Friday, January 4th, 2013 – Meridian

After nearly two weeks since the last concert I saw, I was itching to go somewhere to hear some live music, and this night, Trees was the only place to be.

Though it had been out for a couple of months, Meridian was finally getting around to doing an official CD release show (there’s a long story behind that), and they were headlining this night of all local rock to celebrate the release of their debut record.

Oddly enough, this was a three band bill, but while this night was lacking in numerous acts, there was an overabundance of rock, and The Circle was first to deliver it.

They got right down to business, and opened with a pretty heavy number where frontman, Don Mills, did a fair bit of screaming while he sang. It was a beast of a song, and a solid opener, though the most impressive thing so early on was how tight they appeared to be. I had seen them once before, shortly after Don had joined the band when they played a show for RYA Entertainment (co-founded by WhiskeyBoy Radio and myself). It was a good show then, but you could tell were still finding their groove. Well, it was noticeable right of the bat this night that they have since found it, and have become quite the cohesive unit. After that song, Don made a little speech about the local music community, thanking everyone for coming out to support all the bands this night and that it wouldn’t be possible without them. Afterwards, they started another pretty intense song, “Beggars Can’t be Choosers”. Afterwards, Don had a question for the audience. “…Who was the last band played on the [radio station] The Eagle in twenty-twelve?!” They had some devoted fans out this night, who yelled in response, “The Circle!” “That’s right. And only one band gets to say that.” He added, as his band mates started into their next tune, which I think they said was a fairly new one. As they finished up what was a slightly slower song for them, they wound it into another rocker, “My Trip to the Desert Sucked”. Upon finishing it, Don referred to this as “church”, which effectively made the crowd their congregation, all of whom seemed anxious as to what would continue their “sermon”. Next up they did one which I believe Don later added they had not played since their show at the House of Blues, all the way back in June. “How many of you were there?” he roared, and was answered with some applause. Drummer, Marc Berry, led them into their next song, “I Am”, which quickly exploded Craig Nelson and Alan Sauls, the lead guitarist and rhythm guitarist, respectively, and bassist, Kenneth Henrichs, tore into it. After another song, which, if memory serves me correctly, was another one they hadn’t played live in awhile and had dusted off for this show, they started to wrap up their set with “Somewhere”. The song has some sweet guitar licks from Craig, and towards the end of the song he indulged everyone with a stellar solo, where he really shredded on his guitar. During the brief silence that followed after that song, one fan made a request, shouting out, “Sleep On It!” It’s the bands newest single, and so far the only one they’ve released featuring Don at the helm. It’s also arguable the best song in their arsenal, and like any professional, national level touring band, they had saved the best for last. It’s hands down an incredible song, and while it was acted as a nice conclusion to their set, it also left you wishing they could have done more than just a 36-minute long set.

You could tell the band has done a lot of growing during the last six months, which can no doubt be attributed to a great deal of practice at rehearsals, and subsequently honed their live performance with their consistent schedule of shows.

They were a fine tuned machine, and every bit as good as the two acts that would go on after them. In some aspects, even a little better, and because of that The Circle should be a band you familiarize yourself with, and do it pronto.

They have some songs you can download from their REVERBNATION PAGE, all of which are live cuts, and most of them feature Don as the singer. Then you have the single, “Sleep On It”, which you can purchase in iTunes. Now once you do that, you’ll probably be wanting to see a show, and they do have a big one coming up in February. On the 2nd they’ll be at the Curtain Club in Dallas, as one of the acts opening the reunion show for the band Advent. That’s going to be an impressive night of music so, don’t miss it.

After them was the only out of town band, and that was Austin’s own, Dawn Over Zero.

It’s well documented on here how much I love that band, though it had been about ten months since the last time I had seen them. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to hear what they had in store this night.

Their 39-minute long set began with the lead track from their “Unity & Division” album, “Caricatures”. It’s one of the most fiery tracks from the record, and was a good choice as an opener, as it immersed everyone into the straight up rock sounds their ears would be enjoying. Bassist, Jonathan Boyce, quickly gave a shout out to The Circle for opening, and before he could completely finish, singer and rhythm guitarist, Mike Mears, and lead guitarist, Steven Abbenante, fired up “Catapult”. I could be wrong, but I’m thinking that tune was absent the last time I saw them, but either way, it was good to hear it again, as it is one of their catchiest. Steven didn’t even take a break, switching the final note of that song into the first one of their next one, a classic from their self-titled EP, “Take You Under”. Nothing against their new stuff, because I do love it, but there’s something about those older ones that are downright amazing. Or maybe it’s simply the fact that I like the chorus, “Well you take another trip, crossing the lines and now it’s time to stray from all the steps that may take you under…”. Of course the bulk of their set did come from their new album, though, and they pushed on with “Kidney Stone”, which is much more enjoyable than the name might suggest. They did pause occasionally between some of the remaining songs, but only long enough to thank Trees for hosting the show, the people for coming out, or the other bands on the bill. And it was after that, that they began a favorite of mine, “Short On a Dime”, followed by one of their best songs. “This sounds like a workout video, doesn’t it?” Mike asked, doing something that resembled a jumping jack and looked like it belonged in a jazzercise video, all while Steven played his part of “Give and Take”. Those chords alone sound incredible, and the fact that he cranked it out for a few seconds before his band mates joined in only enhanced the tune. The show then took a turn and got a little humorous, as Mike stated that the day before he had been threatened on Facebook. Saying he had been told that if they didn’t do this song, than their trailer would be vandalized. It probably wasn’t a credible threat, since it came from a member of the previous band, but he joked that he didn’t want to take any chances. The song that had been requested was a cover of a Johnny Hates Jazz tune that can be found on their record, and that song is “Shattered Dreams”. Mike sang the first verse (or maybe a little more) almost a cappella, with only Steven adding some very soft guitar notes over his voice. It was a stellar extra touch, but soon, fill-in drummer , Kevin Abbenante, (their master drummer, Mack Linan, was ill with the flu) busted into it, and really got the song underway. “How much time to we have left?” Mike asked the sound guy when they finished. Ten minutes was the answer, giving them enough time for two more, one of which is my favorite DOZ song and one I had not heard in an incredible long time. With all their new(er) material, “The Confidence” has become a deeper cut, and one that, at least based on the last few times I’ve seen them, has been seldom heard. In fact, I was afraid it may have been cut from the live show all together, so I was ecstatic when they started it. And for the record, it sounded even better than I remembered. Only one song remained at this point, and I assumed it came down to one of their two lead singles. “…This is the single from our first record.” Announced Mike, as they oddly (though thankfully) decided to end with the epic, “Circulation”.

This was as solid a set as any band could hope to do, and while I was surprised that “Carry Me Home” (their most recent single) was missing from the setlist, I’m okay with that, because I enjoy everything they did do so much more. Plus, it was just an amazing selection of songs.

I’ve seen more than a few DOZ shows, and this was the best in my opinion. It exemplified what the band is all about, and that is a high-energy live show (with tons of racing and jumping around the stage) that engages the listener, regardless of if they’re already a fan or are having their first ever Dawn Over Zero experience.

They’re a great band, and one to check out. One way to do that is of course by purchasing their music in ITUNES, and you can also find a couple of free downloads on their REVERBNATION PAGE. You can also go out to a live show, and while they don’t have any scheduled at this moment, keep a check on their Facebook or Reverbnation pages.

It was a little after eleven o’clock at this point, and approaching time for Meridian to take the stage.

They originally had a CD release show booked here in late October, but due to Trees being double booked, their show got cut. And while they had not done an official CD release show any time since, their EP had been available at both shows and online. In some ways, maybe that did diminish the excitement level that usually surrounds CD release shows, but still, this was a CD release show, and those are always ones for the books.

