Saturday, May 4th, 2013 – Cinco de Mustache Cinco: In Memory of Clint Waycaster

I was familiar with the annual Cinco de Mustache event, which took place at various Dallas venues since 2009, even though I never attended any of the concerts that always took place close to Cinco de Mayo. However, I was not familiar with the man who orchestrated the event, Clint Waycaster.

Sadly, Clint passed away sometime last year, though his annual Cinco de Mustache party was continued, this year spearheaded by Roland Rangel, as a way to honor Mr. Waycaster.

The Curtain Club was the host venue for this, and several great bands had been tapped to play it, some of whom I knew, others I didn’t.

The first band up was called At Night, and despite arriving early (around 8:40), I had missed most of the bands set, hearing only a handful of their songs.

I loved what I heard, though, as this four-piece rock outfits music featured a lot of their keyboard player, giving it a more distinct sound than most bands.

This proved to be a rather eclectic night when the next band, Cord, got on stage, and one of the instruments they had set up was a pedal steel guitar. It’s not often you see one of those on that stage, a stage ruled predominantly by rock and hard rock bands.

Before beginning, the bands singer made a brief speech about Clint, reminiscing about how he used to play songs for his friend. He talked about how Clint was always honest with him, telling him if a song was either terrible or great, then added a third response. “…Sometimes, I’d play a song and he start crying, and I’d think, ‘That must be a great song.”

They then started what was an extraordinary set, and while their first song didn’t strike me as being too country sounding, they quickly eased into it with the next song in their 30+ minute long set. They weren’t just traditional country music, though. There was a real rock flare to their music, too, even on the few songs where the lead guitarist took a seat at his pedal steel guitar.

Their stuff was impressive, with great music and well-written lyrics, which helped their set pass rather quickly, leading to their final song which the bands singer said he had written as part of another band many years ago.

I wish I could be a little more detailed with their set, but I can’t seem to find much about the band. Nevertheless, if you ever see the name Cord on a venue’s website, make a point to try to see them.

The night got more rocking with the next band, Meridian, who hadn’t done a show in about two and a half months. Making things more special was the fact that this show marked the return of an old friend to the lineup, as Moe Martinez was returning to drum for the band.

Almost as a way to celebrate his return, they opened their 35-minute set with “Nights Like This”, a track that hasn’t kicked off one of their live shows in quite some time. If Mark Sims and Shannon Nedved’s roaring guitars didn’t get your attention, then Moe’s drumming should have, as he tore into his kit. He had an obvious renewed passion for it, and even though I couldn’t see much of him this night, you could tell his heart was fully in it and he was savoring every moment of being back on stage. All that resulted in the entire band clicking more than I’ve seen them click in a long time. Throughout each chorus, vocalist Tim Ziegler often made a ripping motion with his as he sang the line, “…On nights like this, people will be ripped apart…”

There was no pause or awkward silence between songs, as they quickly moved on to “All Hands”, which, coupled with the other song, made for a killer way to start things off, and together those songs packed quite a wallop. And just an interesting side note, that was another song where Tim slightly changed up the lyrics, instead of signing “…I’ve found the next best silhouette to take the place of you…” on the chorus, he switched the latter part to, “…She’s got the shape of you…”.

Things kept moving right along with one of their newer songs, and during an instrumental break while bassist Chris Gentry, Shannon, Mark and Moe were throwing down, Tim shouted out Moe, asking, “Does anyone recognize Moe Martinez?!” Afterwards, Mark started them in on another track from their self-titled debut EP, the poppy sounding “Starts & Ends”. That one is still my favorite Meridian tune, and the newer version of it (new from the original demo at least) grows on me more and more each time I hear it.

Another older gem of the bands came next, a song that they’ve been doing since their inception and whose chorus goes, “…This is war, the city is going to burn tonight…” Hopefully, it will make the cut for the next album (whenever that may happen) because it is one of their best, and I love how it’s even eerie in a way. “Lazy Eye” was their next song, and is another standout new one they’ve created, and after it, they slowed things down a bit, but first Tim shouted out to a fellow singer/songwriter who he said helped him out on writing the tune.

It was Paco Estrada, who was headlining this night, and Tim said while he was struggling writing lyrics for the song “Train”, he went to Paco for help, spending a few days with him to get it written. While he was praising the man who is one of the best singer/songwriters Dallas has, Tim realized Paco was nowhere to be seen. “…And I’m saying all this and he’s not even here, so fuck him.” He declared, in a joking manner, of course. “Train” is always is a sign that the bands set is almost over, but this softer song wasn’t the next to last tune like usual. Instead, they picked the pace right back up with a song I was afraid they weren’t going to play this show, “Redigress”.

Tim had been goofing off throughout the show, thrusting his pelvis around at one point earlier, but during this song, he turned his back to the crowd and preceded to shakes his ass. It offered a great deal of comic relief so to speak, especially on what’s more of a serious song that ended with Tim propping a leg up on the center monitor, surveying the crowd while singing the final line, “…Fuck all your politics. Fuck all your stupid tricks. Fuck all the things you say. Words only get in the way.” That then brought them to their final song, which, as any Meridian fan knows was of course, “Hey Lover”.

They almost got through their set without anything happening, but near the end of that song, and coincidentally right at the line, “…When everything is broken…”, Shannons’ guitar went out on him due to some technical issue. You could see it all on his face, as he suddenly realized his guitar wasn’t making any noise, and while tried to fix real quick, there was only about thirty seconds left of the song, so eventually he just gave up, laughing it off and watching his band mates as they thrashed about.

Really, that can’t be held against them, not just because it was a technical issue, but it was only for the final bit of their show.

Overall, this was the best Meridian show I’ve seen in a long time, like, probably over a year. I attribute a lot of that to the return of Moe, since he was one of the founding members of the band, and was the missing component that honestly, I never knew was missing into this night.

The drummer they had to fill his shoes was great, but in hindsight, he never truly meshed with the band. And after being gone from Meridian for around a year and a half to focus on family, you could tell Moe was not only glad to once again be following his passion, but also playing some great rock music with his friends.

It’ll be interesting to see what lies ahead of the band now that their original lineup is back intact, and with them firing on all cylinders like they were this night, there’s shows will be something you want to witness firsthand.

Currently, they don’t have any shows booked, but you can find their debut EP in ITUNES, and by all means, you should purchase it.

After them was another Dallas band who I had heard a lot of good things about recently, and that was Dead Flowers, who was fresh of the release of their debut album.

The band mixes several different genres together, including rock, with some country and blues undertones, all of which were on display in their first song, “No Tragedy”. I’d say it was more of a country song, but the rapid beats Ed Chaney was supplying, along with the with the heavy and fast paced guitar chords lead guitarist Vince Tuley and singer and rhythm guitarist Corey Howe were playing made it more of a rock song, and one that instantly pulled you in. The country flare, at least in my opinion, came through on the lyrics, with part of the chorus being, “…Oh, my darling, I hope you see, even though we’re fucked up, we’re meant to be…” Definitely a good an impressive opening number, and they continued on with the following song on their “For You” record, “You’re Wrong”, which has more of a loud, fiery blues vibe to it.

“Were any of you at our CD release show here a few weeks ago?” Corey asked as some of their fans cheered to say they were. “Not here…” he then said, correcting himself and mentioning the right venue. He also asked if anyone had bought their album then. “Well, this song isn’t on it.” He finished as he, bassist Evan Winston Johnson, Vince and Ed broke into this non-album track, which was one of the best of their set. Near the end of it a string on Coreys’ guitar broke, resulting in him having to change guitars after finishing the track.

While plugging the guitar in, he took a moment to say how bad the brand of strings were. “…But I bought ten of them, so…” he finished. That then led them to a wonderful that told a story, a story of murder, and was aptly called “Murder Shuffle in a (Minor)”. “…Lay your hands on a woman be the greatest sin…” wailed Corey on one of the lines closer to the end of this explosive song, which ended up being my favorite of their set.

They did a few more songs, two of which I’m not sure of the titles, but sandwiched in-between those two was the soulful, bluesy track, “I’m A Man”. They then closed their 38-minute long set with the lead track and longest song from their album, “I Won’t Go”, which was just another one of their many great songs, and left me wishing they could play a little longer, because I was desperately wanting to hear more. And after all, isn’t that how a band should leave the crowd?

I don’t know why I hadn’t checked out Dead Flowers before this, even if it was as simple as listening to their music online, but I’m regretting not now, because they were amazing and lived up to all the positive stuff I had heard about them.

Corey has an amazing voice, that can even sound a little rough around the edges at times, which makes their sound that much better, given all the genres they roll together. He and his band mates also deliver a killer show on top of that, and even though they aren’t your traditional rock band, their show was every bit as intense as the band before them.

They’re a band you must check out, at the very least by previewing their music on ITUNES, and if you’d be interested in seeing a show, they have a couple coming up in Dallas, one of which will be on May 31st at Club Dada, the other at Three Links on June 14th.

You don’t often see nights like this where every band from start to finish is about the same caliber of talent, but so far they all had been, and there was never a moment where things seemed to dip, nor would there be as Paco Estrada and his band got ready to close out the show.

They embarked on their set with “American Girls”, which has become the new standard opener, and out of the newer music Paco is playing these days, this one is hands down the best of them all. It has a more simple rock sound to it, in the classic rock sense, though much softer, since Pacos’ acoustic guitar is the most prevalent instrument, despite being surrounded by a full band. “…From the Jersey girls to the Southern belles…” he crooned at one point in the song, in his soulful and rich sounding voice. They continued with another new song, which I believe is titled “The Way I Love You”, and it’s Paco’s specialty, a beautiful love song with great lyrics, while Scotty Isaacs piano playing and the softer, yet thick bass lines Joel Bailey was cranking out perfectly accented the song.

The songs about love continued, as the band tackled one of Paco’s more recent hits, “When We Were Made”, from the “Definite and Indefinite…” record. It had all of his fans caught up in it, some of whom were even swaying side to side while he sang the chorus, “…That’s when we were made for each other.” Another classic of his followed, and before starting it Paco joked, saying something to the effect of it being a cautionary tale of why not to play with shovels. He was setting up “Breaking Down”, which begins with the line, “You grab your shovel and your digging axe, ‘cause you have to be the first in line to bury the past…” However, that is not the message of one of Paco’s more personal songs, where he later sings, “My father had a heart attack at fifty-eight, I never thought that man was built to break…” Still, I find the best part of this song to be the latest cover he has mashed it up with.

After one of the last choruses, the band, which was rounded out by drummer AJ Blackleaf and an electric guitarist, continued the music bed, and after a musical break, Paco began singing the classic song from U2, “One”. He started at the line, “Did I disappoint you, or leave a bad taste in your mouth?”, however it was when he got to, “…And I can’t be holdin’ on to what you got, when all you got is hurt.” where it really sprang to life. You could see the emotion and passion Paco was putting into his singing bleeding out onto his face, then, and it was glorious.

Even if it is but a partial cover, he and his band own it, making it entirely their own. That wasn’t the only cover of this show, though, as next they did a song I had never heard Paco play before, and that was Modern English’s “I Melt with You”. It was slower than the original (or even the various covers that I’ve heard of it), transforming the song from a rock track to more along the lines of easy listening, so to speak. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and he was able to pull it off in a way that made it seem like one of his own songs.

Afterwards, the band started talking amongst themselves, and during that a female fan ran and jumped on stage, whispering into Paco’s ear. She then approached the mic and asked everyone to give it up for Paco. “It’s like I have my own personal cheerleaders.” Said Paco once she had left the stage and he retook the mic.

He informed everyone he had promised that woman he would play a song she had requested, and his band mates filed off stage, meaning this next song was going to be a stripped down acoustic.

I wondered what it would, because in his decade plus long career, he’s written countless songs that are fan favorites. I was anxiously awaiting the start of the song, when he suddenly sang, “New York down to Mexico, Seattle to the Oklahoma. Your ghost will always haunt my soul. Los Angeles to Baltimore…” That’s the opening lines of “I Will Follow”, a song I had not heard in years. It was wonderful getting to hear it again, though Paco did something he seldom did during this song, and that was stumble through the lyrics, at least at one line.

In his defense, his singing abruptly gets quicker as he sings, “…No I’m not telling you lies, I’m not telling you this so that you’ll be surprised. I’m just telling you this to get shit off my chest, it’s the only way that I have learned to survive…” Early on in that he said the wrong line, skipping ahead in the song a bit, which threw him completely off, as he shook his head like, “I can’t believe I did that.”, then giving himself a second before picking back up where he was supposed to be.

