A truly great weekend entails spending a night at the Curtain Club, at least in my opinion, and there were some talented bands playing there this night.
I wasn’t able to stay for the whole night, though, which is a rare event for me, and I didn’t even arrive until the first band was almost done with their set.
I did get there in plenty of time to see the instrumental trio Son of Swan, though.
The sirens of the songs sample track blared before drummer Billy Walker started them in on “SOS”, the opening song of their 30-minute long set. They got right down to business, with Neil Swanson so effortlessly shredding on his guitar, letting loose some shrill notes at times, while bassist Steve Wilson roamed all over the stage with a real swagger to his step. They followed it almost immediately with “Children Of The Night”, which is yet another raw rock song that encompasses some amazing guitar riffs and solos. At this point Neil approached the mic, informing everyone of who they were, before moving on with a couple more songs, one of which was a cover. Now, I’m not familiar enough with all their stuff to know it, but they did another original before tackling another cover. “…If you don’t know this one, well, maybe you should.” Neil said before they began it. I’m fairly certain they followed it with the intricately woven “30K Curse”, and before starting their final song, Neil made a very accurate statement. “…Remember, everybody that is somebody used to be nobody.” Very true, and great final words to speak for the night, before starting what I want to say was “Dog Days”.
Sure, song-wise this probably isn’t as accurate as I like to be, but that doesn’t change the fact that all those original songs plus the rest that comprise their seven song debut record are masterpieces.
Seriously, they are some of the best songs I think I’ve ever heard and when you see the live show that accompanies them, then you’ll love the band even more. Billy’s an incredible drummer, Steve has that casual persona that most bassists have, yet he’s constantly storming around the stage, and I don’t know how anyone couldn’t consider Neil to be one of the best guitarists they’ve ever seen.
He does steal the show with his guitar work, his hands racing all over the fretboard, yet he manages to maintain a more humble attitude in his playing. Whereas some guitarists give you the impression that they are wanting to go all-out and do some ridiculous guitar work that seems like it’s just to show off, Neil doesn’t at all come across that way.
It never seems like what he’s playing is meant to be showy, rather it’s just the natural progression of the song, and he doesn’t, say, hold the guitar in front of the crowd like “Look what I can.” Instead, what you see is simply a virtuoso at work.
I never imagined a day where an instrumental band could hold my interest, yet this was the third time I’ve seen them now and all three times my eyes have been glued to the stage. So if you think you won’t like them just because they are an instrumental act, just give them a chance. You’ll probably end up loving the music, and if you see a show, you’ll be blown away.
So far the only place to pick up their CD is at live shows, and next up on their calendar is May 24th at The Rail Club in Fort Worth, May 31st at O’Riley’s in Dallas and they will return to O’Riley’s on June 22nd.
Up after them was Greysmyth, and this was a pretty big show for the band, and even a bigger one for the singer.
See, this was the groups first show with Justin Ranton fronting the band, and it was also the first time he had performed on stage in over a year, and personally, I was beyond excited to be seeing that guy on stage again.
They opened their set with a song called “Avalon”, which got off to a slower start with some light notes from guitarists, Jerrod Nelson and Spuds Berryman, while Justin held back on his singing a bit. “Come on Dallas!” he roared after a bit, as drummer Brayton Lyons, bassist Kobe Garinger and the others really cut loose on the song, transitioning it into a full on assault of rock. They did several great songs this night, but that was one of my favorites. Before beginning their next song, Justin took a moment to speak to the crowd, mentioning that it had been “a long time” since he had been on a stage as he thanked everyone who was there for coming out. “…This next one’s called Feed the Need.” He said, as his band mates ripped into the song. “Feed the need, my intention is to be close to you…” sang Justin on the chorus of this powerhouse track, which was really driven by the rhythm section. They did one more hefty rock track, “Peripheral”, before slowing things down with “Rose”, which Spuds announced was for his wife. It oozed with feelings, but not in a true lovey dovey way, and it showed off another, more sensitive side to the rock outfit. “…He’s saying he can’t live without you…” Justin said to Spuds’s wife after they finished the song. They didn’t immediately bring things up, though, instead doing another lighter track, “A Way to Love”. Both of those softer songs were really good, but I really liked the latter of those two, and they both pushed the band out of their element a bit, in a good way. They returned to what they do best with a song called “Bloodlines”, before finishing their 34-minute long set with the killer, “Corpse Flower”, which was proof they had saved (one of) the best for last.
It was a great rock show, and I found myself wondering why I hadn’t heard of the band before Justin joined them, even if they hadn’t played too many live shows.
It was fantastic seeing Justin on stage again, and while he began the show seeming a little apprehensive, he quickly warmed up and got into the swing of things, moving about the stage, operating in synch with the music and just being a commanding frontman. And even though it had been so long since he sang on stage, he hadn’t lost any of his stage persona.
Regarding the songs, Spuds, Kobe, Brayton and Jerrod have created some great stuff and put on a good performance, getting better the further they progressed in their set.
The music is different from Justin’s past projects, and compared to those I think it’s more melodic (that’s not to say Greysmyth is a Melodic Rock band by any means), but his voice fits quite well with the music, and even kind of pushes his voice to new heights.
Point is, I loved their set, and I’m eager to see how Greysmyth is going to grow from here on out, like, what their songs will sound like with Justin being a part of the band now, and how much better their live shows will probably be once they get more practice under their belt and become even more cohesive.
Definitely keep an eye on these guys, or better yet go see them with your own eyes. They’ll be playing Wit’s End in Dallas on June 1st, then they’ll be back at the Curtain Club on July 26th.
Not long after they finished was when I left. Junk and Carmeci were probably great this night, but Greysmyth and Son of Swan were well worth the ten dollar cover, and I’m glad I was able to see both of them.
A truly great weekend entails spending a night at the Curtain Club, at least in my opinion, and there were some talented bands playing there this night.
As usual, there was another great show going down at the Curtain Club in Dallas, featuring an array of bands, some of whom I had seen before and others I hadn’t, but was excited to.
The first band was called Drag the Waters, and by the time I got there they were nearing the end of their set, but what I saw was pretty good. They looked like they could be a Metal band, instead, they were a Heavy Rock group and they made some good music at that and put on a good live show.
I can’t find any info out about them, but I wouldn’t mind seeing them again if they happened to get on a bill with some other bands I’m a fan of.
The next band was the main one I wanted to see, and that was Alterflesh. Actually, they were the main reason I was even at this show in the first place.
I was introduced to the band after meeting their singer, Dayvoh, a couple months back and became a fan of the groups unique style, and I thrilled that I was finally going to see one of their live shows.
The first thing I noticed when the curtain was opened on them was a nightstand over by some of the amps. There were some books on it, as well as a lamp sitting atop it, all of which was rather aesthetically pleasing.
Dayvoh referred to everyone as his brothers and sisters as he welcomed everyone to the show, then said it was time to “…step through the portal…” It was a much more interesting intro than the typical things bands say, and it was very accurate, too, as “Megahub” did seem to open the doorway to another realm. See, the band doesn’t play simple songs, they play music that has a message , and that song deals with various philosophers throughout history, with Dayvoh spitting out the names of dozens of them. Actually, that’s another thing that makes the band so unique. See, Dayvoh is more of a spoken word artist and he brings that skill to the band, performing the songs more in that style rather than singing. “…A stumbling lost humanity. Most will go their entire lives without even understanding it…” he said on the songs bridge, which was just one of many lines in that song that can stimulate the mind.
Just one song in and I was loving it. The music was very engaging and the energy in the performance they were giving was something else. They kept things moving right along with “Toxic”, which makes a statement about the state of the Earth and how we as human beings are continuously destroying it. For those first couple of songs Dayvoh had been playing a guitar, but he set it down for the time being, grabbing the microphone saying, “…We’ve all had are fair share of self reflection…” then announced the next song as being “Imaginary Dreams”, which is one of the tracks they have yet to record. Dayvoh seemed to fit in best on this song and the others that didn’t require him using the guitar, as he could move about the stage, connecting more with the audience while he preached his message. He got his guitar back out for the next song, saying, “The mystics say we all slowly burn…” as he, bassist Paul Kubajak, lead guitarist Ben Schelin and drummer Kevin Mills tackled another “Embers”, another song that they have yet to lay down in a studio.
Upon finishing it, Dayvoh surveyed the large crowd gathered around the stage, giving shout outs to Born and Raised, Solice and The Circle, plus several other bands who had members out representing. That was one thing that was so cool about this show, other musicians were actually out at it supporting these guys. They had a few songs left now, none of which Dayvoh used the guitar on, and the next was his “social rant” known as “Watch Rome Burn”. It was my favorite song of their set and could easily be the most thought provoking song in their arsenal. Aside from that, it’s just one of their most rocking numbers, with Ben shredding on his axe at times, and Kevin really got into his drumming (that’s not to say he hadn’t before, it was just more noticeable now). “Start Over” slowed things down a little, before bringing their 34-minute long set to a close with “New Horizon”.
In my opinion, they were the band to beat this night. Their performance was much more vigorous than I was expecting, with Paul constantly jumping up and down, which was quite a sight to watch. While more contained, Ben was is great guitarist, and Kevin just killed it on the drums, and Dayvoh was a captivating frontman. Together, they were able to hold the crowd’s attention with ease.
As for the music, they are a Rock band, and even harder Rock at times, which makes what Dayvoh does even more interesting. Like I said, it’s not full on singing that he does, and if you’re not paying full attention you may say he’s rapping. Sure, it can sound like that at times, but it most certainly isn’t rap. Rather, it is spoken word. And because he “sings” in that style, it allows him to get away with some things.
See, his voice is rather monotone, something your traditional singer couldn’t get away with. But the way he fires the words off, you don’t care if his voice is monotone or not, because you’re more fixated on the words. And that is what really makes Alterflesh stand apart from most other bands; the lyrics. Overall they have a positive, uplifting message to them, often about changing things for the better.
Really, that makes their show a spiritual experience in a way, and one I can’t wait to witness again.
If you want to hear something new and completely out-of-the-box, then check out Alterflesh, either on their FACEBOOK PAGE or REVERBNATION. Their next show is slated for July 6th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, and if you’re in the area, you should definitely check it out.
Following them was Last Day Living, whom I hadn’t seen in quite awhile, and I was curious to see how their set would go.
I admittedly haven’t been as big a fan of the band since they lost their lead singer (which happened a few years ago now), resulting in them staying a four-piece and guitarist Shawn Pipkin picking up the slack as the lead singer.
The thing is, his voice just isn’t built to really sing, and that was proven during their first song, a slower almost ballad of sorts, where his voice repeatedly cracked. No, their 31-minute long set didn’t get off to the best start, and personally, I was never able to get into it. Shawn ditched his guitar for the next song, which he kind of rapped a portion of, before picking it back up as he, bassist Irish, fellow guitarist Paris Pipkin and drummer Daniel Burpo rocked out “Twisted Smile”, which was the single great moment of their set. Shawn got a little political before another song, asking, “So who’s pissed off at the government for taking our guns and then education from our kids…” A lot of people screamed and cheered in agreeance, and after finishing it they ran through their final three songs. During that last one, Shawn broke one of the strings on his guitar, and as they finished the tune he decided to finish the job, pulling the five remaining strings until they snapped.
Last Day Living writes good music and they put on an enjoyable live show, but in my opinion, they need a fifth member, one that can really sing. That’s the only hindrance that I see.
No, I wasn’t in love with this set, but the vocals were why, and I did enjoy the other aspects of their performance. They just need that one missing component to round things out.
There was one more band to go before the headliner, and that was Idler.
I first saw the band here a couple months before and instantly became a fan, and I was hoping their set this night would be even better.
“Vendetta” opened up their set, a song that finds siblings Micah and Katie Frank co-singing on the verses, while he tore off on the chorus, shouting, “Don’t cross me again. It all comes back in the end…” That song set the tone for the rest of their show in a way, gave the impression that they weren’t going to be holding back at all, and they indeed did not. Upon finishing it, Micah told everyone who they were, as well as the title of that first song and mentioned the next one was “Go for Broke”, another track from their debut, self-titled EP. A cool little instrumental intro set the song up, with drummer Eric Gustafson, bassist Nick Laracuente and Micah, who was the rhythm guitarist, created a nice little piece before Mykey O’Neill started plucking the strings of his guitar, giving the song its full shape. Both of those songs got them off to an explosive start, and “Let Me In” didn’t let up much, as the electric version is much more in-your-face than the acoustic version you can find online is.
They followed it with a couple more newer songs, one of which was titled “Deceit” and saw Micah handing his guitar over to Katie. She predominately strummed rather slowly, and once they finished pointed out that was her first time ever playing a guitar on stage. She seemed proud of the fact, and rightfully so, ‘cause she did a good job. That freed Micah up to roam about the stage a little more, acting like your typical frontman, standing on their boxes that bear the band’s name while he livened up the crowd. At the end of that tune, he even screamed the last few lines in a throaty enough voice he could give even the most hardcore Metal bands a run for their money. They followed it with a song that Katie sang lead on, which I believe was called “Buried”, before doing a couple more tracks from their EP. One of those was “Lose Control”, while the other was my personal favorite song of theirs, “Kings and Queens”, during which Micah laid his guitar down, again gaining some freedom to move about and Katie did the same. They weren’t always the main focus, though, as Eric was pounding out some thick beats that were undeniable, and the short solo, or rather riffs, Mykey plays are stellar. Up next they did another newer song, and afterwards Micah informed everyone that their next song was “Pitchfork”. That’s arguable the best song on their EP, but they didn’t have a chance to do it as their set was cut short at 32-minutes.
See, after he said that the house music came back on, causing everyone band members and fans alike to look around in disbelief.
Personally, I think it was pretty crappy. I mean, I get that things were running behind schedule, but the guys and girl of Idler never even received a heads up warning them they only had, say, five minutes left or anything like that. At least not that I know of.
Something like that can’t affect their overall show, though, at least not in a detrimental way.
I thought they were better than the other time I had seen them. Micah didn’t use a guitar almost the entire show then like he did now, but that didn’t diminish his persona, and even though he was more glued in front of the mic he’s still a mighty frontman. He even has one of the best and more unique voices that I’ve heard, and Katie’s every bit as good, and their voices mix together to create some amazing textures in the songs.
The other guys, Eric and Nick, do a perfect job of rounding things out in the live show aspect, as does Mykey, but I mention him separately because I believe this was his first show with Idler. He’s a great guitarist and on stage he looked like he had been playing with them since their inception.
If you like straight up Rock music, then Idler’s a band to check out. You can find their album on ITUNES, and even get a couple of free downloads (including their cover of “Highway to the Danger Zone”) on their REVERBNATION PAGE. As for shows, their next one is going to be June 29th at Hailey’s up in Denton.
Closing out the night and doing their first live show of 2013 was the Fort Worth based band, Pulse.
Now, I’ve heard a lot about these guys for awhile, but had never seen a show. In fact, I’d never even listened to their music, so I was interested to see how they lived up to the hype that surrounded them. Sadly, I think they may have been overhyped to me…
Like I said, this was the band’s first show of the year, and they used to play/debut a lot of their newer material. Their opening song was one of those new ones. Vocalist Sean Yeaney sang something along the lines of, “…I wish I could just wish you away…” on the chorus, and that was a song I really liked. They then did a track from last year’s “Show Me the Way” record, “Blame”, following it with another new(er) song, and then another album track, “No More Next Time”. That latter one was a good one, especially with the chilling guitar notes at the beginning and end of it, but out of all their songs thus far I wasn’t truly feeling it. Guitarists James Brennaman and Justin Judy, drummer Jimmy Lay, bassist Kelly Robinson and Sean busted out some more new songs, and during the second one of this string of them Kelly encountered some technical issues, resulting in not being an active part of their next couple of songs.
They soldiered on without him, though, and after finishing one that I believe was called “From Here to Home”, things were fixed and Kelly rejoined the action, just in time for what seemed to be a fan favorite, “Think About It”. Their next song found Sean singing the words at a very rapid pace, and afterwards they let the crowd choose which version of a song they wanted to hear. One option was the usual way it’s done, the other was a 420 remix, which Sean noted they were never able to perfect, so it might not be the best. That didn’t stop the fans from choosing this remix, though, which had a bit of a Reggae sound to it. “They Have Arrived” was another good one, and had a killer thick intro with Kelly and Jimmy working in excellent synch with one another. Their show started to wind down with “Won’t Let Go”, and after one more new track they closed their 60-minute long set with “Run Away”.
It was nearly two in the morning when they finished, and I figured the show was over and left, However, when I walked out the door, I heard Sean asking the crowd if they were still with them. They most likely came back for an encore, but it was late and I had seen enough.
Like I said, I think the band was overhyped to me I think, because I was expecting something amazing, both in their music and performance. What I saw and heard, though, was honestly rather generic, and even struck me as a little lackluster.
I thought the best part of their stage show came during when song when Sean climbed atop the speakers, staying there for maybe a minute before leaping off back to the stage, but there was just never that one moment where Pulse got their hooks in me and wowed me.
I didn’t really like the fact that they used smoke machines, or cannons that propelled the smoke into the air, because really, bands on this level don’t need stuff like that. I’m kind of prude with stuff like that in the first place, be it with visuals playing behind a band or stuff like this, and I think it subtracts from any bands show. The main focus should be the music and any and every band needs to let their music do the talking, rather than using various things to try to “enhance” the experience. The only exception to this rule is Muse.
Now, it’s also worth noting that I’m basically the only person at this show that felt that way, because they had a ton of fans out, all of whom were shouting along to every song they knew, and listening in awe to the new stuff. I wish I could have been one of them, but they didn’t ignite any passion inside me like some of the other bands on this bill did. And just to be clear, I’m not saying they are bad or that their music is, it just did nothing for me.
Their next area show is scheduled for July 6th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, but before that they’ll be rocking St. Louis, Missouri at FUBAR on May 18th. You can find their album, “Show Me the Way” in ITUNES and you can even get a free download of one song on their REVERBNATION PAGE.
Nonetheless, this was still an excellent night of music, and if you weren’t here, you missed out.
Being out at the arts festival meant I had missed the first two bands playing The Curtain Club this night, but on the bright side, I wasn’t going to have to wait long to see the two bands I was most excited to see.
First up was Opium Symphony, who, after releasing their debut full-length album last year did a couple of tours throughout the South, Mid-West and East Coast, but have been laying relatively low since late last year. That’s not to say they haven’t played, it’s just that their shows had been pretty sparse.
Since it had been awhile since their last hometown show, they had decided to make this show a little special by playing some songs from the “Blame It On the Radio” album that had never been done live, beginning with the title track itself. It replaced their typical opener, which also happens to include the word radio in its title, and as big a move as that was, even gutsy in some ways, it couldn’t have worked out better for them. “Blame It On the Radio” was every bit as loud and aggressive as the other song, garnering them a good little crowd from the start, and they commanded their attention pretty easily. They quickly followed it with “Fiction for Addiction”, with singer and rhythm guitarist Kellen Ross leading the charge into it with the opening notes, and once Derron Bell entered in on the instrumental intro, he showed off some of his skills, twirling a drumstick in one of his hands. After that song, which happens to be the one the band got their name from, “…Didn’t want to give you an opium symphony…”, Kellen took a moment to thank the other two bands who had played before them, calling some attention to the first band, Plowboy. I believe he said he was as god as those kids are when he was their age, seeming very impressed by their talent. Rightfully so, too, ‘cause I’ve seen them before and they are great. Next up was one of the staples from their album, “Jukebox Junkie”, which was greeted with some fanfare from the fans. I had forgotten how awesome that song is, particularly in the live setting, from the slick sounds of the intro which finds Kellen and lead guitarist Jarrett Kramer playing pretty much the same chords, to the eerie bridge where Kellen softly whispers “Sell your soul to the devil you’ll find…”, before surging back into the chorus. Like usual, they rocked out the instrumental outro, but they didn’t just stop like they normally do. Instead, they had another trick up their sleeve. On the album that instrumental piece at the end brings them smoothly into “Soul for Sale”, a song that had never been performed live, until this night. It was like you were listening to the two songs on the album, and during a momentary break from playing his guitar, Kellen took in a deep breath like he was preparing for this epic six plus minute long song. “Anyone today would gladly sell their soul for a dollar…” after that lengthy instrumental portion came to an end. Honestly, that’s not one of my favorites from their album (and that’s not to say I dislike the song, ‘cause that is far from being the case), but live it was another beast entirely and was one of the best songs of their set. Upon finishing it, bassist Drew Nolde had a question for everybody. “Has anyone ever had to choose between God or money?” he asked, which got little verbal response, instead getting an awkward look from people, like, “No, no I haven’t.” “Me neither,” he said, “but Kellen wrote a song about.” He was of course speaking about “God or Money”, the second and only other old song that made it into the setlist this time around, and after finishing that rhythm heavy tune, they wound it right into the explosive “Down the Rabbit Hole”. I think the only other time I had heard that one live was at their CD release show, so it had been a little while. It’s definitely one of the highlight tracks from their record and as well as the live show, it’s also very dynamic and everyone who was up by the stage was rocking out to it. Their 38-minute set was nearing the end, and now Kellen gave the fans a choice between two of their longest songs. One was “…Pennies…”, the other “Gospel”. Not many people voiced their opinion but the few who did made it clear that they wanted to hear “Gospel”. It’s the routine closer for these guys, and frankly I can’t imagine them not ending a show with it. Besides, how can you dislike a song that says, “…As long as god’s alive rock ‘n’ roll ain’t ever gonna die…”
It was a fitting end to what was probably the best Opium Symphony show I’ve seen to date, or at least in the top two. Part of that can probably be attributed to their tour. I talked with Kellen out on the patio earlier in the night, asking him how their tours went, and he was talking about how when you play so many days in a row like that, that it eventually becomes all “muscle memory”. I’ve seen other bands do that, and when they get into that touring shape they’re elevated to a whole new level. Now, it had been two months since their last show, so they of course weren’t in touring shape, but you could tell they had benefited from it.
They were better polished than what I remembered, which is saying a lot, and everything was just so tight.
If you haven’t seen them yet, you need to, and hopefully they’ll have some more shows coming up soon. Also be sure to head over to ITUNES and check out their album.
Following them was another band who hasn’t been playing much, at least not recently, and that was Redefine.
They started their 41-minute long set completely differently from any other Redefine show I’ve seen. See, it began with a rap song, specifically Nelly’s “Hot in Here” playing through the speakers, and when the curtain opened, bassist Mike DiQuinzio, drummer, Daniel “Dano” Taylor, and rhythm guitarist Matt Jones were on stage. Soon the remaining band members, lead guitarist Chris Apaliski and singer Scott Headstream, made their way on stage, somewhat dancing along with the song. Soon it cut out, though, and they were ready to get to work.
There are always two songs I hope to hear at their shows, and they opened with one of them, as Dano got right into show mode, tearing it up on his drum kit. The song was “Like a Vision, a Ghost”, which was a great track to open with. “…When you were off setting your fires, I spent my days trying to douse those flames…” sang Scott as the start of the second verse, which is one of several lines I love from that song. Dano wasn’t the only one in show mode, and Chris and Mike had been racing all over the stage during that song, while Scott focused on working and interacting the crowd. “Hey Dallas, take your medicine.” He said before starting their next song, and another one from the “Blur On the Horizon” EP, “Take Your Medicine”. They kicked things up a few notches with that fast-paced song, ensuring everyone was captivated by their show. “Let’s be honest, I’m drunk.” Scott said to everyone after finishing that previous song. I want to say he also threw in that if anyone wanted to buy them any shots they’d be okay with that. I believe that since December, they had only done one other show before this one, and during that little hiatus from being on stage, they had been working up some new material, and now they were going to give everyone a taste of what they had cooked up. I think this first new song was titled “All That Ever Was”, and it was pretty good. It wasn’t quite as aggressive as the song they had just done, or even some of their others, but I enjoyed it. Dano filled the silence in between their next song by doing a drum solo of sorts, while Scott did a little begging, placing the Redefine megaphone at the front of the stage, telling anyone who wanted to they could put some money in it to help them out in getting new shirts made. See, a little while back a lot of their merchandise was stolen, so all the shirts they did have are gone. Through all of that, Dano was still laying down some beats, and now Matt, Mike and Chris laid some riffs over it, doing a badass instrumental piece, setting up “Arcana”. They kept the music coming, next doing “The Silent Hum”, which Scott noted was the first song he wrote with the band, which was at least four years ago now, if not longer. They’ve written some great stuff in recent years, but that is still one of their best songs, and Chris gets to go all-out on it, simply shredding on his axe. “Cut the Cord” was their next song, and possible the most entertaining of their set, but not for the reasons you may think. Towards the end of it, Scott grabbed the mic stand, flipping it up in the air while he sang a line or two, and as he was swinging it back down, Chris happened to go over next to him, subsequently getting nailed in the head by the bass of the stand. You could tell it hurt, but he didn’t miss a note, and Scott looked at him apologetically and in disbelief that it had even happened. They laughed about it for a moment, then they were ready to unleash another new song on the fans. I was told as of right now they are calling it “Whole”, and it was the most intense song I’ve ever heard them do. For those familiar with Redefine, think “The Silent Hum”, then multiple that by ten or so and you should have an idea of what this new track was like. Seriously, I’ve found my new favorite Redefine song, and I think I like it even more than my favorites from their two EP’s. It didn’t seem like they had been playing anytime, but already it was time for them to wrap it up, and they did so with “Leave The Light On”. Towards the end of it Scott made his way down the sort of steps at the front of the stage, still singing, and during an instrumental break he got right out in the crowd, watching his band mates rock out for a minute, before climbing back on stage to finish it out.
