Saturday, September 6th – SpaceCamp shows Off a New(er) Sound at Liquid Lounge

The show at Liquid Lounge this night got off to a little earlier start then I expected.

It was a little before nine when I walked in the intimate room, and there were already three musicians on stage.

With just a couple more songs to go, I never caught the name of this instrumental band, who was good, though that’s just a style I’m seldom a fan of.

Following them up was a singer by the name of Charley Crockett. Now, if you’re like me, when you hear the name Crockett, you immediately think of Davy Crockett, and from what Charley said later this night, he is kin to the historical figure, and that is something he’s proud of.

To be the only person on that stage, he did an amazing job of filling it up. His music was incredibly soulful and very bluesy, and it all came from the heart, as he and his guitar produced one song after the other. “That’s a new one I’m working on,” he remarked at the end of one song, before bridging it right in to another.

“Down Trodden Man” was one of the cuts he did from his latest EP, and it was quite fitting of the wanderer role he had already cast himself in. “…I do believe if I had wings I’d still be lonesome,” he crooned on one line; and despite sounding like it would be a sad song, there were never even any slight undertones of it. Instead, he seemed almost cheerful; and at one point, when he cut out on his guitar, the onlookers decided to start clapping along, something Charley welcomed.

He threw out a few more songs, each one dripping with raw emotions, which was the quality everyone watching seemed to enjoy the most about his set.

Not only was he an exceptional singer and songwriter, he was also an extremely skilled guitarist. It was something to watch as he wailed on his axe, making music that spoke to people on a deeper level than many songs do.

Charley Crockett was the most surprising act to me this night, as I was not expecting to discover such a talented solo artist by coming to this show. I’m glad I did, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing him again.

He’ll be back in Dallas on October 8th at Adair’s Saloon, and he has plenty of other tour dates as well. They can be found HERE, and you can download a couple of free songs of his HERE.

Perhaps the most interesting band of the night was Skinny Cooks.

How often do you see a rap and spoken word band perform, using a cello and a xylophone. That’s exactly what Nigel Newton (who played the xylophone) and Brianne Sargent did, though. They were also joined by a drummer and bassist, who really fleshed out the sound, though it was those two core members who received everyone’s attention.

They only got 19-minutes, squeezing four songs into that time and rotating on who provided the vocals. As I said, at times it was more like spoken word, others it was rapped, but no matter what was going on, it was riveting.

Simple, yet complex; with the emotions being conveyed in the music.

I’d definitely be interested in seeing them again sometime.

Their music can found on BANDCAMP.

Paco Estrada was next up this night, and it had been far too long since I had seen the singer/songwriter with a full-band. Making this all the more special was the fact that Zuriel was joining him on the violin.

Zuriel was one of the first members Paco picked up when forming what eventually became Paco Estrada & One Love, a band that started about six years ago, and disbanded four years ago now (man, that makes me feel old.) In the aftermath, Zuriel has only played with Paco once, and that was just a few weeks before this show, making this a special treat for longtime fans.

The 50-minute set was an interesting one that covered a variety of albums (and bands), beginning with them going all the way back to Paco’s days in SouthFM. “Blue & Grey” was a song that iconic Dallas band never did much, as the slower pace didn’t fit with their noisy rock shows, though it worked this night, and caught longtime fans a little off guard as Paco started the first line, “Collected all these words to paint this picture for you and try to get you to see…” It was mostly Paco and his acoustic guitar for a while, with Zuriel, the drummer and bassist hanging back, before it really escalated towards the end. Zuriel was even wailing on his violin there at the end, reminding some people of some days long gone by.

From that song from nearly ten years ago, they jumped ahead to some of Pacos’ newer music, doing the sweet love song, which I believe is titled, “The Way That I Love You”. Following that new staple was another new one, and one that quite honestly sounded like a cover. I wasn’t alone in thinking that, either. It sounded phenomenal, though for some reason, it just didn’t feel like one of his, despite the fact that it was. The drummer was crushing it during that song, while the riffs burrowed their way into your head instantly. The lyrics stood out, too, with one line I remember being, “… Burn it to the ground, let the truth be found…”.

“Zuriel just made some shit up,” laughed Paco, who wasn’t really joking, as Zuriel is a master at improve. “This is the song about the girl behind the girl behind the girl,” Paco stated before “She”, a song off 2013’s How I Spent My Summer Vacation EP. “…I could never give you my heart; she left me black and mostly blue. You could give me all the love in the world, but baby, I’ll never give it back to you,” he belted on chorus of that emotional tune about being forever haunted by a past love.

“Harder!” one fan/friend shouted once that one was done, prompting Paco to ask, “Why is that always your go to word?” In retaliation, he said they were going to go softer, joking that, that was a shame for everyone, because they had a really “awesome” totally redone version of a Tool song planned, but instead would just skip over it. He bantered on, saying he and Zuriel were in counseling trying to work stuff out, before sitting up their next tune. “It’s a sad song. But they’ve all been sad,” he remarked, before pulling v2.0 of “Killing Me”, as was performed by One Love. Zuriel looked like this was all second nature to him, and at times, he plucked the strings of his violin, before using the bow later in the song.

“Just like we practiced, just like we practiced,” Paco laughed, who had just earlier stated he sends the tracks to the bassist, so he can listen to the songs he’ll be playing, and I’m fairly certain Zuriel was winging it all night long. The bassist then chimed in, saying he wanted to do “She Talks to Angels”, something Paco was easily persuaded to do. “I don’t know why that happened, but it did,” he stated after finishing the rendition of The Black Crowes song, which was followed by another original from The Anatomy of Letting Go, “Reckless Love”, which again found Zuriel in the zone, since it was from the One Love days.

They had one song left, but first, Paco thanked the openers, saying he happened to find Charley Crockett on the side of the road; and also mentioning the people who had come to this show wearing the band shirts (for the headliner, SpaceCamp), saying “There’s always that guy,” at shows. (For the record, I was one of the guys who had worn the band shirt.) To end things, they did the old standby, “Whiskey Kisses”, which once again saw Zuriel doing a bit of a solo towards the end.

Paco and his band did not disappoint. Then again, they never do.

It was a nice smorgasbord of his music, from his solo records, to his past bands, while also looking ahead to his future. I’m sure I got this point across by now, but it was also fun seeing Zuriel back on stage, going between playing his violin in a more traditional manner, to rocking out on it, to the point it can rival any electric instrument.

I say this every time, and I’ll say it again: Paco is the best singer/songwriter in the D/FW area, and that fact was proven yet again this night.

You can find all of his music on his BANDCAMP; and he should have a new release out by the end of the year.

Wrapping up the night was SpaceCamp; and they had changed things up since the last time I had seen them.

Paco Estrada got no downtime; however, unlike the past SC shows, he wasn’t using his acoustic guitar this time around. Instead, he just stood in front of the mic, using his voice. The other big difference was they now had a keyboardist, who was also responsible for running the live tracks, something they started doing more recently.

Rounding out the band was guitarist Mike Dove and bassist Emsy Robinson, along with frontman Jeremy Rodriguez (AKA Tomahawk Jonez), plus a drummer, whom I hadn’t seen with them before.

They opened with “The Dancer”, and right away, Jeremy  began rapping, “My fears, my pain fall upon your ears so they don’t feel the same…”, putting not only a ton of emotion into it, but also making it sound quite fierce. Paco took over on each chorus; and at the end, he was responsible for tacking on a part of a cover song, singing, “…So I’m never gonna dance again, the way I danced with you,” from “Carless Whisper”.

“We were in Lubbock last night,” Jeremy stated, saying the girls there liked to drink whiskey, and asked if that was true of the girls here. Paco followed that with a rhetorical question. “What college girl doesn’t?” “If This is Goodbye” sounded like a different song live as the sample track got it going; and Jeremy clapped along there at first, causing some fans to join along. He later pointed to Mike when the rest of the instruments cut out; making sure all attention was on the guitarist. When they got to the choruses, Jeremy hung his head, though still danced along; and Paco put an overwhelming amount of emotion into the second one. I’m not sure what caused him to make it even more charged than normal, but it made the already great song even better.

“Do y’all want to hear another song from that same album?” Jeremy asked, referring to the Full Moon EP. “That wasn’t too convincing,” he replied after a lackluster response from the crowd, who did better the second time around. Before they could move on, though, Mike had to change guitars, and then they were off onto “The Lover”. They had redone some parts of it, especially at the end, when both Paco and Jeremy each sang of their different parts in unison with one another, sounding absolutely amazing.

“Faster! Harder!” a patron shouted, leading Paco to inform him they were not Daft Punk. “That’s not a Kanye song?” Jeremy replied, believably feigning some surprise. “Reach for the Sun” came next, and while several of SpaceCamp’s songs are positive and uplifting, that one has to take the cake. As Paco began the final chorus, Jeremy beat his chest, then slowly raised his head until he was gazing towards the ceiling, seeming to look right past it and towards the stars.

“What the fuck is wrong with this stand, Gene? “Why are you trying to sabotage our set?!” Paco joked with the sound man; though the mic stand had been giving them some trouble. They slowed things down and got quite serious with “Surrender to the Night”; then picked the pace back up with “White Horses”, which Jeremy jokingly dedicated to all the women in line for the bathroom. There was no line, though he did say that right at the time one woman happened to walk out, which was hilarious. “What’s the worst that could happen?” Jeremy finished, creating his own echo effect when singing that final word, and it sounded awesome.

“You want to keep that mood going?” he asked afterwards, as the keyboardist started the track to “Dancing with the Devil”. It had barely got going when Jeremy had him kill it, something that perplexed his band mates. “Are you not ready to dance with devil?” Paco quipped, getting a laugh from the crowd. The track sounded fuller when it came back in, just like it should; and that number really exploded when they hit the last chorus, from the singing, to the instruments, everything was in high gear.

“These are all true stories by the way,” Paco informed everyone once they finished. With only two EP’s worth of music in their catalog, they had played nearly everything they had, except for one song. They ended their 50-minute long set with “Before you Die”, which sounded more relaxed this time around than I’ve heard it in the past. It was more behooving of the song, allowing it to become even more emotional than it already is. As usual, Paco added some of “Blue and Yellow” by The Used to the end. “…Rather waste my time with you…” he crooned, before getting to one line he put so much into and held for so long, his face visibly turned red.

Jeremy was excited when talking to me about them using the sample tracks now, especially after how it has gone over at their other recent shows. I was quite intrigued to hear it, but at the same time, I’m one of those people who’s typically not a fan of the use of tracks.

It doesn’t work for every band, often detracting from the sound in my opinion, but for SpaceCamp, it fits. The band has such a unique sound in the first place, describing themselves as trip-rock, and the use of the tracks really did help give all the songs the perfect feel. It really was like you were hearing the recordings live, though they had that raw quality that can only come with a live performance.

I dug it, and it sets the stage for a whole new SpaceCamp.

You can purchase both of the bands EP’s over in iTUNES.

This was a very diverse night of music here at Liquid Lounge, but one that was overflowing with talent, making it a solid night from start to finish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 14th, 2013 – Part I: A Benefit for West, Texas

The Curtain Club and Liquid Lounge (along with the Boiler Room) were hosting a benefit show this night, featuring something like forty bands (+/-), and presenting it was Jaro Productions. Proceeds from the show were benefiting West, Texas, which some of musicians pointed out had kind of been forgotten about, especially since a few days before this FEMA announced they wouldn’t be giving the town any aid. All the more reason this was a great show to be at and support a worthy cause.

Now, to fit all those bands on stage in a timely manner, most of them were doing acoustic sets that consisted of a mere three songs, and I believe the first band up in the Lounge was called The Hot Hello.

Based on their little acoustic gig they sounded pretty good. Very different than some of their electric stuff I later checked out online, but still had a really good sound to it all.

They have an older EP you can check out in iTUNES if you want, and keep tabs on their FACEBOOK PAGE for more show updates.

Always the Alibi followed them, doing a mostly acoustic show, with bassist Evan Scates being the only one playing an electric instrument. Their brief little set began with one of their non-album tracks, “Edge of the World”, which sounded incredible done acoustic. It was very easy to hear every single word sung by singer and rhythm guitarist Henry Coke, and that in turn seemed to give the song more weight and made it pretty deep. Next they did a scaled down version of “She’s Letting Go”, and upon finishing it, drummer Richard Muencklers’ phone could be heard ringing. “He’s a fireman, he has to take that…” Henry joked, referring to the shirt Richard was wearing. Then, to set up their last song, lead guitarist Kelly Panter told everyone they thought it would be a fitting song given the cause they were supporting this night. Indeed it was, and they closed with a moving rendition of the Foo Fighters “Times Like These”, and with the chorus of “It’s times like these you learn to live again It’s times like these you give and give again It’s times like these you learn to love again…” it was certainly fitting of the situation.

