I don’t get up to Denton too often these days, but there’s at least one night a month when there’s a show up there I want to see. And for this was the night for this month.
There were actually a couple of shows I wanted to see here this night, but the one at Dan’s Silverleaf took priority in my opinion. Centro-matic was doing a rarer string of shows in Texas this weekend, and it began with a hometown gig at that fine venue, which was presented by Spune Productions.
The only opening act was Tony Ferraro & the Satans of Soft Rock, who also reside in Denton, and are a collective effort of several notable area musicians, led by, of course, Tony Ferraro.
Beginning their 38-minute long set was a song, “Children In Fur Coats”, from their first official EP, “Friend of Man and Beast Alike”. It definitely held true to the “soft rock” portion of the band’s name, at least for the most part. It was rock music, but nothing too intense, at least not until the end, when Justin Collins drumming picked up, becoming something you could really bang your head to. Afterwards, Tony stated what an honor it was to be on this bill. “…Up next are the people… The people who I can’t say enough nice things about without saying too many nice things…” he said, obviously filled with glee that he was opening for the iconic, Centro-matic. They did another couple, one of which I think was “I Am The Engine”, which was a very catchy number, and stands out as my favorite from their set. The song titles got a little more creative with their next one, “Assemble the Bitch Wolves”. It was a slower one, a bit somber is some ways, and featured an outstanding guitar riff/solo from lead guitarist, Ryan Becker. Mr. Becker is certainly one of the most prolific musicians in D/FW scene, and while the bands he fronts are some of the best around, it’s also something to see him as just a guitar player. Not having to do all the singing means he can focus all of his attention to playing the guitar. It’s something to marvel at, you quickly realize, as an instrumentalist, he is one of the best. Not just in the local scene here, either, but in general. They kept the final notes of the song going, while Tony, Ryan and Justin presumably discussed how to go into the next song, which Justin soon transitioned them into with some beats, while bassist, David Howard, laid down some heavy riffs, too. That segued them into “Diaspora”, an incredible song that made great use of the keyboard, which was manned by Chris Gomez. Four more songs came next in the setlist, none of which I knew, and on the first of those Tony and Ryan pulled off some gorgeous harmonies as they crooned. After that slew of songs, they were left with enough time to do one more. In case you don’t know, Tony plays bass in one of Ryan Becker’s bands, Last Joke, and the EP that band has released features one of Tony’s songs, “No, We Can’t Be Friends”. That was the one that brought this show to a close, and again found both Tony and Ryan doing some co-singing.
I expected I’d enjoy their show, but not to the extent that I did. Tony has several recordings available to download, many of which are more demo quality, and it’s hard to gauge how a band will sound based on that. That’s not to say I hadn’t enjoyed said recordings, though. They [the songs] sounded so much more impressive live and took the Satans from being a band I had never seen live, to one I’d like to see many times over.
The few glimpses I’ve caught of Tony’s voice, I’ve enjoyed it, and this night I was shown that he definitely has the chops to front a band. There’s a real folk quality to his singing voice, which sounds excellent on the slower songs, but he’s able to push it enough to where it also works on their more rock numbers.
They were very polished, and it was evident that they had put in a lot of work in rehearsing for this show, making them a worthy act to open for Centro-matic. As far as Satans’ shows go, I don’t think they play too terribly often. But to keep up to date with everything, just keep a check on their FACEBOOK PAGE. You can also check out all of their recordings on their BANDCAMP page, all of which are FREE to download (though you can pay for them if you want.)
It was only barely after ten, and already the members of Centro-matic were setting up their gear. It made me think that this may indeed be an earlier night, which would be great, because it would allow me to squeeze in one last band while here in Denton.
A little after 10:30, Will Johnson, Mark Hedman, Matt Pence and Scott Danbom stepped on stage. They hadn’t sold the place out like I thought they might, but there was a very healthy crowd there for a Thursday night, and everyone packed in tight around the stage, as they guys set to work…
“Flashes & Cables” opened up their set, as Will began softly singing the first few lines of it, “If we found the time, if we found the merriment. If we found the words, we’d scratch them in new cement…” They found their footing once they hit the chorus, when it swelled to a powerful rock number, due largely to the driving beats Matt was banging out. Upon finishing it, Will took a moment to thank Tony Ferraro. “…I salute your golden souls…” he said, speaking of the band. He genuinely seemed taken by their talent, and went on to say that they would take them to their next two gigs the following nights in Austin and Fort Worth, “…Somehow…”, Will added. After swooning over them for a few minutes, they continued on with the show. “…This next one is Fountains of Fire…” Will stated, as they tackled the song from 2001’s, “Distance and Clime” album. It seemed a bit too slow to me, at least too slow for so early on in the set. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, though, and plenty of people seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. The fans really didn’t get a chance to applaud that one, though, as Will played some notes on his guitar, winding it right into “Against the Line”. It was one of a few they did from their current record, “Candidate Waltz”, and it shows the unique knack Mr. Johnson has for penning songs, as there is no real chorus to it, yet it stands out as one of the strongest in both their catalog and live show. A brief break occurred afterwards, which lightened the mood as Will proceeded to talk about the “fun” they had been having in Denton earlier in the day. He mentioned that they had been hanging out, I believe on the east side of the square, where the “…Swords, gas masks and helmets…” were. The conversation lasted for a few minutes, and he mentioned how “exotic” the shop was. “…The trick is trying to figure out to write off swords, gas masks and helmets on your taxes…” he finished, before moving on, saying the next song was called “Iso-Residue”. That made for two of their most recent songs getting played back-to-back, and threw one more in there, segueing it into “All the Talkers”. I think they extended the break that happens about halfway through, to the point it made you think the song was over, before they started building it back up. That finished up the “Candidate Waltz” record, at least for the time being, but the band had another trick up their sleeve. Will casually mentioned that they had started working on a new record within the last month. He even dropped the title of it, which will be “Take Pride in Your Long Odds”, and they cranked out a tune that will appear on it. It sounded quite good, and now has me very intrigued about this forthcoming album. Sometime during the song, it hit a lull, during which Scott stood up from the keyboards he had been manning, walked over to center stage and got the bass from Mark, who in turn went and grabbed his guitar, giving them a fuller rock sound as they closed out that new