I hadn’t originally planned on going to Trees this night. In fact, I wasn’t even aware the venue was hosting a show this night, until about a week before when a friend forwarded an email along to me from the PR guy for one of the bands. Long story short, I offered to go to the show to review it and got guest listed to do just that.
The only hometown act on this bill was the first act, Sinsect, who started their set at 8:20.
They were a duo, and set up like a DJ would be, with both James Ashley and Joe Virus operating a few synthesizers. Their first few songs were all instrumental, as cranked out their electronic pieces with various sample tracks intertwining with them. Things got even worse with James began singing on their last two songs, doing some full on singing for their final number, while he just added the occasional line on another. His voice was essentially auto-tuned and had a very digital sounding effect to it, which I disliked it because you couldn’t tell what he was capable of on his own.
All of that resulted in me not liking their set a whole lot, and at least it was short, even though it felt like it lasted forever.
I guess I should say I’m not a huge fan of the kind of music in the first place, but still, I have seen a band or two who are completely electronic like this, and then their singer has blow my mind with his voice. That wasn’t the case with Sinsect, though, and not only did their music do nothing for me, but James, or rather his voice, hid behind all the effects. Who knows, maybe that was for the best, but then again, what does that say about you as a singer?
If you’re curious to listen to their stuff, well, they do have an album, “A Broken Hero”, which can be purchased in ITUNES.
Well, at least the night was bound to get better with the next act, and that was The Rabid Whole from Toronto, Ontario.
This was the band whose PR guy I had been in contact with, and after listening to their stuff online, I was ecstatic to see what they were like in the live setting.
As the curtain opened on them, a cloud of smoke engulfed stage left, then slowly billowed out towards the crowd, making it easier to see bassist Oscar Anesetti. The band bills themselves as a 21st Century Alternative Rock outfit, and they definitely looked the part with their jackets and other attire which had a futuristic look to it.
They waited on the sample track to lead them in to their first song, while Chalsey Noelle laced some beautiful piano notes over it via her keyboard. It was the calm before the storm, though, as guitarist George Radutu, drummer JJ Tartaglia and Oscar soon ripped into “Stargazer”. “I’m still expecting you to break my fall, assuming everything goes wrong…” belted out frontman Andreas Weiss on the chorus, who was racing about the stage and often propping one leg up on the monitors, gazing out at the crowd while he sang. Before the final chorus, he placed the microphone back in the stand, picking up his guitar, shredding on it while signing the remainder of the song. That was the extent of his guitar playing, at least for the time being, though, and he placed it back in its stand once the song concluded.
With that one song they had pulled almost everyone up to the front of the stage, even if everyone was only about two dozen people, and after allowing just enough time for the crowd to applaud and cheer for them, they fired up “Delusion”. It was followed by another song from their “Refuge” album, “Corporate”, which was a infectious and powerful number, partly about chasing your dreams. “…It’s the day that my friend turned corporate. Hard to think that this shell was once a man…” Andreas sang on the chorus. There were also some moments of the song where he softly whispered a few lines, giving it somewhat of a chilling tone.
They let up after that one, at least long enough for Andreas to mention that this was their first ever time in Dallas and that they were excited to be here. He of course also noted that they had some stuff for sale back at their merch table, and then they got back to it with a song from their 2009 debut album, “Autraumaton”, called “Selfish Nature”. Afterwards, Chalsey left her keyboard station which had kept her slightly out of view, joining her band mates at the front of the stage with what I will call a keytar. There was no real neck to it, so instead it looked like just a keyboard with a strap on it.
“We have a video for this next song. It’s called Future.” Andreas said hastily, as they started the lead track and single from their latest album. Maybe it’s because in listening to their stuff online it had become my favorite song of theirs, but I found it to be the best song of their set. It’s just a perfect blend of sheer rock with more electronic tones that can put you in a mood to dance, and Andreas and Chalsey’s voices fit well together as they each sang a few lines on the chorus, his having a more forceful, raw quality to it, while hers was more delicate and had a very pretty tone.
Following it was a slower song, at least slow by their standards, and that was the title track from their 2012 record, “Refuge”, which was another song that saw Chalsey doing a fairly good bit of singing. Once they finished it, Andreas walked up the stairs at the back of the stage, while Chalsey disappeared in the shadows of far stage right, as JJ took the spotlight, doing a killer drum solo. Really, a lot of drum solos are less than awe-inspiring, but he played a great piece that held your attention throughout. As it wound down, Chalsey got back behind her keyboards, while Andreas descended the stairs. He informed everyone they had one song left, maybe two, depending on if they had enough time.
In case this was their last song, they were going to go out with a bang with the aggressive, “Metro”, which featured a thick and heavy rhythm section. As luck would have it, they were able to do one more after that, and they chose to close their 38-minute long set with another older song, “All The Same”. Andreas again thanked everyone for coming out to the show while he put his guitar on. Near the end of it he asked everyone to help them out and repeat after him. “What does it take to make you bleed?” he sang, with only a few people shouting it back at him afterwards. He wasn’t too impressed, saying it was even worse than what the people of Portland did to try to entice everyone to get more into it. It worked, and the shouting grew stronger and louder as a few more people joined in. After the sing-along portion was over, Oscar proceeded to attack his bass, viciously slapping it as they finished up the song.
Their set was phenomenal, and even though there was a VERY sparse crowd at Trees this night, it still speaks volumes about The Rabid Whole that they were able to pull nearly everyone up to the stage and get them actively engaged in the music.
Speaking of their music, that’s what initially drew me in. It’s fun yet serious with a nice space rock sound, and while I wouldn’t say it’s original in the sense that what they are doing has never been done before, it is more unique, and I doubt you’ve heard many bands that pull of this musical style as well as they do. Aside from the music being easy to get into, you also have the lyrics, which are very well written and come across as telling fairly personal stories, which makes it easier for them to get behind it.
As impeccable as their music is, though, and as well as their energy translates onto the recordings, it’s their live show where it’s all at.
From the moment they started, they were going ninety miles a minute, never letting up for even a moment. They didn’t care that they were only playing for about thirty people, and I have a feeling they could have only had an audience of three and they still would have been putting on the same show. Why? Because they were obviously all having fun on that stage, and I think everyone quickly picked up on and was reeled in by that.
The only complaint I have is more of a technical issue, and that was that the main mic could have been a little louder out in the crowd, because at times I had trouble hearing Andreas while he was singing.
Aside from that, everything was perfect, and The Rabid Whole ended up stealing the show right out from under the headliner, as unintentional as it was.
Their current tour may be over, but keep an eye on their tour dates, either on their OFFICIAL WEBSITE or their FACEBOOK PAGE, especially if you live in Canada, since that is the bands home territory. You can also find their two albums in ITUNES, plus a remix of their first album. I would highly urge everyone to check out the “Refuge” record, as it’s one of those rare albums where every song is exceptional.
The headlining band for the night was Dope Stars Inc., who had traveled all the way from Rome, Italy to be here, and despite having been around for ten years now, this marked the bands first U.S. tour.
Traditionally, the band is evidently a five-piece, however, on this tour they were a trio, consisting of singer and guitarist Victor Love, bassist Darin Yevonde and drummer Mark Madhoney.
Oddly enough, they entered the stage to a good deal of fanfare, and evidently, most of the people were here for Dope Stars Inc.
I didn’t know what to expect, because I hadn’t even listened to their music beforehand. They had a real industrial rock sound, and were even alternative rock, and like the two bands that opened for them, they did have an electronic sound to an extent, even though that was all supplied through sample tracks.
Honestly, after their first song, I contemplated leaving, because I just didn’t care for it a whole lot, but I decided to stick around at least through the next couple of songs.
“…This is next one is called Vyperpunk!” Victor shouted, which resulted in some members of the crowd cheering with excitement. Like most of their songs, there was almost a techno sound to it, but in the most rocking way, and I found myself getting a little more into the music. Before starting their next song, Victor dedicated to Michael J. Fox, or at least that’s what I thought he said, but his accent was so thick (both when he was and wasn’t singing), I thought surely I had misheard him. Turns out I had understood him well enough, as they stared “Save the Clock Tower”, from their newest album, “Ultrawired”, a song that is a bit of an homage to the Back to the Future film series.
“It’s Today” was what did it for me, as it piqued my interest and ensured I’d stick it out for the rest of their set. It’s a riveting song, an anthem in a way, with Victor encouraging everyone that, “It’s today that we have to wake up all the energy we own…”, which is the first line of the course, before ending with, “…Our time is dead. Our time is now. And now is past.” They really seemed to hit their stride with that song, too, Darin pacing around the entire stage while he effortlessly tore it up on his bass. Actually, I had to look several times to make sure it was a bass he was playing, because as quickly as he was strumming the strings, it looked like it was a guitar. Aside from that, Mark was devastating it on the drums, often standing up from time to time as he continued to lay into his kit, while Victor was shredding on his guitar.
“It’s hot here in Texas.” Victor proclaimed, before they started their next song. They followed it with “10,000 Watts of Artificial Pleasures”, which got the biggest rise from their little fan base, as Victor first told everyone the song title, than asked something like, “Are you ready for the pleasures, Dallas?”. The aggressive “Bang Your Head” came next, which found Victor often snarling and yelling the words, and once it was over he set things up for Mark to do a drum solo, as he and Darin left the stage. The drum solo didn’t impress me to the extent the other one from the other band did, but it was still a great solo.
Once he put the finishing touches on it, Victor returned to the stage, with Darin eventually following suit, as they continued their barrage of songs, first with one I wasn’t able to figure out, and then doing what I believe was “Banksters”. They kept moving right along with “Make a Star”, from 2005’s “Neuromance” album, and then another track from their latest record, “Blackout”. Those songs weren’t slow by any means, but they really picked things back up with “Self Destructive Corp.”, while “Defcon 5” began to wind things down. At the end of that latter song, Darin, who resting a leg on the monitor, let his bass dangle in the air as he plucked one of the strings, then Victor announced they had one last song left. It was the title track of their 2009 album, “21st Century Slave”, which ended their 69 –minute long set. Now, a lot of their songs make statements in one way or another, most of which seem more social or political, but this one is probably the most notable. It deals with being a slave to the corporate world and being “brainwashed” by various forms of “propaganda”, with the message being that technology is the key to freeing our minds and bodies from all of that.
Yeah, there’s songs carry a message with them.
While watching them play, I wasn’t all that crazy for their actual music, and was more watching them for their performance, which is definitely an area they’ve perfected in their ten-year existence. However, after listening to their stuff a little more, like while trying to identify the songs they played this night, it has really grown on me.
It’s good rock music with a twist, and something well worth listening to. I’m still not all that crazy about Victors’ voice, which frankly, isn’t the best in the world. I wouldn’t call it bad though, either, which puts it in the spot of being one of the most unique voices I’ve ever heard, and he writes some fantastic lyrics that can be rather thought provoking.
I went from not being sure I’d even stay for their set, to watching it all, and now I’ve gone from not having a real interest in seeing them again, to liking them enough that if they ever get back to Dallas, I’ll most likely be there.
Yeah, they won me over is a fan.
Check out all of their records in ITUNES, and you can even get a free download of the “Ultrawired” record on their OFFICIAL WEBSITE.
It was a fantastic night of music (with the exception of the first band), and I love shows like this where more independent and small time bands tour through, because I like getting a little taste of what else is out there, outside of the local North Texas music scene.
I hadn’t originally planned on going to Trees this night. In fact, I wasn’t even aware the venue was hosting a show this night, until about a week before when a friend forwarded an email along to me from the PR guy for one of the bands. Long story short, I offered to go to the show to review it and got guest listed to do just that.
Earlier this year the London based The Joy Formidable released their latest record, “Wolf’s Law”, and this night the band was making a stop at Trees in Dallas as part of their tour in support of the record.
I got there later, missing the only opening act, IO Echo, and at about 9:20 the venue appeared packed almost to capacity, with all the fans anxiously awaiting the bands arrival on stage.
A little over ten seemingly long minutes later and the lights went out as the fans cheered. The main mic stand, which was wrapped in lights and something that looked like tinsel, lit up, while a chilling wolf’s howl filled the venue. There was also a backdrop on the stage, which was a large white sheet, and hanging in front of it was a black silhouette of a wolf’s face, which lit up with LED lights that lined it.
Moments later Matthew Thomas made his way down the stairs from the greenroom, taking a seat behind his drum kit on stage left, which happened to be set up sideways. Rhydian Dafydd followed, picking up his bass when he made it on stage. However, it was Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan who received the most fanfare, as she took the stage flashing a delightful grin at the audience.
There was a little bit of feedback going on over the sample track that was their intro, before Matthew and Ritzy suddenly fired up “Cholla”, much to the fans excitement. Things suddenly fell silent closer towards the end when they took the pause in the song, and I’m fairly certain in those few seconds you could have heard a pin drop, as little noise was made from the crowd. They jumped back into it, though, and after finishing it up, Matthew wound them right into their next song, as he kept laying down some beats. While he was doing that, Ritzy mentioned how “lovely” everyone looked, and also said she was almost certain this was the first time they had ever done a headlining show in Dallas. With that, she and Rhydian began singing in to their mics, “Ohoo, Ohoo…”, again getting a burst of excitement from the fans, who quickly realized it was a song that is featured on their first two albums, “Austere”.
Both of those songs, especially back to back, got them off to an electric start and they were holding everyone’s attention with complete ease. Not only that, but there was also a very fun atmosphere to it, and their gleeful persona’s were rubbing off on the crowd, or at least me, putting me in a pretty happy state of mind.
Hearing the older stuff was great, but this tour was mainly about the music from “Wolf’s Law”, and after a brief break where Ritzy switched guitars (for the first of many times this night), they tackled another song from their latest record.
“THIS LADDER IS OURS!” Ritzy shouted rather defiantly, almost as if they were preparing to go to war and she was proclaiming it to a fictitious enemy. They then started the song of the same name, and that lead track from “Wolf’s Law” was a highlight of their set. The best part of the song though, was seeing them really rock out to it during the instrumental portions, especially Ritzy who just attacked her axe. “The Greatest Light is The Greatest Shade” was another older they song they broke out, and afterwards, while this Rock/Pop outfit regrouped, something interesting was played over the sound system. It was a reading of Henry Longfellow’s poem, “The Arrow and the Song”. “…And the song, from beginning to end, I found again in the heart of a friend.” it finished as Rhydian and Matthew opened up “Little Blimp” with a thick rhythm based intro. That short song little track become the most intense of their set thus far, and was a powerhouse of a song, at least once it took off, and they weren’t ready to let that energy they built with that fade just yet.
They kept things rolling with an instrumental piece, which climaxed with some pulsating bass riffs, roaring guitar notes and powerful drumbeats, before suddenly subsiding. “Come on Dallas!” Ritzy cried during this moment of silence before they launched into “Cradle”. “I can’t say what he means when he says that, I’ll pretend, pretty pretend…” sang Ritzy near the start of this high-strung beast of a song. That one was sure to have everyone’s adrenaline flowing, and I don’t see how anyone who was in attendance couldn’t have been fully engaged by the band at this point.
“I think this is what you call a sweaty rock show.” Rhydian said as they took a break after that song. Ritzy then chimed in, asking everyone if they were having a “sweaty good time” with them so far, to which the fans cheered. Her focus then turned to the weather. “..Fuck me!” she exclaimed, “…I mean, this is April isn’t it, and it’s already this hot. How hot must it be in August?” She continued, “…Do you all just leave for the hills during August? But, where are the hills?”
As a native Texan, I didn’t think it was all that hot, especially not in the club. Then again, I wasn’t up on the stage going all out, and all three of them had worked up quite a sweat now. Maybe it was just the way the lights were hitting them, but it looked like because of all that Ritzys’ makeup had began to run just ever so slightly, which in turn seemed to give her more of a raw Rock ‘n’ Roll persona.
During all that banter, their stage hand moved a keyboard out on the stage, specifically in front of Rhydian, as they prepared to slow things down just ever so slightly.
It’s not accurate to call “Tendons” a slow song, but it has its moments, and is a rock song it was utterly mesmerizing. Near the end Rhydian put the keyboard to use, but only for a few seconds, before tearing back into his bass as the song returned to its rock glory. They really brought things down with their next song, which required Rhydian to play an acoustic guitar in lieu of his bass, while Matthew pretty much set the song out, watching his band mates from behind his kit. The song was “Silent Treatment”, and Ritzy really didn’t even play her guitar during it, and since her hands were free, she used them “talk with” in a way, making all sorts of motions with them while she softly crooned, “…I’ll take a quiet living, but I’m hotwired and quick feeling. So, I’ll take the silent treatment…” It was a gorgeous song and showed off a totally different side of the band, but they were in the homestretch now, and it was time to reinvigorate the crowd once again.
After his little break, Matthew got to put his skills back to work on “Maw Maw Song”, pushing his drumming into overdrive at times on the somewhat chilling number. The most amazing part of it was the instrumental break, where each of them cut loose, allowing the audience to see what phenomenal musicianship they have. Upon finishing it, Matthew patched them right into their next song with some steady beats on his floor tom. It was a heavy hitter from 2011’s “The Big Roar”, “I Don’t Want to See You Like This”, which worked everyone into a frenzy of excitement.
“You’ve got good lungs, Dallas.” Ritzy said, her British accent as thick as good be when she spoke, yet barely noticeable while singing. She was about to move them along to the next song, when she had a request from a fan. “You want me to sign your arm?” she said, sounding surprised. “Should I do it?” she asked everyone else, before deciding to. She bent down at the edge of the stage then leaned out a signed this persons arm, and when she returned to the mic said she didn’t know if she’d ever to that again, but that it was an experience. She chatted with everyone for a moment more, before saying the title of what would be the final song of their 61-minute long set, “The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie”, which brought their set to an incredible close.
Very few people moved after the band left the stage, all awaiting the impending encore, even though it took them several minutes before they eventually returned.
Ritzy asked everyone if they wanted to hear a song or a joke, but quickly reneged on the offer, saying, “Let’s not go there.” Instead, they did two more tracks from “Wolf’s Law”, and beginning this 22-minute long encore was “Forest Serenade”. The song possesses a very upbeat quality to it, and is just another one of the band’s songs that is sure to put you in a more positive place than you were in before hearing it. Afterwards, Ritzy commented on what a “lovely venue” Trees was, again mentioning that this was their first ever headlining gig in Dallas and thanked everyone for coming out and being a part of it. “…So, Dallas, this is Wolf’s Law.” She said, as they started the album’s title track, which wound up being one of the most captivating songs of their performance. For awhile it was the softest song of their set, but it really roared to life, and could be described as beauty personified. No sooner had it ended and then they started the final song of their set, which was of course, “Whirring”. Like some of their songs before, it was the instrumental portion where they really shone, and at one point Rhydian and Ritzy stood back to back, before he playfully began pushing her over a bit. As they got closer to the end, she removed her guitar, then approached the fans , holding it out above them, allowing them to hit the strings, before eventually putting it back on as they brought the show to a spectacular finish.
Ritzy again removed her guitar, looking like she might slam it on the ground, but instead turned it parallel to the ground before dropping it, then waving by as she retreated to the greenroom. Rhydian followed suit, though he set his bass down, and after high-fiving several of the fans who were in front of the stage, Matthew, too, left.
This was about as good as a show can get, and as great as the band was when I saw one of their free shows during SXSW the month prior, what they did at Trees this night was enough to leave your jaw on the floor.
They were going full throttle the entire night, coming out of the gate like that, and even on their slower stuff, they were still giving it their all. That resulted in their show being constantly enjoyable, and there certainly was never a dull moment.
The rapport they had with the crowd was excellent, and I think a large part of why their show was so successful, because the fans fed of the band and vice versa. If you weren’t there, you might not be able to understand it, because The Joy Formidable managed to create one of those rare moments that was complete unique to this show.
As amazing as their music is on the albums, it’s definitely the live show where The Joy Formidable excels, putting on nothing less than a stellar show. Rhydian’s a killer bass player, and while he has a little bit of the typical bass player persona of being all casual and nonchalant about it, he can (and does) throw down. Matthew’s a fantastic drummer, and I liked the fact that his kit was set up on the side of the stage, which made it a little easier to see him and take in his drumming. The you have Ritzy, who, when allowed to focus solely on her guitar playing, will be one of the best guitarists you ever seen, and she has a unique and heavenly voice to boot.
The only complaint I have about the show was the visuals that played on the backdrop behind them. It wasn’t always playing clips, and when it was just the wolf’s head silhouette flashing various colors, it was very cool. That part should stay, but other times, when there was stuff being broadcasted on the screen… Well, I was none too crazy for it.
Sure, some of the stuff can fit with the songs, and for a song or two it was the music videos of the song playing. Was it cool? Some may say so. I however zoned it all out in the first place.
I personally find stuff like that to be a distraction, and prefer to see a band doing what they do best, especially when you have a band like The Joy Formidable.
Their show is in their passion they exude. Their show is in the sheer joy they so obviously derive from performing their music in front of people. Their show is in watching them dominant the instruments they’ve dedicated so much time to perfecting. Their show is not in videos playing behind them.
Now, that was nowhere near enough to make this a bad show, nor even put a blemish on it, I’m just voicing my opinion.
And for the record, all those traits I mentioned that they have are something about 98% of bands could greatly benefit from adopting and trying to emulate.
The band is continuing their tour in support of “Wolf’s Law”, and for a schedule of all their tour dates, go HERE. If you have the opportunity to see one of those upcoming shows (especially if it’s a headlining one) take, because it’ll will be a show you’ll remember for years to come. Also, be sure to pick up their records in ITUNES.
A truly great weekend entails spending a night at the Curtain Club, at least in my opinion, and there were some talented bands playing there this night.
I wasn’t able to stay for the whole night, though, which is a rare event for me, and I didn’t even arrive until the first band was almost done with their set.
I did get there in plenty of time to see the instrumental trio Son of Swan, though.
The sirens of the songs sample track blared before drummer Billy Walker started them in on “SOS”, the opening song of their 30-minute long set. They got right down to business, with Neil Swanson so effortlessly shredding on his guitar, letting loose some shrill notes at times, while bassist Steve Wilson roamed all over the stage with a real swagger to his step. They followed it almost immediately with “Children Of The Night”, which is yet another raw rock song that encompasses some amazing guitar riffs and solos. At this point Neil approached the mic, informing everyone of who they were, before moving on with a couple more songs, one of which was a cover. Now, I’m not familiar enough with all their stuff to know it, but they did another original before tackling another cover. “…If you don’t know this one, well, maybe you should.” Neil said before they began it. I’m fairly certain they followed it with the intricately woven “30K Curse”, and before starting their final song, Neil made a very accurate statement. “…Remember, everybody that is somebody used to be nobody.” Very true, and great final words to speak for the night, before starting what I want to say was “Dog Days”.
