Friday, May 9th, 2014 – A Manny the Martyr Birthday Bash

666. That number often has a negative connotation to it. I didn’t look at it that way on this night, though. Instead, it was merely the number of concerts I had now seen, and really, what better place to commemorate such a milestone than the best venue in Dallas: The Curtain Club.

A great night was in store, and Manny the Martyr was headlining it, all to celebrate singer Jake Cravens’ birthday.

Opening the show was an acoustic duo from Austin known as Bruce 3 & The Revenge. Bruce Kuryla led the band, doing the singing and strumming an acoustic guitar, while TJ Feronti sat just to the right of him, providing the percussion.

They were already mostly through with their set when I arrived, though I did get to hear a few songs, including the last one, which hands down had to be the best.

First, Bruce offered a choice of either a song about pirates or one about a blue whale. They intended to play both at this time, they were simply inquiring which one people wanted to hear more, and the blue whale song won out.

He gave an entertaining description about it, saying it was based on a true story, specifically the whale in the Pacific Northwest, the one whose song can’t seem to attract a mate (perhaps you remember the story, I know I did once he began to tell it.) He went into a tangent about the whales songs, “…That’s how they get laid!” he said at one point, seemingly impassioned by it all, before dedicating the song to that poor, lonely whale.

That speech got some laughs, while the song wasn’t as stupid as you might have thought it would be. There was some actual depth to it.

From what I saw they were a good little act, and while only one to two dozen people were here this early, they did seem well received by those watching.

They do have an album out if you’re interested, and it can be found in iTUNES. And if you’d like to keep up with them and what they have going on, check out their FACEBOOK PAGE.

The first full-band of the night was Dallas-based Band Nerds, whom I had heard a lot of positive things about, but had never seen personally.

The six-piece alternative band stormed the stage, though in the sake of being honest, I wasn’t feeling the first few songs. The band plays an interesting mix of music, from being rock and metal, to having a DJ, and their two vocalists sang and rapped (each one doing one of the styles).

Their first song, as well as the second, “Miserable”, left me unsure, though they commanded the crowd with ease, and at the following break, one of the frontmen told the crowd they needed them to come closer. “…If you’re over initial shock…” he joked, before saying they fed of the energy that was being put out there, “So let us eat!” said the other vocalist. They started to win me over a little more with “Fallen From Grace”, which they bridged right into another track.

“Y’all still with us?!” asked the singer. Those who were up in front of the stage—which was probably more than twenty people—were, and plenty of head banging was going on to the metal-esque beats and bass lines that were flying at the start of “Back Again”. Afterwards, a PSA was made, and the next song was dedicated to everyone in the room. “…’Cause y’all are zombies. We need y’all to wake up!” said their singer, adding that short of doing a somersault, he didn’t know what to do to get the energy flowing. That led them to “Zombie”, which was a great song, though I more enjoyed the one that came after, which was dedicated to all the ladies. It had a very catchy guitar structure for most of it, and then, they got ready to wind down their 39-minute long set.

“We promised y’all a mosh pit.” said their singer before one of their best songs “Kill Us All”, which did indeed have some moshing going on, instigated by the singer, who got in the crowd at this point. It was a brutal song filled with some ferocious screams and great lyrics, like, “…Don’t ever change, don’t be afraid of who you are…”. They then gave their show an explosive end with “I Stand Alone”.

I may have started out on the fence about these guys, but by the time they finished, I was a fan.

The rapping was still there in all of their songs, but to me, it didn’t seem as heavy in some of their later stuff as it was there at the start; and the songs provided non-stop action. That extends to the stage show, and the four members who could move around freely made use of it, and did a lot of interacting with the audience along the way. Like I said at the start of this, they were really able to command the crowd.

I don’t care if Band Nerds may not fit into the mold of what you typically listen to. Check them out anyway, ‘cause they may surprise you; and if you see a show, you’ll instantly be made into a fan.

They have a show in Fort Worth on August 2nd at Lola’s Saloon, and you can buy their first album in iTUNES.

The show marched on, and after seeing Generation Wasted here a few months back, I was looking forward to catching another one of their shows.
image“Who’s getting wasted at the Curtain Club tonight?” asked frontman Larry Bates, before they began “On My Own”, the first song of their 34-minute long set. “…Get out of my way, stay out of my and move on. I did it on my own.” he sang on the chorus; and later on in the song, bassist Mark Efros could be seen slapping and even chopping the strings of his bass.

Once it was done, it was mentioned that this was a birthday show, and Mark chimed in, saying he had given Jake of Manny the Martyr the only present he could “in the men’s bathroom”. Even his band mates didn’t know how to really handle that or what they could say without it sounding even worse. So, lead guitarist Wes Mayes then started them off on their cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World”, with Ernest Fruge adding his riffs over it soon after. Ernest even added some backing vocals to parts of the track, giving it a little extra flare. Their rendition sounds nothing like the popular version everyone knows, as they give it more of an alt/rock sound, and the powerful beats Dan Voehse cranks out helps further set it apart.

They got back to their original material after that, and while taking an awesome instrumental break in the next song, Larry went over to Mark and gave him a slight bear hug, prompting a little chuckle out of both him and the audience. “Eyes” and its occasional soaring riffs came next, and after checking on the crowd and making sure how they were doing, Dan started them off on “Curtain Call”. Larry walked off the stage while Wes rocked out a guitar solo, leaving the spotlight to the instrumentalists, who killed it. When he did return, Larry went over to where he had moved the mic stand, in between Wes (who was on stage right) and the drum riser. Then, he went to grab the mic, before dropping it, laughing it off as he picked it back up.
imageThey followed it with the last song they currently have recorded, and “Circles” may well be the best of those three, too. At the least, it does the best job of getting the adrenaline pumping, and after realizing they were starting to run short on time, they skipped ahead to a newer song they had written, before having just enough time for one more.

Generation Wasted was even better the second time around then when I first saw them. They seemed tighter and more focused this night, while still letting their fun side slip out at times, allowing the patrons a glimpse of who they really are.

Great rock band with a solid live show, and the musicianship is excellent. I just wish they had gotten a little more time to play this night.

They, too, will be playing Lola’s Saloon in Fort Worth on August 2nd, and as of right now, that’ll be their next show on the books.

People had gradually been pouring into the Curtain Club, and now, as Manny the Martyr got ready to take the stage, the place was packed. It was to the point you would have thought this was a CD release show or something, because occasions like that are the only times I’ve seen any band draw a crowd of this size for several years now.

They kicked their show off with the lead track from the “Brighter Sun” album, and “The Radio” got people hooked instantly. “How you doing, Curtain Club?!” asked Jake Cravens after the curtain opened on them, and once he had sung the first chorus, he started working the crowd. “I want to see some fucking movement!” he told the crowd, who got more into the track, especially when Jayson Vaughn had his bass solo.
image"How we doing?” Jake asked, before they unleashed a new song on the fans ears, titled “Sink or Swim”. There was a new addition to the band this night. He was only referred to as Shadow, and he was playing a saxophone, which made their funk and reggae elements sound even more authentic. The saxophone lines on that new song sounded fantastic, and still pulling the crowd in to make them part of the experience, Jake asked everyone to throw their hands in the air. “Now say ‘yeah’!” he instructed, as a sea of hands could suddenly be seen.

I hadn’t noticed in those first two songs, but Jake joked that the “prepubescent scream” everyone was hearing him make was the fault of anyone who had bought him a shot thus far. “I want to see y’all jumping around!” he then yelled. Fans were eager to oblige, though they weren’t the only ones who did some jumping on the next track. Jake and lead guitarist Mike Ubben also bounced around, even turning in a circle as they jumped. Upon finishing that one, Jake mentioned they had promised everyone a special set this night, and Shadow was but one of the surprises they had for everyone. It wasn’t so much a surprise, but their next song, “Brighter Sun”, was a treat. One of the other special things the band had done was get some bracelets with the band name on them made up, and at one break during the song, Jake asked to see them, as dozens of hands again went into the air.

“The next song is about something very near and dear to my heart…” Jake told the audience. He was speaking about the very thing that was going on at the moment: “partying”. They gave “Left Over Sexy” a very cool lead in, mixed with Mike and Brad Greens’ guitar licks, the sax and bass, while Joel Simkas’ drumming was very heavy on it. “Come closer. I don’t bite… Hard.” said Jake from atop one of the center monitors.
imageAnother surprise was ahead for fans, this time in the form of a brand new song, which took everything you love about Manny the Martyr (the eclectic mixes of genres, energetic live show, etc.) and pushed them to the max. It was incredible, and it was followed by their stoner song, “Boogyman”, which everyone was encouraged to sing along with. Something interesting happened during that one, a section of the wall by the drum kit fell, and Jake was charged with standing there to keep it in place. “I can stand here all night.” he answered one of the employees, and he stayed put until they got it fixed, then rushed up to the front of the stage. “I fixed the wall!” he exclaimed

They kept rolling with “Aydagee”, which is all too easy to get into—and that applies to both the audience as well as the band. Then came another one of those surprises they had tucked up their sleeves, which this time came in the form of a cover, which is rare in general from these guys. They had decided to tackle a Montell Jordan song, and “This Is How We Do It” was perhaps the tightest song they did all night. The dynamics they had going just with one another on that song was something to watch, and it helped elevate the remainder of their 47-minute set to the next level.

