Friday, March 28th, 2014 – The Birth of Blood Saints

For the second consecutive Friday, the Double Wide wound up being my destination for the night.

I wasn’t even aware of the show that was going on there this night, until early on in the week when Blood Saints posted their debut show would be happening then.

The band has been in the works for awhile, though it was only last November when they created a Facebook page, and in late January came a recording to let everyone know what this trio of Gabe Cardinale, Casey Hess and Clay Stinnett would sound like.

Given that there were only two bands on the bill, Blood Saints didn’t get started until 10:49, but by the time they stepped on stage, they had the venue pretty full. By pretty full, I mean nearly packed out, and there were far more eyes on them then what the headliner wound up having.

Clay banged away on his drum kit, producing some heavy, pulse pounding beats, while Casey and Gabe each held a chord on their guitar and bass, respectively, and let it ring out, creating a slightly feedbacky tone. That built some suspense, despite the drums already being in full force, and soon, they unleashed a beast of an instrumental song.
image(Photo credit: Chad Beck of R Chadwick Beck Photography/guitarist of In Memory of Man)

The crowd was definitely feeling it, and they felt it even more so when Clay wound them right into that single they posted a couple months back, “Wipe The Diamonds From Your Eyes”. “Let me wipe the diamonds from your eyes. Ain’t that how it should be?” Gabe sang, with Casey backing him up, singing in unison with him, and their voices sounded outstanding mixed together like that.

The barrage continued as they went directly into another song, this one being co-sung; the two frontmen splitting vocal duties on it, while Casey helped end with a sweet guitar solo. “Thanks for coming out…” Gabe told the crowd during the transition to their next number. “…This is a new band for us.” He noted, after mentioning they were trying out some new songs.
image(Photo credit: Chad Beck of R Chadwick Beck Photography/guitarist of In Memory of Man)

The next one was a favorite of mine this night; and as they hit the first chorus, Casey spun around about 90° or so, forcefully strumming his axe in time with a mighty beat Clay dished out. “…You know the devils gonna take control…” was an often repeated line of their next song, which again had Gabe and Casey trading off on the singing. I’m hesitant to say this, because while Blood Saints did have some heavier tones to their songs, they were still a rock band. But that song, that was borderline heavy metal in my opinion, with some thick beats that had Clay getting so into it, he knocked over his floor tom about halfway through the song. It stayed there on the ground, too, until he picked it up for their final number.
image(Photo credit: Chad Beck of R Chadwick Beck Photography/guitarist of In Memory of Man)

They then finished their 35-minute set with a song in a similar vein. Okay, it wasn’t nearly that hard, but it was still heavy, at least it got that way after a bit of a tranquil start. And as they concluded it, Clay knocked just about every piece of his entire kit over.

Yeah, it was a helluva way to go out.

I thought it was a great first show.

I enjoyed seeing Gabe back on a stage and singing (it has been a few years since his last project, Dead Twins, disbanded), and as much as I love Descender, it was cool getting to see and hear Casey do something different. Clay’s the only member I’m unfamiliar with, though he is a ferocious drummer.

The writing styles of both the singers were prevalent in all the songs; and while I was expecting to hear each of them handle the signing, I wasn’t prepared to hear the unison singing like they did so much this night, and that was perhaps the quality that stood out to me the most. I mean, you seldom hear that, especially in rock music, but when you’re capable of it and it works, why not do it?

I’m certainly interested to see how the band progresses, especially as they get more shows under their belt and tighten up the chemistry, and to hear some more of the songs they have waiting in the wings to release.

Listen to their song over on SOUNDCLOUD and keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE for info on future shows.

Headlining was a long running (established in ’97) group of veterans know as The American Fuse.

The four-piece outfit mixed straight up rock sounds with some punk aggression thrown in, and those who were in the showroom were instantly captivated by the first song of their 49-minute set, which was sung by guitarist Nate Fowler. Bassist Kinley Wolfe took over singing on “Something New”, which was one of a few songs they did from the “One Fell Swoop” album.

They alternated who did the singing for every song; and upon finishing that one, Kinley raised a toast to those who were there, before tearing through another song. JT Dayton (who was getting a little break from running sound at the venue) played a wicked little solo near the end of that one, as he rushed to the front of the small stage and raised his guitar into the air, before darting back. Really, it was more just some sweet licks, but it still sounded great, and looked awesome.
image(Photo credit: Chad Beck of R Chadwick Beck Photography/guitarist of In Memory of Man)

Everyone was definitely feeling it by now, and completely engulfed in the music, as they carried on with a track that may have well been titled “Blame the Whisky”, since that was a line that was often repeated during it. “Blame the grapefruit vodka…” joked drummer Clint Phillips after the song concluded, as they took a moment before their next song.

“That’s Clint’s postcard to everyone of ya everyday of the year…” Nate told the crowd once they finished, and continued bantering with everyone for a minute. “This reminds me of the time played the Dallas public library.” JT suddenly remarked, shortly before they dove into another intense number. That led to a new song, and Kinley stressed that no one had ever heard it before now. “Not even me.” joked Nate, who did the singing on it.image(Photo credit: Chad Beck of R Chadwick Beck Photography/guitarist of In Memory of Man)

They kept things moving right along with another new song, which was downright explosive, and was the latest one JT had written. “Lighters up!” Kinley requested, saying their “balled” was next. Their ballad may have been “Don’t Chingale My Chevrolet” (if not, it came around this time in the show). Either way, it was not the slow song that most bands usually refer to as their “couples skate” song. Quite the opposite, especially with the heavy bass lines he played at the start of it.
image(Photo credit: Chad Beck of R Chadwick Beck Photography/guitarist of In Memory of Man)

“Jeff wants to play another of his songs. He’s tired of our shit.” Said Kinley, giving JT a hard time, before doing another track he wrote, which, fittingly, saw JT doing another stellar guitar solo.

Their set was winding down now, and their next to last song got dedicated to Scott Beggs, who was in attendance, before they rolled it right into their final number, which led to an abrupt end. I say that because there was no “final song” warning. Instead, they laid the guitars down almost as soon as they finished, signaling that they were done.

Not that anyone was disappointed by that, though, ‘cause they had put on one incredible show.

The energy was off the walls, and the crowd fed of that, which in turn fueled The American Fuse even more.

The music is more along the lines of what would now probably be considered classic rock/hard rock, but there’s nothing wrong with that, especially when it has character. And let’s be honest, you can’t really say that about most of the stuff that’s on the radio these days.
image(Photo credit: Chad Beck of R Chadwick Beck Photography/guitarist of In Memory of Man)

Somehow, I had never seen The American Fuse before now, though I’m going to have to try to frequent more shows now.

You can find their album in iTUNES, and their FACEBOOK PAGE would be the best bet to find out about any upcoming shows.

It was a great night of rock at the Double Wide, and since there were only two bands, it was over kinda early. I’m not gonna lie, I liked that.

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 – Ishi Livens Up a Wednesday Night

As one show let out and my duty of covering the show for On Tour Monthly was fulfilled, I headed across the street to Three Links to catch a show for myself… Or at least what was left of it.

The whole bill (which featured Black Taxi, We’rewolves and Okapi Sun) would have been great to see, but Ishi was the main band I had wanted to see in the first place, and they had yet to start.

It had been about ten months since I last Dallas’s favorite electronic band, and coincidentally, it happened to right here at Three Links, just one week after their massive CD release show when “Digital Wounds” was finally released into the world.

Point is I was looking forward to this.

“I’m gonna need more tracks ASAP.” Frontman JT Mudd told the sound guy as their show got underway. He was decked out in his full attention getting attire, which included his spacey/futuristic looking robe, a hat with little squares of glass like you would see on a disco ball covering it and a pair of glasses that illuminated neon light. He also sported some face paint. It may have been a Wednesday night, but they clearly weren’t pulling any punches.

“Happy hump day motherfuckers!” he shouted as the sample track for “Pastel Lights” grew louder, soon peaking as guitarist Rocky Ottley and drummer Jonathan Merla jumped in on the track. I guess that’s the upside of going so long without seeing a band: They completely switch up their setlist. I was a bit surprised they opened with this classic that is typically reserved as one of the final songs, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it.

It instantly had the area in front of the stage transformed into a dance floor, as some sang right along with JT, “…I will be waiting in the shapes of time; realigning the matter between your heart and mine…” It was indeed a fun way to kick off what would end up being a 71-minute set, and with that oldie out of the way, it was time for some new stuff, but not the new stuff I was expecting.

Apparently, they’ve been busy writing some new material since I last saw them, and played a handful of the tracks this night. The next one was the first of a few that had JT introducing a female singer (I missed her full name, though if I heard correctly her first was Betty) who joined them on stage and backed him up.

While a female vocalist used to be a permanent thing in Ishi, they’ve proven in the last year or so it’s not a necessity for them. However, there are times it is behooving of the music. That song was one of them, and the woman killed it each time she did step on stage.

“We got a brand new song for ya, Dallas.” remarked JT as she left, leading to another new song, one that had Rocky playing some very cool sounding lines on his guitar. The fans barely had to time to clap for them before the backing track for a personal favorite of mine kicked on, “Moon Watcher”. The fans were encouraged to clap along with Jonathan’s drumming at the start, and after getting through the first chorus, JT gave it up to Rocky, letting out a high-pitched, “Guitar!”.

They were on a roll know, going right from one song to the next, and “Emotional Hard Drive” kicked the dancing into overdrive, while Rocky jumped around at the start of it. “…You strut your stuff, looking so tough. I don’t buy it…” JT sang, kind of flexing one of his arms as he did so. That was segued right into another new track, which again featured the vocal talent of Betty, who even took over more of a lead role at times. In fact, while she was singing one line, JT went and grabbed a little towel and wiped the sweat from his eyes, before getting right back into show mode, jumping about and doing everything possible to ensure the audience was feeling it and having the time of their life.

“Thank you, Miss Betty.” he said as she went back to being a spectator of the show, while they moved right along with “Touch The Future”. “Let me see your vibrations; touch the sun. Anyone can make it happen, we’ve only just begun.” Goes the chorus, which seemed to strongly apply to them this night; and as they hit the instrumental break, JT walked over behind Rocky, holding his cape out and waving it behind him.

The songs kept coming, and now they cranked out the haunting title track, “Digital Wounds”, before JT asked everyone a very important question. “How many dandelions do we have out there tonight?” Everyone knew that meant “Shake Your Dandelion” was coming, and the sexually charged classic of theirs had been tweaked a bit, and now featured a blistering guitar solo after the second chorus. During one of the breaks, JT checked in on his people, asking, “How we doing out there?”, then after the song once again thanked everyone for “rocking out on a Wednesday night” with them.

Next, fans were treated to the first single off their latest album, “Disco Queen”, which was followed by another single, which signified the end was nearing. JT exchanged his current headgear for what I guess could still be considered a Native American headdress. It was more simple than the one I’ve seen him rock in the past, though it still had the strips of neon lighting adorning it; and in one hand, he held a shield, also covered with neon lightening, and he began dancing about at the start of “Mother Prism”.

That one has been a fan favorite since it first was worked into their shows, and the fans were downright giddy to hear it. “Aiyah, aiyay. Aiyah, aiyah, aiyay.” everyone chanted along on that nonsensical anthem of sorts, which serves to bond everyone together. Really, for that one song, it was like everybody in Three Links was a single entity. Some were still dancing to it, while many began jumping up and down, still chanting.

It was a lovely moment, and once it concluded, JT rested the shield against Jonathans’ kick drum. Another stellar guitar solo was thrown into “Slowly But Surely”, after which JT thanked everyone one last time for coming out, along with all the bands who played before them, before saying they had one last song for everyone.

I was surprised it was not an original they broke into, though it was a pleasant surprise to hear them pull out their cover of New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle”. It had been quite awhile since I had heard them do it, and as they hit the final chorus, JT got out in the crowd, dancing along with everyone and encouraging everybody to sing along, and even left one of the choruses up to the crowd.

That was a satisfactory ending for me, though it didn’t take long for people to start asking for one more, and they were more than happy to oblige.

“You have two options…” he told everyone given them the choice of “Mirror Ball Sky” or “ISHI”. I shouted for option two, but I was one of the few. Needless to say, it didn’t win out. “Let’s get dirty.” JT said, right before starting the lead track from their current album.

So it seemed like the track that used to be their routine opener would be how this show would end, but they still had a surprise for everyone. After a quick band meeting, they decided to do their other choice, and I was elated by that. “We’ll do one more, ‘cause we fucking love you…” said JT, adding with a bit of an accent, “Long time.” “ISHI” brought their 71-minute long set to an end, and I really like the way they handled the final chorus, doing it sort of in rounds, with JT shouting the first letter, “I”, then a second later Rocky shouted it out. The same thing happened for “S”, before they synced up for “H” and “I”.

Man, what a way to end a Wednesday night, a Wednesday night that had already included me seeing the great Chino Moreno perform.

Ishi owned it this night, and delivered a show that was exactly like what everyone in North Texas has come to expect from them. They’re fun, they’re lively, and the music they make is topnotch, while the new songs they played this night were at the very least on par with their other stuff, and one was a standout.

After going so long without seeing Ishi, I had forgotten how happy their shows make you, and I doubt I was the only one who left with a smile on their face.

Upcoming shows include a Totally 80’s night at the Granada Theater on April 26th, where they will performing a Depeshi and covering Depeche Mode songs. On May 4th they’ll be playing early at the Suburbia Music Fest in Plano, and they have a gig in Houston on May 31st as part of Free Press Summer Fest. And if you want to check out their music, head over to iTUNES.

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 – The Pizza Underground Loads Up on Extra Cheese in Dallas

When I arrived at Club Dada this night, there was a line outside, not a long one, but a line nonetheless.

A group of excited friends in front of me where asked for their tickets, replying with they were going to buy them at the door. “It’s sold out.” Answered the woman who was scanning pre-purchased tickets, leaving the group dumbfounded as they left the line, clearly wondering how they should now spend their Wednesday night.

That was the type of buzz The Pizza Underground had created; and thanks to Parade of Flesh, the group was stopping in Dallas on their way to Austin.

Let’s get it straight, though: this show wasn’t sold out because heaps of music fans were wanting to see a potential next big thing in music. Rather, it was because of curiosity, and the fact that everyone was intrigued to see the Velvet Underground type cover band, who instead has made the songs all about pizza, and just so happens to feature Macaulay Culkin as one of the band members.

I missed the majority of the Brooklyn based singer/songwriter Toby Goodshank, who opened up the show on the outdoor patio stage. He finished one song and then mentioned to the crowd that along with an album he had for sale, there was also an “extremely graphic pornographic comic book” he had written at the merch table, which certainly seemed like an odd mix of items to be selling.