It was a nice little set they did, and by the time they were done I found myself hoping they start doing a few more acoustic shows here and there, preferably a little longer than what they were able to do this night.

You can buy their debut EP “We are Waiting” in iTUNES, and can even snag a free download of that one album track they did at this show over on their REVERBNATION PAGE. As for their show schedule, they’ll be back at the Curtain Club on July 5th. On July 14th they’ll be out at Six Flags in Arlington doing some sets throughout the day, while on August 22nd they’ll rock Fort Worth, doing a gig at The Grotto.

Afterwards, I headed over to the Curtain, where The Circle was getting ready to go on, and actually got set up several minutes before their start time. They were given two options by sound guy Chad Lovell; Do an extra song or just sit on their stools for a few minutes. Then the door guy, Sean, said something, which I couldn’t hear all that well, but was something about having the band tell a story.

Vocalist Don Mills, saying he was looking on Craigslist, “…And not the personal section…” he noted, looking for a band to join, when he came across one that was in need of a singer. It was humorous little story, during which he also noted they had auditioned Monica Koohi (who now sings fro Red Angel Theory), but she turned down the offer, so they picked Don instead, and he joked that he should have just kept on looking.

They then got ready to start their little set, which rhythm guitarist Alan Sauls began… By playing the intro to “Stairway to Heaven”. “…There are plenty of cover songs to do, but not that one…” Don said, as the four guys (they were missing bassist Kenneth Henrichs) shared a laugh. “My Trip to the Desert Sucked” kicked off their set, which is arguably one of their heaviest songs and was given a completely new flow now, not only with the more restrained music bed, but Dons’ voice, which was still loud and powerful, but it was clear he was holding back immensely. “…I feel like this is the first show I haven’t screamed at in months…” he said to his band mates after finishing that song, pointing out how weird it felt. Their remaining two songs were some newer ones that will be on their forthcoming EP, one of which was “Failure”, which sounded like somewhat of a different song. “The Other Side” wrapped up their set, and was hands down the best acoustic sounding song they did, with some nice riffs from Craig Nelson and Alan, while Marc Berry had a nice beat going on his cajon. It was still different from the full blow rock version, but it really translated nicely into this format.

They were another band I found myself hoping will do an acoustic show a little more frequently, because they’re such a heavy, hard rock band it’s cool to get to see another side to them, especially one they pull off so (surprisingly) well.

They’ll be right back here at the Curtain on July 12th, and that will be a real rock show, and one you shouldn’t miss. You can find their lead single “Sleep on it” in iTUNES, and hopefully in the next few months they’ll have their EP with that and three more songs released. But until then, check out their REVERBNATION PAGE where you can download some live cuts for free.

Following them up on the Curtain Club stage was Little Sisters of the Poor, who was taking the stage for only the third time ever.

They kept things a little closer to a true full-band, with Gabe Muzquiz playing the drum kit that had thus far gone untouched. That obviously made them much louder than many of the other bands, and they got their set going with a catchy number by the name of “Love, Money and Death”. They ran through their set relatively quickly it seemed, with front man Dunagin Gaines announcing the titles of their next two tracks before they started them, and if I heard correctly the second was “Truck Stop Heaven”, while “Headaches” wrapped up the little show.

It really wasn’t that far off from one of their normal shows. Now granted, guitarists Jason Jones and Jackson Dunn, as well as bassist Joe Becker don’t usually sit on stools, but music-wise, even with acoustic axes, it was still pretty spot on, and instead of loud, guitar rock music, it was loud, acoustic guitar rock music. Even Dunagin didn’t hold back much, still singing at almost full throttle and adding his own vocal effects by moving the microphone all around, to, at times, give his voice a distant sound to it.

Great little show and my personal favorite out of the acts I saw here.

They, too, will be back at the Curtain Club soon, specifically on July 26th. And if you’d like to get a feel for their sound, you can purchase their first two singles in iTUNES.

Up after them was another local heavyweight, and that was Adakain.

I had still had yet to see the band in their latest lineup (and I guess in some ways I still haven’t), and that lineup includes Ryan Ray at the helm, while Taylor Walding has also recently joined the band as an additional guitarist.

“…This is an old Adakain song…” Ryan Ray told the crowd, as they opened up with “Sky is Falling”, the lead track from the “Silhouette of Lies” EP. It was a quite different rendition, even with Ryan Carroll back on the drum kit and Joseph Kuban (who usually plays with Serosia) lightly plucking the strings of his bass, but the softer sound allowed the song to be heard in a new light, and there was a different gravity to it this night. Once they finished it, Ryan R. looked over at Joseph, noting it had been a long time since he’d been on stage with him. “…You’re an attractive man…” Ryan told him. He then moved things along, saying they were going to do one of their newest song, “Bleach it Out”, and see how it worked, since they wouldn’t be using the sample tracks this time. Even done in this format the song still packed a punch, and was even slightly eerie at times, with Ryan loudly singing one line, like, “…See me”, then whispering the next, “ch-ch—change my name…” Excellent vibe, and another one that had a great vibe was what Ryan stated was one of his favorite songs, and that was Alice in Chains’s “Rooster”, which they put a nice spin on and it concluded a great little set.

I’m definitely going to have to see one of their electric rock shows sometime, preferably soon, because they put on a mean acoustic gig, and I can only imagine what they’re like when they’re not confined to some stools.

They’ve been around for many years now, and in that time have made a name for themselves, even doing some national touring, but their music now, at least the two new songs they made available to listen to, are a step above their previous stuff. There’s just a certain quality to them, which in part probably comes from Ryan and his voice, or maybe I’m just a little biased from being a fan of his previous project. Either way, they’re a killer group, and one you should see whenever they do a show.

The Orange was scheduled to be playing in the Lounge after that, and they were already one and a half songs in to their set, as I walked in during the middle of what I believe was “Dead Nation”, the song that drummer Cody Waits sings, or at least one of them. He wasn’t acting as the drummer this night, though, instead he was playing an acoustic guitar, while front man Scott Tucker wielded another acoustic. Afterwards, Scott announced their last song was going to be “Blow Up”, which was still pretty fiery, with Chicago Dan adding some sounds from his harmonica, while Buddy neighbors stole the show with his sensational riffs on his electric axe. I never imagined that song could be so good acoustically, but it can and does, and they didn’t go without any percussion, either, as Melissa Tucker shook a tambourine during the tracks.

Like many of the other acts I saw, The Orange sounded much better acoustic than I thought they would, even if I only did see half of their show.

Check out their first EP in iTUNES and later this year they will be releasing their first ever full-length record, so stay tuned for that.

They were the last act I saw this night. Well, at least here at the Curtain. There was another show going on down here that I wanted to see, too. So, since I caught most of the bands I wanted to see here at the Curtain Club and Liquid Lounge, I left to go to the other venue, and experience some full sets by some more great bands…

Friday, June 7th, 2013 – Deep Friday’s with Descender

Another Deep Friday was upon Deep Ellum, where five (and sometimes more) venues come together to allow you in to each one for the low price of $10 ($5 if you get your tickets in advance). It makes it very easy to barhop and see several different bands, and while there were some bands playing at The Boiler Room and Reno’s Chop Shop that I wanted to see, it was the Curtain Club and Liquid Lounge where I spent all my time at.

The first act of the night was Animal Spirit, who got going early, and by the time I got there, I had missed a portion of the set, but caught probably the last twenty minutes or so.

Still, it was a great twenty or so minutes, and much better than the last time I had seen them, just a few weeks before. Granted, that improvement was in the sound guy, but when you have a sound guy who’s doing his job as best as possible it makes a difference, and because of that the band seemed much tighter this night.

Some of the tunes I caught included their most recent single, “House on a Hill”, which bassist Joe Prankster pointed out everyone could download for free on their Bandcamp page, and that was definitely one of their most rocking songs of the show. Other highlights of mine included their intriguing, more experimental track, which is almost all percussion, with Andrew Stroheker trading in his guitar for a drum, and he and drummer Parker Anderson keep synch with one another, while front woman Sam Wuehermann strikes an empty wine bottle with a drumstick. It’s very unusual, in a good way, and is my favorite song of theirs, with a close second being their closer, “Planets a Lie”, which is one of many that both Sam and Andrew sing on.

They’re a great band, and grow on me more and more with each time I see them. Definitely one of the most original bands here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and one that should be on your radar.

You can get that free download on their BANDCAMP PAGE, with their debut record due out in the near future. Also, keep a check on their TOUR DATES page to see when they’ll be playing next.

After they finished, I wondered over to the Liquid Lounge side of the venue to see what was going on there, walking in on an interesting trio called Mora Collective.

The band was made up of Zach Puchkors on a saxophone, drummer Eric Yacula and bass player Christopher Isaacs, who combined their talents to make some very interesting instrumental music. I thought it was very jazz sounding personal, though they had some other stuff that was more rock, or even a fusion of the two at times.

It really was quite good, though far from fitting my personal music tastes. After the first song I heard I considered leaving, but they did manage to hold my interest, at least enough I stuck around until their final song. There was a good mix of humor thrown in, too, and at one point in between songs Eric mentioned they would have a record coming out soon, mentioning it was, of course, going to be a self-release. He then added, “That’s funny because…”, speaking of the last show they did, where he said he told the crowd there it was being released on a big name label and they would be doing a world tour in support of it.

They weren’t bad, and that’s coming from the guy who 99.9% of the time dislikes instrumental music. So, if you’re into the kind of stuff, check ‘em out, especially if you like some jazzy sounds.

You can get some free downloads of some live cuts on their REVERBNATION PAGE, and while there you can also find their show calendar, which is empty at the moment.

I headed back to the Curtain after that to, oddly enough, see another instrumental band, and this was one I knew I’d like.

Son of Swan was getting ready to take the stage there, and they are undeniable one of, if not the best instrumental act in town, led by the amazing guitarist Neil Swanson.

They got off to a strong start with “S.O.S.”, which has an explosive rhythm section, created by bassist Steve Wilson and drummer Billy Walker, while Neil Swanson was often seen effortlessly shredding on his guitar, with enough tact to not appear like he was showing off, but making it apparent that he’s essentially in a league all his own. They followed it right up with another song from their recently released self-titled EP, before taking a brief break where Neil said the next song was about the hot summer days in Texas. “…It’s called Dog Days.” He finished, setting up the lead track from the EP, which has a sort of classic rock vibe to it.

I’ll admit, I remember song titles based on the lyrics, and since their stuff doesn’t have words I’m still trying to learn the titles, but they kept going with some more songs from the EP, like “30K Curse” and “Children Of The Night”, mixing in some covers from time to time. Before one of those covers Neil again addressed the audience, all of whom were devoting their full attention to the band, saying, “…If you don’t know it, well, maybe you should.” Then before the other he mentioned that the best thing about the radio was that you can sometimes hear songs you had basically forgotten about, and when you hear it, it brings back some good memories, and he hoped that was everyone experienced with it. They even busted out a new song at one point, which was quite possibly their best song of the night, and somehow they’ve managed to go a step above their previous material.

In all they were on stage for about 35-minutes or so, and the best part came at the end, when Neil gave a little speech, which I can’t remember word for word, but he basically told everyone to find what they love to do, whatever that may be, and just stick with and do what makes you happy. Sound advice and an excellent note to start to end on, while I want to say it was “All Good Things…” that closed out their show (though I could be wrong on that).

If you haven’t seen this band yet you need to. I’ll say it again, I’m not one for instrumental music, but from the first time I saw Son of Swan, which was on this very stage last November, I was mesmerized, and I’ve continued to be amazed each time I see them. Neils’ musicianship is impeccable, and his guitar playing will amaze you more than most singers voices will. That’s why they don’t need lyrics to their music, and they’re the only band I’m aware of that I’ll say truly benefits from not having any singing, and instead they let the music speak to the people.

They also put on quite the show, and between the performance that Billy, Steve and Neil put on, you won’t leave disappointed.

You can purchase their EP in iTUNES, and for $6.93, it’s a steal.

Afterwards, I again headed over to the Liquid Lounge to see what was going on there, and on stage was a younger Dallas group known as Falling for Venus.

I believe I saw the majority of their set, which was good. The five- piece outfit was packed pretty tightly on the small stage, leaving little room to move around, but they made the best of it and it didn’t seem like it was a big deal to them in the first place.

Several of their songs had a slower, softer vibe to them, which was contributed by the acoustic guitar that vocalist Heidi Burciaga played. In turn, that gave their songs a pretty distinct sound, especially with the keyboard, electric guitar, bass and drums thrown in. There was one point they, or rather guitarist Jonathan Riojas, had some technical issues, right before doing a song that I believe was called “Dance Alone”, which forced them to postpone it for later in the set, but aside from that, their show flowed pretty smoothly.