Sure, song-wise this probably isn’t as accurate as I like to be, but that doesn’t change the fact that all those original songs plus the rest that comprise their seven song debut record are masterpieces.
Seriously, they are some of the best songs I think I’ve ever heard and when you see the live show that accompanies them, then you’ll love the band even more. Billy’s an incredible drummer, Steve has that casual persona that most bassists have, yet he’s constantly storming around the stage, and I don’t know how anyone couldn’t consider Neil to be one of the best guitarists they’ve ever seen.
He does steal the show with his guitar work, his hands racing all over the fretboard, yet he manages to maintain a more humble attitude in his playing. Whereas some guitarists give you the impression that they are wanting to go all-out and do some ridiculous guitar work that seems like it’s just to show off, Neil doesn’t at all come across that way.
It never seems like what he’s playing is meant to be showy, rather it’s just the natural progression of the song, and he doesn’t, say, hold the guitar in front of the crowd like “Look what I can.” Instead, what you see is simply a virtuoso at work.
I never imagined a day where an instrumental band could hold my interest, yet this was the third time I’ve seen them now and all three times my eyes have been glued to the stage. So if you think you won’t like them just because they are an instrumental act, just give them a chance. You’ll probably end up loving the music, and if you see a show, you’ll be blown away.
So far the only place to pick up their CD is at live shows, and next up on their calendar is May 24th at The Rail Club in Fort Worth, May 31st at O’Riley’s in Dallas and they will return to O’Riley’s on June 22nd.
Up after them was Greysmyth, and this was a pretty big show for the band, and even a bigger one for the singer.
See, this was the groups first show with Justin Ranton fronting the band, and it was also the first time he had performed on stage in over a year, and personally, I was beyond excited to be seeing that guy on stage again.
They opened their set with a song called “Avalon”, which got off to a slower start with some light notes from guitarists, Jerrod Nelson and Spuds Berryman, while Justin held back on his singing a bit. “Come on Dallas!” he roared after a bit, as drummer Brayton Lyons, bassist Kobe Garinger and the others really cut loose on the song, transitioning it into a full on assault of rock. They did several great songs this night, but that was one of my favorites. Before beginning their next song, Justin took a moment to speak to the crowd, mentioning that it had been “a long time” since he had been on a stage as he thanked everyone who was there for coming out. “…This next one’s called Feed the Need.” He said, as his band mates ripped into the song. “Feed the need, my intention is to be close to you…” sang Justin on the chorus of this powerhouse track, which was really driven by the rhythm section. They did one more hefty rock track, “Peripheral”, before slowing things down with “Rose”, which Spuds announced was for his wife. It oozed with feelings, but not in a true lovey dovey way, and it showed off another, more sensitive side to the rock outfit. “…He’s saying he can’t live without you…” Justin said to Spuds’s wife after they finished the song. They didn’t immediately bring things up, though, instead doing another lighter track, “A Way to Love”. Both of those softer songs were really good, but I really liked the latter of those two, and they both pushed the band out of their element a bit, in a good way. They returned to what they do best with a song called “Bloodlines”, before finishing their 34-minute long set with the killer, “Corpse Flower”, which was proof they had saved (one of) the best for last.
It was a great rock show, and I found myself wondering why I hadn’t heard of the band before Justin joined them, even if they hadn’t played too many live shows.
It was fantastic seeing Justin on stage again, and while he began the show seeming a little apprehensive, he quickly warmed up and got into the swing of things, moving about the stage, operating in synch with the music and just being a commanding frontman. And even though it had been so long since he sang on stage, he hadn’t lost any of his stage persona.
Regarding the songs, Spuds, Kobe, Brayton and Jerrod have created some great stuff and put on a good performance, getting better the further they progressed in their set.
The music is different from Justin’s past projects, and compared to those I think it’s more melodic (that’s not to say Greysmyth is a Melodic Rock band by any means), but his voice fits quite well with the music, and even kind of pushes his voice to new heights.
Point is, I loved their set, and I’m eager to see how Greysmyth is going to grow from here on out, like, what their songs will sound like with Justin being a part of the band now, and how much better their live shows will probably be once they get more practice under their belt and become even more cohesive.
Definitely keep an eye on these guys, or better yet go see them with your own eyes. They’ll be playing Wit’s End in Dallas on June 1st, then they’ll be back at the Curtain Club on July 26th.
Not long after they finished was when I left. Junk and Carmeci were probably great this night, but Greysmyth and Son of Swan were well worth the ten dollar cover, and I’m glad I was able to see both of them.
As usual, there was another great show going down at the Curtain Club in Dallas, featuring an array of bands, some of whom I had seen before and others I hadn’t, but was excited to.
The first band was called Drag the Waters, and by the time I got there they were nearing the end of their set, but what I saw was pretty good. They looked like they could be a Metal band, instead, they were a Heavy Rock group and they made some good music at that and put on a good live show.
I can’t find any info out about them, but I wouldn’t mind seeing them again if they happened to get on a bill with some other bands I’m a fan of.
The next band was the main one I wanted to see, and that was Alterflesh. Actually, they were the main reason I was even at this show in the first place.
I was introduced to the band after meeting their singer, Dayvoh, a couple months back and became a fan of the groups unique style, and I thrilled that I was finally going to see one of their live shows.
The first thing I noticed when the curtain was opened on them was a nightstand over by some of the amps. There were some books on it, as well as a lamp sitting atop it, all of which was rather aesthetically pleasing.
Dayvoh referred to everyone as his brothers and sisters as he welcomed everyone to the show, then said it was time to “…step through the portal…” It was a much more interesting intro than the typical things bands say, and it was very accurate, too, as “Megahub” did seem to open the doorway to another realm. See, the band doesn’t play simple songs, they play music that has a message , and that song deals with various philosophers throughout history, with Dayvoh spitting out the names of dozens of them. Actually, that’s another thing that makes the band so unique. See, Dayvoh is more of a spoken word artist and he brings that skill to the band, performing the songs more in that style rather than singing. “…A stumbling lost humanity. Most will go their entire lives without even understanding it…” he said on the songs bridge, which was just one of many lines in that song that can stimulate the mind.
Just one song in and I was loving it. The music was very engaging and the energy in the performance they were giving was something else. They kept things moving right along with “Toxic”, which makes a statement about the state of the Earth and how we as human beings are continuously destroying it. For those first couple of songs Dayvoh had been playing a guitar, but he set it down for the time being, grabbing the microphone saying, “…We’ve all had are fair share of self reflection…” then announced the next song as being “Imaginary Dreams”, which is one of the tracks they have yet to record. Dayvoh seemed to fit in best on this song and the others that didn’t require him using the guitar, as he could move about the stage, connecting more with the audience while he preached his message. He got his guitar back out for the next song, saying, “The mystics say we all slowly burn…” as he, bassist Paul Kubajak, lead guitarist Ben Schelin and drummer Kevin Mills tackled another “Embers”, another song that they have yet to lay down in a studio.
Upon finishing it, Dayvoh surveyed the large crowd gathered around the stage, giving shout outs to Born and Raised, Solice and The Circle, plus several other bands who had members out representing. That was one thing that was so cool about this show, other musicians were actually out at it supporting these guys. They had a few songs left now, none of which Dayvoh used the guitar on, and the next was his “social rant” known as “Watch Rome Burn”. It was my favorite song of their set and could easily be the most thought provoking song in their arsenal. Aside from that, it’s just one of their most rocking numbers, with Ben shredding on his axe at times, and Kevin really got into his drumming (that’s not to say he hadn’t before, it was just more noticeable now). “Start Over” slowed things down a little, before bringing their 34-minute long set to a close with “New Horizon”.
In my opinion, they were the band to beat this night. Their performance was much more vigorous than I was expecting, with Paul constantly jumping up and down, which was quite a sight to watch. While more contained, Ben was is great guitarist, and Kevin just killed it on the drums, and Dayvoh was a captivating frontman. Together, they were able to hold the crowd’s attention with ease.
As for the music, they are a Rock band, and even harder Rock at times, which makes what Dayvoh does even more interesting. Like I said, it’s not full on singing that he does, and if you’re not paying full attention you may say he’s rapping. Sure, it can sound like that at times, but it most certainly isn’t rap. Rather, it is spoken word. And because he “sings” in that style, it allows him to get away with some things.
See, his voice is rather monotone, something your traditional singer couldn’t get away with. But the way he fires the words off, you don’t care if his voice is monotone or not, because you’re more fixated on the words. And that is what really makes Alterflesh stand apart from most other bands; the lyrics. Overall they have a positive, uplifting message to them, often about changing things for the better.
Really, that makes their show a spiritual experience in a way, and one I can’t wait to witness again.
If you want to hear something new and completely out-of-the-box, then check out Alterflesh, either on their FACEBOOK PAGE or REVERBNATION. Their next show is slated for July 6th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, and if you’re in the area, you should definitely check it out.
Following them was Last Day Living, whom I hadn’t seen in quite awhile, and I was curious to see how their set would go.
I admittedly haven’t been as big a fan of the band since they lost their lead singer (which happened a few years ago now), resulting in them staying a four-piece and guitarist Shawn Pipkin picking up the slack as the lead singer.
The thing is, his voice just isn’t built to really sing, and that was proven during their first song, a slower almost ballad of sorts, where his voice repeatedly cracked. No, their 31-minute long set didn’t get off to the best start, and personally, I was never able to get into it. Shawn ditched his guitar for the next song, which he kind of rapped a portion of, before picking it back up as he, bassist Irish, fellow guitarist Paris Pipkin and drummer Daniel Burpo rocked out “Twisted Smile”, which was the single great moment of their set. Shawn got a little political before another song, asking, “So who’s pissed off at the government for taking our guns and then education from our kids…” A lot of people screamed and cheered in agreeance, and after finishing it they ran through their final three songs. During that last one, Shawn broke one of the strings on his guitar, and as they finished the tune he decided to finish the job, pulling the five remaining strings until they snapped.
Last Day Living writes good music and they put on an enjoyable live show, but in my opinion, they need a fifth member, one that can really sing. That’s the only hindrance that I see.
No, I wasn’t in love with this set, but the vocals were why, and I did enjoy the other aspects of their performance. They just need that one missing component to round things out.
There was one more band to go before the headliner, and that was Idler.
I first saw the band here a couple months before and instantly became a fan, and I was hoping their set this night would be even better.
“Vendetta” opened up their set, a song that finds siblings Micah and Katie Frank co-singing on the verses, while he tore off on the chorus, shouting, “Don’t cross me again. It all comes back in the end…” That song set the tone for the rest of their show in a way, gave the impression that they weren’t going to be holding back at all, and they indeed did not. Upon finishing it, Micah told everyone who they were, as well as the title of that first song and mentioned the next one was “Go for Broke”, another track from their debut, self-titled EP. A cool little instrumental intro set the song up, with drummer Eric Gustafson, bassist Nick Laracuente and Micah, who was the rhythm guitarist, created a nice little piece before Mykey O’Neill started plucking the strings of his guitar, giving the song its full shape. Both of those songs got them off to an explosive start, and “Let Me In” didn’t let up much, as the electric version is much more in-your-face than the acoustic version you can find online is.
They followed it with a couple more newer songs, one of which was titled “Deceit” and saw Micah handing his guitar over to Katie. She predominately strummed rather slowly, and once they finished pointed out that was her first time ever playing a guitar on stage. She seemed proud of the fact, and rightfully so, ‘cause she did a good job. That freed Micah up to roam about the stage a little more, acting like your typical frontman, standing on their boxes that bear the band’s name while he livened up the crowd. At the end of that tune, he even screamed the last few lines in a throaty enough voice he could give even the most hardcore Metal bands a run for their money. They followed it with a song that Katie sang lead on, which I believe was called “Buried”, before doing a couple more tracks from their EP. One of those was “Lose Control”, while the other was my personal favorite song of theirs, “Kings and Queens”, during which Micah laid his guitar down, again gaining some freedom to move about and Katie did the same. They weren’t always the main focus, though, as Eric was pounding out some thick beats that were undeniable, and the short solo, or rather riffs, Mykey plays are stellar. Up next they did another newer song, and afterwards Micah informed everyone that their next song was “Pitchfork”. That’s arguable the best song on their EP, but they didn’t have a chance to do it as their set was cut short at 32-minutes.
See, after he said that the house music came back on, causing everyone band members and fans alike to look around in disbelief.
Personally, I think it was pretty crappy. I mean, I get that things were running behind schedule, but the guys and girl of Idler never even received a heads up warning them they only had, say, five minutes left or anything like that. At least not that I know of.
Something like that can’t affect their overall show, though, at least not in a detrimental way.
I thought they were better than the other time I had seen them. Micah didn’t use a guitar almost the entire show then like he did now, but that didn’t diminish his persona, and even though he was more glued in front of the mic he’s still a mighty frontman. He even has one of the best and more unique voices that I’ve heard, and Katie’s every bit as good, and their voices mix together to create some amazing textures in the songs.
The other guys, Eric and Nick, do a perfect job of rounding things out in the live show aspect, as does Mykey, but I mention him separately because I believe this was his first show with Idler. He’s a great guitarist and on stage he looked like he had been playing with them since their inception.
If you like straight up Rock music, then Idler’s a band to check out. You can find their album on ITUNES, and even get a couple of free downloads (including their cover of “Highway to the Danger Zone”) on their REVERBNATION PAGE. As for shows, their next one is going to be June 29th at Hailey’s up in Denton.
Closing out the night and doing their first live show of 2013 was the Fort Worth based band, Pulse.
Now, I’ve heard a lot about these guys for awhile, but had never seen a show. In fact, I’d never even listened to their music, so I was interested to see how they lived up to the hype that surrounded them. Sadly, I think they may have been overhyped to me…
Like I said, this was the band’s first show of the year, and they used to play/debut a lot of their newer material. Their opening song was one of those new ones. Vocalist Sean Yeaney sang something along the lines of, “…I wish I could just wish you away…” on the chorus, and that was a song I really liked. They then did a track from last year’s “Show Me the Way” record, “Blame”, following it with another new(er) song, and then another album track, “No More Next Time”. That latter one was a good one, especially with the chilling guitar notes at the beginning and end of it, but out of all their songs thus far I wasn’t truly feeling it. Guitarists James Brennaman and Justin Judy, drummer Jimmy Lay, bassist Kelly Robinson and Sean busted out some more new songs, and during the second one of this string of them Kelly encountered some technical issues, resulting in not being an active part of their next couple of songs.
They soldiered on without him, though, and after finishing one that I believe was called “From Here to Home”, things were fixed and Kelly rejoined the action, just in time for what seemed to be a fan favorite, “Think About It”. Their next song found Sean singing the words at a very rapid pace, and afterwards they let the crowd choose which version of a song they wanted to hear. One option was the usual way it’s done, the other was a 420 remix, which Sean noted they were never able to perfect, so it might not be the best. That didn’t stop the fans from choosing this remix, though, which had a bit of a Reggae sound to it. “They Have Arrived” was another good one, and had a killer thick intro with Kelly and Jimmy working in excellent synch with one another. Their show started to wind down with “Won’t Let Go”, and after one more new track they closed their 60-minute long set with “Run Away”.
It was nearly two in the morning when they finished, and I figured the show was over and left, However, when I walked out the door, I heard Sean asking the crowd if they were still with them. They most likely came back for an encore, but it was late and I had seen enough.
Like I said, I think the band was overhyped to me I think, because I was expecting something amazing, both in their music and performance. What I saw and heard, though, was honestly rather generic, and even struck me as a little lackluster.
I thought the best part of their stage show came during when song when Sean climbed atop the speakers, staying there for maybe a minute before leaping off back to the stage, but there was just never that one moment where Pulse got their hooks in me and wowed me.
I didn’t really like the fact that they used smoke machines, or cannons that propelled the smoke into the air, because really, bands on this level don’t need stuff like that. I’m kind of prude with stuff like that in the first place, be it with visuals playing behind a band or stuff like this, and I think it subtracts from any bands show. The main focus should be the music and any and every band needs to let their music do the talking, rather than using various things to try to “enhance” the experience. The only exception to this rule is Muse.
Now, it’s also worth noting that I’m basically the only person at this show that felt that way, because they had a ton of fans out, all of whom were shouting along to every song they knew, and listening in awe to the new stuff. I wish I could have been one of them, but they didn’t ignite any passion inside me like some of the other bands on this bill did. And just to be clear, I’m not saying they are bad or that their music is, it just did nothing for me.
Their next area show is scheduled for July 6th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, but before that they’ll be rocking St. Louis, Missouri at FUBAR on May 18th. You can find their album, “Show Me the Way” in ITUNES and you can even get a free download of one song on their REVERBNATION PAGE.
Nonetheless, this was still an excellent night of music, and if you weren’t here, you missed out.
The Dallas/Fort Worth based Euphio Records has been around for a little while now. Five years to be exact, and to celebrate the labels anniversary they were throwing a party this night at Ferralog Studios in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas.
Many of the people who attended this night were invited and put on the guest list, though it was open to the public, and providing the entertainment for everyone was several Euphio bands. Actually, almost their entire roster was performing this night.
The Indie/Rock quartet known as Animal Spirit was the first band up, taking the stage shortly after 7:30.
They may be an Indie/Rock band, but not in the way that probably comes to mind. Their music at times has a dirty sound to it, particularly in the notes Andrew Stroheker plays on his guitar. They kept changing things up throughout their 25-minute long set, subsequently keeping things fresh, as he sang the lead on some song, while Sam Wuehermann added some backing vocals, or vice versa, while others still were performed more like a duet. Their second song was definitely the most interesting of the night, as Sam picked up a wine bottle, removing the drumstick that was placed inside, making that into an instrument for the song. They brought things down a little on that one, creating somewhat of a dark tone that fit rather well. After another song, drummer Parker Anderson started them right into “The Planets a Lie” by tapping on the rim of some of the drums. It’s one that’s done more as a duet and the first half of the song has a very minimalist approach to it, allowing Sam and Andrews’ voices to shine, as they sing every word in unison with one another. It grows into more of a serious rock song during the second half, though, and they all busted loose on their instruments, including bassist Joe Prankster. They had time enough for one more song after that, which ended their set.
I had caught a little bit of the band at a show the month before, but this was the first full set of theirs I had seen, and I really enjoyed it.
They have a very unique, distinctive sound, not just in the music but with the voices as well, and their stuff is often moody. That is to say they take you on more of a journey rather than being monotone.
Visit their FACEBOOK PAGE to find out when they’ll have more shows coming up, and they will be releasing an album sometime this year, so keep your eye/ears peeled for that, too.
Perhaps the best part of the entire night was the set changes and how quick they were (every band used the same drum kit and amps, and at times even other instruments). That meant there was usually five to ten minutes of downtime before the next band took the stage, and next up was The Frisky Disco.
Like most of the bands playing this party, I hadn’t seen them before, but I’d heard nothing but good things, and was excited about finally seeing them.
They cranked out six songs in their 22-minutes on stage, and the only one I can peg was their second one, “A Life After”, which comes from their latest record. I found that to be the best song of their set, but with each track I found myself getting more caught up in the bands show. There’s a serious blues/soul vibe to their stuff, with even a dash of funk at times, and guitarist Tyler Vela did an excellent job at supplying those sounds via some great riffs. The rhythm section was rounded out by Jonnie Mans on bass and Zach Tucker on drums, who can play the kit just as well as he can the bass, which is saying a lot. He also did a pretty good job of keeping his fedora on his head, until one point in the show when he got so into he had to throw it in the crowd so he could bang his head around to his beats. However, the most polarizing member of the group was frontman Hayden Miller. Honestly, nothing he did was all that thrilling, and it’s not like he was darting all over the stage or anything like that. He did though have “it”, which in his case was passion and groove with the music, making it impossible to take your eyes off him, at least not for very long. He just had a real personality and you could tell he was in to every song they did, and that goes a long way in making a show a memorable one.
Not only did they live up to the hype that surrounds them, they surpassed it in my opinion, and I loved the style of Bluesy Rock that they played. Which by the way, Hayden has a voice that fits that sound well.
I would highly recommend seeing a show, and to keep up to date with their gigs just keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE. As for their debut self-titled album, you can find a FREE download of it on their BANDCAMP PAGE.
The bands continued, and keeping in the spirit of highly original names that the Euphio bands seem to have was Captain Mayo and the Phonos.
Fronting the band and serving as the rhythm guitarist was Zach Mayo, who also happened to be a member of the next and final two bands on the bill. He is also of course part of the bands namesake, while The Phonos were Nolan Robertson on bass, lead guitarist Scott Forosisky and drummer Brian Forosisky.
Rock ‘n’ Roll was their specialty, and it shone through best on their second song, which had some super slick riffs from both Zach and Scott, and were some of the most attention grabbing lines I’ve heard in a long time. They went in a different direction with their next song, as Zach announced they were going to do a little Country. There was a definite Country twang to the song, not only in the music but also in Zachs’ voice, though it was more along the lines of Texas Country, which has certain Rock elements to it. They pulled it off surprisingly well, and I’d have no complaints if they wrote more songs like that. They concluded their 22-minute long set with the final track from their EP, “Will the Legend Stick?”, which boasts a catchy music bed and some smooth, yet powerful vocals. It was another awesome song, and the perfect way to end their set.
Out of the four bands on this bill that I had never seen, Captain Mayo and the Phonos were my personal favorite. Their genre was more of what I’m, which was the biggest appeal to me. Aside from that, it was fun and a little infectious at times.
Zach has a killer voice, which did surprise me a bit since I’ve only seen him as the drummer for The Breakfast Machine, and he’s quite good on the guitar, too. Also, his band mates brought a good energy to the show, and at times, Nolan proved himself to be one hell of a bass player.
Throw the band a “like” on their FACEBOOK PAGE, that way you’ll know when they have another show, even though from the looks of it they don’t play all that often. You can also check out the band’s music on their page on Euphio Records.
Now, speaking of The Breakfast Machine, they were the next band, and it was obvious everyone was most excited about them, as everybody huddled around the stage.
Their twenty some odd minute long set was made up almost exclusively of new songs from their forthcoming sophomore record, and the song they opened with I thought was one of the best of the night. Before starting their next song, drummer Zach Mayo stated they had recently released a music video for it, to which the crowd cheered, knowing it was “Getz”. “Fuck the fame, I want my name to be lost in time like immortality…” sang vocalist Meghann Moore, and shortly after guitarists Ryan Sobczak and Chris Mansfield sprang to life on the chorus, tearing it up on their axes. They followed it with “Cloudy with a Chance of the Mondays”, which was the only song from their debut album they did this night. I was okay with that, as it was the one I most wanted to hear from “A Pitch to the Wind”, and it meshed well with the previous song, as they both have a soupy sound to the music and the ebb and flow on each one is really good, too. They powered through four more songs after that, some of which were a little slower and others were more in-your-face. Regardless of the pace of the music, though, they kept pushing themselves, and after a few songs they were working like a well-oiled machine. They didn’t seem satisfied with that, though, and were continuously getting better and more into right up to the end of their set. Bassist Brandon Reynolds, Ryan and Chris were moving all over the rather small stage, doing a fine job of interacting with one another, and if that wasn’t enough to have people entertained, than Meghann ensured everyone was with her unique and highly intoxicating voice.
