to, at times, give his voice a distant sound to it.

Great little show and my personal favorite out of the acts I saw here.

They, too, will be back at the Curtain Club soon, specifically on July 26th. And if you’d like to get a feel for their sound, you can purchase their first two singles in iTUNES.

Up after them was another local heavyweight, and that was Adakain.

I had still had yet to see the band in their latest lineup (and I guess in some ways I still haven’t), and that lineup includes Ryan Ray at the helm, while Taylor Walding has also recently joined the band as an additional guitarist.

“…This is an old Adakain song…” Ryan Ray told the crowd, as they opened up with “Sky is Falling”, the lead track from the “Silhouette of Lies” EP. It was a quite different rendition, even with Ryan Carroll back on the drum kit and Joseph Kuban (who usually plays with Serosia) lightly plucking the strings of his bass, but the softer sound allowed the song to be heard in a new light, and there was a different gravity to it this night. Once they finished it, Ryan R. looked over at Joseph, noting it had been a long time since he’d been on stage with him. “…You’re an attractive man…” Ryan told him. He then moved things along, saying they were going to do one of their newest song, “Bleach it Out”, and see how it worked, since they wouldn’t be using the sample tracks this time. Even done in this format the song still packed a punch, and was even slightly eerie at times, with Ryan loudly singing one line, like, “…See me”, then whispering the next, “ch-ch—change my name…” Excellent vibe, and another one that had a great vibe was what Ryan stated was one of his favorite songs, and that was Alice in Chains’s “Rooster”, which they put a nice spin on and it concluded a great little set.

I’m definitely going to have to see one of their electric rock shows sometime, preferably soon, because they put on a mean acoustic gig, and I can only imagine what they’re like when they’re not confined to some stools.

They’ve been around for many years now, and in that time have made a name for themselves, even doing some national touring, but their music now, at least the two new songs they made available to listen to, are a step above their previous stuff. There’s just a certain quality to them, which in part probably comes from Ryan and his voice, or maybe I’m just a little biased from being a fan of his previous project. Either way, they’re a killer group, and one you should see whenever they do a show.

The Orange was scheduled to be playing in the Lounge after that, and they were already one and a half songs in to their set, as I walked in during the middle of what I believe was “Dead Nation”, the song that drummer Cody Waits sings, or at least one of them. He wasn’t acting as the drummer this night, though, instead he was playing an acoustic guitar, while front man Scott Tucker wielded another acoustic. Afterwards, Scott announced their last song was going to be “Blow Up”, which was still pretty fiery, with Chicago Dan adding some sounds from his harmonica, while Buddy neighbors stole the show with his sensational riffs on his electric axe. I never imagined that song could be so good acoustically, but it can and does, and they didn’t go without any percussion, either, as Melissa Tucker shook a tambourine during the tracks.

Like many of the other acts I saw, The Orange sounded much better acoustic than I thought they would, even if I only did see half of their show.

Check out their first EP in iTUNES and later this year they will be releasing their first ever full-length record, so stay tuned for that.

They were the last act I saw this night. Well, at least here at the Curtain. There was another show going on down here that I wanted to see, too. So, since I caught most of the bands I wanted to see here at the Curtain Club and Liquid Lounge, I left to go to the other venue, and experience some full sets by some more great bands…