track. (At least I assume that was all part of the same song.) Getting all that new stuff out of the way now meant it was time for the “hits”, or perhaps fan favorites is a better word to use, like “The Mighty Midshipman”, which Matt started them off on. Some more small talk was made once they finished it, and Will pointed out the unusual “…balance of people by the bar…” There was a cluster of them over in that direction, while the stage right section of the audience was pretty bare. “…There’s nothing wrong with that,” he said, “It’s just different…” He also set up the next song, another from the same album as their previous one, “Argonne Limit Co”. “…It’s about deep, dark holes… Lined with crystals…” he said. It was another softer one, but this far into the set, they had already established their rock dominance, so it was nice hearing them switch it up a bit. “Calling Thermatico” followed, which was a fitting one, as it brought things back up a little bit, but still had a similar flow as the one they had just done. Perhaps the best part of that song was near the end, when Will began clapping his hands rather rapidly, as he repeatedly crooned into the mic, “Oooooohh…”. They had something else in store from the nearly seven-year-old “Fort Recovery”, and it was my personal favorite Centro-matic song, “Patience For The Ride”. “…You can’t touch the forces of our hurricane, the forces of our hurricane hearts…” sang Will, changing up the first verse slightly from how it is on the recording, while Scott occasionally added some backing vocals to the mix. They raced through the barely over a minute-long, “The Connections Not so Civilized”, before getting to “Mandatory On the Attack”, which is off their earliest album. Its fast paced beats, and quick plucking of the strings on the guitars and bass, make it an insanely catchy tune. Well, that and the fact that Will manages to keep up with it all effortlessly, with the lyrics spewing from his mouth with ease. Upon finishing it, Scott relinquished his bass duties, giving it back to Mark, while he returned to the keys. That took them into “Huge In Every City”, where the keys were very prevalent, and one of the best things about the song. With the exception of the lengthy instrumental outro, where all four of them really let their musicianship take over, showing what pros they really are. At one point during all of that, Will even proceeded to jump up and down. Next, they cranked out “Rock And Roll Eyes”, which is one of their truest rock songs, and I’m glad it’s still a mainstay in their live sets, despite it being one of their oldest songs. Matt/patched the end of it right into the next song, which was the only other one I didn’t know this night. It sounded quite good, though. They took another break, while they welcomed an additional guitarist on stage, giving him time to set up. “Brent Best, everybody!” Will exclaimed, as the man walked on stage. He stuck around for their last few songs, which included the first single from “Candidate Waltz”, “Only In My Double Mind”. The beats at the beginning were very rhythmic, to the point of being hypnotic, and you knew right away you were about to hear something special. They really cut loose during the instrumental break in the middle of it, showing that Brent brought a lot to the table, and, if only for a few songs, helped elevate the bands performance to an even higher level than before (who knew that was possible.) It was Will who really rocked out, though, dropping to his knees as he just shred on his guitar for a bit. That could have been an excellent note to end on, but they had one last thing planned, and that was the shorter, “Fidgeting Wildly”, which capped off a 71-minute long set.
You would think an encore would be imminent, but after a minute or so passed, I started to wonder. After all, that had been quite a show, and anything they might have had left would be icing on the cake. Then, just when I was about to give up and leave, the four guys walked back on the stage, Will sans his guitar.
I had no clue what to expect, and Will prefaced it by saying it was going to be a love song. It was indeed, and a damn fine one at that. It was called “Love Has Found Me Somehow”, and was a sweet love song, without being too mushy, and Will even got almost everyone in the crowd to join him on a whistling part, which was a pretty cool moment, but not the best. First off, let me say that the beard Mr. Johnson was sporting makes him appear rather prophetic, like he could be some spiritual guru who could tell what the meaning of life is. Hell, the music he writes is so smart it kind of attests to that, and all of that served to make what happened next that much funnier in my opinion. Scott, Matt and Mark lightened the music, as Will announced he had invented a new dance. “…It might not be good,” he warned, “but it’s new…” He had dubbed it the “Belgian Waffle Maker”, saying it came from the free breakfast that the Hampton Inn offers, where you can make your own waffles. Catch is, it ends at ten in the morning. “…Now, ten’s a little too early. But okay, I’ll be there…” he said, and that joke received lots of laughs. He was very detailed with it all, saying when you get to the breakfast bar, there’s a line, “…of every single other person who waited until nine fifty-one to get up…”. Here’s where the dance came in, as he was talking about having to watch everyone make their waffle, and flip it over and over and over again. While he was talking about flipping them, he mimicked the motion with his hands, which he had pressed together, flipping from one side to the other. You really had to be there to fully get it, and it was damn near one of the funniest things I’ve seen at a show. But best of all, that wasn’t the only new dance he had created, and he said he had also done one with his daughter a few days before. I think he said something like, “I’m not sure if it traumatized her or not…”, before he began randomly placing his hands all over his body, then moved them elsewhere, and he picked up speed the longer he did it. By the time that ended, I was near tears from laughing so hard, so it was a good thing they resumed the song and closed it out. That wasn’t the end of the show, though. No, they had one final song for everybody, and closing out their 11-minute encore was “Tied to the Trailer”, during which they again enlisted some help from Brent Best.
I haven’t seen many concerts so far this year, but this was the best one yet. And I have a strong feeling it’ll be one of the best ones I see all year.
Very few bands make it to see their sixteenth year, and all the time they’ve spent together is obvious at their live show. Despite the fact that they all live in different cities now, and they don’t play too often, they are still tighter than most bands could ever hope to be, and while they are seasoned veterans, they can give even the youngest, most energetic bands a run for their money in terms of performance.
Centro-matic really is an institution when it comes to Texas music, and are hands down one of the best acts in the state. I just hate that I didn’t really come across them until late 2011.
They have a bounty of records you can buy, all of which can be purchased HERE. And while they don’t have any shows at the moment, they will no doubt be back out sometime later in the year. Hopefully they’ll get back to the Dallas area for another gig before they release the record they’re currently working on, too.
That may have been the end of this show, but my night in Denton wasn’t quite over with yet…
I don’t get up to Denton too often these days, but there’s at least one night a month when there’s a show up there I want to see. And for this was the night for this month.