Jake cracked that they had done “the high song” earlier, so now it was time for the drunk song, which came in the form of “2 Inch Hero”. His request to “get fucking wild” was appropriate for that one, and one of the lines is “let’s keep this party going” after all, which fans did. “Do you have one more in you?” Jake asked everyone, then mentioned this was his birthday show, and added he had no problem using that to guilt trip anyone this night. People did, and most of the fans shouted out part of the chorus of their next song, which happened to be the same as the title, “Hit the Brink”. There was one bad moment towards the end though. That section of paneling that had fallen from the wall earlier, well, it fell again, this time hitting Joel, who was taking aback to say the least. It didn’t keep him down too long, though, and he quickly rejoined the instrumental outro.
imageI haven’t seen Manny the Martyr much. In fact, this was only the third show of theirs I’ve caught, but it was also the best. The crowd was much larger this night than at those past shows, and they used all the energy that was being thrown their way, and made sure to give it back to the crowd, ensuring they’d get pulled deeper into it all.

It was one for the books.

They’re such an incredible band live. Just the fact that they go nonstop would be enough, but then make sure the audience feels like they’re a part of the show from start to finish, which makes it all the better. Tack on the fact that their music is such an intriguing mix and very original sounding, and you’re given a band that’s rather quickly climbing the ranks of the Dallas music scene.

Their next show will be June 27th at Trees where they’ll open for Reel Big Fish. Also, head over to iTUNES to pick up their album.

They had the “new” headlining slot (since bands hate to play late anymore because so few people actually stick around), but there was still enough time for one more band, which happened to be Idler.

They hit the ground running, and no sooner had the curtain started to reveal them, then frontman Micah Frank hit that high scream the starts their cover of “Highway to The Danger Zone”, before frontwoman Mercedes Ann took over on the verses. That was quite the start to their 34-minute long set, and upon finishing it, Micah informed everyone of who they were. “We’re Idler, from Denton mother fucking Texas.” he said, as they geared up for the first of a few new songs peppered throughout their set.

Guitarist Mykey O’Neil started “Give it a Rest”, accompanied by drummer Ritchie Rangel, before the rest of the band broke into it. While singing his lines, Micah was making several different gestures with his hands, and those movements were done in perfect time with the beat, which actually, everyone kept in synch with. They then got to one of the songs off their EP, “Go for Broke”, which guitarist Nick Laracuente really rocked out on; and once they had completed it, Micah took a second to ask who all had been to an Idler show before.

A few hands went up in the air, but there were plenty of first timers, too, which he liked seeing. “This is one of the original songs we wrote.” he stated, before doing “Lose Control”, another song that makes outstanding use of the duel vocalists. Afterwards, Micah shared a story with everyone, saying that shortly after they started searching for a replacement female vocalist, Bill Pierce of DFW Undercover called him up and told him about someone he had met while at the Curtain Club. “She can sing her ass off.” Micah said he told him. The girl was Mercedes, and Micah said he felt things had now come full circle now, that they were all playing on the same stage of the venue they discovered her.
imageWhat happened next was surprising. Aside from their opener, I’ve only heard Idler cover one other song before, and it was not the one they did now. Nick and Mykey traded off riffs, and it didn’t take long to realize it was Aerosmiths’ “Dream On”. They changed it up some, and since there was no piano, it was heavy from the start; Bo Hutchinson and his bass adding to the punch it packed. They had the vocal parts worked out very nicely, too, and while Micah couldn’t hit some of the lines in as high a voice as Steven Tyler, he still sang them in his high register.

Best moment of the night right there and that is one cover I hope sticks around for quite awhile. Maybe it could even become a show staple?

Once that was done, he took a moment to introduce the band, and later in the set Mercedes made sure to introduce him to everyone, since he had left himself out then. After that first introduction, Ritchie began a drum solo, capturing everyone’s attention for a minute or more, before ending it by flipping one of the sticks into the air. With that, they tore into one of their best songs, “Vendetta”, which worked as a setup of sorts for their next number. “Did you ever know somebody that you fucking hated?” Micah asked bluntly, with nearly everyone nodding their head or saying something to acknowledge they had. That took them to “Underneath Me”, a favorite of mine as far as their new songs go, partly because it’s just a great song, and partly because Mercedes and Micah have created some nice chemistry on it. I can’t leave out Nick, either, who slayed on his axe during that one.

“Pitchfork” was another high-energy number, to the point that Mykey ran off the stage shortly after it began going all over the club, before making his way back on stage for the tail end of it. With one song now left, some people were sad, but others knew what that meant, and screamed for “Cigarette”, which was indeed, what they closed with.

I have to say, this was one of the best Idler shows I’ve seen, and that’s all because of that Aerosmith cover they did. It made for a fantastic moment.

Getting a little more serious, Mercedes really hasn’t been with the band that long, just since the very end of last year. This was only the second time I’ve seen the band with her in it, and already she meshes perfectly with everyone, to the point you’d assume she’s been rocking with Idler for a few years. She and Micah also make for a great combination of singers in general, and whoever’s doing the singing at the moment is who you’ll be transfixed on.

Check out their EP in iTUNES, and you can download their Kenny Loggins cover for free on their REVERBNATION PAGE. They’ll also have a new record out later this year. To keep up with their show schedule, go like their FACEBOOK.

From start to finish this was a killer bill, further proving that the best rock shows in Dallas usually go down at the Curtain.

Friday, January 31st, 2014 – Daylight Industries Delivers a Drunken Debacle of Greatness

Arlington certainly isn’t the city you first think of when you think about going to catch a local rock show. In fact, the last few concerts I caught at clubs in this town were memorable, but for all the wrong reasons (that’s a whole other story).

I expected better results this night though, as I headed for The Chuggin’ Monk.

It’s still a relatively new venue, and only six months they’ve gotten quite a bit of great talent to play their stage, and while I’ve wanted to see more than a few of those past shows that have taken place here, the lineup this night was finally one I couldn’t pass up.

Zativah Kid was the first band on deck, a band I had seen nearly a year before, though they didn’t have my full attention, as I chatted with a variety of people, from members of the other bands who were playing, to Mike of the band Betray the Dreamer, some of the crew from DFW Undercover and so on.

All the same, what I did really watch of their set was entertaining, and I would definitely say they’ve tightened up since I first saw them, being more solid live, and just putting on a good old fashioned rock show.

“…You know what this one is.” frontman Benjamin Bachman remarked as their set came to an end, as their handful of fans who were there shouted out a couple of different song titles. “Freebird!” one guy shouted. “You got it! It’s Freebird.” Benjamin replied, going along with the joke, which was a welcome change from how many bands seem to get pissed about it. Of course, that wasn’t the song, though.

“This is Fast and Easy.” stated Benjamin, as they closed with the high-octane track.

It looks like their next show will be April 18th at O’Riley’s in Dallas, and if you’d like to get a taste of what they sound like, you can sample one track over on REVERBNATION.

Following them was the Denton based, Idler, who had, had some downtime over the last couple of months, as they restructured the band.

Back in October, their female vocalist, Katie Frank, made a personal move out-of-state, though the position wasn’t vacant for long, as they quickly welcomed Mercedes Ann into the mix as the sixth member.

I hadn’t seen them since that happened, though, and not only was I excited about simply seeing another Idler show, but I was also interested to see what this new version was like.

“Has anyone ever watched Top Gun?” frontman Micah Frank asked the crowd,  of course getting some cheers from people who had. “…This song is from it…” he informed everyone, noting it had been written by Kenny Loggins.

 He proceeded to let loose a flawless high-pitched scream to get “Highway To The Danger Zone” underway. It came as a surprise to me that they opened with that song (out of the handful of times I’ve seen them, it’s typically their closer), but it worked well, and in more ways than one. It was a good way to pump everyone up, as they do a killer version of the song, and it also didn’t take long to hear what Mercedes was capable of, as she did the singing on the verses.

Their first original song of the night was one of a few new ones, new to the point I don’t believe I had ever heard it before. It was titled “Give it a Rest”, and it was an awesome song with some cool breaks thrown in, as the lead guitar, drums and bass fell silent, while rhythm guitarist Nick Laracuente kept knocking out some sweet riffs.

“What’s up Arlington?!” Micah asked everyone, before mentioning their next song was one off their debut EP, and was called “Go for Broke”. Not only is it an awesome duet, but I still like the fact that it shows off the broad range Micah is capable of; going from his perfect pitched/toned voice one moment, to screaming the next, to the point he sounds like he belongs in a hardcore metal band. Hell, it’s even a fairly brutal rock song in general, with some often intense drumming from Ritchie Rangel.