They ripped right into it, opening with “Re-digress”. I’m still not used to the new version of it, and couple that with the fact that I hadn’t seen the band in months either, and I didn’t even remember what song it was at first. I only recognized it when frontman, Tim Ziegler, sang the final line, “…Fuck all your politics. Fuck all your stupid tricks. Fuck all the things you say, words only get in the way.” Killer opener, and while I do still miss the original version of the song (which used those last few lines as the chorus), this new incarnation is more polished and has some sweet notes courtesy of guitarists, Mark Sims and Shannon Nedved. Following it up was their first song of the night from the EP, and that was “All Hands”. It was the best I’ve heard the song sound, and somehow it was also the first time I really took notice of the chorus, “I heard you call for me, but I could not be there, and you are wanting something that I forgot so long ago. And I have found the next best silhouette to take the place of you…”, which Tim crooned quite well, considering he was ill with the flu. Chris Gentry stepped up as the song concluded, and kept riffing on his bass, doing a brief solo which segued it into their next song, which was a newer one. Upon finishing it, they took a break, during which Tim mentioned his sickness and pulled out a bottle Singers Saving Grace throat spray. “…Let’s see if this works…” he said, testing it out, and also making a few wisecracks about it. They got back to it with their most aggressive song, “Nights Like This”. I’m not sure if the throat spray helped Tim or not, but it couldn’t have hurt either, because he sounded basically as good on it now as he has every other time I’ve heard them play it. A couple more tunes followed, the latter of which was an incredible sounding new one, while preceding it was what strikes me as being a fan favorite, and the chorus goes something like, “…This is war. The city is going to burn tonight…” Before moving on, Tim took a moment to plug their album. “…Let me tell you something about it. It cost eight thousand dollars to make. So go buy a copy. I think they’re only, like, five bucks… So at the very least you’ll have a cool coaster…” I already had plans to buy the CD, but hearing that only reinforced why I needed to. After he finished his speech, the sample track began for their next song, “The fire starts and ends.” It repeated a few times, with Tim adding, “With you.” to it to officially begin “Starts & Ends”. I said once before that was unsure about their tweaked version of this one, since the lyrics were what really drew it to me. But after hearing the recording of the new incarnation, I can say I still love it just as much as the old one… Maybe even more so. His voice may not have been one hundred percent, and while Tim has always been capable of a goofball personality on stage, he really seemed to let it shine through now, almost to compensate for the other areas. For example, during that song, he began thrusting his hips and humping the air. It was a nice dose of comic relief so to speak, and it only got better with their next song. “Lazy Eye” is another newer addition to the live set, and is not only a remarkable song, but was also the best one of their set this night. It just sounded better than anything else during their set, and while belting out the lyrics, Tim made his way around the stage, first to stage left to hump Mark, then over Shannon, where he proceeded to grind against his band mate. It was wrong, but oh so funny. “We have a couple songs left…” Tim stated, leading them into their “slow” tune, “Train”, which is also rather beautiful. That then took them to the final song of their 41-minute long set, as Mark began the song, before drummer, Joe Maurer, busted them into “Hey Lover”.

Considering Tim’s illness with the flu, it was a good show. Though I’d be remiss if I said it was flawless. There were just a few times I heard his voice crack, or you could tell he wanted to step it up on a part, but just couldn’t take it to where he wanted to. I can’t really fault the guy, though, because how many singers would still perform if their instrument was compromised like that? I doubt many would.

In every other aspect, though, it was pretty solid.

You can find the bands EP on iTunes, and by all means, go buy it. You’ll be glad you did. They also have at least one show coming up, and it will take place on February 9th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth.

The only bad thing about this show was the lack of people. It was an amazing lineup, but there were maybe fifty or so people there throughout the entire night. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but pathetic is the best word I can think of to describe the turnout, and it should have been much better than this. Oh, well. It’s too late to do anything now, and at least those who did show up where true, diehard fans of the bands.

The Circle

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Dawn Over Zero

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Meridian

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Saturday, March 31st 2012 – Texas Music Unites

Tonight was an incredible, special night for several reasons, and despite feeling like shit from being diagnosed with strep throat only 24 hours prior to this show, I still didn’t see that as a reason to miss this one. Why was it special? Well, for starters this show marked the official launch of Texas Music Unites, who, as the name suggests, it out to unite the Texas music scene and help elevate all the talent found here to a new level. There was also an amazing line-up of talent taking the stage, and what other venue in Dallas would be best suited to host this caliber of talent than the Curtain Club? If those two things weren’t enough, WhiskeyBoy Radio was presenting this show and my boss, Matt “WhiskeyBoy” Blake, was hosting the event… My bad, I think he prefers to be called the “evil network executive” over “boss”. So, the stage was undoubtedly set for epicness, and epicness it did get…

I got there not long after the first band, Cold Bloom, had started, and as I paid I happened to see the Texas legend himself, “WhiskeyBoy”. I wondered in and began to pay attention to Cold Bloom, a band I have heard of before, but never actually heard. The voice of Josh Miller was what grabbed my attention from the get-go as it sounded amazing. It even reminded me of someone in particular, though I can’t think of who right now. They ran through some songs, one of which was titled, “Medicate”, and after awhile Josh turned it over to his band mates, leaving the stage while Phil Powell rocked out on the drums as guitarists, Jayson Pilkinton and Geramy Mays, and bassist, Kori Sinister, churned out some notes as well. Josh returned after a bit, and one of the songs they did then was the most intense of their set, “Burnt” I believe it was called, which found Josh doing some hardcore screaming. That’s not typically what I like, but it sounded killer.

Their set was phenomenal, and not at all what I expected to walk into. The band has an amazing progressive rock sound with a tinge of metal. They are a definite must see, with both the show and music being great, and I will definitely make a point to see them more often now that they are on my radar. Speaking of seeing them, they have a show on May 14th at Trees opening for In This Moment.

Up next was Fantasma, who was of course introduced by the host of the night, “WhiskeyBoy”. A semi-serene sounding sample track began their set, before Michael Kudlicki roared to life and began pounding away on his drum kit, while vocalist, Dale Wilkerson Jr. or “DJ”, added to the percussion by slapping another drum with his hands. All the way the spacey, otherworldly sounds echoed in the background. It’s pretty dramatic and really builds suspense, before Dustin Daulton and Dan Castaneda rip into the song, “Ra”, with their guitar and bass, respectively, and really get it underway. Dan and Dustin really let loose at the instrumental bridge towards the end of it, leaving their posts on each side of the stage and moving towards the center, just rocking out. Dan did so much in fact he knocked over the stool that sat there in case DJ wanted to use it. That was the only noticeable “fault” I could find thus far, was that DJ wasn’t on his game like he usually is. Turns out, he had, had his gallbladder removed a few days before, so not being up to par is completely understandable, and because of that they had enlisted a guest vocalist to help them out on some songs. The front man of Carmeci, who is named Carmeci, joined them on stage, taking the stage left mic from Dan and added some killer backing vocals, which at times sounded more like lead vocals, to “Dancers and White Lines”. He and DJ sang each chorus, “I can’t wait for your world to change…”, while Dan moved over to stage right mic to add his screams of, “…STEP BACK, LET GO.” Two songs in and my jaw just might have already been touching the floor in sheer awe, and there was still a lot left of their 42 minute set, too. Next, Dustin started them off on “The Chase Scene”, which I still think has the best sample track intro/outro ever. “This next one is called The Good Son.” stated DJ, as they did another stand out track from their album, which I do believe was another that Carmeci helped them out on as well. Speaking of their album, “Stories of Earth Women”, I wasn’t familiarized with all the material when I saw the CD release show last December, so I didn’t know what all they did and didn’t do. But in listening to it, the closing track just never struck me as being one that would make the live cut, though it is a personal favorite of mine. So, when DJ said the following song was “The Rest to the World”, I was ecstatic. The piano intro for the song played out, which can be very misleading, as the band eventually tears into an all rock song, with Dan doing his signature move of stomping around on stage. The mesmerizing, “My Little Centerfold”, came next, and then every Fantasma fan who was there got a special little treat… The debut of a brand new song titled “Fire and Blood”. Like some of their other tunes, it was hard to get a feel of it from the initial intro, which I thought almost sounded like it belonged as the background music to some of the very first Super Mario Bros. video games, but once it got going, it slayed. Very great tune, and based on this, I’m looking very forward to what else they will crank out in the future. Now, it was time to end their set, which was of course capped off with “Colors Run Red”. When the song subsided in the final moments, Michael left his drum kit, as Dan and Dustin stopped playing, while DJ crooned the final few lines, before they thanked everyone and said goodnight.