This weekend marked the anniversary of Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton, which has been in business for ten years now.
I’ve seen many shows there since the first time I went to the venue back in April of 2007, but one band got me out to Dan’s more than any other, and that was The FEDS.
This was the venue where they performed what was called, “their last show ever in the state of Texas”, and for a few years that was true, until the band finally did a reunion show this past January in Dallas. I, and I’m sure most fans, figured it would be awhile before the band would ever grace a stage again, but to help celebrate their anniversary, Dan’s Silverleaf had gotten them to get back together for one more night.
I heard the start time was 10 o’clock, which had changed to 10:30 by the time my dad and I got there. Well, that came and went. Finally, at 10:52, guitarists, Jason Jones and Matt Wright, bassist, Dave Shafer, singer, Matt Slider, and one of their drummers, Glenn Crain, all filed on stage. And after Slider spoke a few words welcoming everybody and such, they tore into their hour and 46 minute long set.
They got it going just like they had so often before, as Glenn began bashing away on the drums, starting “Turn Off the Mic”. They even played it true to the album version, not performing it the way they did in the later years, where most of the instruments cut out during the bridge as Slider and Jason would sing and harmonize, “…This is sound, someone listen. Don’t miss it…” It was a barrage of songs at first, as Jason started picking away at the intro of “Saturday Girl”. Slider drew in a long, audible breath of air, stopping right as the music ceased, before Dave, Matt, Glenn and Jason exploded into it. That song got everyone excited, and while the final chords of it rang out, Glenn immediately got a steady beat going. It was another classic from “From Hell to Breakfast”, “Sleep ‘til Noon”. This was the only song of the night where I caught a mistake, as Slider tripped up on the first verse and sang a few lines from the second verse instead, not seeming to notice it with the first couple of lines he sang, but then you could tell he realized what he was doing. Things came to a stop after that song, as they got a few moments to catch their breath, as Slider asked everyone how they were doing and whatnot. He also said something about they got a seventeen-year-old kid fired from Dan’s because they were playing this show, and how bad they felt about that. “…Think about it, us playing a show made someone lose their job…” he said to the crowd, which had grown, and, while not being a sellout, still had the place VERY packed. I was right in front of the stage and could see the setlist, and was anxiously awaiting the next song. I think Glenn was, too, as he kept lightly tapping on the cymbals. Once Jason started plucking away the guitar strings and people realized what the song was, everyone gathered in closer around the stage, and most shouted along to that opening line of “Butcher’s Block”, “You’ll know my name soon enough and when we meet you’ll see I’m still king!…”. Many fans pumped their fists in the air to the chorus, “The knife is sharp and I will touch it the same. The knife is sharp ‘cause I just sharpened the blade. All you people play this game, but in the end I reign supreme.”, and eventually they got to the songs bridge. As they slowed it down, I didn’t remember that part sounding nearly as gorgeous as it did now, with the guitars intertwining in a heavenly way, while the bass and drums added just the right amount of backbone to it all. I’ve said many times before that, that is my favorite song ever, and tonight was the best that I’ve ever heard it sound. Now, at their show in Dallas five months back, they ran short on time, having to make a quick judgment call that meant axing an old school fan favorite that everyone was dying to hear. They were going to make up for that tonight, and next pulled out the only song they would do from “Black Cowboy” this night, “Paint the White Stripes Black”. I didn’t see many people who knew the song in its entirety, though, a lot of people shouted along to the part of the chorus that is also the title. It almost seemed like song was over, with the music completely dying out before Jason started into the instrumental breakdown of the song, beginning very slow and (very) gradually picking up speed, with Glenn, Matt and Dave eventually all getting back into it.
That tune ended the first portion of their set, as Ben Jeffries walked on stage and got behind the drum kit on stage left (yeah, I forgot to mention each drummer had their own kit set up.) Before Glenn took his leave, he walked up to the mic. “I want to introduce my friend, Ben, and he plays drums real well.” he stated.
The second portion of their set began with the only song they would do from “The Stars of Dust” EP, “Fame”. Once it ended, Slider asked something like, “Y’all ready to get to the real rock stuff?” With that, Matt ripped into the intro of “Alive”, which I still say is probably one of the best intros ever. He finished up the series of notes, starting it again, although Jason didn’t chime in at this point, instead, it looked like he was finishing getting his guitar in tune. He did join in on the next cycle through, though, at the same time the drums did, and shortly before Slider shouted out the opening line, “Yes, I’m breathing. But I’m not sure if it’s keeping me alive…”. Anyone who ever saw the band knows that arguable the best part of this song is the guitar solos at the end, and after he belted out the final line of the song, Slider dropped to his knees and rocked out to the music. He got up just in time, moving out of the way as Jason and Matt started walking towards center stage, as the two tore it up on the duel guitar solo/outro. When they finished, they returned to their respective sides of the stage, and unplugged their guitars to switch them out. Slider helped fill the time. “Are y’all ready to stop with the shit music and get to the good stuff?” he asked noting that he was referring to their original material, while by “good stuff” he meant a song that everybody would know. The song came from a little ‘ol band by the name of Heart, and the tune was “Barracuda”. Despite the song making it onto one of their EPs, I don’t think they ever played it much live, in fact, the only time I recall hearing it was at their farewell show up in Tulsa. They definitely put their own spin on “Barracuda”, and while I’m not too big on bands covering songs, simply because I’d rather hear originals, they pulled this one off as if it was one of their own. Plus they had ample time to throw in most of their stuff that fans wanted to hear. They switched back to their main guitars, and after getting his plugged back in, Matt grabbed a slide and proceeded to play the brief, acoustic sounding instrumental piece, “Jenny”. As he did so, fans shouted out the title of what was coming next, “Stop”, which they soon busted into. “Bigfoot Goes to Heaven” was next, and for the brief instrumental bridge right around the middle of the song, Matt walked over to Jason’s side of the stage, as the two faced each other while they rocked it out, right before Slider came back in, “Hold your breath and count to ten, that’s what they say. When all is lost just start to pray…” Ben pounded out the final drum beat of the song, then continued playing, patching it seamlessly into “Whiskey Sour Kiss”. Sid Goldsmith, the singer of the late Upside, was in attendance, and earlier Slider had even dedicated a song to him. Now, Slider motioned to Sid, who made his way on stage. “You sweet and sexy smile, you’re pale white face…” he sang, while Slider took a backseat and looked on. The two co-sang the first chorus, “I know what you’re running from, take a lick and stand your ground. Well, I know we could overcome your sour kiss.”, before Sid took leave. Once the song was complete, it was time for Ben to exit the stage as well.