“How’s everybody feeling?” asked Micah after that song had concluded. He pointed out the next track was yet another from their EP, and EP he said he’d give to anyone who wanted a copy, if only they had, had any with them. The song he was referring to was “Lose Control”, and once they were done with it, Nick started cutting up.

He and Mercedes died laughing, as Micah, Ritchie, bassist Bo Hutchinson and lead guitarist Mykey O’Neil gave them a funny look, just wondering what they had missed out on. “Nick just said, ‘peace in yo crease.” Mercedes answered, causing the rest of the band as well as the crowd to start laughing. “…Now I feel weird, ‘cause we don’t have any songs about peace to do.” Micah stated, as they instead settled for the first song they ever wrote as a band. “I’m glad y’all are here to see and hear it.” he said to everyone.

That was a fact I didn’t know before, and seeing as “Kings and Queens” is my personal favorite Idler tune, it was an interesting one to learn.

The banter with the crowd continued, when Micah asked one woman how many drinks she had, had so far, then asked a guy the same question. Each answered five. “…So, with five plus five, how many would be left if y’all had a twelve pack?” was the question he posed, and it was answered by Mykey. “You get a gold star!” Mercedes told him, as they joked that they do like College football programs, giving each other a star to go on their helmets. “They say ‘We’re proud of you.” Mercedes said while continuing to laugh, before Micah chimed in. “Yeah, we need to keep everyone motivated.”

“We have some people here.” he said, before they went on to their next song, calling out the folks from DFW Undercover, as well as myself. That led them to “Vendetta”, a song Mercedes flat out killed it on as she began the track. It was  just the way she sang, “Your smile, it follows your two faced words…” that sounded so fantastic, and sold me on the fact that these couldn’t have asked for a better replacement.

“I keep pulling this fucking mic down.” Micah remarked as he raised the stand a bit. He then took a moment to formally introduce his band mates, adding “Mister.” before each person… Including Mercedes. There was a seemingly long pause as Micah had to think on his feet as to how to safe himself, and lucky for him he had not named Ritchie yet. “…I’m not a mister.” Mercedes emphasized, after she had congratulated Micah on that nice save.

They were about to start their next song, before stopping, as Ritchie got the spotlight, doing a pretty badass drum solo, that lasted a good minute or so. They then launched into my favorite new track of theirs, “Underneath Me”. It was a highlight of their set, due largely to the great chemistry Micah and Mercedes had going on during it. He handled the first verse, and she the second, when she turned to him and belted, “I’m number one, your number two, you’re underneath me.” pointing at herself and then him as she sang. She even added a hint of sass to the last line, “…Don’t fucking talk to me.”

They kind of segued the end of it into their next song, “Pitchfork”, as Nick lightly plucked the strings of his guitar. “I fucking love this song.” said Micah, talking out loud rather than informing everyone of that. There’s no denying that it is a great song, and arguably their best.

“Do we have time for one more?” Micah asked, and after finding out they did, they wrapped things up with another song from their newer batch, “Cigarette”. Well, at least it seemed like they were done.

Sure, it was pre-planned, but all the same, everyone who was watching them was grateful they had enough time for one more song, and it was another cover. “Do y’all want to do some Justin Timberlake?” Micah asked. “No, no. Not that. How about some Megadeth?” he asked. Mykey then played a few notes on his guitar, as Micah sang just one line from on of their songs, which I believe was “Symphony of Destruction”. That still wasn’t what they were doing, though.

Instead, they tried their hand at “Almost Easy” by Avenged Sevenfold. They did a cool rendition of it, and Idler’s sound (on some songs) is heavy enough that this one was well within their realm, and Micah let out a near deafening scream on the final line, “Come back again, it’s almost easy.”, bringing their 40-minute set to an end.

For me, it’s too early to say whether or not this newest version of Idler is an improved one, though they are every bit as great as they always have been.

Even their performance seemed improved from the last time I had seen them, and even with the smaller confines of the stage, they managed to make it work and still moved around a good deal.

And going back to that chemistry Micah and Mercedes had going; it adds a completely new element to their live show. It may not have been prevalent in every song they did, but it was there, and it really helps elevate their performance.

In the end, there’s no doubt this is only the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Idler, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.

If you like free music, you can get their self-titled EP as well as their cover of “Highway to the Danger Zone” on REVERBNATION, at no cost to you. You can also see them live on February 22nd at Hailey’s in Denton, or on march 8th at The Boiler Room in Dallas.

After them, it was, at least for me, kinda of like déjà vu from two weeks before, since the final two bands had been on the same bill at a club in Dallas.

One of those bands was The Raven Charter, who, like the last band was a six-piece rock outfit. However, since one of those instruments was a keyboard, the stage wasn’t quite as roomy for them. Still, they made the best of it, and it never seemed to impede them.

They kicked off their 46-minute long set by partially doing one of their classics, “Survival Kit”. The instrumental piece lays the foundation of what great musicians they are, like guitarists Brandon Bond and Daniel Baskind for example, who add a slick style to even the more relaxed plucking of the strings, before cutting loose on the monstrous rock number, which also boasts some awesome key parts from Erik Stolpe.

A few minutes in, Garrett Bond stepped on stage, entering from stage left. When he got to center stage, he turned towards Brian Christie and his drum kit, slapping some of the cymbals with his hand. “Survival Kit” died out then, as Brian quickly counted them into “No Direction”, doing an almost seamless segue. “I look to the left, and I look to the right, to avoid the darkness, but I haven’t found the light…” Garrett and Daniel crooned, harmonizing shortly before finally hitting the tracks chorus. There was even a cool reverb effect added to the tail end of the song, as “No direction and no reason to persevere and reclaim you…” resonated after Garrett snag it.

“What up, Arlington?!” he asked once the song was over, also asking if anyone else was drinking. “…I’m already half drunk…” he stated, before they knocked out a newer number. I think I said this same thing when I saw them a couple weeks prior, but I’ll say it again; this is one of the best songs I think they’ve ever done.

It packs one helluva punch, and even at the beginning Brandon and bassist Anthony Sosa were clearly having fun, as they faced one another and thrashed about. The music itself is so fast paced and intense, there’s just a real sense of urgency to it that demands and commands your full attention. “This won’t last forever, we’re on borrowed time. If this is our last night ever, I’m gonna make you mine!” Garrett, Brandon and Daniel shout on the pulse-pounding chorus. Needless to say, I can’t wait until they get some new music recorded, specifically that track.

Speaking of a new Raven Charter album, that was a topic Garrett tackled during their next break. He stated that, after six months, they had finally settled on a studio. “…We’re a bunch of high-maintenance, dipshit motherfuckers…” he joked, adding that next month would be when they started tracking.

That led them to a couple more newer (newish) songs, the first of which was titled “Stream”. “Like water. Not like piss.” Garrett clarified after it was done. It was a good track too, and Anthony spent much of the song standing on the stage left corner of the drum riser, getting down to the music he and his band mates were cranking out.

“What’s next?” Garrett asked the rest of the band, then quickly hurried off stage to grab an acoustic guitar. They went directly into “Freela Deela”, which was one of the songs that Daniel took over as the lead vocalist, with Garrett often backing him up, as well as singing the second verse. I’m sure I’ve heard that song live before, though I don’t remember it, and as killer as the single they released of it is, it doesn’t do the live version justice.

Upon finishing it, a few fans/friends screamed loudly in approval. “I like screams…” Garrett remarked, before again thanking the Chuggin’ Monk for having them and all the other bands out. Soon, Brian started his fancy drum work that begins the lead and title track from their most recent release, 2011’s “Kidnapping”. I still like the little touch they’ve added to it, with Garrett singing along for just a sentence or two, before ceding things over to Daniel on the verses. This was also perhaps the best song of the night, because Anthony suddenly left the stage, mingling with the fans as he rocked out on his bass, while doing one of his signature moves; quickly high stepping. It didn’t take long before Garrett joined him out there, which was when Anthony started running circles around the singer.

It was a fun moment for everyone, and as they got ready for their next song, Garrett whispered in the microphone, “It’s about Mega Man.”

I don’t know if that’s true or not, however, “Thousand Worlds” is another classic from these guys, predating Garrett’s time in the band, and I’m glad it’s still sticking around. And the subtle use of the harmonica Garrett has started adding to the end of the song really adds to it.

After that, Anthony took a moment to shout out the media people who were there, from Charlie Vann of UTA Radio, to DFW Undercover, as well as thanking me for a “amazing review” about their last Dallas gig. On that note, there will never be a time where I won’t find something like to be incredibly humbling.

All of a sudden, Daniel and Garrett swapped spots, as they got ready for “Tailchaser”. Garrett hit some awesome falsetto notes on some of the backing vocals on that first verse, to the point it was impressive, ‘cause I didn’t know his range went that high. Still, it was Daniels’ show, as he sang in a smooth, even semi-soulful manner, “
We’ve got all night to think ‘bout tomorrow. We’ll get lost in the passion, forget all our sorrows…” That’s just another one of the fantastic songs “The Kidnapping” EP has to offer, and as it neared the end, Brandon fell to his knees, shredding away on his axe.