This was the best Redefine show I’ve seen in a long time. Almost two years to be precise, when they played here at the Curtain to celebrate the release of what is their most recent EP.
They were on fire and worked together like a well-oiled machine. I will say that their newest member, Matt, isn’t quite as lively as the other guys are, but then again, this was only his third live show with them. And regardless of if he ever moves around as much as the others do or not, you can’t argue the fact that he’s a great guitarist, playing all of his notes very fluidly.
With Dano officially back behind the drums and Matt on rhythm guitar, I think Redefine has finally found another winning combination, and one that will hopefully last a good long while.
No shows are on the books for these guys at the moment, but they’ll be rocking a stage sooner or later. In the meantime, check out their two EP’s in ITUNES, and if we’re lucky, by year’s end maybe they’ll be adding another EP to their discography.
I think there might have been one last band up this night, but I went ahead and left after Redefine’s set. After all, I was planning on being back out at the art festival early the next day and needed to get some shut eye.
Another weekend was about to start, and what better way to kick it off than by catching a show at my favorite Dallas venue, The Curtain Club.
Stand 2 Reason was the first band up this night, but due to some traffic jams, I didn’t get there until they were almost done.
What I heard of this mostly acoustic band was really good, though. They had the standard rhythm section, but the other three members of the group all played acoustic guitars, which actually added some great layers to the music, and the singer, Andy, has a great voice.
During just a few songs, they made me into a fan, and hopefully I’ll get to catch a full show sometime in the future.
Up next was the main band I was there to see this night, the Austin based, Distant Lights.
One of their newer songs, which I believe is titled “Science”, began their set, and got them off to quite a start. I was prepared for a show much like their one here in November, which was almost all-new material, but it was completely different this time around. In fact, their next song was a shocking surprise to me. I’ve never seen a Distant Lights show where they didn’t close with “Artifice”, yet now Gaelan Bellamy was cranking out the opening lines of it, shredding on his guitar, before Kevin Abbenante beat down on his drums, kicking it up even a few more notches. It is the most song in their arsenal, and the lengthy instrumental bridge is the highlight of it, giving bassist, Sam Marshall, Gaelan and Kevin a chance to take the spotlight and really rock out. It really just didn’t feel right at this point in the set, though. I think it’s a song that’s best reserved for the closer, or it would probably even make a mean opener. “We are Distant Lights, from just down the road in Austin, Texas…” announced frontman, Gabriel Fry, who also mentioned that most of what they were performing could be found on their albums, pointing to their merch booth. They slowed things down considerably with “Metamorphosis”, which has a nice flow that is truly complimentary of the song, starting off slow and heavy on the rhythm section, but as the lyrics get more exciting, “…and as the channel opens up I marvel at the power as it grows…”, so too does the music, amping up considerably. All that makes it a very well written song. They followed it with “Dystopia”, the lead track from their “Simulacrum” album and one I had not heard in far too long, and then moved on with one of their newer songs. That actually started them on a series of newer songs, and no sooner had they finished it than Kevin launched them into the aggressive, “Tightrope”. The mood fluctuated over the course of the next two songs, “Suffocating” and “Patterns On the Rise”, both of which have a real ebb and flow to them, being fairly relaxed at some points, before jumping into a full on rock song. That eventually led them to the final song of their 35-minute long set, “What’s On Your Mind”. It’s no “Artifice”, but it is the next best thing to go out on, and has Gabriel rather viciously belting out the chorus, while prowling around the stage.
It was a spectacular show they put on, and definitely the best of the night. They put such energy into their performance and have an undeniable stage presence. Even though the Curtain was fairly empty when they played, they still managed to captivate the attention of almost all of the onlookers, which doesn’t happen too often in my experience.
I almost want to say that Gabriel carries the band with the way he conducts himself on stage and the stellar voice he has (it is one of the best I’ve heard, and he sounds even better in the live setting than their recordings do), but that wouldn’t be true. Gaelan’s skills on the guitar are out of this world, and he’s certainly at his best on the occasions when he’s shredding. Lastly, Kevin and Sam make a dynamic rhythm section, with Sam’s slick method of grooving on the bass, while Kevin is more assertive with his drumming, making it well rounded.
They’re just a killer group, and after not playing the Dallas for a few years, I’m glad that they’re starting to venture up here again. Hopefully it can become a normal thing once every two to four months or so.
You can find their first album in ITUNES, and word is they have almost completed their next record. They also have shows coming up on April 26th at Click’s in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and April 27th at Rock ‘N’ Blues in Covington, Louisiana. They have a hometown gig in Austin on April 28th at the Dirty Dog Bar, opening for Powerman 5000, and on May 11th they’ll be down in San Antonio at Fitzgerald’s.
So, once Distant Lights finished I went over to the Liquid Lounge side of the venue where Aaron Pose was doing a set.
I figured the singer of Admiral Grey was probably almost done at this point, and sure enough he was, only having two songs left, both of which were newer ones he had written. One of those songs was titled “Another Day”, but the best of the two I heard was by far his closing song, “Home”. Before starting he talked about his recent decision to take a break from music, saying he needed to “recharge his batteries”. “…I don’t know how long that’s going to take. Could be three months, could be six months, it could be a year…” he said, saying it was just time to take a break and focus on family for a while. Evidently, part of what spurred that decision was when he wrote this song, “Home”. And he said when writing songs, he just let’s it flow, barely even paying attention to what he’s writing at the time. He added that after he finished this song and then read, he knew it was time to take a break. Emotionally it was a deep song, dealing with not always being there for the people who need you, and honestly, may be the best thing Aaron has ever written.
The music scene will feel kinda empty without Aaron being an active part of it, but I feel where he’s coming from and I doubt anyone can blame him for taking some time off. I’m just glad it’s not a permanent hiatus, though.
Aaron doesn’t have any solo music available, but do check out Admiral Grey’s “Long Road” EP.
As soon as he was finished, I headed back to the Curtain, where the next band, Breaking Midway, was just getting warmed up.
I wasn’t instantly drawn in by them, and honestly, they struck me as being bland at first. There was no gripping quality to singer and acoustic guitarist Kelley Hannahs’ voice, and the first full song that I heard, “Dreaming”, came across as being a little drab. “Volcano” was a little more vibrant, and had a nice backbone, courtesy of drummer, Jay Chagnon, and their upswing continued with “I Won’t Let You”. It was after that song that I decided the band was more of an acquired taste, and one I was liking a little more with each song. They did a couple more tunes, one of which was another from their 2012 debut record, “The Speed of Life”, titled “Wish”, which was one of the catchiest songs of their set. “Living Room” was another standout from their set, and after another track, they did one of their newer songs, “Home”. There’s a real sentimental quality to the song, and while it didn’t connect with me on a personal level or anything, I must say it was quite moving. They had certainly hit their stride at this point, and now did “Finally Free”, which had more of a rock sound to it than their previous stuff, and the same could be said about “Done”, which just had a little more vigor to it. They only had one more for the night, and after laying her guitar down on the stage, Kelley said they had “saved the best for last”, and she wasn’t joking, either. I don’t know what it was, but it definitely was the most in your face song of their set.
By the time it was all said and done I don’t know if I’d say I had become a fan of Breaking Midway’s, but I had enjoyed their show.
I guess my main thing with Kelleys’ voice was it didn’t immediately grab me, which is what I prefer, but if you listen to a few songs, you’ll discover an endearing quality to it, and one that should hold your interest. Her, the lead guitarist and Jay put on a good show, but the bass player, he was rather lifeless, and appeared to be going through the motions instead of actually being invested in it and enjoying being on stage, which in the end was the only thing I disliked about their show.
Check out their albums in ITUNES, which ranges from a full-length to some singles and even a live record recorded right here at the Curtain Club. They also have a gig coming up on May 11th at O’Riley’s in Dallas.
I stuck around for the headliner, Ol’ Jug of Whiskey, whom I’ve heard a lot about and was very eager to finally see what they were like.
Their show this night was a first for the band, who is typically an acoustic act, but tonight was doing their first ever electric set.
The first song of their set required their guitarist, Mike Drake, to use a mandolin, adding an interesting vibe to what was more a rock song. He switched to a guitar after that, but after a few more songs, I decided to go back to the lounge.
They are a great band with an awesome sound and singer, Bryce Frazier, has knockout voice, but I just never felt drawn in by it. Instead, I kept thinking, “I’d enjoy Exit 380 a lot more than this.”
It’s just a personal preference, and nothing against Ol’ Jug of Whiskey.
I’ve seen Exit 380 quite a bit over the last few months, but there was a big difference between those other shows and this one, and that was that this was an acoustic set. The band doesn’t do many of those, and I was informed by their singer, Dustin Blocker, that to form their setlist they ended up looking at all their songs in iTunes to refresh their minds on what songs were more acoustic based. Yes, that also means that little rehearsal time went into this show, a fact they pointed out a couple times while on stage.
Beginning their brief 29-minute set was their song that is featured on a Hand Drawn Records compilation CD, “A Song About Us”. The song was really set off by Jeremy Hutchison, who was acting as the drummer this night, playing what I think was a djembe (not sure, and I’m pretty much clueless outside the traditional drum kit). It was all very fluid as he beat it with his hands, giving the song some great rhythm. There was a very lax mood to this show, even more so than normal, and after that song guitarist, Aaron Borden, said something about needing more bass. “That was all you…” Blocker told him while laughing, presumably referring to some little mishap I didn’t catch. They continued with “Soul Burning Train”, which was one of only two new songs that fit with this set, and honestly, I think this stripped down version was even slightly better than normal, just seeming a little more behooving of it. Those are two great songs, but they’re pretty much standard at most E380 shows, and I was looking forward to the older stuff, like their next song, “Dammit”. That’s still my overall favorite song of theirs, and I’ve only heard that now decade plus old song performed once before, over two years ago. A lot of their songs, particularly their newer ones, tell some great stories, and while “Dammit” is different from their current stuff, I think it tells the best story. Besides, Dustin adds a little more bass to his voice on that song, which in turn gives it a lot of texture. Now they informed everyone that they “didn’t quite rehearse” for this show, then started into a bonus track from the Townies album, “Oil Machine”. The tambourine that Dustin played and the more delicate bass lines Jon Hutchison was playing created a great atmosphere and the harmonizing Dustin and Aaron were occasionally doing sounded wonderful. As it ended, Dustin got all crazy with his voice, hitting all sorts of notes. “…Harmonize that…” he told Aaron once they finished the song, and the two couldn’t help but laugh at one another. “Is it time for…” Aaron said, trailing of, but letting his guitar do the talking, starting a classic from the “Last Monday” album, “2 Lie”. “…You’ve been up all night, question me question life. You don’t think just desire, but don’t you fucking lie to me.” Dustin sang, that being the final line of this relatively tranquil song with a catchy vibe, which is what makes it another favorite of mine. They next did another song from that record, a hidden one, and another I’m pretty certain I had never heard live before. It was “A Much Needed Apology”, which is the most peaceful and calming song they’ve written, but they picked the mood back up a little, doing “In The Park”, which brought their set to an end.
It may have been a short show, but it was amazing and I’m glad I decided to see it. After all, how many times am I going to hear them do my two favorite songs in the same set? That’s probably not going to happen very much.
If for no other reason, it was also interesting just to see Jeremy act as the percussionist, since he’s typically a guitarist, and do such a killer job at it. In fact, I think they were a little too hard on themselves about having not rehearsed. Was it perfect? No. But it sure didn’t seem like they hadn’t rehearsed at all, either.
Then again, if you’ve been a band since 1999, you should be cohesive enough to pull something like this off with relative ease.
As of right now, it looks like their next show is going to be on June 2nd at the Capitol Bar in Fort Worth. Also, do check out all their albums. They have several available, and between ITUNES and BANDCAMP, you can get them all.
This wasn’t a bad night of music at all, and it was good getting to see some bands I hadn’t seen before, along with the ones I’m all too familiar with.
Deep Friday’s were an institution in Deep Ellum back in the day. At least from what I hear.
The premise was you pay one flat cover of five bucks and then you have access to several of the venues in the area. It was a true collaborative effort, which is exactly what the scene (and any scene in general) needs.
But when the area hit hard times in the late 2000’s and the droves of people stopped going down there, Deep Friday’s was no longer economical, and was on its way out about the same time I was really getting immersed in the local music community.
Luckily, traffic down there is on the rise, so this night, five venues, The Curtain Club/Liquid Lounge, The Boiler Room, Wit’s End and Reno’s Chop Shop participated in an experiment to try to bring back Deep Friday’s.
My night began at The Boiler Room, where I arrived around 8:20.
Originally, Lindby was scheduled to be the opening band, but I for whatever reason they evidently fell off the bill, and taking their place was another Fort Worth based band, Animal Spirit.
When I walked in the quartet was probably halfway through their set, and were doing something different, having all four of them play percussion on one song, with guitarist, Andrew Stroheker, and bassist, Joe Prankster, playing some smaller drums, and frontwoman, Sam Wuehermann, did the same. They went back to the normal setup afterwards, doing a few more songs in a very interesting style of indie rock, and personally I thought they were at their best when Sam and Andrew were co-singing, like on “The Planets a Lie”.
What little I saw I enjoyed, and they piqued my interest enough I’d like to see them again and experience a full set from them.
If you go to their REVERBNATION PAGE you can listen to a couple of their songs, as well as keep track of their upcoming shows.
After them was a band I had seen for the first time exactly one month before, and I was looking forward to seeing them again.
The band I speak of is The Bright, who won me over last month at The House of Blues. They quickly started setting their gear up, and this six-piece pop/rock outfit needed every single inch of the stage, and still looked a little cramped up there.
They opened their set with the lead track from the “Objects of my Affection” album, “Save the Night”. It really showed off their more poppy side with the heavy use of the keys, courtesy of Eric Jenkins, but is also offered a good dose of rock at times, and vocalist, Julie Lange, writhed around in perfect synch with some of the heavier drumbeats Robert Yahne cranked out. The seductive “Serpent” came next, and one of only two cuts they did from their 2008 debut record. In between the first few songs they tried to work out all the little kinks, like getting the levels in everyone’s monitors adjusted properly, while Julie made some small talk with the audience. When they were ready to roll again, they did “How I Feel”, then another upbeat pop number, “Over and Over”. Once they finished it, Julie mentioned they had a music video for it, which could be found on their Youtube channel, and she rattled off the link, which ended with the number “1”. One of the bands guitarists, Kell Curtis, was off mic, but you could hear a small part of the joke he made, saying something like the number in the link should have been “sixty nine”. Julie then announced the title of the next song, which was “Deep Fall”. “…It’s based on a true story of a painting.” She said right before Kell and fellow guitarist, Taylor Tatsch, started the tune. It was a highlight of their set, as it does an excellent job of showcasing Julies’ voice and the impressive range she is capable of. “10 Hearts” came next, and upon finishing it, Julie talked about they had so much fun dusting off an older song at their previous show, that they thought they’d do it one more time. It was supposed to be one of their final three songs, but then they found out they had enough time for only two. Julie was optimistic, though, saying something like, “…We’re gonna haul through these…”. I was glad they still decided to do “Cut Me Loose”, which made an impression on me last month, and again tonight it ended up being my favorite song of their set. It’s a superb song, and I really think/hope it makes a comeback to the current set. Afterwards, she admitted they probably only had time for one more song. “…On one hand there’s Charmed.” she said, which is their current single. Then added, “…On the other, there’s Kashmir.” It went up to vote, and not much noise was made for their original, making it a clear cut decision what they would play. Taylor, Kell, Robert and bassist, Miguel Fair, then tore into the Led Zeppelin classic. As odd a choice as it sounds, they actually do an incredible version of that song, and it was really the only way to conclude their 41-minute long set.
The Bring really something else, and they probably should have gone on later than what they did. After all, the showroom, while small, was still packed while they were performing. And not only did they have the fans out, but they commanded them well.
I’ll say it again, Julies’ voice is the most captivating aspect of their show. It’s remarkable, and the recordings on their records don’t quite do it justice. So basically I’m saying you need to experience it live. The instrumentalists are just as much an integral part of the show, though, with Miguel being a great bassist, and rocked out on the bass. Both Kell and Taylor are killer guitarists and add a lot of professionalism to the show.
Together, the six make a well-oiled machine, and are probably one of the most talented bands here in Dallas.
Check out both of their records in ITUNES, and keep an eye on their Facebook Page to see whenever they have another show coming up.
I could have spent the whole night here at The Boiler Room. I don’t know who the next band was, but The Raven Charter and In Memory of Man were going on later, both of whom are fantastic.
There were other bands I wanted to see more, though, so I made my way across the street to see what was going on at Wit’s End.
I thought Daylight Industries might be getting ready to go on, but they weren’t. So instead of watching them rock out, I chatted with them instead.
Before I Am Warbird started, I exited there, making my way over to main street, where The Curtain Club lies.
The place was PACKED. The patio was teeming with life, and once I finally got it in it was almost hard to even move around.
I was hoping I hadn’t missed Night Gallery, and sure enough, I was one of the guys getting their gear on stage, meaning it was just a matter of time before their first Dallas show of the year ensued.
The guys were waiting, and as the curtain opened on them, they launched into their first song. It would seem that the new year has brought with it a new setlist for the band, and they began with “Crazy Brave”. It was a fun way to open the show, but I also really liked the tone it set. “The cage is gone and now you run. I can’t control what I’ve become. You think you’re brave but now you see the crazy beast that you’ve set free…” Patrick “Otter” Gonzales roared on the chorus, as guitarists, Jeremy Root and Jan Mage, quickly slashed away at their axes. With the song, it was like they were sending the message that this was going to be a no holds barred show, and warning the audience to get ready for it. Duckie then wound them immediately into their next song, with Jan soon letting loose on the intro of their lead single, “My Friend Pretend”. Those two tracks proved to be a lethal combination, and by the time they had finished their second song, I was really feeling it. Sure, I’m a diehard fan who loves the music in the first place, but it was different than that. They had made an exceptionally strong push right out of the gate, and almost instantly had every last person by the balls. Otter then thanked everyone for coming out, and everything like that, before saying they were going to bring it down a little with their next song. It was “Without Regret”, and I still don’t know how slow the song really is, though it has some softer parts. Like the short guitar solo, which finds Otter “shushing” the crowd at the exact moment most of the instruments fall silent. Duckie again segued them from one song to the next, and Jeremy proceeded to strum away at his guitar, leading them into “The Tide”. And, like the title somewhat suggests, there’s a great ebb and flow to it. Otter made some more small talk with the fans, pointing out their merch booth, noting they had CDs for sale that had all these songs on them. They also sell anything else imaginable, like, “…midgets… dental dams…” and all sorts of other items. At least that’s what Otter says, and it always makes me laugh. They got back to it with one of their most rocking numbers, “Separation Anxiety”, and I swear I love that song more and more each time I hear it. Some more swift drumbeats then brought them right into “Mr. Ripper”. That was a sign their set was nearing the end, which I thought surely couldn’t be right. They also had a technical difficulty during that one. Otters’ mic suddenly cut out, turning a portion of the song into an instrumental track, as he kept singing into the mic, and doing everything he could to try to get it working again. Nothing worked, so eventually he grabbed the stage left mic, signaling to the sound guy to turn it up. It didn’t look as cool as his standard microphone, which resembles one Elvis used, but it worked just as well. That found them at their last song of the night, which came all too soon. In typical fashion, Duckie counted them into “The Signal”, in English for the first series of drum beats, then Spanish for the next, with Jan, Jeremy, and bassist, Mikey Auringer, letting loose some notes in perfect synch. The intro for the song is long, but worth the wait, as it’s the bands most aggressive song, and, as usual, served as a great closer. In fact, I felt some similarities between it and their first song, which I thought made each one a great “book end” so to speak.
Believe it or not, all that rock transpired in a mere 29-minutes, and in that short time they were able to pack in just as much rock as they do when they have nearly twice that much time.
Yeah, I hated that their set was cut short and there were a few fan favorites that they didn’t have time for, but still it was a stellar show. In fact, this was one of the best Night Gallery shows I’ve seen, second only to their CD release show last June.
They were all on top of their game this night, which I think further helped them make the most of their time on stage. Also, this was the first time I had seen the band with Jan as their guitarist, and only the second show he had done with the band.
He’s a skilled guitarist, which was obvious just by watching his playing, and there were a few songs he took some of the lines and started riffing, which made the songs sound even better than they already do.
If you haven’t seen a Night Gallery show yet, you’re really missing out. They put on one of the most fun live shows of any band here in the area, and you can’t argue the fact that they rock out with the best of them.
Pick up the bands album, “Loud As the Sun” in iTunes. Those songs have been staples for years now in their shows, but before long, you can expect them to unleash some brand spankin’ new music on their fans. The mere thought of that already has me excited. Also, they have one show on the books at the moment, and it’ll be over in Shreveport, LA at the Riverside Warehouse.
It’s hard to beat Night Gallery, but Early Pearl was poised to be every bit as good, if not even better.
It had been four long years since I last saw Early Pearl, with the group quietly going their separate ways in late 2009. No grand farewell show or anything, they just slipped away.
Then, last December, there was a reunion show (which I regrettable missed), and that show has led to the band getting back together.
So, to say I was excited about this would be a serious understatement.
As the curtain opened on them guitarists, Chris Jackson and Ryan Maynard, and bassist, Chris Ivey, cranked out some random notes, while Bobby Primm supplied the beats, and as that was going on, vocalist, Bishop Booker, slowly walked over to center stage. You could feel the excitement in the air.
Turns out, that even after four years, some things don’t change, like their opening song for instance. The random chords were suddenly whipped into “Get Out”, and Bishop belted out the first line of it, “You think you got me where you want me, my man. But I see right through all the shit that you spread…”. It was an electric opener, and certainly got my adrenaline pumping as I wondered what else they would they pull out. They had a couple more planned from their “This Is” record, one of which was “State of Affairs”, and during it, Jackson tore off on a blistering guitar solo, that lasted just long enough to add a great texture to the song, but not seem over the top. It wound down, but Jackson patched things right into their next song which was “Breakdown”, and honestly, I was a little surprised to hear it. By their standards, it’s a slower song, and saw Bishop doing some serious crooning, while Chris, Maynard and Jackson toned their playing down, before coming alive on each chorus. Jackson stole the show during it, though, and his passionate solo was the true essence of the song. During the break in between songs, Bishop mentioned how good it was to “be back home”. “…This was where it all started for Early Pearl…” he said, surveying the crowd, which included some on lookers in the upstairs area. Before their demise, they were working on a new record and had plenty of songs written, which had also found their way into the live set. Now, it was time for some of those tunes. There was only one I remember from back then, and that was “This Time Around”, which Bobby promptly started. It was as badass as I remembered it being, and is a rock song through and through. Unlike most rock songs, though, there’s a short line where Bishop pushes his voice into a fairly high falsetto range, and nails it. I believe it was “Hindsight” that they did afterwards. Regardless of what it was, it was a beast of a song, and Maynard and Jackson owned their parts, with the guitar notes being a beast in their own right. Before moving on with their next song, Bishop mentioned how this show was somewhat of an “accident” (originally, they were booked at another Dallas venue, before getting bumped in favor of a national touring band). “…That’s okay, I like accidents…” said Bishop, who again stated the bands love for the Curtain and how glad they were to be there. The catchy and semi melodic “Sooner Or Later” followed, and when they finished it up Bishop re-hydrated himself a little. “Hey Bishop, what’s with that water shit?!” a fan/friend yelled at him, as earlier he had said something to the effect that they’d drink whatever shots/drinks anyone wanted to buy them. “What’s with this water shit? It’s called it’s fucking hot as hell up here…” he retorted. Soon they burst into “Letting Go”, and around halfway through it he grabbed one of the water bottles he had, and threw much of the water onto the crowd, eventually tossing the bottle itself into the crowd. It only got better though, and after Bishop stood back to back with Chris, while he rocked out on his bass, he walked towards the front of the stage. “If I fall on y’all, will y’all catch me?” he asked, then turned around, back facing the audience, and fell onto the crowd of people. They caught him fine, but he didn’t get back on stage quite as gracefully. “Fuck it, I’ll sing the next song like this if I have to…” he said, right when as got back on stage. They launched into “Say It” right after that, which is their heaviest song, and also the one that’s probably most in your face. It finds Bishop screaming at times on the chorus, which he addressed once they finished it. “…I bet y’all didn’t know a black man could scream like that, did ya? Usually it’s only when I’m running from the cops, but that’s a different story…” he said, making a joke which I don’t think got all the laughs it deserved. They were down to just one last new song, and it was so new, no one outside the band had heard it until this night. “…I don’t even have a tile for it…” said Bishop, right before they started it. It was another hit, and it’s also one of the first songs that Maynard has got to put his touch on, since, as Bishop put it, “…He’s the new kid on the block…”. You wouldn’t know it by watching him, though, and was incredibly cohesive with his band mates for this to only be his second live show with them. It was time to start winding things down at this point, and the rock outfit had saved their best for last. I was starting to wonder if my favorite song of theirs would be played or not, and then Jackson began “Turn”. From the first time I listened to it on Myspace (yes, Myspace), I loved it, and it was the lyrics that really drew me in. Like this line from the chorus, “…Does it beseech you to know my face?” That made my night, but they had one song left in their 44-minute long set, and it would be the icing on the cake. It had been so long, I forgot they did a short prelude to “This Is”, helping set up what is the perfect closer, and even if the lyrics are meant in a different context in the song, the line, “…This is goodbye…” offers a good deal of finality to the performance. As it came to an end, Bishop stood at the helm of the stage and saluted everyone, before turning the salute into the rock sign, as he again thanked everyone for coming out.