They wowed me (and from the looks of it everyone else) this night, and The Breakfast Machine made sure that this event was a party, and not just a concert.
They were much better than what I remembered of the last show of theirs I saw, though part of that could be because they had a sound guy that knew what he was doing this night, unlike the previous time I saw them. I don’t mean to take anything away from them, though, because they did come across as being more cohesive, and seemed like a different beast now.
They’re definitely making a name for themselves and are growing into powerhouse here in the North Texas area, as well they should. Their newest album should be released in the coming months, but for now watch the music video for “Getz” to hold you over. You can also get a FREE download of “A Pitch to the Wind” on their BANDCAMP PAGE.
There was one final band for the night, and that was Big Bats, an Electronic/Psychedelia band conceived by Patrick Dougherty and Chris Mansfield. Joining them for their debut live show were members of the other bands, including Zach Mayo, Ryan Sobczak and Meghann Moore, who added some backing vocals.
It took them a little longer to set up, since they had to hook up a laptop and what looked like an iPad (or a similar device) to provide all the sample tracks, but once everything was in working order they got things going with the very catchy “Sarah Childs”. Along with supplying the sample tracks, Patrick was also the bands singer and he had an excellent voice, especially for the trippy style of music they played. They wound the tail end of that song right into “In the Garden”, a song where Meghann acted as the lead vocalist. It was my favorite song of their brief set and it an all around good vibe, resulting in the fans really moving around, and some even danced a bit. So far, they had been playing their debut album “Whomp!” in order, and they continued with the third track from said album, “What is Mine”, which was by far the most psychedelic sounding song of their set. To conclude things, they did an instrumental song, but they had some, or rather a lot of help on it. Various instruments were handed out to the fans that wanted them, mostly percussion instruments like shakers of some type, and those who grabbed them joined the band on stage. Things were so tight that no one could move around, but it didn’t matter, because the fun everyone was having overshadowed anything the band could have done alone on stage. Not only that, but happy energy seeped out into the audience, infecting everyone and making that song the most fun one of the night, and I do mean the most from any of the bands, not just Big Bats.
Now, I had listened to their stuff online and liked it, but it translates so much better live, and considering I’m not a real fan of the genre of music they play, I loved their stuff.
I don’t know how often Big Bats will actually perform live, but you should go see them if they ever do again, and in the meantime listen to their stuff HERE.
This was one hell of a show, at least from that perspective, and also one hell of a party, because all the bands did indeed make it feel that way, and the atmosphere was just different from that of just your regular club show.
So, congrats to Euphio for making it another year, and hopefully this next year will be the best one yet. Also, big props to everyone involved in orchestrating this event and everyone that worked it, you all made it a night to remember.
There were several great shows going on this night in Deep Ellum, but I settled for the most rock filled event of the night, which was taking place at The Boiler Room.
As far as I knew there were only three bands on the bill, but upon walking in I discovered there was a fourth, and it was the Wichita Falls based rock outfit, Twicebroken.
It had been quite awhile since I last saw them, so it was a very pleasant surprise.
A lot of their 37-minute long set was newer material, including their opening song which began a fury of Rock ‘n’ Roll. “This next song is called “Can’t Stop I Won’t Stop.” announced frontman Aaron Mullin, giving themselves just a few seconds of downtime before guitarists Bryan Crowe and Brandt Holmes fired up the intense number. Upon finishing it, Aaron mentioned that they had finished up a tour not long ago. “…It was awful…”, saying that their van had broken down while in Michigan I believe, leaving them stuck there for a few days. He obviously didn’t have good memories of it, and the way he talked it won’t be something they do again anytime soon. They did a couple more songs next, one of which was called “Crawling Out”, and then arrived at a single of sorts from their self-titled debut album, “Already Gone”. You really got to see how tight they are with one another during that one, with bassist Nick Knowles, Bryan, Brandt and Aaron all operating in perfect synch with the beats Billy Pennington was pounding out, thrashing around to them and such. Another song they did from that album was “Walkin’ Away”, which has a more Southern Rock flare to it, then slowed things down with a much more sentimental song. Aaron stated that he wrote it about a friend who died in a crash about a year ago and he wanted to write something in her memory. I think the song was titled “Walk with the Angels”, and there was a duality to it, being both very beautiful and quite sad. They started winding things down with “The Enemy In Me”, and wrapped up their set with what is arguably the best song in their repertoire, “Preacher Man”.
Their set was chocked full of rock and matched with one of the most intense live shows you can see. That was what drew me to them whenever it was I first saw one of their shows, and they’ve only honed their skills since then, making them a true force to be reckoned with.
Hell, on any normal night they would have stolen the show right out from under the other bands on the bill, but this wasn’t a normal night.
Definitely go check out Twicebroken’s album in ITUNES, and while they don’t have any shows lined up at this moment, you really should go see them if you have the chance.
Second up this night was Waking Alice, who had made the trek from Fort Worth to Dallas to do their first show of the year.
They got started with what I think is one of their newer songs, and one I’m quite fond of, then tackled a couple of songs from their newest EP, “Retribution”. One of those was “Treason”, which drummer Jon Levey and guitarist Brandon Brewer got underway with some thunderous beats and roaring notes. “…Come on one more time, play the game with me…” Rus belted out as they reached the songs chorus. It is the most rocking song on their EP in my opinion, and that showed during their performance of it, which was just a little more vicious than some of their other stuff. “This next song is called Scars.” Rus announced, before they started the slightly darker (in a musical sense) sounding song, which has some thick rhythm parts where Brayton Light tore it up on his bass. That’s all evened out, though, by Brandon’s killer solo that closes out the song, however, it was outshined by the instrumental break/jam during “Biggest Lie”. Brandon captured the spotlight during it, just riffing and going with it, but Brayton and Jon certainly added their two cents on it, while Rus took a backseat. They do that at every show, but the most interesting thing is it’s always a little different, so it never gets stale. After that powerful number, they scaled things back ever so slightly with “Fates Design”, which tells the story of Rus meeting his now wife, but not in a cliché way like most of those songs are done in. They got back to the high-energy rock stuff with “Wasting Time”, though I believe it was that song that, before starting it, Brandon cracked a joke. Now, I couldn’t understand what he said, which might have been the same problem other people had, resulting in essentially no laughter. “You better laugh at that, or we’re not gonna play this next song.” he said. Rus chimed in, “I think he’s serious.” He did seem it, but it wasn’t long before they started the song, following it with another classic from the bands catalog, “Chasing Memories”. I love the new stuff they’ve done with Rus, but some of their older material, like that one, are at least every bit of good, and it’s given all new life with the slightly different approach Rus takes to singing it. They had one song left in the chamber, and it was brand new one no less. “…It’s That One…” said Rus, saying it again and pointing out that, that really was the name of the song. I really liked it, and out of the handful of songs they churned out with Rus at the helm, this one now stands out as being one of my favorites and it was great way to end their 42-minute long set.
Which each show I’ve seen, they’ve continued to improve and tighten up, delivering a better show each time, and this night was hands down the best Waking Alice show I’ve seen yet.
It’s a nice lively stage show they put on, and coupled with their music, it should have no problem holding your attention.
Their next show is going to be on June 1st at Andy’s Bar in Denton, and it’ll be one you want to see. And be sure to head over to ITUNES and pick up their albums. Again, the newest is “Retribution”, but they have some older stuff available as well, featuring the bands previous vocalist.
The night wasn’t about to slow down, especially with Red Angel Theory being the next band up.
Their 32-minute long set was kicked off by one of the new songs they’ve cooked up, which is just one of the great things that has come out of Monica Koohi fronting the band. It was clear right from the start they, like all the other bands on this bill, were taking a no holds barred approach to their performance, and tore through that commanding opener. They weren’t about to lose the momentum they had built with that one either, as guitarist Brandon Deaton immediately fired up their next song, “Shattered”. Early on in the song drummer Nick Sarabia could be seen flipping his drumsticks up in the air then catching them, as well as adding some backing vocals during the chorus, adding some extra force to Monicas’ voice (not that she needs it) which is what makes that song stand out so in my opinion. They let loose another newer song on the audience, before taking a breather, as Monica announced who they were and such, also mentioning what they were going to do next. It was “It Often Lies”, another heavy song of theirs with Phil Sahs bass lines and Nick’s drumming working well together. “…Standing tall and proud, fighting till the day we die. Open up yourself, now it often lies…” Monica sang in her one of a kind voice, right before the songs second chorus. They followed it with what is arguable their best song, “Inception”, a true powerhouse of a song, that even comes across as an anthem of sorts. Monica got ahead of herself with the next song, saying it was one, before Nick corrected her. Instead, it was another newer one, called “Suffocate” I believe, and out of the three newer tracks they played this night, it was my personal favorite. Now they got to the song Monica was ready to do a few minutes before, but first she had to introduce it. Her speech involved stating that Red Angel Theory was “not about negativity”; rather they are about taking any negative thoughts and energy and turning them into something productive and creative, like music for example. The song was “The Darkness”, and despite the title, there are some positive, almost uplifting moments of the song. They went for a strong finish, as Nick started them right into their final song, “When the Dust Settles”, which happens to be the title track of their debut EP from last year. He provides some more backing vocals on that one, this time in the form of some ear piercing screams, which gives the song an extra layer of depth. It’s one hell of a song, and served as the perfect way to end their set.
I liked this Red Angel Theory show much more than the previous one I saw with this current lineup. Partly because now I knew what to expect and Monicas’ unique voice wasn’t as foreign to me as it had been before, and partly because they’ve got more shows under their belt now, and that experience showed.
They were awesome when I saw them a few months back at another Deep Ellum venue, but they were really clicking this night.
Monica was often racing around the stage, with a certain urgency to her step and her singing, which made it easy for your eyes to be glued on her. Brandon and Phil were a little less mobile, but they still have a presence about them. Besides, their musicianship speaks for itself, and you can admire it all, from the subtle nuances to the more intricate riffs each one cranks out. As for Nick, well, he’s a beast, plain and simple.
This was the best show I’ve seen them do yet, in either of the bands lineups, and it makes me excited for what they’ll be like down the road.
Go pick up their new EP, “Rise for Something”, in ITUNES. Then, if you want to hear those tracks live, go see them at The Worship Lounge in Colleyville, TX on May 17th. They’ll be up in Greenville on May 25th at the Texas Tattoos and Art Gallery, then on June 29th they have a Denton gig scheduled at Hailey’s. And on July 12th they’ll be back in Dallas rockin’ the Curtain Club.
This had been an amazing show so far with some killer bands playing, and now it culminated with Early Pearl taking the stage.
They ripped into their 50-minute long set with “Get Out”, and as soon as they started it you could practically feel everyone’s excitement as the adrenaline level in the club skyrocketed. As it came to an end, frontman Bishop Booker pumped one of his fists in the air, while he repeatedly shouted the final line, “Get out!”. They kept things moving right along as lead guitarist Chris Jackson wound them into another high-octane track, “State of Affairs”, before slowing things down just a bit with “Breakdown”. The coolest part of that song (and one of the most memorable moments of this show) came towards the end of it, when guitarists Chris and Ryan Maynard, plus bassist Chris Ivey all moved to stage right and formed small circle of sorts. Then, Maynard proceeded to hit the strings of Jacksons’ guitar, while Jackson did the same to Chris’s bass, who in turn played Maynards’ guitar. Like I said, it was cool to see, but above all it was a fun moment, and you could tell the three of them were having a good time doing it. “…This is Hindsight.” Said Bishop after he had talked with the crowd for a moment, which started them on a string of new songs, however, out of all of them, it was one of the best in my opinion. As serious as they were about rocking, there was also some entertaining banter between some songs, like here when it was said that Bishop had once gotten “…someone pregnant just by looking at them.” If I’m remembering correctly that all started because some of his sweat had dropped on a girl at the front of the stage, and he was joking that she couldn’t even talk after that happened.
They got back to the music with “Sooner Or Later”, and after someone bought them some shots, which they of course subsequently did, they tackled “Letting Go”. “Will I see you later, ‘cause I’m letting go? Will you open for me, or will you let me go?” sang Bishop on the chorus, amidst a barrage of drumbeats from Bobby Primm, and shortly after Jackson started his knockout guitar solo. Upon finishing it Bishop went to say something to the fans,but it came out wrong and rather nonsensical. “…I’m sorry.” He apologized, “I’ve been drinking and can’t speak English.” That got a laugh from everybody, and they then set up their next song, a very new song, and Chris asked everyone not to be too hard on them if it sounded horrible. It was only the second time they had done it in front of an audience, but I don’t think they had much to worry about. The song is called “Sure and Jaded Symphony” and it’s a killer song, being almost melodic at times, and others it’s just raw rock, which is exactly what you expect from Early Pearl. For the next song, Bishop announced he was going to do a little screaming, adding, “…I usually only scream if I’m with the right woman.” Chris chimed in at that point, “Or the right man.” “Man, I’m not even gonna talk to you after that…” said Bishop, while Chris just laughed. That led them to “Say It”, a song that is unlike any other of theirs, and even though they hadn’t been holding back in terms of their performance, they certainly didn’t pull any punches on that track.
As their set started coming to an end, Bishop made a brief speech. I don’t recall everything he said, but one thing was along the lines of there are a lot of bands out there who aren’t staying true to themselves. He went on to say that they supported what everyone of their fans was doing, since they support them. “…Early Pearl shows are about wearing funny hats…” he said as he kind of pulled a hat of a girls head. Overall, the takeaway message was to be yourself, which is a good message to send in my opinion. Now, they got back to some stuff from their album, both of which are fan favorites. “Dear lover, I need you to listen one more time. I’ve tried to deny you, but you just slowed my stride…” Sang Bishop, as they got “Turn” going, before bringing things to a close with “This Is”.
The fans were shouting for an encore, even though the two Chris’s were the only members left on stage at this point. “I’m sorry.” said Ivey, “In ten years we’ve only written ten songs.”
The fans, myself included, were eventually okay with that, but I’m not gonna lie, I was hoping they might bust out “Regret” for an encore. Maybe, next time.
As it was, it was still an excellent show, though.
To somewhat repeat what I said about the last Early Pearl show I saw, they put on real rock show. Sure, there are many bands that do that, but Early Pearl is a head above most others. Their music is still some of the best I’ve heard, and the live show is one of the best I’ve seen, and they won’t leave you disappointed.
In a month and a half now I’ve seen Early Pearl as much as I did in 2008 and 2009 combined, and will no doubt see them at least a few more times before the years over with. You should do the same, and while they have no shows scheduled at the moment, keep a check on their FACEBOOK PAGE for future show updates.
Also, head over to their SOUNDCLOUD PAGE to download their entire “This Is” album for free, as well as some live cuts of several of their new songs.
This was one hell of a rock show, and I’m glad I decided to spend my night at the Boiler Room.
It was time for round two of the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, and I was getting a much earlier start this day.
The first band I wanted to see went on at 2:20, at I got down to Dallas around that time, but the search for a parking spot took some time, and by the time I made it over to the main stage, Nicholas Altobelli and the Gigawatts were a little ways into their set.
Actually, they weren’t quite the Gigawatts, since they were missing a drummer and bassist, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Not long after I got there, Nicholas announced to everyone they were going to do a more “sensitive song”. That sensitive song was one of the tracks from his latest “Without a Home” album, “27 Stories”. “I don’t want to become something I’m running from… Crash and burn in the ground without making a sound, is that so hard to believe, or is it just me?…” Nicholas sang on the opening lines, using a more somber tone of voice on it to reflect the mood of it. After finishing it he mentioned his backing band The Gigawatts (pronounced like jig-a-watts), which was pedal steel guitarist Heather Kitzman, acoustic guitarist Robbie Saunders, and on the keys was Rahim Quazi, who is an accomplished area musician in his own right. Nicholas mentioned they were missing a few members, asking if they should change their name to the “gigabytes” since there were less of them. “No,” you could hear Heather saying while laughing. They then did another track from the new album, “I Don’t Think Tonight is Going to be a Good Night”, which was a little more upbeat, despite still being more of an emotional song, and it’s that certain level of emotion that is essentially a constant in all of Nicholas’s music. Without going into detail, he said that they seem to be cursed at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, saying they played here for three straight years and something always seemed to go wrong, and now they were sans a drummer and bassist. Still, that’s not terrible. They switched things up a bit as Heather left her pedal steel guitar and approached the stage right microphone. She has another band, The Blondelles, an all female Country band that does both covers and originals, and now one of her band mates from that group joined them on stage to perform a Blondelles tune. The song was quite good and the occasional harmonies they had going on were very delightful, leaving me with a strong desire to see a Blondelles show. They returned to their typical lineup and did a couple more tracks, one of which was a new one called “Dogwood”, which Nicholas said would be on his next record. Yes, not even two months after the release of his latest album and he’s already working on songs for his next album. You have to respect that. As for the song, it was very catchy and I loved the story it told. I’d even go as far as to say it’s one of the best things he’s written, which is saying a lot.
At this point, he asked the person working the sound how much time they had left. “…Please don’t say, like, forty minutes.” He said. Well, how much time do you think they had left? Yep, forty minutes. Judging Nicholas’s reaction, it was obvious they hadn’t prepared that meaty of a setlist, which meant most of what they did next was all impromptu.
Heather volunteered to do another song of the Blondelles, which killed some time, and afterwards Nicholas busted out an older song of his, one which he set up as being about a town in Michigan. The town he spoke of was Ann Arbor, which was the title of the song. I first saw Nicholas about a year ago and this song was my favorite from that set, but then he mentioned he was probably going to be retiring it to make room for his newer material. So, hearing it was a bit of a treat, for sure. He and Heather handled that song, but the other band members joined in for “I Just Want to Feel Real”, which was undeniable the most upbeat song of their set. It had already kind of been a song swap since Heather had done a few songs, and it definitely became one here, as Nicholas handed his acoustic guitar off to Rahim as the two traded places. He introduced himself to everyone, then did one of his originals and the title track of one of his albums, “Supernatural”. It was an infectious tune and instantly made me a fan of Rahim’s. I’ve heard some great things about him over the years, and now, I understand why. He got back behind the keys after that song, and they spread the love around some more, letting Robbie do a song, which had a Bluesy vibe to it. The best part about those other two songs was watching Heather, Robbie and Nicholas trying to play along with it and add backing vocals in parts, because, since they were unfamiliar with the songs, they were having to watch both Rahim and Robbie with an eagle eye while they were doing their song.
That seemed to have exhausted a lot of their options, and now Nicholas again asked how they were on time, hoping it was almost up. “Perfect.” He said after hearing they were down to three minutes, giving them just enough time to do the single from “Without a Home”, “The Lucky Ones”.
Considering about half of their set was made up on the spot, it was great show, and they pulled it all off without a hitch. Even without the rhythm section and doing acoustic versions of all the songs. I even think that out of the handful of shows I’ve seen of Mr. Altobelli’s, this one was the best yet.
See a show if you can. They’ll be playing at AllGood Café in Dallas on May 31st, along with The Blondelles. On June 28th they have a gig at Sundown at Granada in Dallas, and on July 11th they’ll be up in Denton at Dan’s Silverleaf. And if you’d like to listen to/buy Nicholas’s records, check out a couple of ‘em in ITUNES.
After their set, I went to find some shade, and wound up at the Deep Ellum stage were a band by the name of Chant was finishing up their set.
They were a mix of R&B and Soul, and what little I saw was absolutely amazing. The trio had a fantastic sound going for them, and by the looks of it, I wasn’t the only one they had reeled in. There was quite a crowd watching them, and once they were finished, the audience erupted in applause and cheers.
I killed some more time once they finished, ending up at the Singer/Songwriter stage around four where Clint Niosi was doing a show.
I first discovered him late last year at the Dallas Observer Music Awards showcase, but there was one big difference between that show and the one he was about to do, and that was that he now had a full backing band. In fact, this was the debut show of The Unaccountable, which was what Clints’ backing band has been named.
However, just because Clint now had a full band, comprised of Tommy Garcia on drums, Matt Hanson on the piano, bassist Aaron Bartz, and Claire Hecko playing the violin, didn’t mean he was going to stray too far from his sound.
Their 35-minute long set got off to a slow start as he slowly plucked the strings of his electric guitar setting up a song from his 2008 album “The Sound of Dead Horses Beaten Against Cold Shoulders”, “Coalmine Canary”. When it was time for the instrumentalists to join in, they were all pretty reserved with their playing, too. The bass lines were subtle, at times hardly even noticeable, while the drums were loud enough to be heard, but offered no competition between any of the other elements, and the keys and violin served to really accentuate Clints’ voice, which was undoubtedly the main focal point throughout the show. That all held pretty true for every song, and next they did the somewhat eerie “White Elephant”, off last year’s “For Pleasure and Spite” album. In listening to it, to realize not only how much power the music has in setting a songs mood, but also how much the lyrics and the tone they are said in affect it. “…There’s nothing new and it’s all been done. Nostalgic for the way it never was…” sang Clint on one of the later lines of “New Light”, a song that is one of the best example at what an incredible songwriter he really is. All of those songs thus far, and most of his in general, have a certain ominous quality to them. I like that about his music, but “My Mepistophilis” was a refreshing change of pace, since a little bit of the song is more upbeat musically. That served as a turning point in a way for the show, because the songs that followed it, “The Sum of Parts” and “Little Heart”, also have a somewhat happier or more tranquil vibe, despite that latter song being about a breakup. Sometime around this point (probably a few songs before) a guy walked up to the stage. “Hey, don’t be afraid to actually play that guitar!” he said to Clint, who shrugged it off as the guy walked away. It was funny, mainly because the guy couldn’t appreciate what the band was actually doing. They had a few songs left now, and had saved the best for last, and both “The Formless Black” and “Shark In Your Water” were highlights of the show, even though they sound completely different from one another. They had one song left after that, and ended it with another track from the latest record, “While I’ve Got You on the Line”.
It was a fantastic set, even if some people thought he needed to play the more loudly.
As a solo artist Clint is great, and when I first saw him he was accompanied by Claire on some of the songs, but The Unaccountable create a whole new layer on the live performance.
They make the songs really pop. Sure, it’s all very subtle, but, like I said in another recent review (though it was meant in a completely different way then), there’s beauty in subtlety. You don’t have to be a loud rock band doing flashy stuff on stage to get people’s attention. All you really need is to be able to write deep, powerful lyrics that can captivate the listener… Well, at least the listener who can appreciate it.