Go-go gadget Raven Charter.” said Garrett when the song had ended, which led to a story about how they were asked by Inspector Gadget to be a part of one of his devices, but told him they didn’t know how comfortable they’d be with six of them being inside him.

Man, not only were they on the mark with the music tonight, but the jokes were also topnotch.

They had one last new song to give everyone, a song that had a great lull during the middle of it. It actually sounded like the end, and had a certain lullaby quality to it. Then, just as you thought it was over, Erik, Brian, Brandon, Daniel and Anthony came back in strong, as it morphed into a forceful rock number.

“This song’s called Denton, TX.” Garrett informed everyone, as they launched into their final song of the night. “
I’m free, let loose on the scene with a mind to disrupt and destroy all that I see…” he belted at the start. When you think about it, it’s really an interesting song, in the sense it doesn’t follow the traditional songwriting method, and has no real chorus. Instead, it just tells a story over several verses, and before the fifth one, Daniel went over to his amp, creating some feedback in advance of the song roaring back into action. They then finished it in style, and while it was somewhat hard to see, Erik was back there lifting his keyboard up with one hand, while using the other to continue playing.

What a show this was. In some ways, I even liked more than that Dallas one back on the 17th, because they had more time to not only play more music, but also be more themselves (i.e. the joking), as they weren’t quite as rushed.

If you’re looking for a phenomenal live band who knows how to handle themselves on stage and deliver a crowd pleasing performance, then you’re not going to find many better than The Raven Charter.

In fact, watching them this night, it was hard not to think of how far they’ve come.

It was sometime around ’09 or ’10 when I first saw them, and even then they set their shows apart from many other bands, and have since only tightened things up, putting them on a whole other level. Not only that, but even stylistically they’ve changed (are changing) their sound, but their music still retains the core elements that make them The Raven Charter in the first place.

Head over to REVERBNATION to download their two newest singles for free, and their two EP’s can be found in iTUNES. Also, be sure to keep your ears peeled for new music from them later on this year. As for shows, they’ll be at Leon’s Lounge in Oklahoma City on February 22nd, and then have a gig in Fort Worth on February 28th at The Grotto. Their next Dallas show will be March 7th at Trees, opening for Nothing More (DO NOT miss that one. Because if you haven’t seen Nothing More, then you don’t know what a real rock experience is.) You can also catch them in Denton at Rubber Gloves on March 29th.


(Photo credit: Mike Garcia of Betray the Dreamer)

Like I said, it’ll be hard to find a better live band than what those guys are, but following them, and closing out the night, was Daylight Industries, whose right up there in that same category.

Frontman Keith Allen stood out amongst the people once they were all set up (the stage here is maybe half a foot off the floor), and he bantered a minute before they even got going. “…We smoked a shit load…” he remarked, before they got one of their new songs underway.

Regardless of what they had done, it didn’t have much of an impact on their show (well, at least not in any negative way), and they destroyed the stage just during that first song. It helped with Keith being out there, too, giving bassist Barry Townsend and guitarists Brandon Tyner and Ruvayne Weber more room to dash about, and they’re one band who will utilize every inch of space they have.

Halfway through the song or so, Brandon joined Keith out there, his guitar cable knocking over Keiths’ beer, which he picked up as soon as he could, though a good bit had already spilled. He looked sadden by it, but kept on going nonetheless.

Stephen Smith used his drum sticks to quickly count them into the next song, which was one off the still fairly new “Faith Healer” EP, “Lesson Learned”. It’s one of the songs that really benefits from having Ruvayne on as a second guitarist, and he makes this already hard-hitting, catchy rock number even better.

“I see my friends. I see people in the back. I like you…” Brandon stated after the song, talking first of course about those watching them, and then all the other people who were grouped around the bar in the back. “I like you too, pool tables.” he finished, pointing over to the multiple pool tables on the other side of the room. “This song’s about Whitney Houston’s hospital ride…” Keith then informed everyone, leading to a little band debate on whether or not that was appropriate or not. “It’s not too soon, anymore.” Barry chimed in, as they kept the joking up, exchanging her name for Steve Irwin and I also believe Michael Jackson.

While that was going on, a couple of people evidently made their way to the door, and Brandon called them out on it, trying to get them to stay, but to no avail. “I was going to name my fifth child after you!” Keith yelled, almost trying to plead with them to stay. It was their loss, though, ‘cause they missed a stellar rock show.

During “Aphasia”, both Brandon and Keith made their way back on stage, though they didn’t stay there for the rest of the night. Before the second chorus of the song, there’s a pause of sorts, where Brandon is playing some sweet notes. It was during that time that Steve rose up from his kit, standing for just a second or two, before sitting back down, smacking the cymbals as he did so.

The joking with the audience continued during the next break, when Brandon said something along the lines of how much they loved everyone for sticking around. “Fuck you. We don’t love you. We don’t appreciate you.” Keith started saying, joking, of course. “No, that means we do love you.” Brandon started in, leaving Keith unsure of what to say or where to go from there. “Fuck it, I’m done.” he replied. Almost as if that had been planned, they took that as a cue to start the next song, which was “Junkie Logic”.

“What’s next?” Steve could be heard asking as soon as that song came to an end. “Oh, shit!” he replied after hearing what it was, a fitting response since I assume the song is a pretty taxing one on all of them. “This song’s about DUI’s.” Keith told everyone, before they kicked off “Wandering”. Brandon hopped back out in the crowd for that one, jumping all around, nearly hitting a few people, as he was so caught up in the music.

“Take your shirts off!” shouted some of their friends/girlfriends(?) after the song. “You don’t want that. We’re a bunch of fat guys with tiny penises and we have man boobs.” said Barry. Talk then went to the next song, which was about a recently passed law in Colorado they were about. “We’re talking about smoking weed.”  Barry specified, as Brandon said something about partaking in it. “Anything said at the Chuggin’ Monk, stays at the Chuggin’ Monk.” he then shouted (well, unless of course I’m there and do a review of the show, that is. Ha.), like he didn’t want any of this getting out.

“We got the timing of song correct!” Keith shouted a few times, jumping around with glee, as Brandon started up the slightly Reggae sounding “Western Sky”. Yeah, it’s a bit of a departure from the rest of their music, but it’s quite a good song.

Upon finishing it, Keith thanked The Raven Charter for playing with them, shouting out their lesser known member, who he referred to as “Nips”. The Raven Charter had a partial mannequin with one of their shirts on it, and Anthony brought it over to Keith, who held it up and put his face where the crotch would have been, and well, you get the idea.

It was entertaining to see, for sure, and the laughs were still far from over. They, too, shouted out some people who were, before Keith looked at me. “How about Jordan The Music Enthusiast?” “Yeah, Jordan the Music Enthusiast!” Brandon exclaimed, before Keith again said the same thing, trailing off at the end into nonsensical gibberish, which was hilarious.

“Let’s hurry and finish so we can do more drugs.” he said to his band mates, before continuing to talk, pointing out they had CD’s and shirts for sale, which could easily be stolen since they were a bit preoccupied at the moment. “I stole a Coors sign.” he added, which he had lifted from the venue and placed behind their merch display, apologizing to the Chuggin’ Monk for the fact that it would probably be going home with them.

“Faith Healer” came next in the setlist, after which they called out a few guys who were playing pool, asking who was winning. “We haven’t started yet.” they replied, which prompted Keith to ask if they could place bets on them. Ruvayne went in at a whopping fifty cents, and while I was laughing at it, they didn’t seem to find it as funny. “Go on, get back to what you’re doing.” Brandon told them, before talk turned to the next track.

“This song’s about my bitch wife. I love her, but still…” Keith said, catching more than a few people off guard. Brandon stepped up to her defense, saying she was a sweet lady who makes some of the best pasta he had ever had, before Keith interrupted him. “If you buy our CD, it makes her dick bigger.”

It’s a good thing you can’t die from laughter, ‘cause I might have been close to it at this point. They then got back into rock mode with “Sit In”, which is possibly the best song off their EP. Steve again stood up at one point during the tune, while Barry hopped up on the drum riser and spent much of his time jumping back and forth while he slapped his bass.

They were almost done at this point, and for some inexplicable reason, Keith started speaking Spanish. Not much, but he said something. “…Whatever you call that green stuff that you smoke.” he finished, not knowing the Spanish word for pot.

“Chichi.” Ruvayne told him. “Wait, I thought that was boobs?” Keith responded, looking shocked, before disregarding it completely. “The point is; we’re trying to say we love tits and weed.” he finished. Brandon then called out some more people who were leaving, again saying they loved them. “No we don’t!” Keith yelled at them.

With all that, that went on, you would think they had probably been on stage nearly an hour, but they hadn’t. In fact, after wrapping their set up with the astounding “White Russians”, they had only been playing for 39-minutes.

It was a memorable 39-minutes, though.

First off, I want to go ahead and point out that, despite what I titled this, this show was far from a debacle (it just sounded good.)