Glenn returned, and they had another cover in store. “…Ten years from now covers are all we’re going to be doing…” Slider said before the song, which I took his him affirming that The FEDS would still be around in ten years. The song was “Eternal Life” by Jeff Buckley, and they slayed it. Honestly, this was one of the best songs they did this night, and while I’ve never heard the original version, I think it’s safe to say that at the very least they gave Mr. Buckley a run for his money, and perhaps even did a better job. It was nothing but their own songs from here on out, but Glenn only had one left to do for the time being, and that one was “No Matter What”. As they started into it, you could really hear Dave’s bass, so loud that I could feel my lungs rubbing against the inside of my chest, which is always a nice feeling, and I had never realized before what sweet bass riff that song has.
Ben got back behind his kit, as they slowed things down a bit with one that was seldom played, “Calendar Days”. Slider toned things down more for this song, spending most of his time by the drum kit as he crooned into the mic, “…Do you feel the same? Or are all of your nights spent sleeping all alone? Are we just sleepwalking?…” Upon finishing it, Slider motioned to Sid to come up to the stage, and whispered something in his ear before Sid walked back out into the crowd. “Sid, what do you want to hear next?” asked Slider, as he shouted out a song title that wasn’t what they had discussed. Perhaps, “Blaster”? “What’s your second choice?” Slider asked him. He responded, “Anything from Kickball Player!” “You are really fucking up the plan, here.” Slider said while laughing. He said some other song title, before finally going with the one that was written down next on the setlist, one of my favorites, “You, Euphoria”. As the song neared the end, Glenn got back on stage, and while Ben’s final beats resonated, Glenn started lightly tapping away on his cymbals, leading them right into the next song, while Ben exited. Jason then started the opening riffs of “It”, and by the time this song was done, it had me wondering if these guys were even fully warmed up yet. With a couple minutes left of the song, Slider quit singing, instead focusing on the show. At one point he and Matt both jumped in the air, high-fiving each other, and then Slider continued to jump, gaining a bit more time in the air with each jump. I’ve heard tale of how he used to always to flips, either on the stage or off of it into the crowd, but never witnessed any of that firsthand. Tonight was the night that would change. He got to the point he was almost touching the ceiling (which in all fairness is none too high here at Dan’s), and then, out of nowhere, Slider did a forward flip and stuck the landing. It was greatness. He seemed to recover after that, as Dave, Glenn, Matt and Jason finished out the song. They had one last oldie planned, and it was one that people had been requesting throughout the night, “My Texas”.
Two songs. That was all they had left, and Ben returned to man the drum kit for these final two. Glenn got up, but instead of leaving, went over Slider and, speaking into the mic, asked, “…Is it cool if I just stay back there to watch?” The crowd cheered at that. Matt said it was okay. But Slider playfully disagreed. “What? No?! Well, fuck you!” Glenn said, then jokingly flipped Slider off. Just as they had began this night like so many of their shows in their final year and a half as an active band, so too, would they end it just like they used to. “The Four Horsemen of Confusion (Then There Was You)” was next to last, and while Glenn had just mentioned that Ben would be the one playing on these songs, he occasionally added a little extra percussion here and there. But once they got to the instrumental outro, all that changed. I figured a duel drum solo was inevitable, and it finally happened here (see it in THIS VIDEO). It quite impressive seeing these two drum alongside each other, as it becomes evident just how different a style they each have, yet it mixes together quite well. At one point, each one tossed one of their drumsticks to the side, and Glenn caught Ben’s, while Ben caught Glenn’s, as they went back into pounding out the beats. The finished it up, only leaving one song, and anyone who knew anything about The FEDS knew what that last song was.
I’ve seen my fair share of FEDS shows, and during those I heard “Housefire” used in various places in the set. It was the show opener for a while. I even heard it fall right in the middle of the show on a few occasions. But more often than not, it was the routine show closer, and one helluva one at that. It was, in my opinion, just the perfect way to end things, and personally, I think that was how they should have capped things off in Tulsa nearly three and a half years ago. The same can be said for their reunion show this past January, but now, that was all that was left.
As “The Four Horseman…” faded out, Ben lit into his drum kit, starting the rapid paced, “Housefire”, which Slider stated was all they had for this night. The rest of the band came in, in layers, with Jason getting going first, then Matt, and finally Dave. Once it was fully underway, Slider belted out, “Well, I’ve got all this time to watch it burn! Standing in the street, while all these ashes float across my feet! I’d die if I thought it would save my life! But what a way to go, to watch the flames and feel its white hot glow!…” Unfortunately, the song couldn’t go on forever, and as the final word was bellowed out, “HOUSEFIRE!”, all the instruments rang out in unison, as they followed nearly the same pattern as used on some of the songs other lines, like “…Across my feet…” for example. After four times of that, it got heavier, as the duo crashed down on the drums, accompanied by the bass. And just when it seemed like it was over, Ben and Glenn had one more round to offer.
Earlier in the night Slider had given a heartfelt speech about how lucky they were to have fans like this, who would come out on a Thursday night to see them play, and before walking off the stage reiterated that fact. That may be true, and I’m glad they look at it in that way, but my view is this, how can these people not? I mean, FEDS shows are practically non-existent these days.
Speaking of shows, I was awe of this one after seeing it, but now I’ve thought about it. This one ranks in the top two of twenty-six shows of theirs that I’ve seen, and is an easy contender for the number one spot. In fact, I do strongly believe this was the best of shape that I’ve ever seen these guys in, which is funny, since you would think a reunion show would show what rust has started to accumulate. But on the contrary, they came across as being even more well oiled now.