They did encounter a few problems at the end, when the mic wouldn’t stay in properly, but Bishop worked through it, holding the mic so the cord was pressed in there tight. Aside from that, this was as solid and flawless a show as you could ever expect to see.
I never saw Early Pearl much back in the day, due mainly to age restrictions at some of the venues they played. Despite that, though, they were always one of my most favorite local bands, second only to The FEDS. And now I remember why.
Just like that other now long defunct band, Early Pearl packs an arena sized rock show into an intimate club setting. Seriously, you’ll be hard pressed to find a band that can outperform them, and is what’s truly remarkable is the fact that with only one show back in nearly four years, they’ve still retained “it”. And if they did get rusty in that time off, they did a damn fine job of polishing it up.
Even bringing a new member, Maynard, into the fold hasn’t affected them… At least not in any negative ways. It’s been over half a year since the last time I saw him shredding on the guitar, so it great seeing him back on a stage, and he really seems like a perfect fit for these guys.
Chris, Jackson and Bobby are the ideal musicians, both in skill and presence/showmanship on stage, while Bishop has the rare ability to command everyone’s attention without ever having to ask for it.
THIS is what a band is, or at least should be, and even though there’s a ton of talent here in the D/FW music scene, I’m glad a veteran band has decided to get back in the mix, because you just don’t see many bands of this caliber.
Now, for anyone who is unfamiliar with Early Pearl, but you want to listen to their stuff, you’re in luck. Their debut album, “This Is”, can be downloaded for FREE at their SOUNCLOUD PAGE. Not only that, but you’ll also find some live cuts of several of their new songs. Also, they’ll be doing another rock show on April 13th at The Boiler Room. Don’t miss it.
The House Harkonnen was the final band up at the Curtain, but I’ve never been a big fan of the bands more hardcore sound. I did consider sticking around to give them another chance, but I had gotten sick a couple days before this, and had expended what energy I had much earlier in the night, so I just decided to call it a night and go get some rest for my return trip to the Curtain the following night.
As for Deep Friday, from the fan perspective, I’d say it was total success. I loved seeing so many people down there (particularly at the Curtain). It gives you hope for the scene/community, and it’ll be nice to have Deep Friday’s back as a regular thing. Already for next month’s there’s talk about involving more of the venues (so long as no national touring bands are playing there), which could only make it better. Plus, next month’s (April 5th) will coincide with the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, which will have the streets packed even in the daylight hours. Yeah, the future is once again looking bright for Deep Ellum.
Six band bills are seldom seen at any venues, at least in these parts, yet for the second time this week The Curtain Club was hosting such a colossal show.
My only thing with having that many bands on a bill is it seems like too much and can almost be a sensory overload. I didn’t experience that, or the sense of the show dragging on this night though, because I barely saw the first two bands up.
Sunglasses and Sugar was the very first band and they hit the stage about 8:20. The first thing that caught my eye was the bass drum, which was emblazoned with the iconic Texas Longhorn, though it was colored a bright pink. That brought back a show I saw a couple of years ago when I happened to see a band by the name Sloan Automatic, who used that as their logo, but now the drum bore the name of Rob DeStefano’s current project, “Sunglasses and Sugar”. I guess that was a bit of a tangent, but enjoy that random piece of information. Anyway, I only heard their first song, which I personally thought was pretty good. Singer and rhythm guitarist, Darlington, had a good voice for the mix of indie/pop rock ‘n’ roll they did and their show seemed like it would be enjoyable.
Point is, you might like ‘em if you get the chance to see and or hear them, but talking over some business was far more important than seeing their full set.
“What kind of business ?” is probably what you’re wondering. Well, I’ll shamelessly plug it.
I’m fortunate enough to be a part of new music zine called On Tour Monthly. It’s a collaborative effort that will utilize several talented people, including companies like Hand Drawn Records, and is being spearheaded by photographer, James Villa. Check it out (i.e. like the FB page, visit the official site, etc.) and we should be launching it come April.
And just to clarify, On Tour Monthly won’t take away from what I’m doing as The Music Enthusiast, so the content on here won’t slow down at all.
Anyway, by the time we finished, the second band, Jonathan Jeter & The Revelators, were on deck, and almost done with their set.
I wasn’t expecting to see Brandon Callies pulling double duty, but he was one of the members of the trio, while Johnny Sillers rounded out the rhythm section.
I saw probably the last three songs they did, one of which was “Barfly”. To be honest, I wasn’t too keen on Jonathan Jeters’ voice at first. It was much deeper than what I expected, and there was somewhat of a gruff quality to it, which was what left me on the fence for a little while. I started warming up to it a little more with the second song I heard, and by the time they did their closer, “Voodoo Woman”, I had gotten into it.
There’s a real Americana sound to their music, a genre that is pulled off well with the unique sounding pipes Mr. Jeter has on him. And for the record, yes, his voice really grew on me during those few songs. I enjoyed it, and would certainly be up for seeing another show, or rather a full show, sometime down the road.
He also has an EP available, titled, “Late to My Own Funeral”.
So, I mentioned Brandon Callies was pulling double duty. Of course his stint as the bassist of the previous band was his first time on stage this night, and he didn’t get much downtime, as his outfit, The Brandon Callies Band, was next up.
Half of their 36-minute long set was new material of theirs, such as their opener. “This next song’s from the first EP.” Brandon said after finishing their first song, “It’s called Midnight Drive.” He finished, and began strumming his guitar, playing the first notes of it. It’s somewhat of a chill song, but don’t confuse that with slow, because the whole band really let loose on the chorus, with Chris Evans really picking up his drumming, turning it into a powerful number. Upon finishing it, Brandon mentioned that keyboard player, Jason Myers, was celebrating his birthday, and if anyone wanted to, they could buy him some drinks. That then led them to another new tune, which, if I heard correctly, was titled “Same Sunset”. Brandon started singing the first line, and was accompanied by bassist, Omarr Escoffie, and Jason, the three of whom harmonized beautifully. It’s really breathtaking and you can easily get lost it. At least until they really break into the song with all their instruments. It’s also cool too, because the Curtain Club is best known as a rock and hard rock venue, so to see a band that is so drastically different musically play this place, it just tears down the walls so to speak, and makes you realize any band of any genre can fit in here. They switched things up again with their next song, with Brandon saying it was one Chris sang lead on. That had to mean it was “The Gunner (Prelude)”. And sure enough, it was. The four musicians at the front of the stage, including lead guitarist, Charles Cohen, proceeded to rapidly clap their hands together, while Chris sang, “She’s got diamonds for her eyes and daggers for her hands…”. It was a little hard to hear him at first, but the mic levels were quickly adjusted to make him more audible. As the short song progressed, each musician went back to their instrument, with Charles being the first to stop clapping, and towards the end Brandon started to play some notes from his axe. He then wound them into the band into their next song, which was another new one. At one point during it, Charles shredded on his guitar, and he was either a little too intense with it or one of his strings was too worn, because one snapped. Eventually he grabbed the other guitar that was on stage, sitting in a stand behind Brandon. It’s a good thing they had that one. In setting up their next tune, Brandon made mention of the video they had done for it, since it is a single from “The Gunner” record. “…It’s called Who Are We to Say?” he said, which excited me, since it is my favorite song of theirs. A lot of their material have lyrics that you should pay attention to, but this song stands out as carrying the best message. It’s hopeful and uplifting, from the first line, “Just think of the day where kind words could take a gun from your hand…”, to the chorus, “We are watching now, for you to change the world we know. But who are we to say that we’re not leaving room to grow?…” Surely that one left the audience in a happier place than they were in before, but now it was back to some more rock music, as Chris transitioned them into an instrumental break. Everyone had their moment to shine during this short piece, especially Jason, who played some amazing, fiery notes on his keyboard before things suddenly gave way to “The Gunner”. They may be more of an alternative country band with hints of Americana, but the title track is primarily a rock song, and an intense one at that. It was a good thing they saved it for the end, because there was no topping that, at least not this night, while the final new tune they had brought the show to a fitting end.
I was even more impressed by these guys now than the first time I saw them. Part of that probably was due to the superior sound here at the Curtain over the other venue, but the show also seemed better, too.
I think they were more solid now, and I’ll bet they’ll only continue to get better… If that’s possible.
I know some people may be thinking, “I don’t like alternative country.” Well, give these guys a listen. I promise it’s better than what you might be thinking. Besides, Brandon spent many years with a rock band before this, and you can tell that previous experience is carried over to this band, at least to some extent.
You can purchase their full-length record, “The Gunner”, in ITUNES. They also have plenty of dates on the books, including; March 15th at Sugar Circus in Austin. The 16th will find them doing an afternoon show at The Blue Armadillo Winery in Greenville, TX, while that night they’ll be in Bossier City, LA at The Crow’s Nest. They have another SXSW gig in Austin on the 17th at Darwin’s. Then on the 30th they’ll be at Lucy’s Retired Surfer’s Bar, also in Austin. They also have some dates for April, so check those out, too.
I had been looking forward to their show, but out of all the bands on this bill I was most excited about the one I haven’t seen too much lately, and that was Exit 380.
I can’t remember for sure, but I believe the first time I ever saw the band was here, back many moons ago. Actually, they hadn’t even playing their old stomping ground in about five years. And to make things even more special, their old drummer, Bobby “Shoes” Tucker was joining them for a one-off show. Yeah, this was gonna be good.
They got off to a slower start, with lead guitarist, Aaron Borden, playing a lap steel guitar, while Jeremy Hutchison used an acoustic. The song was “Run For The Gold”, and was one of only a handful of tunes they did from their most recent album, Townies”. It was much slower than anything else that had been played this night, but I liked the fact that the Exit 380 guys gradually eased everyone into their set, and got closer to full on rock mode with their next song, when Jeremy switched to an electric guitar. “…We call this one Daddy Was A Freight Train” said vocalist, Dustin Blocker, with his band mates promptly starting the song. By the end of it Bobby’s drumming got a little more aggressive, and Dustin, who was standing back by the drum riser shaking his tambourine, occasionally helped him out, hitting one of the cymbals with his tambourine, giving an extra jolt to the percussion. As it wound down, Aaron stood up, then exchanged his lap steel for an electric, and this is when the night really got good. They had promised older songs they hadn’t done in awhile, which had me wondering how far back they were going to go. It wasn’t five to seven years (though hearing material from that era would have been fantastic. Maybe one day). Instead, it was just a couple, but they dusted off some gems that have been neglected recently. One of those was “Street Trash View”, which Aaron tore right into. With it, they jumped right into full-blown rock ‘n’ roll, reminiscent of the older E380 sound, and personally, this was when I thought they were at their best. You could tell it was easier for bassist, Jon Hutchison, to get into, given the stronger rhythm section, making him just another dominant force in their live show. They followed it with another track from their 2010 EP, “Cities/Townies”, or, as Dustin put it, their “…aught ten…” record, “Caught In A Lie”. Honestly, I missed it when it happened, but upon finishing it, Aaron pointed out that Dustin had botched some of the lyrics. “Did I?” he asked, with a grin on his face. “…Oh, well these next lyrics are yours, so I’m definitely going to mess them up.” He told Aaron. While Aaron got his lap steel guitar ready, Dustin began the next song by softly playing his keyboard. “I awoke from a dream, to escape this soul burning train. A driver or a rider? Either way, it’s the coldest in the rain…” It’s an eerily beautiful prelude to the single off their most current record, “Soul Burning Train”, which, despite being a change of pace from their previous few songs, still held its own against them. Afterwards, Dustin mentioned Bob, and that they thought they’d invite him to rehearsals to see if he wanted to do this show with them. Blocker finished with, “…And he got there, and he was better than we were.” They then gave everyone one last dose of Alt/Country music with “Moonshiners Run”, before proving they had saved the best for last in their 35-minute set. Only two songs from the bands concept album, “The Life and Death of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Stone”, made an appearance, the first of which was “The Wrangler”. Then it was time for their final song, “Quid Pro Quo”. Five years or so ago I saw them here at the Curtain, that song was in its infancy stage, having been freshly written and only been played live a handful of times. Now, even after the bands reinvention of sorts, it’s still a staple. It was cool, because it took me back in time for a moment, reminding me of when I first heard the song, and that is just one of the many reasons that made that the highlight song of their set. It also left me craving more, and wishing they had more time.
It was an excellent set from these veteran rockers, and it was neat seeing Bobby “Shoes” back behind the drums, even if it was just a onetime appearance. I’d also fully believe Dustin’s comment about Bobby being better than they were. To have not played with them in well over a year, he made it seem like he had never left. His playing was very methodical and precise, like he’d been doing it forever.
That’s not to discount the other guys, though. Dustin still has one of the most unique voices I’ve heard, with a deeper register, and at times, it sounds somewhat operatic. Jeremy brings a lot of energy to the stage, which helps balance things out when Aaron is using his lap steel guitar, but when he’s not, like their final song for instance and the solo he has during it, it’s clear he’s in charge. While Jon has that certain swagger most bass players have, and rocks out the bass notes with a casual confidence.
They’re one of Dallas’s best, at least in my opinion, and their fourteen year carrier should be a testament to that. Give their music a listen if you haven’t already, and between BANDCAMP or ITUNES you can find the majority of their releases. And if you can, go see a show. They’ll be playing the Prophet Bar in Dallas this Sunday, March 10th. On the 15th they have a gig at The Doublewide, also in Dallas. The 23rd will find them up in Denton at Andy’s Bar. Then, on the 29th, they’ll be doing an acoustic show at the Liquid Lounge in Dallas. They also have a show in Austin booked for April 27th.
So, the night started off with a little rock, before taking a little detour through some country sounds, and now it was going back to the rock vibe. Not modern rock, though. No, it was more the classic rock sounds of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, courtesy of The Roomsounds.
The band has a dedicated following, and amassed a sizable crowd shortly before they started, all of which added to the excitement of seeing them,
The four-piece jumped right into their 38-minute long set with “Chasin’ a Fox”, which was one of many favorites they did from their debut album this night. The first note had several of the people moving, turning the floor of the Curtain Club into more of a dance space, which is something that doesn’t happen here too often. Afterwards, singer and rhythm guitarist, Ryan Michael, welcomed everyone to the show, and along with the band name, he also threw out the title of their next song, which was “Young and Reckless”. After that little anthem about being carefree, lead guitarist, Sam Janik, started them on one of their newer songs, which I can only assume is titled “Lay My Head Down”, since the phrase was repeated multiple times on each chorus. Around the halfway point of the song, the band took off on an instrumental break, some sweet guitar riffs and thick bass lines from Red Coker, but it was drummer, Dan Malone , who really shone, repeatedly hitting the hi-hat, almost turning the breakdown into a drum solo. “Honest Man” was another cut from their “We’re #1” record, and was another fiery number that had the crowd moving while Ryan crooned out the chorus, “Keep me honest, keep me true, never walk away when I’m talking to you. Look me in the eye, tell me I’m wrong. The cards are in your hands. I just want to die an honest man.” Afterwards, Dan embarked on a drum solo, and to me it seemed like it was geared to fill the silence. “…We’re feeling pretty good, so we’re gonna do another new song. If that’s okay?” Ryan asked the fans, who I think could have cared less what the band did, so long as they were still cranking out music. I believe it was called “Don’t Give Up On Me”, and following it up was the slightly slower, “Don’t Come Home”, which has a bit of the blues mixed in with soulful chords, which really drive the song. “This next song has been getting some airplay on 91.7…” said Ryan, as he set up their next song. (By the way, that is the local Dallas station, KXT.) It was their lead single, “Couldn’t Break My Spirit”, and the best part came at the end when they all cut loose and proceeded to shred. Red tore it up on the bass, with Sam and Ryan killing it on their guitars, while Dan furiously pounded out the beats, before they all brought it to an explosive finish. Some more drum work kept the show flowing while Ryan again briefly talked with the audience, and after doing another newer song of theirs, they found out they had enough time for one more song and had to cut things short. That meant they had to axe a few tunes everyone was wanting to hear, but they went with the one everyone would be happy with. That was “Ripper”, and with it came a full-blown assault of classic rock ‘n’ roll.
Even though they didn’t get to do everything they had planned, it was still a remarkable show, and out of the small handful of times I’ve seen the band, this one was definitely the best.
Very solid performance, and I liked the addition of the drums in between some of the songs, because it really kept the flow of the show going.
If you haven’t heard of them yet, then by all means go listen to and possible buy their debut record, “We’re #1”. If you like old school rock then you’ll love The Roomsounds, because their sound is similar enough to some bands to be paying homage to them, but they add their own flare to it all, making it stand out as being all their own.
Their next show is going to be on March 30th at The Prophet Bar as part of the second annual Deep Ellum Big Folkin’ Festival. After that they have a gig at Gexa Energy Pavilion in Dallas as part of KXT’s Summer Cut Festival. They’ll be opening for acts like The Avett Brothers, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals and many others.
The final act of the night was The Orange, who would take things more to the modern style of rock, and add a psychedelic vibe to it.
The instrumentalists, drummer, Cody Waits, guitarist, Kirk Livesay, bassist, Jason Jessup, and tambourine player, Tyler Spears, started their first. It sounded rather familiar, but the music bed sounded a little different, and it was only when vocalist, Scott Tucker, got on stage and started singing that I knew for sure it was “Teleprompters”. It had been way too long since I last heard that classic, which is also my favorite Orange song, and it sounded fantastic this night and was a brilliant opener. Now, when Scott took the stage, he appeared to be in rare form. That is to say, he seemed to be pretty inebriated. That was confirmed countless times throughout their set, like after that song when he went on a tangent, that was actually pretty spot on. “…We all work meaningless jobs we hate…” he said, “…But rock ‘n’ roll will free you…” he added. That lasted a minute or two as he spoke about shitty jobs that we’re all forced to work, but this was the weekend and it was time to cut loose and have a good time with The Orange. “This song’s called Such a Drag” Jason said, as they moved on. Scott chimed in then, adding his take on the title, “…Such a Mother Fucking Drag.” I’ll go ahead and say, and probably repeat by the end, but as faded as Scott was, the performance didn’t suffer in the least, and that tune sounded as good as it always does. Chicago Dan joined them for their next song, adding some sweet harmonica licks to the single from the bands forthcoming album, “Mr. Moneymaker”. Right in the middle of it, Scott broke a string on his guitar, but it seemed to go unnoticed, because upon finishing it, they moved on to “Valium”, sans Chicago Dan. “I Want a Girl” is another killer song the band has concocted, which is sure to go down as classic, but it wasn’t until they finished that song that the night got really interesting. At that point Scott had abandoned his guitar and didn’t use one for most of their remaining time on stage. According to their setlist, they were supposed to do “Doomsday…” now, but Scott had already announced to the crowd that they were doing “Blow Up”. One of the guys pointed out that wasn’t what was planned, to which Scott replied, “Fuck that! We’re in the mood to do Blow Up right now!” Yes, they were going off track, and really, what truly memorable rock show ever played out according to how the band had originally intended it to? Chicago Dan strode back on stage and they also enlisted the help of guitar virtuoso, Buddy Neighbors. The guy really is amazing, and he alone held my interest for most of the song as I watched his hands dance up and down the neck of the guitar, giving the song somewhat of a soulful sound. Scott again became the center of attention, though, and early on in the song he jumped off the stage and into the crowd for a moment. That wasn’t the best part, though. The best moment came at the end when he leapt onto Codys’ drum kit, causing a couple of the cymbals to topple over. He then laid there for a few seconds before getting up, and after chatting with the audience momentarily, they were ready to move on. Dan stuck around, adding his harmonica to the start of “Doomsday for Mr. Denton”, which gives it a western sound, before soon erupting into a real rocker with hints of psychedelic. Afterwards, they again strayed from the setlist, when Scott asked Cody if he was down do go ahead and do “Dead Nation”. Cody was. They totally switched things up, with Scott taking over drum duty, while Cody moved up to stage right and grabbed an acoustic guitar, while Buddy again joined them to add an extra layer to the music. Cody also sang lead on the song, which was a real change of pace from what they had been doing, but the whole song sounded beautiful. They followed it with another slower song, which only featured Cody (still playing the acoustic), Buddy, Dan and Scott. “This song’s called Holy Ghost.” Scott said, prompting Cody to ask if he had changed the name of the song, as it was called “Oh Lord”. “You know me, I’m always changing song names.” Scott replied while laughing. “Where’s that weird drum I play?” Scott then asked, looking around for it. “Aww, fuck it. I don’t feel like playing tonight anyway.” He said, and right then their stage hand brought it to him. They were then ready to play “Peace of Mind”, which was another more acoustic based song, and was one of my favorites of their set. Upon finishing it, Jason and Kirk rejoined them on stage, and for their final two songs, it was just the four core members of the group. Oh, and Scott was back serving as the rhythm guitarist for these last couple of songs. Their most epic songs had been saved for last, one of which was the largely instrumental, “Cityscape”. They bled it perfectly into the final song of their 74-minute long set, so well in fact, I wasn’t even sure when they began “Thirty Minutes to Midnight”. It was only when Scott started asking everyone to close their eyes and really listen to the music that I knew they had moved on to it. Both the transition and the song were flawless, and, like it usually is, it was an phenomenal note to end the show on.
There is no doubt about it that this WAS the most entertaining Orange show I’ve ever seen and it was also by far the best. Scott defied the odds and somehow managed to stay on the ball (and his feet) and delivered a performance like everyone has come to expect from him, only intensified. He really does deserve props for that, ‘cause a couple examples come to mind of other bands I’ve seen where a member has over indulged before the show, resulting in a sloppy, careless performance.
I also liked how Jason, Kirk, Cody and Tyler all rolled with it, laughing and shaking their heads when Scott jumped onto the drums, and just acted like they had done a thousand other shows like this.
It was an all around epic show, and if you missed it, then you missed what will probably go down as one of the most legendary Orange shows ever.
Right now the band is still working on their newest release, which is slated for release sometime this spring to possible summer. Based on the live versions of the songs, it’ll probably be one of the best releases of 2013.
The next chance to see them will be on March 26th at Trees in Dallas, when they will open for Soul Asylum. Also check out their first EP, “A Sonic Collection of Short Stories From La La Land”, on iTunes.
By the time they finished it was two in the morning and the Curtain was getting ready to close. It was a killer night for sure, I enjoyed the smorgasbord of music.
Torch Entertainment was presenting a show at the Curtain Club in Dallas this night, and I almost didn’t go to it. The reason being it was billed as a metal show, and any casual reader should know by now I’m not a real metal fan.