As I said, DJ was far from being at his peak level as a performer, but I didn’t feel like it hindered the performance in any way. He still put on as good a show as he possible could, and for any energy he lacked, Dustin and Dan more than made up for it. And having Carmeci stand in as a backing vocalist added to their sound exponentially. I’d really like to see this happen more often, even when DJ is 100%, and if it doesn’t and you missed this, I’m sorry, it was your loss. Be sure to pick up their record, “Stories of Earth Women” on iTunes for only $9.99… It’s well worth it, and if you see that the band is doing a show near you, go see them. You won’t regret it.

Next up on this fantastic bill of Texas rock bands was one who had been absent from the live scene for a while as they took time off to record their debut EP. The band was Red Angel Theory, who got a very enthusiastic intro by Matt “WhiskeyBoy” Blake.

Guitarist, Brandon Deaton, drummer, Nick Sarabia, and bassist, Phil Sahs, began the first song as Matt wrapped his intro up. Those three guys got their first song, “It Often Lies”, going before vocalist, Justin Ranton, walked on stage and the show began. You could feel their presence before, but once he got on there it skyrocketed. Man, what a hell of a way to start the show, and while part of me wondered if it could get better from what the past band did, this song right here proved that it could. Brandon began the next song, “Shattered”, a song that finds Nick singing, or more rapping in a way, some of the backing vocals. It sounds great on the recordings, but the way his voice and Justin’s intertwine live was something else entirely. At one point Justin knelt down near the drum riser, singing his part with such passion, and then waiting for Nick to do his thing before his [Justin] next part. There was only one bad thing at this point, and that was that since I felt under the weather I was sitting at the very back of the Curtain Club, while the large group of people who were already here were up front, hindering my view. It didn’t diminish my excitement for what was going on, but it did impact my view, and I could tell I missed some stuff on stage. Next up was “No Regrets”, which Nick got going by building up with some quick beats. Again, it had been an excellent show thus far… And it was about to get a whole lot better. “Inception”, the first and possible best track on the record, was played next. During the middle of the song Justin took a moment to thank the host of the night. “This song is for you, Matt Blake.” He said, remembering that in Matt’s review of the album he pointed out this one as being his personal favorite song. This one just has all the right elements, getting off to a slower start before exploding at the chorus, a chorus that is insanely catchy I might add. It then slows back down on the next verse, still managing to pack a punch, though. Then it makes the vocals the highlight at the end as Justin sings, “I can’t remember what I came here for. Was it good for you? Can’t you see, all the memories turn and pass us by like the sands of time?” It is perfection, pure perfection. Justin announced the next song, “Promised Land”, which was the only tune they did this night that cannot be found on their record. It gets off to a nice start, having some killer notes from both Brandon and his guitar as well as Phil and his wonderful bass. However, even after all that the highlight of their set had yet to be performed. I found this out only recently, but when the band went into the studio to begin recording, the song that became the album’s title track was still being hammered out, therefore,it had never been played live… Until now. There was a longer pause in between this song and the last than there had been at any other point in their set, but it was worth it as they soon tore into “When the Dust Settles”. This is another song that showcases the vocal talents Nick has, though in a much different way than earlier. On this one he does more screaming, especially at the tail end of the song as he screams out, “WHAT IS LEFT!” while Justin sings, “When the dust settles.” Afterwards, they had one final song of an all too short 29 minute set, putting it to an end with “The Darkness”.

In regards to the show, this was hands down the best one that I’ve seen Red Angel Theory do. Granted, I’ve only see them twice before this, so I don’t have much to draw on, but it is evident that in their time off they honed their skills, too. I recall Justin being a very good front man, but tonight he dominated. Phil was a beast on the bass, while Brandon shredded it on the guitar. And Nick, well, from the fleeting glimpses I caught of Nick, he was a machine back there on the drums. Red Angel Theory was good before, but tonight they elevated themselves to a completely new level. And if they can continue to do this every time, there is no reason they won’t soon become one of the best bands currently in Dallas.

Purchase the bands EP, “When the Dust Settles”, on iTunes. You can of course get physical copies at shows, too (along with shirts and what not). Speaking of shows, they have several coming up over the next few months that you should really get out to, beginning with Saturday, April 14th at Six Flags in Arlington. You do need to pay for admission to the park to see that show, but if you want to go out, ride some roller coasters for the day and hear some badass rock music, then Six Flags is the place to be. On Friday April 27th they will be in Fort Worth playing at The Aardvark. Then Friday June 15th will find them back in Fort Worth, this time at Tomcats West for a show that is being presented by WhiskeyBoy Radio, Sawed Off Productions and my very own, The Music Enthusiast. We three groups are also doing a two day benefit show for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation on August 3rd and 4th at the Ranch in Arlington and Red Angel Theory will be playing the event that Saturday, August 4th, so come out and support. Oh, and listen to THIS episode of WhiskeyBoy Radio where the entire band was in-studio and did some songs.

The band of the night was up next, and to add to it, the curtain stayed closed this time as Matt “WhiskeyBoy” Blakes’ round face soon poked through. This was quite possible his best intro of the night, as he instructed everyone to pull out their cocks and stroke them during Moving Atlas’s set… Yeah, that’s the kind of wordsmith WhiskeyBoy is.

He disappeared, though the curtain soon opened on vocalist, Dunagin Gaines, guitarists, Ricky Dansby and Ben Scott, bassist, Geoff Lucke, and Ross Rubio, who’s drum set was bathed in such light for most of the show it was hard for me to even see him sitting back there. The music escalated before they really ripped into the first song of their 50 minute set, the title track of their latest EP, “Machina”. This definitely set a great mood for the show, especially at each chorus when Dunigan sings the line, “Behold, I send you out as sheep among the wolves…” in such an eerie and ominous manner. Indeed, the mood was set, and it was clear it was all about rocking out. That song had barely ended when Ross started back up on the drums, beginning the mighty, “Welcome Home”. I’m not trying to overstate this, but yeah, I felt crappy. Still, hearing them do that song, one of my favorite Moving Atlas tunes, I couldn’t help but get into it and start banging my head to the beats. They followed it up with one of the singles from this newest EP, “Crawl out in the Cold”, and then did rocked out one I didn’t know at all. I know the band spoke of doing a song from “Et Al” to celebrate their seven years together, so I’m not sure this one of those tunes or something completely different. When it was done, they waited a few moments before doing the next song, I assume to build anticipation. If that was the reason, it worked for me, as I wondered, “What are they going to do next?” Ross then but a beat down on the drums as Ricky, Ben and Geoff raced along with the killer intro to “5280”. The onslaught continued with the title track of their 2009 EP, “Red Shelter”, another semi ghostly song, especially at the line, “…You can’t take this from me, my hands are untied. I know what it feels like to be alive. If you stay topside then soon you will die. I beg you to come down…”. A sample track of a women speaking began to play once that song ended. What was said I don’t recall, but it served as a nice set up/segue into the next song, the epic, “Muse Accuser”. On the album, while I like the song, I’ve never been much of a fan of it. But live, live it translates into something far different than what you get just in listening to it. The ebb and flow it has makes the live performance of it, as all the instrumentalists can (and do) switch from in-your-face intense playing to a calm, relaxed style in an instant. The same goes for Dunigan, too, who shows off a little more of his softer singing side on this song. Next up was an “older” song as Dunigan put it, as either Ricky or Ben (I couldn’t see who for sure) started the opening line of “Year of the Rat”. “Parachute”, another track off the “Elephant Gun” EP, came next, and since they saved this older material for last, it had lead me to believe the title track would close out the show. Alas, that was sadly not the case, as I haven’t been to enough shows to have heard “Elephant Gun” nearly as much I would like to. They still closed the show in spectacular fashion, though. This night was a bit of a who’s who of the local music community with several notable local musicians attending. One of the bands hanging out here was Serosia, and for this final song Dunigan invited the bands singer, Lucas D’Agata, on stage to help with the singing. This was another one I was clueless to, but whatever it was, they knocked it out of the park.

