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.
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.
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.
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.
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.