Clint is a truly remarkable songwriter, and hands down one of the best in the area. As for the band, he did a good job at assembling some talented individuals that really fit with his style.
Be on the lookout for the band, and as of right now their next show is May 18th as part of the Arts Google Festival in Fort Worth where they will be playing at Sinaca Studios. As for his two albums, they can be purchased in either ITUNES or BANDCAMP.
As soon as they finished, I hightailed it back to the main stage at Good Latimer, where the Indie/Folk band The Fox and the Bird was getting ready to play. I’ve heard a lot about them over the years, but had never made it to a show, so now was the time to see what all the fuss was about.
Their 47-minute long set was a mix of old and new material and they opened with one of those new songs. I was drawn in to it almost immediately, though, due largely to the three and even four part harmonies they often had going on, making it very entrancing. They followed it with “Traveling Bones”, a sweet little love song where backing singer and occasional lead singer Sarah Scotts’ voice intertwined gorgeously with singer and acoustic guitarist Dan Bowmans’. “…I’m in love with the view, but I’m more in love with you…” the two sang in synch with each other. They did a little over half of the songs from their debut album “Floating Feather” this night, and the next song they tackled from it was “Women In the Kitchen”. Additional acoustic guitarist Jacob Metcalf sang lead on that tune, which had more had more of a Folk/Country vibe, and Petra Kelly’s violin playing was superb on it. They did a newer song next, which just so happened to be about the fine city of Dallas, which made it very relatable for all those in attendance. By all those, I mean a lot, as there didn’t appear to be an empty seat anywhere, forcing a lot of people (myself included) to stand and watch their performance. Upon finishing it, Jacob mentioned that their new album, an EP titled “Darkest Hour”, should be out sometime in May. They then did a few songs from it, which required Dan to exchange his guitar for an accordion. Not only that, but he also used a trumpet from time to time over the course of the next few songs, one of which was sung Sarah, showcasing what a strong voice she has, while another was the final song from their first record, “Hey Sister”. It was slower in relation to most of their other stuff, which in turn made the drums, which were manned by Paul Grass, the dominant instrument. His drum kit was pretty small and far from traditional, as his bass drum was a suitcase. Very interesting, and as odd as it looked, it resulted in a sound much like that of an actual bass drum. They got back to their normal setup, with Dan on the guitar, in order to do “Oldest Old”, which was one of my favorites of their set, and “Old Mother” wasn’t too shabby, either. They did a couple more new tracks, then arrived at the title track from their current album, “Floating Feather”. This cheery song was the only I was truly familiar with (I admittedly haven’t listened to the album a whole lot). It was every bit as good live as the recorded version, and is arguable the best song they’ve written. They had one left after that, bidding everyone farewell when they finished it, saying “…We’ll see you next time.”
Now, I know the whole Indie/Folk genre is kind of played out at the moment, since it has suddenly become the hot commodity and there are now a bazillion bands like that who have become successes from the commercial aspect. Honestly, I’m as tired of it as probably everyone else is. And while you can’t say there’s no other band out there like The Fox and the Bird, you can say they are doing it all right.
It’s creative musically, and lyrically several of their songs tell some good little stories. Plus they are all very capable and great singers, whose different tones of voice make sure nothing ever gets to repetitive.
I really liked it and am glad I finally got to see one of their shows. Hopefully I can make it to another sometime in the near future.
Find their album “Floating Feather” in either ITUNES or BANDCAMP, and keep a check on their FACEBOOK PAGE for info about future shows.
So far there had been a lot of diversity between all the bands (and that’s just from the ones I chose to see) and it was about to get more eclectic when Reinventing Jude took the stage.
I’ve heard of the band for a few years now, but it wasn’t until the last six months or so when I actually listened to their stuff and became a fan.
The band, which is fronted by Jude Gonzalez, was functioning as a quintet this night, and along with all the typical instruments a band has, they also had a cello player.
Their first song proved the self-description of being a Ballroom Rock band to be an accurate one. That’s the similarity between their songs, they all have somewhat of a mellow vibe to them and are rather relaxing, while also stimulating. It’s quite interesting, and had me captivated from the start. I think they followed it with “1919”, which let Judes’ smoky voice flow while she played her guitar. There’s no doubt that she drew the most attention, but her band mates were putting on a good live show as well and put more energy into it than you might expect based on their style of music. Yun Kim was a powerful drummer who was really into it all, and lead guitarist Nathan Hanlon is an exceptional guitar player, though he was more restrained here than with the rock band I last saw him in. They did another song before getting to what I think was “Midnight 30”, which was at times a little more upbeat, and had some nice cello parts courtesy of Ashley Montez, while bassist Chris Townsend and Yun created a very strong rhythm section on that one. “The Talk” was one of their most dynamic songs of the night, and “The Weather” was pretty good, too. Jude announced their next song was “Secret”, a track from the 2011 album “Shoulder Season”, and another one that showed off Judes’ somewhat sultry voice as she crooned on the chorus, “…I’m gonna fall in love and I’m gonna keep it…”. Before beginning the next one, she announced it was named “Swimmer Song”, which was an amazing song, and they did one more after it to finish up what had been a stellar 47-minute long set.
It was a nice set and I can’t believe it took me so long to see a Reinventing Jude show.
They have an extraordinary sound, and Judes’ voice is one of the smoothest and most distinctive I’ve heard. The slower pace most of their songs have might not be for everyone, but if you don’t mind that and you like music that has real substance and meaning to it, than you need to give Reinventing Jude a listen.
You can buy their albums in ITUNES, and get some free downloads of some singles on either REVERBNATION or SOUNDCLOUD.
They usually keep pretty busy when it comes to live shows, and as of right now you can find them at Hailey’s in Denton on May 10th, and the following weekend, May 18th, they’ll be at The Freeman in Dallas.
There was one last act I really wanted to see this night, and that was the Alt/Country band from the small town of Belton, Texas, Kirk Baxley and the Old Number Sevens.
The four-piece’s opening track was really good, and they kept the show rolling with the smooth sounding “Drive”, which is one of the tracks from the “Cold as a Stone” EP. It does kind of call into question how Alt/Country the band is, though, and singer and rhythm guitarist Kirk Baxley brought that up at one point during their set, saying that some people will classify them as that. “…I like to think of us as being more Belton, Texas Country…” he said, and that genre has a dash or two of rock added to the mix. Those first two songs had been pretty loud and fast paced, but now they took things down for a few notches with the sensitive love song, “Constantly”. Kirk’s always been good at the ballads, and that tune is a fine example of that. They stepped things back up afterwards with what was the most rocking song of their set. The bands lead guitarist really got to cut loose on this one, shredding and cranking out some awesome lines, and the drummer was able to let his chops show as well. It was beast of a song, and hopefully it can make it onto their next record. Kirk did some chatting with the crowd in between songs, doing everything from pumping the crowd up, to talking about the next song they were going to do. He did the latter here, saying the one they were about to do was for his dad. It was nice song, and they followed it with a few other non-album tracks, one of which was an old gem from the first time he played back during the time of his first country project, “God in Rock ‘n’ Roll”. I love that song and the positive energy it has, and it was great getting to hear it again, ‘cause it’s been a couple years at least since I last heard it. Before their next song, Kirk asked if anyone hailed from a small town, saying that was exactly what this next song was about, and it was aptly titled “Small Town”. “…Being from a small, small town, it ain’t easy…” Kirk belted out on the chorus, telling it like it is in a way, but the overall message is being from a small town isn’t that bad, and it certainly can’t define who you are or what you can do in life. They again slowed things down, way down at that, this time with the title track of their EP “Cold as a Stone”. I believe it was at this point where Kirk asked if anyone had a problem with them slowing it down and making it even more depressing. It was hard to think that could happen, but it did, and I think that was also the song where the bands bass player switched from an electric bass to an upright bass. It added a good sound to the music, but he went back to the electric bass for their next song, “Bring My Brother Back”, and after another song, they broke out the fan favorite, “Rock ‘n’ Roll in My Veins”. “I’ve got rock ‘n’ roll in my veins, but I love country music just the same…” Kirk sang at the start of this intense rock song, a song where you saw a glimpse of his rock frontman personality jump out. I thought the show was over with that, since it is a fan favorite and seemed to please everybody who was watching them this night, but they had one more left to cap off their 65-minute long set.
It was an awesome show, and much better than the last time I saw them, where they were limited to a five song set. I really liked it because even though he’s been doing this for a few years now, I’ve never been able to see a full set from him and his band in order to get a real taste of what their sound is like, and now that I have, I love it.
The music is far from being true Country, so it’s not going to alienate his older fans (at least not most of them), but they’re certainly not the loud, heavy rock songs he used to write, either. Instead, what he does now is a nice blend of each.
After all these years, Kirk is still one of the best singer/songwriters here in the area. Sure, he might not live in Dallas per say, but this has always been his hometown of sorts, which he pointed out while playing, saying he’s often been at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival in past years, but had never performed it until now, and he was proud to be able to.
They’ll be pretty busy the last half of May, doing a two night stand at the House of Fifi Dubois in San Angelo on May 17th and 18th. On the 24th they’ll be at The Rattlesnake Inn in Florence, then on the 31st they have a gig at Darwin’s in Austin. Also, be sure to check out their EP in ITUNES.
There was one band left, and somehow I didn’t know The Roomsounds were playing this thing until a few hours before this point. I really considered staying to see them, but after being out since the early afternoon, I was beat and decided to call it a night.
All in all, I had a blast at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, or rather watching the bands that played it. This was the second straight year I’ve attended two out of the three days of the festival, and I’m already looking forward to what bands will be playing it next year.
Being out at the arts festival meant I had missed the first two bands playing The Curtain Club this night, but on the bright side, I wasn’t going to have to wait long to see the two bands I was most excited to see.
First up was Opium Symphony, who, after releasing their debut full-length album last year did a couple of tours throughout the South, Mid-West and East Coast, but have been laying relatively low since late last year. That’s not to say they haven’t played, it’s just that their shows had been pretty sparse.
Since it had been awhile since their last hometown show, they had decided to make this show a little special by playing some songs from the “Blame It On the Radio” album that had never been done live, beginning with the title track itself. It replaced their typical opener, which also happens to include the word radio in its title, and as big a move as that was, even gutsy in some ways, it couldn’t have worked out better for them. “Blame It On the Radio” was every bit as loud and aggressive as the other song, garnering them a good little crowd from the start, and they commanded their attention pretty easily. They quickly followed it with “Fiction for Addiction”, with singer and rhythm guitarist Kellen Ross leading the charge into it with the opening notes, and once Derron Bell entered in on the instrumental intro, he showed off some of his skills, twirling a drumstick in one of his hands. After that song, which happens to be the one the band got their name from, “…Didn’t want to give you an opium symphony…”, Kellen took a moment to thank the other two bands who had played before them, calling some attention to the first band, Plowboy. I believe he said he was as god as those kids are when he was their age, seeming very impressed by their talent. Rightfully so, too, ‘cause I’ve seen them before and they are great. Next up was one of the staples from their album, “Jukebox Junkie”, which was greeted with some fanfare from the fans. I had forgotten how awesome that song is, particularly in the live setting, from the slick sounds of the intro which finds Kellen and lead guitarist Jarrett Kramer playing pretty much the same chords, to the eerie bridge where Kellen softly whispers “Sell your soul to the devil you’ll find…”, before surging back into the chorus. Like usual, they rocked out the instrumental outro, but they didn’t just stop like they normally do. Instead, they had another trick up their sleeve. On the album that instrumental piece at the end brings them smoothly into “Soul for Sale”, a song that had never been performed live, until this night. It was like you were listening to the two songs on the album, and during a momentary break from playing his guitar, Kellen took in a deep breath like he was preparing for this epic six plus minute long song. “Anyone today would gladly sell their soul for a dollar…” after that lengthy instrumental portion came to an end. Honestly, that’s not one of my favorites from their album (and that’s not to say I dislike the song, ‘cause that is far from being the case), but live it was another beast entirely and was one of the best songs of their set. Upon finishing it, bassist Drew Nolde had a question for everybody. “Has anyone ever had to choose between God or money?” he asked, which got little verbal response, instead getting an awkward look from people, like, “No, no I haven’t.” “Me neither,” he said, “but Kellen wrote a song about.” He was of course speaking about “God or Money”, the second and only other old song that made it into the setlist this time around, and after finishing that rhythm heavy tune, they wound it right into the explosive “Down the Rabbit Hole”. I think the only other time I had heard that one live was at their CD release show, so it had been a little while. It’s definitely one of the highlight tracks from their record and as well as the live show, it’s also very dynamic and everyone who was up by the stage was rocking out to it. Their 38-minute set was nearing the end, and now Kellen gave the fans a choice between two of their longest songs. One was “…Pennies…”, the other “Gospel”. Not many people voiced their opinion but the few who did made it clear that they wanted to hear “Gospel”. It’s the routine closer for these guys, and frankly I can’t imagine them not ending a show with it. Besides, how can you dislike a song that says, “…As long as god’s alive rock ‘n’ roll ain’t ever gonna die…”
It was a fitting end to what was probably the best Opium Symphony show I’ve seen to date, or at least in the top two. Part of that can probably be attributed to their tour. I talked with Kellen out on the patio earlier in the night, asking him how their tours went, and he was talking about how when you play so many days in a row like that, that it eventually becomes all “muscle memory”. I’ve seen other bands do that, and when they get into that touring shape they’re elevated to a whole new level. Now, it had been two months since their last show, so they of course weren’t in touring shape, but you could tell they had benefited from it.
They were better polished than what I remembered, which is saying a lot, and everything was just so tight.
If you haven’t seen them yet, you need to, and hopefully they’ll have some more shows coming up soon. Also be sure to head over to ITUNES and check out their album.
Following them was another band who hasn’t been playing much, at least not recently, and that was Redefine.
They started their 41-minute long set completely differently from any other Redefine show I’ve seen. See, it began with a rap song, specifically Nelly’s “Hot in Here” playing through the speakers, and when the curtain opened, bassist Mike DiQuinzio, drummer, Daniel “Dano” Taylor, and rhythm guitarist Matt Jones were on stage. Soon the remaining band members, lead guitarist Chris Apaliski and singer Scott Headstream, made their way on stage, somewhat dancing along with the song. Soon it cut out, though, and they were ready to get to work.
There are always two songs I hope to hear at their shows, and they opened with one of them, as Dano got right into show mode, tearing it up on his drum kit. The song was “Like a Vision, a Ghost”, which was a great track to open with. “…When you were off setting your fires, I spent my days trying to douse those flames…” sang Scott as the start of the second verse, which is one of several lines I love from that song. Dano wasn’t the only one in show mode, and Chris and Mike had been racing all over the stage during that song, while Scott focused on working and interacting the crowd. “Hey Dallas, take your medicine.” He said before starting their next song, and another one from the “Blur On the Horizon” EP, “Take Your Medicine”. They kicked things up a few notches with that fast-paced song, ensuring everyone was captivated by their show. “Let’s be honest, I’m drunk.” Scott said to everyone after finishing that previous song. I want to say he also threw in that if anyone wanted to buy them any shots they’d be okay with that. I believe that since December, they had only done one other show before this one, and during that little hiatus from being on stage, they had been working up some new material, and now they were going to give everyone a taste of what they had cooked up. I think this first new song was titled “All That Ever Was”, and it was pretty good. It wasn’t quite as aggressive as the song they had just done, or even some of their others, but I enjoyed it. Dano filled the silence in between their next song by doing a drum solo of sorts, while Scott did a little begging, placing the Redefine megaphone at the front of the stage, telling anyone who wanted to they could put some money in it to help them out in getting new shirts made. See, a little while back a lot of their merchandise was stolen, so all the shirts they did have are gone. Through all of that, Dano was still laying down some beats, and now Matt, Mike and Chris laid some riffs over it, doing a badass instrumental piece, setting up “Arcana”. They kept the music coming, next doing “The Silent Hum”, which Scott noted was the first song he wrote with the band, which was at least four years ago now, if not longer. They’ve written some great stuff in recent years, but that is still one of their best songs, and Chris gets to go all-out on it, simply shredding on his axe. “Cut the Cord” was their next song, and possible the most entertaining of their set, but not for the reasons you may think. Towards the end of it, Scott grabbed the mic stand, flipping it up in the air while he sang a line or two, and as he was swinging it back down, Chris happened to go over next to him, subsequently getting nailed in the head by the bass of the stand. You could tell it hurt, but he didn’t miss a note, and Scott looked at him apologetically and in disbelief that it had even happened. They laughed about it for a moment, then they were ready to unleash another new song on the fans. I was told as of right now they are calling it “Whole”, and it was the most intense song I’ve ever heard them do. For those familiar with Redefine, think “The Silent Hum”, then multiple that by ten or so and you should have an idea of what this new track was like. Seriously, I’ve found my new favorite Redefine song, and I think I like it even more than my favorites from their two EP’s. It didn’t seem like they had been playing anytime, but already it was time for them to wrap it up, and they did so with “Leave The Light On”. Towards the end of it Scott made his way down the sort of steps at the front of the stage, still singing, and during an instrumental break he got right out in the crowd, watching his band mates rock out for a minute, before climbing back on stage to finish it out.
This was the best Redefine show I’ve seen in a long time. Almost two years to be precise, when they played here at the Curtain to celebrate the release of what is their most recent EP.
They were on fire and worked together like a well-oiled machine. I will say that their newest member, Matt, isn’t quite as lively as the other guys are, but then again, this was only his third live show with them. And regardless of if he ever moves around as much as the others do or not, you can’t argue the fact that he’s a great guitarist, playing all of his notes very fluidly.
With Dano officially back behind the drums and Matt on rhythm guitar, I think Redefine has finally found another winning combination, and one that will hopefully last a good long while.
No shows are on the books for these guys at the moment, but they’ll be rocking a stage sooner or later. In the meantime, check out their two EP’s in ITUNES, and if we’re lucky, by year’s end maybe they’ll be adding another EP to their discography.
I think there might have been one last band up this night, but I went ahead and left after Redefine’s set. After all, I was planning on being back out at the art festival early the next day and needed to get some shut eye.
It’s spring, which means it’s festival season, this week it was time for the annual Deep Ellum Arts Festival.
Like the name suggests, it is an arts festival, with tons of artists from all over setting up shop along Main Street, which is partially blocked off.
Also, they have a variety of bands playing multiple stages, which is what gets my interest, especially since it’s free. So, since I was going to catch a show in Deep Ellum in the first place this night, why not get down to the area early and see some of the acts at the arts festival.
Midnight Empire had been playing for awhile by the time I arrived, and I made it over to the stage as they were wrapping up one of their newer songs. They had some old gems thrown in, too, though, like the fan favorite, “Can’t Get Enough”. It sounded as good as usual, and the sweet guitar solo Art Struck rocked out helped make the song, but they were oddly reserved while performing it. Actually, the same went for their entire set, or at least what I saw of it. I hate to say it, but it did affect the show, and as cohesive as drummer Matt Cook and bassist Rick Reynolds were on the next song, “Tidal Wave”, it just seemed weird with them being rather motionless, while singer Jacob Henderson casually walked around the stage. After finishing it, he said he didn’t think they had played that song in about a year or so, asking Art if that was right or not. They finally agreed it was, and that they had probably last played it at one of the clubs down here in the Deep Ellum area. The ballad “Two Against One” brought the level down for a moment, before bringing it back up with some more full on rock songs, four to be exact, which closed out their set. That seemed like the end, but after finding out they had a few more minutes left on the clock, Jacob informed everyone they were going to do one more, another new one that would be on their sophomore album.
I’ve only seen one full show of the bands, and caught another partial set before this one, so I know what Midnight Empire is capable of, and will gladly write this off as they were just having a bad night. Still, none of them really seemed like they were into it, and the passion from the musicians (or lack thereof) can make all the difference in how shows are perceived.
This was just an off night for them, and still think they are probably one of the most talented bands in the Dallas music scene at the moment. They have two big shows coming up, one will be at the House of Blues in Dallas on May 22nd opening for Ratt. The other is July 18th at the Rock USA Festival in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Check out their debut album “Everything and Nothing” in ITUNES, as well as get some free singles on their REVERBNATION page plus some live cuts of a couple newer tracks on their SOUNDCLOUD page.
I killed a little bit of time by walking around and looking at some of the art after they finished, getting back to the stage a little after eight to make sure I didn’t miss any of Sayonara.
This was going to be an interesting set from the band to say the least, since earlier in the day singer and guitarist Debbie Blythe had gotten ill, posting online that the show may have to be an instrumental one.
Luckily, by the time they started had 8:19, her voice had recovered thanks to a steroid shot she had gotten at the doctor, which she mentioned a few songs into their set. All that said, you never would have known anything was wrong as they rocked out their opener, “Rendezvous at the Slaughtered Lamb”. That first song of their 44-minute long set sounded exactly like the fans were expecting, with Debbie hitting all the notes just fine with her unique voice, while the often smooth bass lines Sean Blythe was cranking out gave the song a great texture. When that song ended, he mentioned he had been down in Houston and had “…hauled ass…” to get back up here in time to do the show. That brief banter ended, as they started into one of only a couple older songs that were in the setlist this night. It was the lead track from their first EP, “Mothership”. It’s still one of their best songs, and since I’d only seen the band once before, I forgot how good it was live, being a fairly loud rock song with some killer beats from drummer Jonny Williams, but contrasting that, Debbies’ voice is a little softer and lacks the aggression heard on other songs, which makes for an exceptional tune. They did another new song next, one that often found Debbie moving her guitar behind her, playing the keyboard instead, giving it a slightly different feel from their other songs. At this point, Debbie apologetically informed everyone she needed to give her voice a rest, turning the next song into an instrumental one. “…I hope y’all don’t mind too much…” she said to the fans, several of whom were clustered in front of the stage. They seemed okay with it, and personally, I liked it much more than I thought I would. As I’ve said many times before, I’m not a fan of instrumental music, but without the lyrics taking some of my attention, I was able, or rather forced, to pay attention to their musicianship, and each of them is amazing at what they do. Sean owned it on the bass (and not just during this song), really getting into the music and rocking out. Jonny made the drumming look rather effortless at times, offering some slick moves from time to time, and Debbie picked at her guitar with calculated precision, but could also shred quite well when she needed to. Another new song came next, followed by another instrumental, and I believe that one actually is meant to be an instrumental track. “I Need Japanese Steel” was one of the most impressive songs of their set, and they cooked up one hell of a song with that one. After finishing it, Debbie mentioned she had been put on antibiotics, which led to a conversation about how she found out a little while back that drinking anything alcoholic while taking meds doesn’t make them any less effective. Instead, she said it just makes the potential side effects, say tiredness for example, more potent. It made for an interesting conversation, but soon they did another newer song, and then one of my favorites of theirs, “Discourage Wolf”. They had one left in the chamber after that, and finished a great show with one more new one.