The slipup didn’t affect the song much, and is easily forgivable in my opinion, besides, it was just so fantastic hearing that oldie again.

That put them at the tail end of their 45-minute long set, and after the band rejoined Paco, they performed the gorgeous, “I Will Never Let You Go”, which really highlight Scotty’s talent as a pianist. That then took them to their final song of the night, which Paco dedicated to a friend and legend of the North Texas music scene, Matt Slider, best known as the singer of The FEDS, a band that had a nice thirteen plus year run. He happened to be in attendance, and earlier in the show, while talking to Slider, he told me he hoped Paco would play a certain song, and it was the song that usually ends his sets, “Haunting Me”.  It’s another song that is done as a mash-up, and after finishing it out, Paco tacked on some lines from Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” to conclude the song.

This was a fine way to cap of an incredible night, and I’ll say it once again, Paco Estrada is one of the best singer/songwriter’s in the area, and this band he now has backing him is one of the best he’s had in some time.

If for some reason you haven’t heard of him yet, head over to his BANDCAMP PAGE to find, listen to and buy most of his releases. Also, keep a check on his FACEBOOK PAGE for upcoming show dates.

It was another incredible night at my favorite Deep Ellum haunt, especially since everything this night was done in memory of Clint Waycaster, and the money from the raffles and auctions they were doing went to benefit a charity. Fun was had by all, and even though I didn’t know Clint, I imagine he would like the fact that his event was being continued and that people were having fun at it, instead of being saddened by his early passing. So, here’s to hoping the Cinco de Mustache celebration continues next year with a sixth edition.

Lastly, I have a random piece of info. This show took place nearly seven years to the day that I first walked through the doors of the Curtain Club. Who was playing here the night of May back in 2006? Well, one band was SouthFM, and the other was Darby. The former was the rock band Paco used to front, while the latter act was led by Tim Ziegler. Point is, after all these years, I find it neat that those two singers are still sharing the stage with each other in their respective current projects.

Saturday, February 9th, 2013 – “…Rock ‘n’ Roll Gets the Demons Out…”

If you read my previous blog entry, then you might recall I said that, that show was a bit eclectic. While it was, it has nothing on the show that went down at Tomcats West this night.

Yeah, I made a VERY rare trip over to Fort Worth. Nothing against the city, but living north of Dallas means that logistically it’s just not convenient to get to. An exception was made for this show, though, which featured two of my favorite area acts.

The first act of the night was an acoustic duo by the name, Myrick. I believe that was the last name of the singer of the group, who played an acoustic guitar and was accompanied by another acoustic guitarist (or maybe it was a bassist. Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention.)

With incredible subpar vocals, I quickly lost interest. Their set at least seemed to go by quickly, but by far the worst part of it was the end when he did a parody of Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”. Obviously, it was set to the same tune, though he called his parody, “Don’t Cum In My Eye”. Evidently I’m still juvenile enough to find a bit of humor in that (and by “bit”, I mean a VERY minuscule amount), but no amount of humor could save it. It only lasted about a minute, before he abruptly stopped and said, “That’s it…”, then walked off stage. Oh, wait, I think I get why he only needed a minute to do the song now…

Meridian was the first actual band of the night, though they, or specifically vocalist, Tim Ziegler, looked a little different. He was without his long hair and beard, and was almost unrecognizable at first glance, looking more like he did when I first met him nearly seven years ago, when he fronted the band Darby.

“Re-digress” kicked off their 38-minute long set. Somehow, I didn’t notice right away when it happened, and then all of sudden I realized guitarists, Mark Sims and Shannon Nedved, drummer, Joe Maurer, and Tim were the only guys on stage. They handled it well, and didn’t act like they were down a band mate, finishing the song strong, and then Tim asked what was up with Chris Gentry. Apparently, he had broken the main string on his bass, which was what left him incapacitated for most of that song, and even a few minutes after. That meant Tim had to make some small talk, and he first mentioned they had played here a several months before and that they’d like to get back a little more often. That was about all the topics he had prepared. “…Chris, hurry up. This is getting uncomfortable for me…” he said, succeeding at being funny and sounding nervous. Chris finally rejoined them, having borrowed a bass from one of the other bands. They were then able to move on, and began one of their most rocking numbers, “All Hands”. They followed it with one of their newest songs, and afterwards took a momentary pause where Tim killed some time. “Listen, I don’t want anyone here tagging me in any shit…” he said. He proceeded to say that he was technically at work, and had taking time off to perform this show, meaning he couldn’t be drinking, and he didn’t want any photos to make it look otherwise. So, once that was cleared up, they tore into “Nights Like This”, which was pretty flawless, except toward the end, when Chris again had to leave with some bass issues. “…We lost our bassist again…” Tim said when the song was over. Mark said something, to which Tim responded, “Oh yeah, we don’t need him for the first part of this next song.” The current four piece then started “Starts and Ends”. “You told them all just what they can do. You got the shortest part of the straw you drew… I draw the curtain back and you take a bow. Did I catch you off guard or get it right somehow?…” sang Tim on the first verse. This was the first time I’ve seen them since getting their new EP, meaning this was the first time I really knew that song since they rewrote it over a year ago. I had missed singing along to that one more than I had realized, and it still stands out as my favorite Meridian song. Chris once again got back on stage pretty early on in that one, and stuck around for another newer song, “Lazy Eye”, which has a more dominant rhythm section. Tim couldn’t go without poking fun of the situation, and told Chris he might be getting a pink slip the next day, then said they might be in the market for a new bass player. Chris didn’t have a verbal retort to that, though he did act like he was about knee Tim right in the crotch. “Train” brought things down a few notches and perfectly showcases the bands softer side, as it is a beauty of a tune, but is still something you can easily rock out to. Tim announced they had one last song, a Mark played the first notes of “Hey Lover”, before Joe busted in on the drums, really getting it underway.

It was far from a perfect show, but Chris deserves some major props for doing the best he could in an unlikely situation. When he was on stage, he gave it his all as usual. It was just an unfortunate circumstance, and really, how many times have you seen a bass player break a string? I’ve seen nearly five hundred concerts over the years, and I can only recall one band who suffered from a broken bass string while performing.

Plus, Shannon and Mark put on a thoroughly entertaining show by themselves, so they were able to draw attention away from everything, and Tim is still one of the best singers and performers I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. Point is, in the end it worked out alright.

Give their debut, self-titled EP a listen, and if you like it, then buy it in ITUNES. And while they don’t have anything scheduled right now, keep an eye on their REVERBNATION PAGE, because they’ll most likely be doing a show sometime within the next couple of months.

A band by the name of Silhouette was next up, and they brought the people, which I took as a positive sign. I mean, if a band can pull fifty plus people, they have to be good, right? The answer is yes… But not to everybody.

I don’t know what the whole deal was, but this was billed as their “comeback show”, and from hearing them talk, it seemed like the band had been almost completely reformed since they last played. I don’t know what they were like before, but now, they were a very hardcore metal act. My interest was lost immediately, especially because their first song was lyrically rapped, in the vein of Linkin Park. If that’s what works for them, okay, but I felt it seemed like they were stuck in a time warp. I mean, that’s been done, many times over at that. Luckily, all their music didn’t sound like that, but with all the screaming, I couldn’t even pretend to like them.

Their set dragged on, and I was relieved when they finally finished.

I mentioned this was an odd billing of bands, and here is where it got really interesting. There are a couple of genres that could pull off playing after a hardcore metal band, like a hardrock outfit, or maybe even a rock group, but Paco Estrada and his band are neither of those. In fact, they’re the polar opposite.

Paco’s backing band looked mostly the same as the last time I had seen him, with Scotty Isaacs manning the keyboard/piano, and there was still a drummer, Irish, whose drum kit was fairly small, consisting mainly of a few toms and a snare. But then you had Joel Bailey, who has been added as the bassist. Along with Pacos’ acoustic guitar, it makes for some lovely music, but a type that quickly pushed all the metal heads out the door.

A lot of Paco’s newer stuff is making it into his sets these days, like the opener, “American Girls”. Over the last decade or so, Paco has written some real gems in all the various bands he’s played with, but that one is by far one of the best. There’s a certain amount of nostalgia the song conveys, while it bears more of a folk sound.  I believe they followed it with another new song, though Paco has been known to play some covers too, so it could go either way. Next, I know for sure they did a cover song, doing a more minimalist rendition of The Cars, “Who’s Gonna Drive You Home Tonight?”. They do a mean cover of it, and put a pretty unique spin on a classic song. They ran through a couple more, with the first of those two really sticking out to me. I don’t think it was a cover, though it sounded like it could pass as one. I mean that as a compliment, because if it wasn’t, then it sounded authentic enough that it could have been written by one of the greats. As usual, some of Paco’s fan favorites had been saved for last, and he began to pluck away at the strings on his guitar, leading into “Breaking Down”. “You grab your shovel and your digging axe, ‘cause you have to be the first in line to bury the past. You put a smile on and try to believe it, but I know how much it hurts you to leave it…” he crooned. This is also one he’s known for adding portions of cover songs to, one of the best of which I’ve always thought was a Peter Gabriel song he used to tack on, but tonight, I think I found a new favorite. After one of the later choruses from his original, Paco belted out the chorus of U2’s “One”, “…You say, one love, one life when it’s one need in the night. One love, we get to share it, leaves you baby if you don’t care for it…” There’s always a deep passion in Pacos’ voice when he sings, but it seemed magnified on this song. It bleed out onto his voice, especially on the line, “…You say love is a temple, love a higher law. Love is a temple, love the higher law. You ask me to enter, but then you make me crawl. And I can’t be holding’ on to what you got, when all you got is hurt…” as well as the chorus that followed. I was awestruck. That was one of the most amazing cover songs I have ever heard, and I know this may sound like sacrilege, but while I have never seen U2 live, I can’t imagine Bono could make his own song connect with and touch the audience the way Paco did this night. It didn’t seem like they had been up there anytime, but already they had arrived at the final song of their 38-minute long set, “Haunting Me”, which featured pieces of another cover song, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston.

Paco’s music has gone through a lot of changes over the years, from playing with rock bands, to spending some time as a solo artist, but hopefully this latest band of his will stick around for a little while. Together they make what is probably the most unique sounding band Paco has had since One Love, and it’s different than most any other type of music out there. It’s gorgeous, and will most likely take your breath away.

Paco has a ton of records from his past, most of which can be bought via BANDCAMP. As for shows, I know he has one coming up on Saturday, March 2nd, where he will play at his old Dallas stomping grounds, The Curtain Club.

After a strange musical combination like that, going from a metal band to a very chill mostly acoustic act, it only made sense to wrap up the night with one final rock band, which was Awake in Theory.

Terry Kimmel began the band show with some hypnotic chords on his guitar, while he walked around the stage. After a minute, Eric Hawkens, who was out of sight, started singing, and eventually made his way on stage from stage left. Soon after was when their first song, “Barely Breathing”, really took off, as drummer, Raymond Chambers, bassist Adam Garcia, and the rhythm guitarist, Brad McCain, joined in. The song is fantastic and one of my favorites of theirs. It also works as a great opener, easing you into it with its slower start, and before you know it, they’ve hooked you. They proceeded to reel everyone in with songs like “Let Go” and “Playing the Victim”, but unfortunately, “everyone” wasn’t as many people as they deserved to have watching them. Like I said, the metal heads had left during the previous act, and now it looked like the only people who were still there were ones who were already Awake in Theory fans. Eric pointed out that, that wasn’t a problem with them, though. “…We’re just happy to play music…” he said, “…Especially when we get to play after Paco Estrada…” he added. They got back to the show with “Dangerous”, a song that saw Brad tear off into a killer guitar solo. Raymond pounded out a brief drum solo before their next song, “Innocence for the Innocent”, followed by their anthem of sorts for anyone serving in the military, “Hero You Hate”. Before starting it, Eric asked everyone to thank anyone they knew who was in the service, and then he mentioned something else. “…For anyone whose seen an Awake in Theory show recently, you know my brother was deployed.” He said. “Well, he’s home now…” You could tell he was excited and relieved by that, and for good reason. That tune is another highlight of their shows in my opinion, and once it was done, they cut loose a bit. Eric mentioned that they come from all over the area, like Frisco. “…He’s from Bowie…” he said, pointing at one of his band mates, quickly following it with something to the effect of, “I’m sorry, it’s not nice to say anyone’s from Bowie.” That got a laugh from all of their fans who had stuck around. Topic of conversation then switched to Raymond, who drives down to all of their shows from Lawton, Oklahoma, and Eric jokingly said he was the one they needed to work on and get to move here. I believe it was this next and final song that they said they would be recording soon, with work on an actually record to follow shortly after. It was “Daddy’s Little Girl”, which will serve as their lead single, and it capped off their 36-minute long set.