I’m still a newer fan to Moving Atlas, as they finally managed to suck me in with their music a couple of years ago now and I haven’t seen just too many shows in that time frame. But each time I do see them, they make one thing clear; They may well be the most talented band here in Texas that is currently on the local circuit. They have the professionalism and showmanship, the music is top notch, and practically every quality a national act should have, they possess. A lot of other people I think have similar thoughts about them, too, because while the Curtain Club had a nice crowd for most of the bands, the venue was packed while they were on stage. The only time I’ve seen the Curtain this packed recently was at The FEDS reunion show a couple of months ago, so it’s nice to see that a hometown act can pull out this many people… Even if part of it was because this was their first show in a little over three months.

You can see Moving Atlas at Andy’s Bar in Denton on May 4th, and be sure to listen to and purchase their music on iTunes. The still new “Machina” EP, as well as the “Red Shelter” and “Elephant Gun” EPs, and lastly the “Et Al” record.

One final band was one the bill for the night, but sadly, not many people stuck around for them. This is one thing that grinds my gears, and I think I may touch on it a little bit here. As packed as the Curtain Club was for Moving Atlas, only a few dozen remained for Dawn Over Zero. I know it was late, but that’s not an excuse. Sure, I will leave a club before some bands, but only IF I know I don’t like their stuff. My point is, that if I only went to shows and saw the one band I went there for, then there would be a ton of my favorite groups that I never would have heard of. Going out and supporting one band is great and respectable, but staying to support the others is even better. It just upset me a bit because in this instance here, Dawn Over Zero is one of the most amazing bands in Texas right now and they don’t get to Dallas too often and are deserving of more than a few dozen people watching them. So folks, if you go to show, stick it out, because you never know when you might come across a band that you could like even more than the one you originally went to see…

Getting back on topic, Matt had one final introduction for the final band, the Austin quartet, Dawn Over Zero

They opened with the first song from their “Unity and Division” record, “Caricatures”. As soon as it started, the band came to life, especially lead guitarist, Steven Abbenante, who thrashed around to every beat that Mack Linan pounded out on the drums. And they didn’t let the small crowd bother them, either, as singer and guitarist, Mike Mears, did everything he could to engage the listeners. They next did the super infectious, “Catapult”, and towards the end of it Mike and bassist, Jonathan Boyce, harmonized as they sang a line. I dare say it sounded gorgeous, which totally contrasts the typical hard rock edge they have. That song never really ended, as they continued on with some notes which eventually turned into an older favorite, “Take You Under”. “Kidney Stone”, one of the bands few songs that is slightly less in-your-face, came next, and almost as soon as it ended Steven began a catchy, repetitive note on his guitar. Mike once again asked everyone to get into the song by clapping their hands. Some obliged, others didn’t seem to care that much. That went on for a few moments before Mike released the floodgates and started spewing the first lines of “Give and Take”. “There were times in my life when I took a look in the mirror, and I watched as the day goes by, and I think of the times I’ve tried to be a better man then I am…” That one has been one of my favorites of theirs for awhile, from hearing it live before the album was released and not knowing what it was, and each time I hear it live now, I love it a little more. It’s seriously one of the best songs they have… But they followed it with some other pretty killer tunes. “Short On a Dime” was one of those songs, and how could you not like a song with the line, “…I need a ticket for the next train to the moon, and I’m short on a dime…”? They wound that one right into their current single, “Carry Me Home”, with the final notes of it being transitioned into “The Obvious”, as Mack pounded on some of the cymbals. That right there could have been the show for me, because so far it had amazing. Thankfully, they still had time for one last song, though. The day that “Circulation” is no longer in rotation will be a sad one. Hopefully it never will happen, and luckily it did not tonight, as this masterpiece closed out 40 minutes of greatness. During this song, Mike did something I’ve never seen him do before; he ditched his guitar. Not for all of it, but at least the last half, and focused just on being a front man, telling everyone, “I want to see you jumping up here!” to which some did.

Astounding set, and I know I may not have said as much about them as the other bands, but sometimes it is better to keep the best things simplified. And that really is the case here, because if you want to find some good ol’ original Texas brand Rock ‘N’ Roll, you really need look no further than Dawn Over Zero. Buy “Unity & Division” in iTunes, as it is one of the greatest things ever produced. Also check out their self-titled EP and their Demo EP, plus the single, “Catapult”. And go see one of these upcoming shows: April 13th at Bar Six in Harker Heights. April 20th at 502 Bar in San Antonio, and then April 28th at The Dirty Dog in Austin. They will also be performing at Weirdo’s in Austin on May 19th.

This was an AMAZING night and I am now even more proud to be able to say I am part of the WhiskeyBoy Radio Network (Actually, I didn’t even know I could be more proud to be a part of this network, but apparently I can.) Go check out all of these bands if you are unfamiliar with them, as they will astound you. Go “like” Texas Music Unites on Facebook, because I can pretty much guarantee they will be doing great things for the music scene as a whole. Check out the Curtain Club, because it is the ONLY place in Deep Ellum where you can always see an all-local rock bill. And finally, head over to WhiskeyBoyRadio.com and check out all the fine programming they (we) bring you. Matt and his crew host WBR, Chrys Starr and his band of misfits do WBR: East Coast, while the two co-host the Double Shot Podcast every Thursday night. And I of course bring you The Music Enthusiast Podcast, the only show where you can find stellar local talent from around the globe (literally). Oh, and “Producer Lance” will be starting WBR: Gulf Coast in the future. And be sure to click on each individual show link to find the iTunes page and subscribe to every show so you will never miss an episode.

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NOTE: If any bands want me to A.) write a review of their album or B.) wish me to play their music on my podcast, than email me. Also, I have partnered with Sawed Off Productions & WhiskeyBoy Radio, both of whom will help me present The Music Enthusiast showcases. If your band would be interested in performing at a future showcase, email me for consideration: TheRealMusicEnthusiast@GMAIL.COM

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A note to whom it may interest: I’m wanting to get advertisers on my blog. If you are a band, music venue, or have any type of product or business whatsoever you want to promote, e-mail me at: TheRealMusicEnthusiast@gmail.com for full info. I will tell you now though, I get good traffic on my site and my prices will be VERY, VERY affordable to even the most broke bands/people. So please, allow me to help promote YOUR product constantly, and not just when I do a show review. Venues, I can list all your upcoming shows as I do for the Granada Theater. Bands, I can put up an image of your album cover and link that to iTunes, etc. Let me know if you would be interested in getting in on this exciting opportunity!

Saturday, December 3, 2011 – Part I: Unity and Division

Yet another night down in Deep Ellum, and while my main destination may have been another venue, I had to make a pit stop at The Bone.


Monte Pittman was probably the main draw for most of the people here, though I had never heard of him before. Apparently, he plays guitar in Madonna’s band, as well as some other high-profile groups. Like I said, his name meant nothing to me, but the name, Dawn Over Zero, did. It had been around nine months since I saw some of my favorite Austinites, and I couldn’t miss this opportunity.