It’s hard to gauge any musician/band just by hearing two songs, but he sounded good. It was an odd mix of rock and folk he played, and I wish I had caught more just so I could have gotten a better feel for his music.

He has some records over in iTUNES if you would like to give his stuff a listen.

Things took a different turn after his set, when the only true band on the bill, Moving Units, took the stage.

The trio, which consists of singer and guitarist Blake Miller, bassist, Mike Delgado and a drummer, brought with them a type of indie dance/rock music, and the Los Angeles outfit plowed through their 40-minute set.

Despite having released a new album just last year, they focused on just about everything from their career, and I believe it was “Birds of Prey”, and older song, that they opened with. It reeled the crowd in, in no time, what with its catchy sounds, and it was made even more fun when Mike tossed an inflatable beach ball (which was made to look like an oversized basketball) into the crowd, which was batted around throughout their set.

They seldom did seamless segues, but kept it all pretty tight, giving the audience just a few seconds to applaud before going into their next song, and after tackling another one, they knocked out the striking, “The Kids From Orange County”. Live, these songs (especially the ones in the first half of their set) were more rock sounding than they come across on the albums, which I really liked. It was just heavier in some ways, and the guitar, bass and drums were far more prominent than the sample tracks they were using.

Following that one was another track from “Hexes for Exes”, “Wrong Again”. “You don’t know what you want, you don’t know what you need…” sang Blake, while playing some mesmerizing chords there at the start. Afterwards, he laid guitar down, showing he was a commanding frontman as he sang “Kate Moss in ‘97”, which is a bit of a seductive track from last year’s “Neurotic Exotic”. It was fairly repetitive, and the chorus consisted of repeating the songs title many times over, yet it never got tiresome. At least not to me.

They were more into the true dance portion of the show by now, which was equally as fun, and one of the best tracks they unleashed this night was “The World is Ours”. “Pink Thoughts” kept mood alive, but surprisingly, no one ever really danced along to it or any of their other songs, despite seeming to enjoy them. They powered through a few more, including the moving “Paper Hearts”, which wound up being their closer.

They abruptly stopped after that, removing their guitar and bass, before Blake waved goodbye to everyone and thanked everyone for coming out.

There’s no arguing that Moving Units was the best act on the bill this night. The music was topnotch, and Blakes’ voice is most excellent.

They held my attention for every second (well, when I wasn’t having to look to see where the beach ball(s) so I wouldn’t get hit by one, that is). The performance was fun to watch, too, and pretty professional seeming at that.

They have a few records you can buy/listen to in iTUNES. They also have a few shows lined up around California, so if you live in the area, check out the dates HERE.

By this time, the patio – which can hold about 150 people – was pretty much packed out, yet more people kept finding spaces to fill in, as everyone eagerly awaited The Pizza Underground.

I must say, it was weird seeing the stage completely vacant of any amps, a drum kit or any other instrument, but then again, The Pizza Underground is far from your typical band, so some weirdness should have been expected.

The audience cheered when Austin Kilham, Phoebe Kreutz, Matt Colbourn, Deenah Vollmer and Macaulay Culkin filed on stage, in that order as they took their places. They were all clad in black, partly looking like hipsters and partly like they were trying to impersonate some bands of the 60’s to 70’s era.

Deenah Vollmer was clutching a Serious Pizza box (one that would hold a full pizza, which was enormous), and she held it above her head before opening it. A smaller box (one that could hold one or maybe two slices) fell out and she picked it up, as that was the drum for the evening.

“So, do you kids like pizza?” Culkin asked, getting a loud response from the fans. He then asked if everyone liked songs about pizza, before saying, “Too bad.” He was, of course, joking, and said as much, before they got to their songs.

I’m pretty certain they played every song from their demo during their time on stage, beginning with “Papa John Says”, and dished out a few more, which were done so close together, it felt like some of the songs were all one, instead of separate tracks. Adding to that feeling was the fact that the songs are relatively short, and with the only true instrument being the guitar Matt was playing, it was easy to think that they were different verses, rather than different songs.

I believe some of the other songs were “I’m Beginning to Eat the Slice” and “Cheese Days”, and during their first break of the night, Deenah asked the crowd if they had “…Heard the one about the pizza?” “It’s really cheesy.” Was the punch line, which got some rolling laughter from the crowd.

They followed along the same lines of parody with their next song, before one of them said they were about to get “a little existential”. The song pertaining to that was all about closing the pizza box to keep the heat in, so that way it’ll still be warm when you want a slice later.

The silly jokes continued during the next break, when Deenah said the next song was “about abstinence”. “We’re in God’s country.” she added. It got laughs from people, and I found it pretty funny, though that wasn’t quite what the song was about. Instead, it dealt with the morning after you eat pizza, “when you still have more pizza.” Phoebe said, and talked about it congealing.

They switched things up for their next song, but not before one of them pointed out they had drawn a cat face on the pizza box back stage, and Deenah dubbed it “Pussy Jewel”.

Austin then took a spot behind a little keyboard, while everyone except for Culkin lined up along the fence at the back of the stage. He then welcomed a young woman to the stage (who I’d assume was is his girlfriend) and they did a duet together. She had a pretty good voice I thought; and I say that about them being in a relationship because when the song was over, they got almost too carried away kissing, to the point shouting “Get a room!” would have been an appropriate response.

They had, had their fun and everything this night, but now they made clear that The Pizza Underground wasn’t all about fun and games, and they were going to get serious now. That meant giving a history lesson about Jeno Paulucci – who invented pizza rolls – who started his career by making canned Chinese food. Yes, it was as entertaining as it sounds.

They had something else planned for the crowd now, and Deenah pointed out that since everyone was loving these songs about pizza, then surely the crowd would like to hear “…Nirvana songs sung in the past tense.”

Kurt Cobained came out on stage then (a guy dressed in a wig and armed with an acoustic guitar) to play some songs from Nevermound (the past tense of Nevermind.) Was it ridiculously stupid? Yes. But again, it had almost everyone (myself included) hysterical. In fact, I laughed harder at this little section of the show than I did all night,

“…Here we are then, entertained us. I felt stupid and contagied…” the guy sang, switching up the lyrics of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and numerous other tracks from “Nevermind” as he performed a medley of the record.

After a  few minutes of that, the band returned. “What’s with this little table in the pizzas?” Culkin asked, before asking if anyone wanted the little white piece of plastic that is utterly useless once removed from the pizza box it came in. That made it all the more funny to watch as people fought over it, before one person swiped it from his hand, as if he held a winning lottery ticket worth millions.

They ended with “Take a Bite of the Wild Slice”, but that wasn’t enough for everyone, and the chanting for an encore began as they filed off stage.

A guy who looked like a manager (perhaps he really was their manager, or he just dressed to fit the part) walked on stage. “You know when you have room for a little more, but it’s a big piece, so you cut it down the middle?” he asked, saying some other stuff as he made all sorts of gestures with his hands, as if he were cutting imaginary slices into smaller portions. “Yeah.” he said before walking off, giving the stage back up to The Pizza Underground.

Their final song was about “when pizza hurts you”, and dealt with eating a “sizzling slice”, because you just can’t resist the temptation of delicious looking pizza.

That was it, and all of that happened in about 30-minutes, or barely over. In which case if it was, shouldn’t they have stuck with the pizza delivery guarantee and given the show to everyone for free?

I kid.

There were two different levels to this performance, and I’ll start with the most evident one: the comedy side.

It was pretty much exactly what I expected from listening to their music and watching some Youtube videos, and hopefully you didn’t expect anything other than cheesy jokes and odd takes on The Velvet Undergrounds’ music.

In that regard, I was entertained throughout. Never mind the fact that the five of them looked (i.e. all dressed almost the same) as if they could be the leaders of some weird cult that would worship pizza and eventually end in a mass suicide pact by them and their followers overdosing on large quantities of pizza and clogged arteries from copious amounts of cheese.

On the other end of the spectrum you have the actual musically talent, and there’s no way this is or will ever be anything more than a novelty act. In fact, if Culkin weren’t in the band, I have to wonder if they’d have ever gotten any further than just playing house parties to drunk friends, rather than playing small sold-out venues to drunk people.

I have heard worse voices, but none of them is actually capable of singing well, and the guitar was simply plucked most of the time. So, in that aspect, there’s really no talent present.

I came, I saw and I enjoyed. Like they say, no pizza is bad pizza; however, I don’t think I’ll be going back for seconds from The Pizza Underground.

Still, it was a fun night, and it was good getting to see a small slice of pop culture history.

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 – King Camel’s SW ForePlayFest

After doing my duty with On Tour Monthly (the other publication I work for) and catching the Experience Hendrix show in Grand Prairie, it was time to head to Dallas for the other show I planned on catching this night.

King Camel had put together quite the lineup of bands touring through on their way to SXSW, with six bands in all gracing the stage of the Double Wide, which is far more than the usual three-band bills the venue typically hosts.

It was already after 11:30 when I got there, and sadly, I had missed out on damn near every touring act (including the ones I was most eager to see), bit arrived in time to see the Fort Worth outfit The Longshots, right as they kicked off their 27-minute long set.

They crammed a lot of music into that short time, and early on (the first or second song) they played “Too High for West 7th”. The crowd of a dozen or so supporters got no time to recover as the band dove right into their next song, which ended with most of the quintet jumping around at the end of it.

They had quickly showed what a high-energy band they were, and things only got more intense during their next track, where guitarists Alex Zobel and Parker Donaldson stole the show. Closer towards the end, Alex (purposefully) backed off the stage and fell into the crowd, shredding amongst the fans, while Parker walked up to Brady Hamiltons’ drum kit and jumped onto the bass drum, where he stayed for a couple of seconds.

They kicked out a couple more tracks, including one from their “Kicker” EP, “Rhode Island Red”. “I used to have a heart to invest, and then she stuck her hand in my chest…” sang lead singer Joey Gorman, who was also the bands third guitarist. Most of his band mates aided him on some of the vocals for that fast paced, driven song, which made for a cool sound, especially since they all can sing (and each one did some of that this night).

“All these songs are dedicated to my next beer.” Alex joked during one of their breaks, before they did a few more songs to finish out their show.

I was impressed at how energetic The Longshots were, and this is after they’ve been touring for the last few weeks. So, if the road has taken any type of toll on them, they sure didn’t let it show this night.

There was one moment early on when Joey was left with some time to kill and while bantering with the crowd he seemed like he was almost uncomfortable with it. Perhaps it was just because he had been put on the spot, though, because he filled some time later on in the show with ease.

That’s the closest thing to a complaint I could find this night of this gritty, garage rock style band, who left it all on the stage.

They are still on tour, and are currently out in California. So, if you’re in the area, check out their FACEBOOK PAGE and see where they’re playing. As for their music, you can snag some free downloads on their BANDCAMP site, and get their newly released LP over in iTUNES.

Closing out ForePlayFest was the Nashville based Pujol, who sadly, did not have near the crowd they deserved (that comes with playing a Tuesday night show though, I guess.)

“Sup. How y’all doing?” asked the bands namesake Daniel Pujol, who was the singer and rhythm guitarist for the group. He said it very coolly, as if he were trying to impress everyone who was there. There was humor in it, though; and before getting their show on the road, he mentioned they had played a show with The Longshots in Fort Worth the night before, saying it was 3:30 in the AM when they finished.

I believe it was “DIY2K” that began their show, but regardless of what it was, it had everybody there moving around to the refined rock sounds and the raw voice Daniel had.

With a new album, “Kludge”, due out in May, there were plenty of new songs to be heard this night, one of which was “Manufactured Crisis Control. It didn’t matter that nobody knew it, because you could tell most of the people who were here weren’t really familiar with the Pujol in the first place, so it was all new to them; they were rocking out to it all the same, though.

“Alright, alright, alright.” Daniel said before their next song, sounding like he was trying to do his best McConaughey impression, which aside from the mannerisms, wasn’t much like him. He had already informed everyone the next song was from their second record and was titled “Mayday”. The song had a pretty driven rhythm section; and just when you thought Pujol was going to be a band that was all about the music, Daniel revealed their (or rather his) funny side.

Pretty much every song from here on out got explanations, beginning with “Postgrad”, which he said was about moving to New York and not knowing where you want to work. He said something else, which I didn’t catch, and I feel it would have made the next part funnier, when he said something like, “And how that’s the exact opposite of what you see on Facebook.”

Things took a bit of a darker turn when he noted their next track was about “bleeding out and dying all the time”, speaking of “Reverse Vampire”. “…I want to release the heat that’s building in my chest and blast it like a laser beam…” Daniel sang in his unique voice that has a gravely sound to it, and at times sounded a bit sludgy.

The explanations kept flying, and “Psychic Pain” was said to be about when you have a “bunch of crazy feelings, but you don’t got no words for it.” said Daniel, adding a “Yeah.” or something like that afterwards, expecting everyone to know what he meant. I think they did, too.

As good as these setups were, the best had to go to their new single. Daniel hesitated for but a second, then said it was about “the limitations of physical language.” At least if I’m remembering correctly that’s what he said. He readily admitted he didn’t know what he was talking about, though. “I’m still working the spiel out for this one.” he confessed. The tune was “Pitch Black”, and personally, I found that new one to be one of their best songs of the night, and it has me looking forward to their new release.

Struggling with something to say in regards to the next song, a (new?) fan shouted, “It’s about whatever you want it to be.” Daniel ran with that, then came up with his own thing. “It’s about stuffing things.” he stated. It didn’t take them long to do “Tiny Gods (Singularity)” (which is less than two-minutes long), though it was a great song in terms of the live performance, and the lead guitarist slayed during that one.

“No Words” received a setup you would expect with a song by that name, and Daniel plainly said that, like most of their songs, it was about “problems with language and communication”. The drummer let loose some powerful beats at the end of that one, proving what a great drummer she was, and soon after they did a track from their “2010” EP, “Point of View”.

At this point, their 30-minute set was coming to a close, and Daniel said they had just a couple left. As soon as he said that the guitarist held up four fingers, and then the bassist added, “It’s a loosely defined couple. They’re romantically linked.” he quipped.

It wound up only being a true couple, and the first was about “narcissists breaking up with themselves”, and then they ended with what I believe was “Black Rabbit”, which ended a show that was chocked full of rock.

The other band impressed me, as did Pujol, who was the best in my opinion. Their sound was a little more interesting, and I’d even say fresh, at least in some ways.

Musicianship was great, too. You could tell they have some touring under their belt, because they all clicked so cohesively and rolled with it all; never having to ask what was next. In fact, they really didn’t communicate with each other at all while they were on stage, which gave it all a professional feel; and despite the crowd lacking numbers, they gave it their all and owned the stage this night.

They have plenty of albums you can check out in iTUNES, with the new one coming on May 20th. Keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE, because as that release date draws closer, they’ll surely head out on a tour in support of it.