There are a few metal acts I enjoy, such as Dallas area based, Light the Fire, who was actually the catalyst for me wanting to go to this show, after they were added on semi last minute. I then gave a quick listen to the headlining band, Affiance, who proved to be a different type of metal than what I had expected. There was legitimate singing on their songs, unlike the throaty screaming that plagues the metal industry these days. I was thoroughly impressed after listening to their recorded stuff, and knew I had to be at the show to witness what they were like in the live environment.
First up this night was the Denton based metal act, Wake the Dreamless. With their first song, they proved to be better than I expected. They were a definite metal band, but vocalist, Joe Bustnaji, did equal amounts of singing in both a “clean” and “dirty” style, which kept my interest. They, or rather guitarist, Alex Reuda, had some slight technical difficulties after that song, but fixed it soon enough. “This next song’s called Polarized.” Said Joe, as Alex and fellow guitarist, Cameron Grantham, bassist, Josh Manalo, drummer, Neil Geisel, and keyboard player, David Kang, started the lengthy intro of the song. It was borderline epic, spanning over six minutes, and had a nice flow to it. The issues with Alex’s guitar still persisted at this point, causing the band to put things on hold while he fixed it. At one point he turned his amp back on, thinking the problem had been taking care of, only to have the venue filled with a barrage of ear piercing sounds before he quickly turned it off. Joe managed to use that as banter, though. “That’s our new wave of death metal. It’s just noise…” he said. Once that was fully resolved, they got their next song going, which was heavier than the previous two, and that only progressed with the next and final song of their 23-minute long set.
They were offered a chance to do one more, as they had some time leftover, but apparently those four songs were all they had planned for on this night, and had nothing else ready to pull out.
They were good. You could tell they were a newish band (according to their Facebook page they formed almost two years ago), and they never seemed like a truly cohesive unit, rather five guys who were all doing their own thing. The skill is there, though, they just need to bring it all together. I also found it an interesting choice that they had a keyboard player, since it doesn’t necessarily fit with the genre of music they play, and while I did find the guitars, bass and drums often overpowered the keys, when you could hear them, they added a nice layer to the music.
You can get a free download of their single, “Polarized”, by going HERE, and in the near future they will be releasing their newest EP.
After them was Light the Fire, who can often be seen headlining the Curtain Club, or at least acting as the main support band, but not this night.
I was, shall I say, intrigued to see them this night. Very recently, their original singer, Jamie Glasgow, decide to leave the band, who rather quickly found a replacement. This was only going to be their second show with the new frontman, though, and I was curious to see what Light the Fire version 2.0 was like.
Their set started in the routine, yet original way, as a rap song began to blare. When the curtain finally opened on them, guitarists, Ryan Dickinson and Felix Lopez, were both sporting some sunglasses, bobbing their heads to the music. Bassist, Andrew Penland, was doing the same, just sans the glasses. Once that sample track began to fade out, Blake Hein led them into the first song with some heavy drum beats, while Jeff Gunter raced onto the stage. “How are we doing Dallas!?…” he asked, leaving little time for a response as he began screaming the opening line of “Don’t Fail Me Now”. The “moment of truth” came rather swiftly, and I realized I had nothing to fear, as he kept the singing pretty true to form to what it had been. “This next song can be found on our EP.” He said hastily, while Felix and Ryan let loose the triumphant notes of the title track from their EP, “Note To Self”. There weren’t a ton of people there this early on, but the ones who were and were up front watching helped them out here, chanting, “HEY!”, right along with Andrew and Jeff on the songs bridge. They powered through this 24-minute long set, and Blake wasted no time, counting them right into their next tune. “This is a brand new song, Dallas.” Jeff said, “It’s called Thunder Cunt.” I still believe this is the heaviest song the band has played to date, and while I liked it the first time I heard it, I thought it sounded even better now. Though I’m not sure if it’s due to them simply having played it live a little more or if it was because of Jeff. When they were about halfway through it, they took a musical break, which Jeff used to introduce his band mates. “Do you know what, Dallas?” he asked after naming everyone, “I never felt so good in my life!” he screamed, resuming the song. It was directly followed by “Under My Skin”, which worked incredible well, since it’s another brutal number, in all the right ways. “Thoughts” came next, and Jeff successfully got some of the fans to jump up and down and just have a good time at the start of it. That brought them to their final song of the night, which was another new one from their upcoming EP, and as they tore into it, Ryan and Felix each hopped onto a box on their respective side of the stage, churning out the notes on another pretty killer song.
It may have been a (slightly) abridged set, but they still managed to pack it full of rock. In fact, I think there was a higher than normal quantity of it this night, even by Light the Fire standards.
They were just on fire this night (no pun intended). Andrew and Blake created the perfect rhythm section this night, especially during “Not to Self”, where Andrew was pounding out the bass lines and reacting in perfect synch with every thundering beat. It was true musicianship through and through, and not just from them but the whole outfit.
That leads us to Jeff. It would be accurate to say I hate when any band gets a new singer, simply because it changes any bands overall sound so much. Sometimes that’s for the better, but there have also been a few acts that have lost me as a fan due to replacements like that.
Luckily, Jeff doesn’t alter the band’s sound that much, though. He definitely has his own voice, which lacks the higher tone that was normal for Jamie, but I look at that as a good thing. It allows Jeff to make the songs his own in a way, while some of his stage mannerisms are similar enough to their former frontman’s that it’s not going to be a drastic change from the live show the fans were used to seeing.
Very solid, especially considering Jeff had only been with the band for three weeks at this point, and had only performed once with them in the live setting.
It’s too early to say if Light the Fire will be even better now than they were before, but they are every bit as great as they’ve always been, and with a new EP/DVD set to be released in June, I’d say the future looks pretty bright for them.
If you haven’t already, check out their debut EP, “Note to Self”, and if you can, go to one of their upcoming shows. They’ll be rocking Click’s Live in Tyler on March 9th, then the Abbey Underground in Denton on the 10th. March 23rd will find them at Hartline’s in Greenville, and they again be rocking the town on April 20th, this time at The Hanger. They even have some dates booked in May, so to see the full listing, visit their REVERBNATION PAGE, where you can also get a free download of their title track.
The third act of the night also happened to be the first of two female fronted bands on this bill, and that was Solice.
This just so happened to be the bands one year anniversary of performing, having done their first live show almost a year to the day of this one, which also took place at the Curtain.
I don’t remember exactly how I came across them, but I had been wanting to see one of their shows for at least the last six months, and was excited that I was finally getting the opportunity.
Once the curtain opened, frontwomen, Xtina, made her way on stage and dropped the band’s name for anyone who didn’t know, along with asking how everyone was doing. She finished with, “…”This is a brand new song. It’s called Not Giving Up.” Rob was the one who started the song, with some very thick bass notes. It was a great and slightly more unique way to open it up, but the song didn’t spring to life until guitarist, Juan, and drummer, Ryan, joined the mix, and that was when you knew it was on. After their second song, Xtina had, had enough of the large empty spaces in front of the stage, and she asked everyone to come and join them, and some of the people who were standing further off did just that. They cranked out a couple more songs before Juan started them on one from their first EP, “Break Free”. It was very fast paced and driven, which subsequently made it engaging to the audience and was easy to rock out to. And as if it weren’t heavy enough with thunderous rhythm section of drummer, Ryan, and Rob, the backing vocals (or rather screams) that Juan threw in really set it off as a hard rock song. “We’ve got a couple more for you.” Said Xtin, announcing their next tune was called “Trapt”. It got off to a slower start. So slow that actually she and Juan took a seat on the drum riser, while Rob sit back on his amp. The tranquil sounds didn’t last long, though, as the song soon roared to life, and the three of them jumped back into action. That brought them to the final song of their 32-minute long set, which was another staple of theirs, “The Mask”. Xtina had used her keyboard that was setup at center stage briefly earlier in the night, but it really got put to use know as she used it through part of the first verse, giving the song a beautiful texture. “The outer world puts on a face. Halloween is every day. How you acts not how you feel, no one knows the you that’s real…”She sang, with it making the transition to a full-blown rock song at that point.
It was a pretty high energy show they put on, and they were every bit as good as I had hoped they’d be. They play a nice blend of hard rock tinged with metal, with the metal sound definitely coming from Juan’s guitar work, and even slightly via Rob and his bass. That’s balanced out by Xtina, who has a powerhouse of a voice, and while she sounds great on their recordings, they in no way capture how incredible she sounds in the live setting.
If you haven’t seen them already, they are definitely an act to check out, and one I hope to see a little more often now.
They have several shows coming up, beginning with March 13th, when they will be performing on the Back Porch stage at Six Flags in Arlington. On March 15th they’ll be at Tomcats West over in Fort Worth, while on the 30th they’ll be down in Houston at Walters. They also have a gig lined up for April 13th at Treff’s in Waco. Lastly, if you head over to their REVERBNATION PAGE, you can get a free download of “Break Free”, as well as purchase the other three songs that comprise their EP.
Cull the Heard was next, who was yet another act I had never heard of prior to this, and didn’t know what to expect from them.
“Take Me” kicked off their 28-minute set, with vocalist, Davon Says, singing the first few lines in, of all styles, acappella. “You can’t take my life from me. I’m too strong for it, you see?…” he sang, demonstrating he had quite the voice on him, with his pitch being perfect as he hit each note. The metal part of their music soon began, though, with some fast paced guitar notes from Eric Dando and deafening beats Jim Stephenson was pounding out. That was when Davon began shouting out the lyrics in a more throaty voice, and while I usually dislike vocal styles like that, this turned out to be an exception. Actually, it still sounded good, and the anger it evoked fit with what the song was about. And it only helped that they already had me fully captivated with their energetic performance. After it, they did one titled “Lead Me Home”, and before the following song, Davon offered a brief explanation of what it was about. “…It’s about chasing your dreams…”, adding you just need to do what you enjoy. It was aptly called, “I Want More”, and got off to a softer start, before it swelled to a point it could give any metal song a run for its money. They followed it with “Pieces”, which Davon said was about “…Putting the pieces of your life back together. ‘Cause no one else is going to do it for you…”, and upon finishing it they did “Dim”. Davon used a cordless mic, and right as the song started he leapt off stage into the crowd, before making his way through everyone and eventually walking out the door, presumably out onto the patio. I can honestly say that out of the nearly one hundred shows I’ve seen here at the Curtain, I’ve never seen anyone do that before. That left Eric, Jim and their bassist alone on the stage, but they were more than capable of putting on a show that held your attention until Davon rejoined stormed back in and rejoined them. “Part of It” was another aggressive number and one you could really head bang to, and that left them with only one more song, during which Eric shredded on his guitar for a killer solo.
I liked these guys a whole lot more than I thought I would. Scratch that, I think love is a more fitting word over “like”, and out of the local openers, they ended up being my second favorite.
The stage show was excellent, with Davon exerting most of the energy, at least in terms of being the most active, constantly roaming about and really engaging the crowd. He’s about as solid a frontman as you could find and a real beast, while Jim, Eric and the groups bassist all appeared to be masters of their craft as well.
Impeccable. That’s a good word to sum up their show this night, and I will definitely be attending more in the future.
They’ll be playing at Tomcats West in Fort Worth on March 22nd and May 5th, the latter of those dates being another Torch Entertainment show. They’ll also return to Dallas in between those gigs, again rocking the Curtain Club on April 12th.
The last of the local openers was the Fort Worth based, Deaf Angel.
It had been some time since the last time I had seen them (about eight months), during which time they’ve made some changes. One of those changes is the acquisition (or re- acquisition) of Duston Daulton, who is now the rhythm guitarist. They’ve also written a lot of new music for their upcoming LP, which made up the bulk of their 26-minute long set this night.
Their opener was one of those new tunes they unleashed on the audience, and I don’t think there’s any arguing that it’s one of the best things the band has done thus far. Lead guitarist, Lee Daniels, and Dustin cranked out some great riffs on it, even having nice lull that gave the impression it was over, before the group exploded back into it. Vocalist, Tina Downs, added some keys to the next song at the start of their next song, “Goodbye”, which was one of only two songs they did from their “We Will Rise” EP. That didn’t last long though, as she soon left the keyboard, which was set up by the drum kit, getting back to the forefront of the stage to rock out. It’s a very rhythm heavy song, with some killer drum work from Scott Van Slyke, which made it easy for bassist, Kelly Robinson, to thrash around. I also want to say I like the way Scott sits up his kit, which is to the side rather than facing the audience, allowing everyone to better see the skills he posses. “Judge” was another new song they did, and afterwards, Tina asked everyone a question. “Does anybody know who we are?!” The audience cheered, prompting her to ask, “Who are we?!” The fans shouted back at her, “DEAF ANGEL!”, which went on a few times. It’s also worth noting that out of all the opening bands, more eyes were on them than anybody else. That led them to their other song off their most current EP, “Rise Up”, which was just one of many this night that had Scott adding some backing vocals, which really metaled up their sound. Following it was “Face”, and after learning they had enough time for one more, Tina said, “…Let’s get crazy…”, stating that “Crazy” was the song title, and was a good one to conclude their show with.
I’ve only seen them a handful of times, but this was the best Deaf Angel show I’ve caught. I thought that they brought it even more than they usually do. Part of that was probably from Dustin, who I think helped broaden their sound and kick it up a notch, both in terms of the sound and their live show. He wasn’t all of it, though. Kelly put on a show by himself and it was evident he was feeling it for every single second they were on stage. I’ve said this many times in the past, but I find it hard to always pay attention to the drummers of any band when there are three to four other band members constantly moving around, making it hard to see them, but Scott was impressive enough I made a point to give him my full attention. While Tinas’ voice, which is powerful and attention grabbing, was just as big of a focal point.
Later in the year they’ll be releasing their new full-length record, “Brutally Beautiful”, but in the meantime, check out the singles they have available on ITUNES.
They served as an excellent final warm-up, but now it was finally time to see what Affiance was all about…
They launched right into their 47-minute set, which began with “You Will be Replaced”. The commanded a small crowd, at least at first, but most everyone who surrounded the stage were fans through and through, singing along to every word, like the songs chorus, “We’re fighting as hard as we can to not be forgotten. We’re running as fast as we can. To the front lines we live on forever.” It didn’t even take that full song to have me completely engrossed with the band, more like the first minute of it, and it was already obvious this was going to be quite the spectacle. Material from their newest album was the main focus point this night, though they did a couple from their 2010 debut, “No Secret Revealed”, such as their second song, which singer, Dennis Tvrdik, quickly mentioned was called “Nostra Culpa”. Thus far they had been pretty music oriented, but during the little break they started letting their personalities come out, subsequently building a bit of a rapport with the ever growing audience. Dennis said he eaten too much food at one of their gas station stops, which was now causing him to belch. He apologized to everyone, though I never heard any of it being picked up by the mic, then stated their next song was “Righteous Kill”. About halfway through the song, drummer, Patrick Galante, showed off just what kind of skill he has, tossing his drum sticks in the air one at a time, always knocking out some beats with the one that was currently in his hand, making it look incredible effortless. Also, when he wasn’t singing on that one, Dennis was often surveying the crowd and bore a very determined look with a fiery passion in his eyes. It made it crystal clear that he, along with the rest of the band, took this seriously and were going to leave it all on the stage. A sample track played before their next song, as guitarists, Brett Wondrak and Dominic Dickinson, as well as bassist, Cameron Keeter, geared up to start their next song, the lead track from “The Campaign” album, “Kings of Deceit”. “Are you awake, Dallas?!” asked Dennis once the song was finished, which caused everyone to roar back at him, showing they were still very much alive. While that was going on, Deaf Angel’s, Tina Downs made her way on stage, as the band started “Bohemian”. She added some backing vocals on parts of the chorus, and I believe it was the start of the second verse where she briefly took over the lead. That earned Deaf Angel a shout out, and Dennis mentioned how much they liked the band, and that they had shared the stage with them a few times in the past. Topic of conversation then turned to the bands home state of Ohio (they hail from Cleveland). One of the fans shouted something about how great Ohio was, but Dennis quickly responded with, “…Now parts of Ohio suck…”, saying that there were a few not so great parts of it. Things then circled back to an earlier topic, as Dennis said he was still feeling “gassy”, to the point he thought he might puke. A fan asked if maybe it instead stemmed from having too much to drink, and surprisingly, he answered by saying he doesn’t drink before shows. “…That’ll fuck you up…” he said, meaning it ruin your voice when you need it most. He went on to say he had only thrown up once before during a show and it was because he had too big a meal, and luckily tonight did not make for a second time. They then moved on, firing up “The Cynic”, and while Dominic, Brett, Cameron and Patrick raced through the intro, Dennis outstretched one arm, acting as if he were holding a shotgun, then “firing” it in synch with one of the drumbeats, right before he started singing. “We the Machines” followed that, but first Dennis asked everyone to headbang to what was about to ensue, saying he wanted to see some “…deep headbanging, all in unison…” Nearly everyone obliged. The banter continued afterwards, when Dennis said, “…As you may know, people from Cleveland are kind of Dallas Mavericks fans, because y’all kicked Lebron James’s ass a couple of years ago…” I believe he even referred to the NBA star as a “piece of shit”. “Peace of Mind” was the next song they did, and it was the only song of their set that didn’t go over smoothly. A song or two before, Dominic had switched to another guitar, and while shredding away on this tune one of the strings broke. His band mates noticed it, but didn’t pay it much attention, acting like professionals as they powered through it, still giving it their all. “I’m sorry, guys. My string broke.” Dominic said when the song concluded, seeming pretty sincere with his apology. They stated they only had a couple left at this point, and Dennis asked for everyone who was a warrior to move up front, causing everybody to pack in tightly. With his choice of words, I expected a different song, but instead they performed the title track from their 2012 record, “The Campaign”. I’d say it was good way to start winding things down, but I don’t know how much winding down was actually done, because everyone still appeared heavily invested in the show. They had saved the best for last, and to ease them into their final song, the track “Mad as Hell” began to play. For those who don’t know, it’s a speech by the character, Howard Beale, taken from the ’76 film, Network. “I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job…” it started, during which time Cameron put his bass down, resting it against the drum riser. He neared the edge of the stage, pacing back and forth from one side to the other, inciting the crowd by trying to get them to make some noise, and could often be seen lip-synching to the speech. “…”I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” By that time, Cameron had his bass back on, as Dennis yelled the opening line of “Call to the Warrior”, “Get up off the ground!”.
I half expected an encore, but no, that really was it. Not that I was disappointed by any means, it’s just that they were so damn good I would have loved to have heard more.
Now Affiance is a true metal band whose music I can really get behind. Like I said earlier, it’s the constant screaming that really turns me off of most metal music, but that’s kept to a minimum in Affiance’s music. When Dennis does scream, it more just adds a nice effect to the music, while is actual singing voice is nothing short of phenomenal and gripping. He sounds every bit as good live as he does on their albums, probably even better. Both Brett and Dominic came off as being masters of the axe, shredding almost nonstop, while Cameron could command the audience every bit as good as Dennis did, and Patrick was a true machine on the drums.
It was really an off the wall show they put on, and in terms of energy and showmanship, there’s no reason they couldn’t or shouldn’t be headlining much bigger venues in Dallas and elsewhere. Of course they might not have the necessary fan base for that yet, but they’ll get there. After all, this was (surprisingly) their first ever headlining tour, and for a Thursday night, I’d say their Dallas stop turned out to be a monumental success. And whenever they come back through, I know I’ll make a point to attend the show, and you would be wise to do the same.
At this point, their tour is almost over, with the remaining dates being March 6th at Live 59 in Plainfield, Illinois and the 7th at The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan. That’s not all their shows, though. They have a few in later March in the states of New York and New Jersey. They’ll also be on the road for a lot of April, hitting cities in Virgina, New York, Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri. For full details on when and where they’ll be, go HERE. Also, check out both of their full-length records, plus their cover of “The Final Countdown”, in ITUNES.
Congrats to Torch for putting on such a successful show. It was definitely one for the books, and I feel there’s a pretty good chance this will be one of the best shows I see all year.
All photos were taking by Danny Motta of Danny Mota Photography. All rights belong exclusively to him. Visit his OFFICIAL WEBSITE and to see all of the pictures from this show, go HERE.
Wake the Dreamless
Light the Fire
Cull the Heard
At this point it had been just barely over two weeks since the last concert I saw, and I was in desperate need of a fix.
There were a couple shows going on, and I opted for the one at my favorite Deep Ellum haunt, the Curtain Club.
Gorilla Productions was putting on a show here, which had spanned most of the day, beginning at five that afternoon, but of course most of the better acts had been saved for later in the night, such as The Bedlam Brothers, which was the band I was most interested in.
When I first arrived, there was a rapper on stage, and poor one at that. Granted, I’m not at all a fan of that genre, but I can at least be objective and admit when someone has talent, regardless of my personal opinions. But I found this guy to be just plain bad.
A trio called The Ones You Loved took the stage next, consisting of husband and wife duo, Tyler and Camille De Larm, plus one. Tyler was the guitarist and lead singer, while Camille played the keys and offered some backing vocals, and rounding out the lineup was a bassist.
They did look a little out of place in this venue that primarily hosts rock bands, but hey, you should never judge a book by its cover. But of course it’s okay to judge it by its contents, and in this case, the “contents” were less than stellar.
Tyler has no real vocal talent, and about all he could muster was a whiney singing voice that was far from appealing to me. I wasn’t too crazy about the music either, which was dominated by the keys/synthesizers, and I guess could be called electro-pop. Luckily their set was short, only about five or six songs, and despite some of their fans asking for more, time did not permit for it.
I have to give them credit, though, because despite my opinions about them, they did put on as energetic a show as they knew how. I believe it was before their second tune that Tyler encouraged everyone to dance to, “…But no one will be dancing more than men.” He stated. Camille did her part, too, and was often jumping up and down while banging on the keys.
I return to what I first said about them seeming out of place, and there were some times during their set that to me seemed a bit awkward, and oddly enough, that ended up being a rather endearing quality for The Ones You Loved.
Okay, I didn’t like them all that much, but maybe you will. They have a couple of records available in iTunes, if you’d like to give them a listen.
Up next was the Austin trio, The Bedlam Brothers, who were the main reason I was out this night.
The intro that began their set helped give the impression that they were the most professional band of the night. The sample track was rather beautiful, and soon after it started, Ben Buono, who was the groups fill-in drummer for the night, made his way on stage and got behind the kit, where he proceeded to pound out some beats. Eventually, Craig McLaughlin rounded out the rhythm section, adding some nice bass riffs to the mix, but things really sprang to life when singer and guitarist, Nick Santa Maria, started playing some notes and ran out on stage. They launched into a 42-minute long set, starting with a couple newer songs of theirs (Note: I don’t know how “new” they actually are, but they are that are yet to be released.) During the second song, Nick was rocking out so much that he knocked the cord of his guitar, as it suddenly fell silent. He didn’t seem to worried by it, though, and just shrugged before picking it up and plugging it back in, then got right back to business. In between songs, they were often conversion with the crowd, which was pretty decent sized, and at this point formally announced who they were and where they hailed from. “…But we call Dallas home…” Nick said, stating that they all come from the area, and have a lot of friends and family up here, who were obviously out to support them. The next song, “Not Enough”, might have made Ben feel a little nostalgic, as it was one he and Nick had done in their previous band, Skylines, but has been tweaked since, and now mines the Southern Rock genre. One thing was for sure, though, Ben appeared more happy on that one than any other this night, which is saying a lot, because he was always sporting a smile. They tackled a newer song next, which Nick mentioned they had debuted at their last Dallas gig, before asking the audience if they’d help out. The song was titled “Mary Rose”, and he belted out the name of this fictitious girl a few times before they began the song, coaching the crowd on what to say after that. It was simple, but only a few people joined in shouting out, “Mary was a tortured soul!” It’s one of the tracks that will be on their forthcoming album, and I have to say, I was blown away by it. It’s on a whole new level than some of their other stuff, and is really amazing. Afterwards, they plugged their little merch table, which had quite a few free download cards as well as some wristbands that had both the band’s name and album title on them. “…It’s over yonder…” said Craig, when pointing fans in the general direction. That got Nick’s attention. “…I’ve known you for almost ten years, and I’ve never heard you say the word, “yonder.” He said, looking a bit baffled. That made for a humorous little interlude, before they tore back into another song, which I believe was called “First Time”. Also, and I don’t remember exactly, but I think it was also around this point where they did their catchy song, “240 Miles”. Anyway, after one of those songs, Nick started having some slight technical difficulties, then asked for a light on the stage. “…I feel like a jackass…” he said, saying he had misplaced his capo and had to look for it. “…I always lose my stuff. It’s something my mom’s been trying to fix for almost twenty-four years…” he said, laughing, and added he didn’t think it would ever change. He needed that capo for another new one, which was also the one they were offering a free download of. It was “We Ride Tonight”, and also required some participation from the fans. It’s a stellar song, with some killer guitar riffs, and ended up being the highlight of their set. They had a couple left at this point, and after one, “Save Me”, Nick mentioned that he and Craig had first played the Curtain when they were about fifteen. “…We thought we were good…” he said. Then noted that more of their friends seemed to stick around for them once they were of age to drink, proving drinks really do make bands sound better… At least maybe to some people. That led them to the final song of the night, which Nick pointed out was the first song he and Craig started working on when The Bedlam Brothers were first conceived. It was a classic from Nick’s song catalog, and one that I don’t think reached its full potential until this band. It was “My 9 to 5”, and is still an excellent way to cap a show off.