Their set time was 9, and they took to the stage just a couple minutes after. “How are we doing Dallas!?” asked vocalist and guitarist, Mike Mears. The place was already very busy, though everyone was caught up in their own conversations, and I was the only soul who made noise as a response. “No, no, no. That’s not what I’m looking for.” he said, again asking for some noise and got the desired result. “We’re Dawn Over Zero, from Austin, Texas…” he formally introduced themselves as lead guitarist, Steven Abbenante, took them into the first song, “Give and Take”. Mike began spitting the words out in rapid succession, “There were times in my life when I took a look in the mirror, and I watched as the day goes by…” I may not have gotten their new record until this show, but I’d been jamming out to the songs on their Myspace, and that one is hands down my favorite. Hell, I’ve loved it every time I’ve heard it, I just never knew the title. They followed it with the subsequent song on their record, “Kidney Stone”, then another real rockin’ number, “Short On a Dime”. Bassist, Jonathan Boyce, made sure to give thanks to everyone in between the songs, and Mike now took a moment to promote their record, stating that the songs they were doing could be found on it. That includes their cover of “Shattered Dreams”, which came next. It began very slow, with just Mike singing and barely playing the guitar, then, somewhere around the halfway point, they really exploded into the song. It seemed like they had only just begun, and they were already saying they had just a few left, with the single, “Carry Me Home”, being used to start wrapping things up. With the short set time they got, I hadn’t expected anything from their old EP, which made me slightly sad, since that’s the stuff I really know and can sing along to. And just when I was thinking that, they started their epic masterpiece, “Circulation”, to conclude their 28 minute long set.

I really wish they had gotten at least another ten minutes, ‘cause that only would’ve made it that much more enjoyable, but oh well. The show was still really great, though. Now, for some reason, Mack Linan was unable to make the show, so they had Kevin Abbenante filling in for him. Before the show he said he was nervous, but he damn sure didn’t act or seem it up on the stage. It was up to the par that Mack has set, and in fact, Mack might should watch his back. (Haha, I kid.) Kevin did do a great job though.

You MUST check out their new full-length, “Unity & Division”, as it is simply amazing. And apparently I’m the person to sell it to you, because I stood near their merch table as they rocked out on stage and had two people approach me and try to buy the record from me. You can also snag a free download of “Carry Me Home”, which is one of several songs on the compilation, Escaping the Ordinary: Volume Two. Again, that whole compilation is a FREE download.


Lastly, if you live near Pflugerville, go check out DOZ this Saturday, December 10th, at Hanover’s Draught Haus.


I should also note this was the first time I’ve ever seen a show on the indoor stage at The Bone, and the sound in there is immensely better then the one on the rooftop. It’s a pretty cool little place, just a little cramped with the tables in what is an already narrow section where the stage is at.

After that, it was time to head next door for some Quiet Company…

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A note to whom it may interest: I’m wanting to get advertisers on my blog. If you are a band, music venue, or have any type of product or business whatsoever you want to promote, e-mail me at: TheRealMusicEnthusiast@gmail.com for full info. I will tell you now though, I get good traffic on my site and my prices will be VERY, VERY affordable to even the most broke bands/people. So please, allow me to help promote YOUR product constantly, and not just when I do a show review. Venues, I can list all your upcoming shows as I do for the Granada Theater. Bands, I can put up an image of your album cover and link that to iTunes, etc. Let me know if you would be interested in getting in on this exciting opportunity!

March 11, 2011 - “…Now Let the Sin Begin…”

This was a bit of an off night for me, as I found myself at Tree’s to see mainly national touring bands. Drowning Pool was kicking off their 6 week tour in their hometown, and three of the other bands are on tour with them. But the first two local acts were the main reason I was even here. Mainly, cause while local acts always need support, it’s never more important than at shows like this, opening for bigger name acts. Cause there’s more that can possible come out of it than just gaining new fans.

Dawn Over Zero had made the trip up from Austin to kick off the show. And at 7:56 they began their all too short 26 minute set. They rocked out their first song, then went almost right into “Catapult”. And as soon as it was over, while the final bass chords, drum beats, and guitar chords were still resonating, lead guitarist, Steven Abbenante, began “Take You Under”. The rest of the songs were all their newer stuff from the upcoming record, including the single, “Carry Me Home”, which bassist, Jonathan Boyce, said the music video of it would be released soon. And singer/guitarist, Mike Mears, promised the album would be out in just months. YES!. Despite this being the shortest set I’ve seen these guys do, it was the best one I’ve seen. And I guess that was because, like I said, they had something riding on this. Even if it was just introducing new people to their music. But they all performed another 100% over what they normally give. Even the glimpses I caught of drummer, Mack Linan, looked like he was rocking the kit more than usual. These guys are gonna be back in Dallas on April 30th at the Curtain Club, and I guarantee it’ll be a can’t miss show.

Second up was hometown favorites, Reckless Intent. They did a little revamping of their set list, specifically on their opening number. It was a song I recognized, and I really like it, but it didn’t get my blood pumpin’ like their usual first song. Which is why I didn’t really feel their set take off until they did that song next, “Get Up”. It’s one of those songs that, no matter what, will get you into the Rock ‘n’ Roll spirit. Especially during the chorus when singer/guitarist, Ryan Ray, is somewhat yelling out, “…Get up, get up, get up…”. Since Drowning Pool’s drum kit was setting, covered on the drum riser, the bands were having to set up their kits on the back portion of center stage. And since a lot of these guys stage show involves Jackson Dunn and Aaron Decker (guitar and bass, respectively) moving around, I figured that would impede them. It didn’t. During “Get Up” Jackson squeezed in between the little bit of space between Ryan and Jordan Hatfield’s drum kit, to make it over to stage left. It did seem to crowd Aaron a bit though, who went over to the other side of the stage. They too got a very short set, again somewhere around 25 minutes, which was a bit strange since every other time I’ve seen them they’ve headlined and play around an hour. But this was just cut down to their more key songs, including “Just Say It”, “Wrong Again”, and the closer, “Thank You”. I’d say this was the best show I’ve seen Reckless Intent do as well. And not to sound like a broken record, but I’d guess it was because they had more to prove for this gig, then they usually do. And you know at the very beginning of this blog I said more can come out this for these bands than just gaining new fans? Case in point, Reckless Intent. I had a little chat with Ryan a little before DP hit the stage, and one thing he told was that… well I don’t want to say something and then it not happen. But lets just say Reckless Intent will more likely end up on a future tour with Drowning Pool than not. All the more reason to see them now while you can. Say, April 8th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth?

The first act that is touring with Drowning Pool was next. A band from Alaska, Static Cycle. One of the first things their singer said when they started was that they had driven 105 hours to play this show. And it seemed barely worth it to me, as they only got 18 minutes to perform. I wouldn’t say they were just all that bad, but they were far from good too. I liked their music, and they put on an okay show, but their singers voice was sub-par at best. It sounded like he was trying to scream as much as sing, but the result was this throaty sounding garbage that was unpleasant to listen to. And the best thing they did was maybe 30 seconds of Bon Jovi’s “Living On a Prayer”. They just really failed to impress me all together.

And the night didn’t get any better when Anew Revolution took the stage. The name fit them well as they were a new revolution… Of suckage. They singer screamed for about the entire show, which I’ve said before I can’t stand, except in moderation. And the worst thing is whenever a band is playing that you can’t stand, their set seems to last forever. And I was quite excited when they said they had just one song left.

Trust Company hit the stage next. Out of the three bands touring with Drowning Pool, I thought these guys were the best. Mainly because they stuck more with your typical Rock music than the previous two bands had. And they put on a decent show.

It’s a little sad to say in some ways, but the local openers were without question the best bands thus far. Sad, because here they are playing to such a small market and they outperformed bands that tour nationally. But that also speaks volumes about what talent DOZ and Reckless Intent have. And I’d listened to songs from all of Drowning Pool’s albums, and they all failed to capture me. So I planned on sticking around for a couple songs to make sure I disliked them, then leave.