It was a great set, and personally, I thought they were better this night than a couple weeks before when I saw them in Dallas. They didn’t let the lack of a crowd affect them, instead putting on a show like they were playing in front of forty to fifty people, like any professional band should.

They were fun and lively, with everybody carrying their own weight. Adam really brought it this night, and owned it on the bass, while Terry and Brad also often stepped up to the forefront of the stage, taking over the spotlight and shredding on their guitars. It was just very well balanced, and also, they know how to work the audience and get everyone excited.

Their next show is going to be at Trees on Sunday, March 24th, where they will open for Adrenaline Mob and Nothing More. It will probably be at least one of the biggest shows they’ve done to date, and I’ll be willing to bet they’ll be even more intense than usually at that one.

They offered a great way to end the night, and despite me not really caring for a couple of the acts on the bill, this show was still well worth the drive to Fort Worth.

Friday, January 4th, 2013 – Meridian

After nearly two weeks since the last concert I saw, I was itching to go somewhere to hear some live music, and this night, Trees was the only place to be.

Though it had been out for a couple of months, Meridian was finally getting around to doing an official CD release show (there’s a long story behind that), and they were headlining this night of all local rock to celebrate the release of their debut record.

Oddly enough, this was a three band bill, but while this night was lacking in numerous acts, there was an overabundance of rock, and The Circle was first to deliver it.

They got right down to business, and opened with a pretty heavy number where frontman, Don Mills, did a fair bit of screaming while he sang. It was a beast of a song, and a solid opener, though the most impressive thing so early on was how tight they appeared to be. I had seen them once before, shortly after Don had joined the band when they played a show for RYA Entertainment (co-founded by WhiskeyBoy Radio and myself). It was a good show then, but you could tell were still finding their groove. Well, it was noticeable right of the bat this night that they have since found it, and have become quite the cohesive unit. After that song, Don made a little speech about the local music community, thanking everyone for coming out to support all the bands this night and that it wouldn’t be possible without them. Afterwards, they started another pretty intense song, “Beggars Can’t be Choosers”. Afterwards, Don had a question for the audience. “…Who was the last band played on the [radio station] The Eagle in twenty-twelve?!” They had some devoted fans out this night, who yelled in response, “The Circle!” “That’s right. And only one band gets to say that.” He added, as his band mates started into their next tune, which I think they said was a fairly new one. As they finished up what was a slightly slower song for them, they wound it into another rocker, “My Trip to the Desert Sucked”. Upon finishing it, Don referred to this as “church”, which effectively made the crowd their congregation, all of whom seemed anxious as to what would continue their “sermon”. Next up they did one which I believe Don later added they had not played since their show at the House of Blues, all the way back in June. “How many of you were there?” he roared, and was answered with some applause. Drummer, Marc Berry, led them into their next song, “I Am”, which quickly exploded Craig Nelson and Alan Sauls, the lead guitarist and rhythm guitarist, respectively, and bassist, Kenneth Henrichs, tore into it. After another song, which, if memory serves me correctly, was another one they hadn’t played live in awhile and had dusted off for this show, they started to wrap up their set with “Somewhere”. The song has some sweet guitar licks from Craig, and towards the end of the song he indulged everyone with a stellar solo, where he really shredded on his guitar. During the brief silence that followed after that song, one fan made a request, shouting out, “Sleep On It!” It’s the bands newest single, and so far the only one they’ve released featuring Don at the helm. It’s also arguable the best song in their arsenal, and like any professional, national level touring band, they had saved the best for last. It’s hands down an incredible song, and while it was acted as a nice conclusion to their set, it also left you wishing they could have done more than just a 36-minute long set.

You could tell the band has done a lot of growing during the last six months, which can no doubt be attributed to a great deal of practice at rehearsals, and subsequently honed their live performance with their consistent schedule of shows.

They were a fine tuned machine, and every bit as good as the two acts that would go on after them. In some aspects, even a little better, and because of that The Circle should be a band you familiarize yourself with, and do it pronto.

They have some songs you can download from their REVERBNATION PAGE, all of which are live cuts, and most of them feature Don as the singer. Then you have the single, “Sleep On It”, which you can purchase in iTunes. Now once you do that, you’ll probably be wanting to see a show, and they do have a big one coming up in February. On the 2nd they’ll be at the Curtain Club in Dallas, as one of the acts opening the reunion show for the band Advent. That’s going to be an impressive night of music so, don’t miss it.

After them was the only out of town band, and that was Austin’s own, Dawn Over Zero.

It’s well documented on here how much I love that band, though it had been about ten months since the last time I had seen them. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to hear what they had in store this night.

Their 39-minute long set began with the lead track from their “Unity & Division” album, “Caricatures”. It’s one of the most fiery tracks from the record, and was a good choice as an opener, as it immersed everyone into the straight up rock sounds their ears would be enjoying. Bassist, Jonathan Boyce, quickly gave a shout out to The Circle for opening, and before he could completely finish, singer and rhythm guitarist, Mike Mears, and lead guitarist, Steven Abbenante, fired up “Catapult”. I could be wrong, but I’m thinking that tune was absent the last time I saw them, but either way, it was good to hear it again, as it is one of their catchiest. Steven didn’t even take a break, switching the final note of that song into the first one of their next one, a classic from their self-titled EP, “Take You Under”. Nothing against their new stuff, because I do love it, but there’s something about those older ones that are downright amazing. Or maybe it’s simply the fact that I like the chorus, “Well you take another trip, crossing the lines and now it’s time to stray from all the steps that may take you under…”. Of course the bulk of their set did come from their new album, though, and they pushed on with “Kidney Stone”, which is much more enjoyable than the name might suggest. They did pause occasionally between some of the remaining songs, but only long enough to thank Trees for hosting the show, the people for coming out, or the other bands on the bill. And it was after that, that they began a favorite of mine, “Short On a Dime”, followed by one of their best songs. “This sounds like a workout video, doesn’t it?” Mike asked, doing something that resembled a jumping jack and looked like it belonged in a jazzercise video, all while Steven played his part of “Give and Take”. Those chords alone sound incredible, and the fact that he cranked it out for a few seconds before his band mates joined in only enhanced the tune. The show then took a turn and got a little humorous, as Mike stated that the day before he had been threatened on Facebook. Saying he had been told that if they didn’t do this song, than their trailer would be vandalized. It probably wasn’t a credible threat, since it came from a member of the previous band, but he joked that he didn’t want to take any chances. The song that had been requested was a cover of a Johnny Hates Jazz tune that can be found on their record, and that song is “Shattered Dreams”. Mike sang the first verse (or maybe a little more) almost a cappella, with only Steven adding some very soft guitar notes over his voice. It was a stellar extra touch, but soon, fill-in drummer , Kevin Abbenante, (their master drummer, Mack Linan, was ill with the flu) busted into it, and really got the song underway. “How much time to we have left?” Mike asked the sound guy when they finished. Ten minutes was the answer, giving them enough time for two more, one of which is my favorite DOZ song and one I had not heard in an incredible long time. With all their new(er) material, “The Confidence” has become a deeper cut, and one that, at least based on the last few times I’ve seen them, has been seldom heard. In fact, I was afraid it may have been cut from the live show all together, so I was ecstatic when they started it. And for the record, it sounded even better than I remembered. Only one song remained at this point, and I assumed it came down to one of their two lead singles. “…This is the single from our first record.” Announced Mike, as they oddly (though thankfully) decided to end with the epic, “Circulation”.

This was as solid a set as any band could hope to do, and while I was surprised that “Carry Me Home” (their most recent single) was missing from the setlist, I’m okay with that, because I enjoy everything they did do so much more. Plus, it was just an amazing selection of songs.

I’ve seen more than a few DOZ shows, and this was the best in my opinion. It exemplified what the band is all about, and that is a high-energy live show (with tons of racing and jumping around the stage) that engages the listener, regardless of if they’re already a fan or are having their first ever Dawn Over Zero experience.

They’re a great band, and one to check out. One way to do that is of course by purchasing their music in ITUNES, and you can also find a couple of free downloads on their REVERBNATION PAGE. You can also go out to a live show, and while they don’t have any scheduled at this moment, keep a check on their Facebook or Reverbnation pages.

It was a little after eleven o’clock at this point, and approaching time for Meridian to take the stage.

They originally had a CD release show booked here in late October, but due to Trees being double booked, their show got cut. And while they had not done an official CD release show any time since, their EP had been available at both shows and online. In some ways, maybe that did diminish the excitement level that usually surrounds CD release shows, but still, this was a CD release show, and those are always ones for the books.

They ripped right into it, opening with “Re-digress”. I’m still not used to the new version of it, and couple that with the fact that I hadn’t seen the band in months either, and I didn’t even remember what song it was at first. I only recognized it when frontman, Tim Ziegler, sang the final line, “…Fuck all your politics. Fuck all your stupid tricks. Fuck all the things you say, words only get in the way.” Killer opener, and while I do still miss the original version of the song (which used those last few lines as the chorus), this new incarnation is more polished and has some sweet notes courtesy of guitarists, Mark Sims and Shannon Nedved. Following it up was their first song of the night from the EP, and that was “All Hands”. It was the best I’ve heard the song sound, and somehow it was also the first time I really took notice of the chorus, “I heard you call for me, but I could not be there, and you are wanting something that I forgot so long ago. And I have found the next best silhouette to take the place of you…”, which Tim crooned quite well, considering he was ill with the flu. Chris Gentry stepped up as the song concluded, and kept riffing on his bass, doing a brief solo which segued it into their next song, which was a newer one. Upon finishing it, they took a break, during which Tim mentioned his sickness and pulled out a bottle Singers Saving Grace throat spray. “…Let’s see if this works…” he said, testing it out, and also making a few wisecracks about it. They got back to it with their most aggressive song, “Nights Like This”. I’m not sure if the throat spray helped Tim or not, but it couldn’t have hurt either, because he sounded basically as good on it now as he has every other time I’ve heard them play it. A couple more tunes followed, the latter of which was an incredible sounding new one, while preceding it was what strikes me as being a fan favorite, and the chorus goes something like, “…This is war. The city is going to burn tonight…” Before moving on, Tim took a moment to plug their album. “…Let me tell you something about it. It cost eight thousand dollars to make. So go buy a copy. I think they’re only, like, five bucks… So at the very least you’ll have a cool coaster…” I already had plans to buy the CD, but hearing that only reinforced why I needed to. After he finished his speech, the sample track began for their next song, “The fire starts and ends.” It repeated a few times, with Tim adding, “With you.” to it to officially begin “Starts & Ends”. I said once before that was unsure about their tweaked version of this one, since the lyrics were what really drew it to me. But after hearing the recording of the new incarnation, I can say I still love it just as much as the old one… Maybe even more so. His voice may not have been one hundred percent, and while Tim has always been capable of a goofball personality on stage, he really seemed to let it shine through now, almost to compensate for the other areas. For example, during that song, he began thrusting his hips and humping the air. It was a nice dose of comic relief so to speak, and it only got better with their next song. “Lazy Eye” is another newer addition to the live set, and is not only a remarkable song, but was also the best one of their set this night. It just sounded better than anything else during their set, and while belting out the lyrics, Tim made his way around the stage, first to stage left to hump Mark, then over Shannon, where he proceeded to grind against his band mate. It was wrong, but oh so funny. “We have a couple songs left…” Tim stated, leading them into their “slow” tune, “Train”, which is also rather beautiful. That then took them to the final song of their 41-minute long set, as Mark began the song, before drummer, Joe Maurer, busted them into “Hey Lover”.

Considering Tim’s illness with the flu, it was a good show. Though I’d be remiss if I said it was flawless. There were just a few times I heard his voice crack, or you could tell he wanted to step it up on a part, but just couldn’t take it to where he wanted to. I can’t really fault the guy, though, because how many singers would still perform if their instrument was compromised like that? I doubt many would.

In every other aspect, though, it was pretty solid.

You can find the bands EP on iTunes, and by all means, go buy it. You’ll be glad you did. They also have at least one show coming up, and it will take place on February 9th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth.

The only bad thing about this show was the lack of people. It was an amazing lineup, but there were maybe fifty or so people there throughout the entire night. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but pathetic is the best word I can think of to describe the turnout, and it should have been much better than this. Oh, well. It’s too late to do anything now, and at least those who did show up where true, diehard fans of the bands.