I think the band members were just as skeptical of how this show was going to go as some of the fans were, and giving the circumstances, I was impressed by them.
For an off night, Debbies’ voice sounded great and showed no sign of weakness. In fact, there was one song where she did some screaming, and her voice didn’t even crack. And I did touch on their performance earlier, but this was a real rock show they put on this night.
Keep up to date with them and see when they’ll be playing, and if you can, go to a show. You’ll be glad you did. Besides, both times that I’ve seen them know Debbie has been sick and had to hold back on her singing, so if their this incredible on an off night, no telling what they’re like at 100%.
There was one more band I wanted to see at the arts festival, but I killed some time by going into the Curtain Club, then going to the Deep Ellum stage to see Vinyl Pilot.
I got there a little late, and the band was finishing up one song, which they eventually wound into “Watch It Grow Old”, from their older “So far, By Far” EP. The stage was smaller, especially with all the gear and five guys on it, but they didn’t let that hinder them, especially not lead guitarist Kyle Burkett, who was moving all over stage left, tearing it up on his guitar. He wound them seamlessly into their next song, which is the following track from that EP, “Keyword Optimism”. “Lock your doors and close your windows. So far, by far this is the worst time that I have ever had…” sang singer and rhythm guitarist Jeff Lowe, whose voice perfectly fits the upbeat, in your face style of Alt/Rock with touches of Pop that the band plays. They stopped long to briefly chat with the crowd, and then announced their next song was a newer one, before launching into it. So far, it had been strictly about the music so far, but they, or rather the bands newest addition, bassist Patrick Hunter, had some fun with the crowd now. He mentioned how lovely everyone looked, saying that they all ranked probably a nine and a half. “…Alright, alright, I’ll say a ten…” he said all serious like, like he was rating an official contest or something. “Bet You Won’t” was the next song in the setlist, but it didn’t being like it normally does, instead they had worked up an awesome intro for it, which just had the quintet, including keyboardist Chase Eriksen and drummer David Tapp just jamming. They were going all out and it lasted a few moments, before subsiding, highlighting Jeff’s singing for a moment as the song officially got underway. They kept up the high-energy pace of the show with the arresting “No Way in Hell”, but soon shook things up with the title track of their latest EP, “A Beautiful Disaster”. Beautiful is exactly what it is, with the notes Chase plays on the keyboard being nothing short of heavenly, while the lights guitar and bass lines accentuate it quite well. It’s not all serene and relaxing, though, eventually growing into a beast of a rock song, and in my opinion, it doubles as being the most intense song in their arsenal. With that, their 33-minute long set (well, that was what I caught of it anyway) was almost up, and they ended with a new, non-album song called “The Great Unknown”. It’s the perfect title for a song to close with, and left things on a good note.
This was the best Vinyl Pilot show I’ve seen yet, even if they didn’t have as much room on stage as they did at the last venue I saw them at. The reason I liked this one so much more is because they seemed more cohesive here. They were all in synch with one another, and I loved how Kyle segued them from one song to the next early on in the set. It gave things a very fluid feel, and I wouldn’t complain if they did even more of that.
And going back to the cohesive thing, Patrick meshed much better with them than he did on February 1st when he played his first show with them. I don’t mean that just in the sense that they’ve gotten more accustomed to each other, either. He added some comical relief of sorts with his occasional dialogue, and got a good rapport going with the audience.
Their an all-around great band, and if you want to see a show for yourself, well they have a free one coming up on June 5th at the Rockin’ Rodeo in Denton. They’ll be opening for Bowling for Soup, which is all the more reason not to miss out on the show. You can also find both of their EP’s in ITUNES, which I’d suggest checking out.
Night one of the arts festival was pretty fun, and I got to see some great bands, but just because the festival was getting ready to close for the night didn’t mean the night was over, as I headed back to the Curtain Club for some more music.
It had been over a month in the making, but this night was finally the night of the WhiskeyBoy Radio, RYA Entertainment and The Music Enthusiast presented show at Reno’s Chop Shop in Dallas.
It had been a while since we had put together a show (actually last August when WBR did their benefit show to raise money to help the fight against breast cancer), so this was long overdue.
Five great bands had agreed to play the show for us, and after one dropped of just a week before, Bawcomville was kind enough to fill the vacant spot for us.
About a year or so ago the band’s singer, Jeycin Fincher, had done a hilarious interview on an episode of WhiskeyBoy Radio, which was how I was introduced to the band, bust since their shows are very few and far between, I had never really had an opportunity to see them.
The band released a solid EP almost a year and a half ago, but near as I could tell they didn’t do anything from it, unleashing a slew of new songs on the small crowd that had gotten there by 8:30 to see them play.
I knew they were a rock band, but what I had listened to gave the impression that they were more of a softer rock band, so when they busted out of the gates with a killer, loud rock song, I was pleasantly surprised. They didn’t let up, either, tearing through three more songs and upping the energy level more with each one. At this point, WhiskeyBoy himself made a reference to the interview he had done with Jeycin, calling out a “sponsor” Jeycin kept naming, called “cunt nectar”. This obviously got some strange remarks from some of the people who didn’t get, as Jeycin joked not to mention them anymore, as they had decided to drop their sponsorship of Bawcomville. They got back to their music, rocking out four more songs in their 34-minute long set. Jeycin mentioned they had two more songs than they would “stop bothering everybody”, but it turned out that drummer, Ryan Pogue, had really gotten into it, and broke his kick drum pedal. That almost forced them to cut their set short, but luckily Doug of Long Sword Spectacular was nice enough to loan them his pedal, allowing them to properly finish out their set.
Part of it is probably because I was expecting something different, but the guys of Bawcomville were out of this world. Jeycin has a killer voice and he owned it on the guitar. Aside from that, he added some funny moments to the set, saying thanks after almost every song, but saying it in a high-pitched voice that sounded like it could have been well suited for a cartoon character. Both bassist, Chris Nutt, and guitarist, Derek Bennett, put on just as mean of a live show, moving all about the stage and shredding on their respective instruments, while Ryan solidified the rhythm section with some flawless drumming.
Catch the band on Saturday, May 4th at the Tentacle House in Plano (see their FB page for info). Also, pick up a copy of their self-titled debut EP, and hopefully soon they can get some of these newer songs laid down and released.
Long Sword Spectacular was up next, and one of only two bands on this bill that I had seen before.
The Hard Rock trio started their 43-minute long set with singer and bassist, Josh Harelik, giving shout outs to all three parties who put the show together, and then they got their first song underway. That song was “Manhunt”, which quickly immersed everyone in their heavy Hard Rock sounds, which even has some tinges of Metal thrown in. “…I’m the devil incarnate and I’m here to say… I’m on a mission of killing all my enemies…” growled Josh at the end of the first verse, leading into the chorus. That was one of the songs from their 2012 self-titled debut album, but they also did a few of their newer songs, like their next one, which drummer, Doug Jones, guitarist, Daniel Reid, and Josh segued perfectly into. It was during that track that Daniel let loose a wicked little guitar solo, and once they had finished with that song, Doug started the drum part for “Hey (We Want You)”. He patched them seamlessly into the song, which was then followed with another new number. They had been owning it thus far, and had everyone enthralled, but they managed to kick things up a few notches with the intense and gritty “Firewalk”. There are a few instrumental stretches during that one, which freed Josh from the microphone, allowing him to move and thrash about to the music. I also really enjoy that tune because there’s a certain sense of urgency to it, which only grows the deeper they get into the song. They cranked out some more new ones afterwards, and before one of them Josh shouted, “…We’re gonna take you all to Babylon!”, as they tore into the song. It wound up being my favorite song of their set, partially due to the lengthy instrumental break they took, which showed off what outstanding musicianship all three of them have. When he spoke in between songs, Josh did so with a lot of enthusiasm, and now he excitedly told everyone they did have CD’s for sale, but left out the price, as he checked with Doug. “…For pay what you want!!!” he shouted. They did one last new one for the night, saving three of their heaviest hitters for the final songs. One of those was “Threat Display”, which could be considered the bands anthem in way, with the opening line being, “When the dead rise, red fills the eyes. Revenge sparks the fire. LSS for hire…”. “Dead Soul (Down the Hatch)” was probably the most fun song of their set, with Josh switching up the lyrics at the beginning, incorporating Reno’s into the story that the song tells. It really is a story, too, and one I laughed at a few times, because how many songs have the line “…I smoothed out my mustache…” in them? I don’t think many do, but as fun as it was, it was also a serious Hard Rock song with a thick rhythm section that shook your innards. The final track on their album, “Breakin’ Loose”, was also the final song of their set, and brought it to a fiery finish.
They put on the most fun show I had seen in a LONG time (with the exception of a certain band I had seen the previous Sunday). They were up there having what looked like the time of their life’s putting on a legitimate rock show, and their songs only added to that fun.
That’s the thing about their music, there is a light, fun quality to most of them, despite the fact they are very heavy and more Metal sounding. That in turn is what makes them so enjoyable in my opinion, because while there is a bit of anger to Joshs’ voice and all the other Metal traits are present, too, they don’t fit the stereotypical mold, and have a style that is all their own.
They stole the show this night, and every other band could only hope to be as half as good as they were.
Their next shows will be on May 10th at the Rail Club in Fort Worth opening for Saliva. On June 1st they’ll be in McKinney at Dawgz ‘n’ Hawgz. The next week, June 8th, will find them in Dallas at the Liquid Lounge and on July 5th they’ll be playing O’Riley’s in Dallas. Also, be sure to check out their record in ITUNES.
Smack dab in the middle of this show was the Dallas based Rock band, Always the Alibi, who had been laying low for most of the year thus far.
They had some surprises for everyone, but first up was one of their songs from their debut EP, “Wave on the Sand”. They’ve changed up the intro of it for the live version, and personally I like it so much better, as it just has a slicker sound to it. That got them off to a strong start, and they built on it with one of their newer songs, “Edge of the World”. Now, during their time off from the club circuit, they’ve been working on some new material, and now they were ready to debut one of those brand new tracks, which was titled “Twelve Years”. It was a really good song from what I remember, but I was more wowed by the other new track they would eventually get to. At this point, guitarist Kelly Panter mentioned that he and singer/guitarist Henry Coke had done an interview for my podcast the week before, with Kelly warning everyone of how I “tricked” them. “…He gave us beer and Victoria Secret mailers to look at…” he told everyone. Yes, it’s true, but I was informed that beer and Playboy’s were a part of their rider, so I the best that I could with what I had. Ha. Several more tracks from the “We Are Waiting” EP came next, like the one that was for the ladies, “Beautiful Girl”. They wound it right into one of their best rock tunes, “Dream”, with the killer chorus, “…Go on, move on knowing I was never enough.”, which Henry sang with real emotion. “She’s Letting Go” was another standout track with its at times blistering guitar solos, but it paled in comparison to their next one, “Ain’t Another Girl”, which packs a punch that most songs could only hope to have. Some more funny banter ensued as Kelly mentioned he had used the bathroom earlier and talked about how bad the conditions were. “…[It] smells like sex…” he said, jokingly accusing WhiskeyBoy of getting it on and being responsible for it. They then tackled another brand new song, which was one I had been looking forward to, called “My Little Ghost”. It started off very quiet, mainly with Henry strumming his axe, but after awhile grew into a real rock number, with bassist Evan Scates and drummer Richard Muenckler getting a good rhythm section going. Like I said, out of their two new ones, that was my most favorite, and whenever they get around to recording their next album, hopefully it’ll make the cut. They had a few more songs planned for everybody, but their set got cut short when they were informed they only had three minutes left. “We Are Waiting.” They all said after looking at one another, opting to close with the title track of their EP. That rock anthem capped off their 38-minute long set, and they raced through it, slowing up near the end for some audience participation where Henry asked everyone to shout “You know, you know, you know” after his “Come on, come on, come on.”, but few people did. Soon, he gave the sign to Richard, Evan and Kelly to move on as they got into the final stretch of it.
I hated that their set got cut short, ‘cause they had a couple more songs to do that I would have liked to have heard, but oh well.
They were able to dish out all the highlights in their time on stage, which was the most important part, and they put on a great set, too, with a nice blend of awesome rock and humorous banter in between some songs. Part of me even wants to say this was the best show I’ve seen them do yet, due to all the new material they did and how amazing it was. Quite honestly, it’s even better than some of the stuff on their debut EP, which is saying a lot.
You can get a free download of one of their songs on REVERBNATION, and if you lie it, get the rest of the “We Are Waiting” EP in either ITUNES or BANDCAMP. Also, see them on May 3rd at The Boiler Room in Dallas.
A Rook/Metal band by the name of Zativah Kid was next, and from the one song they had available to listen to, I didn’t really think I’d like them.
Their first song proved my assumption wrong, though. They, too, were a Metal/Hard Rock band, with even hints of Punk Rock, I thought, which sounded fantastic in the live setting. They ripped through their 34-minute long set, doing songs such as “Destroyer”, “Hereatic”, “Killer Freakout”, “Reality Check” and many others, eventually getting to their closer, “Fast, Wet and Easy”. While doing that song, drummer, Danny, did a solo on his massive kit, and as the song came to an end, singer, Coz Kalamity, jumped of the stage and into the crowd of people who had gathered around and had a small mosh pit going.
The live show is definitely where it’s at with these guys, who had an abundant amount of energy. Coz displayed the majority of it, racing all over the stage, and it’s also worth noting that he had a much better voice than I was anticipating. The rest of the band may not have been quite as active, but guitarists Chris Zativah and Blaise, bassist, Brian, and Danny are excellent musicians.
Go see ‘em if you have the chance, and I know I wouldn’t mind seeing them again. They have two shows coming up at O’Riley’s in Dallas, one will be on May 10th, and the other is July 5th.
Responsible Johnny was the final act of the night, and personally, I just didn’t dig their style of Punk Rock. I am grateful to them for playing the show for us, though.
You can find their three albums in their store on REVERBNATION, and they are $5 each. As for shows, they have one coming up on June 14th at O’Riley’s in Dallas.
The turnout was rather light, but all in all it was still a great show from the quality aspect, and another big thank you to all the bands for playing and Reno’s for hosting the show.
Speaking of Reno’s I want to put my two cents in about the venue. It has been typecast as a venue for Metal bands and a biker bar. Yes, they do host a lot of Metal shows, and sure, there are some bikers in there at nights. I’ll admit, that’s what kept me away from the venue for so many years, until finally going there about two years ago.
The place isn’t nearly as bad as some people might think, though. The handful of shows I’ve seen there have been great ones. The sound, while not on the level of some of the bigger name venues in Deep Ellum, is better than most. And the crowd at most of these shows is the same you’d see at any other venue, in the sense that it’s just people who want to see live bands, and not a ton of scary looking bikers.
The way Reno’s is now, it’s not worthy of the bad rap it kind of has, and if you’re a music fan and know of a show going on there, go see it. And bands, see about playing there. They do put on some Rock shows at times, like this night for instance.
Another weekend was about to start, and what better way to kick it off than by catching a show at my favorite Dallas venue, The Curtain Club.
Stand 2 Reason was the first band up this night, but due to some traffic jams, I didn’t get there until they were almost done.
What I heard of this mostly acoustic band was really good, though. They had the standard rhythm section, but the other three members of the group all played acoustic guitars, which actually added some great layers to the music, and the singer, Andy, has a great voice.
During just a few songs, they made me into a fan, and hopefully I’ll get to catch a full show sometime in the future.
Up next was the main band I was there to see this night, the Austin based, Distant Lights.
One of their newer songs, which I believe is titled “Science”, began their set, and got them off to quite a start. I was prepared for a show much like their one here in November, which was almost all-new material, but it was completely different this time around. In fact, their next song was a shocking surprise to me. I’ve never seen a Distant Lights show where they didn’t close with “Artifice”, yet now Gaelan Bellamy was cranking out the opening lines of it, shredding on his guitar, before Kevin Abbenante beat down on his drums, kicking it up even a few more notches. It is the most song in their arsenal, and the lengthy instrumental bridge is the highlight of it, giving bassist, Sam Marshall, Gaelan and Kevin a chance to take the spotlight and really rock out. It really just didn’t feel right at this point in the set, though. I think it’s a song that’s best reserved for the closer, or it would probably even make a mean opener. “We are Distant Lights, from just down the road in Austin, Texas…” announced frontman, Gabriel Fry, who also mentioned that most of what they were performing could be found on their albums, pointing to their merch booth. They slowed things down considerably with “Metamorphosis”, which has a nice flow that is truly complimentary of the song, starting off slow and heavy on the rhythm section, but as the lyrics get more exciting, “…and as the channel opens up I marvel at the power as it grows…”, so too does the music, amping up considerably. All that makes it a very well written song. They followed it with “Dystopia”, the lead track from their “Simulacrum” album and one I had not heard in far too long, and then moved on with one of their newer songs. That actually started them on a series of newer songs, and no sooner had they finished it than Kevin launched them into the aggressive, “Tightrope”. The mood fluctuated over the course of the next two songs, “Suffocating” and “Patterns On the Rise”, both of which have a real ebb and flow to them, being fairly relaxed at some points, before jumping into a full on rock song. That eventually led them to the final song of their 35-minute long set, “What’s On Your Mind”. It’s no “Artifice”, but it is the next best thing to go out on, and has Gabriel rather viciously belting out the chorus, while prowling around the stage.
It was a spectacular show they put on, and definitely the best of the night. They put such energy into their performance and have an undeniable stage presence. Even though the Curtain was fairly empty when they played, they still managed to captivate the attention of almost all of the onlookers, which doesn’t happen too often in my experience.
I almost want to say that Gabriel carries the band with the way he conducts himself on stage and the stellar voice he has (it is one of the best I’ve heard, and he sounds even better in the live setting than their recordings do), but that wouldn’t be true. Gaelan’s skills on the guitar are out of this world, and he’s certainly at his best on the occasions when he’s shredding. Lastly, Kevin and Sam make a dynamic rhythm section, with Sam’s slick method of grooving on the bass, while Kevin is more assertive with his drumming, making it well rounded.
They’re just a killer group, and after not playing the Dallas for a few years, I’m glad that they’re starting to venture up here again. Hopefully it can become a normal thing once every two to four months or so.
You can find their first album in ITUNES, and word is they have almost completed their next record. They also have shows coming up on April 26th at Click’s in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and April 27th at Rock ‘N’ Blues in Covington, Louisiana. They have a hometown gig in Austin on April 28th at the Dirty Dog Bar, opening for Powerman 5000, and on May 11th they’ll be down in San Antonio at Fitzgerald’s.
So, once Distant Lights finished I went over to the Liquid Lounge side of the venue where Aaron Pose was doing a set.
I figured the singer of Admiral Grey was probably almost done at this point, and sure enough he was, only having two songs left, both of which were newer ones he had written. One of those songs was titled “Another Day”, but the best of the two I heard was by far his closing song, “Home”. Before starting he talked about his recent decision to take a break from music, saying he needed to “recharge his batteries”. “…I don’t know how long that’s going to take. Could be three months, could be six months, it could be a year…” he said, saying it was just time to take a break and focus on family for a while. Evidently, part of what spurred that decision was when he wrote this song, “Home”. And he said when writing songs, he just let’s it flow, barely even paying attention to what he’s writing at the time. He added that after he finished this song and then read, he knew it was time to take a break. Emotionally it was a deep song, dealing with not always being there for the people who need you, and honestly, may be the best thing Aaron has ever written.
The music scene will feel kinda empty without Aaron being an active part of it, but I feel where he’s coming from and I doubt anyone can blame him for taking some time off. I’m just glad it’s not a permanent hiatus, though.
Aaron doesn’t have any solo music available, but do check out Admiral Grey’s “Long Road” EP.
As soon as he was finished, I headed back to the Curtain, where the next band, Breaking Midway, was just getting warmed up.
I wasn’t instantly drawn in by them, and honestly, they struck me as being bland at first. There was no gripping quality to singer and acoustic guitarist Kelley Hannahs’ voice, and the first full song that I heard, “Dreaming”, came across as being a little drab. “Volcano” was a little more vibrant, and had a nice backbone, courtesy of drummer, Jay Chagnon, and their upswing continued with “I Won’t Let You”. It was after that song that I decided the band was more of an acquired taste, and one I was liking a little more with each song. They did a couple more tunes, one of which was another from their 2012 debut record, “The Speed of Life”, titled “Wish”, which was one of the catchiest songs of their set. “Living Room” was another standout from their set, and after another track, they did one of their newer songs, “Home”. There’s a real sentimental quality to the song, and while it didn’t connect with me on a personal level or anything, I must say it was quite moving. They had certainly hit their stride at this point, and now did “Finally Free”, which had more of a rock sound to it than their previous stuff, and the same could be said about “Done”, which just had a little more vigor to it. They only had one more for the night, and after laying her guitar down on the stage, Kelley said they had “saved the best for last”, and she wasn’t joking, either. I don’t know what it was, but it definitely was the most in your face song of their set.
By the time it was all said and done I don’t know if I’d say I had become a fan of Breaking Midway’s, but I had enjoyed their show.
I guess my main thing with Kelleys’ voice was it didn’t immediately grab me, which is what I prefer, but if you listen to a few songs, you’ll discover an endearing quality to it, and one that should hold your interest. Her, the lead guitarist and Jay put on a good show, but the bass player, he was rather lifeless, and appeared to be going through the motions instead of actually being invested in it and enjoying being on stage, which in the end was the only thing I disliked about their show.
Check out their albums in ITUNES, which ranges from a full-length to some singles and even a live record recorded right here at the Curtain Club. They also have a gig coming up on May 11th at O’Riley’s in Dallas.
I stuck around for the headliner, Ol’ Jug of Whiskey, whom I’ve heard a lot about and was very eager to finally see what they were like.
Their show this night was a first for the band, who is typically an acoustic act, but tonight was doing their first ever electric set.
The first song of their set required their guitarist, Mike Drake, to use a mandolin, adding an interesting vibe to what was more a rock song. He switched to a guitar after that, but after a few more songs, I decided to go back to the lounge.
They are a great band with an awesome sound and singer, Bryce Frazier, has knockout voice, but I just never felt drawn in by it. Instead, I kept thinking, “I’d enjoy Exit 380 a lot more than this.”
It’s just a personal preference, and nothing against Ol’ Jug of Whiskey.
I’ve seen Exit 380 quite a bit over the last few months, but there was a big difference between those other shows and this one, and that was that this was an acoustic set. The band doesn’t do many of those, and I was informed by their singer, Dustin Blocker, that to form their setlist they ended up looking at all their songs in iTunes to refresh their minds on what songs were more acoustic based. Yes, that also means that little rehearsal time went into this show, a fact they pointed out a couple times while on stage.