At 12:12 Drowning Pool’s intro song began, which was Rodney Carrington’s, “Titties and Beer”. “…Titties and beer. Titties and beer. I love me some big ol’ titties and beer…”. Interesting song for a Metal band to come out to. While the song was still playing they, things got very loud as they tore into their first song. And the curtain opened on them in full rock mode. Front man, Ryan McCombs, was the first member to catch my attention. Mainly the mic / mic stand he used, which was really like any other, except the stand was lacking a base. So for the entire show, he carried it around, brandishing it like it was a weapon. And from song one, “Let the Sin Begin”, they had me. There was a small “extension” in the center of stage, which was just a small platform for Ryan to use and get closer with the audience. And for this song, as well as most of the show, he was out on it, singing while looking at the crowd. And while he was singing, he was doing these fluid little hand motions with his free hand. It was like a conductor conducting an orchestra. But in this case the “orchestra” was hundreds of eager fans. After that tune, I started paying attention to the rest of the band, and they each really put on a show by themselves. Guitarist, CJ Pierce, moved about the left side of the stage constantly, and just shreded. He even added the occasional backing vocals, which really sounded more as if he and Ryan were co-singing the song. Bassist, Stevie Benton, came across as being more of a badass performer, Looking very cool while he was plucking the bass strings. And drummer, Mike Luce, killed it on the massive kit. And he too added some great backing vocals to the songs. There were a few tunes they did that I didn’t like too much, but even those were still good. It seemed like they had been playing for a little while, so I looked to see what time it was. They’d been on a hour already! A perfect example of the saying, time flies when you’re having fun. And the show reached it’s peak shortly after. “It takes a lot of pride for me to be up here.” Ryan said, as he took a short pause, and I believe a drag on a cigarette. “Up here. With these guys. And that banner behind me that says Drowning Pool.” There was another brief pause. “Cause there used to be a man by the name of Dave Williams.” Everyone cheered and applauded at this mentioning of DP’s original singer, whose life was cut far too short. Ryan let the noise subside, before saying something else. I forget his exact wording, but it was something to the effect of, you have to have a lot of pride to be up here, trying to fill that mans shoes. The entire time the band had been riffing, and they were finally almost ready to start one of the bands biggest songs. “If anyone can do this, it’s you Dallas.” Ryan said to the fans. “Lets see this place turn into a mosh pit.” Well, it actually had been on and off for most of the show, but it really turned into a frenzy when he sang the first line of the next song. “Let the bodies hit the floor…” I’ve actually heard “Bodies” before, and kinda liked it. But never knew Drowning Pool did it. At some point in the song I believe it was a fan got on stage with them, and helped out a little. “ONE.” he shouted into the stage right mic, as Ryan walked over next to him, “Nothing wrong with me.” he sang. That went on, with the guy shouting the numbers out, when it got to that part of the song. Near the end, Ryan made his way back to the smaller stage, and while I missed another guy jumping on to the main stage, I did see him as he tackled Ryan to the floor. Nobody seemed to react to it, until the guy who had been on stage singing ran over to try to help. But the most he could do at that point was get the mic out of the crowd. The band kept right on with the song though, and only after they’d finished did they put their instruments down and head to the front of the stage. Their roadies motioned everyone to step back, and as they did I finally saw Ryan re-emerge, as he was pulled back on stage. He staggered over to the stage left mic and yelled out, “MAKE SOME FUCKING NOISE!” Everyone obliged, but I think it was out of relief he was okay as much as being told to do so. He then limped over to the drum kit and then seemed to disappear as his band mates and roadies surrounded him. And that was the show.

HO-LY! SHIT! You’re telling me this is what I’ve been missing out on? I mean, I’ve been aware of Drowning Pool for at least a few years, I’d even listened to their music before this, and didn’t really care for it. But this show was INCREDIBLE! I won’t be missing them again. And I’ll hopefully catch the tours next stop in North Texas. April 28 at Rockin’ Rodeo in Denton.

Feburary 25, 2011 - “…Now You Can See What You’re Left With…”

Somehow, out of the nearly 5 years I’ve been coming to the Curtain Club, I’d never really been upstairs. And since tonight there were acts in both the Curtain and Liquid Lounge I wanted to see, using the upstairs made perfect sense to easily access both venues.

Dawn Over Zero, who was doing an acoustic set, was set to be the first act up in the Liquid Lounge. But by almost 9 o’clock the stage there was completely void of anything. And after some drums were heard over in the Curtain, we made our way over there to see The Phuss. Their set began with drummer, Trey Alfaro, pounding out some beats while the curtain was still closed. And when it opened, they blasted off into the best Phuss show I’ve ever seen. I didn’t much care for their first two songs, they were very aggressive both in the music (which I didn’t mind) and in singer/guitarist, Joshua Fleming’s voice (which I did mind). The majority of both songs just seemed like they were screamed, but I believe they were newer ‘cause I didn’t recall hearing them before. And if that’s the case the anger can be understood, what with them being dropped by their record label last year. Then they got to some material that I didn’t really know, but had at least heard before. They’ve really tightened up since last I saw them, on Halloween, and what I did see of their set… I was kind of left in awe. Even bassist, Forrest Barton, who has now been with the band right at a year, felt like he belonged more with the band this night then any previous shows. About 9:20 they took a break in between songs and I made my way over to see what was going on at the Liquid. DOZ was on stage. And of course, at that moment, The Phuss began my favorite song of theirs, “Preacher, Preacher”. Yeah, that’s my luck. Check out their upcoming tour dates, March 14th at Lola’s Saloon in Fort Worth. March 25th at Andy’s in Denton. And the 26th at The Moon Bar in Fort Worth. And oh, they’ll be back here at the Curtain on April 8th.

I missed a little of Dawn over Zero’s set, but I don’t think much. Because they seemed to play quite a while longer even after I got there. Just like their normal electric shows, their set featured mainly new material from their forth-coming record (which will probably be released in May), and even the older tune, “Take You Under”. But, unlike the regular shows, I’m pretty sure they threw in some cover songs as well. It was a weird sight, seeing singer/guitarist, Mike Mears, and lead guitarist, Steven Abbenante, playing on acoustic axes. And even weirder was drummer, Mack Linan, beating on a conga drum. Aside from that their presence was also lacking, but I’d like to see any band create a presence while sitting on barstools. I’m not going to say I liked this better than them full on rocking out, but in some aspects I did. Mainly, it showcased Mike’s voice even better than usual, ‘cause without all the loud electric instruments to compete against, you could hear it in all its glory. It was a pretty good set from what I saw, but did have ulterior motives. Specifically to promote their upcoming show at Tree’s with Drowning Pool, and they had tickets to said show for sale at the discounted price of $20 a ticket. Not a real fan of DP, but most the other bands on that bill sound pretty good. And it’s of course a huge opportunity for DOZ, in which they need all their fans out supporting. And in a couple weeks, on March 11th, that is exactly what I’ll be doing.

It took awhile to get those tickets, as the DOZ guys had to go pick them up. So after chatting with them for a bit and buying the tixs, I made my way back over to the Curtain and the tail end of Hello Lover’s set. I didn’t much care for the song I walked in on, which sounded like the singer’s voice had been distorted a bit, and not in a good way. But then their closing number had me thinking, “Man! I wish I’d seen all of these guys set!” And then I find out well after leaving the club they have a CD out, which from the clips I listened to on iTunes, sounds pretty good. Just wish I had known that after their show. Their music is self-described Sex Rock. And really, who can’t use a little Sex Rock in their life?