I hate I missed so much of SW ForePlayFest, but King Camel had lined up some amazing bands from start to finish, and at least I got in on a bit of that sweet action.

Saturday, March 1st, 2014 – Songwriters in the Round

The Liquid Lounge was hosting an all acoustic lineup, which seems to be something that seldom happens there, despite the very intimate setting it has.

Paco Estrada had put together the whole show, which was built around a Songwriters in the Round performance he had put together. Ryan Holley, Jeff Crowder (from Deep Ella), Nava (from The Last Place You Look) and Paco were all part of the round, and they had done a show in Austin and Houston leading up to this Saturday night.

The Songwriters in the Round portion of the night was sandwiched in between to great bands who were doing rare acoustic shows to match the vibe for the night, the first of whom was Distant Lights.

Believe it or not, I was actually being somewhat of a social butterfly and was out on the patio area and lost track of time, so unfortunately I missed this amazing Austin band.

I’m more than a little disappointed by that, because I was very interested to see what they were like acoustically, since they are usually a powerhouse of a rock band. Alas, it didn’t happen this night, but maybe I’ll have another chance. They are working on a acoustic EP which should be out soon, so maybe some more acoustic shows will follow in the wake of its release.

Speaking of shows, they have one in Covington, LA at the Columbia St. Rock ‘N’ Blues on March 21st, and they’ll also make a two-night stand in Tyler on April 4th and 5th. The first of those dates will be at Click’s, while the other is at Cork Food and Drink.

Be sure to give their music a listen, too. They have a couple of albums up in iTUNES, and you can even snag their newest one for free HERE.

When I did make it in to the Liquid Lounge, those four singers/songwriters were getting ready for the show, lining up some stools on the stage. Ryan Holley took fair stage right, with Jeff Crowder and Nava after him, while Paco was on far stage left.

It quickly became clear that this was going to be an interesting night, when Jeff whispered into his microphone. “This is something I have trouble saying, and I usually can’t unless it’s completely dark, but, I love you.” he said while gazing out at the fans who had come to support.

“Do you want to start this one off?” Paco asked Ryan, who acted like a heavy burden had just been placed on him. Yeah, you could already tell they were going to be cutting up as much as they were going to be playing music.

I have to say, this was the first time I’ve ever seen Ryan Holley act as a frontman. He used to be a guitarist and backing vocalist in a Austin band called Eyes Burn Electric, and there was a time or two he filled in as one of Paco’s band members in recent years, but he has always been a guitarist the times I’ve seen him. That said, he has an even more incredible voice than I knew, and he knocked it out of the park with the first song he did.

“That was okay.” Paco remarked, pretending to be not all that impressed. He then addressed the crowd, “Is everybody awake? Do you need to stretch?” he asked, joking with his friends. “…Paco secretly hates us and likes to talk shit to is.” said Nava, joking that, that was the actual reason Paco put this whole little tour together with them.

Jeff then took his turn. I remember hearing of Deep Ella years ago (shortly after I joined Myspace), but I never saw the Houston based band, who is still kicking to this day. So, I really didn’t know to expect from him at all. His first song was great, though. It almost sounded like it could have been a cover, but I’m not sure if it was or not. He had a really good voice though, and being that he was the only musician I was completely unfamiliar with on this lineup, he made it known why he deserved to be  part of it and why Paco asked him to join them on this run.

Making it better was the fact that the other three musicians were assisting the one who was singing by either adding some other guitar lines to the mix or some backing vocals, which made for some good touches to each song.

Now it was Nava’s turn, and I was most interested to see (or rather hear) how he sounded. The band he fronts is a loud rock band, and a solid one at that; who has done some touring with more than a few big name acts. Yet here Nava sit, with an acoustic guitar in his hands, verses being the aggressive frontman he typically is. Even more surprising was the song he did, which was slow and soft, and gave his deep, booming bass voice and interesting sound (seriously, this guy has one of THE most unique voices I’ve ever heard).

Paco commented on the tender sound the song had, asking Nava where his angry sound went, as well as a few other questions. Nava replied to one of those with, “It made my head sweaty.” (he’s bald).

Now, it was Paco’s turn. He opted to do “the old standby” first, which prompted a series of jokes about how he was going to “blow his load” in the first few minutes. All four musicians bantered back and forth about this, while Ryan made a joke. “Paco gives good blow jobs.” That’s it, that’s my joke he said.

“Did I gain some respect? Did I lose some respect from that?” Paco asked. “I think this one would go down in the negative category.” Ryan told him, making a thumbs down gesture as he said it. Ryan then added something to the effect that if any of Paco’s exes were here they could attest just how quickly he does “blow his load”.

Paco then started his song. “I kept a photograph, of you and me together…” he sang, the first line of “Whiskey Kisses”. That’s one of my favorites he has written in recent years, and it’s such a beautiful song, and that beauty was only accentuated with the help of these fellow singers. “Your sweet whiskey kisses, that’s what I’ve been missing; when you lose you inhibitions.” They all sang at one point.

That completed the first round, and there were still two more to go.

Ryan was openly discussing what song he should do next, saying he could do some of his songs from the 90’s, but no one would know them. He then said there were some other songs he couldn’t do because some of the lines were “about Paco”.

He chose his song and did it, during which Jeff added some very light percussion by tapping a cymbal of the drum kit that was sit up behind him. He even leaned over and played Nava, striking his head, before going back to the cymbal.

“…It can get weird back there.” Paco said to everyone, speaking to the people who were all clustered together around the door. “You can come closer.” he urged, and some people did get a little closer to the stage.

Jeff than knocked out another song, after which they decided to all do some shots. “Crowd participation: everyone go buy us shots!” he shouted, while Ryan got up and ran over to the bar. Jeff then told anyone who was maybe wanting something to just go over to the bar and say “Ryan Holley” to get a free drink. “That’s the one good thing with being Ryan Holley.” Ryan quipped, “Several people know what I look like, including Whit.” he said, speaking about the owner/bartender of The Curtain Club.

Nava then was trying to decide what he should do next. “Hello, is it me you’re looking for?” he sang, but made it no further than that.

“Everybody has a best friend, and if you don’t you should leave, because you’re weird.” He said to everyone, using that to start setting up his next number. He talked about industry people, who can be great friends and are there for you, “but their own life is shit” said Nava. That was more or less what this one was about, and he noted his friend finally got things figured out.

It was a good song, and was more along the lines of the slower stuff that The Last Place You Look does.

Paco took a friendly little jab at the city of Houston, before doing one of his newer songs. “Ain’t nobody ever gonna come an call me, baby. Not like you do…” goes the chorus of the song that is exactly the type of love song you’ve come to expect from this talented musician.

Afterwards, talk then turned back to Houston, when they all joked about how “incredible” it was and the “tons” of people who made it out. “The sound wasn’t bad at all.” Nava said, shaking his head no when he said it. He then took a little shot at Dallas, while Jeff playful tried to get him to stop, reminding him where they were. “I wasn’t going to trash the cities.” Paco said to Nava, who responded with, “It’s not trashing when it’s fact.”

“Facts according to Nava.” laughed Paco. Ryan then pondered what to do for his final song, eventually deciding he would cover one of Paco’s songs this time. “…He’s about to go full-frontal Paco.” Paco joked.

The song he chose to cover was a personal favorite of mine from “The Definite and Indefinite…” album. “The sun exposes way too much, so the shutters spend their days all shut. It would be easier to raise the dead, then to get yourself out of that bed. There’s cracks in everything you see; like a puzzle with a missing piece…” sang Ryan as he got “Ghosts” underway. The rest of the singers joined in on part of the chorus, especially Paco, as they all sang, “…You don’t have to be alone. I will lie down with you in the middle of the road. I will take these arms and hold you close, and we’ll wait until the headlights come to turn us into ghosts.”

It was fantastic hearing that song, and Ryan killed it. And while the lyrics may sound a bit morbid at times, it’s actually more of a song about making a person realize that there is someone who cares about them, regardless of whatever deep, dark place they may be in, in their personal life.

Jeff and then Nava played their final songs, and the 70-minute or so set was going to end with the hometown hero.

Before the show started, I wound up making a request (I can’t say I’ve ever done to any band before). “Can you play Surface?” I asked Paco. “Can you play Surface?” he said in a whiny voice, similar to that of a small child (he was kidding with me, obviously). “That’s all you people care about. You don’t care about the new music I write, it’s just, “Oh, can you play those SouthFM songs?”

“Will that be all, your highness?” he asked as I walked away. “Yeah, that’ll do.” I said.

Now, with this being the final song of the night, I was curious if he would do it or not (I think the last time I heard that song live was probably when Paco Estrada & One Love did their reunion show in December 2011.)

He played a lengthy piece on his guitar, and then it happened; he switched over to those gorgeous and intoxicating notes that are basic chord structure for “Surface”. “We’ve established this is where we stand. We said after this we’ll just be friends. But my heart don’t really my head. No, my heart don’t really know my head…”

That song, that song is one of the best things that has ever been written. Period. The first time I ever set foot inside the Curtain Club was to see a SouthFM show, nearly eight years ago. I was just getting into the local music scene at the time, and didn’t even the “Swallowing the Pill” album that, that song is on. However, all these years later, that’s the one song I fully remember from that night. For whatever reason it connected with me then, and the only thing that has changed since is my love for it has grown.

“And these are not the words that I would like to be saying to you… And I hope that in the morning you will feel the same way that I do…” sang those longtime fans who had come out to see Paco this night, no doubt reliving old memories while he and his fellow musicians played the song.

That made my night, and for me, there couldn’t have possible been a better way to end the show.

“I win.” stated Paco after it was all said and done, because he got what was by far the biggest round of applause for that closer. The other guys then mentioned they’d be selling some merch if anyone wanted anything, because, as Nava pointed out, there was no way Paco would split the door money with them.

Wow. This was great. Even better than what I had expected.

I was also glad to hear Paco say at the end that this was something he wants to start doing more often: getting musicians from all over Texas and doing these songwriters in the round so people all around the state can see what kind of talent is out there.

For Paco, check out his BANDCAMP PAGE for his solo music. And since I mentioned SouthFM in this one, if for some reason you don’t already have their stuff, you can get their entire discography for free at BANDCAMP. (They’ll always be a Dallas icon, and even if they’re no more, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check them out.)

The Last Place You Look is a band you need to know if you don’t already, and Nava rocks out with them. Their music can be found in iTUNES.

Like I said, I’ve never actually listened to Deep Ella, but I’m going to have to check out their MUSIC.

As for Ryan Holley, I can’t find a page for him, nor do I believe he has any solo records or anything out, but if you ever see this Austin musician is playing near you, go see him. You won’t regret it.

That was probably the best part of the night, but it wasn’t over quite yet, and there was still something special in store for everyone at the Liquid Lounge.

SpaceCamp (abbreviated as SPCCMP) was doing their first show in over two months, and it was also the first ever full band acoustic performance they had done.

Paco Estrada was pulling double-duty, since he is one of the members of the band, and while he always plays an acoustic guitar with this outfit, it was a bit strange seeing Mike Dove also wielding an acoustic. Irish had a partially drum kit sit up, and most surprising was the microphone he had in front of him, while, of course, Jeremy Rodriguez was at center stage. He was sitting on a stool though, and I wondered just how long that would last.

They began with one of the songs from their forthcoming EP, and “The Lover” sounded pretty different done acoustically. It was one of their songs that perfectly integrates Paco’s singing with Jeremy’s hip-hop style of delivery, and this toned down version gave the words more weight. “…And the barrel’s to his head like the trigger to his finger and the memories of the only girl he’d ever love are all that linger.” Paco sang on the chorus, with Jeremy often mixing his lyrics in close to it. Based on that line, you might think it’s a depressing song, but it’s not meant to be. Instead, it’s about rising above whatever adversity your faced with, no matter how difficult the situation may seem.

Jeremy took a moment to thank Distant Lights and all the songwriters for being on this bill; mentioning that he had been with them on this little tour and what a privilege it had been to be in the crowd all three nights watching them. He also noted that, that was the live debut of “The Lover”, which was a bit of a big deal, seeing as they made a lyric video for it about a year ago. Apparently, they were just waiting for their second EP to be finished and close to a release date. Speaking of that, Jeremy also mentioned a little later in the show that they were going to give everyone a “preview” of what that EP is going to sound like.

Before they got to any more new material though, they pulled out “The Dancer” from their first EP. “…Place your hands on me;
cover up this catastrophe. That kind of action has me asking ‘why must they land on me?” Jeremy spit out, showing off what skills he has as hip-hop singer by delivering how those lines at a rapid pace. Then you had the chorus, “…You will touch me deep inside. You’re my tiny dancer, tiny dancer.” Paco sang, which sounded like it was meant to performed in this low-key setting.

While he sang the first chorus, Jeremy stood up and moved his stool over beside the drum kit. See, I knew that wasn’t going to last long. “Do I look lazy?” Paco asked him once they finished the song, pretending as if he suddenly felt self-conscious now that he was the only one in a stool. Jeremy assured him that there was a one stool limit on the stage, and that he [Paco} was good now that he [Jeremy] wasn’t exceeding it. Next came my personal favorite track from their upcoming EP, “If This is Goodbye”. It was nothing short of brilliant in this acoustic format. Like all their songs, the words should be taken to heart. From one of the lines Jeremy sings, “…Are we given in to giving up before we give enough?”, to the powerful chorus that Paco handles. “How we gonna save the world, if we’re too afraid to try an change it? …How you ever gonna say my name, without the memory of throwing it all away? How you gonna fall asleep at night, if this is goodbye?”

Man, that one’s a heavy hitter. Afterwards, Jeremy mentioned that this was the fourth straight night Paco had done a show, a feat he brushed off. “It’s all in the wrist. You’ve just got to follow through.” said Paco, acting like it was no different than a game of basketball.

They had dealt with love and relatable situations thus far, but next they pulled out one of the most inspirational tracks they have, “Reach for the Sun”. It talks about chasing your dreams and feeling like you’re never going to get anywhere after you’ve poured years of your life into pursuing your dreams, but in the end, you can’t ever give up on it. “…Dreams come true for those
that never lose faith or hold back…” says Jeremy at one point.

That’s one reason why I love SpaceCamp; because their music is so positive over all, and everything just carries a message.

During the next break, Jeremy pointed out the mic that Irish had, saying there had only been one show that Irish sang at, and that was because Paco was unable to make it. “…I’m glad we’ve got a mic in front of him tonight…” Jeremy said. Indeed, it was a great things, because already Irish had been adding some amazing backing vocals to parts of different songs; and as they moved on, Jeremy mentioned the next one was his favorite of their upcoming EP.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but again, “Surrender to the Night” was a track that fit perfectly in this environment. Without all the electronic effects that are on the recording, you were really able to focus on content, which focuses heavily on state the world is in, in regards to the widespread violence.