Personally, their stuff never clicked with me, in some ways seeming monotonous after a point, but that’s me, and the guys and girl of Falling for Venus have found a sound that works incredibly well for what they do. If you want to hear it for yourself, head over to their REVERBNATION PAGE to listen to a few songs.

Once they finished it was back to the Curtain to see what the band Cosmic Trigger was all about, and I’ll admit I was curious about them, after having seen the name popping up all over the place over the last several months.

I don’t know what I was expecting them to be like, but it wasn’t the heavy metal sounds I walked into, nor did I expect to like it as much as I did.

The first full song I heard was “A Welcomed Rapture” from their “New Order of the Cosmos” EP. It, like all of their music, was a heavy, aggressive display of raw metal and rock vibes. It was impossible not to be reeled in by it, and they continued things with another track, and once it was done they followed it up with a killer instrumental song, where singer and rhythm guitarist Tyrel Choat, drummer, Josh Farmer, bass player Dustin Choat and lead guitarist Matthew Treadway really got to throw down. Well, that might not be the best way to phrase it, because that would imply that they weren’t all giving it their all while they were on stage, and they so obviously were.

They fit a couple more songs into their set before ending with “Slave” where Tyrel often shouted, “…Nobody wants to be a slave…”, a very simple line, but he gave it a lot of depth, while the rest of the band thrashed about.

There’s no denying that in terms of energy, these guys were the best of the night, at least at the two venues I split my time between. Their live show was phenomenal, and there was a reason they had the biggest crowd of the night, which was something they were certainly deserving of.

Now, typically I don’t care for metal music, but my main qualm with so much of it these days is the constant incoherent screaming so many of the singers do, something that Cosmic Trigger did not do, just keeping it raw, powerful and loud. By the time they were done, I was asking myself, “Why haven’t I seen these guys before now?” I don’t have an answer to that, but I know I’ll be seeing them again.

They do have a record, and you can purchase it in iTUNES, or of course at their live shows, of which they have a few lined up. One will be in Dallas at the Boiler Room on July 20th, while the other will be in their hometown of Fort Worth at Lola’s on August 13.

The next to last band of the night was Hawk vs. Dove, whom I still can’t get into, though I will say I enjoyed some of their material more this time around than the previous times I’ve caught them. It mainly has to do with their music, which has a definite sludge sound to it, and is just something I can’t get into.

However, if that is what you like, check out their record in iTUNES.

It was getting late, about a quarter to one in the morning, and the Curtain was pretty empty while Descender got ready to close the night out, but that emptiness didn’t last long…

They came out swinging, beginning their 50-minute set with what I feel is their best song, “Armor”, and I believe it had been some time since I last heard them open a show with that one. I liked that, though, because this song that so perfectly (and sadly) captures the dissension of a relationship is a mighty opener, and you could tell it was catching people’s attention. Next, they unleashed several of their newer songs on the audience, doing “The Language” and “Spinning on the Surface”. Before that last mentioned song, singer and rhythm guitarist Casey Hess told everyone what it was about, which was basically enjoying the summer, and then added some ways to enjoy it. “…Get in a pool, eat some pizza and just fuck…” he said, which got some laughs from the crowd.

“Silver Lightning” came next, another new one that is growing on me each time I hear it, and afterwards the group busted out an old classic. “This song’s about mercy.” Casey said, before drummer Duncan Black led them into “What Was Missing”, with Jeff Gruber and Zack Busby, on lead guitar and bass, respectively, joining in as soon as he laid into his kit. It may not have been that long, but it felt like forever since I had heard them do that one live, making it nice to hear it performed once more. They then brought things down a few notches, as Casey ditched his pick, plucking at the strings of his guitar with his fingers for the first half of the haunting “Dark Water”. Zack was the only one who didn’t have a part to play for that first bit, though he stood at the ready, his hands right at the spots they should be on his bass, patiently waiting for the song to take off so he could bring the rhythm section to life.

Afterwards, the usually silent (aside from backing vocals) Jeff had a few words for everyone, telling the crowd they did have CD’s available, noting they were free and instead urging everyone to go buy merch from any of the other bands. He went on to say the next song came from their current EP, “…And it goes something like this…” he said. It appeared that Duncan took in a deep breath as they ripped into the heavy hitter known as “Hats Off To Your Reflection”. To balance that heaviness out, they did my favorite song from their new batch of music, “Slow and Gold”, which gets off to a slow, yet amazing start. Before the second verse of that song, Casey gave everyone a small taste of his signature back-bend, though it was a quick one, and no sooner had he almost laid down on the floor then he raised back up.

“I Will Help You Find the Darkness” is another great new one they’ve worked up, and one that Casey began, with each member joining in just a few seconds after the last making for a dynamic intro, and despite the song title, the mood of the track isn’t very dark, and instead is just real Rock ‘n’ Roll. At this point, the band praised the sound guy Chad Lovell, but not just for the excellent job he does running the sound board. “…I grew up listening to the sound guys band…” said Casey, asking if anyone remembered Course of Empire. “You know, that band that had two drummers…” he added. That then brought them to their final song of the night, and one of the longest, “Army Of Elephants”, during which Casey did another back-bend, this time holding it for several seconds while shredded on his axe.

It was as great a show as they always put on, and just some good, heavy rock music from a band that has an overwhelming stage presence, and they were every bit as polarizing as Cosmic Trigger was, albeit in a different way. By the way, when thanking all the other bands on the bill, that was one Casey sang the praises of, obviously being impressed by their show.

Descender has a big show coming up on July 27th at Three Links in Dallas, where they will release their split record with the band Here Holy Spain, so make sure you’re at that one and add that record (which will be on vinyl) to your collection. As for their first two EP’s, you can find them in iTUNES.

It was another excellent Deep Friday, and mark your calendars for July 5th, when the clubs will host the next installment of what I guess could be called a concert series.

Saturday, January 19th, 2013 – The Bedlam Brothers

At this point it had been just barely over two weeks since the last concert I saw, and I was in desperate need of a fix.

There were a couple shows going on, and I opted for the one at my favorite Deep Ellum haunt, the Curtain Club.

Gorilla Productions was putting on a show here, which had spanned most of the day, beginning at five that afternoon, but of course most of the better acts had been saved for later in the night, such as The Bedlam Brothers, which was the band I was most interested in.

When I first arrived, there was a rapper on stage, and poor one at that. Granted, I’m not at all a fan of that genre, but I can at least be objective and admit when someone has talent, regardless of my personal opinions. But I found this guy to be just plain bad.

A trio called The Ones You Loved took the stage next, consisting of husband and wife duo, Tyler and Camille De Larm, plus one. Tyler was the guitarist and lead singer, while Camille played the keys and offered some backing vocals, and rounding out the lineup was a bassist.

They did look a little out of place in this venue that primarily hosts rock bands, but hey, you should never judge a book by its cover. But of course it’s okay to judge it by its contents, and in this case, the “contents” were less than stellar.

Tyler has no real vocal talent, and about all he could muster was a whiney singing voice that was far from appealing to me. I wasn’t too crazy about the music either, which was dominated by the keys/synthesizers, and I guess could be called electro-pop. Luckily their set was short, only about five or six songs, and despite some of their fans asking for more, time did not permit for it.

I have to give them credit, though, because despite my opinions about them, they did put on as energetic a show as they knew how. I believe it was before their second tune that Tyler encouraged everyone to dance to, “…But no one will be dancing more than men.” He stated. Camille did her part, too, and was often jumping up and down while banging on the keys.

I return to what I first said about them seeming out of place, and there were some times during their set that to me seemed a bit awkward, and oddly enough, that ended up being a rather endearing quality for The Ones You Loved.

Okay, I didn’t like them all that much, but maybe you will. They have a couple of records available in iTunes, if you’d like to give them a listen.

Up next was the Austin trio, The Bedlam Brothers, who were the main reason I was out this night.

The intro that began their set helped give the impression that they were the most professional band of the night. The sample track was rather beautiful, and soon after it started, Ben Buono, who was the groups fill-in drummer for the night, made his way on stage and got behind the kit, where he proceeded to pound out some beats. Eventually, Craig McLaughlin rounded out the rhythm section, adding some nice bass riffs to the mix, but things really sprang to life when singer and guitarist, Nick Santa Maria, started playing some notes and ran out on stage. They launched into a 42-minute long set, starting with a couple newer songs of theirs (Note: I don’t know how “new” they actually are, but they are that are yet to be released.) During the second song, Nick was rocking out so much that he knocked the cord of his guitar, as it suddenly fell silent. He didn’t seem to worried by it, though, and just shrugged before picking it up and plugging it back in, then got right back to business. In between songs, they were often conversion with the crowd, which was pretty decent sized, and at this point formally announced who they were and where they hailed from. “…But we call Dallas home…” Nick said, stating that they all come from the area, and have a lot of friends and family up here, who were obviously out to support them. The next song, “Not Enough”, might have made Ben feel a little nostalgic, as it was one he and Nick had done in their previous band, Skylines, but has been tweaked since, and now mines the Southern Rock genre. One thing was for sure, though, Ben appeared more happy on that one than any other this night, which is saying a lot, because he was always sporting a smile. They tackled a newer song next, which Nick mentioned they had debuted at their last Dallas gig, before asking the audience if they’d help out. The song was titled “Mary Rose”, and he belted out the name of this fictitious girl a few times before they began the song, coaching the crowd on what to say after that. It was simple, but only a few people joined in shouting out, “Mary was a tortured soul!” It’s one of the tracks that will be on their forthcoming album, and I have to say, I was blown away by it. It’s on a whole new level than some of their other stuff, and is really amazing. Afterwards, they plugged their little merch table, which had quite a few free download cards as well as some wristbands that had both the band’s name and album title on them. “…It’s over yonder…” said Craig, when pointing fans in the general direction. That got Nick’s attention. “…I’ve known you for almost ten years, and I’ve never heard you say the word, “yonder.” He said, looking a bit baffled. That made for a humorous little interlude, before they tore back into another song, which I believe was called “First Time”. Also, and I don’t remember exactly, but I think it was also around this point where they did their catchy song, “240 Miles”. Anyway, after one of those songs, Nick started having some slight technical difficulties, then asked for a light on the stage. “…I feel like a jackass…” he said, saying he had misplaced his capo and had to look for it. “…I always lose my stuff. It’s something my mom’s been trying to fix for almost twenty-four years…” he said, laughing, and added he didn’t think it would ever change. He needed that capo for another new one, which was also the one they were offering a free download of. It was “We Ride Tonight”, and also required some participation from the fans. It’s a stellar song, with some killer guitar riffs, and ended up being the highlight of their set. They had a couple left at this point, and after one, “Save Me”, Nick mentioned that he and Craig had first played the Curtain when they were about fifteen. “…We thought we were good…” he said. Then noted that more of their friends seemed to stick around for them once they were of age to drink, proving drinks really do make bands sound better… At least maybe to some people. That led them to the final song of the night, which Nick pointed out was the first song he and Craig started working on when The Bedlam Brothers were first conceived. It was a classic from Nick’s song catalog, and one that I don’t think reached its full potential until this band. It was “My 9 to 5”, and is still an excellent way to cap a show off.

I had finally seen The Bedlam Brothers for the first time nearly three months ago, and in that time, they’ve really improved.

I was impressed before, but tonight I was just blown away. They polished things up, and their stage show was much more tight and all around better. Part of that could be attributed to the larger stage of the Curtain Club, verses the more intimate Liquid Lounge, which allowed both Craig and Nick to be more active. Then you have Ben, who was a great addition to the group, even if it was just a onetime thing, and had some chemistry with the others, too. Oh, and those new songs they cranked out are something else, and if they are any indicator, then their “Saddle Up” record is going to be a must listen.

Speaking of that, they’ll be right back here at the Curtain on March 8th to celebrate the release of said album. It’s probably going to be an night not to forget, so don’t miss out on it.

The Unlikely Candidates
were on next. They’ve been around for a little while, 2008 to be exact, and while I’ve often heard the name, I had never seen them or listened to their stuff… And after seeing their set, I’m really regretting that.

Their an Indie Rock/Pop band, whose songs are pretty infectious, and about halfway through their opener I felt myself drawn towards the front of the stage. They kept things pretty short and sweet, bouncing from one song to the next, which vocalist, Kyle, said was “Hate to Love Me”. After another, they did what was arguably the best song of their all too short 28-minute long set, “Follow My Feet”. It’s got the hook, and had a few people dancing along to it while they sang along. To set up their next song, Kyle asked if there was anyone who was a fan of The Strokes, and more than a few people cheered at that. “Oh, well good. The you might find this cover somewhat enjoyable…” he said. He pointed out that not only are they his favorite band, but this was his favorite song of theirs. The track was “Someday”, and they did an absolutely amazing rendition of it. Possible even better than The Strokes themselves. I believe it was after that they did what Kyle said was their most philosophical song. At this point I don’t remember all the different layers he said it covered, as he described it all in pretty deep detail, but I think he began with something like it was about how insignificant one can feel when looking up and seeing all the stars. They had only one more after finishing it, and then that was their show.