Next to perform was Secret of Boris. And while it wasn’t “First Friday”, Robert Miguel was still there to support and announce who he said was one of his favorite bands. “And they will be yours too, if you haven’t heard them already…” he said to everyone. The curtain was opened just enough to reveal center stage, and as he left the band began their first song. And soon front man, Cameron Taylor, walked into view. He sang out the first few lines of “The Difference”. “Maybe I’ll just sleep all day. Away from the worlds view. Where I won’t be in the way…” Then paused, as you could hear the audience singing out the next line. “Make some noise!” he shouted at everyone, while the curtain opened the rest of the way and guitarist, Taylor Walding, bassist, John Weiss, and drummer, Ryan Scherschell, exploded into the next part of the song. Frankly, I never would’ve thought they could top “Desert Blood” as the opening song. But in it’s own way, this was an even better way to get the show going. “Desert Blood” followed, and it was very obvious that the crowd really came to life with this song. And during the bridge (?), while the most of the band was rocking out on the forefront of the stage, Ryan stood up from his kit, all the while continuing to lay the beats down. It was pretty epic, but then again that’s one song that always is. “How many of y’all remember a band called Lame?” Cameron asked the crowd, referring to the bands old moniker. “Then y’all are going to know this one.” he told them, as they cranked out “Tolerance”. I just recently bought the album, “Nothing Ever Works”, in which that song is on, and the record sounds just as good as the newer “Your Ghost”, even though it’s so different. (It seems to have a little more Metal / Hard Rock sound going on.) Cameron left the stage for the first bit of the next song, giving the instrumentalists some time to their selves, before returning to the mic just in time to start singing on “Falldown”. Just one more song from their incredible album that I hadn’t yet heard player live. And it was epic. They did a great cover song next, and then came what was undoubtedly the highlight of the night for both the band and their fans, as they received their plaque to go on the Curtain’s Wall of Fame. You could tell it meant everything to them and they made sure to state, several times, that it wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for their fans endless support over the years. And after all the thank you’s were said, the announced the end of what ended up being all too short of a set. And most people agreed, as the booing and cries of “NO!” were heard. If only that would make a venue give a band more time. “This song is called Virus.” said Cameron, as the band started into the song, “And it’s about a girl I know right here in Dallas.” Aside from the all too short set they got to perform, it was an incredible show. They put on one of the best, most intense, performances I’ve seen a band do, and they alone are well worth whatever the cover price is to get in.

Next up we had the New Magnetic North. I was expecting the entire show to be more or less the same as last months gig. But I should know by now to never expect anything (at least from certain bands). They had an opening track to begin the show. I don’t know what it was, but it sounded like a low howling wind. And for me it conjured up the scenes you usually see in movies, where an eerie, howling wind is blowing across some desolate road, right before all the chaos ensues. And that last part was pretty much what happened, as eventually they started “Eleven”, and the curtain then opened on them in full rock mode. The song has made its rounds in the set, it used to be the closer, last month it was smack dab in the middle, and now the opener. A helluva opener at that. They followed it up with another killer song, that was lacking in the harder edge most of their material, but I loved it and thought it was one of the best songs they did this night. “Minus the Fall" and "View of the Seconds" came next, which I’ve been able to familiarize myself with thanks to the videos of them from the show last month. They cranked out two more songs after that, the second of which was another one I’d say was one of my faves of the night. And it was during one of those songs that things accidentally turned violent. Vocalist, Tim Ziegler, had moved closer to the drum kit and had his back facing the crowd, and right as he decided to turn around, bassist, Bob McCrary, moved a little closer to center stage. And the collision with the head stock of the bass and Tim’s face was inevitable. (My apologies for the rhyme, it was not intentional.) They both acted as if nothing happened though, you could tell Bob was looking at him to see if he was okay, Tim just kinda nodded, and that was that. Then, probably the biggest achievement in the bands history came next. As they too received a plaque that should, by now, adorn the walls of the Curtain Club. They of course thanked everyone for making it possible, and Tim even stated that the band had been working towards this even before he was their singer. Their set was now coming to an end, as they had just enough time for "The Owls Are Not What They Seem”. The show was without a doubt better than last months, which is saying quite a bit. But I liked the overall selection of songs more this time. And talk about a show. Guitarist, Jacob Aaron, doesn’t strum, he shreds. Constantly. And whilst on the subject of shredding, during one of their songs, while Tim was letting out a loud, deafening scream, Bob fell to his knees and I’m pretty sure shredded on his bass. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a bassist shred before. Never knew they could. But Bob can. Definitely check out the NMN. Cause what I saw tonight, wowed me.

The House Harkonnen was headlining, but the two times I’ve seen them, I can’t stand their music. I will give them this, they do put on a good show. But not nearly good enough for me to endure their tunes.

It was an astounding show tonight. And it was very cool seeing two bands get plaques. Out of all the years I’ve been seeing shows here, I’ve only seen three bands get that honor. I know there have been more, but not at the shows I’ve seen. And no matter what happens down the road, whether these two bands (God forbid) brake up or become the next big thing in music. They’ll always be immortalized here at the Curtain Club.

October 9, 2010 - Bringin’ All My Friends

'Twas another killer line-up at Trees, this night to help Overscene celebrate their newest release.


Kennedy kicked things off, and I was none too impressed with them. As they began their singer said “Welcome to the badass side of rock and roll.” Now, take the ass out of that and that’s what their 30ish minute long set amounted to. Their music is okay, and they put on a decent performance, but their vocalist can’t sing for anything. It was just real rough and not even close to being on pitch at any point of the night.


Thankfully the night improved though when Dawn Over Zero took the stage next, for their first ever show at Trees. Frontman, Mike Myers, introduced themselves to the people who were in Trees, which was probably a good idea cause I’m sure almost no one knew who they were, and then they got things rolling with a couple of their newer tunes. They were just finishing the second song (which has a killer, epic, intro, as well as outro), when lead guitarist, Steven Abbenante, played the opening chords of “Take You Under”. And they followed that up with their masterpiece (in my opinion), “Circulation”. I believe they did four more songs after that, including the single, “Carry Me Home”, from their forthcoming album. The set was much shorter from the couple of times I’ve seen them up in Denton, but the quality of the show eclipsed them completely. Which is saying a hell of a lot. These guys really have an abundance of talent, and are far better live than I ever could’ve thought in just listening to their records.


A band by the name of Ursa played next, doing their first Dallas show. These guys must be somewhat of a big deal cause they had a mass of people out to see them. They even started chanting “URSA” over and over, long before they even took the stage. They were pretty good, and their singers voice really reminded me of the  singer for the defunct The Underwater from Pennsylvania, in that it’s a little higher register and has a pretty unique sound to it. I didn’t think they were worth the fuss that so many people were making, but I did like them and will definitely see them again sometime down the road.


Moving Atlas had the main support slot. This was the third time I’ve seen them in just six months, and they are incredible. Live. But every time I’ve attempted to listen to their recordings I can’t stand them. Which is a shame, cause they do have loads of talent and they put on a spectacular show.