“Gorgeous!” exclaimed Jeremy. “This guy, right here.” he said, pointing to Paco, who had knocked that one clean out of the park. “I put my pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else.” Paco responded, very humbly. Attention then turned to their next song, which Jeremy said he never would have written if it weren’t for Ryan Holley, though they were unable to find him before they started it.

They didn’t waste any more time, and Mike began another track from “The Daydreamers Guide to: Wasting Time”, “White Horses”. They added several extra touches to it, from both Paco and Jeremy repeating, “What you chase, what you chase, what you chasing?”, to Paco singing the words “Just breathe.” A few times, before Jeremy ceded things over to Mike. “Take it away, Mikey.” he said, as Mike did a little solo.

They had some fun after that, and Mike wound up looking like he was shushing Paco. “…I have an ego problem.” Paco quipped, before asking Gene (the sound guy) to turn down everyone else in his monitor. “…I just want to hear me.” he told him, prompting a laugh from everyone who was there.

The best moment of “Dancing with the Devil” came at the final chorus, where Paco flat out killed it. I always mention how he is my favorite singer (and songwriter), and the way he belted out that last part proved why he is. It was all in the emotion and energy he put into it and it was superb.

They had one song left at this point, and Jeremy mentioned it was another they had never played live before. It wasn’t a new song, though. It came from their first EP (which was released in the summer of 2012), and Irish interrupted him and said he never got a copy of that one. “Go buy one.” Jeremy told him, adding he’d cut him a two for one deal.

“Can we be serious for a minute?! We’re trying to play a song!” Paco asked them. The song never became obvious until Mike finally joined in, and it was one that every Texas music fan knows. “And she runs, through her days; with a smile on her face…” Paco eventually sang, as they finally broke out their cover of The Toadies “Tyler”. They put such a unique and interesting spin on the track, and the verse that Jeremy wrote and adds fits so fluidly with what the song’s about. “…I’ll creep inside, can’t be denied; we’ll be together finally. She pulls the covers tighter; I press against the door. The heart of my desire never wanting nothing more.” goes the tail end of what he wrote, before Paco takes back the reins. When he wasn’t singing on that one, Jeremy was also adding a little extra percussion, lightly tapping one of the cymbals while he sit on the stool he had moved earlier.

I was content with that being their final song, though I was surprised their staple was going to be absent this time around. I assumed it was just because it would sound so different from how it should they decided not to, though.

“That was supposed to be it, but I want to play one more!” Jeremy said as he retook the main mic, a smile stretched across his face. He threw the blame at Paco, saying he was the one who didn’t want to do this song, and told everyone they needed to convince him to play it.

It didn’t take much convincing, and Jeremy went to dedicate this one to his dad, who happened to be in attendance. He was nowhere to be found, though. He had made a trip to the bathroom, and he was in no rush. “I saw him walk in there with a newspaper.” Paco laughed. They eventually started singing happy birthday to him, even though he was still preoccupied.

On that note, I’ve long thought Paco can make anything sound like the most amazing song ever, and he proved that as fact (at least in my eyes) by doing an astounding version of Happy Birthday. So simple, yet there was so much depth to it. I know that sounds crazy to say, but if you’ve ever seen Paco, then you know what I’m talking about.

“If it weren’t for that man, Jeremy wouldn’t be here. And then I would be here, either.” Paco stated, right about the time Jeremy’s dad finally rounded the corner and was greeted with cheers from everyone.

I didn’t think they could (or would) go a show without playing “Before you Die”, and out of all their songs, it’s the lyrics to this one that you most need to pay attention to. The title says it all, and one of the messages is about not having any regrets when your time is up. “what will flash before your eyes before you die? … The person that you loved forever but you never told them? The one you lie to everyday and hope they’ll never notice? Will it be the last one that you kissed upon the lips? Or the last opportunity you missed doing this?” says Jeremy, before takes over for the hauntingly beautiful chorus. My weakness is cover songs (since I predominately listen to local groups), but Paco added a line from a cover on this one, and I believe it was “Blue and Yellow” by The Used, which worked well with their original.

That ended their 51-minute long set, and it was a grand one.

I knew it would be good, though I had been curious how an acoustic show from SpaceCamp would go. In fairness, I should go ahead and mention that the band classifies themselves as trip-rock (a very fitting category), and they sounded even better than I thought they were going to.

Irish was much less aggressive, but the force was still there in his drumming, and even without the electronic/sample tracks thrown in, Mike and Paco were able to use their acoustics to emulate the core sound of every song, so you knew exactly what it was.

This was also the first time in a long time that I had seen SpaceCamp, and even though they had toned things down, they still had a great stage presence. Perhaps even stronger than it has been the past times I’ve seen them.

They are definitely different from just about every other band out there, and all the talent that is in this band alone is crazy. I mean, Paco has been in the scene since the very early 2000’s, and both Jeremy and Mike have been active players for quite some time, too.

If you haven’t heard them yet, check out their music on either iTUNES or BANDCAMP. They have their first EP plus a couple songs released as singles from their upcoming one (due out on 3/31). That weekend they’ll also be doing a big CD release party for it. Three Links will be the host venue, and they’ve got the prime Saturday night slot on April 5th. If you only catch one show that night, that will be the one you want to be at.

There may have been bigger shows going on in Dallas this night, but I promise you, the most talented individuals were all on stage here at the Liquid Lounge.

Saturday, February 15th, 2014 – The Virgin Wolves Strike Back

Three Links was my second destination for the night, where a truly killer bill had been assembled.

I hated that I had missed my friends in Vinyl (who are spectacular), and Mothership was just starting their final song when I arrived (it had been awhile time since I had seen them, but they sounded better than ever). A band called Crypt Trip also got the night started, but all three of them were nothing more than appetizers.

Not that the place wasn’t already packed for Mothership (and assumingly the other bands); but the most exciting thing about this show was that The Virgin Wolves were coming out of their hibernation. They hadn’t played a show since last summer; and they had been greatly missed.

Of course, it took a bit for them to get set up, though the sound check was swift. “It’s been eight months since we’ve been on stage!” declared rhythm guitarist Carson Coldiron. The guitar and bass chords swelled as he spoke, pumping up the crowd, leaving everyone wondering what their opening number would be.

I’m not gonna lie, I was hoping for “Slick Shoes”, and for a few moments it seemed like that classic from the “Bad Blood” EP might be what they burst into, but it was not.

Instead, they broke into “Black Sheep”, which was equally as good. It may have been eight months since they shared a stage together, but it didn’t even take a second to reignite their energy and chemistry on stage, as Carson, lead guitarist Chase Ryan and bassist Kristin Leigh began throwing down. “I bet you look good, I bet you look good, I bet you look good in the morning light…” sang Jaimeson Toon; Chase backing her up on most of the verses, giving the song a nice one-two punch.

I’ll go ahead and say this: if they had accumulated any dust over those eight months, they made sure they shook it all off during their rehearsals.

Drummer Steve Phillips quickly led them into another gritty rock number, “Crawl”, as they started making their way down the tracklist of their “Pretty Evil Thing” LP. “…Gave you just one hour to show me how bad you can be. I gave myself three cigarettes and whistled just like a bird.” Jaimeson sang in a more sultry voice on the second verse; grabbing her hair and pulling it down over her face as she did so.

As usually, they had little transition pieces worked up between most of their songs this night, stretching it out here as Carson took a moment to thank all the bands who had opened for them. He also pointed out that this Jaimesons’ place of employment. Chase then semi-slowly plucked the strings of his guitar, bringing them to my personal favorite track, “End Of The Line”. It’s arguably their catchiest song, and shows off a little different side of The Virgin Wolves, while still retaining that raw rock vibe that makes them standout. There were some issues with the microphone towards the end, which led to Jaimeson and Chase sharing his mic, while Kristin used hers as they all sang, “I can’t sleep, I can’t breathe, I can’t find the door…”.

Steve kept on delivering the beats until they were ready for one of their slightly blues infused numbers, “What You Want To Hear”. Some banter with the crowd took place afterwards, while Chase also took time to thank everyone for coming out this night. Surprisingly, the show wasn’t sold out, though there were a lot of people there, and they were all transfixed on the band.

They kept running thorough “Pretty Evil Thing”, though they did skip track five and moved on to “Lies” when they got back to business. That (at times) showed off the bands softer side, which is something that doesn’t even really exist, and they kicked things back up with their next song.

However, they first took a moment to wish one of their fans a happy birthday. “…She’s good looking. I’m just saying. Get ya some.” Jaimeson said of the birthday girl. It was after that, that they did the darker sounding “Crooked Smile”. It’s another one of their best songs, and tonight it was a highlight of their show, as Chase and Kristin stood facing one another near the end of the song, tearing it up on their guitar and bass, respectively. Then, as it drew to a close, Jaimeson approached Chase, as the two grinded against each other.

“The amount of people in here makes me happy.” Jaimeson stated after that one. They marched on with “Oh, Sugar”, before again skipping over a track on the album, because, well, you’ve got to save the best for last.

“I like it when you don’t leave.” Jaimeson said, before encouraging everyone who might want to, to buy their merch. “…We have stuff you can wear. Stuff you can listen to. Stuff you can smell in your house.” she said, then added, “That’s right, I said smell…”

Vagabonds” was the final, somewhat slow song they did, and from it, they jumped right into “Bad”, which was an electrifying way to end what felt like an all too short 36-minute set.

“Surely that’s not it?” I thought. Though the band did a legit job at making it appear that they were done. Then the cries for an encore started, and eventually Chase and Carson retook the stage, saying they thought they might could do one more.

“Carson, how’s my hair look?” Chase asked. “Shitty.” Carson replied. They had a friend join them on stage for this next song, and that was Chris Breland. He sings in the band Black Habits – whom I’ve seen once before – and evidently has something else going on, because Carson mentioned he was in a band. “…I don’t know if I can say what band or not, yet…” he said, seeming to catch himself before he let it slip.

Their little encore segment started with a cover of Danzig’s “Mother”, and stylistically speaking, it fits The Virgin Wolves perfectly.

Jaimeson and Chris were a force to be reckoned with as they shared the vocal responsibilities. They killed it on the song, and as it came to an end, some guy suddenly began to crowd surf, and soon took a fall that looked like it could have been way worse for him than what it wound up being.

That wasn’t it, though. Remember, I said they skipped over one of their songs so they could save the best for last, and, without question, their best is “Virtue And Vice”.

A small mosh pit even broke out during the song (something I haven’t personally seen at one of their shows before), while both Chase and Kristin shouted the line on the second verse that they’ve revamped for live shows, “I rode all night through the motherfucking rain!” “And I wound up standing at his grave.” Jaimeson chimed in.

Towards the end, Carson even grabbed a beer can from one of the fans up front, sliding it across the neck of his guitar a bit before handing it back.

That, was the perfect way to end this show, and that song allows all five of them to unleash any energy they have left, ensuring everything gets left on the stage.

I had missed seeing The Virgin Wolves more than I knew I had, and I’m glad I at least caught them a few times close together leading up to their little hiatus.

Hopefully it won’t be another eight months before they grace a stage somewhere in the metroplex, ‘cause they’re just too damn good.

They play rock music the way it was meant to be played, and they’re live show is a must-see, especially if you haven’t seen them before.

Pick up “Pretty Evil Thing” in iTUNES (it’ll be $9.99 well spent), and throw ‘em a like on FACEBOOK so you’ll know when they have another gig.

Well, I managed to catch not one, but two fantastic shows this Saturday night. I’d call that a win.

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 – Futurebirds Fly Through Dallas

On this freezing cold night (or actually, slightly below freezing), there was a sweet show going on at Club Dada, and it was all presented by Parade of Flesh.

I’m not gonna lie; the sudden drop in temperature made me reconsider the thought of going out this night. But in the end, it sounded like it was going to be too good of a concert to miss.

For me, the guy who almost exclusively sees local North Texas bands, it was a bit of a different show; since two of the three acts were from out-of-state.

There was one Dallas band on the bill, though, and that was Dead Mockingbirds.

I had only seen them once before, and evidently was so eager to see them I arrived at Dada fashionably early (that’s a thing, right?), about forty-five minutes before what wound up being the start time. In fairness, I did think the show would start earlier than that, but at least it allowed for a good time hanging with the band.

The trio of Kenneth Everette Pritchard, Matthew Crain and Trinidad Diaz hit the stage at 8:41, as the rock music began to flow freely.

They were the odd man out on this bill, at least in terms of sound, but the already decent sized crowd (there were between twenty and thirty people there already. Not bad for the middle of the week) was very receptive to it.

Their opening song, like many of their tracks, had a fun vibe, and when he wasn’t having to do the singing, Kenneth was quickly swaying back and forth. Well, except for the little time he spent on the platform in front of the stage where the monitors set, where he tore it up on a guitar solo, dropping to his knees as he brandished his guitar.

The crowd got a few seconds to applaud them, before Matt laid into his drum kit, setting up their next track. Upon finishing it, Kenneth quickly thanked Parade of Flesh for putting this show together and putting them on it, before taking the conversation in a completely different direction. “It’ll cost five dollars to sniff us after the show.” On a related note; I don’t think anyone took them up on that offer.

They knocked out a couple more numbers, before Kenneth again addressed the crowd. “Y’all are too good looking.” he remarked, though he wasn’t looking at the audience. Instead, he was tuning his guitar. “Where the fuck did all y’all come from?!” he said, shocked by the ever growing number of people.

He then kicked off their next song with some slick sounding notes. A song that was yet another to feature a sweet, more old school sounding guitar solo. Kenneth noted that would be one of the songs on their next record.

Their 31-minute long set continued, as they seemed to pick the setlist as they went, and could be heard deciding on the songs during their breaks. “Fuck Alone and then…” Kenneth told his band mates at one point.

“Fuck yeah! We just went to jail!” Kenneth exclaimed after their next couple of tunes. He then thanked the other bands on the bill, and Club Dada for hosting the show. That brought them to the final leg of their set, which included a couple of songs I actually knew, but only after they did one more from their new(er) batch.

It was one I really enjoyed, and Trinidad and Matt gave it a real cohesive rhythm sound, complimenting one another nicely. Then you had the wickedly good guitar solo, which was just the icing on the cake.

The first of their next two songs was “Omega”, the b-side from their record. A fact Kenneth pointed out after they played it, before pointing over to their little merch suitcase, where they had that 7-inch vinyl record for sale. That brought them to “Munich”, which was a little more up-tempo than the recording is, as they blazed through it. The beginning was extra good, though, as Trinidad and Kenneth stood facing one another as they rocked out the intro.

Clearly excited to be here; Kenneth again thanked everyone who had a hand in putting this show together or was on the bill as the song trailed off. While he was doing that, Trinidad walked over the drum kit, kneeling by the bass drum as they bridged it into their final song of the night.