Where they pretty drunk? Yeah. They even joked about that during the show, saying The Raven Charter had done a good job at trying to be the drunkest band of the night, but they had failed.

All the same, they still delivered a show a lot of bands couldn’t put on, on their best night.

They made this gig as energy packed as possible, even though there weren’t too many people watching them, they still gave those who were there their money’s worth… And then some.

They’re a fun band to see live, and not only do they want to entertain those watching, they’re also all about just having a good time doing what they enjoy doing, and they clearly do.

Go see them sometime, if you can. They’ll be at Reno’s in Dallas on February 22nd, and then the Curtain Club on March 8th. They also have a date scheduled at The Railhead in Lawton, Oklahoma on March 22nd. If you want to listen to their music, you can get their new album plus some live cuts for free on their REVERBNATION PAGE, and go to iTUNES to get their first EP, as well as a full live show recording.

(Photo credit: Mike Garcia of Betray the Dreamer)

When it was all said and done, this had been an awesome night here in Arlington.

The Chuggin’ Monk has something that will appeal to everyone, from the live music, to the pool tables and arcade games, and it’s a cool place.

No, the sound isn’t quite on par with the major venues of Dallas, Denton or Fort Worth, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good things sounded this night.

So, here’s to hoping they have a prosperous venture as this establishment, and keep getting the top grade talent in. Because if they do, I could see this becoming a destination for all of the areas local music lovers in no time.

Friday, October 11th, 2013 - DFW Undercover Does Denton Right

It had been just a little over a month since DFW Undercover put on their first showcase which featured some acoustic singer/songwriters, and this night, they were ready to turn it up a few notches.

They had put together a full-blown rock show at Hailey’s this night, which doubled as a birthday bash.

I got there a little late, just barely missing the first band, Vandfald, who quickly got their gear off stage as Manny the Martyr began the process of setting up.

Before they started, Bill Pierce of DFW Undercover got on stage to thank everyone for coming out and try (to no avail) to get the people over by the bar to come into the showroom. He also introduced his wife, saying, “…She just turned eighteen. Yes, I like ‘em young.” he joked (this was her “dirty thirty” birthday bash.) He bantered with the audience for a few moments longer, then ceded the stage over to the band.

The 42-minute long set was easily the longest of the night, encompassing old and new songs from their forthcoming album, one of those being the bouncy opener “Aydagee”. It literally had some of the band bouncing around, too, guitarist Mike Ubben and frontman Jake Cravens jumping as they spun around in circles at times, and it was that fun and energetic demeanor that got so much of the crowd ensnared in their live show.

Drummer Joel Simka segued the end of that song into their next one with a few smooth beats, and upon finishing it they did one that Jake said was a little more personal to him. Once they knocked that one out, they ran into a technical difficulty, or rather Brad Green did while trying to tune his guitar. It easily could have turned into a few minutes of possible awkward silence, but thanks to bassist Jayson Vaughn, that didn’t happen. He proceeded to riff on his bass, doing a sweet little solo, eventually being joined by Joel, and even Mike added a few notes, too.

Jake noted that was not planned, even joking(?) that, that was how they came up with the closing parts for all their other tracks. “Some of you may not know this…” he said, mentioning they had recently wrapped up recording their first ever full-length record, and now they were going to do the single from it. “It’s called Left Over Sexy.” Jake informed everyone, as they busted out another stellar song.

They followed it up with what was somewhat of a treat, being a song from their debut EP, “The Aqua Lung”, which Jake pointed out they hadn’t done in awhile. “DDJ” was the song, and like all their others it’s a very interesting and unique blend of rock, pop and reggae, and is possibly one of the best tracks that EP has to offer.

Once it was done, Jake picked up where Bill Pierce had left off, again trying to get the bar flies over into the show room area, and still had no luck at it. That didn’t affect anyone’s mood, though, and they only worked things into more of a frenzy with their next song, and afterwards did a “brand, brand new” one. “We wrote this five minutes before the show.” joked Jake, saying the song was called “DFW Undercover Rocks”. Everyone was anxiously waiting to hear it, when Jake added, “That’s it. That was the song.”

He was pretty good at the wisecracks, and after doing a killer new jam, “Sink or Swim”, he made another. “This song’s about smoking.” he said, setting up “Bougyman”. “And if for even a second you thought I meant cigarettes, than this song is not for you.” he finished. It’s one of the most reggae sounding songs they do, from the music bed to the style Jake sings it in, making it pretty authentic, and they even got the audience to sing along for part of it.

With six minutes left in their set, they went ahead and ended it, closing with the final song from their first EP, “Hit the Brink”.

Even though it was a very full performance, the crowd was left hungry for more, and clearly loved every single second the band had spent on stage.

That’s one of the charms they have, being able to reel most people in easily with their signature sound and explosive live show. It really is very captivating, and I think they were even better this time around then the first time when I saw them, Jake doing some different things with his voice on a couple of songs, screaming at times in a manner that could compete with some metal bands.

For those like me who missed the first act, Manny the Martyr offered a very fun start to the night, and made sure it be hard to top, too.

You can check out the band’s debut EP on their REVERBNATION PAGE, where you can download it (plus some live cuts) for free. As for their next record, you’ll have a chance to get it on December 7th when they celebrate their CD release show at the Curtain Club in Dallas.

The stage was vacant after they got their gear off, as the ears of all the attendees were about to get a break, and the next act was more visually stimulating.

It was a performance from the Whiskey Tongue Burlesque troupe, which featured Tippsy Cupps and the Pumpkin Patch Revue.

I’m not in the business of reviewing burlesque shows, but I will say all the performers (most of whom did two routines) were entertaining to watch, making it a little dark at times, though it was definitely fun overall.

It broke up the night well, and once the ladies finished their performance, it was time for the last band of the night.

Idler was closing out this show, doing their final show of the year, and they had a decent amount of fans who came out to see them one more time in 2013.

This show also saw the band getting back to basics, with frontman Micah Frank focusing solely on being a frontman, rather than acting as the rhythm guitarist as he has at their more recent shows.

However, Ritchie Rangel took the stage before any of his other band mates, blazing through a rip-roaring drum solo on his sizable drum kit, the remaining five members filing on stage as it trailed off.

They began with one of the newer tracks they’ve cooked up for their next record, “Underneath Me”, which was largely sung by frontwoman Katie Frank, her brother adding the occasional backing vocals in the mix while he banged his head around to the music. Mykey O’Neil also had a sweet guitar solo during that one.

“This next one’s called Vendetta.” Micah informed everyone, before they started the intense rocker with the awesome chorus, “Don’t cross me again. It all comes back in the end. I wrote it all down to come back and then rub your face in this.”, which he belts out with a certain amount of anger in his voice. It was soon followed by another song of their self-titled EP, “Go for Broke”, which was the song this night that really showcased what a finely tuned band Idler is. The siblings traded off on vocal duties incredible precision, backing each other up at times, while Katie handled parts of the chorus, all of it being very fluid.

Another song that they co-sang and features some nice vocal work is “Lose Control”, which came next, and once they finished it the band started chatting amongst themselves and the crowd. Somehow, (as a joke) everyone began booing guitarist Nick Laracuente, who was doing a excellent job on the guitar by the way, having previously been the bands bass player, while they have since added a new bassist to the lineup. But I digress. It was all a joke, especially since his band members were egging on the boos, and afterwards Micah tried to see how far he could take it, asking the crowd to chant, “Hey”, which didn’t pan out.

They continued barreling through their 32-minute set with a personal favorite of mine, “Kings and Queens”, before getting to their much loved cover song. Perhaps the best thing about it was how it started, Micah suddenly transitioning from talking to the crowd to hitting that falsetto note that starts the Kenny Loggins classic, “Highway To The Danger Zone”. His band mates soon joined in, and he and Katie again shared the singing responsibilities, which is exactly what makes their cover of that song so unique.

It’s a definite standout, and so, too, is their original, “Pitchfork”, and sticking with the idea of saving the best for last, they wrapped tings up with one more new one, “Cigarette”, which gives all their other material a real run for its money.

Out of the handful of times I’ve seen Idler, this was easily the best show I’ve caught yet. A main reason for that is because of how they have returned to their roots, and while the fact that they use a male and female vocalist is a big thing that sets them apart from other bands, an equally as big part was that Micah and Katie were a frontman and frontwoman, respectively. And their live show has been kicked up a few notches now that he’s no longer the guitarist.

This was a great show for Idler to end the year on, and I’ll bet that when they make their comeback in 2014, they’ll be better than ever.

So, until then, head over to iTUNES and pick up a copy of their EP, “Idler”, and you can also get that cover tune they do for FREE HERE.

It was a great night at Hailey’s, and compared to the last few times I’d been to the venue, the place was packed, which was good to see.

Kudos to DFW Undercover for putting together such an awesome and unique show this night, and while the bands did differ in style, they meshed well, and kept everyone watching entertained. Be sure to hit up their OFFICIAL WEBSITE & their YOUTUBE CHANNEL to watch the interviews they’ve done with some local artists, and I must say, I’m already curious and looking forward to what their next showcase is going to be like.