Beginning their brief 29-minute set was their song that is featured on a Hand Drawn Records compilation CD, “A Song About Us”. The song was really set off by Jeremy Hutchison, who was acting as the drummer this night, playing what I think was a djembe (not sure, and I’m pretty much clueless outside the traditional drum kit). It was all very fluid as he beat it with his hands, giving the song some great rhythm. There was a very lax mood to this show, even more so than normal, and after that song guitarist, Aaron Borden, said something about needing more bass. “That was all you…” Blocker told him while laughing, presumably referring to some little mishap I didn’t catch. They continued with “Soul Burning Train”, which was one of only two new songs that fit with this set, and honestly, I think this stripped down version was even slightly better than normal, just seeming a little more behooving of it. Those are two great songs, but they’re pretty much standard at most E380 shows, and I was looking forward to the older stuff, like their next song, “Dammit”. That’s still my overall favorite song of theirs, and I’ve only heard that now decade plus old song performed once before, over two years ago. A lot of their songs, particularly their newer ones, tell some great stories, and while “Dammit” is different from their current stuff, I think it tells the best story. Besides, Dustin adds a little more bass to his voice on that song, which in turn gives it a lot of texture. Now they informed everyone that they “didn’t quite rehearse” for this show, then started into a bonus track from the Townies album, “Oil Machine”. The tambourine that Dustin played and the more delicate bass lines Jon Hutchison was playing created a great atmosphere and the harmonizing Dustin and Aaron were occasionally doing sounded wonderful. As it ended, Dustin got all crazy with his voice, hitting all sorts of notes. “…Harmonize that…” he told Aaron once they finished the song, and the two couldn’t help but laugh at one another. “Is it time for…” Aaron said, trailing of, but letting his guitar do the talking, starting a classic from the “Last Monday” album, “2 Lie”. “…You’ve been up all night, question me question life. You don’t think just desire, but don’t you fucking lie to me.” Dustin sang, that being the final line of this relatively tranquil song with a catchy vibe, which is what makes it another favorite of mine. They next did another song from that record, a hidden one, and another I’m pretty certain I had never heard live before. It was “A Much Needed Apology”, which is the most peaceful and calming song they’ve written, but they picked the mood back up a little, doing “In The Park”, which brought their set to an end.
It may have been a short show, but it was amazing and I’m glad I decided to see it. After all, how many times am I going to hear them do my two favorite songs in the same set? That’s probably not going to happen very much.
If for no other reason, it was also interesting just to see Jeremy act as the percussionist, since he’s typically a guitarist, and do such a killer job at it. In fact, I think they were a little too hard on themselves about having not rehearsed. Was it perfect? No. But it sure didn’t seem like they hadn’t rehearsed at all, either.
Then again, if you’ve been a band since 1999, you should be cohesive enough to pull something like this off with relative ease.
As of right now, it looks like their next show is going to be on June 2nd at the Capitol Bar in Fort Worth. Also, do check out all their albums. They have several available, and between ITUNES and BANDCAMP, you can get them all.
This wasn’t a bad night of music at all, and it was good getting to see some bands I hadn’t seen before, along with the ones I’m all too familiar with.
I seldom see the larger national touring bands that come through Trees, and honestly, I didn’t have much interest in the one that was playing this night, but the lineup of local talent was superb.
There were four opening acts on this bill, which meant the show was getting started early, and shortly after 7:15, Thrown took the stage.
I had seen the band before a few years back (2010, or maybe even 2009), and recently they seemed to have fallen off the map, making me think they had disbanded. That’s not the case, though. Rather, they had been regrouping, and tonight was their first back.
They had some new material under their belt, but this 28 minute long set consisted mainly of stuff from their debut record, “The Beautiful End”, like the lead track which was also the show opener, “Bleed Like Me”. It was a supercharged rock tune, and while Trees was pretty vacant at this point, the people who were there were gathered around the stage, obviously being drawn in by it. They followed it with another track from their old record, “Nothing Left”, which was another heavier rock number. “The One” came next, which was heavy on the rhythm, with bassist, TreVice Layne, and drummer, Brent Matthews, dominating the song, but also featured a blistering guitar solo from Brad McFarland, which helped balance out the song. The highlight of their set (at least in my opinion) was “Ignorance”, whose lyrics are even better than most of their other stuff. “…My eyes grow tired of seeing all the shadows that you cast…” shouted singer, Greg Vinson, on the chorus, his voice perfectly fitting the style of rock they play, and could easily compete with the best of them. They cranked out another song, and as their set neared the end, they pulled out their newest songs that they have released for their fans to listen to. One of those was “Back to Stay”, which shows they’ve kept with what works best for them, sounding similar to their other songs, but there’s a little bit of growth also noticeable in it. Their final was “Drunk On Hate”, which is arguable the most powerful out of those new ones, and brought things to a strong finish for them.
I really don’t remember much about them from the first time I saw them, other than really enjoying their music and their live show. The music was still great this night, even better than what I recalled, but the live show… Well, they did what they good, and it wasn’t really their fault. There was a full backline this night, and out of all the bands, Thrown had the least bit of room on stage, and Greg, Brad and TreVice were pretty limited on where they could move, and basically had to stay in the same place for their entire set.
You could tell they were wanting to do more in terms of their performance, too, but just couldn’t.
That aside, it was a really good show, and I’m glad to see that the band is back in action. They had a lot of promise when I first saw them and they still do, so if you have a chance, go see them live. Also, you can buy their first album in ITUNES.
The second act of the night was Awake In Theory, who hails from all over the D/FW metroplex, and honestly, I was surprised they were going on now, because I thought they deserved the third slot. Oh well, they’ll get there in due time.
The band through me for a loop by beginning with a song that is atypical when compared to the other shows of theirs I’ve seen, “Playing the Villain”. It worked better than I thought it would, throwing everyone right into their barrage of Alt/Rock sounds, and for a show like this, you do need to get people’s attention right off the bat. As it ended, guitarists, Brad McCain and Terry Kimmel, drummer, Raymond Chambers, and bassist, Adam Garcia , fired up their next song, while Eric Hawkens offered an explanation of sorts about it. “This song is for anyone who had to do what I had to do this past year, and that’s taking someone you love to rehab.” Said the bands frontman (or at least something along those lines), as they got underway with “Let Go”. It was with that song that deals with some of the hardships of life where their show really came to life. As with all the opening acts, they suffered from some cramped conditions on stage, but they utilized what little space they had, with Eric stepping back when he wasn’t singing, allowing the instrumentalists to get to the front of the stage and entertain the onlookers. After finishing it, Eric mentioned that this was their first time playing the Trees. “…But we’d play here every single night if it meant we could play in front of all of you…” he added, before stating the title of their next track, “Innocence for the Innocent”, a song where Raymond gets to really show off some of his drumming skills. Before their next song, Eric informed the crowd it was one they don’t play too often, which had me curious as to what it was. He couldn’t keep a straight face for long, though, soon admitting, “I’m just kidding, we play it all the time.” Terry then opened up “Barely Breathing” with some haunting and stellar guitar notes. This is the song they’ve opened with the two previous times I’ve seen them, and it’s still my favorite of the bands, plus I just love the line, “…I’m barely breathing, but I’m still healing from this war…”. Their next song was dedicated to everyone who serves in the military, and Eric asked everyone if they see a member of the service to go up and tell them how much they’re appreciated. That led them to “Hero You Hate”, and upon finishing it they had one last song in their 28-minute long set. It was their single, which they recently laid down in a studio, becoming the first song they’ve recorded together, and it’s called “Daddy’s Little Girl”.
It was an incredible show they put on this night, and while they’ve been very solid before, you could tell they stepped up their game for this show. They were wanting to make an impression, and they most certainly did.
They’re a badass rock band who puts on a strong performance, and if you haven’t heard of them already, take a few moments to get acquainted with them.
They have a few shows on the books, beginning with April 27th at ARNETIC in Fort Worth. You can catch them at Six Flags in Arlington on May 4th, and they’ll be in Dallas on May 10th at Wit’s End. They also have another gig at Tree’s scheduled for June 15th.
After their set, I wondered out onto the patio, running into Marc, who plays in the band, The Circle, whom I talked with for a little while.
By the time I went back in, the instrumental trio known as Son of Swan was into the last half of their set.
I’ve only seen the group once before, and even though I only caught a little of their set this night, they managed to blow my mind even more.
Band founder and guitarist, Neil Swanson, is a virtuoso on the guitar and plays it with sheer ease. I’m not even a fan of instrumental music in the least, but music this spectacular doesn’t need lyrics to entertain. And along with the out of this world skills that he, bassist, Steve Wilson, and drummer, Billy Walker, posses, they also can put on an exciting live performance.
I never thought I’d even remotely enjoy, let alone love an instrumental band, yet those are my feeling for Son of Swan.
This show also served as their CD release gig for their debut album, which you can purchase at any live show. That said, they have a few coming up, including April 26th at The Curtain Club in Dallas and May 24th at The Rail Club in Fort Worth.
Serving as the main support band for Adrenaline Mob (not only at this show, but pretty much every single date of this leg of the tour) was San Antonio’s own, Nothing More, and out of all the bands on this bill, I was most excited about seeing them.
When the curtain opened on them, it looked like it was going to be interesting given the bands setup, specifically singer Jonny Hawkins’ drum set, which took up a lot of the space at the front of the stage. They didn’t act like it was much of a hindrance, though, as Jonny ripped into it, while primary drummer, Paul O’Brien, was seemingly inches behind him, also delivering some hefty beats, which led into “Gone”. That song is always a great one to get started with, but they seemed to be putting more effort into it than usual (which I didn’t think was even possible). Perhaps it was because after being on the road for a while, they were glad to be back in their home state, where every show they did was essentially a hometown show. After all, they’ve been cutting their teeth in the clubs in this area for the better part of a decade, and had several fans singing right along with every word, which I’m sure just added full to the fire. They finished that tune much like it began, with some more epic, aggressive drumming, until Mark Vollelunga suddenly took the spotlight with his roaring guitar riffs of the brief instrumental number, “Under The Eyes of Selene”. Unfortunately, he was stuck on far stage right, out of the way from where I stood and it wasn’t easy to see him, but that was one point of their set where I made sure to give him my full attention. It quickly gave way to the song it’s a prelude to, “Sixty Second Affair”, and while it is the oldest song they currently do (it’s from their ’05 album “Save You/Save Me”), it’s also one of the most forceful of their set. “…Through all the tears, these wasted years, my phoenix fears in you rise again…” Jonny sang, spacing the words just far enough apart to add a real gravity to them. It, too, ended with some duel drumming, and after announcing to everyone who they were, they pulled out one of their new songs, which surprisingly enough was the only new one of their set. I believe the song is called “Friendly Fire”, and you know you’ve seen a band a lot when you can sing (mostly) along to a song solely from hearing it at their past shows. The audience seemed really into this one, and how could you not feel the adrenaline rush while Jonny shouted/sang the chorus, “I’ll keep breaking, breaking, breaking your pride… Until you realize you are no J-J-J-Jesus Christ…” (Note: Those lyrics could be wrong, but that is what I hear at least.) Thus far it had been a very abbreviated NoMO set, but there were two things that I knew would be staples, one which would come later, and the other was their little bass trick. After walking into Tree’s this night, I saw and talked with Mark for a bit, who casually said, “Oh, we worked up a new bass line.” “Cool.” I thought, thinking it would be pretty much the same old thing… It wasn’t. The rod that holds the bass was placed in the wrought iron case that surrounds Jonnys’ drums, Daniel Oliver put his bass in the holster and, with the bass facing the crowd, proceed to play some notes while standing beside it. It was cool, and while Dan was doing that, Jonny was manning the pedal board for the bass, adding some effects to it, while Paul kept some beats going throughout it. It started getting good when Mark stood on stage left of the bass, also plucking at some strings, but that was all still similar to what is done at every Nothing More show. As much of a spectacle as it is, I still was under the assumption I knew where it was going. A few minutes into it and they suddenly both jumped back, as Dan swung the rod holding the bass, sending it spinning around, before stopping with the bass now straight up in the air, but upside down. Jonny then joined them, standing on his bass drum, while Dan stood on a, I’ll call it a small step ladder to reach the bass, and while Mark and Dan held down the stings, Jonny played the bass by using some drumsticks. I should also note they kept the notes from it in perfect synch with the beats Paul was churning out at times, before spinning the bass in a complete 360 a few times, then finishing the piece. Not only was it the highlight of their set, but it was the highlight of the entire night. I also loved it because I had gotten used to the old piece they did, and while it still dazzled me, it felt fantastic getting to watch it through brand new eyes for the first time in a VERY long time. (Note: Check out that action for yourself in THIS video.) By the time they finished that, they were down to their last song, which was the fan favorite, “Salem”. They weren’t done blowing the crowds minds just yet, and near the end both Dan and Mark grabbed some toms, moving towards center stage, while Jonny spun around, playing those two drums as well as his kit. It was a little different from what they usually do, simply because they didn’t have room on stage to go all out, but it still awed. And is the song wound down, they even got the audience to shout the chorus, “Burn the witch!”, back at them repeatedly, concluding their 26-minute long set.
Being completely objective, Nothing More was hands down the best band on the bill. Every band this night had different degrees of passion, but with Mark, Jonny, Dan and Paul, their passion bleeds through every single second of their time on stage, putting it on display for all to see, which makes it very easy to see that this is what they love doing. Hell, it’s obvious it’s what they were born to do.
To me, that’s what always makes them so enjoyable, and I didn’t see any of the other acts leave it all on the stage like they did.
You can find their records in ITUNES, and they also have a few shows coming up, starting with April 24th at the Lizard Lounge in Wichita, Kansas. The 26th they’ll be at Click’s in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the following night you can see them at Rock ‘n’ Blues in Covington, Louisiana. Oh, and be back at Trees on June 21st. Why? Because that’s the day they’ll be doing a Dallas CD release show for their new album.
You usually don’t think of an opening act topping the headliner, especially when the headlining band is comprised of veteran musicians, all of whom have been playing for at least two decades if not longer, but Nothing More did in my opinion, and I doubted that they could be topped.
Now it was time for Adrenaline Mob, who is of course a super group featuring Mike Portnoy, Russell Allen, Mike Orlando, and John Moyer. They had definitely brought the people out this Sunday night, and it was next to impossible to even move around in front of the stage.
Perhaps I’m being a little too finicky, but I felt too much time passed before the band finally took the stage, at which point what excitement I was feeling had turned into just wanting them to hurry up and just get it over with.
Let me explain. A stagehand issued a reminder that video recording was not allowed during the show. That was said after the sound check was pretty much complete, which I took as meaning the band was going to start in mere minutes. Instead, no less than fifteen minutes passed, and then the bands intro song started. It wasn’t just one song, though, and part of another followed it, before suddenly stopping as the curtain opened and the band members descended the stairs from the green room.
I was probably the only person there who felt this way, but at this point I was fed up with waiting and felt like they had stretched things out too long. I realize it might not have even been the bands felt, but regardless, that process should have been sped up a bit.
They played practically everything from their 2012 debut album, “Omerta”, kicking off their 70+-minute long set with “Psychosane”. It was great song and a good opener, and upon finishing it, Mike P. hopped up from his stool, standing on his massive drum kit and surveying the crowd. It was a cool moment to say the least. The fans were pulled further in with “Feelin’ Me”, where Mike O. and John raced around the stage, and while performing his guitar solo, Mike held it so the fans could see as his fingers danced up and down the fret board. “Down to the Floor” was my personal favorite song of theirs, but by the time it was over, I was starting to feel like it was the same old song and dance. The songs were sounding fairly similar to me, and they all had crazy guitar solos in them. I thought maybe they were free styling the live versions of the songs at first, which would have been fine, but after listening to their recorded music, I learned the songs are like that, which gives the impression that the solos are there for the purpose of being flashy and showing off. This was also the third song that after finishing, Mike P. again jumped atop his drum kit. I’ve never seen any drummer to that, and it really was cool the first time, but to repeatedly do it, especially so close together, it makes it lose appeal, and rather quickly at that. They did a couple more original songs, which were “Angel Sky” and “Indifferent”, and after the latter Russell turned things over to Mike Portnoy, who talked with the fans for a few minutes. One thing he did was call attention to his drum tech, who slowly stood up from behind the drum riser. “…Did anybody see my first ever show in Dallas twenty years ago?” he asked, informing everyone that this guy set up his kit then, and has stuck with him for all these years. It turned out it was the tech’s birthday, and at the request of Mike everyone sang happy birthday to him. Soon after, Mike got to talking about their newest EP, “Coverta”, saying that each night they had been playing different covers from it, and also mentioned that Tree’s was the first ever venue to get the Adrenaline Mob “hat trick”, or in other words is the only venue in a city to host them three times. When they got back to the music, Mike O. started them in on a very Metal rendition of the Heart classic, “Barracuda”. It was a good cover, but I felt they more just put their own spin on it, rather than taking it and making it completely their own. That was the only cover they did at this point, returning to their original stuff with “Believe Me” and the fast paced “Hit the Wall”. Once they finished it, some acoustic guitars were brought out for Russell and Mike, while John and Mike P. left their posts, retreating up the stairs. Before their next song, Russell told a detailed story about his son, and how one day he and his wife realized something seemed off about him, and after taking him to the doctor found out he had autism. That’s what their next song was about, and he said he wanted to write a song that was meaningful and dealt with something real, which was when “All On the Line” was born. It was a very moving song, and the acoustic beginning made sure the words carried the weight they deserved. That’s not to say it was lessened when Mike P. and John rejoined them, though, turning it into a full-blown rock song. After ditching the acoustic guitars, they got back to the specialty, loud Metal, by cranking out “Come Undone”, while the lead track from “Omerta”, “Undaunted”, ended the main set.
By this point, they had played about thirty minutes longer than I would have liked, and I had pretty much checked out at this point, but of course, an encore was coming…
Mike Orlando walked back out on stage first, but no one else followed. The stage belonged to him for a minute or two as he shredded on his axe, doing a guitar solo that everybody ate up. Soon, his band mates joined him on stage, for an encore that was all covers. Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song” was first up, which was were Russell showed his vocal chords do have some range to them, singing in more of a soulful/bluesy voice, rather than the one tone yell he had used for the majority of their other songs. They had a special guest join them on their next song, and John left the stage, turning the bass duty over to Rex Brown, best known from being with Pantera. He helped them tear it up on Van Halen’s “Romeo Delight” and he’s got some serious chops, slapping the bass and rocking out the riffs with ease. John came back out on stage when it was finished, and after they all thanked Rex for helping them out, they closed their show with the song that I believe was the first one they ever covered as a band, “The Mob Rules” by Black Sabbath, which, given the band’s name, is an appropriate track for them to cover.
That was that, and I was glad it was finally over.
I said it earlier and I’ll say it again, I felt like a vast majority of their material (covers included) sounded pretty much the same. As seen on that cover song, Russell is capable of an extraordinary range, but they never really explored that, and instead he maintained pretty much the same deep tone on every single song, to the point it got rather monotonous. I also felt that both Mike’s were a little too flashy. There’s beauty in subtlety, and while Mr. Portnoy did get a little better about not always standing on his kit at the end of each song, he still did it too close together at times. Make people wait for it, instead of having fans (or at least me) thinking, “Oh, cool, he’s doing that again.”
Then you have Mr. Orlando, who did a guitar solo during every single song (covers included), and it didn’t sound like they were thrown in there, but rather that the entire song was built around the solos. Again, there’s beauty in subtlety, and if you do a solo of any type (bass, drums, guitar, etc.) during every single song, it quickly becomes overkill. Besides, personally, some of my favorite guitarists are the one who strum with precision and ease, only cutting loose and shredding periodically, instead of going all-out all the time.
I want to point out I’m not at all questioning their musicianship. I know many drummers who cite Mike Portnoy as one of their biggest influences, and after seeing him live, I can see why. About the same can be said about Mike Orlando, and despite what my thoughts were, there’s no way you cannot think he is one of the best guitarists of this era.
And even though my statements speak to the contrary and are my personal thoughts, being totally objective, I have to say they succeed at putting on an entertaining show.
Oh, and if anyone is wondering why I’ve neglected John Moyer, it’s because out of the whole bunch I thought he was the most well rounded. His talent was impressive, but never over the top, and he just had a good aura about him.
The band’s current tour may be over, but I believe they will be tackling the West Coast in the near future (keep an eye on their TOUR DATES page), and to purchase their music, head over to ITUNES.
Well, the local openers were by far the best in my opinion, and as much as I hated paying $20 to get into a show, Nothing More, Son of Swan, Awake in Theory and Thrown made it more than worth it.
Austin may be the host city for SXSW, but how many cities host pre SXSW concerts? Not many. In fact, while a band might do a “SXSW Tour”, it’s only the three major music cities in North Texas that get to host a real pre show, just the day before the bands head down to the state capitol.
Well, this night The Prophet Bar in Dallas was hosting such a show, with several touring acts stopping through, while a couple local acts were on the bill to round it out.
Up first was a band from New York, Northern Faces, who sadly, I did not see. I just couldn’t get out there early enough (I think the show began a little after seven).
I heard great things however, and after listening to some stuff from their debut EP, “Southern Places”, they do sound pretty amazing. Really wish I had seen them, but hopefully they’ll get back through Dallas sometime before next year’s SXSW.
When I did arrive the second band, the McKinney based Lantic, was almost all set to play.
They didn’t do much for me. Their singer’s voice was pretty bland in my opinion, which was actually my chief complaint. On the positive side, though, the bands bassist, was nothing short of outstanding. He was the entire show and put on a spectacular performance, slapping the bass like a madman. He was far more energetic than his other band mates, and had my full attention for the duration of their set.
Following them was another touring act, this one from Lawrence, Kansas. They went by the unique name of Cowboy Indian Bear, and with a more offbeat name like that, I was curious about what my ears were about to hear.
With the opening number of their 36-minute set, they established themselves as being a tight quartet, often getting some ethereal harmonies going, which occasionally included keyboardist, Katlyn Conroy, bassist, Martinez Hillard, and drummer, Beau Bruns, joining singer and guitarist, CJ Calhoun, to create some beautiful music. After that song, they mentioned how glad they were to be back in Dallas and how much they like the city. A brief dialogue started between them and the crowd, and something was said prompting Martinez to ask what county they were in, and he planned to give it a shout out. “Dallas.” Someone said. “Seriously? This is Dallas county, named after the city? That’s cool…” he said, giving props to the county. That then led them to their next song and single from their upcoming “Live Old, Die Young” record, “Does Anybody See You Out?”. It’s a gorgeous little song, with a bit of a haunting quality to it, specifically on the bridge, “…I’ll grind you up and spit you out…”, which gets repeated for a good minute or so. By the end of that, I was fully captivated by the band, and they moved on to their next one, which CJ said was titled “Jennifer”. It has a very strong drum bed, something I don’t always pay much attention do, but it builds at steady rate, and truly is the backbone of the song. They followed it with another song, which I think might have come from their first album, “Each Other All the Time”, and afterwards prepared for their next song. They chatted with the crowd a lot during the downtime between songs, and now Katlyn said they hadn’t planned to talk this much, and rather focus on playing as many songs as possible. It worked out well, though, and made them come across as being pretty personable. They tackled a few more songs from their new album, like “Seventeen”, portions of which were sung by both CJ and Katlyn, whose voices mixed together marvelously. I believe it was “Let It Down” that they did next, before switching things up for their last song, which was more percussion based, and had CJ adding some extra beats on a tom.