I had finally seen The Bedlam Brothers for the first time nearly three months ago, and in that time, they’ve really improved.
I was impressed before, but tonight I was just blown away. They polished things up, and their stage show was much more tight and all around better. Part of that could be attributed to the larger stage of the Curtain Club, verses the more intimate Liquid Lounge, which allowed both Craig and Nick to be more active. Then you have Ben, who was a great addition to the group, even if it was just a onetime thing, and had some chemistry with the others, too. Oh, and those new songs they cranked out are something else, and if they are any indicator, then their “Saddle Up” record is going to be a must listen.
Speaking of that, they’ll be right back here at the Curtain on March 8th to celebrate the release of said album. It’s probably going to be an night not to forget, so don’t miss out on it.
The Unlikely Candidates were on next. They’ve been around for a little while, 2008 to be exact, and while I’ve often heard the name, I had never seen them or listened to their stuff… And after seeing their set, I’m really regretting that.
Their an Indie Rock/Pop band, whose songs are pretty infectious, and about halfway through their opener I felt myself drawn towards the front of the stage. They kept things pretty short and sweet, bouncing from one song to the next, which vocalist, Kyle, said was “Hate to Love Me”. After another, they did what was arguably the best song of their all too short 28-minute long set, “Follow My Feet”. It’s got the hook, and had a few people dancing along to it while they sang along. To set up their next song, Kyle asked if there was anyone who was a fan of The Strokes, and more than a few people cheered at that. “Oh, well good. The you might find this cover somewhat enjoyable…” he said. He pointed out that not only are they his favorite band, but this was his favorite song of theirs. The track was “Someday”, and they did an absolutely amazing rendition of it. Possible even better than The Strokes themselves. I believe it was after that they did what Kyle said was their most philosophical song. At this point I don’t remember all the different layers he said it covered, as he described it all in pretty deep detail, but I think he began with something like it was about how insignificant one can feel when looking up and seeing all the stars. They had only one more after finishing it, and then that was their show.
I was a little disappointed, not by the band, but because I was enjoying their music so much I wanted them to play much longer.
It was still a great set, though, and I love their sound. Along with the typical guitar, bass and drums, they also had an acoustic guitar player. Now a lot of times, an acoustic can be drowned out by the louder, more dominate instruments, which was what I thought would happen with them. Not the case. Instead, it came through rather well, and added a gorgeous texture to all of their songs.
They have a show coming up in February 2nd at The Door in Dallas, and supposedly you should also be able to see them back at the Curtain on March 8th, for The Bedlam Brothers CD release show.
There was one last band scheduled at the Curtain Club, but I didn’t stick around for them. Instead, I crossed the patio over to the Liquid Lounge, where Denton’s own, The Gypsy Bravado was headlining.
I had actually seen the group once before, a little over two years ago. And while I had wanted to see them since, it just never worked out. And I wondered how good this show would be, because I heard from a friend, photographer, Jessy Huff, that the band had been drinking all day. That meant the show could go either way.
To say they were drunk would be an understatement, and even though I was standing pretty far back, you could tell from their eyes that they were beyond wasted.
Now, I have seen another band where at least one of their members was pretty far gone at one show, and it turned out to be one of the funniest and best shows I’ve seen said group do. But there’s a fine line between being a entertaining drunk and a sloppy one, and I was curious which side The Gypsy Bravado would come down on this night.
They opened with a very soulful song, that found keyboard player and primary singer, Mo Myles, guitarist, Shawn Bratton, and bassist, Jeff Dacus, all singing and harmonizing. It was an extraordinary number, and the way their voices intertwined with each other was dazzling. It also became immediately clear that whatever their state of inebriation, their music wasn’t going to suffer. In fact, I think it had the total opposite effect and made it sound even better. After another newer song of theirs, Mo announced to anyone who didn’t know it, that they had “…Been drinking all day…”. He didn’t hang on the subject long, though, and soon said they were going to play “What I Need”. It was a groovy one (that’s not an outdated term to use, is it?) with a sweet guitar solo/breakdown, which was perfectly balanced with some fiery parts on the keys. They did something a little different with their next song, and welcomed a friend of theirs on stage, who also happened to be a rapper (my apologies, as I don’t recall his name.) He walked up on stage with them. “I have something to tell you all.” He said, though it was barely audible, as the main mic had stopped working. It took them a minute, but they got the cable plugged back into it, and their friend revealed his words of wisdom. “…Always make sure the mic is plugged in.” he said, laughing. I was skeptical at first, because I’m not a big fan of how he was undoubtedly going to sing, or rather rhyme, but it turned out to be fairly good. He was talented in his chosen craft, as he busted out the lines of “California Zone”, and towards the end he even seemed to be free styling it, and doing a great job of it at that. He left them once it was finished, allowing the group to return to their Rock ‘n’ Roll jams, which included what seemed like the longest song of their set, “Mountain Tops”. It had a couple different layers to it, starting a bit slower, before working its way into a powerful song. And while it did seem pretty long, it didn’t drag. Possibly the funniest thing of their set was the fact that you could often hear them asking one another what song they wanted to do next. I mean, that happened at least every other song, and they’d quickly discuss. So next up, they opted for a new one. “It was written back in 1979” said one of the guys, possibly Jeff. They had been going for awhile at this point, and they stopped to ask the sound guy how much time they had left. His response, “One long one or two short ones.” Jeff was ready to do a couple more, but then drummer, Lou Anderson, spoke up. “Fuck it! Let’s do a long one!”here was no argument or anything, instead they just went with it and did a song from their “Through the Rabbit Hole” EP, “Dillinger (Rebel Son)”. It was another great example of how epic their music is, beginning with somewhat of a dreamy quality to it, before the drumbeats helped it explode into something you could really rock out to, and was rounded out with both a bass and guitar solo. That might not sound like it was a very long set, but in all it totaled 45-minutes.
I really don’t remember much from the other time I saw these guys, other than thinking they were alright. They were from alright this night, though… In a good way.
Granted, I don’t know what is par for these guys, but they seemed to be in rare form this night. And not only is the stage show pretty entertaining, but they also allow the music to speak for itself, and it will not doubt reel you in.
Check ‘em out, because regardless of your preference in music, chances are The Gypsy Bravado has at least one song that will appeal to you. And speaking of that, hopefully they’ll get some of those record in the near future.
In the meantime, you can get their EP in ITUNES, and even get a couple of FREE downloads from their REVERBNATION PAGE. They also have a show lined up for February 1st at Hailey’s up in Denton.
This was a pretty good night. I saw one band I like and became even more of a fan of theirs, and then got pulled in by a couple of others who I knew nothing or very little about beforehand. That’s a win in my opinion… At least it was until my car broke down on the drive home. But that’s another story.
The Curtain Club was hosting an all-star lineup this night, culminating with Moving Atlas getting a plaque to hang on the “Wall of Fame”.
That alone made it worth going to the show, but on top of that they had, as usual, assembled some talented bands to perform before and after them.
The first one up was The Results, who I did not see all of, as I didn’t get there quite early enough. Still, I caught the last 20-minutes or so of their performance.
I enjoyed what I saw, and they had some pretty good rock songs, like “Change the World”. They really excelled in the live performance aspect, though, delivering a pretty tight and high-energy performance.
It was a good start to the night, but it was after them when things got real serious, starting with In Memory of Man.
The bands been hard at work making new music, which seemed to dominate their 41-minute set this night, including their opening number. Thankfully, they still had some of the, shall we say, hits, from their first EP in the mix, like “Headshot”, which drummer, Javier Martinez, counted them into. The fast paced, in-your-face song definitely got the adrenaline flowing, and if anyone wasn’t already giving In Memory of Man their full attention, then that should was probably the song that got them fully captivated. It was also the song that made vocalist, Alex Lilly, sweat profusely, and he was asking anyone to get him some water. Someone then laughed that, that was all he was requesting, then he added, “…Or, you know, some other beverage.” “This next one’s called Don’t Tell Daddy.” He stated, before being told by lead guitarist, Chad Beck, they weren’t doing it, at least not right then. It was something better, though. “You all know this one…” he said, as Javier began yet another song. “Paper Planes” may be a slower one, but it’s also their most beautiful, and the very distinct and unique tone Alexs’ voice has shines through the best on it. After a couple more newer (or at least unrecorded) songs, they unveiled a nice little surprise. “…This is what started it all…” said Alex, right before the band tore into the song. Honestly, I didn’t know it, but when it was over Alex mentioned it was by Soundgarden, “…For all you young kids…” he added. No, I don’t know what exact song it was, but regardless, they did a pretty killer rendition of it. They took a little break at this point, as Alex thanked Moving Atlas and the other bands for putting this show together, and also mentioned how cool it was to be sharing a stage with Pete Thomas, singer of the band that would follow them, and perhaps best known as the frontman of Slow Roosevelt. He made a little speech about how way back when (I assume late 90’s or so) he started out as a fan of the music scene, and of the mighty Mr. Thomas, “…But eventually, we became the scene…” he said. After another new tune, they decided to end with “My Sweet”. That would have been a good way to close out the set, but luckily, they had a little more time then they realized, and proceeded to hash out what to play next. “How about Cause It Can?” Alex asked, “Cause we can!” And that final track from “The Reckoning” EP proved to be a fantastic end to the show.
Now, there were some technical issues early on, and for a couple minutes during a few songs Chad’s guitar couldn’t be heard. Though the remaining band members helped balance it out, so it didn’t subtract from the show too much. I’ll also say that the band was out of the performing game for quite some time. Due to the bands members conflicting schedules they couldn’t play much for awhile, and are just now really getting back into the swing of things. That said, this wasn’t as memorable as say, their CD release show a few years ago, which was an astounding show, but is was pretty enjoyable. I bet after they get a few more shows under their belt, they’ll be back to perfection, and then there just may be no stopping these guys.
They have two EP’s currently available, and you can get free downloads of both by visiting their SOUNDCLOUD PAGE. And keep a check on their FACEBOOK PAGE to see when they will have more upcoming shows.
White Elephant was up next, Will Jaeger let loose on the drums, all before the curtain even opened. It was appropriate beginning, seeing as this would be his final time as the percussionist of this heavy rock outfit. Once you could see him, he appeared to be as happy as ever, and he continued with the beats as his band mates got ready. They didn’t dilly-dally, and delivered a punch to the gut with their opener, “Another Rapture Missed”. It had been quite some time since I last saw these guys, and I had forgotten what a beast this song is in its live form, as vocalist, Pete Thomas, belted out the lyrics, like on the line, “…Everybody’s down on one knee, everybody’s got to pray…”. Suffice to say, that tune definitely got everyone’s blood pumping. “This next song is called Trust Between Liars and Thieves.” Pete stated, as they began another powerful number. Guitarist, Matthew Miller, started them into “October 5th”, which has a misleading, tranquil intro, and started it only after Pete had dedicated the song to his sister, who was in the audience. Many of their remaining songs were ones that have yet to be recorded, and I think even a few were new to me, such as second song after the previous one, which was actually pretty slow and tame by White Elephant standards, though I found it to be one of the best songs of their set. Afterwards, they did one whose title alone is enough to make you love it. “…This one’s called Girls That Fight are Beautiful.” Said Pete, who joined the crowd at one point during the song, pushing everyone he could, causing some people to step back, while others began the mosh pit he was trying to create. Yeah, that’s something to expect from a White Elephant show. After a few more tunes, their time seemed to be up, though there was one more song from their demo that they hadn’t done, and it was one that I’ve always felt was a staple. It seemed like it would be absent from this show, though. That was until Pete asked if they would have time for one more song. They got the okay. Will busted right into “Kill the Headlights and Drive”, and Matthew and bassist, Josh Armstrong, soon joined in. Pete again hopped off the stage, walking amongst the crowd and pushing up against the fans while he sang, and only seemed satisfied once he was able to watch a few people slam against each other in the “pit”. In all, it was a 37-minute long set, and one helluva set at that.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, very few, if even any, bands put on as aggressive and intense performance as what White Elephant does. It’s very easy to get caught up in it, and while I’m not big on the whole mosh pit thing and have never been a part of one, their music makes you want to just say, “Fuck it!”, and jump right in. They’re a force to reckoned with, however, a large part of that force was Will Jaeger.
He’s departing the band because, as Pete said, he has a wife and kid he needs to take care of. The reason is completely understandable, but at this point, I can’t imagine the band without him. He really is one of the most talented drummers I had the pleasure of seeing, and I doubt the shoes he leaves will ever be filled.
But the band has to try, of course, and are currently in the process of finding their new fourth member. On top of that, they are working on their first official record, which is slated for release sometime in 2013. So rest assured, this is going to be a big year for the band.
Keep a check on their REVERBNATION PAGE to see when they will have some more shows coming up. And while there, you can get a FREE DOWNLOAD of the song that closed out this nights set.
Following them was the band of the hour, Moving Atlas, who, without question, had the most people out this night, as their fans packed the venue to see history be made.
Multiple drumbeats began their 48-minute long set, and it was immediately noticeable that it was the intro into “Welcome Home”. Things then kicked into high gear when the guitars and bass were added to mix, as vocalist, Dunagin Gaines, sang the first few lines, “Can we please stop all the yelling? It’s getting us nowhere. Neither one of us will waive the white flag…” It was a good opener, and is one of my favorite songs off their latest EP, and to follow it up they did another I thoroughly enjoy, and the title track of said EP, “Machina”. Some may disagree with doing two of your biggest songs right off the bat like that, but for Moving Atlas, it works. Those tracks are very conducive to the atmosphere the band creates, which is an all-out rock show. Besides, they have enough other excellent material in their catalog to keep people around. Like the slower, “Red Shelter”, for example, which guitarist, Ben Scott, started, and seemed to be a pleasant surprise to the fans, who weren’t expecting it so early on. “Year of the Rat” brought things back up, particularly the intro, which features some slick sounds from Ben and lead guitarist, Ricky Dansby. It’s the chorus, though, where it really gets aggressive, with some fast paced guitar playing, thunderous beats, and some pulsating bass notes, while Dunagin belts out, “Trash. What’s in your hand? What do you feed your rodents? Trash. No chemical ban. Is it thallium mixed with lye?…” They did stop occasionally between songs, long enough for Geoff to thank everyone for coming out, the bands for playing or the Curtain Club for hosting this shindig in the first place. Oh, and promote their merch. They kept the talk to a minimum, though, and soon did the two remaining songs from their new record that are standards in the live set. First you had “Crawl out in the Cold”, which was followed by “Muse Accuser”. “…Find a place and get comfortable…” Dunagin told the crowd, when speaking of what a long, epic song it is. “It’s not that long.” Geoff said, before Dunagin retorted, “It’s pretty long.” He is right, but it at least doesn’t seem like a six and a half minute long song. “This next song hurts me.” Said Dunagin, once they had finished up their previous tune. That sounded a bit odd at first, until he added something to the effect of it involved him taking a long fall. A mile high fall to be exact. They then ripped into “5280”, which was a real highlight of the show. Though the best moment, at least for me, came with the next one, which was about “pachyderms” as Dunagin put it. It was a dead giveaway, and I felt my excitement mount, just waiting for them to start “Elephant Gun”. It truly is one of, if not the most amazing thing the band has ever written and is quite the beast when done live. At this point, their time was running short, but Dunagin talked the sound guy into letting them do two more. “…We’ll do a short one, then our last one…” he told them. “We haven’t done anything from this record yet…” he told the crowd, and I can only assume he was speaking of “Et Al”. I’ve said before that I don’t listen to that one much, so I’m pretty unfamiliar with all the songs on it. He said they were going to do one that was about two-minutes, though, and the only close to that time on the album is “Bread and Meat”. I don’t know if that’s correct or not, though. They then got to their final song of the night, and Ricky, Ben, Ross and Geoff created a killer intro for it. The piece they’ve concocted is a little haunting and sounds quite cool, before it gives way to “Parachute”, which was a good one to end with.
This was a rock show, plain and simple, which is precisely what any and every fan expects from Moving Atlas. They just get up there and proceed to rock, letting all their energy loose, which is dominating to say the least. I’ll say it again, they are one of the best bands currently in the D/FW music scene, and also one of the most professional. They also can be humorous, though.
For example, at one point Geoff noted that their plaque wasn’t quite done yet, so they wouldn’t be presented with it this night, but that it would adorn a spot on the vast empty space on the wall. He said something like it would be eleven by sixteen. “Feet?” Dunagin asked him. “Yes, feet.” Geoff replied.
They are currently working on some new material for an eventual new record, so their shows have been and probably will continue to be few and far between. So keep a check on their FACEBOOK PAGE to know when they will have another gig. Also, check out their music. They have their debut full-length plus three stellar EPs, all of which can be found in iTUNES.
Moving Atlas may have been the headliner, but there was one more band on after them, and that was Signs of Reason.
The band hasn’t done many shows lately, and the only other time I had seen them I only caught a portion of their set. So I was looking forward to seeing the whole thing this time around.
Being the final band on the bill meant they couldn’t waste any time, and lead guitarist, Brandon Goforth, began plucking the strings of his axe, getting “Only Human” underway. It’s got a pretty straight forward message to it, which can be found in the chorus. “…Still I make mistakes. I’m only human for Christ’s sake…”, vocalist, Garrett Gale, crooned while pacing about the stage. They mine a more Alt/Rock sound, and that song is a good example of it. And if it could be any type of indicator, then this was going to be an entertaining set. Next they did one of their many new songs, which will no doubt be on their forthcoming sophomore release, and continued the more amped up pace with “The Thief”, which has some killer percussion parts from Michael Johnson, as well as an out of this world guitar solo, courtesy of Brandon. Around this point in the show, Garrett offered some free merch to anyone who could tell a good joke (it had to be about a certain subject, which at this point I no longer recall.) It took a couple of tries, but eventually he accepted one, and handed the guy his prize. Another new song was “Wake Me Up”, which was easily one of the most gritty of their set, and one you could definitely sing along to. Now, one unique thing about this show was it was the first live show Michael Brown had ever done with the band, or so I believe. He took over the bass duties, while Chris Cole moved over to rhythm guitar, and it was during those last couple of songs where Michael really cut loose. It was readily evident that he’s a huge assist to the band, as he stomped about and thrashed around, and definitely helped elevate their stage performance (and presence) to a whole other level. “Where Rockstars Go to Die” came next, and with each listen I love it more and more. It’s by far my favorite song on their “One Bullet Away” record, and sounds even better when performed live. They did a couple more newer ones, and the latter of the two Garrett segued into by asking something like how all the assholes were doing. That word was used quite a bit during the tune, which went something like, “…You can’t tell me that you were born an asshole…”, and as you might have guessed, spoke of how no one is born acting like an a-hole, but rather, transformed into one. Before the final song of their 40-minute set, Garrett mentioned it has great personal meaning, and one he wrote around the time his child was born, sometime within in the past year or a little over. The obviously sentimental song is titled “Except for You”, and ended what had been an amazing night.
I must say, I was impressed right off the bat by Signs of Reason, and that feeling grew as their set progressed. I think they did have some slight technical difficulties here and there, but I was okay with, and still thought they were great… Especially with that new bass player I mentioned.
As I said, they play Alt/Rock music, and while it may not be anything new, they are certainly doing something right, and their music will attest to that fact, so give ‘em a listen.
You can buy their EP on iTUNES, or better yet, go see a show. They have one coming up on February 15th at the Curtain Club in Dallas. They’ll also be doing multiple sets at Six Flags in Arlington on March 17th. Oh, and you can download several songs of theirs for free as well, Simply go to their REVERBNATION PAGE.
This was a spectacular night of music, and while I hadn’t planned on it being the last show I caught in 2012, it ended up being just that. There was one or two more shows I wanted to see, but still, this talented lineup was not a bad way at all to end 2012.
This Saturday night found me at my personal favorite haunt in Deep Ellum, The Curtain Club.
Several bands were gracing the stage this night, and making it really cool was the fact that no band fit into the same genre, so it was going to be a very eclectic night.
The first band of then night was a band called Redline, and even though I got to the Curtain by about 9, I had missed practically all of the bands set. That’s what happens when they have six bands on a bill, they need to start them off early in the night.
I heard maybe their last song, and the trio was all right. They appeared to be younger, so they’re obviously not the most seasoned of musicians, but the song I heard wasn’t too bad.
The pace slowed down a little with the next band, but in a good way, as the acoustic duo, Right on Red, took the stage.
It had been a year or so since the last time I had seen the band, and they quickly reminded me of how great they are, opening their 35-minute set with a new song. Like many of their other tunes, it came across as a ballad, and a very good one at that. They followed with a song from their “Fast Track to Everywhere” EP, the upbeat song about moving on, “Golden Ticket”. “…I almost fell off my stool…” said vocalist, Ryan Gibbs, when the song was over. “…I was joking about that earlier, too. Saying, “I hope I don’t fall off the stool tonight.””. It was that occasional touch of humor that gave their show a relaxed feel, more like they were everybody’s best friend rather than a band being one hundred percent serious about the performance. It opened up a nice rapport between them and the fans, which isn’t something just every band does successfully. Soon, acoustic guitarist, Josh Franklin, started them on the next song, which was another new one to my ears. After finishing it, Ryan began another entertaining conversation, by first asking how many people planned to hook up with somebody here. “…I want to hook up with everyone here…” he said, adding he didn’t think he’d have time to. That also served as a fairly appropriate lead in to the song, “Diary”. “I think I made it in your diary today. I think I may have even gotten my own page…” he crooned on the chorus, with Josh adding some backing vocals in between each sentence. “Star Gazer”, which is another newer song, followed, and out of the handful of newer songs they played this night, this one stood out as the favorite of mine. “Hey, where’s Redline?!” Josh asked when the song was done, mentioning how great they were. But after calling them out, they seemed nowhere to be found. “…They bolted quick… And it’s not even a school night for them.” He joked. Afterwards, they did a rendition of the 4 Non Blondes classic, “What’s Going On?”, which sounded pretty spot on, and actually a little better than the original. That’s probably not the happiest song ever written, and they kept going with a similar song of theirs, “Stay”. “Alright, now that we’ve all slit our wrists…”, said Josh when that one was concluded, referring to the sad nature of the last couple of songs. They did one more song, and afterwards had time enough for one more, which was the final track from their EP, “Home”.
It was a great set they did, and their new material is every bit as good as their older stuff. Maybe even a little more so, as they sound a little tighter.
They have one last show this year, and it will be on December 31st at the Liquid Lounge in Dallas. Then, on January 5th, they’ll be up in Denton doing a gig at Andy’s Bar. And be sure to check out their EP in ITUNES.
Always the Alibi was on after them, and the turnaround time was pretty quick, since they had gotten most of their gear set up while Right on Red was doing the same. This wasn’t just another show for these Always the Alibi, though. No, this was the CD release show for their debut EP.