Friday, July 26th, 2013 – Local Rock Invades Trees

Trees, one of the most iconic venues in Dallas, was hosting one of their all local showcases this night, and while the show had been thrown together rather last minute, it was a stellar bill that had been put together, with bands from Dallas, Denton and Fort Worth representing.

Up first was a fairly newer Dallas act by the name of Jet Set Rifle Club, and with a name like that, you’re intrigued from the get-go, even if you don’t know what to expect.

They are self described as hard rock and post-hardcore, and while they had elements of both of those genres, they didn’t fully fall into either. During their set (which was a little less than 30-minutes), they traversed through those genres and others. Frankly, I wasn’t too keen on them at first, mainly because vocalist Jeff Nemecs’ voice sounded pretty gruff, though the further they got in their set, the better it sounded and the more I warmed up to it. There were other parts I didn’t like, such as when he more screamed on a few of their later songs, but that’s more a personal preference of mine.

As performers go he was pretty good, keeping their small gathering of fans entertained, while guitarist Chris Koliba, bassist Daniel Villalobos and drummer Barron Gomez laid down some great music and were also entertaining to watch.

Overall, I’d say I dug it, though still felt a little mixed about it (mainly in regards to the heavier numbers), which is why I’m interested to hear their EP Jeff mentioned they were working on. That way I (and everyone else) can get a better taste of who Jet Set Rifle Club is and what they are striving for.

Awake in Theory was up next, and I was looking incredibly forward to seeing them, simply because it had been just a little over four months since the last gig of theirs I caught.

Once the curtain had opened enough, then they were off, storming out of the gates like they were on a mission as they ripped into the first song of their 34-minute long set, “Playing the Victim”. This was only the second time I’ve seen them where they’ve gotten things started with that one, and I liked it even more this time around. It’s a forceful beast, showing off the heavier side these guys are capable of. “…This next song’s for anyone who has done what I’ve done.” said front man Eric Hawkens, setting up their next track. “And that’s take someone to rehab.” he finished. That song is called “Let Go”, and it does carry a deeper message with it, and doubles as a fierce rock song with a strong backbone, thanks to drummer Raymond Chambers, who was destroying back on his kit.

The following song got a setup, too, and Eric said it went out to “…any girl that’s been in this room.” He then repeated it, seeming to wonder aloud if he used that in the right context. “Fuck it. It goes out to any girl that is in this room…” he clarified, saying that at some point every guy in there had, had their heart broken by a girl like the ones in the audience. “This song’s called Dangerous.” he stated after putting that different outlook on the song. Rhythm guitarist Brad McCain got a few moments in the spotlight during that one, doing a sweet solo. Speaking of the guitars, they got bumped up a few notches after that song, at the request of the fans and the band. When speaking to the sound guy, Lee, Eric said something to the effect of, “Make the guitars ballsier.” And ballsier they were made.

Before anyone got to hear the amped up guitars, though, Eric made what was definitely the most heartfelt speech of the night, talking about his brother, who is in the service. The song was essentially dedicated to him, and after praising his brother (and deservingly so), Eric noted that his brother hated when he did this, making a big deal out him. For those who know the band, the song was of course “Hero You Hate”, and things even got somewhat political (depending on who you are), when he brought up the Westboro Baptist Church whilst talking about the sacrifices anyone in any branch of the service makes. “…That may be you’re right to free speech… But that’s not how you treat the people who are giving everything to protect you…” he said (or something like that), referring how they will picket soldiers funerals and such. It’s another heavy-hitter, and this night I found myself liking the song more than I ever have.

Still, my favorite of theirs is “Barely Breathing”, and right from the mesmerizing, even somewhat dreamy notes Terry Kimmel plays at the start, it’ll have you hooked. That led them to their final two songs of the night, and first up was their new single they had only recently laid down in the studio, “Innocence”. There’s reason to why it’ll be their next single, in the midst of that marvelous song, during a break from the lyrics, Eric talked essentially about how everyone needs to stand up for what’s right. For example, if you see someone in trouble, help them out. I’m sure this is something else I’m paraphrasing, but he finished with, “…If you take care of others, they’ll take care of you.” As the song came to an end, Terry, Brad and bassist John Skenesky formed a staggered line, with one standing right at the forefront of the stage, another a little behind him, and the other was up on the drum riser, which aesthetically speaking was a cool way to wind it down. Then to close out their set, came their current single, “Daddy’s Little Girl”.

Awake in Theory has never been so tight and impressive, at least not that I’ve seen. Terry and Brad were killing it throughout their show. Raymond did a bang-up job on the drums (pun intended) and is a monster when it comes to drumming, while Eric was the model front man. He covered every inch of the stage (often standing on their boxes, towering over the fans) and was energetic throughout, while singing in his strong, distinctive voice.

As for John, this was the first time I’d seen them since he picked up bass duties, and he slayed. For the most part he seemed to stick on far stage right, which was the opposite side I stood on, so I couldn’t see him the best, though my eyes were constantly being drawn to him, simply to see what he was doing. He’s a perfect fit for the group, elevating their live show to a whole new level. He thrashed about often, keeping up with the pace of the music, and more than proved himself as a worthy addition to the group.

For now I know they’ll be playing Wit’s End in Dallas on September 7th, though it’s possible they might have another show or two in between now and then, so keep tabs on their website. In the meantime, check out their first single, and hopefully before long they’ll have a couple more tracks for their fans to listen to.

Sure, it was still early, but those guys were now the band to beat, and trying their hand at that was the main support band, Waking Alice.

They, too, started off insanely strong, with singer Rus Chaney jumping from the drum riser and rushing towards the front of the stage as they started their opening song, which is also one of the most killer songs currently in their set. Overall the attendance was pretty weak this night, but Waking Alice certainly had the most fans, which worked towards their advantage, simply knowing so many people were there enjoying the show, and they kept the momentum going with “Treason”. Drummer Jon Levey and guitarist Brandon Brewer  wound them perfectly into that awesome number. Rus even added a more primal sound to the song, more screaming the final line of the chorus, “…Lying is all you ever do.”, each and every time, instead of just on the final chorus. While subtle, it added a nice effect to the song, kicking it up a notch or two, making it better than it already is.

They followed it with another tune from the “Retribution” EP, “Scars”, before doing a cover they had first attempted at their last gig. I don’t recall exactly how he worked it in, but Rus said something, then added, “…I’m not an addict. You see what I did there?” he then asked everybody, and those who got it were ecstatic. Brandon then wanted to clarify what the song was about. “…The concept of song is to make sure if you have drugs, you share them with others…” He was referring to the K’s Choice song “Not an Addict”, which they promptly started. It may have had a few slight hiccups (or rather, coughs), none of which I took much notice of, and they didn’t really have a negative impact on the song. Still, they joked about afterwards, and Rus said he just couldn’t stop coughing, which was what made him miss almost an entire verse. “…This guy had heart surgery not even a month ago.” said Brandon, in an attempt of sorts to relieve some of the blame from Rus (assuming there was any in the first place, which I doubt there was), and Rus noted it had been right at a month.

They chatted about that for a minute, then tackled one of their classics, “Biggest Lie”. That song’s known for the crazy guitar solo Brandon embarks on, showing off the astounding chops he has, his hands mostly a blur as he shreds on his axe. Rus, Jon and bassist Brayton Light mostly took a backseat during that, and after finishing out the song, Rus mentioned how I always say the solo is different (it was this night, too.) “…It is. We don’t even know how it’s going to go until he does…” Rus said, before throwing out some merch to everybody, from shirts, to trucker hats and even some wristbands. It was also at this point, while talking about the attire, that Brandon said he had thought about wearing a snuggy for this show, but opted against it. I think I speak for everyone of their fans when I say, “I would love to see that one day.”

Their love song “Fates Design” came next, and afterwards Rus worked to get a picture of the fans, though it never quite turned out, and eventually Jon went ahead and launched them into “Chasing Memories”, which sped things back up, and then they ended their 42-minute long set with their newest song, the raw, “That One”. “…You can tell we’re good at song titles.” joked Rus before they tore into it.

I thought this was one of the best Waking Alice shows I’ve seen, and considering they originally didn’t plan on playing again for a few months and didn’t have much time to rehearse for this show, they were in perfect form. Brayton and Jon formed an exceptional rhythm section this night, with Brayton often wielding his bass as if it were a weapon, while Jon supplied his beats in his style that is both careful and precise as well as wild and forceful.

They’ll be back in Dallas at Wit’s End on September 25th, opening for a national touring act, no less. Also, for those who haven’t, check out their music in iTUNES.

The honor of headlining spot went Idler this night, and the Denton quintet kicked off their 34-minute long set with “Vendetta”, a song that nicely blends the voices of brother and sister Micah (who is also the rhythm guitarist) and Katie Frank, with her doing more backup vocals. That mighty song seemed to get everyone’s attention, both old and new fans alike, and they continued on with  “Go for Broke”, which boasts a cohesive patchwork of beats from the bands newest addition, Ritchie Rangel, who is a really good drummer with a good bit of flare.