The Circle

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Dawn Over Zero

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Meridian

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Saturday, August 4th, 2012 – The First Annual Broadcasting for Boobies

Broadcasting for Boobies. The idea was conceived by Chrys Starr of WhiskeyBoy Radio: East Coast in the early part of this year. Well, at least doing something to help raise money for breast cancer research was his idea, which Matt “WhiskeyBoy” then expanded upon, deciding to this concert.

This event had turned into quite an ordeal putting together, first of with the venue change, moving from a worthless place that is no longer opened in Arlington to Tomcats West in Fort Worth, and then the fact that so many bands dropped from it. It was originally planned to be a two-night concert, but the first night got scrapped, and then four out of the six bands that were scheduled for this Saturday night show canceled, leaving us scrambling to try to find replacements. Even the day of it looked like it was only going to be a four band night, until tow acts suddenly stepped up to the plate to fill the vacated spots.

My parents and I arrived shortly after seven, and the rest of the crew was recording a special WhiskeyBoy Radio Podcast (Listen to it HERE. Also, check out this epic DOUBLE SHOT PODCAST.) They wrapped it up soon enough, and after hanging out for a bit to kill time, it was time for the first act to hit the stage.

Two acts joined this show just hours before, and one of those acts was a twelve year old girl named, Mikayla. Matt’s wife introduced her, reading Mikaya’s story to everyone, which was sad and touching. For starters, doctors had found a growth in her throat, and they weren’t sure if it was cancerous or not. So, to be on the safe side, they removed her thyroid. I assume partly due do that unfortunate situation, it had been two years since she last performed on a stage. If you’re not doing the math while reading this, that means she was ten years old the last time she sang publicly like this. And I’m sure this was a much different venue than what she had performed at in the past.

She was visibly nervous when she first got on stage, and while there was only a handful of people there at this time, we chose to hang back from the stage so as to not add to her stress. She did a short set, and it was all covers of Joan Jett tunes, such as “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You”. Like I said, she was nervous, but soon as she opened her mouth to sing the first song, it was evident she had no real reason to be. She had an incredible voice, and if you weren’t paying attention to who was singing on stage and just focusing on the voice itself, you never would have guessed it was a twelve year old. She got more comfortable with each song, and by the final one she was asking everyone to come out to the stage, even leaving it for a bit as she walked around amongst the handful of people who had gone up there.

It was a nice little set, and she rocked those cover songs. Check her out if you ever get a chance.

The first actual band of the night was Enamored. And on a random side note, I’m not sure if this is the same Enamored, or rather, a new incarnation of the band, but I remember seeing the name on various venue websites a few years back. Anyway, they started their 31 minute long set with “Empty”, a shorter song that began more melodic, but got heavier, with some hefty drumbeats from Robert P. Guitarist, Aaron, started them on their next song, “Bring Down”, and then they took things down a bit with “Better Off Alone”. That was the song that solidified Jules outstanding voice, which was deeper and very powerful, really shining through on that song. Most of their songs clock in at three minutes or less, but they got back into the real rock swing with their longest song, “Escape”, which has a dynamic rhythm section, which also includes bassist, Robert. They really hit a lull with the song, “Free”, which showcased a completely different side of the band from their other songs, and then did what was probably the most electric song of their set, “Slaves and Toys”, where they all really let loose and owned it on stage. By that time they weren’t sure how much time they had left, and after asking the sound guy, they found out they had enough for one last song, another all-out rocker, which I believe was “Release”.

It was a great, high-energy set they did, and a great way to open the rock floodgates for this show. Great band with some harder rock music and stellar vocals. Go check them out if you get a chance, they’ll be back in Fort Worth on September 22nd at The Rail Club.

After them was another act who had just joined the show earlier in the afternoon. They were a trio by the name The Sonic Underground, which I, nor anyone else for that matter, had ever heard of. The funny thing, though, was after they got on stage I recognized their singer/guitarist, William Carlson, as a guy I frequently see at shows by another band, The Orange. At one of their shows they even got William on stage to sing one of their songs, and I thought, “Man, that guy has a pretty good voice.” Turns out, he’s putting it to use, too.

They did a shorter set, maybe 30 minutes, if not a little less, but in some aspects I think they might have been the best band on the show. Well, let me put that a different way. They were certainly the underdogs of the show, seeing no one in attendance was familiar with them, and that was why I was so impressed, because I had no clue what to expect. And for the record, they managed to blow me away.

They are all under twenty-one, but their musicianship was well beyond their years, flat-out owning it on their instruments. Their original songs were great, too, and at one point William told the crowd, “You might know this next song.” He then proceeded to play the first few chords of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”, which they killed.

I can’t elaborate much on their set, at least not to the extent I like to, and I can’t really promote them, since they have no pages on the interwebs. But I can say this, if you happen to see this promising, young band doing a show near you, go see them.

Triple SP was next up, and I will share with you their interesting story of getting on the Broadcasting for Boobies show. See, they played here just a few weeks prior to this, and billed that show as their last one for three months or so, since the bands guitarist and singer, Derek Procter, was going out with another band of his, and they just decided to take a little hiatus. Then, in posting that we needed some bands, drummer, Alex Lanz, contacted me telling me they’d be interested, and he told me even though he had repeatedly seen the date was August 4th, he thought it was a different date, so told me they would be interested. By the time he realized otherwise, we were planning on them playing, and they said since we had, had trouble with other bands dropping, the last thing they wanted to do was back out on us.

All that deserves some major props in my opinion, and to fill the spot of their other band mate, they enlisted the help of Bryan Motley from the band, The Aurora Crash, to play guitar, while John-Marc Stanley filled the spot of vocalist, and at times added another guitar into the mix. So, this wasn’t a true Triple SP, but it was going to be a very unique one.

Alex got their 37 minute set going, leading them into their first song, “I Want it All”. That was a brand new song that will be on their forthcoming record, and they followed it with another newer one, “Symptom”, which Bryan started shredding on to begin. His band played one of our RYA Entertainment shows a few months back, and he’s a good guitarist, but man, he really cut loose on these songs and just destroyed them. “Never Again” came next, which Brian Scheid started with a sweet, low end bass riff., and then a couple more form their “Transmissions” album, “Step Aside” and I believe, “The Walk”, which is just a true blue rock song, that is also straight and to the point. Another new tune came next, and towards the end of it, Brian stumbled back, falling on his back, and as he laid there, he continued to nail all the bass notes. It seemed almost natural, like he meant to do it, but a couple songs later the same thing happened, and he told everyone, “That’s the first time I’ve ever done that.” Alex then wanted to clarify, “That is not the first time Brian has ever falling down on stage.” He conceded to that, but said the was the first time he had ever fallen down during that specific song. They next did “Behind Your Back”, then one more new tune, which they pointed out they could release at anytime they wanted, but are “holding it at ransom” until they get 500 “likes” on their Facebook page. So go give it a like if you haven’t, because the sounded great, and I would very much like to hear the recording of it. Then, to cap things off, Brian stated that they like to do a different cover song at each show, and while I had no clue what song it was, it sounded pretty good.

It was a really good set they did. I know I’ve been wanting to see them for awhile, after realizing they knew who I was and even gave me a copy of their record, all of which is a humbling experience. Alex and Brian are great at what they do, Bryan added a nice flare to the show, and John-Marc Stanley sang quite well. I’m gonna have to make it to another show sometime, though. A real Triple SP show where they are just a trio… And one where I can hopefully write something a little better than this. But I guess that’s the main point, after seeing this show, I do want to see more.

They’ll be back her at Tomcats on August 25th, and also on December 31st. They even have a date that is probably tentatively set for March 16th in Austin for SXSW. On that day they’ll be playing the Heart of Texas Rockfest. And of course don’t forget to check out their “Transmissions” album in iTunes, or some of their new songs on their REVERBNATION PAGE. You can even get a free download of “I Want it All” on the latest ROCK COMPILATION from Torch Entertainment.

This was a co-headlining sort of night, and up first in that spot was Meridian. They kicked off their performance with “Re-digress”, and I must say, I was more fond of this new version this second time around then I was the first. I always thought any censorship they gave to it would make it loose its edge or something, but it hasn’t, especially with the slightly edgier music bed it. And even if the original chorus isn’t used as much, it still lingers, as towards the end, vocalist, Tim Ziegler, belts out, “Fuck all your politics. Fuck all your stupid tricks…”. The followed it with another heavy-hitter, “All Hands On Deck”, and then a new song, which the name on the setlist read, “30 Seconds”. It was pretty killer, and out of the handful of new songs I’ve heard them do, it’s heads and tails better than the other stuff, which is saying a lot, because their older material is much better than most bands. You can even hear a tighter, more cohesive sound in the new tunes. Still, it’s hard to compare to songs like “Nights”, which came next, and the song that followed, which guitarist, Shannon Nedved, started. “Starts and Ends” came next, and afterwards some instruments needed to be tuned, putting Tim in charge of killing time. He wasn’t sure what to say at first, then pointed me out. “Does everyone know Jordan?” he asked, saying he has know me for several years (over six at this point), then went on to thank Matt and everyone else at WhiskeyBoy Radio for putting together this event. “I don’t want to bring the mood down, but I just got back from Chicago…” he said, saying he had gone up there for an uncle’s funeral. “…And he died from cancer, so this a cause I fully support…” Tim has said before he doesn’t like filling dead air, but he did a good job, and after that they were ready for their next song, another new one, “Lazy Eye”. Mark Sims really let loose on that song, shredding on his guitar. They took it almost straight into the next song, and one of their slowest, “Train”, which shows off the bands softer side, as well as the lighter side of Tims’ voice, and is quite a pretty song. They brought things back up with “Wrecking Ball”, and then ended their 30 minute set with the usual, “Hey Lover”, where both Mark and bassist, Chris Gentry, where jumping around, perfectly timing it to Joe Maurer’s drumbeats.

I said about their last show that they weren’t firing all cylinders that night. Well, that was far from the case this night. In fact, this was one of the best performances I’ve seen them do. They were all on top of their game this night, putting on a very lively performance, both as individuals and as a group. Also, with each show, Joe meshes better and better with them, proving to be a sensational addition to the group.

I’ve said this the past few times I’ve seen them, and hopefully I won’t be saying it for much longer. They will have their debut EP coming out in the near future, but until then, go to their REVERBNATION PAGE to listen to a couple tracks from it. Lastly, stay tuned to that page or their FACEBOOK PAGE for details on their future shows.

Closing out this benefit concert was the one and only, Night Gallery. Matt and I helped to introduce them, and they wasted no time after that, as lead guitarist, Nathan Hanlon, started them into their 40 minute set by rocking out the intro of “My Friend Pretend”. Drummer, Randall “Duckie” Etherton, finished that song out with some quick beats, then rolled it into the next one “Dirty Side”, which the two guitarists, Nathan and Jeremy Root, and bassist, Mikey Auringer, hastily tore into. Them going from one song right into the next was what had made their CD release show at the end of June so amazing… Or at least even more amazing than they already are, and I loved that they were following the same pattern this night. Duckie again segued them right into the next song, as Patrick ”Otter” Gonzales told everyone they’d need some help with their next tune, and wanted everyone who knew “She Runs” to sing along to it. They took a short breather after that, though it didn’t last long, as Jeremy began one of my favorites of the bands, “Separation Anxiety”, during which Otter danced with the mic stand as he belted out the chorus, “But you’re fighting a battle you can’t win, against something that’s never been…”. They slowed things down for a minute by bringing that one into “Lynne”, but picked the pace back up with “Crazy Brave”, which was then followed by “Without Regret”.  That one was wound into the second single from their new record, “The Tide”, and afterwards they took a few moments to thank everyone who had a hand in planning the event, before getting slightly off topic and thanking other things, but at this point I can’t remember what. They started to wrap things up with the semi-chilling, “Untimely Demise”, moved right along into “Mr. Ripper”, and truly saved the best for last, as Duckie pounded away with the opening drum part of “The Signal”. “One! Two Three!” he shouted before the first time, changing up the counting each time he did it, to Spanish and other languages.

Night Gallery was an incredible way to end the night, and I thought this show of theirs rivaled their CD release, which was by far the best show I’ve seen them do. Yet in some ways, this tonight was even better, I think because Nathan and Mikey seemed more comfortable (this was only, like, their second live show as part of the band). Plus they were all pretty lively, with Jeremy and Nathan jumping around on occasion.