Slider’s voice sounded impeccable. I’ve never been as amazed by it as I was here, and he proved he still has the charisma, and everything else to boot. Matt still has a swagger that I think is mostly unrivaled, Jason can still shred like no one’s business, Dave still remains my favorite bass player, and while Ben is still one of the most incredible drummers I’ve seen, and is actually the reason I started paying attention to drummers in the first place, Glenn as just as good. In fact, this is only the third time I’ve seen him play some songs with the band, and it makes me really wish I had been able to see them way back when, when he was their main drummer.
I think I said something similar to this after their last reunion show, but there just aren’t bands like this in the local music scene at this point in time. What these guys had was something special, and with two reunion shows under their belt in not even six months, I doubt I’m the only one with a slight bit of hope that this could perhaps re-ignite a fire that died long ago (hey, it happened with the Toadies, right?). But at the same time, I know not to be holding my breath. Still, if they can just do an occasional reunion show to remind people of what fantastic Rock ‘n’ Roll was like.
The only album available to purchase online is “A Touch of Panic”, which, on a side note, celebrated its five-year anniversary the day after this show, on June 29th. But if you’re interested in getting any of their older albums, I’m sure you can just contact the band and work something out.
Photos courtesy of James Villa Photography & all rights belong exclusively to him.
Tonight Dan’s Silverleaf was hosting quite an impressive show, with my two favorite bands, Trebuchet and Descender, on the show bill. The Dead Twins were originally supposed to open the show, but had to cancel out for reasons unknown to me. So Dallas band, Sunward, ended up getting the opening slot. I was really looking forward to seeing them, as they’d made quite the impression after seeing them at the Kessler a few months back. But unfortunately I didn’t get to Denton till much later than what I’d planned, and subsequently had missed most of their set. I only caught the last 4 songs, but they were really good. Their music has more of a dreamy / fairytale sound to it. Whimsical, that’s the word to describe it. Alright! The show kicked into high-gear next, when Descender took the stage. But not just the Descender I’m used to seeing, a new and improved one, in just about every aspect. Casey was wielding a new guitar (new in the sense that I’d never seen him use it at a Descender show). And the 2010 setlist, which I’d come to know so well that I knew exactly what to expect, was totally revamped. The show started with the four of them rocking out on their respective instrument for a couple minutes, eventually leading into their first song. It had apparently been a while since I’d seen Descender too, cause while the song sounded familiar, I couldn’t name it to save my life. Then Casey sang out one of the words which is also the title of the song, “…Armor…”. It was odd hearing this song first, since it used to be saved for the next to last, but it was really a good way to start the show. And if they are going to replace “Gunpowder…” as the opening number, “Armor” is the only contender for the opening song. The set did take a little more familiar turn next, as they cranked out “Hats Off” (which I was pleasantly surprised to hear) and “What Was Missing”. They took a short break, as Casey thanked the other bands, saying about Trebuchet, “They’re our Denton brothers, who we need to get to Dallas and get…”. He paused for a second to search for the right word, when a girl in the crowd gave him the answer. “SMASHED!” she yelled out. “Yes. That.” Casey replied. They then returned to the show, by taking things down a few notches, or at least they did for the first part of “Dark Water”, and kept the momentum going with “Gunpowder Drums”. Then did their latest addition, “Always Around”, and finished their 40 minute set with “Army of Elephants”. This was easily the best show I’ve seen Descender do. In large part due to the sound system at Dan’s, which made Casey’s voice sound crystal clear. So good in fact that I could understand almost every word he sang, unlike usual where it’s just some words here and there. And perhaps it was my imagination, but all of them, Duncan, Zack, Jeff, and Casey all seemed to radiate even more of a presence than they have before. They’re set to release their second EP at the legendary club, Trees, in Deep Ellum on March 3rd, so be sure to mark your calendars. And I have a real feeling these guys are going to be one of the bands to watch this year. Oh, and coincidently their EP release show is going to be the same day as my birthday. And really what better way to celebrate then by seeing one of my favorite current bands rocking out! Last, but certainly not least, was Trebuchet, who was doing their first show in nearly three months. And I was in desperate need of a fix. They got their hour long set started at 12:14, with a little intro. It was someone talking, so I assume it was from a movie or TV show, but I really have no clue. And it (or more a continuation of it) was also used periodically throughout the entire show. After rocking out some chords on their instruments, Dustin finally started shredding away at the first song. A slightly re-imagined version of their song about zombies, tentatively titled “Cowboy Rick”. The only real difference was at the beginning, while Dustin was rocking it out, Keith added a bit of his guitar, for just a second here and there. I never would’ve thought they could improve on this song, but I apparently was wrong. I still say that song is a hell of a way to get their shows going, and it only got better when Bobby slowed the drum beat down and rolled it right into “Black Beard”. They even changed this one up a bit, at the end when the lyrics are done Justin always straps his guitar on and joins in. But not this time, instead he just paced around. Not that it made much of a difference in the song, at least none that I could hear, it just surprised me a little was all. When it was over though he did get his guitar, which he used for the next several songs. And the next song kind of threw me a bit. It didn’t at all sound like an original, in comparison to their other material, so I assumed it was a cover. But much later in the set Justin said something about “…All the new material we’ve been unloading this show.” Which made me think it might be an original. Either way I really liked it, and it a little more main stream rock sound then their other tunes. “An Ominous Ode to the Hills Part 1” came next, and after it there was a pause just long enough for Bobby to change drumsticks, before they exploded into “An Ominous Ode to the Hills Part 2”. They did one more older song, “Ego Trip” complete with the instrumental ending, before letting loose three more new ones. One, maybe two of which I remembered hearing before. And all pretty good. Their set was nearing the end, as Justin announced they had two songs left, one of which was of course “Intelligent Design”. It ended and then they followed it with an instrumental song. This seemed to be the end, as the crowd applauded the sound guy turned the lights on and asked everyone to give it up again for all the bands. “Uhh… I think we have one more.” said Justin. The lights went back out, and people, including myself, started shouting the names of songs. Of course it didn’t matter though, as they already knew what they were going to play. It ended up being another new tune, one that I believe Justin said had never been played before. And if that is right, then I must ask, why the hell not? What ensued was about the most intense Trebuchet song I’ve heard, and just after this one listen I’d rank it my 3rd favorite song of theirs. It was incredible! A good closing song, but I also think it could be used to open shows. This was the best show I’ve seen these guys do in upwards of a year, and probably one of the best all together. I mentioned the sound system when talking about Descender, and it of course was no different for Trebuchet. Justin’s voice sounded phenomenal, even better than listening to the CD’s. And I’ve never seen the band so with it, which is saying a lot cause they never disappoint. Near the end of the show they said they would be getting the new music out soon, but they have been saying that for awhile. Really, I won’t believe it until it happens, but I know all the delays have only been in the interest of the final product being the best it can possible be. So keep your eyes peeled for new tracks and more shows, the next of which is set to go down on Thursday Feb. 3rd at the City Tavern in Downtown Dallas.