Like I said, this was only my second time seeing Dead Mockingbirds, and they were better than I even remembered.

It was an onslaught of raw rock music they cranked out this night, and their stage show matches their snappy sounding songs. And along those lines, the quick pace they gave their set this night ensured there was never a dull moment.

You can download a few of their singles –for free- over at REVERBNATION. You can also catch them on February 27th or on March 17th at the Double Wide in Dallas. Both of those shows are being presented by King Camel.

They may not have had the country elements to their music like the next two bands did, but they had something better; pure, quality rock music, in a vein you just don’t hear much in the music these days.

In fact, their show was so great, that after seeing the band that followed them, I found myself wondering if the show had already peaked.

The second band up this night was Promised Land Sound, who hails from Nashville, Tennessee.

They hopped on the bill a little more last minute, after the original booked band jumped off, but after checking out their music online, I liked it. They were certainly the most country-sounding band on the bill, with not as much rock flare to their songs as Futurebirds had, but they still fit.

Their 38-minute long set was made up mainly of songs from their debut full-length, which is self-titled and was released last year; though they threw in some other songs, as well.

Take for instance their first song, which was pretty good, but already had me feeling mixed emotions about the band.

I had only given their record a couple of listens (on Spotify), but there was one song that instantly stuck out to me, and that was “Empty Vase”, which was what they did next. The catchy song was as good live as I had hoped it would be, and it just has a fun vibe, with some strong beats from Evan Scala, and nice riffs from lead guitarist Sean Thompson, as well as Sean Cotton.

Singer and bassist Joseph Scala informed everyone that their next song was a cover, though I had trouble hearing who he said did it, and was unable to figure out what it was. All the same, it sounded quite good. It was followed by “Wandering Habits”, while the song that was billed as their slow one, which came after, was without question their best track of the night.

They were on fire while performing “Make it Through the Fall”. “I can’t keep myself from moving on. I can stand to do you any wrong. There’s a warmer season out there for us all. We’ve got to learn to make it through the fall.” Joseph loudly sang on the chorus of the song that could have easily been a sing-along, if only they had, had any sort of fan base here.

They truly killed it with that one, especially at the end, when the noise level rose up, commanding everyone’s attention. However, that was the only moment of their set where I felt that feeling.

They knocked out a couple more, one of which was “Fadin’ Fast”, before Joseph asked everyone if they wanted to hear a brand new song. Of course, everyone was indifferent to it, but nor did they mind it. It was a good one, one of their top three from this night, in my opinion.

Before calling it a night, Joseph put a feeler out, asking if anyone might have a floor they’d be willing to let them crash on, before going into their final song.

I mentioned I had mixed feelings about these guys, and my main qualm came with their performance/stage presence.

It was rather dull and boring, even lifeless. I hate to even say that, ‘cause even when I don’t like a band, I still don’t like to be negative. But at the same time, I have to be honest.

This isn’t even about their music, as I did like it. It’s just that they never grabbed the audience. They never captivated me, and I never felt any type of connection with the crowd on their part. Rather, it seemed like four dudes just happened to show up there and thought, “I guess we’ll play some music for a bit.”

That just doesn’t work, and I know they’re a newer band, but still, I expected more from a touring act.

All the same, you can find their music (an LP and a EP) in iTUNES. And while I can’t find a page that has their tour dates (otherwise I’d list some), just check out their FACEBOOK PAGE to see when they might be coming to a town near you.

See, that was why I thought the best band of the night may well have been the first one, and I wasn’t sure if Futurebirds would be able to wash that taste out of my mouth or not. Spoilers, they were.

The six-piece outfit got their gear set up, before retreating back to the greenroom to prepare for the show.

It was 10:31 when they stepped back out, and the anxious crowd – which numbered probably 80 people or so, at least - made their way closer to the stage.

They may have put out a brand new record just last year, but their set this night was a nice spread from all of their albums, and getting their show going was “Battle for Rome”, off of “Hampton’s Lullaby”.

“…And the sun it won’t save my life this time.” sang Thomas Johnson, who was one of the groups guitarists; his band mates, guitarists Carter King and Daniel Womack, the latter of whom played an acoustic, backing him with some amazing vocals.

It only took a minute or two to realize what you were watching was something special; from the harmonies, to just the explosive performance they were already putting on, quickly proving that the stage is where they belong.

“It’s good to be back in warm, sunny Dallas.” Carter stated, so sarcastically he seemed dead serious. He then thanked the audience for “braving the cold” to come out to this show.

The lead vocal duties were tossed around a lot this night, though the bulk of it seemed to go to Carter, who sang lead on “Serial Bowls”. The lengthy instrumental section at the end allowed them to really let loose, even Brannen Miles, who I believe was the bassist, and pedal steel guitarist Dennis Love.

At this point, the momentum was flowing, and after some roaring applause, Carter spoke into his mic; “I guess we’ll play another.”

Thomas started jumping up and down as he started “Johnny Utah”, his movements quickly escalating, to the point he was springing around all over his portion of stage right. His vicious shredding on his guitar came at a price, though; it cost him a string. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal however, and they powered through the tune, which had Thomas adding some wonderful backing vocals on the chorus, hitting an extremely high falsetto tone I never would have guessed was within his range.

Towards the end, Carter dropped to the floor and laid back on the stage, quickly plucking the strings of his guitar, and as he gave in to the music, it created one of those perfect concert moments.

Their drummer brought them right into their next song, which finally gave Daniel, who had an American flag bunched up and attached to his acoustic axe, a chance to show off his singing chops. The song was “Happy Animals”, and Thomas was left out of the first few minutes of it, as he now had to worry about repairing that broken string, which was a task he got done quite quickly.

Once he did get that remedied, he returned to the front of the stage, but his strap wasn’t secured. Of course, he wasn’t going to let his guitar fall off, though, and instead held it vertically in the air, picking away at it until he had a break so he could get it fastened. That got him back in action with some time to spare for the epic ending they gave that one, absolutely throwing down at the end. The three singers turned their backs to the crowd as they took the chance to interact a little more with their other band mates, while slinging their guitars around and banging their heads in time to the mighty drumbeats.

The spell had been cast by this time, and everyone in Club Dada had fallen under it, and were completely glued to this band who hailed from Athens, Georgia.

“We’re gonna play a brand new one.” Carter informed the crowd, who loudly cheered in support of the idea. “Don’t cheer just yet. You haven’t heard it…” he joked. True, it might have been premature, but once the song was done, they were still worthy of the cheering they had already received, and got even more now.

“That was hyper speed!” Carter exclaimed, looking at his band mates with a smile on his face; giving the idea that they had done it a little quicker than they should have.

They got back to “Baby Yaga”, their newest album, with the lead track, “Virginia Slims”. Thomas was back in charge on that intoxicating number, which was one of the truest country sounding tracks they did, and at times, Dennis played some gorgeous notes on his pedal steel guitar. As it ended, their drummer kept the beat going, and he and Brannen had a little jam session, filling the gap in between songs.

After those more intense songs, they slowed things down ever so slightly with “Sam Jones”. “This sure brings me down. No one’s here to stay. We’ve got nothing to lose. And we’ll take it to our graves.” Daniel sang on the chorus of the more melancholy song. Despite the sad vibe it has though, it was far from being depressing.

He would continue to sing, but only after Carter thanked Promised Land Sound and Dead Mockingbirds for opening up the show. He also shouted out a printing company, who had printed up some silk-screened posters of the show poster for this show. “…Come buy something and we’ll give you one free.” Carter encouraged everyone.

If their show had a lull, it was the song they had just done, as well as “M J B”. That latter song worked to kick things back into high gear, though, and was just another song of theirs that had a dynamic ending. Carter spun in a circle, only once, his hands a blur as he played his guitar. After doing that, he and Thomas stood back-to-back with one another. They didn’t just lean against each other, though. Instead, they were pushing against one another, quite forcefully from the looks of it, making it look like they were trying to hold one another up.

“Sending you pictures from the naked beach, but all I want is you here naked with me…” sang Carter at the start of what had already become a personal favorite Futurebirds song of mine, “Tan Lines”. A lot of other people seemed to like it too, a few of whom were even singing right along to it.

After finishing it, banter again turned to the cold weather. “We were in Montana few weeks ago and it wasn’t even this cold.” Carter told everyone, again thanking everyone for enduring it.

Continuing with music from “Baby Yaga”, they went on into “Dig”, which, for a majority of the time, was one of the most authentic sounding songs they did, complete with Thomas singing in a very twangy voice. You could tell not everyone was very familiar with their music, because as they eased up at the end, the room was filled with applause. They even held the silence for a moment, before ripping back into the song, delivering one of their most dazzling displays of the night yet.

“I don’t know this song.” Thomas could be heard saying as they prepared for the next one. “Pay close attention to Thomas’s guitar playing.” Carter instructed the crowd, perpetuating the joke. Okay, of course they knew it, but it was one of a few songs they did that I didn’t, nor could I figure it out after the fact. All the same, it was a nice song.

Throughout their set, there had been a woman standing in front of the stage, often shouting out different songs she was wanting to hear. One that had been repeated was one I was also hoping to hear, “Heavy Weights”. “This isn’t Heavy Weights.” Carter informed her, while Thomas added, “Don’t get your hopes up, either.”

Instead, they did another song that required the heavy use of their three-part harmonies, “Death Awaits”. It might not have been that other song, but it was a great one. I’ll even admit, in listening to their stuff, that was one track that didn’t do much for me, but live, live it was something else entirely.

It was again time for some more thanks now, which this time went to Parade of Flesh for putting this show together. They then broke into a cover, and one you probably wouldn’t have expected them to do.

They put their own twist on Stevie Nicks’ “Wild Heart”, which was arguably their best song of the night. And the end, the a capella end where Daniel, Thomas and Carter crooned, “Where is the reason? Don’t blame it on me, blame it on my wild heart.”, that was to die for.

I think they only did one more song after that. I say “think” because a.) it was another I didn’t know, and b.) it sounded like it could have been a few songs mashed together. It made for one helluva way to end their 81-minute long set, especially because the further they got into the song, the more amped up they got. And by the time it was all over, no one was really ready for them to be done.

“Thanks. We’re Futurebirds.” said Carter before they jumped off stage.

Some people went on their way, either leaving, or going over to the bar to get a drink, accepting the show was probably over. Others weren’t ready to believe that though, and the chants of “One more song!” could be heard.

Is what was funny, it happened in small groups. Like, a handful of people would shout it, then, since the band wouldn’t have come right back out, they’d quit. But another group would just be joining in at that time, and keep it going for a moment, before some more people began chanting.

Eventually, it paid off.

“…Aw, shit guys!” Carter exclaimed as they retook the stage, getting ready for one last song. It added about four minutes onto their show, and I’m not 100% what this encore was, but I’m thinking it was “Yur Not Ded”. Whatever it was, it was the perfect way to end this performance, bringing it to a stellar finish.

I don’t really know what I was expecting from Futurebirds, but I wasn’t prepared for what transpired.

Their music may have some more country undertones to it, but they put on as solid a rock show as I’ve ever seen.

Their highly energetic performance made sure you couldn’t pull your eyes off of them even if you wanted to, and having three vocalists to alternate between kept things constantly fresh.

On that note, even though all three of them might have different tones and textures to their voices, they can also all sing. Damn well at that, and they all have just a subtle twang to their voices that serves as a binding characteristic between them all.

I’ll restate what I said when I posted the picture of them I took on Instagram. “This band; this band was something special to watch.”

They, all six of them, impressed me, turning me into a full-fledged Futurebirds fan with ease.

You can check out their tour dates HERE. And if they’re coming to a town near you, you shouldn’t hesitate to go see them. I know I’ll be trying to catch them next time they come through Dallas. Also, right here in iTUNES is where you can find all of their albums.

Couldn’t have been a better way to spend a Wednesday night then this, and I also need to give one more shout out to Kenneth of Dead Mockingbirds for getting my cover into the show. Thanks again, man!

Saturday, January 25th, 2014 - Sealion

Three Links was my second destination of the night, for another show I had put a fair amount of consideration going to.

Sealion was headlining the place this night, and while I won’t recount the whole story, I didn’t start out as a fan of theirs.

Actually, even now I wouldn’t consider myself a true fan, but after trying to give them more of a chance, I found myself slowly warming up to their 2010 debut album. Then, after seeing a small portion of their set where they opened for the Toadies in Denton almost a couple years back, I found myself enjoying their music a bit more.

That said, I hadn’t seen them since April of 2012, and this seemed as good an opportunity as any to see them again and give them another shot.

They were setting their gear up when I arrived, preparing for a show that was a mix of material from last year’s “Kenneth” album, along with some new songs.

The punk sounding quartet raced through their 49-minute set, beginning with what I believe was a couple of newer songs (admittedly, I didn’t recognize everything they played this night.)

And since I am honest, their first couple of songs, which were segued from one into the next, were ones I didn’t care for. Singer and rhythm guitarist Hunter Moehring screamed more than sang on those tracks, using a throaty sound I hadn’t heard him utilize before, and that’s just not something I care for from any band.

Drummer Alex Poulos then rolled them right into a song from their latest release, “Spruce Moose”. I did enjoy that one much more, as it was more along the lines of the bands almost surf-rock infused brand of punk, which is an interesting blend to say the least. Their eager fans were happy to hear it, too, shouting along while Hunter sang, “…I don’t to be like you…” That quick little tune started the process of reeling me in, and I have to say, it was a fun track.
They followed it with another (presumably new) song, after which Hunter informed everyone that they would soon start recording on album number three.

“Dudes, grab a dude. Ladies, grab a lady…” he instructed after saying they were going to slow things down with their next song. It was different from anything else I’ve ever heard them do, simply because bassist Samantha Villavert sang it. She’s a new addition to the outfit since I last saw them, and aside from being a good bass player, she brings a great voice to the table, and while this one did have a different sound for a Sealion song, it was still Sealion.

Samantha later acknowledged that her parents had come out to this, their first ever Sealion show, and she thanked them for staying up late to be there. They kept things going with a couple more songs, one of which was called “A Good Dream”, and, as Hunter said, was about “lying in bed all day”.

“If you wanna dance, we’ll dance with you.” he told the decent size crowd-, before he, lead guitarist Cole Denton and the rest knocked out “Finks”, which started another string of songs (three to be exact, back-to-back-to-back.) What came next I found to be their best track of the night, and there was one point during it where Hunter knelt beside his amp, tearing it up on his guitar, before creating some excellent feedback.

They brought it into their next song, one that was so new Hunter couldn’t even remember when they wrote it, first saying Wednesday before correcting himself, “No, Thursday.” By the time it was over, the fans who were gathered in front of the stage were feeling it enough they decided to start a small mosh pit while the quartet cranked out another track.

Their set was almost done by this point, and the fans were vocal about their displeasure for this, just not wanting the night to end, as they did what I believe was “T.V. Land”, another song off “Kenneth”.

