Sunday, April 13th, 2014 - Broken Gold

It was back to the Double Wide this night for a show that featured two bands that are side projects for members of a couple of higher profile Texas bands.

One of those was FEA, and holding down the rhythm section in the group is Phanie Diaz (drums) and Jenn Alva (bass) of Girl in a Coma.

It was nearly nine-thirty when the band took the stage and guitarist Aaron Magana started them off on their first number. I wasn’t expecting the same semi-pop rock sound as that aforementioned band, but I was really surprised when Theresa Moher opened her mouth, revealing a raw, snarly voice that was a mix of half singing and half screaming. It was brutal, and it was completely captivating.

Given that this was a Sunday and they had such an early slot, there weren’t many people there (certainly nothing what the band proved they were deserving of), but those who were, were giving them their full attention, and excused the fact that Theresa kept singing the chorus over Jenns’ bass solo. She quickly realized what she was doing, though, and laughed off the little mistake.

Phanie wound them right into their next song, which had even more kick to it and was fueled by a raw, punk aggression. They threw another intense song at fans ears, before Theresa mentioned their next song was “about all the haters who don’t do shit”. Jenn then spoke up, giving an example of people who say, “Dallas sucks.” or “Deep Ellum sucks.” and speak of moving elsewhere, but never actually follow-through. So, basically, it was about complainers, and they ripped through it at a blistering pace.

In the midst of that, Theresa realized her fly was down, and turned away from the crowd to zip it up. “Thanks for not pointing out my zipper. I guess that had been happening for awhile.” she said sheepishly, a far cry from the beast of a performer side she had been showing off so far this night.

They did a couple cover songs this night (I wasn’t familiar with either), and after the first of those, they did a couple more originals. “My voice is acting a little silly tonight.” Theresa said almost apologetically, speaking more to her band mates than the crowd. Honestly, I don’t have a clue what she was talking about, because from out in the crowd, she sounded fantastic.

Their other cover song featured some awesome guitar solos, which Aaron not only embraced, but owned them as he took to the front of the stage and brandished his axe about. Even though it wasn’t one of theirs, I thought it was their best song of the night, and Jenn added some really cool backing vocals to it.

Phanies’ drum work was dazzling during the next song, and for the final one of their 32-minute set, Theresa jumped out in the crowd and rushed around the area immediately in front of the stage, as some of the onlookers cleared out of her way.

This was quite the way to get the show going, and FEA has created a great sound for themselves. There is a bit of Tex-Mex flare thrown in with the punk elements, but overall, it’s just hard-hitting, loud rock music.

Their set was easily the most explosive of the night (though they did have some competition), those who did arrive early to see them were quite impressed by what they saw.

The lone North Texas band on the bill was Pink Smoke, and this marked a somewhat big moment for the band, as it was their first show with guitarist Matt Stewart in the band.

The four-piece got ready to start, before a very brief silence fell inside the Double Wide, and the attention of singer/guitarist Clint Jerome, bassist Brandon Staack and Matt turned towards Bobby back behind the kit. He counted them into the first song of their 22-minute set. Everything about was punk rock personified, from the fast pace the music kept, to the equally quick singing Clint was doing, making it hard to hear the words at times, packing the songs at most into a two to three minute window.

It didn’t matter that every word wasn’t clearly audible to the crowd, though. This was music that you were supposed to give yourself completely to and head bang along with, and those in attendance were doing just that. They tore through a slew of other songs, and at the start of one, Clint began jumping around, and during an instrumental break at the end of the track raised his arms and held his guitar in the air.

“How good was FEA?” Brandon asked while his band mates tuned. There was one problem, though, he pronounced it “F” “E” “A”. Someone pointed that out to him and he laughed off his mistake. “…That makes much more sense.” he remarked, before apologizing for being a “white boy” who didn’t know better.

They were closing in on the end of their set at this point, and after another song, they knocked out “Ain’t it Sad”, which kept up the furious pace, and was a highlight of their show. “TVNM” followed, and after blowing through another track, they began to turn off amps and take their gear off stage.

The crowd was sparse in general this night, however Pink Smoke kept the energy flowing, and those who were present were treated to a spectacular show.