Tonight Dan’s Silverleaf was hosting quite an impressive show, with my two favorite bands, Trebuchet and Descender, on the show bill.
The Dead Twins were originally supposed to open the show, but had to cancel out for reasons unknown to me. So Dallas band, Sunward, ended up getting the opening slot. I was really looking forward to seeing them, as they’d made quite the impression after seeing them at the Kessler a few months back. But unfortunately I didn’t get to Denton till much later than what I’d planned, and subsequently had missed most of their set. I only caught the last 4 songs, but they were really good. Their music has more of a dreamy / fairytale sound to it. Whimsical, that’s the word to describe it.
Alright! The show kicked into high-gear next, when Descender took the stage. But not just the Descender I’m used to seeing, a new and improved one, in just about every aspect. Casey was wielding a new guitar (new in the sense that I’d never seen him use it at a Descender show). And the 2010 setlist, which I’d come to know so well that I knew exactly what to expect, was totally revamped. The show started with the four of them rocking out on their respective instrument for a couple minutes, eventually leading into their first song. It had apparently been a while since I’d seen Descender too, cause while the song sounded familiar, I couldn’t name it to save my life. Then Casey sang out one of the words which is also the title of the song, “…Armor…”. It was odd hearing this song first, since it used to be saved for the next to last, but it was really a good way to start the show. And if they are going to replace “Gunpowder…” as the opening number, “Armor” is the only contender for the opening song. The set did take a little more familiar turn next, as they cranked out “Hats Off” (which I was pleasantly surprised to hear) and “What Was Missing”. They took a short break, as Casey thanked the other bands, saying about Trebuchet, “They’re our Denton brothers, who we need to get to Dallas and get…”. He paused for a second to search for the right word, when a girl in the crowd gave him the answer. “SMASHED!” she yelled out. “Yes. That.” Casey replied. They then returned to the show, by taking things down a few notches, or at least they did for the first part of “Dark Water”, and kept the momentum going with “Gunpowder Drums”. Then did their latest addition, “Always Around”, and finished their 40 minute set with “Army of Elephants”. This was easily the best show I’ve seen Descender do. In large part due to the sound system at Dan’s, which made Casey’s voice sound crystal clear. So good in fact that I could understand almost every word he sang, unlike usual where it’s just some words here and there. And perhaps it was my imagination, but all of them, Duncan, Zack, Jeff, and Casey all seemed to radiate even more of a presence than they have before. They’re set to release their second EP at the legendary club, Trees, in Deep Ellum on March 3rd, so be sure to mark your calendars. And I have a real feeling these guys are going to be one of the bands to watch this year. Oh, and coincidently their EP release show is going to be the same day as my birthday. And really what better way to celebrate then by seeing one of my favorite current bands rocking out!
Last, but certainly not least, was Trebuchet, who was doing their first show in nearly three months. And I was in desperate need of a fix. They got their hour long set started at 12:14, with a little intro. It was someone talking, so I assume it was from a movie or TV show, but I really have no clue. And it (or more a continuation of it) was also used periodically throughout the entire show. After rocking out some chords on their instruments, Dustin finally started shredding away at the first song. A slightly re-imagined version of their song about zombies, tentatively titled “Cowboy Rick”. The only real difference was at the beginning, while Dustin was rocking it out, Keith added a bit of his guitar, for just a second here and there. I never would’ve thought they could improve on this song, but I apparently was wrong. I still say that song is a hell of a way to get their shows going, and it only got better when Bobby slowed the drum beat down and rolled it right into “Black Beard”. They even changed this one up a bit, at the end when the lyrics are done Justin always straps his guitar on and joins in. But not this time, instead he just paced around. Not that it made much of a difference in the song, at least none that I could hear, it just surprised me a little was all. When it was over though he did get his guitar, which he used for the next several songs. And the next song kind of threw me a bit. It didn’t at all sound like an original, in comparison to their other material, so I assumed it was a cover. But much later in the set Justin said something about “…All the new material we’ve been unloading this show.” Which made me think it might be an original. Either way I really liked it, and it a little more main stream rock sound then their other tunes. “An Ominous Ode to the Hills Part 1” came next, and after it there was a pause just long enough for Bobby to change drumsticks, before they exploded into “An Ominous Ode to the Hills Part 2”. They did one more older song, “Ego Trip” complete with the instrumental ending, before letting loose three more new ones. One, maybe two of which I remembered hearing before. And all pretty good. Their set was nearing the end, as Justin announced they had two songs left, one of which was of course “Intelligent Design”. It ended and then they followed it with an instrumental song. This seemed to be the end, as the crowd applauded the sound guy turned the lights on and asked everyone to give it up again for all the bands. “Uhh… I think we have one more.” said Justin. The lights went back out, and people, including myself, started shouting the names of songs. Of course it didn’t matter though, as they already knew what they were going to play. It ended up being another new tune, one that I believe Justin said had never been played before. And if that is right, then I must ask, why the hell not? What ensued was about the most intense Trebuchet song I’ve heard, and just after this one listen I’d rank it my 3rd favorite song of theirs. It was incredible! A good closing song, but I also think it could be used to open shows. This was the best show I’ve seen these guys do in upwards of a year, and probably one of the best all together. I mentioned the sound system when talking about Descender, and it of course was no different for Trebuchet. Justin’s voice sounded phenomenal, even better than listening to the CD’s. And I’ve never seen the band so with it, which is saying a lot cause they never disappoint. Near the end of the show they said they would be getting the new music out soon, but they have been saying that for awhile. Really, I won’t believe it until it happens, but I know all the delays have only been in the interest of the final product being the best it can possible be. So keep your eyes peeled for new tracks and more shows, the next of which is set to go down on Thursday Feb. 3rd at the City Tavern in Downtown Dallas.