Hunter then announced they were going to close with a cover, and though I didn’t understand who he said originally did the song, it was one they put on their album, and that was “All We Know”. It was as if everyone knew this would be their last chance to let it all hang out until the next weekend, with plenty of the fans getting into a semi-frenzied state as they got another mosh pit going.

Hunter even jumped out in it closer to the end, and just because he was part of the band didn’t make him impervious to getting caught up in the body slamming, and he held his, even bashing in to a few people, while never missing a note on his guitar.

That was quite a way to end the show; a show that made me a little more of a Sealion fan.

Like I said, there were a few songs I just flat-out didn’t like, but overall, from the music aspect, I enjoyed it.

The main qualm I had a few years ago was with Hunters’ voice, a voice that has both grown on me and gotten better with time. And though it’s not the best voice ever, it fits with what they do, and by no means does he come anywhere even close to being the worst singer I’ve ever come across.

As for their show, these talented musicians put on a good performance, while also keeping it light and fun. Actually, that was what I enjoyed most about them this night; it was all about having fun and just enjoying yourself.

No, they won’t be one of those bands I go see every chance I get, but I’ll try to see them again sometime, and probably much sooner than another almost two years.

They’ll be at the Double Wide in Dallas on Thursday 27th, as part of a show that is being presented by King Camel. You can also find all of their music on their BANDCAMP PAGE, either for free, or very cheap.

Overall, I was glad I decided to come over to Three Links for Sealion’s set, as they made it worth it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where to start…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 14th, 2013 – Dead Flowers’ Holiday Extragavanza

I seldom make a two-night stand at a venue, but Three Links had some incredible things going on this weekend.

That said, I neglected to mention in my previous post how much I like what has been done with this space since they reopened it (for anyone not aware Three Links re-opened the space that used to be LaGrange, which shuttered its doors about a year ago now.)

Until this weekend, I hadn’t been here since July, and they’ve made some improvements since then. It may have been my imagination, but it seemed like the stage had been extended even a little more than what it had been when I was last here, and that was always one of the drawbacks to the former venue, ‘cause even four-piece bands were crammed on the stage. However now, there’s ample room for even quintets to move around. Aside from that, a variety of paintings and concert posters now adorn the walls, serving as some nice décor that gives a real inviting touch to the venue. It’s all aesthetically pleasing, and the sound even sounds a little better than before, too. Taking all that into consideration, I’d even go as far as saying that this is now my second favorite spot in Deep Ellum, right after a certain long running club located over on Main Street.

Getting to the show, a newish band by the name of Patriot, who hailed from Fort Worth, was kicking off the night, doing not only their first show here at Three Links, but also their first Dallas gig.

They played a lengthy set for the first band (close to close to 40-minutes), and had no trouble filling that time, typically knocking out the songs in rather quick succession. Most seemed like quite lengthy songs too, with some well thought out instrumental parts being placed in between the verses, though it never felt dull or boring to me. Instead, it highlighted the superb musicianship that lead guitarist Tyler Brown, bassist, Austin Kroll, drummer Pete Wierenga, and singer and guitarist Jake Paleschic were all capable of.

They classify themselves as being a mix of rock and country, which is appropriate and was on display this night, leading to some slower, more relaxed songs, but they could throw down when necessary, especially Austin, who really let loose at times and rocked out on his bass.

I wouldn’t say I was smitten with them, but I did enjoy it, particularly all the intricacies of the music, which really was something else.

I would like to see them again sometime, and it will be well worth keeping tabs on them and seeing where they take this.

You can download a couple of their singles for free on their BANDCAMP PAGE, so do check that out. As for shows, you can see them December 20th at The Grotto in Fort Worth, and they’ll also be playing The Where House in Fort Worth on New Year’s Eve. Then on January 17th they’ll be back in Dallas, this time at the City Tavern.

Second up was a band called Rise and Shine, who surprised me a bit by being a duo, consisting of Jordan Cain on drums and Brandon Pinckard playing a guitar, while both shared the vocal responsibilities.

Both are fairly well known musicians, backing one of Dallas’ hometown heroes, Jonathan Tyler (of course of Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights fame). They’ve no doubt honed and near perfected their musical chops in all the time spent with that band, a fact that was readily evident when the two set to work on their all too short 28-minute show.

They performed a mix of songs from their debut album, “This is Your Captain Speaking”, as well as some non-album cuts, though it was one from the former category that came near the start of their show, and that was “Riverbottom”. A mix of country, rock and blues all collided on it and just about every other song they churned out, and it was purely intoxicating. And it was only made better by the smooth, rich and slightly twangy voice Jordan (who did do a majority of the singing) had.

“…This next one’s called Dead On the Vine.” Brandon informed everyone a couple of songs later, as he did the singing on that, the final song from their 2013 release. Upon finishing it, he went to reach for his beer, halfway tripping as he stepped from the back towards the front of the stage, but managed to save himself form an embarrassing fall. They then went into “Leavin’ Oklahoma”, which Jordan stated was simply about “leaving Oklahoma”, and at times featured a nice dose of each of their voices, which blended well together.

After another number, they ran through the insanely soulful “Shine On Me”, which surely won over any remaining holdouts, and had much of the crowd moving around, before the ended with the blistering, “She’s So Mean”.

I have to say, I was blown away by them simply because I was not prepared for a duo this night, and certainly not one that boasted such a full and fleshed out sound.

If you’re were just listening to their music, you never would have guessed that Rise and Shine wasn’t a full band, and even with their live performance Jordan and Brandon packed in as much energy as many four and five piece bands are capable of.

In the end, Rise and Shine were a dynamic force to be reckoned with and wound up being my personal favorite act of the night. Here’s to hoping they have a long career in the North Texas area music scene.

Keep a check on their FACEBOOK PAGE for future shows from the band, and hit up iTUNES to preview/purchase “This is Your Captain Speaking”.

Serving as the main support band this night was the only band who had no real hint of country/Americana to their music, and that was The Hanna Barbarians.

It’s hard not to have heard about the Fort Worth based rock outfit, who have been around for a little way now, but they were yet another band on this bill I had never seen before, and frankly, I had never gotten around to checking out their music, either.

I wasn’t too sure about them when they started their first song, which was one I wasn’t a fan of. Mainly it was the pacing of the song that I disliked, and it had me hoping things would be different soon. Soon came with their next song, which they segued right into, and that was “Basement Shooter”. They had me with that dark track, which was a full blown assault of rock, and was one of many songs this night that saw frontman Blake Parish racing about the stage while screaming, almost as if he were a demented preacher, and the audience his congregation, who were hanging on his every word.

I don’t recall exactly what Blake started to say as they took a break, though he did trip up over his words, before finally getting something understandable out. “…Drinking will affect your ability to say sentences.” he remarked, before they soon tore into another song. During it, Blake got so into the song he unknowingly pulled the microphone cord, then looked puzzled when his next line was inaudible. He quickly realized and fixed the problem, though, and the rest of the song went off without a hitch.

Another song followed, and then came the heavy hitter, “13”, with some blazing guitar licks from Alex Zobel and Kris Luther, while Brady Hamilton and Joe Prankster, the drummer and bassist, respectively, also commanded attention. Joe did become the center of attention afterwards, and as the song ended, he climbed atop his bass amp, eventually leaping off it shortly into their next number, which was one of a series of three they did, hitting their stride during them, before their 39-minute set concluded.

I can’t pinpoint exactly which one it was, but I do know one of those songs I was unsure of was a track from “Spaceway Sessions, Vol. 2”, and that was “Oh, Spirit”, which is perhaps the best song in their arsenal, and was my personal favorite.

The Hanna Barbarians may have gotten off to what I thought was a rocky start, but they quickly won me over, and there’s little doubt that the band perfectly embodies the Rock ‘n’ Roll spirit.

They were a well-oiled machine throughout, and put on one helluva performance. And in that respect, they were definitely the best band of the night.

You can and by all means should check out their music (especially their most recent EP) over in iTUNES. Also, throw ‘em a “like” on Facebook to know when their next shows will be.

Dead Flowers was closing out the night, and having only seen them once, back in May, I was looking forward to finally seeing them again.

Their epic 76-minute long set, which I think only ended because Three Links had to get ready to close for the night, was filled with old and new originals, some covers, and even a Christmas song the band had recently released.

It was one of those new ones that they began with, as singer and rhythm guitarist Corey Howe quickly announced the name of it, before they started the slower song. Despite being so different from much of their other material, it sounded great, acting as a nice way to ease everyone into their show. Eventually, it did peak, though, turning into an excellent alt/country/rock number that was on par with anything off their “For You” record, and Vince Tuley could be seen viciously shredding on his guitar.

“Let’s have a party!” Corey shouted as they went right into another song. Things picked up even more with it, though the best moment of the song came shortly after a strategic pause that made you think it was over, and once some people started to applaud them, Corey did a little curtsy, before they ripped back into it.

They are serious about the music, but this night they were just as much about the laughs, and the show had a real relaxed mood to it. So, while tuning his guitar (something that had to be done often this night, thanks to the cold weather), Corey mentioned the Santa’s who had invaded Deep Ellum, and more specifically Three Links. Many had disappeared, presumably out to the patio, which led him to ask for “more Santa’s in the side wedges.” Afterwards, drummer Ed Chaney started them in on one of their tales of revenge, “You’re Wrong”, which is somewhat haunting at times, and in the best possible way. “…Yeah, you heard the shots and the bodies fall…” Corey sang on the final verse of the song, and as he did so, Vince hoisted his guitar up, holding it to mimic a gun he was shooting.

They switched things up briefly with the next number, which saw Corey lay his guitar down and do a pretty good job of being a full-time frontman. “Does everyone remember that song, ‘John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt’?” he asked once that song had come to an end, getting a mixed amount of “yes” and complete silence from the audience. “We’re gonna need your help singing it.” Corey informed everyone. It was help they didn’t really get, but all the same, it was humorous hearing him, Ed, Vince and bassist Evan Winston Johnson sing the short tune, which they suddenly rolled into “Murder Shuffle in a (Minor)”. And quite flawlessly at that.

That one’s about the only specific song I really remember from the first time I saw them, and it’s a personal favorite of mine, being a near perfect mix of rock and some outlaw country. “…Be hip and buy our CD.” Corey told everyone during the next break, while promoting the merch they had for sale. He corrected himself, though, that the “hip” thing to do would probably be to pirate the album. “…But please don’t do that.” he urged, before they knocked out another new one, titled “I’m Leaving”.

They were only around halfway finished at this point, making it a good time to pull out their Christmas song. “I don’t know all the words yet.” remarked Corey. They made the song, and much of the remainder of their set pretty festive, by inflating a snowman yard decoration, which was placed on far stage right, and stood probably about six foot tall once it was fully inflated. As for the song, it seems like not too many bands (at least on the local level) every try their hand at writing an original Christmas song, but with “A Lot Like Xmas”, Dead Flowers have crafted a good one, and one that’ll probably be a classic for those who do add it to their collection of music.

After another number, “Pieces of Me”, they did the title track from their debut album, “For You”, which became a clap along for a few short seconds, and nearly everyone enthusiastically joined in. A slew of other songs followed, most of which I believe were covers, though I didn’t recognize any. (As I’ve said in various posts before, I pretty much only listen to local artists.)

Things got crazy after one of the songs, and during the next one the snowman went crowd surfing, being pulled off the stage as he made his way around the crowd, being batted around to stay in the air before eventually winding back on stage. Of course all the air had left him at that point, though. The snowman wasn’t the only one who was going to join the crowd this night, and at the tail end of their next song, which Vince broke a string during, Corey suddenly laid his guitar down and rushed off the stage, just barely being caught by some of the fans. It was just another of several fun moments this show had, and after another track, Corey admitted, “We’re playing a bunch of stuff we shouldn’t play.”

He had already said shortly before that they had two songs left, which meant the next one would be it, but it wasn’t. Before their final song, he thanked Three Links and everyone involved with it, noting that they don’t do headlining shows all that often, and just wanted to have some fun this night. Then, as the sound guy reinforced the fact that they were running out of time, they launched into the lead track from their record, “I Won’t Go”, which truly did end their set. It was also during that final song that the snowman (which had been re-inflated) was thrown out to the crowd, again being tossed around almost like it was a balloon that everyone was trying to keep in the air.

A fun time was had by all this night, and yes, that includes the members of Dead Flowers, who were in just as much a state of glee as any of the fans were.

And their show didn’t seem nearly as long as it was, either. I happened to look at the time once while they were playing and was surprised they had already been on stage for an hour.

They really are an incredible band, even better than what I recalled them being, and the lengthy set this night allowed you see their full potential.

If you like your rock music with some underlying country qualities to it, then you have to check them out.

They have more than a few opportunities to do that, too, and on December 20th they’ll be playing a free show at the large side of the Prophet Bar in Dallas. You can catch them at Adair’s Saloon in Dallas on New Year ’s Eve, and then they’ll be back here at Three Links on January 18th. They also have a show at Trees in Dallas on January 4th opening for the Murder City Devils. However, the can’t miss show (in my opinion) will be on January 24th at the Doublewide, where they’re opening for Somebody’s Darling and Kentucky Knife Fight. As for their music, head over to iTUNES to purchase “For You”, or even BANDCAMP just to listen to the tracks.

Thus ended two great nights here at Three Links, and like I said at the start of this post, I really like what has been done with the venue. Has me even more excited about the other few shows I plan on seeing here within the next month.

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013 - Sacco

Serving as the main support band for Cults at Trees this night was the fellow New York based band, Sacco. The group seems relatively unknown at this point (based on the “likes” they have on Facebook, which numbers 160 at this time), but it quickly became clear they aren’t long to be an obscure act.

The curtain opened on this powerhouse of a trio at 9:14, drummer Chris slamming into his kit, resulting in a jarring beat that started them into the lead track from their forthcoming self-titled record, “Carnival Ghost”. Andy Breihan did the singing on this song, also being the guitarist, while John Fredericks rounded out the rhythm section of the alluring track, which earned them the undivided attention of all who were there.

“Come closer.” Andy encouraged when they were done, causing those who were near the stage to move up a little further, while others who were further back in the venue obliged and gathered around. They hurried along with their 27-minute long set by doing “Driving”, a low key tune that included some nice harmonies from Andy and John, ending with a very fuzzy sounding and very stellar guitar solo.

Once it was done, the two switched out instruments, John grabbing his guitar off a rack that set behind him, while Andy got his own bass. That wasn’t the only thing that changed with these next few songs, though, as John now took over lead vocal duties. “I think you’re pretty, you think you’re not… We don’t see it the same, we’ve been living on different pages…” he sang at the start of the immediately engrossing “Think You’re Pretty”. It successfully told a story, a love story, and a well crafted/written one at that, about two people who never things eye to eye. I found myself wondering if it could get any better after that song, only to be shown it could when, with a few swift beats, Chris segued them into “
Kerosene”. The short two and a half minute long song was every bit as riveting as the one before it, just in its own unique way, and that pace only continued with “Sixty Battles (Carmelina)”, which they smoothly transitioned into.