They have quite a few shows coming up over the next few months, with the next Dallas gig being on September 14th at The Boiler Room. On October 6th they will be down in San Marcos, TX at the Wake the Dead Coffee House, then return to the D-FW metroplex for a show at The Grotto in Fort Worth on October 12th. Then, in November they have dates at Fast Eddie’s Billiards in Waco on the 3rd then they’ll be at The Rock Star Bar in Denison, TX on the 24th. You can also pick up your copy of “Loud as the Sun” at any of those shows, or in ITUNES.

It was an incredible and successful night, as we raised nearly $1,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I want to again thank all the bands/acts who played this. So many of you hopped on last minute and helped save the event, and thank you to the other two for keeping the scheduled date.

I also want to apologize to all the acts for this blog being VERY sub-par in my opinion. The epic weekend the WhiskeyBoy Radio crew had set me pretty far back on my blogs, and my memory isn’t as crystal clear writing this nearly two weeks after the show.

Oh, and the second annual benefit show will be in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which Chyrs will put together. You know, if anyone reading this wants to make a road trip. Word is the third one will be in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Saturday, June 30th, 2012 – Loud As the Sun

The Curtain Club was hosting a rare event this night, a duel CD release show, this night, which of course had been a long time coming for the bands releasing the CDs, Night Gallery and Daylight Industries.

Daylight Industries got things going right around nine, as guitarist, Brandon Tyner started them the first song of their 39 minute long set, “Matterhorn”. They immediately cut loose, with bassist, Barry Townsend, jumping about the stage, thrashing around to the music, with Brandon doing more or less the same. Afterwards, Stephen Smith ripped into the drums for the intro of their next song, “ Wandering”, and upon finishing it, vocalist, Keith Allen , had something to ask the crowd. I forget exactly how he phrased it, but he was wanting everyone to get a little closer to the stage. “…I mean, I don’t want to be that guy, but come on, get the fuck up here…” he said, and the crowd listened. Whereas a lot of bands will say that more like a demand, or a request that you feel you have to follow through with, this had a different vibe to it. Keith laughed as he said it, and the entire band was wearing a smile, obviously already enjoying the night, and I think that was the real reason people crowded in more. They took things down quite a bit with an older song that now bears a new title, “Piano Wire”, (which, unless I am completely mistaken, used to be called “Mafia Song”), and featured a rip-roaring guitar solo from Brandon. It was around this point in the show that, while Keith said something, a person in the crowd shouted, “I like your beard!” “Thank you.” he replied, adding, “Yours is getting there.” They followed it with another heavy-hitter, “Aphasia”, and then and insanely catchy and in-your-face tune known as “Sit In”. “Bury The Architect” came next, and to end the show they did only the second song of their set that is also on the EP they were releasing, “Something’s Wrong”. The set had been nothing short of a spectacle, and while I wished it could continue longer, I was still very impressed by what they had done. But apparently, I wasn’t the only one who wanted more, though everyone else was going to be vocal about it, as the chants of “ONE MORE!” quickly rose up. The band didn’t know what to do, because all of their songs are longer, at least four minutes, and they didn’t have quite that much time. Three minutes was all they had left, so they decided the best they could do was to play half of a song. They opted to do one that was surprisingly absent from the set, “Hanging Fire”. I saw surprisingly just because when I think of the band, that is the first song that comes to mind. Barry got it going with a wicked bass line, and after a few minutes, Keith went around and said something to each of his band mates. Presumably where they should cut it off at. They did a nice job at that, and if I wasn’t already familiar with the song and they hadn’t said so, I would have thought that was the entire song.

I said this to all of the band members after their set, and I’ll say it again here. Not only was this the best Daylight Industries I’ve seen, this was also one of the best performances I’ve seen period. Seriously, these guys put on one of the best, most energetic and lively stage performances of any band I’ve seen. And I don’t think it hurts that everyone, sans Steve, performs without shoes, which I would think aids them in being a little more agile.

They are one of those bands who, for you to truly appreciate them, you need to see a live show. You can find their debut EP, “Future of an Illusion”, in iTunes, as well as a live recording of a previous show at the Curtain Club, dubbed, “Escape Velocity…

Up next was Meridian, and this was the first they had done in nearly four months. I think the curtain opened on them before they were completely ready to go, and vocalist, Tim Ziegler, greeted everyone with a “Hello.”, only spoken in a British accent. Just a few seconds later and they all were all ready to go, launching into the first song of their 36 minute long set, “Re-digress”. This wasn’t the original version, however, as they had made some “adjustments” to the tune. I have often been told that some people thought the song was held back by its “excessive” use of the word, “fuck”, saying it twelve times or so in all. Well, that’s been solved now, as they had completely changed the chorus, though there was still one time where Tim sang that original chorus, “Fuck all your politics. Fuck all your stupid tricks… Fuck all the things you say…”. Honestly, I thought that was what made the song so wonderful, and upon first hearing the changes didn’t think I’d like it nearly as much. But instead, it was the exact opposite, as I actually liked it even more. It had an even tighter sound, and just sounded more polished. Very great, and now that the “language” issue has been handled, maybe they can get it laid down whenever they do a second record. They followed it with “All Hands On Deck”, and afterwards encountered a little technical difficulty. Something was wrong with guitarist, Shannon Nedved’s amp, and they set to work to resolve the issue. “Tell a joke!” someone shouted, to which Tim said, “I don’t know any jokes. Jordan, do you know any jokes?” My answer was no, mainly because thanks to Matt and WhiskeyBoy Radio the only jokes I now are either dick or dead baby jokes , which, as funny as they are, I don’t want to repeat in a club full of people. “He’s never played guitar before.” Tim said, joking about Shannon, who soon rocked out a riff that proved him wrong as they got back on track. Their typical opener, “Nights”, was next, and sounded nice placed right here in the setlist. I still think it’s one of the best songs they have to kick things off, but then again, the way they started this night was great, too. After another tune, they did one that Tim said was for the lovers, or at least something similar to that, “Starts and Ends”, as guitarist, Mark Sims, got the song going. Despite having not even released their first EP yet, they are already working on new music, and played one of those songs, titled “Lazy Eye”, next. This is quite possible one of the best songs they’ve done yet, having an incredible solid sound. And if that’s a sign of things to come, I can’t wait to hear the other new tracks. “Train”, perhaps the bands most beautiful song, came next, as Tim softened his voice and pushed it into a slightly higher register, “I’ve been thinking of another way to die. If I leave this all behind, what will I find?…”. At this point they were told they had ten minutes left. “Well, we only have two more. And their short ones…” Tim replied, as Shannon started them into “Wrecking Ball”, while “Hey Lover” brought things to an end, and saw bassist, Chris Gentry, jumping in the air in perfect synch with some of the heavier beats Joe Maurer supplied on the drums.

It was a good set they did, though they didn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders like other shows of theirs have been. Song wise, I thought it was great, though, and the performance they did was still very enjoyable.

As of me writing this, their next show is going to be Saturday, August 4th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth for the RYA Entertainment/WhiskeyBoy Radio event, Broadcasting for Boobies, with all the proceeds benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. So, be sure to check that out. And they should be gearing up to release their debut EP in the very near future, so get ready.

Up next was Dark Horse Darling. It has only been within the past year that I started hearing about them, all good things, but after listening to their music, I wasn’t a fan. The vocals were just too hardcore for my tastes, being more screaming side of things, but still a bands live show is usually adds a different, more enjoyable element to their music, and I hoped that would be the case here.

They had a nice sample track play as their intro, which, if memory serves me correctly, was made up of some violins and like instruments. A far cry from what the band was like, making the intro more of a “calm before the storm” so to speak. Vocalist, Robert Hibbitts, was back by the drum kit as the curtain started to open, and as the band tore into their first song, he turned on a dime and raced up to the front of the stage. I was correct, vocally I didn’t care to much for the song, but it did have its moments, like when he shouted out part of the chorus, “…Make my day!…” They next did the title track from their current EP, “Moonshine at Sunrise”. Again, the heavier screams didn’t appeal to me, but the fleeting moments where there was legitimate singing, in my opinion, I enjoyed it. I think it was around this time that Robert noted that they were supposed to release their new EP this night, “…But we ran into some technical difficulties…” he said, adding they would have new music out for their fans very soon. Their next tune was by far my favorite of their set, as they toned things down quite a bit. This one showed off what a nice voice Robbie has, with a certain pop quality built into it. Very nice, and if that song will be on their upcoming record, I’ll will definitely be buying it as a single. They followed it with what I suppose were some more new numbers, the next one being “Skeleton Key”, while drummer, Brian Knox, started them into the one after it, and then they rocked out one more. It seemed like they had just really got going, and then Robert announced their next song would be their last one for the night. “This one is called Sleeping On the Floor…” he stated, asking anyone who might know it to help him out, because, “…I may or may not say the title in the song…”. The occasional mosh pit had gotten started during their set, but it got the most intense during this song (which still wasn’t too bad), as their 29 minute set came to a close.

Despite not being very into it at first, their stuff did grow on me to the point I found it enjoyable. And the entire band, which also includes guitarists, Corey Goodwin and Josh Strock, and bassist, Aaron McGrath, put on a pretty good live show.

You can find their EP, “Moonshine at Sunrise” in iTunes, and get a free download of the “Sleeping On the Floor - Single" from the latest compilation by Torch Entertainment. and they have several shows over the next few months. On July 12th they will be at Tomcats West in Fort Worth. July 14th at Heroes in Harker Heights, Texas. July 15th at the Red Eye Fly in Austin. July 19th at Hailey’s in Denton. Then Reno’s Chop Shop in Dallas on August 4th.

Night Gallery was the main course of the night, and this was truly a huge night for them. Really, this night has been in the making since December of 2010, when the band released their three song EP, “Sneak Preview”, offering a glimpse of what their eventual full-length would be like. But aside from that, this marked the debut of the new lineup. After losing Craig Roberts and Johnny Garcia, the band was in need of a new bass player, as well as one guitarist. They got one spot filled a couple months back, and recently found the other missing piece. Yeah, it was a huge night for the band, and one I had been eagerly awaiting for months.

Before the curtain even opened, you heard guitarist, Nathan Hanlon, rip into the first song of the night, which is also the first single from “Loud as the Sun”, “My Friend Pretend”. When the band was finally revealed, they appeared to be in full swing, rocking out, as vocalist, “Otter”, darted up on stage just in time to start singing the song. As “Duckie” pounded out the final drum beats of that song, he wound it right it right into the next, “Dirty Side”. I’ve liked this song for awhile, but in listening to me it has really grown on me, and I love the line towards the end, “…So here we are, standing face to face. With zombie tears trying to plea your case…”. They tore through that song, and then it was onward to the first single from a few years back, “She Runs”. “…Sing along if you know it.” Otter told everyone, which I think most people did as he started the first verse, “…She thinks she walks alone here in this place. She believes that no one else has felt this way. And then she wants advice, and then she asks me twice…”. That little marathon of songs had been one helluva show in itself, and made it quite obvious that a.) this was a completely new Night Gallery and b.) this was going to be the best show I’ve even see them do. They’re not just know for great rock music, though, as their light comedic touches also make the shows great. “We have crotchless girls shirts for sale…” Otter said (which was untrue). Duckie then added they carried crotchless guy shirts as well. “…So if you like crotchless stuff, you’ll love our shirts…” Otter finished before announcing the next song, “This one is called Separation Anxiety.” This has become my favorite song of the bands, and I think it is the stand out track from the record, and I think his voice is best displayed here, specifically on part of the chorus. “This song is couples skate only.” he said, as they slowed things down a little with “Lynne”. I missed everything that was said, though both Otter and Duckie said something about how things were going to get “crazy”. There’s only one song where things get downright crazy, and that is “Crazy Brave”. As they finished up the song, Duckie then said what was perhaps the funniest thing of the night, “…I scream, you scream, we all scream during a plane crash.” Their show hit another (slight) lull with “Without Regret”, and, once guitarist, Jeremy Root, played his final chord of the song, he started lightly strumming his guitar, beginning the next song. It was hardly audible at first, being somewhat masked by notes from their last song, which quickly subsided, giving way to “The Tide”. Since its debut, I’ve found the song good, but it never jumped out at me in the live setting and it was only after hearing the recorded version that I found myself in complete awe over it. And now, hearing it live for the first time in over five months, it was like the song had undergone a transformation, packing more of a punch now. Upon finishing it, Otter made mention that everybody might have noticed the new members, and it seemed like he was about to introduce them, which he did, just not in the way I was expecting. “His name is Bruce Banner.” said Otter, pointing to a plush doll of The Hulk that was tied to his mic stand, just above the Cookie Monster that sits taped around the base of the stand (Otter Smash the Tacocopter, anyone?). Things got a bit more serious for their next song, “Untimely Demise”, where Otter could be heard dedicating it to someone who was dear to him. “This one’s for you, grandpa.” he said, which I do think helped give the song more emotion to it, and made me look at the lyrics in a different light. Two more songs were all the remained, the first of which was their little story of a serial killer, “Mr. Ripper”, but the other eluded me. Then I finally remembered, at about the same the song ended, it was “The Signal”. Duckie immediately started counting, “ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR!”, then cut loose on the drum for a few beats, repeating that a few times. The instrumental intro/lead in for the song just has a grand feeling to it, and as soon as you hear it you know they are going to take you on a journey with this one. That’s part of why I still think this song is better suited as the opener, but tonight, it worked best as the closer. They got to what I believe is the bridge, and Otter stepped out onto the steps that are in front of the stage. “…With one single voice…(I’m not certain as to what the next line is). Fight to the end, to overcome trend…” he spoke, tugging at his shirt on that last word. “Now coming in clear, no more static you hear…” This was where it all changed, as he raised his voice. Neither in a yell nor a scream, instead in a determined tone, like a fiery passion was overflowing from him, “So take it from me. We’re not changing, you see!” he bellowed, then got back into the chorus, “They can’t stop the signal now. They can’t stop us all, they can’t stop us…”.  He had taken the mic off of the stand for this song, and after the final line, collapsed on the stage, as his band mates brought their 46 minute long set to a close.