I was a little disappointed, not by the band, but because I was enjoying their music so much I wanted them to play much longer.

It was still a great set, though, and I love their sound. Along with the typical guitar, bass and drums, they also had an acoustic guitar player. Now a lot of times, an acoustic can be drowned out by the louder, more dominate instruments, which was what I thought would happen with them. Not the case. Instead, it came through rather well, and added a gorgeous texture to all of their songs.

They have a show coming up in February 2nd at The Door in Dallas, and supposedly you should also be able to see them back at the Curtain on March 8th, for The Bedlam Brothers CD release show.

There was one last band scheduled at the Curtain Club, but I didn’t stick around for them. Instead, I crossed the patio over to the Liquid Lounge, where Denton’s own, The Gypsy Bravado was headlining.

I had actually seen the group once before, a little over two years ago. And while I had wanted to see them since, it just never worked out. And I wondered how good this show would be, because I heard from a friend, photographer, Jessy Huff, that the band had been drinking all day. That meant the show could go either way.

To say they were drunk would be an understatement, and even though I was standing pretty far back, you could tell from their eyes that they were beyond wasted.

Now, I have seen another band where at least one of their members was pretty far gone at one show, and it turned out to be one of the funniest and best shows I’ve seen said group do. But there’s a fine line between being a entertaining drunk and a sloppy one, and I was curious which side The Gypsy Bravado would come down on this night.

They opened with a very soulful song, that found keyboard player and primary singer, Mo Myles, guitarist, Shawn Bratton, and bassist, Jeff Dacus, all singing and harmonizing. It was an extraordinary number, and the way their voices intertwined with each other was dazzling. It also became immediately clear that whatever their state of inebriation, their music wasn’t going to suffer. In fact, I think it had the total opposite effect and made it sound even better. After another newer song of theirs, Mo announced to anyone who didn’t know it, that they had “…Been drinking all day…”. He didn’t hang on the subject long, though, and soon said they were going to play “What I Need”. It was a groovy one (that’s not an outdated term to use, is it?) with a sweet guitar solo/breakdown, which was perfectly balanced with some fiery parts on the keys. They did something a little different with their next song, and welcomed a friend of theirs on stage, who also happened to be a rapper (my apologies, as I don’t recall his name.) He walked up on stage with them. “I have something to tell you all.” He said, though it was barely audible, as the main mic had stopped working. It took them a minute, but they got the cable plugged back into it, and their friend revealed his words of wisdom. “…Always make sure the mic is plugged in.” he said, laughing. I was skeptical at first, because I’m not a big fan of how he was undoubtedly going to sing, or rather rhyme, but it turned out to be fairly good. He was talented in his chosen craft, as he busted out the lines of “California Zone”, and towards the end he even seemed to be free styling it, and doing a great job of it at that. He left them once it was finished, allowing the group to return to their Rock ‘n’ Roll jams, which included what seemed like the longest song of their set, “Mountain Tops”. It had a couple different layers to it, starting a bit slower, before working its way into a powerful song. And while it did seem pretty long, it didn’t drag. Possibly the funniest thing of their set was the fact that you could often hear them asking one another what song they wanted to do next. I mean, that happened at least every other song, and they’d quickly discuss. So next up, they opted for a new one. “It was written back in 1979” said one of the guys, possibly Jeff. They had been going for awhile at this point, and they stopped to ask the sound guy how much time they had left. His response, “One long one or two short ones.” Jeff was ready to do a couple more, but then drummer, Lou Anderson, spoke up. “Fuck it! Let’s do a long one!”here was no argument or anything, instead they just went with it and did a song from their “Through the Rabbit Hole” EP, “Dillinger (Rebel Son)”. It was another great example of how epic their music is, beginning with somewhat of a dreamy quality to it, before the drumbeats helped it explode into something you could really rock out to, and was rounded out with both a bass and guitar solo. That might not sound like it was a very long set, but in all it totaled 45-minutes.

I really don’t remember much from the other time I saw these guys, other than thinking they were alright. They were from alright this night, though… In a good way.

Granted, I don’t know what is par for these guys, but they seemed to be in rare form this night. And not only is the stage show pretty entertaining, but they also allow the music to speak for itself, and it will not doubt reel you in.

Check ‘em out, because regardless of your preference in music, chances are The Gypsy Bravado has at least one song that will appeal to you. And speaking of that, hopefully they’ll get some of those record in the near future.

In the meantime, you can get their EP in ITUNES, and even get a couple of FREE downloads from their REVERBNATION PAGE. They also have a show lined up for February 1st at Hailey’s up in Denton.

This was a pretty good night. I saw one band I like and became even more of a fan of theirs, and then got pulled in by a couple of others who I knew nothing or very little about beforehand. That’s a win in my opinion… At least it was until my car broke down on the drive home. But that’s another story.

Friday, October 26th, 2012 – Part II: The Bedlam Brothers

In between the acoustic show that was going on at another venue, I headed over to The Liquid Lounge where The Bedlam Brothers were set to take the stage. Actually, I timed it just right, and got there right before the band took the stage.

I had been wanting to see the band for a while, which I guess has been since they first started. After the band Skylines met their demise a little over a year ago, the bands singer and guitarist, Nick Santa Maria, eventually moved down to Austin, where he soon started The Bedlam Brothers. The band has played Dallas a few times before, and now it finally worked out where I could make it to one.

The trio got up on stage and began their 39-minute long set with a killer song that was a prime example of their awesome Southern Rock sound. It was a powerful tune that reeled you in and got the adrenaline flowing, making it a good one to open with, and the performance fit well with it, as Nick started rocking out, getting pretty into the song. There was even a guitar solo where he wailed on his guitar, creating a moment that was straight up Rock “N” Roll. After another song, they pulled out one that I was pleasantly surprised to hear. Evidently, some of the songs from Nick’s previous band have been brought over to The Bedlam Brothers, and the song they did now was “Not Enough”. It sounded like it had been tweaked a bit, though, in the sense that it had a tighter, more aggressive sound. They followed it with the slightly slower, “240 Miles”, which has a slight bluesy quality to it. It was after that song that Nick made an announcement that the week before they had signed a deal with, I believe it was a management company, which meant they will soon go back into the studio to record their second record. Exciting stuff, and even though they were only about halfway into their show, it was already clear they are deserving of that. “…This next song is called “A Woman the Devil Sent”, he then said, and led them into the tune. There was another pause after that one, where they thanked the two girls who let them rehearse in their garage in Austin, and then told a story about one of the rehearsals getting ready for this gig. He said they were practicing with the garage door up, not thinking a whole lot about it, because it wasn’t too late. He added that some of the neighbors apparently didn’t appreciate it too much, and called the cops on them. “…So where playing, when we see a cop car drive past the house. He didn’t do anything, though, and Nick said as soon as they saw him they stopped and shut the garage door. It was a funny little anecdote and that near constant communication they had with the audience in between songs really helped build a rapport with the crowd. They then got back to it with “Sunrise Blues”, and after it Nick looked at his band mates, Craig McLaughlin and Gio Suarez, the bassist and drummer, respectively. “Are we doing it?” he asked them, as they nodded yes. He then explained to the crowd they had decided to do a song that fit with Halloween, and also noted it was a bit nerve-racking, “…’Cause it is from the best selling record of all-time. That pretty much gave it away, and yes, it was a very unexpected rendition of Michael Jackson’s, “Thriller”. It was an exceptional cover, and even though I’ve never been a Michael Jackson fan, they made me into a fan of “Thriller”… Or at least their version of it. After another song, “The First Time”, the bands time was almost up, and they ended with another song that used to be a Skylines staple, “My 9 to 5”. It’s great to know that Nick has kept this one alive, ‘cause it was always my favorite, and it has been enhanced over the other version. It now has a sound that fits their Southern Rock sound, and has been polished and tightened in other aspects, too, making it an even stronger closer than it used to be. It was also during that song, near the start of it, that one of Gio’s drum sticks broke, and fell to the floor. He didn’t grab a new one right away, though. Instead, he picked up part of the broken stick, which probably wasn’t even half of it, and proceeded to play the drums with that portion. Now that is Rock ‘N’ Roll.

As much as I liked Nick’s previous band, after this one show, I have to say, I like The Bedlam Brothers even more. Nick just seemed a little more at home playing these songs, and Gio and Craig are great fits to round out the band. It was a very solid performance, and one I am looking very forward to seeing again.

Check out either their FACEBOOK PAGE or REVERBNATION PAGE to keep up to date with everything, and you can catch them back in Dallas on November 24th at The Prophet Bar.

I stuck around for a little bit after they finished, but after the next band butchered a Hayes Carll song, “Stop and Holler”, I decide to head back over to the other venue to hear some more acoustic music.

Friday, October 5th, 2012 – An Innocent Night

There was a festival going on in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas this weekend, and the first day of it was this particular Friday night.

Now, I can’t fully criticize something that brought hundreds of people down to this area that otherwise wouldn’t have been down here, simply because it helps out the area. But I can criticize the fact that it made parking absolutely horrendous!

This festival not only took up one of the venues, but also the large parking lot behind said venue, where two additional stages were set up. So, parking there wasn’t an option, and as I cruised by my other typical lots, they were all filled up. Even the lots I usually don’t use were full, and all the parking meters were taken. I finally did come across a lot that still had one space available, and the attendant proceeded to charge me fifteen dollars to park there. So, not only did this festival make parking scarce, it also resulted in some price gouging (ten dollars is usually the most you pay to park in the area, and even that’s high.)

But I am not a hipster, so I wasn’t going to partake in any of the Indie bands that were performing at that. Instead, I was headed to The Liquid Lounge, which was hosting a very eclectic night of music with a couple acts I am a fan of, and a couple more whom I knew little about.

One of those bands I knew little about was the first act, the four-piece group, Everywhere. Supposedly, this was the bands first ever official show. The group was comprised of Shannon Barrett, who was the lead singer, Michael Maney, Shannon Barrett and Lance Lindsey, all of whom played keys of some sorts, and even added some backing vocals on most of the songs.

With that many keyboards, their music of course had an electronic sound to it, as well as having a big MIDI sound. And I preface this by saying that is not usually a genre I care too much for. However, the first song they did sounded quite good, and Shannon has a pretty killer voice to boot. Before their second one, Shannon stated that they started this band four years, saying he and his band mates played other instruments, like guitars, and then one day decided to learn to play instruments they had never touched before. Apparently that was about two years ago, and he joked that it took them until now to fully learn how to play these “new” instruments.

They played a lengthy set, and even when they finished they were told they had time for one more, which they took advantage of and indeed did one more song.
By the end of it, I had begun to grow tired of the music, but that simply was because this isn’t the main style of music I listen to. But until those last three, or maybe four songs, I was enjoying it quite a bit, and I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing them again.

They don’t have any future shows scheduled at the moment, but they do have a three song EP available on their BANDCAMP PAGE for three dollars.

Second up was singer, Arielle O’Keefe, whose setup for this show was a little different from the previous ones I had seen. Before, she has used a keyboard/piano on some songs, but all she had in tow for this show was her trusty loop station, which she sat in her lap. In some ways that made the show even better, because watching and listening to her build the various parts for the songs is something to marvel at.