They returned to their starting instruments for the next to last song of their set, the surprisingly soulful “Sunny Afternoon”, before pulling off one more change. Andy had been dabbling on a keyboard throughout the show, but now he took Johns’ spot, along with his bass, leaving him to focus on the keys. Andy had picked up the singing again on the previous song, and kept it up on “Where It Ends, Where It Begins”, which just seemed very fitting to end with.

Their new found throng of Dallas fans was hoping it wasn’t over, though, still anxiously watching them, even after seeing John clear his pedal board off the stage, all the while the sample track for the song wound down. “We’re done.” Andy stated rather plainly, and only then did the onlookers turn around, several of them making a bee line to the merch table to get a copy of their record, which they had noted during the show would not be officially released until next year.

Their time on stage may have been brief, but Sacco managed to wow me, and win over several members of the audience.

There are some softer, even calming elements to their music, though it still maintains a nice true rock sound, especially when you experience them live. Their music may not be cutting edge, but there’s a lot of originality to it, and with John and Andy, both of whom have incredible voices, taking turns on who does the singing, it constantly keeps things sounding fresh. And for people who are like me, and tend to pay more attention to the lyrics, this is a band that should appeal to you instantly.

I’ll end by saying this. It’s been a long time since I saw a band I had absolutely no knowledge of, one whose music I had never listened to before and literally knew nothing about before having seen them, and felt instantly compelled to go buy their CD. However, that was my feeling a couple songs into their set, and I was ecstatic when they mentioned they did have a record for sale. And when “Sacco” officially releases sometime next year, it’d be in your best interest to at least listen to some of the songs, if not buy it, ‘cause believe me, these guys are going to be something.

(NOTE: Check out a couple of their songs HERE.)

(Note 2: My review of Cults set can be read over on On Tour Monthly.)

Saturday, November 30th, 2013 – “…At Least I’m Living Right…”

There was some good stuff happening all around the D/FW area this night, but in my opinion, there was no better place to be then the small room of the Prophet Bar.

Even the sudden loss of one of the bands on the bill couldn’t dampen the show, although I was rather looking forward to seeing the Austin based, The Couch, again (I first saw them down in New Braunfels a couple of years ago at the Dia de los Toadies festival), but evidently traffic had other plans for them.

That left this show with only two bands, but luckily both were up to the task of filling the time to give the crowd their money’s worth, and just shortly before ten o’clock, Goodnight Ned got started.

Their 51-minute long set allowed them to pepper in some old favorites, but it was their new material that dominated their show, like their riveting opener, which had both Chase McMillan and Conner Farrall, each of whom play guitars and act as the lead singer at times, singing, in perfect synch no less, giving the song a great texture.

Keyboardist Jonas Martin handled most of the singing on their second song, adding a few extra touches to it late in the song. “I’m sorry that I loved you.” he belted out, a line often repeated in the song, before continuing, “You crazy bitch.” Some more profanity was heard after the second time he sang the line, though he had saved the best for last, and right before they tore back into the track sang, “I’m sorry that I loved you, you god damn dirty fucking cunt.” “I knew we should have played that one later on…” Chase remarked when they finished, after some of their female fans feigned anger at the language. “I’m sorry, I had to get that out. I’ve been around little kids all week…” Jonas said, before Conner added he [Jonas] had been in Florida, only leaving earlier that day and making the twelve hour drive back to Dallas for their show. “…I’m even wearing my Disney shirt.” Jonas pointed out, before finishing with, “You know they own Star Wars now?”

The new stuff continued as Chase handled the lead on one song, often singing in more of a growl, giving the song an extra kick and even a little darker feel to it. Things were lightened a bit on their next track, and a personal favorite of mine as far as their new songs go, when Connor did most of the singing, at least on the first half of the song. They got quite a bit of applause as it sounded like they were done, before they came back in, both Connor and Chase chanting, “Fix me, I’m your broken man.”

“Storm” was one of the classics they pulled out, the song from their self-titled EP receiving some strong cheers from a handful of fans who were eager to hear it. “The room’s almost at capacity, so if we could get you all to move forward.”  Connor joked once the song was done, in an attempt to at least get the spread out crowd a little closer to the stage, before launching into another song.

Both Chase and Connor sang on the one that followed, which had a bit of a classic vibe to it, largely due to the notes Jonas was playing. They segued it right into their next number, which I believe was “Papa Jack’s Bag”, from the “Smoke From the Sails” EP. All five of them were harmonizing on it at one point, as bassist Ryan McLaughlin, who spent most of this night facing his amp, stepped up to Chase’s mic and shared it with him, and even drummer Michael Munoz chimed in, their voices creating a very heavenly moment.

There was just enough time for some applause before they moved directly into another track from that EP, “Fruit On the Tree”, which eventually gave way to one of their final songs. “We have a couple more for you.” Jonas told everyone, while they discussed the order of these final songs. It was a real rocking number, and one hell of a song, while their final one is equally as good. “Can you grunt with us?” Jonas asked the crowd, a noise both Connor and Chase make throughout the brilliant song that I believe I heard them say was titled “Wolves”.

It was a spectacular show, and with this being the second time I’ve seen them since they’ve worked so much new stuff into their set, I have to say, I really like the direction they’re headed.

It is slightly different sounding than what their first two EPs represent, being a little more rock sounding. The overall growth in songwriting is very noticeable, though, and they’re really utilizing all of their vocal options now, even more so than in the past, which is one trait that sets them apart from most other bands. And aside from all that, they put on a very enjoyable live show, too.

They’ll be wrapping up the year at Club Dada on December 31st, and their 2014 schedule is already starting to take shape. They’ll be doing a two-night stand at BarPM in Lubbock on January 24th and 25th, then February 22nd they’ll be at the House of Blues in Dallas, opening for Dr. Dog. Let’s also hope 2014 will see the release of a new album from Goodnight Ned as well. But in the meantime, check out their current music in iTUNES.

It didn’t take long at all for the headliner, Oil Boom, to get ready, and the show started a few minutes before a single note was even played.

While wrapping up their sound check, bassist Steve Steward got the laughs started by welcoming the “survivors of the 2014 Black Friday sales”, thanking them all for choosing to start “rebuilding the human race at this rock concert”. It was only moments later when singer and guitarist Ryan Taylor and drummer Dugan Connors fired up one of their newest singles, “45 Revolutions Per Minute”. “I’m afraid you’ll have to excuse me for whatever I do. I have a fault line growing inside me…” Ryan sang at the start of it, breaking away from the microphone every chance he got so he could better rock out with his band mates on the fiery song.

There wasn’t even a split second break in between as they wound it into one of the many new(er) tracks they did this night, with Dugan laying down a nice, steady beat on the verses, primarily using the snare and floor tom, and along with Steve solidified an incredibly tight rhythm section. They kept the ball rolling as Dugan furiously pounded out some drumbeats to wind them into their next number, another fast paced, catchy one, part of the chorus being, “I need that Rock ‘n’ Roll”.

They finally took a break after that one, but not for long, Ryan wailing on his guitar on this next song, doing his first of a handful of rocking solos this night. The final chords from it were held until they diminished to mere sound, at which point they brought in into the lead track from 2012’s “Gold Yeller” EP, “Lily Liver”.

“Let’s hear it for Riff Raff.” Ryan said, since the Houston based rapper was playing at the adjacent large room of The Prophet Bar. “Let’s hear it for seventy inch TVs.” Steve chimed in, before Ryan continued talking about Riff Raff. “I went to high school with Riff Raff.” he said jokingly, noting that “He was just called Robert Raff back then.” They’re skilled rockers and also pretty good comedians, and as it turned out, both those characteristics were on display to some extent during their next song, “The Fiftease”. It’s the other track from their 7’’ record, and one I was quite glad to hear, since the other two times I’ve seen Oil Boom they’ve had shorter sets that haven’t included the song. The song is humorous at times, for example the line, “I have a switchblade comb or two.”, though the message it carries with it is to be yourself and not worry what others think of you (“…If that’s how I act, then what’s it to you?”).

They got back to their new music, and did a slew of it, with one song featuring another wicked guitar solo, and this time around Ryan played it with a slide, which was no doubt the crucial part to it being so enthralling. They segued it into another song, and after it concluded Steve joked that it was called Toyotathon. “Lease a Rav4 for only…” he added, killing time while Ryan switched out guitars. Also, Toyota really should compensate them for that nice little plug.

While most of their songs range from being shorter to the normal three and a half minutes or so, they now did one of a few longer ones they have in their arsenal, and upon finishing it, Ryan swapped back to his Gibson. While he was doing so, Dugan started in on the drums, Steve taking his cue as he laid some bass lines over it as they busted out another tune. “This next song’s by Eddie Raven.“ Steve announced, I assume joking again, but then again, I’m not familiar with any of his music.

Following it was another song, and after finishing it, it led to another guitar change. Steve then apologized to everyone. “I’m sorry, Weird Al over here has to change accordions.” he said, getting a good laugh from not only the fans but also his other two band mates. Once Ryan got back up to the microphone, he pointed out this was the newest song they’ve written, and it will surely be one of their instant classics.

They pushed on, but their show was nearing the end, and before starting their last couple of songs, they did some shots, which some fans/friends had bought for them. “I’ll make an exception…” Ryan said before downing his, prompting one of their fans to scream, “I have never seen him drink anything in my life!”, leavening her clearly taken aback that he had actually drank something alcoholic.

Once the shots disappeared, they pulled out one of the strongest songs they have, “The Great American Shakedown”, before closing out their 66-minute long show with yet another new one. I think I said something similar about that final song when I saw them earlier in the month, but it works really well as a closer. There’s a nice little ebb and flow to it, before dying out, and just when you think it’s over, Steve, Dugan and Ryan kick into high gear for a deliciously good (and rocking) instrumental portion.

This made the third time I’ve seen these guys in just about two and a half months, and this show was definitely the best of those three.

Not just because they had so much more time and were able to squeeze in several “deep cuts”, but also because this was the closest I had been to them, getting a much better view this time around, allowing me a better view at what impeccable musicians they all are. Each of them showed mastery of their respective instrument, from the delicate plucking to intense strumming Ryan and Steve did on their guitar and bass, while Dugan was a machine back there on his kit, smiling at times, then others singing along to the song.

Actually, seeing that they were having so much fun being on stage and playing their music was possibly the best quality their show had, ‘cause it only made it that much more enjoyable for the onlookers.

If you haven’t seen/heard of Oil Boom yet, fix that immediately (after all, not just any band gets to open for Johnny Marr, a feat they managed at the start of January). You can find their music in iTUNES, and they do have a few final shows for 2013. One will be in Little Rock, Arkansas at the Rev Room on December 28th, while on December 31st they’ll be ringing in the new year back here at The Prophet Bar. Also, on January 18th they’ll be in Amarillo, TX at the Golden Light Cantina.

Aside from seeing two great bands, the next best thing about this night was that the show was over fairly early, with Oil Boom wrapping up shortly after midnight, which was a good change of pace from the one to two in the morning nights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 18th, 2013 – The Limousines

It’s not too often I end up at the same venue two nights in a row, yet this night, I found myself back at Prophet Bar, for yet another round of touring acts.

The Limousines were responsible for getting me out on this Monday night, having seen them just barely over two years ago when they were on tour with The Sounds. They blew my mind then, and since that night, I had eagerly been awaiting their return to Dallas.

They were on tour with a couple of bands, and the one opening this show was Dresses, who were from Portland, Oregon.

I didn’t see much of them, as they had already started by the time I got there, though I enjoyed what I heard.

Every band on this bill was very different than the others, and Dresses was no exception, mining more of an indie/pop/rock sound, with the main members being frontwoman
Timothy Heller and lead guitarist Jared Ryan Maldonado, who even played a ukulele for a few songs. While she was the lead vocalist, he also sang on some songs, and the two even harmonized at times, their voices blending to create some beautiful textures.

It was all well crafted, with more subtle tones at times that served to accentuate the vocals and even the lyrics to the songs.

I just wish I had gotten to see more of them and get a better idea of what they’re like, though I did enjoy what I saw.

They do have a record available, “Sun Shy”, which is actually their debut album. Give it a listen, and it may well make you a fan.

Sandwiched in between the opener and the headliner was San Francisco’s own The Limousines, who wound up having quite the following out this night, some of their fans rushing to the front of the stage as soon as Dresses left to ensure they had a good spot, all the while beaming with glee about seeing this electronic act.

They brought with them a pretty professional looking setup, from a couple of scrims (one on each side of the stage) that had multi-colored lights shining from behind them throughout the show. They also had a cool looking “case” that stood in front of the unused drum kit and had the band’s name on it, with the letters looking like all sorts of old runes. The letters on that were also illuminated, switching through the color spectrum.

Aside from aesthetics, they had also grown a member since I first saw them, now being a trio with the addition of a multi-instrumentalist who often played bass this night, but also dabbled on the keys/synthesizers and electronic drums.

Oh yeah, they also had a smoke machine, which frontman
Eric Victorino triggered before walking backstage. In such a small venue, the fog got pretty dense as it billowed out, helping create a mood before multi-instrumentalist Giovanni Giusti, Eric and the bass player made their way on stage.

Their long awaited second LP, “Hush”, was released earlier this year after a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign, and they got their show going with the lead track and first single from it, “Love is a Dog from Hell”. It didn’t take long for the crowd to get into the song that laments love lost, moving about and even doing a little bit of dancing to the track. They were only just getting started as they immediately fired up “Undercover”, the bass during that song being so heavy at times you could feel the floor vibrating, which is always a sure sign of a great show.

It didn’t take long after the music subsided and the applause dies down for one female fan to shout at Eric, “Have my babies!” “I don’t have time for babies. I’m too busy.” he said, politely turning down her request, but it wasn’t the last time she would make it this night.

“Haunted” was the first of a few songs that saw Giovanni and the other guy heavily using their electronic drums, while Eric moved his mic stand out of the way on that one, giving him a little more freedom as he paced around more, and got pretty passionate at times. “I’m haunted, I’m haunted by you…” he belted out on the chorus, dropping to his knees at one point, packing that and many other lines from the song to the brim with emotion. That simply made it all the more enjoyable for the audience, and after finishing it, he had a question for everyone. “Does Dallas, Texas know how to dance?!” They proved they did on the incredibly catchy “Fool’s Gold”, which somehow managed to sound even better live, and was certainly more fun. Eric made an array of little movements with his hands during the first verse, conducting them to the music, while at one point during the song he instructed everyone to put their hands up. The fans listened, moving their fists up and down to the beat.