They only have a couple of years experience as this band under their belt, but you could tell they’ve worked hard to be as cohesive a band as possible—and they were.

Clint and Brandon had real chemistry with one another, which was all held together by Bobby and his drumming. As for Matt, he seemed like a great fit for the band. He may not have been as active as the other guys, but you can’t expect that from anyone who is doing their first show with a band. On the flip side, it didn’t look like his first show with Pink Smoke, either, and there was a lot of precision and skill to his playing.

I look forward to seeing future shows and how things will surely tighten up once this incarnation of the band plays some more. Aside from that, I don’t know how it took me this long to discover Pink Smoke in general.

Check out their FACEBOOK PAGE to see what they have going on and when they will have another show, and their debut album, “No Party”, can be purchased on Bandcamp.

Headlining this show was the Austin-based Broken Gold (fronted by Ian MacDougall who is best known from Riverboat Gamblers), who was making one last stop on their tour before going home.

The showroom part of the Double Wide was kind of empty when they took the stage. By “kind of empty” I mean that I was the only person in there, while the rest of the people who had come out on this Sunday night were on the patio.

The quartet played a little instrumental intro, which was basically Ian, lead guitarist Ben Lance and bassist Rob Marchant (also of the Gamblers) struck a chord in synch with the hefty beats Rich Cali was knocking out. It was their call to arms, and it did bring a few more people in, with one guy mentioning more where out there, because he had just left them. They did that four or five times, getting a decent crowd. “We’ll begin in ten minutes.” Ian joked.

They didn’t make anyone wait, and got right to it, opening with the lead track from the “Recovery Journal” album, “Ambulance Faces”. Once it ended, Rich segued them into “Green Grass” off the newer EP, “Residency At Hundo Beach”. It was a little different from the previous one, and while the forceful rock nature was still very much there, there were also some very intricate, nearly hypnotic guitar parts. Like the other bands, they suffered from a smaller crowd (maybe everyone was at the Chevelle show?), but those who had gathered around were already hooked; and from that song they made a seamless transition into “Bottom Of The Pool”.

“Thanks for coming out and watching us…” Ian told the audience when they took a break, mentioning that this was the final show of a nearly three-week tour. While he spoke, Ben got his slide ready, and he put it to work on the first part of “Teeth”, while he carefully picked the strings of his axe.

“We’re stoked to be back in… a, uh…” Ian said hesitantly, his mind seeming to quit on him. He almost dropped the dreaded H-bomb, and having seen it happen before with other acts, I know no one in Dallas would have appreciated being called Houston. Luckily, he didn’t get nearly that far, and someone helped him out with the name of the city they were rocking. “…This is off a new thing we have…” he then said, pointing at their merch table, as they tore into “Dirty Vodka”.

After another song, Ian mentioned they were getting close to being done, but they still had three songs left, one of which was “Leave a Light”. “What if this is life forever? ‘Cause right now it feels like a while. What if it never gets better?” Ian sang on the chorus in his throaty, growly sounding voice. “Shoulder” came next, and at times, it showed off the bands softer side, though those moments were fleeting, and it favored some high-octane rock.

Then, to wrap up their 37-minute long set, they did “Snow Day”, which left everyone sufficiently rocked.

First off, if anyone is expecting this to be a carbon copy of the other band a couple of these guys play with, then you might be disappointed. Fortunately, I wasn’t expecting that.

Broken Gold doesn’t have the same high-energy show, or even the songs, and seeing them do something different was refreshing to me.

It’s rock music, with perhaps a bit of an alternative sound thrown in, and they pull it off exceedingly well. The stage show was great, too, and catching them on the final stop of the tour probably had its benefits, because they had plenty of time to tighten things up and become a well-oiled machine.

Ian has quite the voice and it has a good texture to it. Upon hearing it, you can’t help but wonder why he kept that under wraps for so many years. Either way, it’s out now, and even if it’s only a side project to fill spare time, at least the world’s getting to hear it.

You should definitely check out Broken Gold whenever they may play again (their tour page can be found HERE.) In the meantime, you can find their LP and EP in iTUNES, both of which were good purchases on my part after the show.

Awesome Sunday night of music; and a good way to close out the weekend.