She opened her set with a new song, called “OCD”, which I don’t believe I had heard before, though I found it to be one of the best songs of her set. That was followed by an older song, which I believe was “Anything but Love”, and then a cover. She said it was an older song, and while don’t remember the exact title, it was something like, “Old Gold Ring”. It was a very good tune, and lyrically it seemed to fit rather well with her originals, almost like she could have written it, and I’m sure she definitely put her own unique twist on it. Afterwards, she proceeded to set up her next song, saying she had written it “a long time ago”. “…I think I was nineteen…” she noted, pausing briefly to think and confirm that. “…Yeah… And I’m twenty-one now…” she finished. I wasn’t the only one who found that funny, as I saw a few other people chuckling at that, because the way she had made it sound, it was like she had written it almost a decade before. She went on to say there are about four or five different versions of the song out there, “…But this is the loop station version”, she added, and out of the versions of “Monster” that I’ve heard, this one is my favorite. Of course she had to build a track for it first, but once she did that, the song got underway. The lyrics to it are just outstanding, and something you wouldn’t think a (at the time) nineteen year old would write. For example, the chorus, “…My heart’s a muscle and I, I give it exercise. I make it stronger so that I can take it when it breaks…”. Upon finishing it, she stated she had two songs left, both of which were covers. She went through the programmed tracks on her loop station, accidently starting one, then saying “That definitely isn’t it.” Once she found the right one, and it got going, she began to bust out a rap, specifically JAY-Z’s, “I Just Want to Love You (Give it to Me)”. I’ve seen her do this one once before, and it truly is hysterical to see her, of all people, doing a rap song, especially since she does it with such a high-level of seriousness. There was one moment she kind of broke out laughing, but quickly pulled it together, only to let it out after she abruptly stopped it, saying, “That’s all I know.” She announced her final song was a cover of “Rejazz” by Regina Spektor, and she was going to do this song a little differently. That difference was she was going to perform it a cappella. Let’s be honest, not many singers can pull of a song in that format, and I was a bit skeptical at first, but she proved to be an exception. “Thought I’d cry for you forever, but I couldn’t, so I didn’t…” she started, and personally, I found myself completely mesmerized from that point. There’s no doubt that she has an incredible voice, but with it being laid out completely bare like this, you got to see (or rather hear) just what she is capable of. And judging from this, there is no limit to what she is capable of. For this show, I found that song to be the best of her set. I also liked how she ended it, which was after the last line, “…Thought I’d cry for you forever, but I couldn’t, so I didn’t”, she added a little laugh, which captured and conveyed quite a bit of emotion.

It was on the short side, but it was still an impressive show she put on, and part of me likes the fact that she only used the loop station, because it does allow her voice to shine through the most.

You really need to see her in these small Dallas area venues while you have the chance, and as of right now her next two shows will be at Opening Bell Coffee Shop in Dallas. One will be on October 19th, the other December 15th. Also, you can head out to the Lakewood Theater in Dallas on November 1st for the premier of her music video for her new song, “Creature of Habit” (a song that has surprisingly been absent from the past couple of shows of hers I’ve seen.) Oh, and be sure to check out/purchase her music on her BANDCAMP PAGE.

Up next was a rock band, and the band I was most looking forward to seeing this night, Always the Alibi. They are a newer band, who doesn’t have too many shows under their belt, hence why I haven’t seen them before (well, that and when they have played I’ve been out at other shows). But after seeing this one, I’m really gonna have to try to make some more of their shows.

Their 40 minute set began with their original song, “Beautiful Girl”. As the title suggests, it’s a love song, however, it is not as mundane as most them are, and also has a nice little guitar solo towards the end, from Kelly Panter. The guitars and bass started to go silent, but drummer, Richard Muenckler, kept things going, winding that song into their next, “Dream”. It was another heavy hitter, and both of those served as a great way to kick off the show. In fact, I had only just started to listen to their music again a few days before the show, and had forgot how incredible their songs were, and just with those first two I was finding it to be just as good live, and perhaps even more engrossing than their record. After that one, they stopped for a minute, as singer and rhythm guitarist, Henry Coke, told everyone who they were, and chatted with the crowd briefly. They then got back to business with “She’s Letting Go”, which was followed up by a newer one of the bands, “Ain’t Another Girl”. Next, they went into cover mode, doing “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer. In all honesty, I haven’t listened to much Weezer (and by not much, I mean practically nothing), and while this may sound like sacrilege, I liked Always the Alibi’s version more than Weezer’s. Frankly, I’ve never been too keen on Rivers Cuomo’s voice, however, I really like Henry’s, which would probably be the main reason I found their rendition more appealing. They had a Muse song in store next, and Evan Scates kicked it off with a short bass intro/solo. The song was “Time is Running Out”, which sounded killer, and I thought they did it justice. They returned to their stuff after that, doing a catchy number, and one of my personal favorites, “Wave on the Sand”. “Edge of the World”, which was another new one, came next, and if memory serves me correctly, Kelly started this one with some mesmerizing guitar chords. Out of those two new ones this night, it was my favorite, and I thought it was even one of the most standout songs of their show. That brought them to the final song of their set, the powerful, anthem like, “We Are Waiting”, which not only seemed like an appropriate song to end on, but also left me wanting to hear more from the band.

I can’t say I went into this with any expectations (that’s not to say I thought they would be bad), but by the end of it all I was blown away. The stage show was good, considering the size of the stage at the Liquid Lounge, and there is almost no room to move around if you have four or more members in your band. While the music is sensational, and is some very radio friendly Indie Rock. Personally, I wouldn’t compare them to any one particular band, as I think they do have some slight distinctions that makes the music all their own, but if you listen to mainstream radio there is a very good chance that Always the Alibi’s music will appeal to you.

I also want to note (and thanks to Kelly for telling me this before the show) that Henry is left-handed, though uses a guitar that is made for right-handed people. That might not seem too out of the ordinary, but consider this, he doesn’t restring it or anything, so all the strings are opposite of how they would traditionally be. Pretty remarkable, and it made watching him play the guitar quite interesting.

They’re a very awesome band, and I’d highly recommend checking them out. You can find a FREE download of one of their songs on their REVERBNATION PAGE, as well as listen to their other material. They should also be doing a CD release show in the near future (close to the end of the year), so if you’d be interested in attending, stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE to see their updates, Trust me, you’ll want to see that one.

Finally for this night, was Velvet Guard, who was celebrating the release of their debut EP.

I had listened to the band online before, but knew little about them. In fact, until they got on stage, I had no idea that they were a duo, of Jon Martin and David Trust, the former being the drummer, while the latter sings and plays guitar. I really didn’t even remember too much about what their music sounded like, leaving me clueless as to what I was in for.

I’ll admit, the first handful of songs left me unsure, and while I didn’t dislike their music, I wasn’t smitten with it, either. It was mainly due to David, has a very unique voice, and in my opinion, one you need to warm up to. He has a certain twang when he sings, and also his voice is in more of the bass range, giving it a booming quality that will command your attention, regardless of if your even a fan or not. Then, the further they got into it, I began to enjoy it more and more. To be a duo, they had a pretty full sound, and when he was able, David used all of the empty room on the stage, and even at a couple points during their set jumped off into the crowd, and played amongst the fans for a few seconds. And the music is rather interesting, in a good way, of course.

They finished up their planned set, and thanked everyone for coming out to the show, but then their fans, of whom there were a decent amount, started shouting for more. The band checked with the sound guy to see if they even had time, and they did, leading them to do an impromptu encore. But that still wasn’t for their fans, though it had, as they had no more time, and David again thanked everyone who made it out, as well as the three bands who opened the show for them.
I wouldn’t say they made me into a true fan. That’s to say, I didn’t feel compelled to buy their EP, nor do I think would go to a venue specifically to see them, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t mind seeing them again. I might not have been crazy about them, but they’re still a rockin’ duo.

You can listen to their EP on their REVERBNATION PAGE, as well as download a couple demo versions of some of the songs for free. And if you would like to purchase their EP, well, you’re gonna have go to a show, so keep a look out on their FACEBOOK PAGE to see when they’ll have another one.

This really was a great, eclectic night of music, and while I’m used to show bills that “make sense” with all the acts being very similar in sound, I really enjoyed this, though. It was a smorgasbord of sound, and lineups like this, where you get to sample several different genres, don’t happen often enough… I say we need more of that.

Friday, June 1st, 2012 – Arielle O’Keefe

It was an interesting night of bands here at The Liquid Lounge and Curtain Club this night. Why? Because Robert Miguel was doing his monthly First Friday show at the Curtain, and decided to do the whole night with only female fronted acts. The theme had bled over to the smaller Liquid Lounge, and featured a couple acts I really like.

Opening the show was the solo singer/songwriter, Arielle O’Keefe, who was the main reason I came out to the show. I only first heard of her a few months ago when I was at a show here at the Liquid Lounge, and the set up was different from what it was at that one, where she had a bass player to accompany her on the keys. They keyboard was still there, but tonight her loop station was also in play, and actually ended up being the most used instrument (or perhaps tool is a better word for it) of her 39 minute long set. She started by saying how proud she was to be on this bill of all female acts, then stated that she was going to go ahead and get her newer songs out of the way first, citing that she was nervous about doing them. She opened with “Creature of Habit”, first using the loop station to build the track by repeatedly clapping her hands, then doing a little beatboxing to give it a percussion element. The song sounded incredible, and once she finished, the fairly large crowd burst into thunderous applause, as well they should have. Next was a song titled “A Hundred”, which she set up by saying was about all the thoughts in your head after something has happened, like, “…I should have done this or should have said that…” It, too, was a great song, but as far as the new material went, it was “Amy”, which I believe she played the keyboard on, that was the most sensational. It just seemed like that one best exemplified her strong, forceful and soulful voice. She dedicated the next song to “all the ladies”, as she went back over to the loop station and quickly recorded a track for “Anything but Love”. She stayed at the loop station for a bit of the next song, a cover, which I didn’t know, but then left the track running as she moved over to the keyboard. Towards the end she reached over to turn it off, “The song’s not done when I turn this off.” she informed everyone, before belting out the final few lines. She then polled the audience to see what they wanted to hear, with the overwhelming consensus being “Monster”. “You want me to play Monster, already?” she asked, getting a resounding yes. “Okay, I’m a people pleaser.” It was different from the album version, as she didn’t use the keys, though there was something about this new rendition that made me like it even more. “I just did a video for this one, so I’m going to play it.” she told everyone, speaking of “Icarus”, with the video being a neat little lyric video, while the official video should be out in the near future. After it, she had time enough for one last song, saying this one was “…Very near and dear…” to her heart. It was another song I was unfamiliar with, but this one was more a rap, which she managed to pull off quite well. She really could bust a rhyme, yet there was something funny about seeing, of all people, a white girl, doing this, which gave the song a fun, lighthearted feel to it.

It’s not like I’ve seen many of Arielle’s shows to compare this one to, but still, this was easily the best of the two I’ve caught, and it might be hard to top this one for awhile. Her voice is remarkable, and tonight sounded nothing short of being gorgeous. And on that note, you can listen to the recordings of her songs all you want, but live you just get a little extra something that the recordings don’t capture. Perhaps it’s the emotion she puts into it all. In addition, I like the dynamic that the loop station added to it all, letting her achieve a more in-depth sound, while still keeping it intimate.

I guess to sum it up, I was blown away, which is something you don’t often expect from the first act of the night. Stay tuned to her OFFICIAL WEBSITE to keep up to date with her future shows, and buy her EP, “The Music Box”, from her BANDCAMP PAGE, as well as a demo of “Anything but Love”. You can also get a free download of “Icarus” from her REVERBNATION PAGE. Also, you will be able to see Arielle on a new reality on the E! network called Opening Act. The show will premier on July 9th.

To Coda was up next, and got set up surprisingly quickly as bands go, even helping Arielle get her stuff off stage. And as soon as they did have everything in working order, they went right into their set, I believe opening with “Be Okay”. Vocalist, Heather Darwin, announced that the next song was “Purple Haze” by none other than Jimi Hendrix, as lead guitarist, Justin Rushing, began the iconic song. This may sound like sacrilege, but I’ve never listened to much, or really any, Hendrix, so I can’t really say how their rendition stacks up against the original, but their rendition is pretty killer, and the unique sound Heather has to her voice puts a nice twist on it. Plus it’s similar enough to their original material that it fits perfectly into their setlist. Another one of their tunes followed, the funky sounding “Steal What I Have”, before doing another cover, Coldplay’s “Fix You”. They had an additional guitarist from the only other show of theirs I had seen, and an acoustic guitarist no less, who at some point in the set they noted was home from college for the summer. This was the song where he, Joe O’Connell, really got the spotlight, at least in the first half or so, before the rest of the band, drummer, Lucas Boyd, bassist, Stephen Williams, and Justin brought the song roaring to life. They continued with the pattern of original and cover, next doing “Bullets”, and then what was by far their best cover of the night, and possible the best song they did period. The song was “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye, and while the whole thing sounded exquisite, it was the chorus, “…But you didn’t have to cut me off. Make it like it never happened and that we were nothing. I don’t even need your love, but you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough…”, where Heather just knocked it out of the park. The only thing I can think to say about that is wow. They kept moving right along with “Changes Seasons”, which has what I would consider to be one of the catchiest and most mesmerizing guitar intros ever. Heather set up their next song by asking something like, “Has anyone ever heard of a band called The Beatles?” One person either raised their hand or made some noise as she remarked, “One person. That’s sad.” which got a couple more people to say they were familiar with The Beatles. That led them into a standout cover of “Come Together”, and afterwards Heather began setting up the next song. She dedicated it to Chris Mueller (AKA the man who runs the blog, The Ghost of Blind Lemon), saying it was his favorite song and he had featured it on his weekly playlist awhile back, where it climbed to the number two spot. And then, after that involved setup, they were told they had time enough for one last song, apologizing to Chris, as they opted to instead end their 40 minute set with “Sinking”.