They switched gears a bit with “Lose Control”, where Katie picked up the duties of lead singer, though Micah was still doing his fair share of singing, and afterwards the really slowed things down. Everyone sans lead guitarist Mykey O’Neil, Micah and Katie left the stage for a more stripped down version of the song “Let Me In”. It showed off the more delicate side Micah is capable of, while highlighting Katies’ beautiful tone. That more serene moment was just that, though, a moment, and once they finished it bassist Nick Laracuente and the rest of the band returned for the lead track from their debut EP, the ever aggressive “Pitchfork”. Mykey even walked off the stage and got out in the crowd for a portion of this one, taking advantage of his wireless guitar and tearing it up around some of the fans who were still there.

They unleashed a couple newer songs of theirs after that, the first of the two being one I’m quite partial to, while the second one, “Underneath Me”, was every bit as good in a different way, and it was also another track that featured Katie singing lead. As it came to an end, Ritchie accidentally knocked one of his cymbals down, and while one of his band mates set it back up for him, Micah informed the crowd they might know the next song, which was also their last. “…It’s called Highway To The Danger Zone”. They do one badass cover of that Kenny Loggins classic, and it was a fun one to end the show with.

As far as their show went, sound-wise, they were just as good as the other two experiences I’ve had at their shows. The duel vocals gives them a lot of appeal, simply because it’s so different from most other acts, and while it’s rock music, it has a certain degree of freshness to it, too. But in terms of the performance, they missed the mark a little bit, and they were off their game compared to the other shows of theirs I had seen.

Everybody has off nights from time to time, it happens, though some aspects seemed to be lacking, like a collective cohesiveness.

Still, they’re one awesome band, and you should check out their EP in iTUNES, and can also snag a FREE download of “Highway to the Danger Zone” on their REVERBNATION PAGE. As for shows, they’re keeping fairly busy this summer, with a show in Fort Worth at Tomcats West on August 2nd, then a Dallas gig at O’Riley’s on August 3rd. They’ll be back in Dallas at the Hard Rock Café on August 9th, and then a hometown gig in Denton at Hailey’s on the 10th. Then, on September 1st, they’ll rock The Door in Dallas.

This was an awesome night at Trees, though it would have been nice to see more people out supporting. You could tell the people here were the most loyal fans of each act, probably partly because the show was announced rather last minute and others couldn’t make it. Still, this is Trees, and for a band to have their full legion of fans out at a show like this could lead to them opening for national acts here in the future. Just a word to the wise, next time a local group you like plays here (this can go for other venues, too, though Trees routinely brings big name groups through Dallas), be at the show at all possible. It could lead to big opportunities for your friends in the band.

Saturday, April 20th, 2013 – The Transcendental Message of Alterflesh

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.

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013 – The Advent Reunion Show

This made for my third straight week going to the Curtain Club in Dallas, and it was no doubt going to be a great show this night.

To set it up, there once was a band by the name of Advent. I heard of them shortly after I was introduced to the local music scene. They were pretty big as far as local acts go, and while I did buy their album, I never made it out to a show before they called it quits.

Well, tonight Advent was returning to the stage and their Deep Ellum home for a one-time only reunion show. Making it even better was the fact that several great bands had been tapped to open for them, beginning with one I had not heard of before this,the Denton based, Idler.

They busted into the first song of their 30-minute long set, “Vendetta”, which immediately utilized the bands most unique feature; their two vocalists. Both Micah and Katie sang the majority of the song, often harmonizing with each other, adding a beautiful texture to what was an explosive rock song. They switched that dynamic up a bit with their next song, “Go for Broke”, which was more co-sung. Micah stood at the front of the stage while he sang the verses, then would switch spots with Katie, who had been hanging back by the drum riser, as she approached the crowd to sing the chorus, “Go for broke and see there’s nothing left to do…” The followed it with “Let Me In”, and then another newer song, which I believe was the one that Katie left the stage for. She could certainly hold her own up there, but I thought it cool that one song painted them in a more “typical” rock band spotlight, and guitarists, Jeff and Mykey, bassist, Nick, drummer, Eric and Micah really threw down during it. “Lose Control” was a real standout from their set, and was another duet of sorts, only it found Katie taking over lead vocal duties. “This next song’s called Pitchfork.” Micah said, leading them into the tune, before doing one last non-album track, titled “Cigarette”. They weren’t quite done, though, and had one surprise/trick up their sleeves. It’s no big surprise when bands do cover songs, however, there are some songs you never expect to hear a band cover. Idler was doing one of those songs, and it was the iconic Kenny Logins track, “Danger Zone”. Nick, Mykey, Jeff and Eric added a lot of grit to it, making it much heavier than the original version from the 80’s, catapulting it to more of a hard rock style. The dueling voices switched it up even further, and it was sung in the same format as their second song this night. It was quite a shocker at first hearing them do that, but there’s no doubt that they have made that song into their very own, placing a very distinctive mark on it, and it was a hell of a way to end the show.

To be the first band, and also one I had never really heard, I was thoroughly impressed by Idler. Their stage presence was on par with the other two current local acts that would follow them, and was quite fierce. Again, I love the two voices, which are really what separates Idler from most other bands, with Micah solidifying the fact that they are a harder rock outfit, while Katie gives it a more serene vibe. And even when one wasn’t adding any vocals to a song, they still rocked out to it, moving around and thrashing around slightly to the drumbeats, still being a part of it all, instead of simply standing there, waiting for their next line. I don’t want to exclude or count out the instrumentalists of the band, though, who were what made the show. Nick, Jeff and Mykey were constantly moving around the stage, shredding on their respective instruments, which really brought things to life.

They made me into a fan for sure, and I look forward to seeing them again. Speaking of which, they have a couple shows lined up at the moment. One will be on March 2nd at O’Sheas in Husrt, Texas, while the other is March 23rd at Andy’s in Denton. And if you go to those shows, you’ll be able to pick up a copy of their debut EP.

They proved to be an excellent start to the night, much better than what I was expecting, but things were about to get a lot better…

The Circle was the second band up, and personally, I was most excited about seeing them this night.

Their first song is becoming one of my favorite Circle jams, and it’s a good way to thrust the audience right into the onslaught of heavy, intense hard rock that is to come. And believe me, their shows get intense. After that opening number, frontman, Don Mills, expressed his excitement of being on this bill. “…Advent was one of my favorite bands…” he said, reminiscing about days gone by, in which he said he used to see them quite a bit, and was thrilled to finally get the opportunity to do a show with them. It had only been a month since I last them, but there were some big differences/improvements between then and now, namely the transitions from song to song. See, as Don wrapped up his thoughts, guitarists, Craig Nelson and Alan Sauls, as well as bassist, Kenneth Henrichs , played some light notes, leading into “Beggars Can’t be Choosers”. A newer song of theirs came next, which Don mentioned the title of, and if I heard him correctly it was “Wanted”. Once the group finished it, Don led a toast with the audience, toasting to local music. “…Local music is by far the greatest music that no one’s ever heard…” he said, which is all too true. The perfect segues continued, as they built up to “406”, which begins with some sweet guitar riffage. “Can I get an amen?!” bellowed Don, while that was going on. The crowd (at least some of them) obliged, shouting, “Amen!”. That’s one of their heaviest songs, with Don showing off a little more primal side of his voice, with some serious borderline screaming going on at times, but that’s also what makes a highlight of the show in my opinion. Marc Berry launched them into their next song, “I Am”, with some steady paced beats on the drums. They ran through another sweet new song, before getting to the oh so impressive, “Skeptical”, during which Kenneth added some backing vocals, which helped make the song. “What are you doing here? You look lost! You’re not from around here are you?!…” Don roared on the chorus of “My Trip to the Desert Sucked”, before they got to “Somewhere”, which ends with some killer notes courtesy of Craig. Their 39-minute long set was drawing to a close, but Don wasn’t going to let it end without giving a shout out to Keith Higgs, of WK Productions, who had put this entire show together. Topic of conversation then turned to their single, which dominated the charts on 97.1 The Eagle for six straight weeks, at which point it had to be retired from their voting competition. “…This is your song…” said Don, speaking to all the fans. That of course gave it away, as they tore into “Sleep On It”, the best song in their arsenal, and it’s worthy of being their first official single.

This was the best Circle show I’ve seen, and I’d be willing to bet the best one they’ve done to date. Those transitions may seem like a subtle difference, but they made a colossal difference in their show and the overall professionalism they radiated. Even though they never bled one song right into the next, it still helped and made them appear very on point… Not that they weren’t before this.

The performance they put on is something else, and Don emits an overwhelming stage presence that is bound to draw you in, regardless of if you like their genre of music or not. This may still be a newer lineup for the band, but they are quickly ironing out what few wrinkles they have left, and tightening up in every conceivable way. So, if you haven’t heard of the Circle yet or seen a show, go fix that, because they are one of the best bands currently in D/FW.