The Leftovers were once again kicking the show off. I caught their whole set this time, which was only thirty minutes, but got more of a feel of their music. The first few songs they did I could have cared less for, but they did start getting better as the show progressed.
Next up doing their first show in over a year, & their second reunion show, was Valve. They started off their set with “Cornerstreet” than played “Waited by the Station” and then my fave Valve song, “Overrated”. They did several others I knew, “Waiting in the Five Below” “Part of the Catch Phrase” “Drained” “10:52”(which was what they ended with), as well as a few that I guess were from their earliest album cause I didn’t know them. During “…Catch Phrase” they welcomed their first bassist onto the stage and he sang some backing vocals then when the song was nearing the end their singer said “Well this is where we let (insert name of current bassist) show us his skills, cause well, we just get bored with ourselves.” Their old bassist went over and got the bass and started playing it, while their current bassist went to the mic, said “And this is the part of the show where I hurt myself.”, then he showed off his dance moves. It was pretty entertaining to watch, & when he finished he went and took back his post as bassist as they finished out the song. Another song they did was a cover of a Weezer tune, in which they had Jaret of BFS come up on stage and sing backing vocals, then near the end he got behind the drums and played them, which was a little weird to see since he’s a frontman. These guys put on a truly awesome show & hopefully another reunion show will happen sometime down the road.
Bowling for Soup took to the stage around 11:25 & kicked off their set with “Ohio (Come Back to Texas)” followed by “Hooray for Beer”. They then started covering songs from their entire career, once again starting with “Brooklyn Bridge” then “Scope”. Then the show really started to get different from the previous night, as they played one song that sounded pretty good that I didn’t know then rocked out “SOHO” which is an awesome song. “2113” was played from the ROHO album, then “Pictures He Drew” “Dance with You” and “All Figured Out” from the “…Johnny” record. Sometime during that the clock hit midnight & after they realized what time it was Jaret went into a little speech about how lucky he’s been to be doing what he loves more then anything for the past 15 years with his three best friends in the world, then they all had a moment where they hugged each other. Another song they did was “The Bitch Song” by request. When they finished it the small group who requested it asked them to keep going, to which Jaret responded “It’s over that’s the end of the song. (Pause) Wait do y’all want us to do it old school like we used to?” to which the people screamed yeah & when Jaret couldn’t remember how it went they helped him out till he remembered it. What followed was great as they played the theme song to Different Strokes as well as one or two more older TV shows, and after doing a few TV theme songs Jaret began singing “I wanna fuck the shit out of you, I wanna fuck the shit out of you, I wanna fuck the shit I wanna fuck the shit I wanna fuck the shit out of you.” After he finished Chris began “Erik won’t you please give me some head, oh Erik won’t you please give me some head, oh Erik won’t you oh Erik won’t you oh Erik won’t you please give me some head”. Then Erik sang “Chris thanks for letting me sleep in your bed, Chris thanks for letting me sleep in your bed, Chris thank you oh Chris thank you, oh Chris thank you for letting me sleep in your bed & I’m sorry for all the stains that I left.” Then Jaret sang his part one more time. The rest of the set-list included “Life After Lisa” “Surf Colorado” “Almost” “My Hometown” their cover of “Baby One More Time”, “High School Never Ends” & “1985”. After starting it they stopped cause someone was playing it wrong, they eventually blamed Chris who started playing it & said “See I’m playing the right notes, I know what I’m doing.” They started again and the same exact thing happened and after blaming Chris again, and him playing the beginning of the song again to show he was doing it right, Jaret took a flag, & for a third time he said “This song is called 1985”, and the third time was a charm… sorta. I think it was around the second chorus they just stopped and where staring at one guy, who I believe is one of their roadies though am unsure, & the sound guy, both of whom were at the soundboard making a scissor motion with their fingers to which Jaret responded, “Are y’all wanting us to scissor? That’s only for lesbians on South Park, & I don’t think we’re either.” So, to make it up to the audience, they made/got their roadie(?) to come up on stage and sing the chorus, which he didn’t do to well on, but he tried at least so kudos to him. After that the band again stopped as Jaret explained the roadie had realized they had forgot to play “Girl All the Bad Guys Want”, so he started doing scissors to signal to them they cut out a song & he got the soundboard guy to do it to. After laughing at for a minute they finally got back to & finished “1985” and said goodnight. It was already fairly late, about 1:20AM, so I doubted they’d do an encore, but after a few minutes they got back on stage, said they got the OK to do a couple more songs and played “My Wena” and finished the show with a song about Denton County, “I Don’t Know”. Both of these shows were awesome & it was really neat to see BFS playing in a pretty small venue & in the town were they honed their skills no less. And congrats to them for making it 15 years, cause it seems like that’s a real rare thing for bands to do these days.
Bowling for Soup was celebrating their 15th year as a band, & to do so they were doing 4 shows, 2 in Denton & 2 in Fort Worth, at smaller local venues. The two Denton shows were at Dan’s Silverleaf. The last time I’d been there was 7 months when The FEDS did their last Texas show & this was actually the first time I’d been to Dan’s to see a band that wasn’t The FEDS, & by pure coincidence the music they were playing during the set changes was a live recording of that show The FEDS did, which was awesome to hear. Anyway…now to the show.
The first band was called The Leftovers from Portland,Maine. I missed most of their set this night & only caught their last three songs, but I wasn’t to impressed by them.
The Heelers, which features Cody Garcia, who, according to Bowling for Soups flyer for the show, was the first guy they asked to be in the band, but he turned them down, played next. I thought these guys were great, their music was rock, but also sounded a little country/folk as well. They arn’t a band I’d go see all the time, nor a band whose album I’d buy, but they were hands down awesome.