“They can’t stop us.” That last line definitely rang true for Night Gallery this night. I mean no disrespect to anyone, but the band has never been as phenomenal as they were this night. Nathan brings with him more of a stage presence/performance, and can downright shred. Mikey Auringer, while not the most active member as far as moving around, still had a great aura around him as he rocked out the beats on his bass. Jeremy’s always great, being a fantastic guitarist, who lets his skill speak for itself, rather than do anything flashy to get attention. While Otter and Duckie were in topnotch shape. I thought I had seen some incredible performances by the band in the past, but this just blew those others out of the water.

They’re still Night Gallery, though they’ve manifested themselves into something different, now. And with a full-length record to get out there and promote, I’m interested to see what the road holds for these guys.

You can purchase “Loud as the Sun” in iTunes or at shows. As of right now, their next show will be on August 4th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth for the RYA Entertainment/WhiskeyBoy Radio event, Broadcasting for Boobies. They will also be playing in Dallas on September 14th at The Boiler Room.

Closing out the night was a band from Longview, known as This Day Forth. They had more of a hardrock sound to them, which got a little too hard for my tastes with their second song, “Fighting”.  That was where rhythm guitarist and lead singer, David Wilson, did a bit more screaming than I could handle, and I thought about leaving, but decided I should give them a little more time. Sure enough, the next few songs, “Love Me Black and Blue”, “The Cycle”, and “Send Me an Angel”, all sounded great, with the last one of those being the softer sided tune of the bands. But when they finished it, I went ahead and called it a night. It was around 1:30, and the band had just been told they had up to thirty minutes left, and despite me liking them, I was invested to the point that I wanted to stick it out.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t a good group of guys, though, and have a few shows coming up. On July 21st they will be at Click’s in Tyler, TX. July 28th will find them at the Side Pocket Lounge in Kilgore, TX. And they will be back there again on August 18th.

I really think this was one of the most solid show bills I’ve ever seen, and every band this night brought it. One last congrats to both Night Gallery and Daylight Industries for releasing records, and I’m already looking forward to your next recording efforts.

Monday, March 5, 2012 – Meridian

You can never go wrong with a free show, especially when it involves one of my favorite bands, and that was exactly what was happening at the South Side Music Hall this night. The show was presented by Bud Light Platinum and Matthew JC, of Matthew JC and the All Stars, helped put it together.

Meridian began the show and seemed to do an all too short 27 minute set… But it was a great 27 minute set. Joe Maurer counted them into the first song, and while this was only his second show with the band, he seemed even better tonight, as if he has been broken in a little more. With that count in, guitarists, Mark Sims and Shannon Nedved, and bassist, Chris Gentry, tore into “Nights”. It started off rather rocky, when Tim Ziegler began to sing, as they adjusted the volume of the vocals, which spiked and got super loud, before being turned down to where you could barely hear, before finally leveling out. The same problems also plagued Mark’s mic, but about halfway through the song everything was good. They followed it immediately with another song, the one in which Tim sings “…This is war…” with I believe another line being, “…The city will burn tonight…”.  Seeing them here on such a big stage compared to the other venues they usually play was different, but one of the pluses was a better sound system, which meant I could hear everything much clearer than usual, and as a result it somehow made me like this song even more. Tim took a backseat, though still rocked out, as Shannon, Mark, Chris and Joe played a short little instrumental piece (which I later learned was a snippet of one new song) before they stopped and got going on what I believe was a new tune of theirs. It at least sounded new to me, or perhaps they just haven’t done shows in so long I’ve forgotten the ones I used to know. Mark then got “Starts and Ends” going, and for the first time in awhile, I really loved the song. I’m hesitant to change, and back last year when they re-worked the music and overhauled the lyrics, I was skeptical of it. It had somewhat won me over since, but tonight, being able to hear the lyrics (which are the main thing that attracts me to a song) in almost crystal clear fashion, I became a fan of it. I still like the way it was in the demo recording, but I’m not going to be bitching about the change in any future blog and am looking forward to learning the new version so I can sing along to it. “Digress” came next, and beforehand Tim stated it would not be on their forthcoming EP , again because there’s too much cussing in it, and as he sang the second chorus of the song, he flashed his middle finger every time he sang “Fuck”. For example, raising his leg up and shooting everyone the bird from under his leg. They did what I think was another new song, before ending the show with “Hey Lover”.

It was a good show. I wish they would’ve gotten a little more time, even for one more song. I also found out afterwards from Chris that Tim had been sick for a little while, and his voice wasn’t at its optimum level, which explained why for only a second or two during one of the songs, his voice gave out. Other than that, I have no complaints with it, and am looking forward to the next one. Also, they are hoping to have their EP out within the next few months, though nothing is set in stone yet, so don’t get your hopes up… I know I’m not.

I’m not aware of any immediate upcoming shows, but I do know the band will be playing at The Ranch in Arlington on Saturday, August 4th. They will co-headline the night and the show will be presented by my co-workers at the WhiskeyBoy Radio Network, myself, and some help from Sawed Off Productions. Make plans to be there, because 100% of the proceeds will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Now, during their set Tim made a comment or two about the service industry, and thanking everyone who worked in it. I thought this odd until finding out from Chris that this was supposed to be a service industry only event; even though the bands had been advertising that they were doing a free show for their fans. I found that interesting that this show was supposed to only target one certain group of people, but I at least never got hassled by anyone on if I should be there or not.

Next up was Overscene, doing somewhat of a special show, as Erin Dennis was filling in for the band on bass, despite having left the group months ago. After running through the sound check they tore into their first song, “XOXO”, as vocalist, J.R. Munoz, ran out from backstage. “How many inmates we got in the house tonight!?” he asked everyone once the song was over, before they did what I assume was one of their new tunes. It stood out as being one of their most badass songs of the night and definitely gets your blood flowing. Next came a track from the “Bringin’ All My Friends” EP, “Time to Shine”, before slowing things down a little with “Here I Am”. With a single drum beat, Michael Glass patched the end of that song into “Stems” as the rest of the instruments fell silent and J.R. asked for some crowd participation and got some of the people to sing, “Oooohhhh, oooohhhh.” When it reached the end, they carried it over into “Don’t Fly Away”, and afterwards did one of their best songs. Michael kicked off “Off the Wagon”, as Toby Bittenbender and Justin Berry joined in on their guitars, then Erin added the heavy bass notes to accompany the drums. They started wrapping up their 42 minute set after that, first with their cover of “Thunder Rolls”, and of course ending with the hard hitting, “Each Time I Fall”.

They put on a great show, and even though Erin has played with them in some time, he still seemed like a perfect fit with them on stage, matching everyone’s energy level perfectly and maybe even outdoing them on a song or two.

You can buy their albums “The Moment of Change” and “Bringing All My Friends” on iTunes and be sure to check out a show whenever they do another one.

Shortly after they finished, I went ahead and left. I’ve seen Matthew JC & the All Stars before and honestly, I think they’re over glorified. Don’t get me wrong, I do think what they do for the troops is awesome, such as them going overseas and performing for active duty military, but personally, I’m just not a fan.

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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 4, 2012 – Part I: Meridian’s 2012 Debut

I had many plans for this night. Going to Denton was one option, while another was seeing an Austin band, who was coming back through after a month long tour, and playing one venue in Deep Ellum. Point is, there were several shows I wanted to see. Then Meridian got a very last minute show booked at the mighty Curtain Club, so my plans changed to see them, as well as make two other shows at different venues.

See, it had been nearly seven months since the last Meridian show, and the one this night would mark their tenth performance in Dallas, as well as the tenth time I have seen them.

They had an early slot, and got things going just a few minutes before nine. It had been so long since I’d seen them I wondered if I’d even remember the song titles, but fortunately I did upon hearing them. They opened their 26 minute long show with the standard, “Nights”. I had forgotten how kickass the tune is, but was quickly reminded as vocalist, Tim Ziegler, sang the chorus, “On nights like this, strangers come together. On nights like this, people will be torn apart.” Their brand new drummer, Joe Maurer, started them into the song, and after it, it was time for one that had been completely revised. Guitarist, Mark Sims, began the song, “All Hands on Deck”, as Chris Gentry soon layered some bass notes over it. It was completely different from the original version, where they all began at once as Tim belted out the song title, “All hands on deck!…” No, this began very heavy and thick, before fellow guitarist, Shannon Nedved, and Joe joined in. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t somewhat miss that original version, but through the powers of their wonderful producer, David Castell, they pushed an already killer song into something even more amazing. They followed it with another one that got a completely overhaul, “Starts and Ends”. I remember being shocked back in July when they debuted this new version, and didn’t really know what to make of it. However, after knowing it had gone through some changes and expecting the updated version tonight, I liked it much more… All of, from the slightly tweaked notes that Mark plays at the start of the song, to completely rebuilt verses. “Digress”, which I consider to be one of the best songs in their arsenal, came next, before they slowed things down a little. But I believe before starting it Tim took a moment to formally introduce their new drummer. “When we first started the band it was retarded hard to find a drummer, so when we were looking for a new one we thought it would be equally as hard. Until this guy walked into our rehearsal room.” as he pointed to Joe. He then got back to show mode. “…This song will most likely be a single on our upcoming EP.” Tim said, “And if you have any good album titles, let me know…” he added. The song was “Train”, which I liked more this time than from the other times I’ve heard it… But on the other hand I could never remember this song too well in the first place. Either way, I dug the vibe it gave. They had “Wrecking Ball” planned, but instead axed it and just finished the show off with “Hey Lover”, another song that benefits from some slight changes, at least at the beginning. When they got to the chorus, as Joe crashed down on the drums, Mark and Chris both leapt into the air, not just in perfect synch with the music, but also one another.

This was one of the better shows I’ve seen them do, and would fall somewhere in the top five. It was just a solid rock show, no more, no less. I’m really liking Joe, who not only seems like a good fit with the group, but is also a stellar drummer. This just seemed like a good re-introduction for the band, who could just enjoy getting back on stage and performing without feeling much pressure of having dozens and dozens of people watching them, perhaps expecting new material or something over the top after the lengthy absence.

Speaking of new material, I was told they have a few killer new songs written and they will be worked in over the course of their next few shows. Also, their EP is done and should be released hopefully within the next few months. So, if you want to hear those new songs, check out their show on Monday, March 5th at South Side Music Hall in Dallas. Oh yeah, it’s a free show.

Lastly, I want to again thank Tim for using of their guest spots to get me in. Thank you. You are amazing, sir!

I stuck around for a little while after their set, but ducked out a little before ten to go see another band who had placed me on their guest list…

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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!