They’ll be doing a VERY rare acoustic show this Saturday, February 23rd, at the Liquid Lounge in Dallas. Also, on Thursday, March 14th, they’ll be performing at the Hard Rock Cafe in Dallas. It’s the semi-final round for the Hard Rock Rising Competition and they’ll need as many fans as possible to come out and support them. They only have that one song (their single) released at the moment, and you can purchase it in iTUNES. But, to ease your wait while they work on an EP, they have some live cuts available for FREE download on their REVERBNATION PAGE.

The Circle seemed hard to top, but if any band could do it, it would be the next one, Serosia.

The curtain opened to reveal frontman, Lucas D’Agata, standing at the center of the stage, head bowed and hands behind his back. It was oddly calm for the group, as guitarist, Joseph Kuban, and bassist, Derek Troxell, stood on either side of him, also making no movement. But that peacefulness wouldn’t last long…

Joseph lit into his guitar, with he and Derek alternating riffs, as they fired up “Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars”. Once Anthony D’Agata came in on the drums, Lucas broke the tranquil demeanor he had, going wild as he proceeded to thrash around the stage. Yeah, that was more like what everyone expects out of Serosia. The pushed on with their 38-minute long set, and rounded things right into their next, “The Room”, which was one of the most extreme of their set, with Lucas screaming a large portion of the lyrics. While I’m not usually keen on stuff like that, Lucas makes it sound good, plus it fits well with the music. After a quick pause to introduce themselves and thank everyone for coming out, Lucas stated that they were going to play some songs from their new album, “Variables”, beginning with “Friendly Fire”. Anthony quickly launched them into the beast of a track, and they didn’t get much chance to catch their breath upon finishing it. “Let’s keep this motherfucker going!” shouted Lucas. “I am concealed. I am in no way…” he sang, which prompted the fans to erupt with cheers, realizing it was one of everyone’s favorites, “Criminal”. They were far from being done with their newer stuff, and had saved one of their strongest songs, “Superposition”, for right now. It fit better in the middle of the set, instead of being the closer like at the previous show of theirs that I saw. Here it helped continue the epic flow they had created, further exciting the audience, some of whom had started a mosh pit, and towards the end Lucas got some crowd participation, having everyone shout out the line, “I feel a war!…” a few times. It has only been about five months since they released their latest EP, but Serosia is one of those bands that’s always working on new material. Proving that was a song that they unveiled this night, called “Reduced to Memory”, and I dare say it was one of the best tunes I’ve heard these guys do, which is saying a lot. The mood was lightened a bit with “The Architect”, and I say “lightened” in the sense that it is not as heavy as some of their other material, which made “Sway” a good follow up for it. At times it’s a balls to the wall rock song, but it’s filled with some softer moments, like when Lucas softly croons, “…You have the power to fly but you fail to try…”. That brought them to their final song of the night, which Lucas mentioned came from their “Perspective And Balance” EP, which, along with their other records, could be bought over at their merch table after the show. The song was “Ventriloquist”, which is similar enough to their opening song that it made the two seem like bookends, and made for a fitting end to what had been an astounding set.

I’ve seen Serosia a few times now, and personally, this was the best shows I’ve seen them do. As far as performances go, you’d be hard pressed to find a band in North Texas that can one up them, let alone even hold their own against them. Hell, you could probably broaden that view to include most national acts and it would still stand true.

They put it all out there, giving 110%, and that’s obvious if you see one of their shows. You can’t even say that one is a more fierce performer than the others, as Joseph, Derek, Anthony and Lucas all bring an equal amount of energy to the show, meaning all of them are entertaining to watch.

Between their store on REVERBNATION and of course ITUNES, you can purchase all the music the band has released. And while they don’t have any shows on the books at the moment, keep an eye on their Facebook Page, because they’ll no doubt have something coming up in the near future.

That made for a fine night of current local music, but know it was time to get a little nostalgic and watch Advent. And for me, experience a Advent show for both the first and last time.

Before they started their set, vocalist, Brandan Narrell, welcomed everyone to the show. “…We’re still five fat guys who like to rock…” he said, before they tore into the first song of their epic set. Their first song sounded pretty, though it was a non-album track, so I’m clueless to what it was. Actually, the same goes for the next couple of songs. It probably shouldn’t have, but it kind of surprised me that they didn’t get right into the material from their album. But now that I think about, there are only eight songs on their record, which would explain needing more songs to fill the time. Like I said, I had never seen them before, and if I had, I would have known to expect this. After another one, Brandan kind of summed up the bands career by saying they set out to make a dent. “…And this…” he said, referring to all the people who had gathered there to see them, “…Proves we broke the windshield…”. That led them to a slightly slower song, which I think was titled “Bringing Me Down”. To be a softer song in comparison to their other stuff, they pulled it off well, and it sounded outstanding. It became apparent early that their set was going to be filled with some crude banter, so if anyone was easily offended, you were at the wrong show. For example, after that song, Brandan said something like, “The girls of Texas have the biggest tits and the tight slits, and the guys have the biggest dicks…” With that, they did a song called “Gone Again”, which led them to a very unexpected cover song. This hard rock outfit had picked a Phil Collins classic, and proceeded to perform “In the Air Tonight”. Guitarists, Josh Sanders and Derek Sanders, and bassist, Vernon Greer, made it much more gritty than the original version, putting their own spin on it, but it still maintained the same vibe as the original. I was honestly surprised Brandan could pull off more of a falsetto tone, but he did, and rather well at that. They joked afterwards that they had written that song, getting a laugh out of everybody, and after talking a little more, Brandan worked their next song title into his speech. Now they were getting to the really good stuff, with the first track of their “The Lines of Healing” album, “Better Than OK”. I had been enjoying the show thus far, but it was with that song where I really felt it take off and when I got dragged into it. The drummer, “Sonic”, did a short solo before their next song, which got a unique intro. “…As you get older,” said Brandon, “You’ll find that if it’s a pussy or an asshole, it’s always caving in.” Josh and Vernon both gave him a look like, “What the hell?” He just shrugged, as “Sonic” got “Caving In” going. “Silenced” followed it, and then another song which I assume was an original, “What I See”. They had another cover song in the chamber, though, “Policy of Truth”, which was another that they left their mark on. “We wrote that one the first day we got together…” Brandan said when they finished, and couldn’t help but laugh while he said it. “…We just got in there and were like, “This will make a good song.”, speaking of the Depeche Mode tune. He continued by stating how proud he and everyone else in the band was to be from Dallas. He again thanked everyone for coming out and supporting the bands. He then let everyone know that because of this, people continuing to support the local bands, he knew that legends like “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott of Pantera, and Drowning Pool’s original vocalist, Dave Williams, would live forever, because they could never be forgotten. They got back to business with “Everything You Know”, which combined the best of both a ballad and a rock song, sounding like the former on the verses, before getting heavier on the choruses. With “Choices”, Vernon got add some backing vocals, or rather screams, which worked perfectly with Brandans’ smoother voice, giving the song a little dose of piss and vinegar. Upon finishing it, they were told their time was almost up, resulting in them ending their 64-minute long set with “Faceless”.

It’s a good song, but didn’t offer the right note to end on, and left me wondering if they really would come back, since it was already well after one in the morning.

Some people did clear out, but they missed out, as the curtain was soon drawn apart again, with Brandan saying they didn’t get back together for this show to short their fans. Once again he thanked everyone. “You all could have gone down the street to see Sum 41…” he said. Derek, Josh, Vernon and “Sonic” then broke into a few second clip of a Sum 41 tune, which was pretty humorous. Now they got to the song every single person there had been wanting to hear, and that was “Back Down”. That offered a more appropriate end to their show, but they weren’t done yet. They invited anyone they had every shared the stage with up on stage, and two notable people were there. One was J.R. Munoz of the band Overscene, the other was accomplished singer/songwriter, Christian Sly. “This isn’t enough people. I don’t care who you are, just get up here!” said Brandan, prompting many fans to storm the stage. “…C’mon, we need to get this tighter than a nuns pussy…” he said, which they eventually did. The stage was packed, so much so that each of the guys had just enough room to take a few steps. Closing out this 12-minute encore was what I guess was another cover song, and it sounded pretty good, especially with Christian and J.R. adding their talents to it.

That was a pretty cool end to their set, seeing this fairly iconic Dallas band surrounded by their fans as they left the stage for what was in all likelihood the last time ever.

I know I never saw them back in their heyday, but I think they were every bit as good this night as they were in their prime. The Sander’s brothers were great, especially Josh, who I’m familiar with from his current band, The Commotion. I think he cut loose more here, simply because Advent’s music is easier to rock out to. And for “five fat guys” as Brandan put it (which isn’t an accurate statement), who have been out of the game for awhile, they more than held their own against all the other bands on the bill.

This was really a great night, and I’m glad I finally, after almost seven years, got to see an Advent show.  It was worth the wait.