They kicked things off with the melodic, “Wave on the Sand”, which turns into a real powerhouse of a song, especially in the live setting where Richard Muenckler unleashes some thunderous beats on the drums. “What’s going on, Curtain Club?” asked singer and rhythm guitarist, Henry Coke, once that song came to an end. That was about all he had time to say, though, as lead guitarist, Kelly Panter, bassist, Evan Scates, and Richard had segued the final notes of that tune into the next one, “Edge of the World”. It was one of two newer songs that made its way into the setlist, and already you can hear a progression between it and the songs that make up their EP. And that’s saying a lot, because there are several stand out songs on their EP. Afterwards, they took a minute to tell everyone who they were, and noted that it was their CD release show, before they got back to it with their love song, “Beautiful Girl”. There were some boxes set up on stage, next to a couple of the monitors, and as the song wound down, Kelly hopped up on the one near him, and proceeded to lay down some sweet riffs. They again wound one song into the next, this time tackling the last song on the EP, “Dream”, which appropriately does have a dreamy quality to the music. To break up their set, they did a cover song here at the halfway mark, and Evan started them into Muse’s, “Time is Running Out”. I liked their rendition of the song the other time I had seen them live, but tonight, I firmly believe it was the best song they did. Henry’s voice is very different from Matthew Bellamy’s, but he still hit all of the falsetto parts with ease, and not only do they do the song justice, but I think they make it sound a little better, too. “This next song was featured on Hand Drawn Records Compilation One.” Kelly quickly said. I was excited to hear that, because the other time I saw them, this song was absent from the show, and it is one of my favorites of theirs. The song was “Turning the Pages”, and it was every bit as good live as what I’ve come to expect from the recorded version. Following it was “She’s Letting Go”, and then came another newer one, “Ain’t Another Girl”, which is so good it alone comes close to eclipsing their entire EP. Okay, maybe that’s just me, but either way you slice it, it’s a stellar track. Their 38-minute set was almost up, but they had one last song to do. “…This one is actually the title track from our EP…” said Henry. It’s also the lead track, and is titled, “We Are Waiting”. It’s more of an optimistic song, and plays like an anthem for the band. Take the second verse for example, “…It’s about time we left our mark and it’s about time we made it clear. It’s about time they understand that we demand they need to hear. Now we’re tired of being told that our cause is old that our hearts grew cold. And with the strength that we no longer lack, we’re on the attack, yeah, we’re bringing it back…”. It give the impression that they’re out to change something, and they will most likely succeed. Towards the end, they got some audience participation going, dividing the room in half, having one side chant, “Come on, come on, come on.” While the other side shouted, “You know, you know, you know.” They savored it for as long as they could, before getting back to the song and closing it out.
What a show this was. They were pretty good the other time I saw them on the smaller stage of the adjacent venue, the Liquid Lounge, but tonight they had really stepped it up. They appeared to be a much tighter entity, and while they all stayed mainly in their little sections on the stage, they still managed a powerful presence and had no trouble commanding the crowd.
I was blown away by it all, and this show served as definitive proof that you need to know the name, Always the Alibi.
As for their record, “We Are Waiting”, you can purchase it via two different outlets. One is of course, ITUNES, while the other is BANDCAMP. Do check it out. It’s almost 22-minutes of pure greatness, and if you like Indie Rock that has somewhat of a mainstream feel, though not to the point where the band loses their individuality, then you love these guys.
The remaining bands would be hard pressed to top that show, but I had no doubt it would probably happen, as The Raven Charter was set to take the stage next.
The dark and ominous, “Survival Kit” began their 41-minute set, as the five instrumentalists, bassist, Anthony Sosa, keyboard player, Erik Stolpe, guitarists, Brandon Bond and Daniel Baskind, and drummer, Brian Christie, exploded into the song. For a few minutes they tore it up, before lead singer, Garrett Bond, made his way on stage to add some vocals to it. The song is “an experience” if you will, which makes it a great opener, because the same can be said for a The Raven Charter show. “Kidnapping”, the title track from their latest EP, followed, and after they finished it, things got pretty funny. “…We forgot our merch…” Garrett confessed, though said they had a few CDs to throw out. He tossed some out to the audience, before he inadvertently hit one of the plaques that adorn the walls of the Curtain. Everyone laughed at first, but it would turn into a game of sorts later, when he threw out more CDs. There had been some killer harmonies during those first couple of songs, but with their next one, they got into another signature style of the bands, duel singing. “I’m sending you on a quest tonight.” sang Garrett, with Daniel tackling the next line of , “Unfolding”, “As Prime, I know I’ll have to accept.”. That dynamic continued for the rest of the first verse, and most of the song, as they alternated back and forth. One of their brand new songs came next, and I believe it was the one that before starting it, Garrett asked if it was okay if they did some Metal, “…Because this song is more Metal then the others…” he stated. To a certain degree it was, but not to the point where it sounded completely different from their other material. Around this point, Garrett threw out some more of their EPs, this time making it a point to nail some of the bands plaques. “…I’m going to try for the Redefine one.” he said, and sure enough hit it dead center. He next tried for Secret of Boris’s plaque, but instead hit New Magnetic North. “…That’s okay, they’re also really good friends of ours.” He said, and I found all of that to be a cool way to casually promote other bands in the scene, even though they weren’t sharing the stage with them this night. They got back to the gritty Rock ‘n’ Roll with another older song of theirs, “Sacrifice”, which I think was the one where Daniel, Brandon and Anthony all jumped up on the monitors and proceeded to shred for a few moments. They slowed things down a bit with another new song, “No Direction”, which I think Garrett said they usually use a acoustic guitar on, but they had opted not to this night. It didn’t seem to make much of a difference, though, and still sounded really good. Daniel had taken over the lead mic earlier in the night, and now, he moved back to that spot to croon on their love song, or rather song about making love, the fiery and passionate, “Tailchaser”. I could have listened to a lot more of their music, but they only had time enough one last song. Garrett said something to the effect that it was about the “college experience”, and when it comes to North Texas, what’s the best college town? Why, “Denton, TX”, of course.
It was killer set, and I’m glad I’m finally seeing more of their shows now then I had there for awhile, because their two to three part harmonies make them one of the most unique Rock bands in the scene right now, and they’re also one of the best.
This was supposed to be their last show of 2012, but they had one more come up, and really, what band would turn down a chance to play the main stage at the House of Blues? You can see them there on Friday, December 14th, and tickets are free, so long as you contact the band and get them from them.
Don’t miss out on that one, because there are a few other great local acts on the bill, too. And if you’d like to check out and purchase music from The Raven Charter, then simply go HERE.
Headlining this show was Light the Fire, who had not performed in Dallas in quite some time.
The band went to Massachusetts back in September to record their sophomore album, and since returning, their schedule had been fairly light, only doing a few shows here and there. Luckily, they were doing a Dallas gig before year’s end, because I had been itching to see them again.
Some things had changed since I last saw them, but others hadn’t, such as their intro. While the curtain was pulled apart to reveal them, a rap song started to play, and when you could see the quintet, they were bobbing their heads to the beat, and most of them smiling from ear to ear. It’s hysterical, partial because it’s so different from what they play, yet somehow it works perfectly. They soon cut to the chase, though, and one thing that was still the same was the opening track, “Don’t Fail Me Now”. Ryan Dickinson and Felix Lopez fired up their guitars, lacing the noted over the drum beats supplied by Blake Hein, before Jamie Glasgow rushed to the front of the stage to scream out the first line, “Now’s our time to step onto the plank…”. It might have been their usual opener, but it was different, and seemed to be a little tighter. One of those differences was bassist, Andrew Penland, was in perfect synch with the music (specifically the drums), and thrashed about to every big beat, exuding a ton of energy. “…This next song is called Note To Self” Jamie announced, with his band mates tearing into the title track of their debut EP, which is also a sing along of sorts. He held the mic in front of some fans that were right up by the stage and they helped on the chorus, “…We are the proud, we are the strong. And although we fall, we’ll carry on…”. They were pretty relentless this night, and soon got back to their intense Metal/Hard Rock sound with “Under My Skin”. All those tunes had gotten a mosh pit started, that came and went, and soon stopped all together with their next song. “…This one’s for the ladies. Sorry, guys…” Jamie said, signifying it could be none other than “Save Me”. It is less brash then their other material, though isn’t necessarily a “true” slow song, but it’s still one of my favorites of theirs. With it, they had done almost every song from their EP, which made me wonder if they had more than a few new songs planned for the night, and sure enough, that was what they got into next. The next song was a little harder than some of their other stuff, but still resembled most of their material, and even featured some sweet licks from Ryan, who had a rockin’ solo. Afterwards, Jamie urged everyone to move in closer. “…We don’t bite, at least not too hard…” he said, as the fans packed in a little closer. They had another new one in store for everybody, and it was making its live debut. “…It’s called thunder cunt.” Jamie said, laughing. “Not really. But seriously.” Whatever it was called, it was much heavier than anything I had heard from them so far, and while I usually dislike anything heavy, this song still kept my interest, and honestly, it was my favorite new one they did this night. Now, when you think of heavy bands, what’s one that comes to mind? Did you say, “The Deftones”? If so, good answer. They said they had worked a cover in, and it was the Deftones classic, “My Own Summer”. As much as I’ve tried, I’ve never been able to get into that bands music, but surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed Light the Fire’s rendition of the song. They only had a couple more left, and one of those was, as Jamie put it, their “jumping” song. He asked everyone to jump up and down for it, and once they got “Thoughts” underway, the fans obliged, jumping around right up until the first line of the song, “The hate’s taking you over…”. That brought them to the final song of their 37-minutes long set, and Jamie said it was the heaviest thing they had ever done. That’s a bold statement, but it held true. If I heard him correctly, he said it was titled “Salute Your Fucking Shorts”, and it was the most in your face song I’ve heard them do, filled with heavy riffs and beats and intense screaming, all of which made for a good note to end on.
I was slightly taken aback by that last song, and even some of their other newer ones, as they are much more aggressive than their previous stuff. Even more surprising, though, is the fact that I not only liked them, but really enjoyed them. Metal music just isn’t something I’m into, yet there’s something about Light the Fire that keeps me enthralled. Even during those songs, which, by any other band, I probably would have zoned out during, but these guys make it appeal to me.
Their shows just have a fun atmosphere and they let their musicianship speak for itself, and this was the best gig I’ve seen of theirs yet.
They have one last show for the year, and it will be on Saturday, December 15th at the Side Pocket Lounge in Kilgore, Texas. And check out their “Not to Self” EP in ITUNES. Trust me, if you give it a chance, you’ll like it.
It had been a nice mix of music this night, and fortunately someone was smart enough to put the heavier bands on later, and last up was the heaviest band of them all, For the Falling.
I stuck around just long enough to hear part of their first song, then deemed it way to heavy for my tastes and left.
Still, it was an extraordinary night of music, and I again want to thank Mr. Andrew Penland for the hospitality and hooking me up with tickets.
The below photo is courtesy of James Villa Photography. All rights belong exclusively to him.
Light the Fire
What is the only venue in Dallas where you can always catch a great, local rock show? Why, the Curtain Club, of course. And I’ve said this many times before, but it can’t hurt to say it again; I also view it as being the best club venue in Dallas.
A couple of bands were doing their last shows of the year this night, and three out of the four acts I am big fans of, so I knew it was going to be great.
The first act up was Werewolf Therewolf, and by the time I got to the Curtain, they were mostly through.
They were good, I’m not going to say they weren’t. However, nothing that I hear ever really grabbed me or made me listen too intently. They did sound better live than what little bits I had listened to of their record, though.
If you want, you can check out their BANDCAMP PAGE, where they have their EP, “Initium”, available to listen to. If you dig it, well, you can get it for a free download.
Second up was the Fort Worth based Rock band, Waking Alice, who was doing only their second Dallas show with their current line-up, and also last show of 2012.
They immediately started in on their 35-minute set with what is becoming one of my favorite songs of the bands. I’m not sure if it’s one of their older songs or one of the few new ones they’ve recently written, but either way it’s a stellar rock song, and Rus’s voice sounds killer on it. They followed it with a couple of songs from their “Retribution” EP, the first of which was “Treason”. They sped it up quite a bit, though, with guitarist, Brandon Brewer, drummer, Jon Levey, and bassist, Brayton Light, playing at a blistering pace. The thing is, the song is already pretty fast paced, so they really blazed through it this night. Rus commented on that when the song was finished, and seemed a bit out of breath, but he managed to keep up with it. Within a few seconds, he had recovered, and Jon launched them into their next tune, “Scars”. There was a slight bit of humor thrown in after that song, as Rus made a remark, saying that Brandon “…hates everyone…”. He then looked at Rus, “Fuck you, I’m wearing a sports coat…” It was a nice little retort, and they then got “Biggest Lie” underway, and during it Brandon really ran with his guitar solo. It was obvious he was feeling it and completely consumed by the music, as he just kept going. At one point Rus started to get up from the drum riser, where he had taken a seat, and almost started singing again, but realized Brandon wasn’t done shredding, and sit back down. “…We had some fun with that one…” said Rus, when it was all said and done, adding they were about to have some more fun. He pulled a box of Twinkies out from his backpack. “…This might be one of the last boxes of Twinkies in the metroplex…” he said. “Now, I could be a selfish asshole and keep them all for myself, or I could be a cool rock star and give them to y’all…” He chose option two, and proceeded to throw the Twinkies out to the handful of fans gathered around the stage. He lobbed one high up in the air, where I couldn’t see, and really wasn’t even paying attention to it… Then it nailed me in the head. “Oh no, I hit Jordan!…” said Rus, then said something to the effect of, “…That Rus, what an asshole…”, like that was what was going through my mind. It wasn’t, ‘cause hey, it’s kind of hard for a Twinkie to hurt you, and it was a hilarious part of their set. Once all the pastries had been handed out, they got back to business with “Fates Design”. Following it was the epic, “Wasting Time”, and then they only had one left. Rus joked about the title, making one up, then Brandon said another one. “No, Hasselhoff’s and handjob’s?” Rus asked him, then repeated it. That title would probably make for an interesting song, but one that is just as good is “Chasing Memories”, which was a nice end to a fantastic set.
This show was much better than the other one I had seen, simply because everything was in perfect working order. See, last time Brayton was having some technical issues with his bass, and he had to hold back, quite a bit from the looks of it this night. He really rocked out this night, and all four of them seemed to be at the top of their game.
Waking Alice is certainly an awesome band, and have churned out some killer songs with Rus. Go check out the “Retribution” EP in iTunes and see for yourself. And I’m interested to hear what else they’ll churn out in their little time off. See, I was told it will probably be spring before they get back onto a stage, so that should provide plenty of time to write a new song or two.
After them was a band I had not seen in far too long, probably close to a year or more, and that band was Pistol Whippin’ Ike.
As the curtain started opening, guitarists, Barry Lorberbaum and Jason Rutledge, bassist, Alex Fowler, and drummer, Jeff Hathcock, tore into the first song of their 42-minute set, “Life As We Know”. Just one song deep and they already seemed like a completely different PWI than what I had seen before. They appeared even more focused and driven, and had even stepped their stage show a few notches. They kept right on going with one of their newer they’ve churned out in the last couple years, before pulling out a classic. Jeff lightly tapped the drums, while the rest of the band made sure they were all ready, as Mario Cadena stepped towards the front of the stage and shouted out, “Open up my eyes!…”, the first line of “Awakening”. Here and there Mario did take a moment in between songs to thank everyone, but for the most part they stayed pretty on point, and they were on a roll because of it. They barreled on with “The Way”, and at the end, Jeff segued it right into “Last Cigarette”, a song off the bands new EP, “Dying the Dream”. It turned into a bit of a sing along, as a few of the fans could be seen singing right along with Mario on the chorus, “…My time is coming. I want you to know this. I’m not afraid. Waiting for something, waiting for nothing…”. Around this point in the show, Mario took a minute to address the “caterpillars” they had on their faces. See, they were all participating in “Movember”, and were growing some mustaches during this month. “…I mean no disrespect by this, but you ladies get all year to support your causes. But November, it’s for us guys…” he said. He also noted that he knew they looked ridiculous with their staches. “Speak for yourself!” Jeff said, standing up from the drum kit, which got a laugh from his band mates and the audience. When they got back to it, they did the powerful, “I Used to Dream”, and then another newer tune that is one of my favorites of the bands. Mario turned it into a sing along, and even for those who didn’t know it, it was easy to learn. “…It’s so hard to say. I love you, but I hate you…” a handful of people shouted along, with Mario occasionally holding out the microphone where just the audience could be heard. It seemed that “Liar” might be their last song, and it would have been a strong one to finish on, however, while there might not have been many people at the show (it was a slow night overall), they were eager for more, and made it well known. “…Because of you, we’re going to do one more…” said Mario, also acknowledging they wouldn’t be here in the first place if it weren’t for everybody supporting them. They then ended things with what is probably the heaviest song in their arsenal, “You Should Run”.
I’ve seen Pistol Whippin’ Ike more than a few times, and have always thought they were great. But with this show, it’s like they tapped into a whole new well of potential and possibility. Mario was even more ferocious as a frontman than I’ve seen him act in the past. And Jason, Barry, Alex and Jeff all appeared to have added just a little extra slickness to their talents, which really helped in tightening things up.
You can next catch them on Saturday, December 8th at the Bryan Street Tavern in Dallas. It’ll be a benefit concert for Toys for Tots, so bring a toy and get in free. As for their music, they have their full-length, “.44 Caliber Confessions”, a live record, and even the single, “I Used to Dream” available, and all of them can be found HERE.
It was getting close to Night Gallery’s time to take the stage for their last show of 2012. (Well, last one in their hometown area at least. They do have a out of town show coming up, though.)
They, too didn’t waste any time, and the instruments roared to life a few seconds before the curtain was ever pulled apart. When it was, guitarists, Jeremy Root and Nathan Hanlon, bassist, Mikey Auringer, and drummer, Randall “Duckie” Etherton, were well into the first single off the bands “Loud as the Sun” record, “My Friend Pretend”. Patrick ”Otter” Gonzales then bounded on stage, succumbing to the music, rocking out while he dragged his mic stand around until it was time for him to start singing. Since releasing their record at the end of June, they’ve found an awesome groove which for the most part finds them being relentless. Such was the case this night, as “Duckie” blended that song right into the short but intense, “Dirty Side”, which in turn was brought straight into “Crazy Brave”. They took a much needed breather after that, where Otter introduced themselves to anyone who was maybe unfamiliar with the greatness that is Night Gallery. “…We’re going to slow things down with this next one…” he then said, noting the next song was called “Lynne”. It is slower compared to their other songs, but not by much, though it is more of a love song than their other music. Take for example the chorus, where Otter crooned, “…Another lost love song, another kiss goodbye. You cannot take all the lies, but I need you by my side…”. They paused once again after that song, and for the second time this night, talk turned to the highly endangered Twinkies. “We were going to do an auction…” Duckie said, with Otter adding they had planned to auction boxes of the snack off throughout their show, but after searching everywhere, could not find enough to do it. It was then mentioned that they had thought about having Otter dress up as a giant Twinkie, but the idea was axed. “…I could just imagine everyone running on stage after a giant, human sized Twinkie…” he said, laughing. They got back to it with two more great songs, “Without Regret”, and another single, “The Tide”, and after it was when things got interesting. “Is anyone here a fan of AC/DC?” asked Otter. That made it sound like they were going to do a cover song, and covers are not something Night Gallery does too often. “We’re gonna have fun with this one.” added Otter, as his band mates began the song. They chose to do a rendition of “Big Balls”, which was quite appropriate, since Night Gallery is all about having fun, and hearing them do this song was a riot. The best part was that they all seemed dead serious while performing it, especially Otter, who sang as if there were no intended innuendos in the lyrics. For example, the line, “…My balls are always bouncing, my ballroom always full. And everybody comes and comes again…” It was brilliant on many levels, and very neat to hear, because I’m sure this was one of the only times they will ever cover it. The fun was far from over, as they next did the fan favorite, “She Runs”, and “Separation Anxiety”, before things took a turn. “Untimely Demise” has always been different from the bands other songs, in the fact that it is slower and is completely serious, having an undertone that deals with death. Otter even dedicated to a loved he lost earlier in the year, and sadly, now it was Duckie’s turn. “This one’s for my dad.” He said, before they started the song. It did create a somber mood, but was lifted by the next song, “Mr. Ripper”. It’s kind of funny to say that, because who would have ever thought a song about Jack the Ripper would be fun? With that, there was only one song left from their album they had to do, and there is no better way to end a show then with the “The Signal”. With it they essential say, “We’re Night Gallery. Nothing more, nothing less. And we’re here to put on a fun, honest to god rock show.”
They put on an incredible 51-minute long set, and despite the low turnout, it was a great last hometown show of the year.
They have one more show for the year at the Iron Horse Pub in Wichita Falls on December 14th, and will hopefully be back in action in early 2013. But until then, check out their album, “Loud as the Sun”.
Pistol Whippin’ Ike
It seemed to me like it had been way too long since I caught a show at the Curtain Club, and the one they had going on this night was a can’t miss.
A little over a year into their existence, Admiral Grey was finally ready to release their debut record, an EP, which they had been doing a little tour in support of it. This was their fourth show this week, and I’d bet money that it was the best one of their tour.
The first act of the night was the Dallas based, Son of Swan, who was an instrumental band.
Now, I’ve stated my opinion on instrumental bands (and even songs) many times in previous entries here on my blog, but if you’ve missed those, I hate almost everything that is pure instrumental. So, when I found out that was what this band was, I pretty much wrote them off.
I was a bit too quick too, judge, though, because they ended up being the one exception to my “Instrumental bands suck” way of thinking.
They were a trio, comprised of Neil Swanson on the guitar, Steve Wilson on bass, while Billy Walker rounded out the rhythm section on the drums. Neil was a force to be reckoned with, and had lightning quick hand movement playing the axe, which he did rather casually, as if it were no big deal. It was, though, and quite honestly, he was one of the most astounding guitarists I’ve seen. A majority of the songs in their 30ish-minute long set had some blistering guitar solos that were captivating. The other guys pulled their own weight, too. Steve was a beast on the bass, often jumping up on the monitors and showing of his skills, while Billy was one of the few drummers I’ve seen who deserved your full attention for the duration of the show.
Their performance was ferocious, and they were constantly running across every square inch of the stage, making for one of the best sets of the night.
They succeed at changing my opinion of instrumental bands, mainly because their musicianship was outstanding, which in turn made the show so enjoyable. Then again, even without lyrics, the songs were still killer.
You need to check these guys out. Go to their REVERBNATION PAGE where you can listen to some of their stuff (including a couple live cuts from this show) and you’ll also be able to find out when they have more shows coming up.
After them was a band I was very excited about seeing again, and that was Bravo Delta, who had come all the way from Los Angeles.
I had seen the band back in June when they played up in Denton, and instantly became a fan, and was psyched that they were getting back through the area.
They hit the ground running, and opened their 30-minute set with “Already Gone”. It was a nice way to get going, and the song is a little more in-your-face live then it comes across on their EP, probably in part because of their stage performance. However, it was with their next song that I thought the set really took off. Scott Decker blended the two songs together with some drum beats, which was then followed by the first few notes of my favorite song of the band’s, “The Product”. “…If comfort is closure, I’m uncomfortable to say the least…” Singer and rhythm guitarist, Brandon Davis, belted out on part of the chorus, before getting to the best line of it, “…This I know, I am a product of the lack of your design…” That song is Alt/Rock at its best, especially when you’re seeing Brandon jumping about the stage, and lead guitarist, Andy Ingraham, just shredding. Scott again wound one song to the next, which I believe was “We Stand, We Fall”. That was the end of segueing the songs into one another, and as they stopped, Brandon took a moment to talk to the (small) crowd. He mentioned that this was the first time the band had ever been to Dallas and how glad they were to be at The Curtain Club. They then did a couple more songs that aren’t found on their EP, and the next song was my favorite from their set. Their bass player, who was obviously not Ryan Flores, as it was a chick, got them going on the next song with some low-end bass riffage, before it tore off into a full-blown rock song. “Not Enough” followed that, and it is the one song where Brandon shows not only is he a fantastic vocalist with a unique tone to his voice, but he is also capable of some volatile screaming, and can transition between the two at the drop of a hat. The slightly slower, “Sleepwalker”, came next, and then came the final song of the show. Brandon and Andy each rocked out a few notes on their guitars, alternating back and forth, as they broke into “Loose Cannon”. That gritty tune proved to be a great number to end on, though I hated that it had to end so quickly in the first place.
Bravo Deltas’ music is incredible, but when you see their live show, there’s no doubt that, that’s where it’s all at. They go all out and leave everything on the stage, just like a great band should.
You can find their debut EP, “Sunset Wasteland” on both ITUNES and BANDCAMP. And if you live in California, check out their TOUR DATES and see if they’ll be performing anywhere near you. And hopefully, sometime next year, they’ll come back through Texas.
After they finished, I left and walked through the patio area and into the adjacent venue, the Liquid Lounge, which was hosting an acoustic night of music.
The Brandon Callies Band was doing a full-band acoustic show. Honestly, they didn’t get my full attention, as I saw a few different people I knew and talked with them. I still kind of tuned into the songs, though, like “Whatever You Want”, “Midnight Drive”, “Beautiful Girl”, and “Who Are We to Say?” Those are the ones I heard, and all of those sounded really good in acoustic form.
If you want to read a better review of the band, I saw another show of theirs recently, so just look back on my blog to find it.
Either way, though, check out the bands album, “The Gunner”, especially if you like American inspired Rock music.
I walked back to the Curtain after that, where a Pop/Rock act was getting ready to hit the stage.