Cowboy Indian Bear left me thoroughly impressed. They have a solid indie/rock sound, and the multiple harmonies add an entrancing layer to their music. I know that is becoming a big thing in music now, but they don’t sound like they’re doing simply to conform or “fit in”, rather like that’s the direction their evolution has taken them. And speaking of evolution, there is a huge difference between their first record and this new one. They sound much slicker and more polished now, and at one point in the show Katlyn mentioned that they’ve spent the last three years crafting “Live Old, Die Young”. It’s believable, too, ‘cause you can tell a lot of time and effort was put into writing those song.
And in regards to the harmonies, every member has a great voice and is more than capable of singing lead on their own, so combined they made the band a force to be reckoned with.
Their calendar is pretty empty at the moment, but they do have a gig lined up in Brooklyn, New York on May 2nd at Cameo Gallery. And be sure to check out their records in ITUNES. “Live Old, Die Young” won’t officially drop until April I believe, however they were selling advanced copies on this tour. It’s worth the money, trust me.
Baskery followed them, and the trio of sisters had flown here all the way from Stockholm, Sweden.
Their set up was pretty minimal compared to the other acts, with Greta Bondesson sitting at center stage, surrounded by a few basic pieces of a drum kit, like a small bass drum, a tom, and I believe a snare, while a tambourine was rigged to pedal she could step on to play it. Sunniva Bondesson stood over on stage left, guitar in hand, and Stella Bondesson used an instrument you don’t see a whole lot of, and upright bass. I’m pretty certain they opened with a song from their “New Friends” album, “Shame and Dance”. They finished it, and the applause from the crowd quickly started. Everyone seemed pretty taken by their style of folk rock, as well they should have. And I know that if I hadn’t already been in front of the stage, I would have felt compelled to move up there after that tune. They talked with the audience for a second afterwards, and I think it was Sunniva who asked, “…Where is you all?…” One of her sisters then had a little fun with the comment, correcting her, “It’s where are you people.” They deserve props though, ‘cause for English not to be their first language, they spoke it very well, and there was no real language barrier anyone, the audience or the band, had to get through. Even their accents, while noticeable, weren’t all that thick, and disappeared completely when they sang. Sunniva then switched out her acoustic guitar for an electric, as they got ready to do a newer song from their forthcoming album, “The Shadow”. They did another song from it, which they said was about a plane crash, and while on the subject of planes, they asked everyone if they were afraid a plane crashing into one of the buildings, which they had been talking about, marveling at how tall some of them were. “…It’s a miracle that they don’t…” Sunniva said, before they moved onto “The Big Flow”. For a trio that lacked the “traditional” full band set up, these girls had already delivered an intense show, and they stepped things up even more with another track off the “New Friends” album, “Throw a Bone”. The three voices intertwined beautifully with one another, often dancing around each other, with one singing the lead, and the other two adding the backing vocals, which were every bit as strong as the lead. Upon finishing it, they mentioned that they were on their way to SXSW, also pointing out that this was the first show they had ever done in Dallas, and they were glad they could play on a more obscure night and still have an audience to play to. They offered up another catchy new one with “The No No”, which they said was a little bit of “Swedish soul”, and sadly, that brought them to the final song they had in their 36-minute long set, but not before talking with the crowd a little more. They shouted the other bands, naming Exit 380. “…I think that’s the name of our hotel.” Sunniva said, cracking a joke that no one really seemed to get. She noticed this and pointed out that no one was getting their Swedish sense of humor. “…I’m saying we’re staying with the guys tonight…” she said. They also revealed they have that stereotypical idea of Texas, by saying that when they think of Dallas, they think cowboy hats. You can’t blame ‘em, even people in other parts of the U.S. think Texas is nothing but farmland where everyone rides horses around, but that couldn’t be more further from the truth. “…It’s good to see Dallas has its funky areas, too…” Greta said. They then set up their final song, which they said was about their hometown and called “Out-of-Towner”. Now I wouldn’t have minded hearing a lot more music from their “Fall Among Thieves” record, but out of all the songs on it, I’m glad that was the one they chose to play. They started it with an amazing soulful intro, which was a mix of harmonies and Sunniva passionately belting out a line from the song, all of which was done a cappella. They then fired up the guitar, banjo and bass and ripped into the song, bringing their set to a fiery finish.
What a show. I had listened to their music after seeing they were on this bill and instantly became a fan, and live they were everything I thought they would be and then some.
These sisters are a well oiled machine, and I’d bet that family bond helps make them a little tighter than most bands. Each one has a superb voice, yet they all sound similar enough to one another that it’s not some drastic change when they switch up who’s doing the singing. And despite the instruments being scaled back in comparison to other bands, I guarantee you that these ladies makes just as much noise as a five-piece rock outfit does.
Check out their older album, “Fall Among Thieves”, and be on the lookout for their new record sometime this year. After hearing a few of the cuts from it, I’m rather excited to hear the full thing. You can also find a list of all their upcoming shows on their OFFICIAL WEBSITE, and if you live in Europe, they may be coming to a town near you this May through August.
Closing out the night was the bigger name hometown act, Fort Worth’s, Exit 380. Sure, I had just seen the band a few weeks before this, but I don’t see them nearly as much as I would like, so I was looking forward to seeing them again. Plus, they had dusted off some of their more rock tunes at that other show, and this one was going to showcase the bands current country sound.
As usual, their set began with the lead track from the “Townies” record, “Run For The Gold”, whose lyrics conjure images of a time long gone. Before their next tune, vocalist, Dustin Blocker, mentioned how much he enjoyed playing with touring bands. “…It’s like I was saying earlier, these bands wouldn’t be driving all the way from New York, or even flying overseas, if they weren’t good…” he said. I had never really thought of it in that sense until he made that comment to me earlier when we were talking, but that’s a very valid point. And come to think of it, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a bad touring act. Aaron Borden then started them into their next song, “Daddy Was A Freight Train”, by picking away at his lap steel guitar. Thus far it was just like the previous show I had seen, not that I’m complaining about that. I noticed the difference with the third song though, and I believe it was before that one that Blocker pointed out to everyone that they were going to be playing folk songs that told some little stories. He then busted out one of his harmonicas, playing it briefly, before he sang the opening line of “Little Trip” at the same instance that Jody McCauley came in on the drums. It was all done very precisely, making them out to be a very tight band, which they in fact are. Jeremy Hutchison switched out to an acoustic guitar for the next song, “Soul Burning Train”, and at the chorus, when it really takes off, it undeniable becomes one of the best songs in their arsenal. In the break between it and the next tune, Blocker talked about this odd Sunday night gig. “…Sunday night, who knew it was so much different from Saturday night…” he said. They moved on, and Jeremy busted out his mandolin for a few songs. The first was my absolute favorite newer song of theirs, “Missy Gardner”. “The old train depot was vacant of people. Their cars must have drove them away. But Sue is still standing with feet firmly planted, until my return she will stay…” Blocker softly sang on the more tranquil song. The lyrics are the best part of it, and while a lot of their songs do tell stories, I think it tells the best, or at least it’s the one I’m most drawn to. A track of theirs that was featured on a Hand Drawn Records compilation CD came next, but not after a little, shall we say, “mishap”. Aaron began his part on the electric guitar, but Blocker quickly pulled the plug on it all together, pointing out that he thought the guitar was in the wrong key. “…You can’t argue this…” he said, pointing at his harmonica, and even playing it again to make sure the guitar didn’t match up with. They tried it again after Aaron made some quick adjustments, and this time they were good to go on “A Song About Us”. “This next song is called Where Do We Go From Here?” Said Blocker, segueing them into another slower song, which still has a tight rhythm section supplied by Jon Hutchison on bass and Jody. While Jeremy swapped back to his electric guitar, Blocker brought up the fact that this was a school night, and made a remark that, that was something he hadn’t had to worry about in quite some time. He and Aaron then had a conversation, mostly off mic, but you could hear Blocker recalling his college days, then sounding like he was in disbelief that, that had already been about ten years ago. That banter gave the show a slight comedic element, even if that wasn’t the intention, and at least made me laugh a bit. At this point, it sounded like they switched the remaining two songs of their 40-minute set around, opting to do another one I was hoping for right then, and that was “Cajun Rock (A Violent Man)”. Live, it’s one of the more intense things they currently do, but it pales in comparison to an older gem of theirs that concluded their set. They went all electric for “Quid Pro Quo”, and even though the crowd had thinned out at this point, you could still feel the energy jump tenfold as they tore into the song, and it was an incredible note to end on.
As much as I liked the last show of theirs I saw, I missed hearing some of these folksy tunes, but I didn’t realize exactly how much until I heard them live this night. Sure, I like their rock stuff from years ago and would love to hear some of those back in the setlist one day, but all the songs on “Townies” make it one of the best albums Exit 380 has released over their nearly 14 year career. And even with the somewhat slower music, they still manage to keep their live shows rocking, and they should easily hold your interest.
So go ahead and check out their music for yourself in either ITUNES or BANDCAMP. The next few shows they have include a trip to Austin on April 27th, where they’ll perform at Maggie Mae’s. Then on May 11th they’ll be doing a hometown gig at The Wild Rooster in Fort Worth.
This was an incredible night of music, and those two touring acts I caught alone made it worth it, while Exit 380 was just the icing on the cake. In fact, this show was so great I chose to go to it over staying at home and watching The Walking Dead… That’s saying something.
Oh, and in just a few short days after this, I, too, would travel down to Austin to see what all the fuss about SXSW is about.
Gorilla Productions had put together an epic lineup of bands at the Curtain Club. I mean, a ten band bill does count as epic, right?
The main attraction however was The Bedlam Brothers, who were celebrating the release of their first record, “Saddle Up”.
The doors opened at six this night (early by any standards), but I didn’t arrive until about seven, which meant I missed The Neckties.
I’ve been a fan of the band for about a year now, but have yet to see a show, and I guess it just wasn’t in the cards this night. Check ‘em out, though. They have an album, “Chop and Change”, available, and it’s pretty good.
So, when I did get there a guy named Ty Dillon and his band were playing.
As I walked in the country sound caught me a little off guard, since I’m so used to seeing rock shows here. After one of his songs, Ty acknowledged this and joked about it. “…This looks like the venue that would have a pit, so I’m just gonna say it. “OPEN UP THE PIT!” he screamed, which was quite funny, since he was wearing a cowboy hat and he and his band appeared pretty straight laced.
What I saw of their set was a mix of covers (which I didn’t know) and a few originals, including one titled, “The Hat Song”. He mentioned it came from a very personal experience, when a girl he had been dating quickly got in a relationship with one of his good friends. So, and this is the abridged version, he said happened to be at another friends house where the first mentioned friend had left his hat. So Ty asked whose it was, and upon finding out who it belonged to, took it.
His original stuff was great, and really well rounded for a younger musician, and like I said, I didn’t know the covers, but they still did very good renditions of them. There were just a few times he tried to hit some higher notes and had trouble pulling it off, but that was the only issue I heard, and nothing that can’t be fixed in time. That aside, he’s a promising musician that should have a good future ahead of him.
He mentioned that his debut record would be dropping in a few weeks, so check out iTunes for that. He also has the single, “If You Only Knew” for sale there, too.
Next up was a band by the name Uneasy Pilgrim.
They didn’t start out well in my opinion, and the guy who sang their first couple of songs and the final one didn’t have much of a voice on him. Things improved slightly when, I believe it was their drummer, took over lead vocal and rhythm guitar duties, forcing the other guy back on the guys, while the keyboard player moved over to the drums. Yeah, it was an odd change, but it worked. They cranked out two more in this format, and this guys voice was much more enjoyable, and even the music sounded a bit better, but it still didn’t draw me in, and my attention waned when they reverted to the other lineup for their fifth and final song.
They weren’t truly bad (believe me, I’ve seen truly bad), but in the end, they were easily forgettable.
Luckily, that prove to be the only rough patch of the show, and Kirk Baxley and his backing band, the Old No. 7’s, got things back on track.
It had been far too long since I last saw Mr. Baxley. In fact, I don’t even recall when I last saw one of his shows, and I was excited to see, or rather hear, what he had been up to.
They kicked off their 21-minute long set with a song from Kirk’s newest EP, and that song was “Drive”. It was a pretty catchy tune, and while lyrically it had a country vibe to it, “…Pretty girl by my side, she’s just along for the ride. It’s just another Friday night with nothing to do but drive…”, the music had a little rock flare to it. It was great combination, and made for an excellent song. They went right into song, which was more of a love tune, and afterwards, Kirk formally introduced his band. “…Can I get seven hand claps for the Old Number Seven’s!?” he asked the crowd. No one seemed to enthusiastic about it at first, but he quickly motivated people to get into it, saying something like, “Come on, Dallas! We didn’t come all this way for that!” Its instances like that where you see his personality from his rock band days come through, which is a major help in getting the crowd engaged. They were able to squeeze the ballad, “Constantly”, into this short set, and then did performed the title track of Kirk’s newest EP, “Cold as a Stone”. They really brought things down with those two songs, but they were about to make up for it with the final song they had time to play. I had almost completely forgotten about “Rock ‘n’ Roll In My Veins”, but it just took a few seconds of the song for me to recall it. Most of their music may be considered alt-country, but not that song. It’s a rock tune through and through, and in Kirk expresses his love for both genres. “…I got rock ‘n’ roll in my veins, but I love Waylon Jennings just the same…” he belts out at one part, with a fierceness to his voice. During a little instrument break, where his lead guitarist, bassist and drummer cut loose, Kirk picked up a tambourine and played it for a few moments, before suddenly tossing it to an unsuspecting audience member. “Here you go!” he said, as he went back to his guitar, while the tambourine crashed to the floor, since the person hadn’t been expecting it.
That was it, and it had just really started getting good, too.
I guess since I haven’t seen him as a country musician much, I still find it a little weird. I guess I’m just so used to him running around the stage, interacting with the fans and being a charismatic frontman. Well, he’s still pretty charismatic now, just in a slightly different way.
He’s still one of the best singer’s around, though, and regardless of what genre he’s doing, he still sounds fantastic. And I do like the more country stuff. In fact, he seemed more at home performing it now then whenever I last saw him.
Just check out his “Cold as a Stone” EP and find out for yourself. And if you like it, go catch a show. He’s got a few coming up, beginning with March 23rd at Zapatos in College Station. On the 29th they’ll be down at All Bottoms Up in Harker Heights. April 6th will find them back in Dallas, performing at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, which takes place on Main Street in Dallas. They’ll also be in Kennedale at Red’s Roadhouse on April 12th.
The onslaught of country music continued with the next band, but in a very different way from any of the bands before, and even the ones that would follow.
With their first song The Calamity Janes showed everyone just what they were in for, with the impressive harmonies of the three Texas sisters, Courtney Childs-Mock, Arwyn Benson and Alyssa Yancey. Each of them had amazing voices, and mixed together, especially on their up tempo opening number, it was impossible not to get reeled in. A lot of what they did during their 25-minute set was covers, such as their next tune. “…We stole this song, and we sing the shit out of it…” one of them said, before starting a cover of The Pistol Annies, “Hell On Heels”. They did indeed “sing the hell out of it”, and I liked that it showcased each of their individual voices, yet also included more of the harmonies, which was certainly their specialty. After that song, they mentioned that they hailed from Waxahachie. “…There used to be a lot of barns there. Now there’s a lot of people.” Said one of them, adding, “We don’t like it.” I think their next song was called “Life’s Wildcards”, and they followed it with a couple other songs. They were sounding pretty good, but so was their backing band, which was comprised of Doug Pitt on the pedal steel guitar, Tanner Laine on guitar, James Kinard on bass, and drummer, Donald Wall. They then did yet another cover, and it was one of the Dixie Chicks songs, “Long Time Gone”, which was a highlight of their set. They had time for one more after that, and closed with an original, which, as they put it, was about their “crazy middle sister”. “I represent that statement!” Alyssa proudly said. With her red hair and prominently displayed tattoos, she did stand out more from the other two, and that was more or less what the song was about, that she was living life the way she wanted to and having fun.
Sound wise, they didn’t even remotely fit with any of the other bands on the bill, but that didn’t keep them from putting on one of the best performances of the night.
Their incredibly tight harmonies are gripping, and is definitely the backbone of their music. They’ve also written some really catchy stuff, and even the covers they put their own twist on.
I guess the point is, this is a band you need to see, and regardless of what your thoughts on country music are, I feel certain that anyone who listens to The Calamity Janes will become a fan.
So, head over to their REVERBNATION PAGE and check out some of their stuff. Also, they have a gig on April 13th in Rowlett at the Dickey’s BBQ Car Show. They’ll also be playing the Texas Tea Music Festival in Denton on May 24th.
Loyal Sally was the next band up, and I was looking forward to finally seeing them live.
They’ve played the Curtain many times before, and in fact have a plaque on their “Wall of Fame”, but I never seemed to be able to make it to one of their shows before, be it here or another venue.
As the curtain opened on them, Michael Morgan began their first song, playing a catchy series of chords on his acoustic guitar. “So, this song starts with Michael playing this crazy music for a minute.” Said singer and electric guitarist, Michael Lindblom. “Then the lyrics start right when I start singing…” he added. It was pretty hard not to laugh at that. The song proved to be every bit as good as the intro had been. “…Let’s get familiar…” Michael M. told the audience when they finished that song, urging them all to move closer. He continued, “…Michael’s going to stage dive after this song.” Michael L. went with the bit for a second, but then quickly dismissed the notion. Probably for the best, too, ‘cause the crowd was pretty sparse up front. They may have two EP’s in their discography, but they did another song that isn’t on either, but as phenomenal as it was, hopefully it’ll make the cut on their next record. They followed it with a song from their first release of 2012, “Things From Thoughts”, and it was my personal favorite of theirs, “Stereo”. It was another that started with some sweet acoustic sounds, but was kicked up a notch when drummer, Stacy Blankenship, and their bassist added some rhythm to it. “I’ll never make it if I hear what they say. I’ll know I’m wrong if I do it the right way…” sang Michael L. on the second verse, which is just one instance of great lyrics that populate their songs. Afterwards, they asked the audience the one question I’m sure every band asks, “How many of y’all are drinking tonight?” Several people cheered or raised their hand, but then Michael M. asked a question I hadn’t heard posed before. “How many of y’all have condoms?” The crowd was relatively silent about that one. Michael’s response was something like, “We have more beers than condoms. I like the direction this is headed, America.” Yeah, they definitely have a sense of humor about them, and it comes out well on stage, but they didn’t let that sidetrack them from the music, and another pretty captivating tune, “The Movies”. They busted out a new song after it, before closing their 25-minute long set with the final track from the “Pleased to Meet You!” EP, “Bye Bye”. Michael L. even ditched his guitar on that one, and the free reign it gave him transformed him into quite the frontman. That also served as a fitting song to end with, and really gave a sense of finality to the show, while also leaving you wanting more.
One thing I learned from the bands show; I need to start frequenting more Loyal Sally gigs. Like I said, I’d heard of them before, and even had gotten each EP, but I didn’t anticipate them being as fantastic live as what they were. Really, these guys are a force to be reckoned with. I now see why they recently won a semi-final round of the Hard Rock Rising competition, and I’m sure they were more than deserving of it.
The acoustic guitar gives their music a bit of a folk sound, but often it packed in just as much rock as the electric instruments did, while all of those of course added the rock style to it. All that makes for an interesting, more unusual blend of music, which you really need to hear.
Both of their records can be purchased in ITUNES, and catch them at the second annual Big Folkin’ Festival on March 30th at The Door. Also check them out on April 11th at the Hard Rock Cafe in Dallas, for the final round of the Hard Rock Rising competition.
Things got more into the rock swing with the next act, which was The Unlikely Candidates.
Just about two months before, I saw them for the first time right here, and was eager to see them again.
The five-piece pop/rock outfit got off to a great start with their first song, and like the band before them, they have an acoustic guitarist, Cole, which a bit of a different vibe to this radio friendly music. They barreled through their 25-minute set with a couple more songs, before vocalist, Kyle, asked if there were any fans of The Strokes in attendance. The band’s sound is similar to that of The Strokes, making them a good band to cover and they did a spot on job of “Someday”. In fact, and I think I said this last time too, but I think it was even a hair better than The Strokes original. There was only time enough for two more songs at this point, but they had saved two of their catchiest for last. By that, I mean The Unlikely Candidates are no strangers to the “hook”, which is something these final two definitely had. They wrapped things up with their current single, which is “Follow My Feet”. “There’s a fork in the road in front of me, at the crossroads of identity. The devil is standing to the left, he says, “Either way they both lead to death”…” Kyle sang, before drummer, Kevin, lead guitarist, Josiah, and bassist, Brenton, tore into the song. Even if you don’t know it, it’ll still have you singing along, even if it’s just on the simple line form the chorus, “…Yeah, so follow, follow, follow my feet…”.
Their set, albeit short, was a standout of the night. Kyle’s voice is incredible, while their music is very easy to get into, and is not only something you could easily sing along to, but also something you might find yourself dancing to. And the acoustic guitar adds an excellent layer to their pop/rock sound. Definitely a band you need to experience if you haven’t already, and after one show, they’ll likely have you coming back for more.
You can find their single, “Follow My Feet”, in iTunes, and hopefully more singles, or even an EP or LP, will follow soon enough. And be sure to check out their FACEBOOK PAGE to be kept in the loop of future shows.
Next up was the main event of the night, and while not the headliner, this show was all about The Bedlam Brothers and the release of their latest EP.