The night was all about Overscene, who had amassed quite a number of fans this night, to help them release their second record, the “Bringin’ All My Friends” EP. Which was given away for free just for coming to the show, no matter who you were there to see. Their intro track was, of all things, a Country song. It sounded pretty good, but I thought a bit strange for a very hard rock band. It played for a couple minutes before stopping, and through the slit of the curtain you saw the stage lights go off. The band started into the first song as the curtain opened and then a few of the lights illuminated them. Vocalist, J.R. Munoz, was gazing out at all their followers, till it was time he started singing their opening song, “Off the Wagon”. “YOU THINK THIS LIFE IS EASY. Live a day in my shoes…”, goes the tunes first line. It’s also the song whose lyrics bear the albums title, “…I’m bringin’ all my friends. On my binge…” He even tweaked a portion of the song, near the end asking “Alright! Who here is coming with me!?” The crowd roared back at him in agreeance, to which J.R. responded “The lets go!”. There was enough energy in that song as there is in most shows by other bands. And they still had about 50 more minutes to cover. They did a couple from their debut full-length next, “XOXO” and “Stems”, before doing some more from the new EP. “This next song is about learning to take care of yourself before even bothering with trying to take care of someone else.” J.R. told everyone. “Cause after all, we’re the most important person to ourselves. And that’s what this song is about, it called Time to Shine.” It’s pretty good, though I like the message behind the song more than the song itself. About 98% of their material is in your face hard rock, but took things down just a notch with their next one, “Don’t Fly Away”, which a little more of a love song. At least in my opinion. But the softer side didn’t last to long as went into some more older songs, “Hate Myself” and “Here I Am”, which I think they said they hadn’t even performed in a year or more. J.R. gave a little speech about the next song they were going to do, saying it was one that they never play live, and some of their fans from West Texas had even gotten married to the song. It wasn’t till he finished that I realized 3/5 of the band had left. Drummer, Michael Glass, guitarist, Justin Berry, and bassist, Erin Denis. Leaving only J.R. and their other guitarist, Toby Bittenbender, who had swapped out his electric ax for an acoustic one. I think they successfully shocked most of the people there when they started “Acceptance”. It a fantastic song, and one of my favorites of theirs, but I never figured I’d hear it. And I really like the chorus of it, “…I am something. More than nothing. Accept me for who I am. Cause we’re much better when we’re together. I’m gonna do the best that I can…”. And it’s that line right there that makes me understand why people would want to get married to it. When it was done the rest of the band got back on stage, and they took things back up to the normal level, with “Missing You” then another new one, “The Battle Within”. Next they did the only song from their new EP they had yet to play, a cover of Garth Brooks “Thunder Rolls”. And I bet their version sounded nothing like Garth’s. They pulled it off nicely though, and until reading the album credits I thought it was one of their songs, which is what I think every band strives for when they cover a song. And the thunder at the beginning of the song did sound pretty cool, as if a storm was just going to start pouring the rain inside of Trees. By this time they only had one song left for the night. And they made it very clear that there would be no encore. “Our encore is coming out there to celebrate with y’all!” J.R. told everybody, before announcing their last song, “Each Time I Fall”. Which, in the case of most bands, they saved the very best for last. It really was an incredible, high-energy, show they put on. The only complaint I’d have is everything is turned up so loud, you can barely, if even, hear J.R. singing. For the songs I somewhat knew I was often unsure what was being sung. And for the ones I didn’t know, I was doing good to catch ten words of what was said. And if they could just take care of that, I think they’d be doing even better than they currently are.

July 23, 2010 - Denton Night 1: Dawn Over Zero

Another night of great music lined up at the Boiler Room, beginning with the Houston band, The Last Place You Look. Their show started with the stage lights turned off, while they played a soft little instrumental piece. Then the music really got loud as their bassist jumped up on a box they had set-up (housing their own lights), the place lit up and things got going. They put they put on a good little set and there was only one song they did that I didn’t much care for. Mainly cause it was slower, and since it was their next to last song it just seemed like a weird thing to do after the rest of the show had been high-energy rock. I really liked their music, it’s got pretty poppy hooks, and their singer has got an interesting voice. I don’t really know how to describe it, other than saying it sounded a bit soupy, which some of it might’ve been from some effects, but I think he kinda sounds that way normally as well. He had a different voice than any I’ve ever heard, and that’s neither a good nor bad thing, just different. Overall I enjoyed their show and bought their CD afterwards which sounds really good, and it’s a fair representation of what you get live.


I’ve been a fan of Dawn Over Zero for about four years now, and it had been exactly six months since seeing my first show, and I was about to see my second. The majority of their set consisted of their new material that’ll be on their upcoming album, which frontman, Mike, said would be released soon. But they did throw in a few songs I knew, like “Take You Under” “The Confidence” and their final song, “Circulation”. That was one hell of a way to end it, cause despite making it shorter (from the album version) for shows, it still maintains its epicness. Their show was phenomenal. I really like the use of their fog machines, which let’s face it, can be a pretty cheesy prop at times, but they use it at just the right (occasional) moments to make a great atmosphere. Their songs are incredible and you can definitely hear the growth from last release (Their ‘06 self-titled EP) and their current stuff. And in my opinion that’s what makes a great band.


Siren City was headlining and it was a bit of a bittersweet night for them. After losing one of their guitarists (and original members) earlier in the year, their lead guitarist, Rick Greenwood, had decided it was time to leave the band. And tonight was his final performance as Siren City’s lead guitarist. They opened with a re tweaked version of “After All”, which I liked more than the album version. The music for the chorus stayed the same, but for the versus it had a softer sound, which made the song feel a little more unique. They moved on into “Paranoid” and then “What I Want”. My favorite part of “WIW” has always been the guitar solo about mid way through, in which Rick usually would fall to his knees while playing, looking as if he was lost in the music. And that was how it went down tonight, as he was almost hugging his guitar while four bandmates all gathered around the drum kit and just watched. They played “Beside You” next and then a brand new song, “Speak Easy”. I really liked this one, especially the duel guitar parts at the beginning. Just that intro part reminded me of The FEDS song “Alive”, just not nearly as heavy. Another song off their album came next, “Grey Skies”, and after it frontman, Randy, said something about the next tune. “This one’s an old one.” he said, “But we still really like playing it.” And it was “Hypothelmanade”, probably their longest song, but still a good one. They did a couple more, including “Secrets”, before wrapping it all up with none other then “Firefly”. Everyone but Rick then left the stage, and he played a light instrumental piece before Randy joined him. “So this next song is one we’ve only done like four times live, and it’s always been acoustic. But we wanted to make tonight special, so we’re trying it full-band. It’s called My Only Friend.” I’d never heard this one before, but I really liked it and I don’t know why they didn’t play it more. About three fourths of the way into it The other guys, bassist, Mark, guitarist, “Shorty”, and drummer, Brian, all came back and exploded into what little was left. They made it seem like that was it, but the packed Boiler Room wanted a little more, and they got it with “With A Pulse”. And that ended Rick’s little over four year run with Siren City. I never thought he was that great of a guitarist, but he was enjoyable to watch perform. And now the rest of the guys have the monumental task of finding someone to fill his shoes. So this will probably be it for Siren City for a few months, but when they return I hope they’ll be better than ever.

January 23, 2010 - Dawn Over Zero

The first band that was supposed to play tonight at the Boiler Room, for whatever reason, ended up being no show. So Eclipse the Nation got to be the first act. Overall I’d say these guys were decent. The first couple of songs they did I could’ve cared less for, due to some screaming, but they did get a little better. And I did enjoy some of their stuff. Still I’d be alright if I never see them again.


Dawn Over Zero was next. It’s been going on four years since I first heard of them on myspace and became a fan. And the closest I’d got to seeing them was two years ago at a battle of the bands at the House of Blues, which ended up running ahead of schedule. And when I got there when they were supposed to start, I just saw the last minute of their set. Needless to say I was ecstatic about finally seeing a live show. As they started their set there was some fog machines set up, which they used and engulfed most of the stage. You couldn’t even see the drum kit, let alone Mack sitting behind it. Their singer/guitarist, Mike Mears, lead guitarist, Steven Abbenante, and bassist, Jonathan Boyce, then got up on stage and started rocking out their first song. I was wondering if they’d even play any songs that I knew, and I got the answer with the second song they did. Their epic, and I think masterpiece, “Circulation”. They did a couple other songs I knew, including my favorite “The Confidence” and “Take You Under”. Plus they rocked out about 7 or 8 other songs that I’m guessing will be on their next record. Their show was phenomenal, well worth a 4 year wait. They’re incredibly well polished, their music is amazing, and Mike’s got one hell of a voice. One of the best bands I’ve had the privilege of seeing.


The Raven Charter was the headlining act. I’d heard a lot of good things about them, but had never checked ‘em out. And Wow! I was very impressed with what I saw. One thing that makes them more unique was having two vocalists. While Bond is the main singer, and also one of the guitarists, lead guitarist Danial also did some singing for some of the songs. And they even co-sang a few. I’ve never seen a band really pull that off before, but these guys did with ease. And they both have  a really good vocal range, anything from some lighter/softer singing to screaming. They also have a keyboardist, Erik, who for some of the songs played the keys and on others pulled out an acoustic guitar, and even supplies some backing vocals. When they first got up on stage I noticed their drummer, Thacker, had on a gas mask, which stayed on for their whole hour plus set. It was a little strange, but it did look pretty cool. I’ll say this about the Raven Charter. It’s been a VERY long time since I’ve seen a band that I knew absolutely nothing about before hand, and was this amazed. They’re easily one of the best bands in the area.