July 23, 2011 - In Memoriam

Jason Wheelington. He’s probably best know as the frontman of Dallas bands No Respect and Supercell. I never had the pleasure of actually meeting him, though we did communicate on Myspace a little here and there. It began when I got a friend request from Supercell, in the last couple months of 2007. I’d kind of heard of Supercell before, as I got into the local music scene right as the band was breaking up, at the end of 2005. Any ways, I checked out a few Supercell songs and a couple of them sounded identical to some Miser tunes that I knew, and I made a comment that some of the songs sounded very familiar to me, yet totally different. “That’s a good ear you have…” he later commented on my page, before adding a word about how The FEDS, a band I passionately supported, had gotten even more impressive since the time they used to do shows with Supercell.


He soon announced the beginning of his next music venture, Killing Caroline, which I quickly became a fan of. I was never able to see one of their shows, as the only Dallas venue they played was the 21 and up only, Firewater. And I was still a couple years away from being able to get into there at that time. And after I left a comment on one of their show invites, saying I would be there if I was just of age, I got a message from Jason a few days later. Basically, he said he talked to the people at Firewater to see if they would let a minor in, but they told him no, and he apologized to me. I just found that incredibly neat. I hadn’t asked him to see if I could get in to the club or anything, it was just something he thought he’d see if he could make happen. No, I didn’t meet him personally, but just from our very brief communications on Myspace, I felt like I knew him to some degree. So, when I learned of his passing from cancer a couple months ago, I was a bit disheartened by it.


And that brings us to tonight. A benefit show had been planned in Jason’s memory, with all of the proceeds going into a fund for his two young children. It was happening at Trees, and at least most, if not all, of the bands were connected to Jason in some way.


Ayo, formerly of 106.1 The EDGE was the MC for the night, and got on stage just a couple minutes before 8. He thanked everyone for coming out early, rather than being fashionably late, and kinda ran over the nights layout. Then he introduced the first act of the night, whom he said was the last band Jason publicly played with before “…quietly…” leaving music, The Mullet Boyz. Their intro music started and their drummer, who was already behind the kit, stood up and started doing all these moves, like showing off. Then, three other guys walked on stage, one grabbed a bass, the other got in front of the main mic, while the last picked up a guitar. And they were dressed quite ridiculously, the bassist wore more like a jogging suit or sweats, which wasn’t bad, but the other two had on shorts that were acceptable in the ‘70’s, but not now. Shorts so short that if you see a person wearing them now days you know it’s a dead giveaway that they’re gay… Most times. Their intro music finished and they began their first song, “Eye of the Tiger”. I forgot to mention, these guys were a cover band. It was so hysterical watching them, they moved in total synch, turning their heads at the same instant, swaying in perfect unison. As they played the song I began to look at the bass player, and finally thought to myself, “That looks like Dave fuckin’ Shafer.” (You may know him from two of the area’s legend bands, SouthFM & The FEDS. He currently plays with In Memory of Man) It was later confirmed, after their set, when he saw me, and I him, and we exchanged hellos. They continued with a cover of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” and Rush’s “Tom Saywer”. And during one of those their singer said to give it up for their drummer, calling him by name, as all three of them went to their knees, like they were kneeling to their mighty drummer. After that, things got really weird. as they went into three consecutive rap songs. And Dave, or as he goes by in this band, M.C. G. MONEY, was the main man behind it. Though on a couple of them the other two, lead vocalist, Ricky Suave, and guitarist, T-Bird, busted some rhymes, too. Before starting their final song, M.C. G. Money (Dave) said something about he knew Jason, but he knew him by another name, as he stated whatever Jason’s band name was in this band. “…Should’ve checked his wallet!” he added. He then said something like Jason always liked the cowbell, and drummer, Rod Hotter stood up from his kit, holding, what else, a cowbell. Then he and Ricky swapped places. A track of that Christopher Walken SNL skit began playing, it sounded fairly soupy and continued on a loop for a bit. Then, Rod H. , T-Bird, and M.C. G. Money all played a cowbell to a montage of different songs. This band was THE cheesiest thing I’ve EVER seen, but they were cheesy on purpose. Making it better, they acted like they were coolest band the world has ever seen, but not in a cocky way. Their outfits and just their whole stage show in general had me in near hysteria, and I loved every minute of it, as they were actually very great. They’ve got a couple shows in Fort Worth next month, one on the 5th of August at The Eagle’s Nest. With the other being on the 26th at Spencer’s Corner. Then they’ll be at Sherlock’s in Addison on September 2nd. I’ll definitely try to catch that last one.


Ayo got on stage during each set change (which were shorter, as Moe Martinez’s drum kit was used by all the bands) and he’d plug the raffles that were happening, announce the upcoming bands, etc. And next up was a special tribute to Jason’s most well-known projects…


No Respect was first up, doing a very short set of only three songs. Their music was great, based on the little taste I got tonight, and the singer they had I thought did justice to the man whose shoe’s he was filling for a bit. Even he admitted though that these songs were very hard to sing. And they ended their set with a song called “What’s Your High?”, which they asked for some help from the crowd in singing the lyrics that were the songs title. They got their stuff off stage afterwards, as the stage was set up for a very brief acoustic song. One of the instrumentalists from No Respect played an acoustic guitar, while Shannon Nedved, of Supercell, played another acoustic. Then a women approached the mic, and said her name was, I believe, Tanya, and that she was Jason’s younger sister. “And, at the request of my mom, I’m going to sing tonight.” she said. “This song is called Brand New Day.” She sounded very hesitant and reluctant at first, and I immediately had doubts of she would be. She didn’t really have anything to worry about though, as apparently Jason wasn’t the only one in his family who had the singing gene. She did have a pretty voice, and did a great job on the song. Then they got ready for the Supercell portion of the show. Shannon was joined by Mark Sims on the other guitar, as well as Moe Martinez, doing his first of four stints on the drums, and (I assume) Nick Holmes on bass. Plus the guy they had doing the vocals. They, too, only did three songs, which were “Perfect Part”, “Caroline”, and “Swept Away”. Personally, I didn’t think the guy singing was all that great, as I found it heard to hear his voice most of the time. And it seemed to come and go, sometimes it’d be fairly strong, others just real shaky. It was good to hear those songs fro the first, and probably last, time though. Especially “Perfect Part”. But their was one song that was noticeably absent from the set. One, that after Jason passed, Supercell asked their fans to take time out of their day and listen to it, in Jason’s memory. It was a bit of a mystery to me as to why they didn’t play it, but that’s the thing with mysteries, they usually reveal themselves in time…


Next up was one of the very first local bands I ever heard of, Darby. I first saw them in May of 2006, and quickly became a fan and saw them several times over the next couple of years. Then, on November 14, 2008, I, as well as a hundred plus other people packed Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton and looked on as The FEDS played their next to last show ever. Tim Ziegler was one of those other people, and he gave me a heads up, not only about an upcoming Darby show the next month, but that it would also be the bands final performance. I was of course there at the Liquid Lounge in December as they played their final gig, but the thing about it was it lacked true finality. They never once stated it was going to be their last show, and even though I was privy to the information, it still lacked closure to me. The book containing the bands story seemed to be left open, with at least another page needing to be written. And tonight, ink would finally be placed on that page…


They opened their 32 minute set with the first song from their “The Clearing” EP, “6 Days”. As lead guitarist, Bryan Ziegler, started began it, before “The Rip” came in on the drums. And they wasted no time going right into their most rocking song, “143rd Street”. It’d been nearly three years since Darby last performed on a stage, and the rust they’d accumulated showed more on this song than any others, I thought. They’d always get real into this one, as bassist, Alex, guitarists, Blake Trotter and Bryan, and vocalist, Tim Ziegler, would all thrash about, in synch, to the drum beats during the chorus. But not tonight. They still got into it, don’t get me wrong, just not to the same extent they did back in the day. For the next song “The Rip” started in on, I think, the hi-hat cymbal, laying the foundation for the tune. Then Bryan and Tim came in instantaneously, on the guitar and vocals, respectively. “Thinking back to that one night when I was alone with you. You wore a smile of lies and tried to tell the story of how we’re threw…” Tim sang, the first lines of “Such as Toys”. (Random note: I’d almost forgotten about this, but I was at the Curtain Club when they debuted that song. March 17, 2007, I believe it was. I was also at the show where they debuted the next song they did.) “This song is called Clock the Paradigm.” stated Tim. This was one of the new songs they wrote, not long before breaking up. I only heard it twice then, and damn, I’d forgotten how amazing it was. It was quite possibly the best song the band wrote, and it made me think what a shame it was that they disbanded, since they had great stuff like this just stuck in their back pockets. (“Disintegrate the Muse” is another song that comes to mind.) “How much time do we have left?” Tim asked the sound guy. “We can do two more or we can do three more.” Time wise, they were apparently okay, as he (Tim) said they were flying through it, and even had time to tune, which they did. “Cheers to Disaster” followed, and they went old school next with a song from the “Leaving Stella” EP, “Epic”. And then, there was only one left. Alex had ended up making the set lists, and Tim said for their final song they had two options. All of the set lists read “Cellar Door” for the final song, except for Tim’s. His read, “Tim is Gay”. He even held it up so the crowd could see it. “Well, here we go. This is kinda an old one with a brand new title.” This song never made it onto an album, and I really don’t remember enjoying as much in the past as I did this night. And I’d almost forgotten about the tail end of the song, where the guitars cut out, followed soon by the drums, leaving Alex doing a sweet little bass riff. Before they all come back in on for a killer instrumental breakdown. Great song, though I did think Tim would do a little throwback lead in as he used to do for it. “How many people have seen Donnie Darko?” he’d ask the crowd. “What are the three most beautiful words in the English language?” In which the fans would yell, “THE CELLAR DOOR!” Ah, memories. I hope this isn’t the last show Darby does. It can be another year, or even two, for all I care, but sometime, I’d like to see them headline the Curtain Club and pull out the old stuff. “A Stake in Actors”, “My Magistrate”, “Solo Universe”, “Kansas City”, “Die”… Those are about all the song titles I can remember at the moment. But yeah, I love to hear those again.


Another reunion show followed, this time by Forty Percent. They began with drummer, Moe Martinez, guitarist, Joey, and bassist, Chad, just rocking the fuck out. Then Coach made his way on stage, and grabbed one of his mics. I’m sure there’s a technical name for it, for those who have seen The Toadies it’s like the one Todd Lewis uses, that distorts the vocals just a hair. Except Coach’s wasn’t attached to the mic stand, as he instead clutched it in his hand. Problem was you couldn’t even hear what he was singing at first, and he soon changed to the main stage mic. Then you could hear him, “…Can I tell you, I appreciate your form of self-defense…” he sang, a line from “Outerspace”. It’s the first track on their “Portland” CD, and they moved right along with the second, “Nothing Changes”, before doing “Not For Me” and another, I assume, unreleased song. It sounded like it was eventually re-written and became a Miser song, as part of the chorus was, “…We are okay. According to the news today…” Though I think I liked this early version better. Their was a brief moment of silence in between songs, before Moe started them into the next song, and the main one I was hoping to hear from them, “St. Louis”. Then they churned out he final two songs on the “Portland” record, “My Runaway” and “Humble”. And in the final moments of “Humble” Joey almost attacked his guitar, shredding the thing to pieces. Wow! After that they just had one song left, and put a close to their 43 minute long set, which was the longest of any band this night. Their reunion show at the Curtain last December was the only time I’d seen them before, and I think this show blew that one out of the water. Spectacle wise, the Curtain show takes the cake, but based on performance, I thought they were even more on their game tonight. Chad and Joey put on an awesome enough show just by themselves this night. And Coach, well, from the couple of Miser shows I saw a few years ago, to these 40% shows, I’ve really thought he almost resembles a bucking bronco on stage. The way he moves about, stomping his feet on the stage, kicking his legs wildly in every which direction, he really is one of the best front men I’ve seen perform. I’m really glad they were a part of this night, so I could savor one more 40% show.