It was Zoe Ann and her band. Actually, when they first started, it was just her band on stage, which included Justin Labosco (of Admiral Grey) on drums. The four musicians went all out with an aggressive instrumental piece, which briefly subsided once Zoe bounded on stage. But while the notes were still resonating, they broke into their first song, the fast paced, “Burning Hollywood”, which is filled with several catchy hooks. It appeared cramped with the five of them on stage, but they didn’t act it, quite the contrary, actually. They all interacted with each other, and even though they were all prowling around the stage, they somehow managed to avoid accidently hitting one another. They seamlessly patched it into “Hero”, which kept the seemingly endless amount of energy they exhibited flowing. After officially introducing themselves to the audience (which was rather large for this early on in the night), Zoe mentioned that the next song they were going to do was a track from her newest three song EP, and was called “Never Change”. The songs a bit different from her previous stuff, having a bit of a harder edge sound to it, which subsequently makes it more mature sounding. They hit a lull with their next two songs, the first of which I didn’t know, but Zoe played a acoustic guitar on it. Afterwards, she traded the guitar for the keyboard on stage left, and began telling the crowd how she had been writing a lot of songs this year, but had to pick her three favorite songs to record for this new EP. The next song was another from it, and she noted she wrote it during “…one of the lowest points…” in her life. The mood was lifted, though, when she noted what a powerful outlet song writing can be. Most of the song, which was “Wake Me Up”, was purely her singing and playing the keys, sounding a lot like a ballad, and when the guitars, bass and drums finally kicked in, they really complimented the piano part. When it was done, Zoe returned to just being a frontwomen, as they began to wrap things up with a few of their singles, one of which was “Girlfriend”, while another was one from the new batch of songs, “Better Than Revenge”. Being that, that is the current single, I figured it might be the last song of their set, but no, they had a couple more left, and one of those two was a cover. I didn’t expect to hear a classic from Journey this night, yet that was exactly what they did next. The song they did was “Separate Ways”, and it was a splendid rendition at that. They did have one last song to offer after that, and that was “Stronger”, from Zoe’s first record, which concluded their 37-minute long set.
I thought it was a great set, and they definitely put on an engaging performance. Their music even blended with the other bands better than I thought it would. There’s no question that they have more of a Pop flare when compared to the other acts on the bill, but in the end, it all meshed.
For future show updates, stay tuned to either her FACEBOOK PAGE or REVERBNATION PAGE. And if you’d like to purchase her music, then you can find it all HERE.
Up next was a band from Austin, and in some ways, I was more excited about seeing them than any other act this night.
I guess it has been about three years since I first saw Distant Lights, right over at the Liquid Lounge, and it had been over two-and-a-half-years since the last time I saw them.
They just stopped coming up to the North Texas area, and during that time they had dropped the one instrument (and member) that (at the time) I thought made them stick out from any other Rock band, and that was the cello. It was an odd fit, but a good one, and I was also curious as to what they were like sans the instrument, especially since it was crucial to most of their older stuff.
Their old stuff was scarce this night, though, which made sense. After all, in two plus year’s time they sure should have cooked up some new material. They started before the curtain even opened, and once it did, they were already at their peak performance mode, and opened with a dynamic song, which I think was “What’s On Your Mind?”. It was almost like I was seeing them for the first time again. Just from that one song, their performance was everything I remembered it to be, and then some, as it was clear they had tightened it up during that large time frame. They blazed through their far too short 27-minute long set, and almost immediately started their next song. Sure, at a few points Gabriel told everyone who they were, and of course pointed out that they had merch for sale, as well as thanked Admiral Grey for having them on this little tour. Still, the music was the main focus. For the next tune, guitarist, Gaelan Bellamy, drummer, Kevin Abbenante, and bassist, Sam Marshall, exploded into “Tightrope”. Like the other couple of songs they had played thus far. And like the few others that were left, there was a real sense of urgency to it. It’s just some serious Rock ‘n’ Roll, which you can never go wrong with, and that urgency was only aided by Gabriel’s presence, as he crept about the stage, often bending over slightly to get more at an eye level with the audience. Another newer tune of theirs followed that, before they slowed things down (ever so slightly) with “Suffocating”. At this point they mentioned they had just a couple of songs left, and Sam and Kevin led them into the next tune with a little rhythm solo. And then they arrived at their final song. Out of the handful of shows of theirs I had seen in the past, the closer was always the same, and I hoped it still was, because not only was it my favorites Distant Lights song, but also one of the best songs I’ve ever heard. I had doubt, though, since the cello was a large part of it, especially the intro. Thankfully, “Artifice” is still in the setlist. Gaelan proceeded to shred viciously on his guitar, emulating, to an extent, what the cello used to do, only this was much more intense and Rock sounding. Somehow, they had managed to improve the already spectacular song, and it is still the best possible ending they could give their show.
Total awe. That was the feeling I had after they finished. I do wish they had gotten, say, ten more minutes or so, but even in that shorter set, they managed to pack in more energy than most bands achieve during an hour.
I really hope they start getting back to Dallas on a semi-regular basis, because Distant Lights is too outstanding. And I’d prefer not to be deprived of their live gigs.
You can find their first album, the concept record, “Simulacrum”, in iTunes. They are also currently working on their second record, which based on what they did this night, will be comprised of some stellar songs. On that note, though, I was a bit surprised they didn’t do “Heart of Fire”, which was a newer song around the time I saw them previously, and was a staple back then. I just hope it hasn’t vanished completely, and was maybe just excluded for this specific show.
It was finally getting close to time for Admiral Grey to hit the stage, and they had amasses a nice little crowd. It was definitely the most people I’ve seen at one of their shows, and all seemed very eager for them to start.
Admiral Grey began with a slightly newer song, “The Ride”. That was an appropriate song to kick off with, because the next 51-minutes was definitely a ride, an a epic one at that. They appeared to be feeling pretty good after that song, as well they should’ve. They already seemed like a completely different Admiral Grey from what I had seen before, and I’m sure some of that could be contributed to the mini tour they had been doing. Because really, what better way to get in the best show shape possible then by doing one night after night after night. They next unveiled a new song, which singer and rhythm guitarist, Aaron Pose, said was titled, “Animals”. It was gritty, kind of grungy sounding. Definitely different from their current roster of songs, but if this is the evolutionary path their music is headed down, I dig it. The next song got a short setup, as Aaron asked where all the redheads were. Evidently, not many were in attendance this night, but one or two did raise their hands. “…I have a weakness for you…” he confessed. If you were familiar with the band, then you knew what that meant, and that was that they were about to break into “Dirty Red”. I was a tad surprised by that, though. Usually, that’s what they end the shows with, which had me wondering how the rest of this show was going to shape up. “Is it okay if we play a cover?” Aaron asked the fans, who seemed down with the idea. I had hoped he would say that at some point this night. Back in June they began covering Adele’s, “Set Fire to the Rain”, and the couple of shows I caught were they did it, it was a very memorable moment. Thankfully, they did still have it figured into the live show, and while I don’t usually care for cover songs a whole lot, they’ve really made this one their own, and it’s a far cry from the song as Adele does it. I was a bit surprised that so far they hadn’t done anything off the EP, since that was the cause for celebration this night. But that was all about to change. First, though, after that cover Aaron gave a little speech. Something about “not giving a fuck” and that, that was why they make music, and more specifically, this CD. The basic gist was it doesn’t matter what others may think, just do what you love. “…This next song is called I Don’t Care” said Aaron, as they ripped into the song, which featured some thunderous beats from Justin Labosco. It’s similar to the second song they did this night, just in the sense that it’s real raw, and has some sweet licks from lead guitarist, Krishen Anthony, as well as Aaron. The set up for the next song was that it was about a girl Aaron met at one point. “…The other night we concluded it was for sure a girl. It wasn’t a dog or anything…” he joked. The song was titled “Forget About You”, which I’m fairly certain I had never heard before, though it turned out to be one of the strongest songs from their set. “…I cover up the wounds to hide the thought of you, but the bleeding won’t end. You’re memories like a knife, a slow suicide and it cuts me again…” crooned Aaron on the second verse, shortly before raising his voice for the chorus, which was were Krishen, Justin and bassist, Geneva Arena, really roared to life. They did have a slight technical issue before their next song, which required a sample track, and for some reason it couldn’t be heard at first, though it was quickly fixed. “…We weren’t going to do this next song if we hadn’t been able to get that to work…” stated Aaron, making me all the more thankful it did work, because there were several people (myself included) who would have been devastated had they not done the next song. The track then kicked on, which is predominantly some strings, while they began their slower song, “My World”. Things started to wind down with “Don’t Know Me at All”, while they concluded this spectacle with the lead single from the EP, “Pulling Strings”.
I’ve though Admiral Grey was great since I first saw them, a little over a year ago, and they continuously improved upon their live show. However, I have never seen them as on point as they were this night. Really, they were like a completely different band.
The performance went above and beyond anything I had seen from them before. Krishens’ guitar playing was incendiary, while Geneva slayed on the bass, and the two of them had some good chemistry throughout the show, and once or twice stood facing each other while they each rocked out on their instruments. Also, Justin seemed more lively than usual, as he wildly banged around on the kit, and I’m pretty sure Aaron sounded even better than he typically does.
It’s bands like Admiral Grey that the music scene needs more of, as they are pure Rock ‘n’ Roll and all about having a good time, which is something some bands tend to forget about these days.
Their debut EP, “Long Road”, will be on iTunes eventually, but for now you can order a physical copy through the bands ONLINE STORE. Also, stay tuned to their REVERBNATION PAGE for future show updates, and you should expect to see them back on a stage near you in 2013.
This was an incredible show all the way around, and quite easily one of the best ones I’ve seen this year. So, kudos to Aaron Pose for orchestrating the whole thing!
I think the rain kept a lot of people at home this night, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to let it keep me from the show that was going down at the Curtain Club.
Paco Estrada, a staple in the Dallas music scene, was doing a very special show this night, and the events leading up to this show began very tragically. In short, within the last year, the band, The Last Romantica, lost their singer, Chad Gandy. Earlier this year the band performed a special show in his memory, where they had a rotating cast of singers each sing one of the band’s songs, and one of those singers was Paco. Thus was born an idea where the band could back Paco, and they had spent the last several months gearing up for this night.
To make it even more memorable, they were having the show recorded for a future release.
I arrived about 8:40, and the first band, The Family Crude, was already on stage. According to their Facebook page, they have enough members to be a full band, however this show was being performed more acoustically, and as a trio, consisting of singer and guitarist, Tricia Chronister, singer and multi-instrumentalist, SheraLee Clark, and pedal steel guitarist, Heather Kitzman.
They were finishing one song when I got there, though I didn’t figure I had missed much. But sadly, after doing one more song, their set was over.
I guess they started earlier than 8:30, which does kind of suck, because what stuff of theirs I had listened to online I liked, and was interested to see what their show was like. Oh well, maybe next time. They do have an album, “Preface”, available, and if you would like to sample the tracks and purchase the record in digital form, go HERE.
Next up was the Tulsa, Oklahoma based band, We the Ghost. I had seen them once before, either late last year or earlier this year, and remembered really liking them, but I had evidently forgotten how great they really were.
They didn’t have all of the members at this show, which was downsized to the essential four members, singer and acoustic guitarist, Beau, guitarist, Matt, and then the percussion section, which was Jimmy, who played what appeared to be a cajon as well as one cymbal, and Dain, who beat on a Djembe. They opened their 32 minute set with what I suppose is one of their newer songs, and then did another newer one. By the second song I found myself making my way towards the front of the stage, so I could better enjoy their unique blend of music, which is a little Reggae, a little acoustic Rock, and hints of various other genres. They immediately began their next song, which sounded so different I didn’t even realize it at first… Well, that and the fact that I don’t listen to anything mainstream too often. It wasn’t until Beau started crooning out the chorus, “All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you better run, better run, outrun my gun…” that I realized it was Foster the Peoples’ “Pumped Up Kicks”, and a much better, and even more infectious version if I do say so myself. “Okay, back to our stuff.” Beau told those who were paying attention to them, while he and Matt played some notes. “She used to be a pistol, she can’t pull the trigger…” he then sang, in a mix of Hip-Hop and Reggae styles, starting “She’s Gonna Fly Again”. They did another song that I was unfamiliar with, and I think it was the one where Matt actually sang lead on the first few lines, having a surprisingly strong voice that could certainly pull off lead parts. They did another song from their “My Mixtape Summer” EP, the sweeter, “Your Remedy”. When it was finished, Beau told everyone that the next song was the first single from their upcoming record, and was called “Let Me Know”. And with that, their time was almost up, but they did have one song left, and they had quite possible saved the best for last, closing with “Right Where You Want”.
What a show this was, and with each song I found myself getting even more caught up and engaged in their music. And by the way, We the Ghost is one of the most highly original bands I’ve ever come across. And as I said, they didn’t even have the full-band at this show, so know I’m very curious as to what the violinist/backing vocalist adds to the music. By the way, Beau told me afterwards he was nervous, because he had to sing all of her [the violinist’s] parts as well, which was a bit of a strain on his lungs, but I thought he sounded fine.
They’re a very cool band that should reel you in with the first note you hear, and making them even cooler is the fact that they have made their music available for FREE. Go visit their BANDCAMP PAGE to download their first EP, as well as that single from the new record. And their new album should be out in just a few months. They also have some shows in late October through November, the first of which will be October 26th at The Venue in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They’ll be in Fort Smith, Arkansas on November 9th at Roosters, and the next night will find them at Maxine’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Check ‘em out if you’re in any of those areas… You’ll be glad you did.
After them you had The Commotion, who opened with the standard, “Carry On”. “I need another perspective, ‘cause this one’s trying to cage my mind…”, sang vocalist and guitarist, Micah Creel , as his other four band mates launched into the song. The bands efficient, as they don’t allow for any downtime between songs, so as the instruments faded to silence, the sample track for the next song kicked in, setting up “Crim”, which has a chorus all of their fans seem to love, and passionately sing along with. “…Your contagious smile, spreads like wildfire…”. Next they played “Stars”, which was originally a HUM song, and then right into what I believe are a couple of their newer songs. Out of those two mentioned, I like the second one the best, which goes something like, “…So say goodbye to the fear of falling…”, and is quite catchy. So far, it had been your routine Commotion show, but with the remaining songs, they transformed into something else. Guitarists, Josh Sanders and Justin Middleton, bassist, Justin Hold, drummer, Ross Rubio, and Micah churned out a brief instrumental piece, which served as a prelude to “Dare”. The song sounded different to me, but I thought maybe it was because I hadn’t heard the song in a little while, because unless I’m spacing, I don’t think they’ve done it live the last few times I’ve seen them. I dismissed it, thinking it was a fluke or something, but then they dove into “LOL”. They had tightened it up here and there, and given some it a much slicker sound, and it wasn’t the only one that had been improved. “Just a Test” was without question the best song of their set, and I’ve never heard it sound as incredible as it did this night. It was all subtle tweaks, and I can’t exactly pinpoint what they did differently, but if knew their music and heard the songs this night, you’d notice it instantly. They had gotten a long set, and after that one it was time to wind things up, capping of their 40 minute set time with “Backseat Driver (Wash it Away)”.
At this show, I finally heard The Commotion transcend the plateau they’ve been stuck at for a little while. There’s no disrespect meant by that, because they were great before, but these extra little nuances made all the difference, and should now have them at the level they deserve to be at. And by that I mean they are more than capable of being a headline band. Seriously good stuff, and I’m interested to see where they’ll go from here, and if they will continue to tighten up the live show.
There were some killer bands playing both the Curtain and the adjacent Liquid Lounge this night, and since cover at either gets you access to both venues, I thought I’d go over there and see what was happening, hoping that Adakain would be starting soon.
But when I walked in, They were getting ready to start their last song. I was hoping it would work out where I could see their entire set, but after getting this little taste, I guess I have all the more reason to try to go to another show.
I’ve seen the band once before, well over a year ago, and earlier this year, they announced that Ryan Ray had become their new singer. I became a fan of his with his previous endeavor, Reckless Intent, so upon hearing that news I instantly became more of an Adakain fan. And from that one song I heard this night, they sound pretty killer… Even more so than before, that is. And Ryan added a nice bit of humor at the end, introducing his band mates, then saying, “…And my name’s Elvis. Goodnight.”
With that, I returned to the Curtain where Wolf at The Door was the final appetizer for the night, and I was curious to see them again. I’ve seen them a couple times before, and they never managed to draw me in, so I was wondering if the third time might be a charm, or a bust.
I really can’t criticize their music a whole lot, as far as saying it’s bad or anything, but… I don’t know. Some of it’s weird, to the point that is highly original, but it just fails to grab me/ignite something in me/strike a chord with me. As me and a musician friend who was at this show were saying, it’s more music that’s just there. And if playing this stuff is what makes these guys happy, go for it, but I just can’t get into it. On another note, their final song was one that I disliked, as it sounded pretty weird, with the only instrument on the first portion of the song being a xylophone. Also factor in that their guitarist was signing most of that song, and he doesn’t exactly have a good voice.
It was nearing time for Paco Estrada and The Last Romantica to take the stage, and I was interested to see how this was going to go. Earlier in the night, I said hi to Paco, and while we chatted for a second he told me he was still trying to memorize all the lyrics, and had tweaked some verses on various songs, only finishing them the day before. So one way or another, this was bound to be an interesting show.
No sooner had the curtain opened than the band started into the first song. I was prepared not to know anything of what they did this night, however the first song turned out to be practically the only exception. “It’s a cut so deep it could never heal…” Paco crooned, as he spit out the first verse of the song, though I didn’t recognize this full-band version of “The Girl Who Could Never Feel” until they got to the chorus, “…And that’s when you became the girl who could never feel. The girl with the heart of steel…”. I’m not going to say that song had never been played live before, but if it had I had never heard it before, and I know it had never been done like this, and man, what a way to get going. Now, for the first time in years, I watched as Paco sang tons of songs I didn’t know. Four new ones followed that first song, before they did one called “American Girls”. I thought that song had an older Rock vibe to it, say circa the 50’s or 60’s, and was one of the standouts of their set. They then really slowed things down as Paco pulled out his acoustic guitar for the song that gave this night its name, “Bedtime Stories”. The song was almost all him, while guitarists, Caleb Daniel and Nathan Parnell, drummer, Thomas Mallory, and bassist, Jacob Chandler, stayed mostly silent, though did had some light notes and beats here and there. The acoustic vibe bled into the next song, but about halfway through Paco took off his guitar as things surged back to life. One more new tune came next, and then they did what Paco described as “the song that started it all”. He went over the story I detailed earlier in this blog, noting that they were going to do a Last Romantica song, which was the one he had sang with the band a few months before. Again, I don’t know what song it was, but it sounded incredible. Already, their set was close to the end, but they had one more left, and it was another one I somewhat knew. Years ago (after SouthFM ended but before One Love officially begun) Paco put up a song on Myspace called “Blindfolded Behind the Wheel”, and that was the song that closed out their 57 minute set.
It was a phenomenal show, and in addition to the full-band, Paco had also enlisted the help of some female backing singers, who were Tricia Chronister and SheraLee Clark of The Family Crude, who sang some parts here and there throughout the entire set and added a great layer to it all.
There was just something about this show. Perhaps it was the fact that it was all new to me, but there was something about it that made me fall I love with Paco’s music all over again.
I still remember the first time that happened, back on May 6th, 2006, which ended up being the final year SouthFM was active, right here at the Curtain Club. The local music scene was something that was still very new to me, and I knew next to nothing about that band. But as they performed the song I would come to know as “Surface”, and Paco sang, “…These are not the words that I would like to be saying to you. And I hope that in the morning you will feel the same way that I do…”, I was drawn in. It put me in a state of awe and I instantly became a fan.
The point of all that is I felt that same feeling of awe at the show this night, as I looked on in wonder and found this show just as captivating and amazing. And that my friends is an incredible feeling to have.
At some point you will be able buy the live recording of this entire show, and I’m sure you will be able to find it at Paco’s BANDCAMP PAGE. But until it’s available, check out all of Paco’s other music. He also has another show (which will be solo) coming up on October 26th at Trees in Dallas, and to add more incentive to go, it will be free.
And hopefully, sometime in the future, they will do another Paco Estrada and the Last Romantica show, but this band was too good to not perform on some type of regular basis.
First off, there was TOO much great stuff going on this night music wise. There were really four different clubs I wanted to be at in Deep Ellum this night, and I would only make it to two of those. One was at the Curtain Club where Texas Music Unites had put together a summer showcase (perhaps you were at the one back on 3/31? If not, HERE’S a recap).
Kennedy was supposed to be the opening band, but, for whatever reason, they dropped off the bill. So, at the last minute the Curtain moved the first band at the adjacent Liquid Lounge, The Results, over there instead.
They opened their set with “Jump In”, which began with a brief drum solo by Mark Huff, before the rest of the band walked onto the stage. It was a pretty solid song, though I liked their next one better, and that was a cover of “Brand New Key”. It was certainly not a song I was expecting to hear, but they did a nice rendition of it. I found it much more appealing than the other time I heard the song covered (which was almost a year ago when I happened to see The Dollyrots, who gave the song more of a bubblegum pop sound.) and vocalist, Heather Darwin, pulled the song of quite well, nailing the higher notes on the chorus.
Sadly, that was all I saw. As I said, there was a lot going on in Deep Ellum this night, and it was almost nine at this point, which was when a band was supposed to start at another venue. Had I known they wouldn’t get going until 9:40, I would have stuck around, but I agree with the saying, “Better safe than sorry.”
You can get a couple songs for free download on their REVERBNATION PAGE, and be sure to check out their FACEBOOK PAGE for future show announcements.
After that other show I went to see, I planned to hit up yet another one, but after looking in the door of the place, some other band was just getting on stage, which meant the 10 o’clock set time I had been told ended up being wrong for the group I wanted to see. I figured I’d just go back to the Curtain and wait for Moving Atlas to take the stage, then I remembered that Gray, the New Black was going to be at the Liquid Lounge right about this time. And I had wanted to see them, just didn’t think it would happen with my original plans.
The trio was finishing setting up when I got there, and they were a few differences from the last time I had seen them. For one, they had several white sheets hanging on the wall behind them, serving as a screen for their video footage they’ve started using. The other was some little contraption that singer and guitarist, Mike Hamilton, used to give the music some electronic sounds. It was mainly used during their first song, a new one, which I think was entitled, “I Do”. He created a pretty involved intro for the song, tapping the screen to make different sounds which, some of which were layered over other parts, and would loop throughout the duration of the song. Once that was set up, they then got the song rolling, as Johnn Hesseltine came in on the drums and Eric Gibbons on the keys. They followed it with “Every Hipster Has An iPhone”, which is as unique as its name suggests, partially because there’s no real chorus to it. But really, does every song need a chorus in the first place? They wound it right into another fairly new one, “Enough Ain’t a Number Occurring in Nature”, and afterwards, Johnn started them into their most Rock “n” Roll song, “Gun”. The drumbeats alone are pretty catchy, but perhaps the best thing about the song is the guitar part of the final minute or so, which is very experimental sounding, to the point that if you don’t know the band, you would think that Mike is free styling it there on the spot. When it was done, he stated the name of that song, and then the next one they had, another new one by the name of “8mm”. “…It’s not about a gun.” he finished. “It’s a camera!” someone in attendance shouted, which Mike confirmed was right. “Occam’s Razor” was next, and ended with Johnn and Mike leaving the stage, giving Eric the spotlight as he did a short key solo. They soon returned, as Eric continued playing, winding his solo into “Poets & Philosophers”, which would bring their set to somewhat of a sudden end.
They had only played for 29 minutes, so not too long and I figured they’d do a couple more after that, but oh well. I have to say this was the best show I’ve seen them do yet, even with the shorter time they got. They are all incredible talented at their respective instruments, despite the fact they are never too flashy. And I’ve mentioned this in the past and I’ll say it again, I love the lyrics and the unique approach Mike takes to penning songs. There’s a certain level of complexity to some of them, which should get your mind thinking. As for the video thing they had going on behind them, it actually did add a nice element to it. It opened with some footage of the sky as the band’s name as well as band members names scrolling up the screen and ranged to some other random things, such as a close up of a pill bug crawling on the ground.
Some readers may know I’m pretty critical when it comes to bands having video going behind them, as I usually find it to be more of a distraction than anything. But this actually was pretty good, and, in some delightfully weird way, fit well with their music.
They have a couple of shows coming up, one on July 27th and the other is August 17th. Both of those will be at the Crown and Harp in Dallas. You can also purchase their debut, self-titled record in iTunes.