Their 44-minute long set began with some intro music playing, before their new drummer, Juan, stepped on stage and got behind his drum kit, which was set up sideways. It looked a little weird, but I like that, because it makes it easier to see what the drummer at work. He proceeded to lay down some beats, before Craig McLaughlin walked on stage and completed the rhythm section when he added some bass into the mix. After a moment, vocalist and guitarist, Nick Santa Maria, got on stage, completing the trio, and then they were off. They tore through their opening number, which at the end they whipped into the lead track from their “Saddle Up” EP, “Run Run Run”. It’s even more intense live than it comes across on the CD, seeming a little faster paced, while the sweat guitar solo and riffs sound their best in the live environment. Plus you got that catchy little chorus, “Run, run, run as fast as you can. Gotta leave this town, I’m a wanted man…”. Once they finished it, Nick thanked everyone for coming out to the show. “…We may be from Austin now, but Dallas is home…” he said. After all, both he and Craig are from the area, which makes it all the more impressive that later in the show, Nick said this was both the most fun show he had played in Dallas, and also the best crowd. The thing about that was you could tell he was being sincere, and not just saying it to make the audience feel important. They next busted out “Not Enough”, an older song of Nick’s, which is really at its best with the southern rock grit that The Bedlam Brothers give it. “I’m gonna need your help on this next song…” said Nick when they finished. He coached the crowd through their part a few times, as he belted out, “Maaaaarrry Roooose!” a few times a cappella, getting the fans to then shout out, “Mary was a tortured soul!” With a quick beat, Juan then started them on the first single from their album, “Mary Rose”, which is by far one of the strongest songs in their in their catalog. They brought things down just a little “240 Miles”, and afterwards took a brief break as Craig introduced the band. “Back here beating off like no one’s business is John, or Juan. He goes by both.” He said, formally introducing the new drummer to everyone. After saying something about Nick, Nick then introduced him. “Over here we’ve got the master basser…” he said, keeping with the dirty little innuendos. With that out of the way they kicked things back into high gear with “First Time”, which gave the crowd a dose of heavy southern rock, and was something you could really bang your head to. I think it was after that song that Nick thanked everyone for coming out, mentioning that is was the best Dallas crowd he had ever played to, and also pointed out an interesting tidbit of information. “…I looked at our Reverbnation and Facebook pages and it was this time one year ago when we signed up on them…” he said, making this the bands one year anniversary show. That’s a hell of a way to celebrate it to, doing a CD release show in your true hometown. They kept things going with another single, “We Ride Tonight”, and then the song that follows it on the record, “Save Me”. That strong finish served to start winding down their set, but they had enough time for one more song, and it was their routine closer. Craig, who before one song had said it was one of the first he and Nick started playing when they in the early stages of The Bedlam Brothers, stated that this next one really was their first song they started jamming with. He went on to say it was about living their dream of just making music, and that maybe one day they could do that full-time. Nick chimed in, “It’d probably be nine PM to five AM, though…”, which, in that line of work, is more than accurate. They then ripped into “My 9 to 5”, which is a rock song through and through, and will forever be an excellent way to conclude a performance.
These guys continue to get better with every show, and this was definitely their best Dallas show to date. The larger than normal crowd could probably be part of the reason the show was so great, since every band feeds of a crowds energy, and top that with the excitement of a CD release show, which are always some of the best of a bands career, and you got a very memorable show.
Their new drummer, who had only been with the band for a few weeks, looked like he had been with them for years and fit with them perfectly. Craig’s a really good bassist, and makes use of the large stage, moving all around, while Nick slays on the guitar when that’s his only focus and he’s taking a break from singing.
Fantastic band, and their CD is a great reflection of what they are like. So, why not go see a show and pick up a copy of it, either on ITUNES or at a live show. They have gigs coming up on March 30th at The Door in Dallas as part of the second annual Big Folkin’ Festival, and on April 14th they’ll be at The Dogwood in Austin.
After a show like that, anyone would be hard pressed to rival or top it, but if any band could, We The Ghost was one that stood a chance at it.
For this show, they had five out of their seven members in tow, which in the end, resulted in what was probably one of their most solid Dallas shows.
The Tulsa based band began their set with a song from their “My Mixtape Summer” EP, “Your Remedy”. They have several fantastic songs, but that one is of their best (or at least a personal favorite of mine), with the catchy chorus that singer and acoustic guitarist, Beau Tyler, spits out in more of a reggae style, “I can be your cure, it’s the only that I, I ever know for sure. If you will only trust in me, then I can be the medicine you need. Oh, baby, I, I can be your cure…” That’s actually what makes so many of their songs so unique, that they do have a certain reggae flair to them, and stand apart from anything else currently out there. They followed it with another song from their first EP, one of the singles, “She’s Gonna Fly Again”. Towards the end of it, Beau pointed out that since Paco [Estrada] was a no show, they were going to do something else instead. “…I’m going to show you what an amazing guitarist he is…” Beau said, pointing at bassist, Ben Mosier, who is probably best known as the guitarist of the long defunct Denton band, Upside. Ben and guitarist, Matt McHan, then switched spots (and instruments), for a little something special. While short, it was phenomenal, as Ben shredded on the guitar. It’s been so long since I last saw him play the guitar, I forgot the crazy amount of talent he possessed. He’s one of those players that makes it look completely effortless, without being over the top, and as good as he is on the bass, there’s no question where his talent truly lies. That didn’t last too long before they returned to their original instruments and wrapped up the song, before revealing they had something else special in store for the next one. “Does anybody remember a band called Utica?” Beau asked the crowd. It was one of his older projects, which included Stan Roden on vocal duties, and Beau now invited on stage. “…This is one of Stan’s favorite songs of ours…” he added, as Stan proceeded to sing the first few lines of “Wash These Sins Away”, which was the chorus. He handled that part throughout the tune, while Beau sang the verses. I never saw Utica, but I had listened to their stuff. Stan had a killer voice from what I heard, and it sounded every bit as good now hearing it live. The two voices mingled well together as they ceded control back and forth to one another, and made the song sound its absolute best. They brought the level down a little with “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, before pulling out a rather unexpected cover. “This isn’t new, but it’s new for us.” Said Beau, repeating it afterwards, trying to get a better reaction out of the crowd. Paula Abdul isn’t an artist you’d expect these guys to cover, yet here they were, doing a more rock rendition of her song “Straight Up”. The keys, which were manned by Kris Stone, had been prevalent throughout the night, but they really brought this song to life, while lyrically, Beau transformed it to almost more of a rap. It was really an interesting take on the song, and I liked it. After a newer song, Beau shouted out The Bedlam Brothers and asked everyone to go pick up their new CD. “…I think many of you realize what it takes to make a record.” He said, noting that a lot of work goes into getting music “…on that stuff that makes it play…” He said something along those lines at least, before they soon started their current single off the “White Noise” EP, “Let Me Know”. They weren’t done yet, though, and they finished their 39-minute set with a song Beau wrote during the days of his last band. “…This is called Right Where You Want.” He announced, as they ended with a real rock number. Drummer, Jimmy Adams, had been great all night but it with that song where he really got to cut loose and go all out, giving a dynamic end to a extraordinary set.
Out of the small handful of We the Ghost shows I’ve seen, this was certainly the best. I don’t believe they’ve ever had this many members at a Dallas gig before (at least not the few I’ve caught), and the full drum kit and keys made all the difference in rounding out their sound. And about their sound, like I touched on earlier, it’s something that’s entirely their own. I’ve never heard any music like this before, and in a world where everyone says everything in music has been done and that sound wise it’s impossible to do something original now, We The Ghost is proof that’s not entirely true.
They’re creative and original, yet many of their songs also have that radio quality to them. Check it out for yourself, you can find both of their EP’s in ITUNES. So give ‘em a listen, and buy it if you dig it.
They also have quite a few shows lined up over the next several months, with one being on April 5th at Guthrie Green in Tulsa, OK. The night after they’ll be at Rooster’s in Fort Smith, Arkansas. They’re calendar has a few dates going all the way through September right now, so check out their REVERBNATION PAGE for a list of all of them.
There was one band left this night, but after being out for so long, I was beat. Plus, I had more than gotten my dose of music for the night.
On one hand, a bill with this many acts can be nice, because you do get to see a vast array of talent. But on the other hand, the sets are so short that you just really start getting into the music when they the act has to wrap it up. At least that was true for most of the bands early on in the night.
Still, kudos go out to everyone who had a hand in putting this together, because the majority of the bands were incredible, and it made for a killer night of music.
It was back to my favorite Deep Ellum haunt, The Curtain Club, this night, where, just like the previous night, a killer lineup of bands had been assembled.
Olivine was one of those bands, and I missed the first bit of their set, because I was out on the patio talking with Paco Estrada, who would later play.
I had never seen the band before, though I had seen their singer, Jake Mai, when he opened for People On Vacation last year, shortly before forming Olivine. I enjoyed the music then, but it was obviously not completely rounded, since it lacked a full band.
That expansion, and the use of electric instruments made all the difference this night. What I did see of it was an explosive performance of pop/rock music. Bassist, Jorge Garcia, and lead guitarist, Casey Hollyfield, put on a dynamic live show, and Jake certainly did his fair share when he didn’t have to be stationed behind the mic. They played several songs off their debut record, “Drift”, and even at one point brought things down, when Casey, Jorge, and drummer, Joe Bortscheller, left Jake alone to do an acoustic song. For their final song, they did the title track itself, “Drift”, which is easily the best song in their arsenal.
Their music is extremely radio friendly, and mines that vein of pop/rock. Usually, that’s a style of music I try to stay away from, simply because it sounds so generic now. Every now and then, though you see a band that can pull it off well, and Olivine is one of those bands. Sure, it may not be groundbreaking, but it sounds good, and that’s what really matters.
Check out the “Drift” record in iTunes. And while they have no shows booked at the moment, keep tabs on their OFFICIAL WEBSITE to find out when they do.
After them was Erik Chandler, who’s probably best known as the bassist of Bowling for Soup, and this night was doing his first show with his backing band. It consisted of Doug McGrath (formerly of SouthFM) on bass and Taylor Young (of Dallas’s hottest country duo, The O’s) on drums, while Erik played the guitar. Now, practically his entire 34-minute set was originals from his upcoming record, meaning I can’t elaborate with song titles like I typically do. After their first song, Erik made mention of the record, talking about how good it is and acknowledged that he has been working on it for awhile. “…And trust me, y’all are all very thankful for it…”, referring to the album, which was self-described as being one of the best records ever. After another original they did a cover of Elvis Costellos’ “(What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding”. “…If I wrote this song, I wouldn’t be here right now…” said Erik before starting it. It was a great rendition of the song, and they kept it pretty spot on, with the exception that it sounded like it was more up tempo. Afterwards, Erik thanked Olivine for opening the show, and People on Vacation for putting it all together. “…You don’t get this much rock anymore…” he said, a statement I didn’t find entirely accurate, especially after the show here the night before, which boasted three bands who routinely headline the Curtain. Point is, rock is still very much alive in Dallas. Anyway, they did another song that was about Eriks’ first car, and upon finishing it, he mentioned how good it was to be back at the Curtain. “…This was the place of cutting teeth…” he said, speaking of the early days of Bowling for Soup (whose plaque still proudly adorns the “Wall of Fame” in the venue). He continued, “…It’s like a family reunion, ‘cause almost all the same people still work here…” They did a couple more originals, before doing another cover, which I was unfamiliar with. “…This is another one I didn’t write, but I sure wish I did…” Erik said. Periodically throughout the show fans had been buying them drinks, and at this point, someone handed Erik a shot, which he couldn’t identify. He hesitantly drank it, and while I don’t remember what it is, he said he usually didn’t get along with it. It was too late to do anything about it, though. Before their final song, Erik set it up by saying it was one everyone could all relate to. “…We all have that one cunt that really fucked you up…” he said. It was called “Tonight’s the Night”, and it really was the best song of their set.
I was sure it would be good, but still, the most I’ve ever heard Erik sing is adding the occasional backing vocals on various BFS songs, which makes it hard to truly gauge anyone’s voice. However, Erik’s got a good set of pipes on him, and sounded quite great this night.
The music’s really good, too, and for anyone who is a fan of BFS, you’re guaranteed to like his stuff.
Check out his FACEBOOK PAGE to stay up to date with his goings on, and expect his debut album to drop sometime this year.
Next up was the headlining band, People On Vacation, which is of course the side project of fellow BFS member, Jaret Reddick, and co-founded by another Dallas musician, Ryan Hamilton.
This was a big show for the band, because not only were they celebrating the release of their latest album on CD (it has been available digitally since late last year), it was also Jaret’s birthday show. Jaret pointed this out before they even began the show, and mentioned he probably wouldn’t make it through the night sober. Joining them for this full band performance was Linus Dotson, AKA Linus of Hollywood, on keys, and Jaret pointed him out to the crowd. “…My boo flew in for this show…” he said, and continued by saying that since it was his birthday week, if Linus peed on anything this night it would be completely legal. Yeah, all that happened before they even played a song, which was proof enough that this was going to be an unforgettable night.
They began with “Prettiest Girl In The World”, which surprised me a little, because the last times I had seen them it was more of the closer, or at least fell later in the set. The upbeat, happy tune the song carries made it work well as an opener, though, and immersed the audience into their music. Like his band mate that played before him, Jaret mentioned how good it was to be back at the Curtain Club. “…We just played here…” he said, adding it had only been three days or something, referring to their show here which had barely been a month ago. They then did another song from their newest record, “We Are The Lucky Ones”. “Why can’t we just skip to the good parts. Read through the last page before start. I’ll raise one hand to the heavens, I’ll use the other to cross my heart and hope to die…” Ryan and Jaret both sang, with drummer, Todd Harwell, adding the well planned beats, that dance in between each line. The crazy banter continued after that song, and while shouting out all the other acts on the bill, Jaret officially named Eriks’ band, calling them “Erik Chandler & The Prima Donna Motherfuckers”. They joked about for a few minutes, having the audience laughing right along with them, before eventually busting out another fan favorite, “Back To Being Friends”. Upon finishing it, Ryan was put in charge of entertaining the crowd, while Jaret put on some chapstick. Before he had a chance to say anything, though, Linus chimed in, saying he’s told Jaret before that he thinks he’s addicted to that stuff, and needs to quit using it. “…It’s funny, because while he’s telling me that, he’s over there smoking a cigarette…” he said, speaking of past cases. They briefly debated if someone even could be addicted to chapstick, before discussing how they were going to start their next song. “…You start it.” Jaret told Ryan, who proceeded to strum his acoustic guitar. I had never heard them start this song this way before, but those chords on their own sounded phenomenal. Soon, Linus started in on the keys, which confirmed it was “Alone with You”. That one’s still my favorite POV song, mainly because of that one line, “…Begging for a pardon like a subject of a warden, like I burped up something and swallowed it again…”. I still think that’s pure genius. When it ended, Jaret pointed out that Ryan was the “Where’s Waldo of St. Patrick’s Day”, as he did have on a striped shirt, with green instead of red. Soon, conversation switched to Ryan’s parents, with Jaret saying he didn’t know much about Ryan’s dad, except, “…He helps with the Holiday Salsa. And he likes to weld…”. This led Ryan to tell everyone the best advice he ever received from his father. “Son, if you’re going to be dumb, then you need to be tough.” According to him, that was the best advice he got, and Jaret countered it with his. “My dad didn’t want to have the sex talk with me, so he just told me, “Son, keep it in your pants unless you’re going to the bathroom.” “True story.” He added. When they got back into song mode, they did another happy song from their first EP, “She was the Only One”. During that song, and the past few, a women had been going around taking pictures of the band with her iPad, and at this point, Jaret pointed it out, saying something like, “…Steve Jobs would be rolling over in his grave if he knew the iPad was being used to take pictures in the pit at a rock show…”. Linus then proved his wittiness, ‘His iGrave.” Brilliant (and quite possible true). Ryan was persuaded to play a song he wrote for Linus during one of their UK tours, aptly called, “Linus of Hollywood”. All though short, it was pretty humorous, and not bad at all for something that, at one time, was probably quickly made up. Another song of Ryan’s (a legitimate one) followed, and it was the song about searching for love, “Lonely Fish”. “So many fish in the proverbial sea, I wonder ‘round the world just hoping that you’ll bump into me…” he sang, the first line of this spot on tune. I’m still glad it made its transition into a POV song, because it was one of the best in Ryan’s catalog, and the full band sound just makes it that much better. The talk then turned to Christmas, when they mentioned that with the release of “The Summer and The Fall” on CD, it was like Christmas. “Play a Christmas song!” shouted one of the audience members. “You really want us to play a Christmas song?!” Jaret asked, and they all looked at each other like they were contemplating the idea. However, the closest they got was Linus playing the tune of one on the keyboard. They then brought things down ever so slightly with “Rainy Day”, and soon after followed it up with the perfect song, and one of their best, “Because Of The Sun”. I liked the little metaphor that made, simply saying that the sun will shine after any storm, and things will get better. “It’s Not Love” came next, and Ryan started the song. Almost immediately, Jaret peaked over his shoulder, looking at where the capo was placed, before putting his on the same fret. Ryan didn’t seem to notice, or if he did he ignored, but everyone else got a kick out of it. “…We just topped Coldplay with that one…” Jaret said when they finished, noting that nobody even had to drop all the cash that they would have to see a Coldplay concert. “…I wrote this next song in the shower…” Said Jaret, which prompted a look from Ryan and bassist, Beau Wagener, of, “Do I want to ask?” “No, not like that!” he quickly replied, which didn’t stop Ryan from asking him if he heard “…Hundreds of screaming children coming from the drain…” It wasn’t as bad as it first sounded, with Jaret saying he thought of it while in the shower, then penned it once he got out. The song was the rhymey, “I Get You”, which is a quick and nice little love song. Jaret began talking about his birthday, stating that the best gift he got was having a service come out for a whole year to pick up his dogs poop. They were then informed they had enough time for one more song, and Beau, Todd and Linus left the stage, leaving the two to close out their 60-minute long set with a more acoustic style song. It was a cover of Ratt’s “Round and Round”, which further proves the bands love for classic 80’s metal songs, which is typically what they cover. It was a very different take on it, yet it sounded amazing. It was the harmonies that really made the song, plus the slower pace gave it more of a somber feeling.
It was a pretty good song to end with, and it was another fantastic People On Vacation show.
With their hectic schedules, they haven’t played live much lately, and I’m pretty certain the last time I saw them was last May. So long I had almost forgotten how entertaining they are.
The mix of infectious pop/rock songs, with hilarious humor make them one of the only bands that encompasses every aspect of entertainment, and they’re bound to reel you in with at least one of those.
Check out the two records they now have available, both of which can be found in ITUNES, and keep a check on their FACEBOOK PAGE for future show dates. ‘Cause hopefully, if neither of them get too busy with their primary bands, they’ll be doing another People On Vacation show sooner rather than later.
They may have been the headlining band, but there was one more act after them, and it was the insanely talented, Paco Estrada.
Joining him was his backing band, which is yet unnamed, but is comprised of Scotty Isaacs on the piano, Joel Bailey on bass, AJ Blackleaf supplying the beats on a partial drum kit, and the newest addition, Nathan Parnell on an electric guitar.
They opened their 42-minute set with one of Paco’s newest songs, “American Girls”, which has a little bit of a folk sound to it, but also is a bit of a classic rock song. As that song came to an end, Paco kept strumming his acoustic guitar, transitioning them right into their next song, which sounded all too familiar. Personally, I think Pacos’ most current release, 2011’s “The Definite and Indefinite…”, is overall the best collection of songs he’s done to date, but over the last year or so, most of those songs have found their way out of the live set, including the gem, “Whiskey Kisses”. Well, tonight they had decided to dust it off, and I think it was largely due to Nathan on the electric guitar. Once they hit the chorus, Nathan’s guitar work really livened up the song, while AJ tore in on the drums. It suddenly became a full-blown rock song, which is something Paco hasn’t done in a very long time. “…Your sweet whiskey kisses, that’s what I’ve been missing. When you lose your inhibitions…” he belted out on the chorus, in his rich, soulful voice. They did another new one, “The Way I Love You”, and afterwards, Paco acknowledged a friend and fellow vocalist who was out enjoying the show. “Tim, when was the last time I got to sing for you?” he asked, speaking to Tim Ziegler. It almost made it sound like the next song was dedicated to him, which I doubt was the case, since it was the ultimate love song, “When We Were Made”. Seriously, you’ll be hard pressed to find a love song as powerful as that one is. After another new song, the enthralling, “She”, they did yet another song I hadn’t heard in a few years. It wasn’t an original, though. “We got any Deftones fans in here?” asked Paco, which got a rise from the audience. He mentioned something about knifes, then said, “… I’m Mexican, so I got a knife in my boot at all times…” As you might have guessed by now, they were covering “Knife Party”, which was often a staple back in the days of Paco & One Love. This was a little more rock version, though, but still the best part was just the way Paco sings the chorus, “…Go get your knife, go get your knife and lay down. Go get your knife, go get your knife, now kiss me.”, with the force he puts behind it making it nothing short of phenomenal. It had only been a few weeks since I had last seen Paco, but since seeing that show in Fort Worth, I had anxiously been awaiting this one, to hear the song they did next, or rather the cover they tack onto it. “This song’s about my dad.” Said Paco, as they started “Breaking Down”. The part about his father comes on the second verse, “…My father had a heart attack at fifty-eight. I never thought that man was built to break. He told us that if he went under, he didn’t want them to resuscitate…”After a couple more trips through the chorus, Paco looked at his band mates during a brief instrumental break, before jumping into the cover. “Did I disappoint you, or leave a bad taste in your mouth? You act like you never had love, and you want me to go without…” he sang. I’ll say it again, out of all the covers he’s added at the end of this song over the years, U2’s “One” is truly the best. He has a knack for conveying real emotion while he sings, and that’s at its best here, especially on the line, “…We’re one, but we’re not the same. Will we hurt each other, then we do it again…”, which is sung with a fiery passion, and personally, I think it trumps U2’s original version of it. At this point, they only had a couple more left, and Paco mentioned that they were “…All love songs, so they’re all slower tempo…” That held very true to their next song, and another classic I hadn’t heard in awhile, “I Will Never Let You Go”. Now they only had one left, and it was the routine closer, “Haunting Me”. “…I’ll pack my bags. I’ll put my heart in a box of letters from you I have. I’ll disappear and paint it black, and when the memory of my face begins to fade, I’m coming back…” Paco croons on the second verse, giving the song somewhat of an eerie vibe. This is another one where he usually adds a cover song on the end of it, and it is the Whitney Houston classic, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”, which is a positive note to end on.
The difference between this show and the one I had seen before it was like night and day. Like I said, that electric guitar brought them to a whole new level, and while they still had the songs that were very piano based, the drums and guitar surged to life on others.
It brought everything to life, quite honestly, this is the best band I’ve seen Paco surround himself with since One Love disbanded in late 2010. So, hopefully this will be the band that sticks with him for awhile. I guess only time will tell on that.
However, while this band may not have any recordings, Paco’s catalog is extensive, and several of his older records can be purchased via BANDCAMP.
Their music was a great way to conclude the show this night. It’s just a shame that so few people stuck around, because, as I’ve said many times before, Paco is the most talented singer/songwriter in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Oh, and the incense they have burning during their shows makes it even more of an experience.
It was another killer night of music at the best venue in Deep Ellum, and if you weren’t there, you missed out.