They put on a really good, enjoyable show, and while watching them it was often easy to forget that they are (for the most part) only in their late teens. Sure, the more shows and experience they get under their belt will only be beneficial to them, but the same could be said for everyone, and they’re already just as professional as the majority of the bands here in the music scene. And especially given their age, both Lucas and Stephen are phenomenal at what they do, and trust me, it takes a lot for me to actually watch and pay attention to the drummer of a band, since as they generally are harder to see then the rest of the members.

They have a couple more shows this month, one being Friday, June 15th when they will headline The Door in Dallas. The other is June 24th at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington and that show will be free with admission to the park. You know, for those of you who like a mix of roller coasters and great live music. Also, you just might see them performing at the Curtain Club in the near future, as apparently they impressed the owner so much he wants to book them in the larger venue. Lastly, you can purchase their debut EP, “Take It Back” at any of those events, or buy a couple of the tracks from it off the STORE on their REVERBNATION PAGE.

Next up was a band called Belovodia. After seeing they were on the bill I listened to them online and from their four demo songs was amazed by the unique sound they had. However, no matter how good your recordings might be, that doesn’t mean the songs will always translate over into the live setting well. Such was the case with this duo, consisting of Delphi on the keys and doing some of the singing, and Jack Satan who also sang as well as played guitar. He sang their first song they did, but I don’t think he should have, because his voice was horrible. I know it made one person leave, and frankly, I wanted to, but figured I’d give them a few more chances. It did at least get a little better with the songs Delphi sang, but still… I will say this, though, Jack is a hell of a guitarist, and he shredded on every song that I saw.

After maybe four songs, I had to leave and see what was going on over at the Curtain.

Nevermind the Darkness was on stage and I only saw about their last one and a half songs. I think it’s been about a year since I first saw them, and since then it looks like they’ve really taken their live show to the next level. It was incredible intense, but I still have the same issue as I did that first time. That is that their singer wasn’t annunciating the words the most clearly, making it hard to understand what she was saying.

Still a good band, though. You can purchase their single, “IDK”, on iTunes and show wise they have one on June 30th at The Riverside Warehouse in Shreveport, Louisiana. Then on July 21st they’ll be at The Hanger in Greenville, Texas.

When they finished I headed back to the Liquid Lounge and caught the last bit of Belovodia. Yeah… They still weren’t any better than when I had left.

It was only midnight, but I really contemplated leaving after they finished. I was feeling a bit tired and I had an interview scheduled the next day for the latest episode of my podcast, which I wanted to be rested for. But then I decided to go back to the Curtain to see what Silver Loves Mercury was like, and I’m quite glad I did…

I’m fairly certain I’ve seen the band before, and didn’t care for them too much at the time. But then again I believe that was three years or so ago at some show I saw in Denton, so I could be completely wrong on all of that. Regardless, I had listened to them here and there back around that time period, didn’t like them, and honestly didn’t expect much from this show tonight, and I think those low expectations ended up making it even easier for them to wow me.

I can’t elaborate on their set as much as I like to, but after listening to some of their stuff online afterwards, I know a few of the songs that they played were the short and infectious, “D.M.T.U. Girl”, which I believe was closer to the end of their set. They also did “Burn”, which has a certain pop quality to it and sees vocalist, Roxi, letting out a fiery scream on the chorus. I believe “Supernova” and “Switchblade Vodka” were also played, all of which comes from their “Bullet for Your Black Heart” EP. “Owell” was another tune they churned out, and might have been the closer, and one was definitely one of the best songs of their set.

Their stage show and presence was great, with both the guitarist, “Kitty”, and bassist, “Candy”, having some good chops at what they do. And while they brought the musicianship, Roxi added the sex appeal to it all. Don’t get me wrong, she was a very professional singer and was all about the show, though she wore a skin tight shirt, fishnet stockings, and a pair of underwear that covered just enough to be called underwear. Just in reading that, you may get the idea that she dresses so skimpy to get people to watch their show, and while it probably doesn’t hurt (especially with the male audience members), it was also very evident that she has legitimate talent as a frontwoman.

I can’t wait to see them again, and you should check out their full-length record, “Treasures of Gomorrah” and their EP, “Bullet for Your Black Heart”, both of which are available in iTunes.

There was one band I had wanted to see here at the Curtain, but from what I had seen they went on earlier in the night, around the time I was in the Liquid Lounge. Turns out, they were going on last, so I of course had to stick around to see the only all female hard rock band from Dallas, Faded Grace

They got their 36 minute set going with “Unworthy”, and two things were clear in that one song. One was that they all seemed more in synch with each other than any other show of theirs I’ve seen. For example, the movements of Laura Paleczka, Jessica Bruns and Diane Contreras, the bassist and guitarists, respectively, were very precise and well calculated with the heavier beats Heather Hammonds churned out on the drums, as the three head banged to it. Second, was that there seemed to be a fire lit under them (and there probably was, knowing they only had a limited set time), as they plowed through these songs at a rapid pace. They powered through “Taken Back”, and then vocalist, Tracy Vibrock, announced the next song, “Go Alone”, which they promptly started. I think it was during that song that as she took a break from singing, you could hear Tracy let out a “Whew!”, as she walked back towards the drum kit, sounding a little more fatigued then she was letting on. The powerful, “Sister”, came next, and afterwards Laura began “Side to Side”, before they did something a little different from their other shows I’ve seen. “Every song we’ll do is on her EP back there.” stated Tracy, adding, “Except for one, and the one we’re about to do. We need permission before we can put this one on an album…”, then asked if there were any fans of the Deftones and one other band whom I don’t remember. That meant I had no clue what the song was, but it was interesting, as Jessica removed her guitar, grabbed her mic, and her and Tracy co-sang the song, which sounded quite great. They got back to their original material with “Self Ruin”, which a nice lyrical flow on the chorus, “…I’m screaming and reaching and cursing and preaching to no one…”. It really seemed like they had only just started, but already they were at their last song of the night, “Bad Bitch”, and each time she sang the chorus, “…You don’t know who you’re messing with tonight. Oh, we’ve got you by the balls.”, she made what I suppose is a universal hand sign, extending her hand and acting like she was cupping a pair. Also, that line is a perfect way to describe what Faded Grace does to their audience, and certainly did this night.

They rocked it, and this was the best show I’ve seen these ladies do thus far. They’re next show is slated for July 28th at The Ranch in Arlington, so go check ‘em out if you can.

They were a great way to cap of this night showcasing a lot of the female talent this area has, and I liked the entire concept of this night. Let’s face it, you don’t hear of many female artists or bands. Hell, I think I had been going to shows for a year or more before I ever actually saw a band fronted by a chick, and even still the number of women singers pales in comparison to the usual male fronted bands. So, it was cool seeing a show that paid homage to that niche of musicians, as there’s an impressive amount of talent that you can find here in the Dallas area, if you know where to look for it.

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NOTE: Some amazingly talented individuals and myself have partnered up to create RYA Entertainment. We give you all the benefits of working with a major label (booking and promotional experience, industry connections, strength in numbers) without the hassles and cost associated with signing to a label. If your band would be interested in working with us in any of those aspects or performing at a future show of ours, contact me at: TheRealMusicEnthusiast@GMAIL.COM

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A note to whom it may interest: I’m wanting to get advertisers on my blog. If you are a band, music venue, or have any type of product or business whatsoever you want to promote, e-mail me at: TheRealMusicEnthusiast@gmail.com for full info. I will tell you now though, I get good traffic on my site and my prices will be VERY, VERY affordable to even the most broke bands/people. So please, allow me to help promote YOUR product constantly, and not just when I do a show review. Venues, I can list all your upcoming shows as I do for the Granada Theater. Bands, I can put up an image of your album cover and link that to iTunes, etc. Let me know if you would be interested in getting in on this exciting opportunity!



Friday, March 2, 2012 – The Winniebago Forcefield

The Liquid Lounge was the place to be tonight, as the venue was hosting a very big first.

Arielle O’Keefe
, a solo singer/songwriter, got the night going at 9:17. She sat behind a keyboard and said she was going to begin with an older song that she still liked to play. “This one’s called Monster.” she said as she began the song. I’d listened to her music after seeing she was on this show, and was impressed by it, but live she has one of those voices that as soon as she starts singing, your jaw hits the floor out of sheer amazement. I mean, wow! The lyrics are stupendous, and that set some very high expectations for the set. Afterwards she welcomed Ben Woodul, who plays bass in the band, One Red Martian, on stage to add some rhythm to the tunes. She made a remark that she had never performed with anyone else on stage with her, and I believe even said they had come up with these bass lines just within the past week. They slowed things a little with “Icarus”, before doing a newer song which was titled, “No Place Like Home”. Ben left after that as she did a cover song solo, before returning for another song from “The Music Box” EP, “Lust”. “Overboard” came next, before she finished the 31 minute long set with a song she said she liked to end with because it gave her a peaceful feeling, a cover of “Up to the Mountain”.

Arielle was a phenomenal way to start things off and she is easily one of the most talented female vocalists in the D-FW area. Seriously, just check out her music and you’ll see what I’m talking about. You can purchase her EP on her Bandcamp page. And if you doubt me, go see her on Friday, March 23rd at the Opening Bell Coffee House in Dallas.

Next up was The Winniebago Forcefield, who was doing a very special show, as it was the first one as a full band. I’d caught a few songs of an acoustic show they did a little over a month ago and enjoyed it, and had been looking forward to this one since finding out about it. The trio began their 41 minute set with “The One That Got Away”, which got things off to a slower start as Richard Sanchez kept a light beat on the drums while Nathan Hanlon played some softer notes on his guitar. Randall Etherton (AKA “Duckie” of the band Night Gallery) sung the first few lines before the tune soared to life and he began rocking out on his bass, which was a strange sight for me. I’m used to seeing him as a drummer so he doesn’t do much moving, yet here he was, thrashing around to the beats like he had  several dozen show experiences under his belt. They kept the rock vibe going with “Herkommer’s # Theory”, which is easily the most intense song they have and is just a stellar rock track. For their next song, they slowed it down a bit as both Randall and Nathan announced it was a “couples skate” song and kept the slower pace going with another tune, one of which had to be “Sure”. “This is as close as we get to a cover song.” announced Randall as they did a verse from “Summer of ’69. “Standin’ on your mama’s porch, you told me that you’d wait forever. Oh and when you held my hand, I knew that it was now or never. Those were the best days of my life.” Randall sang, before saying, “But that’s it. That’s all you get to hear.” as they used that as the jumping off point into their original. They did end the song with a little more of that cover however, “…Back in the summer of sixty-nine…”  They did another song before getting to the most original song title I think I have ever heard, and the song is pretty awesome to boot. So, before starting “Purple-Polka-Dotted-Lad-Bug-Knee-High-Socks”, Randall dedicated it to Gary Busey. One of the lines in the chorus is, “…I hope you don’t think that I’m crazy as a box of rocks…”, and each time he sang it he added afterwards, “Like Gary Busey.” with the final chorus turning into a sing-along of sorts. For an opening band they got to do a lengthy set, but it was now at the end, as they wrapped things up with the very appropriate, “Curtain Call”.

I don’t want it to sound like I didn’t have high expectations for the show, but I didn’t go into planning to be amazed, but just a few songs in I was and it only got better the more they played. Randall does some backing vocals with Night Gallery and you can tell from that he has a strong voice, but having him in front of the main mic like this, he sounded incredible. I also liked the songs more fleshed out like this than what they were in the acoustic set, as they just seem livelier. And he is a jack of all trades… Scratch that, jack implies you can only do something decently, while “Duckie” appeared right at home being on the forefront of the stage instead of tucked away behind a drum kit. Stay tuned to the bands Facebook and Reverbnation pages for their upcoming shows and you can also check out some tunes on that latter website.

Up next was Great White Buffalo. I’d started hearing about the band recently and I was hoping not to be let down after hearing several very good things about them. Short answer, I was not. The band has a great rock sound with bits of American thrown in. Honestly, in listening to their music right now, it reminds me in some ways of the earlier stuff by Bruce Springsteen, say, circa the 70’s to early 80’s. Singer and guitarist, Richard Bouley, has an astounding voice and as soon he began to sing you paid attention. The show was pretty good too, and bassist, Camron Gross, seemed to give the most energetic performance of the bunch, while lead guitarist, Elliot Swanson, even took the spotlight for a song. He sang lead on a song he said he wrote, I believe titled, “Halfway Home”. “…This song is about drinkin’ and drivin’.” he declared before starting it and he, too, could sing quite well. Their set seemed rather short, clocking in around 30 minutes, but really, I guess that’s an appropriate time as it was just long enough to satisfy yet still leave you hungering for more.