I was a little surprised there weren’t more at the show cause I expected it to be completely packed, but for a Wednesday night there was a good sized crowd, & by 11:15 when Bowling for Soup took the stage. They started talking and after a few minutes Jaret finally started into their opening song “My Hometown”, as Chris, Erik, & Gary followed & began too. They then played a new song called “Hooray for Beer” which is both great & funny, then did one more more recent song, “Almost”, before performing a song from all ten of their albums. They took this album by album, starting with their self-titled debut record and played a song called “Brooklyn Bridge” and followed it with the first song they ever wrote as BFS, “Thirteen”. “Y’all are probably going, man how did they write such awesome shit fifteen years ago.” Jaret said, “Well I’ll tell you, we liked Green Day and copied them a lot and were like thank you for making such good music, we will gladly take that and copy y’all”. They played “Scope” which I hadn’t heard since some of the first BFS shows I saw, “Cody”, & “I Don’t Know” & “2113” from the Rock On Honorable Ones record. They then wanted to do a song that everybody would know, so they did their song that mentions Denton county, “Ohio (Come Back to Texas)” and then another one of their upcoming album, the song was called “My Weena” and it’s hysterical. It was probably sometime around this point the clock hit midnight, and they paused said they were now officially 15, & did some shots to celebrate. They then went back to the Let’s Do It for Johnny record and played another one I hadn’t heard in a few years “The Bitch Song” & “All Figured Out”. Drunk Enough to Dance was the next record as they did their Grammy nominated song “Girl All the Bad Guys Want” and one of my least fave BFS songs, “Running from Your Dad”. The last few songs they played that night were “Two-Seater” their cover of “Sick of Myself”, “High School Never Ends”, which is the truest song ever according to Jaret, & he’s probably right, and wrapped it up with “1985”. Adding to the show was the fact that they were all uncensored, since it was an 18+ show. I’d heard ‘em drop the F bomb a few times at other shows I’ve seen, but here they let everything fly here, which made their comedy they do much funnier I thought. For instance, they were talking about a sound something made when one of them said “That’s the sound someone makes when they’re being anally raped by the ice cream man.” as another followed up, “That’s why you should never let your kids, if you have them or plan on having them some day, around the ice cream man, cause they all have sick obsessions and get off from young children.” & I know that is a very random thing to say & possible even kinda sick, but in the moment of the show, it’s funny. And aside from saying things they’d never say at all ages shows, they also had flags for when they fucked up songs. “We thought we’d get some flags and kinda do like in the NFL, but if we fuck a song up, & we will, we can get flagged and start it all over again, but only if it’s during the first verse or chorus.”, and they did have to start SEVERAL songs over again, so all night the flags were flying left and right.
Why was it the last great Texas rock show? Because it was the last time The FEDS will ever play in the state, & next to last show they’ll ever play, which was extremely sad.
Crimson Soul was starting the night off. I’d listened to ‘em about a year or so before on myspace, but had never seen them & really didn’t remember what they sounded like. Their music is pretty catchy, their singer has a really great sounding voice, & they put on a entertaining live show. The only bad thing was they only got to do a thirty minute set.
The Underwater took to the stage next. They’d traveled from York,Pennslyvania to play the show & see The FEDS perform in Texas one last time. They started off with “Every Road” and followed it up with “Incomplete” & then another song that sounded really kick ass. After that they went into playing stuff off their current album, “Forces”, such as “Dying Everyday” “Render” “Red, White, & Blind” “Maybe Love” & “Losing Me”. Before playing the last song Dan asked by show of hands how many people knew their songs, & very few hands went into the air. He gave the crowd the chance to pick the final song between “Fallen One” “Let Go” & one other, & “Let Go” ended up winning out, not the song I wanted to hear, but still one of my fave Underwater songs.
Next up was Faktion. I’d been wanting to see them for awhile because they got a new singer about a year ago, but haven’t been able to make any of their shows. I thought the difference between them now & a year and a half ago was tremendous. The vocals were definitely the biggest improvement, their last singer had a good voice, but nothing that was stand out in my opinion, but the new guy does have that. The other band members seemed like they were a lot more rockin’ as well & more into the show. Some of the songs they played I thought had an 80’s rock sound to them, like “Poison Ivy”, which sounded pretty cool & other songs sounded more modern.
It was finally time for The FEDS to take the stage. They got their gear set up, did a little sound check, left the stage, came back and did another sound check, left again, & then finally at 12:22 they got on stage. No sooner had they picked up their instruments then Jason started rocking out “Alive”. I’d never heard them open with this song before, but it was one hell of a choice because it’s such a hard rockin’ song it seemed to get everyone pumped up. No sooner had they finished it then it was into “Whiskey Sour Kiss” & then tore into “Bigfoot Goes to Heaven”. They continued with the bombardment of songs with “Stop” “It” “Bored Enough to Fight”, which was the first time I’d ever heard it & it sounded excellent, even though Slider said “That was one we never played much anyway because nobody ever seemed really into it just like y’all were right now.” but in my opinion how can you not like a song where the chorus is “…Well I forgot it the noose to hang you from well it’s gone & I’m so excited because you will die soon…”. They continued on with “Paper Doll” “Butcher’s Block” (the greatest song EVER!), “Sleep ‘til Noon” their cover of “Sweet Surrender” “My Texas” & “You,Euphoria”. After all that it was getting close to being over & they played “The Four Horsemen of Confusion” & then exploded into “Housefire”. After finishing it it was close to 2, so Slider said “How bout y’all get one last beer or whatever & in a couple minutes we’ll play an encore for y’all.” I was wondering what song they’d play & had completely forgotten they hadn’t done “Saturday Girl” till they got back on stage & rocked it out. “That was the last song we’ll ever play in Texas, hope y’all enjoyed.” Slider said, and they all left the stage. The crowd started shouting “One more song!” and that went for about a minute before Jason came back on stage & everyone started cheering. “Where not gonna play another song. Where just getting our stuff.” he said, as Justin, Matt, Dave, & Slider made their way back on stage as well. “This is really going to be the last song we play in Texas.” Slider said “Or maybe our second to last, we’ll see.” And they began “No Matter What”. After finishing it, it really was time to end the show “So this last song we wrote after our drummer Glenn Craine decided to quit the band & we were just sad that he left. So that’s kinda what the songs about.” and they started into “Fame”. After it was all over they’d done a 1:40 minute set to a completely packed Dan’s Silverleaf, which a little before midnight they announced they were at capacity & if you left you may not get back in. It was really sad to see such a great band play for one of the last times, but it was really cool to see how the fans really came out in support of them.