“Little Space” was definitely the most electronic sounding song they did this night, after which Giovanni and the other guy let up on the electronic drums, as he went back to his bass for the lively “Gimme Control”. “I’m sorry I declined your baby offer earlier…” Eric again told the girl from earlier, who was very into the show. “I’m just too busy. I am.” he said, looking at the bass player, who in turn was looking at Eric like that was just an excuse. The trio moved on with “The Last Dance”, which featured some real percussion as Giovanni periodically beat on a floor tom that set beside him, against the wall of stage left.

“…Tell me, how am I supposed to know, should I hold you, should I let you go? Let me know, I’ll let you go…” Eric sweetly sang on another gem and instant classic from the “Hush” album, “Bedbugs”, ending it as he crooned, “…I could lie and tell you we could still be friends…”

Everyone was saddened to hear Eric announce they had just one song left, but after a quick chat with Giovanni, they decided to do two. One of those songs was “Stranger”, and as they finished it, one girl let out a loud shriek of excitement. “I guess I am having your babies.” Eric said after pinpointing it was the same girl as before “She’s a shrieker.” he stated while laughing. As it stood, they had played the majority of “Hush”, and now, to end their 41-minute long set, they performed the title track. That song is something else in the live environment, and Eric was in top form while performing it, in complete control of the stage as well as the audience’s attention while he thrashed about on stage, then, in true rock star fashion, left the stage right after his final line.

Even after two years I still remember that first of theirs I saw pretty vividly, and the one this night at the Prophet Bar is another one that’ll live on in my mind for quite some time. And since they didn’t do anything from the “Get Sharp” album, it almost was like seeing them again for the first time this night.

Their showman for sure, and the three of them owned the stage this night as The Limousines. However, as amazing as Eric’s voice is (and it does sound even more remarkable live), and as mind blowing of a live show as they put on, one of the most surprising things to me is that is heavily as they rely on electronics and even backing tracks, none of it sounds synthetic. It’s all very real and has a clean, organic sound to it all.

Check out their records in iTUNES, and they do have one more show booked for the year in San Jose, CA at the Blacnk Club on December 20th.

They alone were worth coming out on this Monday night and the $15 price tag, but there was one more band after them, and they hailed from Nashville, TN.

I had listened to a little bit of Mona’s music just a few days before the show, and honestly, didn’t really get into it. There are plenty of bands, though, that end up being better live, and I figured I’d stick around for a few songs and give them a chance.

They played a decent amount of material from their self-titled record, beginning with “
Listen to Your Love”. Whatever reason I had of not liking their music beforehand was quickly dispelled with that explosive number, which had pulled pretty much the entire crowd (of around 80+ people, not band for a Monday night) as close as they could get to the stage, watching in awe.

Well, I now knew I’d be sticking around until they finished.

The quartet killed some time as they dealt with the drummer, Vince Gard’s monitor, which wound up not being turned on. “…That means he played that song like a badass!” said singer and rhythm guitarist Nick Brown, before they moved on to another single from their debut album, “Teenager”. Audience participation was a must on it, and they got nearly everyone clapping to the beat at the start of it, while Nick asked the fans to sing along at the end, which most everyone seemed happy to do, though it wasn’t loud enough. “Vince’s girlfriend is louder than that!” Nick told everyone in order to get some more out of them, and that helped lead to the start of some Texas jokes, since his girlfriend was from Texas, and her sisters were actually part of the audience.

After having some fun and laughs with everybody, they got back into show mode, doing a song from the recently released “Torches & Pitchforks”, “Wasted”, which I did find to be a bit repetitive at times. You could already tell that humor, especially in regards to banter, was a big part of Mona’s show, and at this point it appeared they were about to do a cover. “I heard there was a secret chord…” Nick crooned while softly plucking the strings of his guitar, getting an excited reaction from a few fans. A rendition of “Hallelujah” was not coming though, as he stopped right there. “Are you fucking kidding me?” he said, about the idea of them even covering that song, before they promptly tore into “Darlin’”, lead guitarist Jordan Young, bassist Zach Lindsey, Vince and Nick all rapidly rocked out on their instruments.

Upon finishing it, the Texas jokes continued, and while none were negative, they were pretty hit and miss with this group of Texans. “…I know, Texas jokes aren’t funny. Lighten up. It’s a Monday…” Nick said, acting as if he was irritated, but in a joking way. And since that wasn’t working, he put the target on himself. “…That guy with the mic makes less and less sense the more he drinks…”, which got the biggest rise from the crowd yet.

They kept going with a couple of other songs, the latter of which wound up being one of my favorites of theirs. It was very sharp and filled with venom, essentially being the epitome of a rock song. It was interesting when they finished it, though, Nick saying to everyone, “…Sometimes you play songs that aren’t even songs…” “Was that even a song before we started it?” Zach asked, giving the impression that perhaps it came about spur of the moment. Nick then moved the conversation in to what concerts have evolved into these days. “…You hear what you know, and then leave…” He then added, “I don’t believe in that.”, before continuing with, “I know music played by humans for humans is a novel idea…” The thing is, all of that would almost be funny if there wasn’t so much truth to it.

Is what wound up being funny, though, was that after this speech about people only sticking around to hear the “popular” songs, they did “Goons (Baby, I Need it All)”, which Zach pointed out after they finished was the one song that everyone here knew (well, I didn’t know it, though.) It was ironic that things would work out that way, but certainly not hypocritical.

The talk of music continued, and now Nick also incorporated some real life experiences in order to show how different everybody is. “I’ve met people that have dicks who like other people with dicks. I’ve met people with dicks that like people with vagina’s…” He then threw in a meeting with someone from here in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas. “…Earlier I met a guy who’s been homeless for six months and said he’s an atheist…” (while on the topic of religion, at one point during the show Nick informed everyone that he was the son of a pastor, I believe it was, laughing when he said no one probably would have thought that.) The purpose of all that was to show that while we’re all different as far as background and beliefs go, we’re still all pretty much the same. “…Music is bigger than all of us. Fuck religion… fuck state….” he said, adding a bunch of other institutions to that list, before closing with, “I believe in music.”

I think that was the most Rock ‘n’ Roll speech I’ve ever heard, being very impactful, and they of course had to prove that, going almost right in to “Shooting the Moon”, which Nick put his guitar down for. He joined the audience on that one, as the crowd parted, letting him go where he wanted, which was almost back to the bar, before he eventually returned towards the front of the stage. They toned things down just a bit with “Like You Do”, and only did more so once Nick got his guitar back, knocking out “Pavement”.

I believe they followed it with another track from 2012’s “Mona”, “I Seen”. Regardless of if that’s right or wrong, Jordan, Zach, Vince and Nick tore it up on their respective instruments, and even though their 70-minute long set was almost over, they still had a lot of energy left to put into it.

One more song came next, after which they again thanked everyone for coming out on this Monday night. “…No one ever wants to do anything on Monday’s.” said Nick, before they brought the night to a close with “Lean Into the Fall”.

What they did was put on a real, entertaining performance, the likes of which are hard to find.

Making it all the better was the fact that I was not prepared for it in the least, and that’s always a great feeling when you see a band and they completely blow you away.

Anyway, in watching the members of Mona on stage, all the potential they have is readily evident, which makes me glad I saw them here at the Prophet Bar, because there’s no doubt they’re destined for bigger and better things (and bigger stages). They just have all the key components, from the live show, to writing meaningful music that has that certain radio friendly quality to it, and everything else a band needs to succeed.

They may be done playing for now, but keep an eye on their tour schedule, ‘cause they’ll no doubt be busy in 2014. And in the meantime, check out their music on iTUNES.

Very fun night, and it was nice getting to some bands from beyond the North Texas music scene. Too bad every Monday night can’t be this much fun. Oh, and this also wound up being the 600th concert I’ve seen. Not bad if I do say so myself.

Sunday, November 17th, 2013 – Free Dominguez

The Prophet Bar was hosting a very unique show this night. Free Dominguez, best known as the frontwoman of Kidneythieves, was performing this night, and this final show of an only two-show tour of Texas was more of an intimate party than just your typical concert.

This Dallas date was billed as a “private event”, with buying tickets in advance being the only way to get in, as no tickets were sold at the door, giving it an exclusive feel, to an extent.

On top of that, Free had organized the lineup, with her cousin Jordi Baizan and fellow Los Angeles based singer Sierra Swan opening for her. (Dallas locals At Night were also scheduled to perform, though their van broke down on the way back from their Houston show).

However, since this was such an early show (starting about 6PM), both openers had finished by the time I was able to get there, though I heard good things about both.

Still, everyone was most excited for Free Dominguez, who had been over at the merch table meeting people and signing stuff for most of the evening (from what I heard), only leaving shortly before her and her bands 8:40 start time in order to get ready for the show.

Much of their 67-minute long set was comprised of material from “Volcano and the Sea”, an album that at one point during the night Free said she had been wanting to make for ten years, sounding elated that it had finally happened.

They kicked things off exactly how the record does, with the beautifully serene yet roaring rock number, “Calling”. She informed the decent size crowd on the title after they finished it, chatting with everyone briefly. “This is going to be our last song.” Free joked before they launched into “Beautiful”, which was just one of many songs this night that guitarist Static was able to shred on.

Drummer Beak Wing counted them in on the mesmerizing “Line in the Sand”, which was the last song they did in order as is heard on the record, and afterwards Free  again spoke with the crowd, creating a real rapport with everybody. One thing she did was point out a couple who had drove all the way from St. Louis to see this show, a feat that earned them a round of applause. “…It’s stuff like that that keeps me doing what I’m doing…” remarked Free, being genuinely humbled by that, as well as all the fans in general who had come out to show their support.

“Make me a simple life before I die…” Free crooned as they started “Simple Life”, which somewhat deals with materialism, and wound up being a highlight of their show. At least I thought so. Upon finishing it, she pointed out one of the lines from it, for those who might not have caught it, and that was, “…Things that are forever are forever changing…” She commented on how that’s more or less a mantra for her, and it is probably one of the most true lyrics from a song. Talk then led to the next song, which Free noted was the first song she and Static wrote that wound up leading to “Volcano and the Sea”. “…He was screwing around on Skype…” she said, saying she liked what he was doing on his guitar and asked him to continue.

They then slowed things down with the dark and gorgeous “Corridors”, with Free hitting some utterly beautiful notes with her voice. “That’s always a fun one to do. It’s always different.” she stated, referring to Static as “the feral one”, adding that he always keeps them on their toes while performing it. And while they had toned things down with that song, they were about to scale back even more as Beak Wing and bassist Matt McJunkins left the stage. Free told everyone that for this next segment, she let Static pick the songs they were going to play, ones she hadn’t prepared for and was going to be as surprised as the audience. “…I might even forget the lyrics, like I did last night in Houston.” she said laughing.

This portion of the show saw them doing some stripped down covers of Kidneythieves songs, and the first one was the lead track from “Zerospace”, “Before I’m Dead”. They may have sounded a little different, but it was these songs that everyone seemed to love, and much of the audience was even singing along to them, especially “Jude (Be Somebody)”, which everyone seemed ecstatic to hear, and it did even catch Free off guard. “I don’t know what it is.” she said after Static’s first riff on the guitar, reiterating that after the second, before realizing. And no, she didn’t flub the words to either of those tracks.

As the rhythm section returned, Free took a few moments to discuss another project she and Static are working on, which will be a hip-hop collaboration. She expressed her love of the genre, even saying they recently got word from the label that they will be able to get who they want to collaborate with for what I believe she said would be an EP that would most likely be released in the first half of next year. She sounded very excited about it, and it will no doubt be an interesting record to hear once it’s finished.

As they got back to her solo material, they did some revamped renditions of a couple songs from “(.Unearth.)”, the addition of Matt and Beak Wing really helping flesh out the songs from how they are on the album, helping transform “
Darkest Rivers” into a beast of a song, and one they could all really throw down on. “…Enjoy it…” said Free, urging everyone to get the most out of it, adding, “…’Cause I don’t know when we’ll be back…” Following it was “Questions + Lies”, which helped wind the evening down, but they still had a couple songs left to do.

But before playing any more, Free pointed out that a special guest was in attendance, and that was someone who had backed their Kickstarter campaign, picking the reward option of having her write a song about him. In order to get to know him she said they had talked online many times, and she also had him keep a dream journal for a while, which he then gave to her. She was excited about the song, saying how good it was sounding and that she has had to fight the urge to share even a snippet with him, because she wants him to be surprised when he hears the full song, which she said would be titled “Mr. Goodnight”.

They got back to it with “Hearts Like Parachutes”, which made them appear as if they were still getting warmed up, with the whole band really loosing up, especially Matt, who thrashed about to the beat. Then, before their final song, Free pointed out someone else who was in attendance. It was a young girl who was at her first ever concert, and Free said she was glad the child had been in the bathroom earlier when she said the “f-word”. “…I’m sensitive about that stuff…” she clarified, shortly before encouraging everyone to support their favorite band by buying their music, then bashing a streaming service with, “Fuck Spotify!”. It was “Wolf” that brought their show to a close, though even after a little more than an hour, no one was ready for it to come to an end, letting it be known when it was said that would be the last song. “Do you not want me to enjoy this shot?” Free said jokingly, having gotten one early on in the night, but only drank a portion of so it didn’t “fuck up” her voice as she put it. A respectable ting to do I might add, since so many musicians these days don’t seem to think twice about how it might affect their singing.

As the band retreated back stage, the DJ they had at the event began to spin some more music as everyone started to mingle a bit, thinking it was over. It wasn’t.

Static and Free returned to the state after a minute or so, performing over the track the DJ had going, giving everyone one little bonus track.

It was truly an incredible show, and making it all the better was the intimate feel it had. The Prophet Bar is a smaller venue, and all four members were fairly cozy on stage, having just enough room to do a little moving around. That didn’t keep them from putting on one helluva show, though.

There’s no question that Static is a phenomenal guitarist, stealing the spotlight at times as you watch in wonder at his mastery of the instrument. Beak Wing and Matt are also experts at their craft, while Free Dominguez is amazing in all aspects. Often this night she could be seem conducting her body very fluidly to the music, moving her hands and arms about in perfect time to what her band was playing. On top of that, she has a stellar voice, which was no doubt the main tool that left everyone in awe this night.

Honestly, the first time I ever heard any Kidneythieves songs was the covers they did this night, it has prompted me to listen to their records. And while it may be a departure from the group that made her famous, Free’s solo music is every bit as great, albeit in a different way, but in the end, it’s all riveting music that will pull you in and make the trip an experience.

If you haven’t yet heard her solo stuff, check it out in either iTUNES or Bandcamp.

I’m glad I wound up going to this show, as it was well worth it, and I definitely won’t miss out on the next one… Whenever that may be.