The band has a four song demo you can buy from their Bandcamp page, and mentioned during this show they are currently working on another record. They also have a show coming up on March 16th at Hailey’s in Denton.

Last up was another band I’ve heard about but until now had never really heard. The duo, Dead Beat Poetry which is made up of Brandon Keebler on drums and Lulio Guevara, who does the singing and plays guitar. I hung around for four or five songs, and did enjoy the bands stuff, but at the same time they were almost too much of a jam band for me, as some of their songs seemed to be half instrumental and half with vocals. Personally, that just turned me off a bit, but that’s not to say they aren’t great, ‘cause they are.

Even though I didn’t stay for the whole thing, it was a fantastic night of music, and I want to thank the wonderful Randall “Duckie” Etherton for putting me on the guest list. I appreciate it, sir!

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NOTE: If any bands want me to A.) write a review of their album or B.) wish me to play their music on my podcast, than email me. Also, I have partnered with Sawed Off Productions & WhiskeyBoy Radio, both of whom will help me present The Music Enthusiast showcases. If your band would be interested in performing at a future showcase, email me for consideration: TheRealMusicEnthusiast@GMAIL.COM

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A note to whom it may interest: I’m wanting to get advertisers on my blog. If you are a band, music venue, or have any type of product or business whatsoever you want to promote, e-mail me at: TheRealMusicEnthusiast@gmail.com for full info. I will tell you now though, I get good traffic on my site and my prices will be VERY, VERY affordable to even the most broke bands/people. So please, allow me to help promote YOUR product constantly, and not just when I do a show review. Venues, I can list all your upcoming shows as I do for the Granada Theater. Bands, I can put up an image of your album cover and link that to iTunes, etc. Let me know if you would be interested in getting in on this exciting opportunity!

Saturday, February 11, 2012 – A Night of Acoustic Rock

It was back down to my Deep Ellum “home” if you will, for a second straight night. However, instead of going to the Curtain Club, the night would be spent at the more intimate, Liquid Lounge, where a phenomenal line-up of bands had been put together. Making it highly unusual, though, was that all the bands were doing acoustic sets… Despite some of them not being you idealistic acoustic bands. So it was bound to be an interesting night.

A touring band, Philmont, from Charlotte, North Carolina, opened the show. The band was on an acoustic tour, and only consisted of vocalist, Scott Taube, and guitarists, Josiah Prince and Justin Sams. Their 32 minute long set was a mix of originals and covers, with their opener, “I Can’t Stand to Fall”, falling into the former category. The song can be found on the bands “Rearranged and Unplugged” EP, and it featured Scott playing a xylophone occasionally throughout the song. Actually, the xylophone was used quite a bit during their set, and it added a nice sound to the songs. I’m pretty much clueless to the rest of their set, but I do know another original they did was “Closer”, plus a killer cover of “We Found Love”, and then ended the show with “The Last Song I Sing”.

They were great, and for an opening act set the bar pretty high. Also, the acoustic setting really showcased what a killer voice Scott has. As for their music, they have a very pop sound, which is more evident on the electric “The Transition” EP than this stripped down show, but what I like about it is that it doesn’t have the over-saturated sound the bogs down all mainstream music these days. These guys are indeed a legit pop/rock band, so give them a listen if you haven’t already.

Lastly, they have several shows coming up: February 24th at Gateway Church International in York, Pennsylvania. They will be at Crenshaw Baptist Church in Torrance, California on March 3rd. Sierra Pines Church in Oakhurst, California will host them on March 8th. ON March 9th you can catch them at the Grace Christian Fellowship in Antioch, California. On March 10th they will be in San Jose, California at Family Life Christian Center, and on March 16th they will be in Kokomo, Indiana at Chapel Hill Christian Church. It is worth noting that all of those shows are acoustic gigs. I also learned from Scott that they should be getting back to Texas in August, only as a full band, so here’s to hoping that happens.

The Dallas based musicians took the stage next, beginning with SaintKarla. Like most of the bands this night, the acoustic setting was a rare one for the groups, with this being I believe only the second acoustic show SaintKarla had ever done. It wasn’t a fully stripped down show, as bassist, Brad Bloomer, used an electric bass, but just didn’t play it as loud as usual, and their fill in drummer, Matt Loria (formerly of ReDefine), used a partial drum kit. But of course singer and guitarist, Jonathan Fink, and lead guitarist, John Perez, used some acoustic axes to further tone it down. The show began with Jono welcoming everyone to the “…Acoustica Romantica…”, saying it in a very dignified manner, almost like this was some exclusive, black-tie party. “…We’ll be playing some love songs for you all tonight. Which is hard for us, because we don’t have any love songs.” he stated. Surprisingly, their set was pretty similar to the electric shows, in regards to the material they performed, and the tunes translated over acoustically much better than I thought they would. “…This song is called The Bomb” Jon said, as he and John started the song, playing some notes that sounded like they belonged in a Western film starring Clint Eastwood. It is definitely a true rock song, but they had managed to pull it off and have it sound equally as great acoustic. The entire show, not just the music, had a laid back vibe to it, as Jono made a joke after the tune. “So, do you all remember that one time when John got arrested this week?” he asked the crowd, as John sat silently shaking his head. (I asked about that story, it was really no big deal whatsoever.) Some wisecracking about the event followed, before they got back to the show with a song from their “The Unexplained Pursuit of Happiness” album, “Self Created City”, with another joke coming after the song. Jono gave a lecture of sorts on love, and how sometimes a joke could be the way to a girls heart, and he shared one. “Knock, knock.” he said, as the audience replied, “Who’s there?” He then delivered the punch line, “Me, wondering why you’re not naked yet.” Then John cracked one. “Knock, knock.” Jono replied, “Who’s there?” “I got arrested.” said John. Then, that led them to a song Jono dedicated to his wife, “Reflection”. “Partly Cloudy With a Chance”, a song that truly fit the acoustic format, was played next, with the rest of the set being more just unplugged rock songs. Matt had been adding some light beats so far, but on the final songs, “You’re Soo Drama”, “Nothing but A Smile”, and “Sing”, he just went to town on the kit, which made those final three songs of their 35 minute set sound like the album version, just played with acoustic guitars… I mean that in a good way, of course.

It was another stellar set, and as I’ve said the past couple times these guys have played, it’s just good to see them on stage playing, especially doing a special show like this.

Jono mentioned during their set that he was eager to see how ReDefine had translated their songs over acoustically, and I had thought the same thing since learning they were doing this acoustic show. See, if you are not familiar with ReDefine, they are known for their intense live performances with their music falling into more of a hard rock category. Only one or two songs stood out to me as being capable of crossing over to this relaxed format, and I, too, wondered how this would sound…

It would soon become clear however that they would not be playing the same songs just with acoustic instruments, much like SaintKarla had done. No, the band had re-worked and re-structured practically every song in their set.

Their 42 minute set began with “Unheard And Dying”, which didn’t even sound like the same song. “For those of you who don’t know, we’re ReDefine.” said singer, Scott Headstream, when the song was over. “And for those of you who have seen us before, we’re still Redefine.” he added, before going on a little speech about how for the three years that he has been in the band they have done nothing but put their blood and sweat into the live performances, “…So this is really weird to be sitting still.” That wasn’t the only thing weird for Scott either, as he also played a guitar for this show, adding a third acoustic guitar to the mix. I believe drummer, Daniel Taylor, somewhat started the next song, though he wasn’t nearly as forceful as usual, and only used a three piece drum kit for this show. The shredding of the guitar was also absent on the song, as Scott soon sang the first line of the song, revealing it to be “The Silent Hum”. That was one I did not expect to be performed acoustically, but it sounded amazing. “Motorcade” came next, and was just another song whose music bed had been almost completely re-done, along with the vocals being sung at a totally different pace. Scott spoke a little more after that song, saying Jono “Hit the nail on the head” about their music not really translating into this format, “…And the band almost broke up four times.” he stated, then gave credit to guitarists, Chris Apaliski and Ryan Maynard, who he said came up with some great riffs. “So did you.” Chris told. “Yeah, me too.” Scott added. He continued, saying that with all that time put in to just their material, they hadn’t worked out any covers. “But we did manage to write a new song… This is called Pariah.” What followed might be one of the best things I’ve heard the band do. The song had a killer, catchy guitar riff, and stands out to me as being the best song of their set. It did seem rather short, though, and you could tell the idea hasn’t been fully fleshed out… yet. I also found it funny when I later learned from Maynard how the song came about, and was actually born out of messing up while rehearsing one of the other songs, as Maynard continued with the riff that would become the backbone of the song, with the rest of the band soon joining in. I guess that’s just one more example of some of the best things in life begin as an accident. Before their next song, Scott took time to mention that it was featured on a compilation “released by a local guy” and featured some underground music. “…I don’t know how underground you have to be to know bands like Dredge…” he said, as Chris mentioned the website, “Escaping The Ordinary dot net.” Musically, “Cut the Cord” did sound more reminiscent of the electric version than some of their other songs had, but still varied a good bit. Thus far, Scott had been singing pretty much every word, even what are backing vocals and typically handled by his band mates. Well, that changed during this one, as Chris took over and sang the bridge, “Take all these pieces that don’t seem to fit. Take all these people that don’t seem to care about it. Everything lives and everything dies. Everything moves right here before my eyes.”. All the while Scott still crooned into the mic, as their voices intertwined quite well together. My two favorite ReDefine songs came next, as they first rocked out “The Darkest Night” and then “Like a Vision, a Ghost”. I look at both of those as being some of the harder songs the band has, but they both turned out great with these new versions, and on “Like a Vision, a Ghost” I believe Scott changed up the lyrics slightly, too. At this point the show was pretty much over, and the fans cried out for “Rise”. “…We’ll do Rise.” Scott told everyone, “But not because y’all want us to, but because we want to.” In some ways this was like rock version, but in others it didn’t even closely resemble it, as it was so toned down, and Daniel and bassist, Mike Diquinzio, weren’t nearly as forceful on the rhythm section. There was also some crowd participation during this song, as the fans shouted out during the chorus, “RISE! Rise above this!”

And with that, this rare little set was over. I honestly enjoyed this more most ReDefine shows, only because it was so different from what they usually do and took them completely out of their comfort zone (though they still looked quite at home doing their songs like this.) It was just fantastic, and not to sound like a dick, but if you missed this, then it truly was your loss. Hopefully they will work these acoustic shows into more of a routine thing, though, because I would very much like to see this happen again… And sometime before a few years from now. Every year, or possible even every six months, is my thoughts. I guess we will see, though. The band will return to their full rock glory next month on March 24th at the Curtain Club, so mark your calendars.

Honestly, that had been quite a show right there, but there was still one act left, and it just so happened to be the man I have repeatedly referred to as the greatest singer/songwriter of all time. The one and only, Paco Estrada.

He wasn’t alone for this show, though, and had a drummer sitting in with him. The same drummer who back in October served as an improv drummer at one of Paco’s shows, and also filled in at the One Love Reunion show in December. The duo started their 66 minute set with a cover of Kings of Leon’s tune, “Sex on Fire”. I’ve never been able to get into Kings of Leon, but hearing Paco cover their stuff actually makes me like it. However, I still think the best song of theirs that he covers is “Use Somebody”. Afterwards, he got into his original stuff, as he began strumming his guitar leading up to the song, and then started singing “Haunting Me”. “I’ll keep my ghost from haunting you. I’ll just let go, and walk away. And when you think that the clouds have cleared, I’m gonna call your name…”. I want to say it was after that song, though it possible came later, but Paco talked about the death of Whitney Houston. He wasn’t really making fun of it, but yet it seemed like he was trying to take a few jabs at her. “So, I would’ve done a Whitney Houston cover, but I just didn’t have enough time to work one out. I mean, she only died at, like, three this afternoon.” He went on to say that, he always knew Bobby Brown would be the death of her. “…I still think he was probably there and just slipped out the backdoor before somebody discovered her.” He then went on with “This Is Life”, and, in typical Paco fashion, tacked on a cover song to the end of it. It was one I had never heard him do before, but I really enjoyed his partial cover of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”. “All of my songs are love songs.” he said before starting the next song. “But this one is my most favorite.” With that he played the opening chords of “When We Were Made”, and then began what may well be the most beautiful love song ever. “Before the first time two lovers ever danced in the rain, before true love ever knew pain, before our sun bursted into flame, before the flowers had been named. That’s when we were made… for each other…” Another favorite of mine came next, as they did “When the Lights Go Down”. Paco is definitely a wordsmith, and this song holds another line I really love. “Keep your eye on the prize and when the time is right just walk up and take it.” Next, he strayed from the set list a bit, saying the song wasn’t planned, but it just seemed appropriate to play it. The song was “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”. That’s pretty much what it is too, just a fun song for him to do, as it is more of a departure from his originals, or even what he typically covers. I mentioned the drummer is somewhat of an improv musician with Paco, and if you were paying attention, you could easily notice when Paco pulled out “I Will Follow”. He looked almost surprised when Paco started the song, but he kept up nicely, beginning softly with the beats at first, then upping it as the song gained more energy. This so a couple of the old classics performed, such as “Surface”, complete with the chorus from Maroon 5’s song, “She Will be Loved” at the end, and “The Game”, with a cover tune sandwiched in between the two. Also, on “The Game”, he added that line before the final chorus that makes a great song even better. “…And it’s only my heart, my heart, my heart. And you tore it apart, apart, apart. I’m letting you know, I’m letting you go, I’m letting you know…” They wrapped up the set with “Whiskey Kisses”, which was only the second song they did from Paco’s newest record, which is somewhat of a shame, because I view it as perhaps his best solo effort. After that however, the fans still wanted more, and vocalized. The two could be seen talking about it for a few moments, and then answered the demand with “Breaking Down”. For the first time though, they put another cover song at the end of it, instead of “In Your Eyes”, which is the norm. It still sounded good , though.