Once things quieted down in the lounge, you could hear the music bleeding through the wall that separates it from the Curtain Club. Moving Atlas had evidently started right around their 10:50 set time, and where already in the swing of things. I’ve seen most (if not all) of their shows over the past few months, and they’ve all been pretty close to the same, at least in regards to the setlist. They had brought back some oldies that fans had requested at their last show, but still, as far as the opening song and all that, they had all been the same and I didn’t see why they would change things up now. So I knew I had probably missed out on my favorites of their newer material, but hoped I could at least catch some of the older stuff as I made my way over to the Curtain.
They were finishing up “Muse Accuser” as I walked in, saw Mike of the band Redefine (who played before Moving Atlas) and went to say hey to him. As we chatted, my ears perked up when that song ended and drummer, Ross Rubio, started their next one. For whatever reason they had decided to switch up their set, and I couldn’t have been happier that I was at least going to get to hear “Welcome Home” once more. This is probably one of the best songs in terms of showing off the bands key precision and just how in synch they are with everything, Dunagin Gaines’ voice soared as he belted out the chorus, “After all I’ve done, you’ve left me here alone. How could I be wrong so long? Was it something I’ve done? You were always welcome home.” They followed it with an oldie from the “Elephant Gun” EP, “How We’re Infected”, and as they finished it, Ross kept lightly tapping on some of the cymbals, while guitarist, Ben Scott, played some softer riffs. Dunagin was back by the drum riser as bassist, Geoff Lucke, told everybody they could sing along to this next one if they knew it. I had my suspicions of what this was going to be, and they were proven correct as Dunagin walked back towards the front of the stage, suddenly striking his hand out and grabbing the mic out of the stand and shouting out the opening line of “Elephant Gun”. Everyone seemed to love this, as most of the crowd was singing along to it. “…Yell! It isn’t good enough. You’ve been giving to throwing fits in my face. Fill! You’ll never get enough. You’ve let your gluttony turn to waste…”. The sound seemed better here than at their last show, and I could better hear Ross’s backing vocals on the chorus. After “I’ll use my elephant gun to blow my enemies down…”, Dunagin drops out, where Ross picked up, “…And it goes away. Eventually, you will bow…” I had surely missed out on the title track of their latest EP, but that right there more than made up for it, and the intense pace continued on with, as Dunagin put it, a song about “…Big ass waterfalls.” They tore into “5280”, which ended with Dunagin banging his head to the two drumbeats the quickly follow the last line, and then he played a little air bass. They next did the eerie, “Crawl out in the Cold”. “…I, I could have killed you dead. I, I could have killed you long ago…”. In the brief pause that came after that song, Dunagin said something along the lines of, “This is something special.” The backing track kicked in, and I was ecstatic to find out that, for whatever reason, they had not opened this show with “Machina”. “Wherever you go you will seek and find a friend. You will climb atop his home and scream into the wind. If your words fail, climb down and start again. Shake the dust off of your feet and leave his home to me…” Dunagin crooned, before getting to the chorus, “Behold, I send you out as sheep among the wolves…” That made this a perfect Moving Atlas show for me, and whatever they had left would just be icing on the cake. Ben immediately started “Red Shelter”, but no sooner had he started it than he quit, as the band found out they had just five minutes left. They went right to the closer, rocking out the instrumental lead in they’ve designed for it, before truly getting “Parachute” underway, an saw the other guitarist, Ricky Dansby, letting out a deep scream on the chorus as he somewhat echoed Dunagin, “THESE KILLING FIELDS!”.
Damn! This was a killer rock show, even though I had missed just a bit of it. When it comes to elite bands who put on a spectacular live show, you will be hard presses to find one better than Moving Atlas, and only a handful are even close to the same caliber. According to a Facebook post the band made, this was their last show for a bit, as they take some time off to beginning writing some new songs. Maybe that means sometime next year we can expect another new release from this band? I guess time will tell. For now, purchase “Machina”, “Red Shelter”, “Elephant Gun” and “Et Al” in iTunes. And keep a check on their FACEBOOK PAGE for when they will have another show.
Up next was a band I had not seen in quite some time; The Raven Charter. It has probably been close to two years since the last time I saw them, during which time they’ve apparently relocated, and now call Dallas home, not Denton. They kicked off their 41 minute long set with “Survival Kit”, a mostly instrumental song that saw guitarists, Daniel Baskind and Brandon Bond, bassist, Anthony Sosa, keyboard player and occasional acoustic guitarist, Erik Stolpe, and drummer, Brian Christie, rocking out. I had forgotten how intense these guys are, and I would say they’ve only gotten better with time as those who could shredded on their instruments and all dominated the stage. Towards the end, lead vocalist, Garrett Bond, made his way on stage to start singing, with one of the lines from the song being a recurring theme in most of their songs from an older album of theirs, “…Anything is possible, but everything will happen…”. Upon finishing it Garrett greeted everyone, thanked the Curtain Club for having them, and said that their fans would probably know their next song, which was the title track off their current EP, “Kidnapping”. The band had a lengthy bit of time off recently as they searched for a new drummer, and it was pointed out that this was Brian’s first Dallas show with the band, and during that time they’ve written some new songs, one of which was played next. They then got to a staple song, which was one of the things that made me a fan of the band after seeing them up in Denton three (or maybe four?) years ago, “Thousand Worlds”. The two Bond’s sang most of the first verse in perfect unison with the other, and it sounded great. After another song, Daniel traded spots with Garrett, so he could sing lead on their next tune, the sexually charged, “Tailchaser”. Both of their voices harmonized well when they both sang, though Garrett mostly added some backing vocals. There was a nice bit of emotion added on this number as well, for example, on the chorus, “We’ve got all night to think ‘bout tomorrow. We’ll get lost in the passion, all our sorrows…”, making it seem more real. They resumed their original positions after that, and did what I think was their best song of the night, “Reveal Reframe Release”. Not only is it a killer rock song, but I thought Garrett’s voice was at its best as he delivered the chorus, “It pains me to do this, but it’s who I’ve come to be. The antagonist of our story. When I brought you into my world of sin I should have known that I’d get burned…”. I was really enjoying this, more than I had the last couple of times I had seen them, but sadly their time was already up, as they closed with “Sacrifice”.
I still have mixed feeling about this band, which I will get to in one second. On one hand, and being totally objective, this was a fantastic rock show. The energy and presence all rolled into one made this a spectacle to watch. On the other hand, and this is the last time I will say this in my blogs, a large part of still misses the way that The Raven Charter originally was. Garrett can sing, there’s no question about that, but I still miss the unique dynamic they had before he was in the band, when both Brandon and Daniel shared the responsibilities of being the lead vocalist, sheerly because that was unlike anything I had seen a band do before. And, in my opinion, that set them apart from the other bands in the area. In all honesty, when they initially added Garrett to the lineup and after seeing them with him, I was turned off of their music, hence why it had been so long since I saw one of their shows, because I didn’t view it as something I had to see like I had before. But that’s far enough in the past now it’s time to leave it there, and based on what they did this night, The Raven Charter is once again something I really want to see, and you should, too.
They have a show coming up on July 27th at the Abbey Underground in Denton, which is free for anyone 21+. You can also purchase their two EP’s, “The Raven Charter” and “The Kidnapping”, in iTunes.
It was late, but there was one last band on tap here, and it was the one I was most looking forward to seeing, New Magnetic North. They took a few months off earlier in the year, but since they got back in the swing of things I had managed to miss all their shows, putting it at nearly seven months since the last time I had seen them live, which is just far too long.
They opened with “Elephant In the Room”, which I was surprised I even remembered in the first place since the only way you can hear most of their music right now is in the live setting. Lead guitarist, Jacob Aaron then launched them into their next song, “Which Some Can Say”, which has a stellar guitar riff there at the beginning. I believe it was after that one that vocalist, Tim Ziegler, stated the band’s name to the handful of people that remained. “We are Bob and the New Magnetic Theories. We’re all theories…” he said. A joke like that could be truly appreciated since about the only people who remained were the bands true fans. Oh, and by Bob he meant the bands bass player, Bob McCrary. He then bent down and looked at the setlist, “This next one is called View of the Seconds.” he said. NMN certainly has a very hard sound to their music, but this one is by far the edgiest song in their repertoire, and is probably one of their best period. The joking continued after that, as Tim said something like they were going to switch to their alt country band, “Big Bridge” and made up a song on the spot. “…That bridge is so fucking big that’s why we call it big bridge.” Going in to this I had no clue I’d be getting a comedy show mixed in with a rock concert, but it was great. They followed it with “Feed the Pig”, one of the song that Jacob adds some backing vocals on and showcases what a great voice he has. “Dedicated To: The Machines” was next, and had a nice, lengthy instrumental portion around the halfway point, which first just consisted of Bob and drummer, Chris Kinsey. That went on for a bit before rhythm guitarist, Bryan Ziegler, joined the mix with some softer riffs, and finally Jacob got in on it before they closed the tune out. They somehow got back to the country theme of earlier, and Tim started to do a little dance with his bandmates soon adding some music that made it sound like a hoedown. They only had two songs left at this point, and had saved what I think are their best two for last. The first was “Eleven”, while the final song of their all too short 35 minute set was their most epic, “The Owls Are Not What They Seem”.
Their set was a little shorter than I would have liked, but whatever. It also reminded me of why I don’t need to let too much time pass between NMN shows, because they put on a ferocious live show.
They don’t have anything else lined up at the moment, but they no doubt will sooner rather than later. And as they continue working on their debut record, go listen to and watch the music video to “…Owls…”.
This was one astounding lineup, and kudos to Texas Music Unites for knowing how to put on a proper rock show. It was a fantastic night. So fantastic in fact that I stayed to chat with some people until it got late enough that they had to kick us out. Good times.
Above: Moving Atlas / Below: The Raven Charter
The above photos are courtesy of James Villa Photography. All rights belong exclusively to him.
Photo Credit for the pictures below goes to Laura McCrary.
Below: New Magnetic North
The Curtain Club was hosting a rare event this night, a duel CD release show, this night, which of course had been a long time coming for the bands releasing the CDs, Night Gallery and Daylight Industries.
Daylight Industries got things going right around nine, as guitarist, Brandon Tyner started them the first song of their 39 minute long set, “Matterhorn”. They immediately cut loose, with bassist, Barry Townsend, jumping about the stage, thrashing around to the music, with Brandon doing more or less the same. Afterwards, Stephen Smith ripped into the drums for the intro of their next song, “ Wandering”, and upon finishing it, vocalist, Logan Gnerlich, had something to ask the crowd. I forget exactly how he phrased it, but he was wanting everyone to get a little closer to the stage. “…I mean, I don’t want to be that guy, but come on, get the fuck up here…” he said, and the crowd listened. Whereas a lot of bands will say that more like a demand, or a request that you feel you have to follow through with, this had a different vibe to it. Logan laughed as he said it, and the entire band was wearing a smile, obviously already enjoying the night, and I think that was the real reason people crowded in more. They took things down quite a bit with an older song that now bears a new title, “Piano Wire”, (which, unless I am completely mistaken, used to be called “Mafia Song”), and featured a rip-roaring guitar solo from Brandon. It was around this point in the show that, while Logan said something, a person in the crowd shouted, “I like your beard!” “Thank you.” he replied, adding, “Yours is getting there.” They followed it with another heavy-hitter, “Aphasia”, and then and insanely catchy and in-your-face tune known as “Sit In”. “Bury The Architect” came next, and to end the show they did only the second song of their set that is also on the EP they were releasing, “Something’s Wrong”. The set had been nothing short of a spectacle, and while I wished it could continue longer, I was still very impressed by what they had done. But apparently, I wasn’t the only one who wanted more, though everyone else was going to be vocal about it, as the chants of “ONE MORE!” quickly rose up. The band didn’t know what to do, because all of their songs are longer, at least four minutes, and they didn’t have quite that much time. Three minutes was all they had left, so they decided the best they could do was to play half of a song. They opted to do one that was surprisingly absent from the set, “Hanging Fire”. I saw surprisingly just because when I think of the band, that is the first song that comes to mind. Barry got it going with a wicked bass line, and after a few minutes, Logan went around and said something to each of his band mates. Presumably where they should cut it off at. They did a nice job at that, and if I wasn’t already familiar with the song and they hadn’t said so, I would have thought that was the entire song.
I said this to all of the band members after their set, and I’ll say it again here. Not only was this the best Daylight Industries I’ve seen, this was also one of the best performances I’ve seen period. Seriously, these guys put on one of the best, most energetic and lively stage performances of any band I’ve seen. And I don’t think it hurts that everyone, sans Steve, performs without shoes, which I would think aids them in being a little more agile.
They are one of those bands who, for you to truly appreciate them, you need to see a live show. Speaking of which, they have one on August 3rd at Tomcats West for the WhiskeyBoy Radio/RYA Entertainment presented event, Broadcasting for Boobies, which will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. You can find their debut EP, “Future of an Illusion”, in iTunes (when it becomes available), as well as a live recording of a previous show at the Curtain Club, dubbed, “Escape Velocity…”
Up next was Meridian, and this was the first they had done in nearly four months. I think the curtain opened on them before they were completely ready to go, and vocalist, Tim Ziegler, greeted everyone with a “Hello.”, only spoken in a British accent. Just a few seconds later and they all were all ready to go, launching into the first song of their 36 minute long set, “Re-digress”. This wasn’t the original version, however, as they had made some “adjustments” to the tune. I have often been told that some people thought the song was held back by its “excessive” use of the word, “fuck”, saying it twelve times or so in all. Well, that’s been solved now, as they had completely changed the chorus, though there was still one time where Tim sang that original chorus, “Fuck all your politics. Fuck all your stupid tricks… Fuck all the things you say…”. Honestly, I thought that was what made the song so wonderful, and upon first hearing the changes didn’t think I’d like it nearly as much. But instead, it was the exact opposite, as I actually liked it even more. It had an even tighter sound, and just sounded more polished. Very great, and now that the “language” issue has been handled, maybe they can get it laid down whenever they do a second record. They followed it with “All Hands On Deck”, and afterwards encountered a little technical difficulty. Something was wrong with guitarist, Shannon Nedved’s amp, and they set to work to resolve the issue. “Tell a joke!” someone shouted, to which Tim said, “I don’t know any jokes. Jordan, do you know any jokes?” My answer was no, mainly because thanks to Matt and WhiskeyBoy Radio the only jokes I now are either dick or dead baby jokes , which, as funny as they are, I don’t want to repeat in a club full of people. “He’s never played guitar before.” Tim said, joking about Shannon, who soon rocked out a riff that proved him wrong as they got back on track. Their typical opener, “Nights”, was next, and sounded nice placed right here in the setlist. I still think it’s one of the best songs they have to kick things off, but then again, the way they started this night was great, too. After another tune, they did one that Tim said was for the lovers, or at least something similar to that, “Starts and Ends”, as guitarist, Mark Sims, got the song going. Despite having not even released their first EP yet, they are already working on new music, and played one of those songs, titled “Lazy Eye”, next. This is quite possible one of the best songs they’ve done yet, having an incredible solid sound. And if that’s a sign of things to come, I can’t wait to hear the other new tracks. “Train”, perhaps the bands most beautiful song, came next, as Tim softened his voice and pushed it into a slightly higher register, “I’ve been thinking of another way to die. If I leave this all behind, what will I find?…”. At this point they were told they had ten minutes left. “Well, we only have two more. And their short ones…” Tim replied, as Shannon started them into “Wrecking Ball”, while “Hey Lover” brought things to an end, and saw bassist, Chris Gentry, jumping in the air in perfect synch with some of the heavier beats Joe Maurer supplied on the drums.
It was a good set they did, though they didn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders like other shows of theirs have been. Song wise, I thought it was great, though, and the performance they did was still very enjoyable.
As of me writing this, their next show is going to be Saturday, August 4th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth for the RYA Entertainment/WhiskeyBoy Radio event, Broadcasting for Boobies, with all the proceeds benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. So, be sure to check that out. And they should be gearing up to release their debut EP in the very near future, so get ready.
Up next was Dark Horse Darling. It has only been within the past year that I started hearing about them, all good things, but after listening to their music, I wasn’t a fan. The vocals were just too hardcore for my tastes, being more screaming side of things, but still a bands live show is usually adds a different, more enjoyable element to their music, and I hoped that would be the case here.
They had a nice sample track play as their intro, which, if memory serves me correctly, was made up of some violins and like instruments. A far cry from what the band was like, making the intro more of a “calm before the storm” so to speak. Vocalist, Robert Hibbitts, was back by the drum kit as the curtain started to open, and as the band tore into their first song, he turned on a dime and raced up to the front of the stage. I was correct, vocally I didn’t care to much for the song, but it did have its moments, like when he shouted out part of the chorus, “…Make my day!…” They next did the title track from their current EP, “Moonshine at Sunrise”. Again, the heavier screams didn’t appeal to me, but the fleeting moments where there was legitimate singing, in my opinion, I enjoyed it. I think it was around this time that Robert noted that they were supposed to release their new EP this night, “…But we ran into some technical difficulties…” he said, adding they would have new music out for their fans very soon. Their next tune was by far my favorite of their set, as they toned things down quite a bit. This one showed off what a nice voice Robbie has, with a certain pop quality built into it. Very nice, and if that song will be on their upcoming record, I’ll will definitely be buying it as a single. They followed it with what I suppose were some more new numbers, the next one being “Skeleton Key”, while drummer, Brian Knox, started them into the one after it, and then they rocked out one more. It seemed like they had just really got going, and then Robert announced their next song would be their last one for the night. “This one is called Sleeping On the Floor…” he stated, asking anyone who might know it to help him out, because, “…I may or may not say the title in the song…”. The occasional mosh pit had gotten started during their set, but it got the most intense during this song (which still wasn’t too bad), as their 29 minute set came to a close.
Despite not being very into it at first, their stuff did grow on me to the point I found it enjoyable. And the entire band, which also includes guitarists, Corey Goodwin and Josh Strock, and bassist, Aaron McGrath, put on a pretty good live show.
You can find their EP, “Moonshine at Sunrise” in iTunes, and get a free download of the “Sleeping On the Floor - Single” from the latest compilation by Torch Entertainment. and they have several shows over the next few months. On July 12th they will be at Tomcats West in Fort Worth. July 14th at Heroes in Harker Heights, Texas. July 15th at the Red Eye Fly in Austin. July 19th at Hailey’s in Denton. Then Reno’s Chop Shop in Dallas on August 4th.
Night Gallery was the main course of the night, and this was truly a huge night for them. Really, this night has been in the making since December of 2010, when the band released their three song EP, “Sneak Preview”, offering a glimpse of what their eventual full-length would be like. But aside from that, this marked the debut of the new lineup. After losing Craig Roberts and Johnny Garcia, the band was in need of a new bass player, as well as one guitarist. They got one spot filled a couple months back, and recently found the other missing piece. Yeah, it was a huge night for the band, and one I had been eagerly awaiting for months.
Before the curtain even opened, you heard guitarist, Nathan Hanlon, rip into the first song of the night, which is also the first single from “Loud as the Sun”, “My Friend Pretend”. When the band was finally revealed, they appeared to be in full swing, rocking out, as vocalist, “Otter”, darted up on stage just in time to start singing the song. As “Duckie” pounded out the final drum beats of that song, he wound it right it right into the next, “Dirty Side”. I’ve liked this song for awhile, but in listening to me it has really grown on me, and I love the line towards the end, “…So here we are, standing face to face. With zombie tears trying to plea your case…”. They tore through that song, and then it was onward to the first single from a few years back, “She Runs”. “…Sing along if you know it.” Otter told everyone, which I think most people did as he started the first verse, “…She thinks she walks alone here in this place. She believes that no one else has felt this way. And then she wants advice, and then she asks me twice…”. That little marathon of songs had been one helluva show in itself, and made it quite obvious that a.) this was a completely new Night Gallery and b.) this was going to be the best show I’ve even see them do. They’re not just know for great rock music, though, as their light comedic touches also make the shows great. “We have crotchless girls shirts for sale…” Otter said (which was untrue). Duckie then added they carried crotchless guy shirts as well. “…So if you like crotchless stuff, you’ll love our shirts…” Otter finished before announcing the next song, “This one is called Separation Anxiety.” This has become my favorite song of the bands, and I think it is the stand out track from the record, and I think his voice is best displayed here, specifically on part of the chorus. “This song is couples skate only.” he said, as they slowed things down a little with “Lynne”. I missed everything that was said, though both Otter and Duckie said something about how things were going to get “crazy”. There’s only one song where things get downright crazy, and that is “Crazy Brave”. As they finished up the song, Duckie then said what was perhaps the funniest thing of the night, “…I scream, you scream, we all scream during a plane crash.” Their show hit another (slight) lull with “Without Regret”, and, once guitarist, Jeremy Root, played his final chord of the song, he started lightly strumming his guitar, beginning the next song. It was hardly audible at first, being somewhat masked by notes from their last song, which quickly subsided, giving way to “The Tide”. Since its debut, I’ve found the song good, but it never jumped out at me in the live setting and it was only after hearing the recorded version that I found myself in complete awe over it. And now, hearing it live for the first time in over five months, it was like the song had undergone a transformation, packing more of a punch now. Upon finishing it, Otter made mention that everybody might have noticed the new members, and it seemed like he was about to introduce them, which he did, just not in the way I was expecting. “His name is Bruce Banner.” said Otter, pointing to a plush doll of The Hulk that was tied to his mic stand, just above the Cookie Monster that sits taped around the base of the stand (Otter Smash the Tacocopter, anyone?). Things got a bit more serious for their next song, “Untimely Demise”, where Otter could be heard dedicating it to someone who was dear to him. “This one’s for you, grandpa.” he said, which I do think helped give the song more emotion to it, and made me look at the lyrics in a different light. Two more songs were all the remained, the first of which was their little story of a serial killer, “Mr. Ripper”, but the other eluded me. Then I finally remembered, at about the same the song ended, it was “The Signal”. Duckie immediately started counting, “ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR!”, then cut loose on the drum for a few beats, repeating that a few times. The instrumental intro/lead in for the song just has a grand feeling to it, and as soon as you hear it you know they are going to take you on a journey with this one. That’s part of why I still think this song is better suited as the opener, but tonight, it worked best as the closer. They got to what I believe is the bridge, and Otter stepped out onto the steps that are in front of the stage. “…With one single voice…(I’m not certain as to what the next line is). Fight to the end, to overcome trend…” he spoke, tugging at his shirt on that last word. “Now coming in clear, no more static you hear…” This was where it all changed, as he raised his voice. Neither in a yell nor a scream, instead in a determined tone, like a fiery passion was overflowing from him, “So take it from me. We’re not changing, you see!” he bellowed, then got back into the chorus, “They can’t stop the signal now. They can’t stop us all, they can’t stop us…”. He had taken the mic off of the stand for this song, and after the final line, collapsed on the stage, as his band mates brought their 46 minute long set to a close.
“They can’t stop us.” That last line definitely rang true for Night Gallery this night. I mean no disrespect to anyone, but the band has never been as phenomenal as they were this night. Nathan brings with him more of a stage presence/performance, and can downright shred. Mikey Auringer, while not the most active member as far as moving around, still had a great aura around him as he rocked out the beats on his bass. Jeremy’s always great, being a fantastic guitarist, who lets his skill speak for itself, rather than do anything flashy to get attention. While Otter and Duckie were in topnotch shape. I thought I had seen some incredible performances by the band in the past, but this just blew those others out of the water.
They’re still Night Gallery, though they’ve manifested themselves into something different, now. And with a full-length record to get out there and promote, I’m interested to see what the road holds for these guys.
You can purchase “Loud as the Sun” in iTunes or at shows. As of right now, their next show will be on August 4th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth for the RYA Entertainment/WhiskeyBoy Radio event, Broadcasting for Boobies. They will also be playing in Dallas on September 14th at The Boiler Room.
Closing out the night was a band from Longview, known as This Day Forth. They had more of a hardrock sound to them, which got a little too hard for my tastes with their second song, “Fighting”. That was where rhythm guitarist and lead singer, David Wilson, did a bit more screaming than I could handle, and I thought about leaving, but decided I should give them a little more time. Sure enough, the next few songs, “Love Me Black and Blue”, “The Cycle”, and “Send Me an Angel”, all sounded great, with the last one of those being the softer sided tune of the bands. But when they finished it, I went ahead and called it a night. It was around 1:30, and the band had just been told they had up to thirty minutes left, and despite me liking them, I was invested to the point that I wanted to stick it out.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t a good group of guys, though, and have a few shows coming up. On July 21st they will be at Click’s in Tyler, TX. July 28th will find them at the Side Pocket Lounge in Kilgore, TX. And they will be back there again on August 18th.
I really think this was one of the most solid show bills I’ve ever seen, and every band this night brought it. One last congrats to both Night Gallery and Daylight Industries for releasing records, and I’m already looking forward to your next recording efforts.