And that was how the night came to a close. This was possibly one of the best line-up of artists I’ve ever seen, and actually, I think this may have been the first ever all acoustic bill I’ve witnessed. It slayed though, as all of the bands rocked it… I guess maybe more figuratively in this case than usual.

As for Paco, I’m not aware of any upcoming shows to promote, but like he said during this performance, he plays the area at least once a month, so just keep your eyes peeled. And you should definitely check out his music on Bandcamp.

Lastly, I mentioned Escaping the Ordinary briefly when going over Redefine’s show. Well, not only are they on this compilation, but so are Paco and SaintKarla, along with about 50 other artists. The compilation is wonderful, and it can be yours for the low price of FREE. Just go HERE to snag a free download.

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NOTE: To hear music from these and many other independent artists from Texas, the U.S., and even the world, listen to me weekly “The Music Enthusiast Podcast”, which is part of the WhiskeyBoy Radio Network. If you are in a band and would like me to play your music on the show (assuming I don’t already have it), or perhaps you want an outlet to debut new material, email me at: TheRealMusicEnthusiast@GMAIL.COM

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A note to whom it may interest: I’m wanting to get advertisers on my blog. If you are a band, music venue, or have any type of product or business whatsoever you want to promote, e-mail me at: TheRealMusicEnthusiast@gmail.com for full info. I will tell you now though, I get good traffic on my site and my prices will be VERY, VERY affordable to even the most broke bands/people. So please, allow me to help promote YOUR product constantly, and not just when I do a show review. Venues, I can list all your upcoming shows as I do for the Granada Theater. Bands, I can put up an image of your album cover and link that to iTunes, etc. Let me know if you would be interested in getting in on this exciting opportunity!

June 9, 2011 - Acoustic Chaos

The Acoustic Chaos series hosted at the Liquid Lounge is something new to me. New in the sense that I’ve never attended one at least. I think it was coming to an end when I began going to Deep Ellum in 2006, and near the end of last year the series was finally revived. All I’ve lacked was a good enough reason to go to one. And finally that reason was supplied by, Meridian.

I got there early, around 8:40, just right after doors opened, and was the only patron there. Slowly the acts walked in, but nothing even happened until the Mavs had whipped the Heat in game 5 of the NBA playoffs. It was going on eleven then when the first solo act, Justin Hold, took the stage. To me, he’s just a bass player, mainly with The Commotion, but I did see him once with Overscene a few years back. He’s a good bassist at that, but tonight, he broke that mold I had him placed in. He got up on stage, acoustic guitar in hand, and did a little 5 to 6 song set. It was all covers I believe, with The Foo Fighters and Alice in Chains being the only two band names he dropped after playing a song by each. He’s got a really good voice, much better even then what comes across when he’s doing his backing vocals. Sadly, since it was already so late, his set was cut short.

Meridian was the main band of the night, and this marked their first acoustic gig. Well, somewhat acoustic. Moe Martinez still used a full drum kit, and Chris Gentry still had his electric bass, but other then that it was acoustic. Still, it was enough that the songs took on a whole new sound. Everyone but Tim Ziegler was seated, who instead used his barstool as a drink holder, as they opened the set with “Nights”. Guitarist, Mark Sims, led them into the next song, “Starts and Ends”, which managed to sound pretty similar to the electric version, then they followed it with “All Hands On Deck” and “Hey Lover”. Somewhere in between those songs Tim stated that their EP they’ve been working on was finally done, sans the mixing and mastering. “What’s next?” asked guitarist, Shannon Nedved. “I don’t know…” Tim replied, “I guess decide who we want to thank and put them in the album notes?” That’s fantastic news, cause it makes it sound like their debut EP will be for sale in the not too distant future. “This next one will be interesting.” Tim remarked of the next song, while Shannon confirmed to Moe what the next song was. “Digress” was what he said. Now that totally shocked me. I didn’t have much of a clue as what to expect during this set, but that was one song I knew wouldn’t be played. I was glad to be wrong about that, and the song sounded shockingly great acoustic style! They rocked out “Train” next, and afterwards Tim squinted at the set list, which was written in text on one of the guys phones. “Does that say Secrets?” Tim asked, while Shannon laughed and quickly answered, “No.” Man, and I had finally forgotten about that song. I do wish it was still in the set list, but a future acoustic gig might be a good time to revive it. Just sayin’. They opted instead for another song, then closed the show with what Tim said was called “Talking heads”. Mark corrected him, “Talking tongues.” he said, as they started what was unmistakably, “Wrecking Ball”. I really thought this thing would only consist of maybe five songs, but no, it was almost like a normal show, and lasted all of 31 minutes. They sounded surprisingly great in this acoustic format, and it was nice to see there’s another side to this band. And perhaps most importantly, the lyrics were much more understandable. They’ll be back in action, in all their electric glory, in a little over a month at Trees. And trust me, you’ll want to be there! It’s a benefit show for a very great cause! So go ahead and save the date, Saturday, July 23rd.

As soon as Meridian’s gear was cleared off the stage, the next act got his stuff set up. It was another member of The Commotion, and the mastermind of the band, Micah Creel. The song that he opened his set with was incredible! Lyrically, it was just phenomenal, and I liked it even better then the songs done with the full band. He did venture into a couple Commotion songs though, doing “Just a Test” next. And with the backing tracks he had and used, it sounded like the full blown rock version. He did several other songs, including “Backseat Driver (Wash it Away)”, then, on his next to last song, he invited a friend up on stage to sing. “I’m going to ask that Cameron Taylor makes his way up here, slowly.” Micah said. The Secret of Boris frontman did just that, taking at most half steps, and as he neared the stage asked Micah if he should go slower. “Should I do a circle?” he asked, before doing so. When he finally got on stage and they got situated, Cameron said the next song was called “Would”. “…We didn’t write this one.” he stated. And when it was over he left the stage, as Micah rocked out one last song. His solo set was fantastic! Like I touched on earlier, I liked it almost better then The Commotion shows. Maybe just because the song selection was totally different and new to me. And speaking of The Commotion, they have a gig coming up at Trees on July 9th. So, yeah… You might want to mark that on your calendar or something.

Up next was the lead guitarist in Secret of Boris, Taylor Walding. It was already pretty late, so I didn’t stick around for all of his set, but what I heard wasn’t too bad. He seemed to get of to a shaky start in my opinion, but after his first song he started to improve. Doing some originals and some covers, including a Nine Inch Nails song. And as I left, or actually had gotten in the car and was about to pull out of the parking lot adjacent to the Liquid Lounge, I heard Cameron T. belting out the SOB song, “The Difference”. A very alternate version of it that is.

It was a pretty cool night, and I was a bit surprised that almost every other act I knew in some way. I just assumed it would all be singers I’d never heard of in my life. I’ll definitely have to catch another Acoustic Chaos sometime down the road.

October 30, 2010 - Paco Estrada and ?

It’d been seven short weeks since One Love performed for the final time, and Paco Estrada was left, once again, on his own. But of course the area’s best singer/songwriter wouldn’t stay out of the spotlight, doing a few acoustic shows throughout the state, and tonight was the debut of his next project.


The night started off with the band Bullet Proof Alibi, who were doing the show acoustically. Full blown acoustic too, with their drummer using a bongo. They ended up really wowing me, and were much better than I thought they would be for a.) doing the show acoustic and b.) being the first act of the night. Their singer, who had an incredible voice by the way, stressed that this was a different format than usual, with them being electric most of the time. The music sounded awesome and if it’s that good acoustically I can’t wait to see/hear what they’re like as a traditional rock band. And, hopefully, I’ll find out soon.


Next up, and all the way from the Austin area, was singer/songwriter extrodinaire, Kirk Baxley (currently of Mothers Anthem). As he got up on stage he was totally unrecognizable, dressed as a nerd, which was really funny seeing as he typically dresses in a glam rock star fashion. He played a surprisingly long set, upwards of an hour, with a lot of original material, plus some covers thrown in here and there. I really liked the first couple of songs he did and just thought to myself that it’s a shame that, more than likely, those songs will never see the light of day as far as a recording or anything, cause they were pretty powerful stuff. As for stuff I did know, he did a Mothers Anthem song, “Amaze Me”, as well as digging into Greatness In Tragedy’s catalog and played “Useless”, “God Save the Queen” (which yes, is also a Mothers Anthem song) and “Slideshow”. The latter of which he said he’d not played in a little over two years. Plus covers of “Purple Rain” (sorry Prince, his cover has got your original beat!), some country song (maybe by Toby Keith?), and a tune by Third Eye Blind. It was a great set he did, and kinda funny in a way cause he seemed a bit out of his element. And chances to see Kirk like that don’t come along very often.


Finally it was time to see what Paco had been up to, and while they weren’t headlining (as the Liquid Lounge’s website said they were), it was still the best part of the night. Their are only four members with the bass player and I believe the drummer being in the band Mad Mexicans, while their guitarist is in SpaceCamp, and formerly of The Salutation. And for the first time that I’ve seen, Paco was using an electric guitar. In promoting the show it had been promised that there would be new songs, which was somewhat true. They opened with “Maya’s Song”, which took me completely by surprise. It can be found on “LTWNS: Circa 2006”, as one of the last songs SouthFM ever recorded before breaking up. The few times I’ve listened to it, it’s okay, but nothing to great. However, with most of the songs they did, it had a new music bed, which gave the song a whole new life. Also, to the best of my knowledge, this was the first time this one had ever been played live. Next up was another song now in its second life, “Haunting Me”. Okay, so far it hadn’t been brand spankin’ new songs, but that soon changed. At least for a few moments. I’d guess the next song they churned out was a cover, cause a lot of people seemed really into it and were even singing along. But the next was truly brand new, it sounded really good. So far the new music for the recycled songs had thrown me off and had me wondering what song they were doing. But when they started the next one it was clear from the start that it was “Dancing Like This”, a song that has survived for six plus years now. They next did another favorite made popular by One Love, “Breaking Down”, which sounded even better in this incarnation. Their next song began with about a minute long guitar piece(s), with their lead guitarist and Paco playing a hauntingly beautiful set of (simplistic) chords. I’d started to wonder if it was just an instrumental piece, till Paco finally sang out the first line of the song. “You cannot hear what I am saying. You put your words inside my mouth…”, it was another SouthFM oldie, “Killing Me”. I’ve heard that song many times in many forms, and never have I been blown away by it. With SouthFM it was a heavy hitting rock song, with the music overshadowing the lyrics. With One Love the vocal pace was slowed down and it seemed to give the words the weight they deserved, but I never really cared for the music to it. But with this version, keeping the vocal pace close to the same as One Love, and mixing elements of music from both previous bands, Paco has perfected this song. And it was easily the best one they did this night. They took a short pause as Paco said they had one song left, then said “It sounds pretty good to have only had five rehearsals. Right?” Seriously!? I knew they couldn’t have much time to get this ready, but the way they acted on stage I would’ve thought it was a little more than that. And then they ended their 40 minute set with “Do You Believe?”. SouthFM was a rock band through and through, and will always be one of my top 5 (at least) rock acts I’ve heard. One Love made the most beautiful music mankind will ever know. And this band, whatever their name is or will be, mixes both of those sounds perfectly. It has a rock undertone to it, but still is peaceful enough it makes you want to slow dance with someone. You really just have to hear it for yourself though. And I’ll end with this, this band is quite possible the greatest thing Paco has ever been at the helm of, and hopefully this will finally be the project that makes him famous.


There was one final band after Paco, Reinventing Jude, I believe was who Paco said it was. But we decided not to stay for them.