Moe Martinez really had his work cut out for him this night, especially now, as he had to do back-to-back sets. This time with his current project, Meridian. I almost felt like I was having withdrawals from this band, since I’ve seen every show they’ve done to date, and it’s been nearly three months since they last did a full on rock show like this. They opened the show with the standard, but oh so great, “Nights”, and didn’t really dilly-dally afterwards. Going right into their second song, then guitarist, Shannon Nedved, got “Wrecking Ball” going, and it was followed by “All Hands On Deck”. The first four songs were out of the way, and I’ve seen them enough to know that “Starts and Ends” usually falls as the fifth song. And guitarist, Mark Sims, started a song that sounded kinda like it, but when Tim Ziegler started singing the song I figured it couldn’t be. Then they arrived to the chorus, “…It’s all in time. Things will, will make more sense. What did I have to do, to make you smile?…” Okay, so it was “Starts and Ends”. It’s just apparently undergone some “surgery”. And not, like, light cosmetic work. No, we’re talking along the lines of full on facial re-construction surgery. The chorus may be the same, but the verses have been completely rebuilt, and even the music sounded a bit more sharpened. Honestly, from this first listen, I’m just indifferent to it. More often than not, what attracts me to songs are the lyrics. And I for whatever reason I just really liked this tune’s lyrics. i.e. “…I torture myself one more time to get much closer to you. There is no other place to hide, it’s time for you to face me…” I’ll need to hear it a few more times I guess, cause I’m not fickle enough to say I hate it just like that. But they did throw a major curve ball at me with this one. Tim said they had a couple songs left, and joked before the next one that he had to stretch out his middle fingers. Well, he I think he was joking about it, though he really did stretch them out. That was a dead giveaway that “Digress” was next. And every time he would say “Fuck” in the songs’ chorus, he flash his middle finger. Sometimes raising one leg and flashing it underneath his leg, and once he turned his back to the audience, then bent over and flipped everyone the bird from in between his legs. They then wrapped up their set with “Hey Lover”. They really put on a hell of a show. Don’t know if I’d say it was the best I’ve seen them do, but it would take second or third place, for sure.


You know I said Ayo was the MC of the night and would appear on stage during the set changes. Well, for the sake of my blog, let’s say it was during this set change that he welcomed of friend of his, as well as Jason, on stage. “Scooter” was what he went by, and Ayo said he was almost like a second dad to Jason’s kids, and he evidently spent a lot of time with Jason in the hospital during his weeks and days. “Scooter” said he’d joke with Jason about he  should be remembered, “We just need to put your face on a cymbal.” “Scooter” said to him. Well, he took that idea and expanded on it a bit, and showed the crowd a plaque. Like the ones that already adorn Trees, from bands like the “Deftones” and “Vanilla Ice”, just different big name acts who’ve played the stage since Trees re-opened. But this plaque is of Jason, belting out a song, and it looked incredible. Look for it the next time you go Trees.


The rock continued next with Overscene. But only after their intro song, Hank Williams Jr.’s “Family Traditions” played for a bit. Then guitarists, Toby Bittenbender and Justin Berry, drummer, Michael Glass, and their fill in bassist, who is in the band Ursa, ripped into the first song, “Off the Wagon”. Then vocalist, J.R. Munoz, made his way on stage, asked everyone how they were doing, and got the song started. There are songs you hear bands open with that make for good opening songs, then there are the songs that are THE perfect song for the band to open with. For Overscene, this song falls into the latter. “…I’m falling off the wagon again. And I’m bringin’ all my friends, on my binge…” J.R. sings on the chorus. As the final notes from that song resonated out, Toby started them into the next one, “XOXO” and it was followed by “Stems”, then immediately, “Time to Shine”. “This song is called Don’t Fly Away.” announced J.R., as the band toned things down a bit. They pulled out a slightly older song next, all in honor and memory of Jason Wheelington. “This song is called Missing You.” J.R. said, “And all our old school fans know it’s very personal and about the loss of beautiful people…” And the songs chorus did seem pretty appropriate for the situation. “…Cause I’m missing you already, I don’t want to let you go. When I close my eyes your with me, I will never let you go…” Next up, they did a newer song. “How many of y’all remember Pogs and Slammers?” J.R. asked everyone. Man, I’d forgotten all about those. So, they did a song that bears the games title, and it was pretty good. The intro for their next song started next. I think it was the sound of thunder and lightening, and eventually, rain. But it’s been so long since the Dallas area has had any of that I’ve almost forgotten what it sounds like. (Bad joke, I know. That’s why I don’t try to add humor to these too often.) It was the lead in for the cover of Garth Brook’s “Thunder Rolls”, and they rolled it right into their final song, “Each Time I Fall”. Which, at the beginning of, J.R. screamed out “COME ONE!”, trying to incite the crowd. 40 minutes was how long their set spanned. Last month at the Curtain they were good, but seemed off their game from just the couple other shows I’ve seen in the past. But tonight, tonight they brought it and then some. Maybe it had something to do with this being their favorite club to play in Dallas, which was made clear a couple different times by J.R.. They’ll be back here in less than a month, for Tree’s 2nd year anniversary, serving as the main support for Drowning Pool. And for 21 and up, tickets are a mere $2. Get them NOW, HERE! Oh, that show is Friday, August 19th.


As I said, Ayo was the MC, and he did live auctions, announced the auction winners, and had people who knew Jason come up on stage in between bands. And before the final band, “…The woman who spawned the creature we knew as Jason Wheelington.” as Ayo put it. Saying during the whole process of preparing for this show, they had dubbed her “Ma Wheels”. She thanked everyone for coming out and supporting this cause, saying that when Jason was in Jr. High school she told him he needed to pick better friends. “These people you’re hanging around with aren’t going anywhere.” she said she told him. “Well,…” she added, “I think he really proved me wrong.” Referring, of course, to the people who came out tonight. She even made mention of when he passed, “He waited for that beam of sunlight to hit him before he left. He always did know how to make an exit.” It was pretty touching. And when she was finished, it was time for one last band, and one last reunion performance…


At 12:55 a little intro song began for Miser, and played briefly. Then, after a few moments of silence, guitarists, Mark Sims and Shannon Nedved, bassist, Nick Holmes, and drummer, Moe Martinez, began their first song, and it was my fave Miser tune to boot. “Afterglow”. Soon, vocalist, Coach, made his way on stage, to a good bit of cheering, and began singing the song. “Your philosophy, it’s all in the way you make me smile. You don’t have to try to be the heart of me, you just have to make it worth my time…” They followed right up with another great one, “Release Me”, then “Karma Town”. As they were starting “Karma…” Mark went back to the drum riser, facing Moe, and started playing. But something messed up, as what he played didn’t sound exactly like the song, and he quit. “Do over!” they said a few times, as he corrected whatever the issue was. And during the song, near the end, Coach laid the mic and stand down, positioning it on the monitors where the mic was right in front of the crowd. Or at least those of us who were at the front of the stage. Everyone quickly picked up on what they were supposed to do, and started singing, “Come on down, come on down, come on down to Karma Town.” over and over and over again. Mark even lightened his playing for a few seconds so the audience could really be heard. And after it had gone on a minute or so, Coach picked the mic back up and finished out the song. They did a couple more originals, “Monkey” and “Saved”, and afterwards the show took a neat little twist. Coach made some remark about this night as well as Jason, and the band started into a song. Remember how I said there was a song absent from the short Supercell set? Well, they did it now, it was “Shine”. It sounded pretty amazing, and I think it might’ve been the best song they played this night. “Wait!” said Coach after it was over, “I thought we cut this one, too?” as Moe started them into their cover of The Cranberries “Zombie”. I probably can’t call myself a Miser fan for saying this, but I was never a huge fan of this song. (I guess I was never a die hard Miser fan either, though. As I was only able to make it out to two shows, one in 2008 and one in 2009.) It’s not that their cover is bad, they certainly made the  song their own by putting their spin on it. It more just pushes the length of what I prefer to listen to. I like 4 to 4:30 minute long songs at most. This one spans over 6, and just find myself losing interest after awhile. In the live setting it is different though, since it’s more engaging. Coach once again thanked everyone for coming out tonight, and they began the final song of their 42 minute set, “Zen”. And that brings me to the chief complaint I had with the other two Miser shows I saw. Coach’s voice is, at times, almost impossible to hear. I blanked on that last song, and couldn’t remember what it was for the life of me. Only when they got to the chorus was I able to make out a few words here and there. And the same thing happened earlier in the night, too, during “Saved”. I’m not sure what it is, as that wasn’t a problem with 40%’s show, both tonight and the one last December. That wasn’t a huge strike against their set in my book though, and they still put on a fantastic show. It’s just sad to think that this was, in all likelihood, the last time Miser will ever play live, as well as the other two bands who did reunion shows.


As I said, I never met Jason. But after tonight, I felt like I knew a little better who he was. Seeing all of this done for him and his family and hearing the few stories that were shared made him a little more real to me. Not just a guy I’d communicated with on Myspace and have only heard him sing on one of the CDs he helped make, (Supercell-The New American Standard). “Ma Wheels” said something else when she was on stage. “Y’all ready to do this again next year?” she asked everyone, and got a huge response to it. I think that might be one of the best ideas anyone has had. I can only assume Jason would support it, not just because the money raised would held his children, but also because I think everyone here had a wonderful time. For me, I can already say this was and will be the best concert I see all year. (Unless The FEDS decide to do a reunion show between now and December.) So yeah, why not make this an annual event?

(If you’d like to donate any money to the funds for either of these boys, visit HERE.)

"…Show me a sign that the sun will rise and shine for me…" - Jason Wheelington / Supercell

Rest in peace, Jason.

(If you’ve spent your time reading this, please take a few more seconds & go “Like” the fan page I’ve made on Facebook, by clicking HERE. I’m wanting to get an idea as to how many readers I actually have. Thanks!)

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.

April 29, 2011 - “I Hope You Find Yourself Cause I’m Leaving…”

When I arrived at Trees the first band, The Royal Tragedy, was already playing, and nearly done. Probably didn’t help that I stopped at Good Records to get the new Bowling for Soup album, but I’d seen The RT almost two years ago up in Denton and didn’t much care for them. But as I was walking in I actually liked what I heard. Just caught the last half of their third to last song, but it was pretty good, however I didn’t care for their next to last one. Their singer/guitarist just screamed on it WAY too much for my tastes. But they did recover a bit in my eyes with their final number. Still not the best band I’ve heard, but I’ll have to check them out again sometime, see how a full show sounds.

Second up was Echo of Insanity. Didn’t much care for these guys at first. On their first two songs vocalist, Rus Chaney’s, voice sounded pretty rough, in a unrefined way, and I wasn’t sure how long I could listen to these guys if that was going to be the case. But on the third song things got exponentially better. It was still a bit rough, but in a good and distinctive way. And from here on out they had my full attention. They were top notch performers, and when Rus wasn’t singing he’d somewhat bow out and go and stand on the drum riser, leaving the stage to guitarists, Herb Crookall and Matt Massey, and bassist, Clint Potter, to rock. They did several songs in there 36 minute set, a few of which they said could be found on an album sampler they had for sale, which is just a prelude to their full-length debut that they said would be out in a few months. And I am now suddenly excited for that. They are a great Rock / Alternative Rock band and despite what my initial thoughts of Rus’s singing was, the dude has a killer voice.

The Commotion was next, and I was looking forward to seeing them again as it had been a few months. They began by doing a little instrumental piece, which sounded like one of their other songs, before they suddenly tore in to “Carry On”. It was a pretty straight forward rock show in the sense that they moved from one song to the next with barely any breaks in between. And in their 38 minute long set they rocked out “Killing Time”, “Crim”, “LOL”, “Dare”, one whose title I don’t know, “Just a Test” and finally, “Backseat Driver (Wash it Away)”. I don’t see these guys just too often, but every time I do I swear they just get better. Guitarist, Josh Sanders and Justin Middleton, and bassist, Justin Hold, really put on a show, constantly moving about the stage and shredding on their respective instruments. And while I don’t always pay attention to the drummers in a band, mainly cause most of the time they are harder to see, Ross Rubio (who was pulling double duty tonight) is one of the better ones I’ve seen. And maybe it could partially be attributed to Trees sound system, but I think Micah Creel’s voice sounded even better then usual this night. They’re just a great band with a great live show. You can catch ‘em in just a few weeks at the Curtain Club, on Friday May 20, where they’ll be playing with The Orange and The Phuss. Both of whom are some killer bands.

Meridian was next, doing their monthly Trees gig. The curtain opened on them as they looked at the crowd for a brief moment before kicking things off with “Nights”. This was their second show doing the new versions of their songs and I noticed it last time, but I made sure to listen for it this time around, “it” being the guitar riff Mark Sims rocks out after the first chorus. It’s a very sweet lick indeed. They were relentless with the next few songs, going right into “This Is War”(?), then guitarist, Shannon Nedved, started them into “Wrecking Ball”, which was then followed with “All Hands”. They took a break as vocalist, Tim Ziegler, announced this would be their last show for a bit. “…We’re going to go into hibernation for awhile to finish our album. But when we come back, we’ll have more then just shirts for sale.” he said. “Starts and Ends” came afterwards, and while I wasn’t sure about this new version the first time I heard it, I liked it better tonight. Where Tim sings “I hope you find yourself cause I’m leaving. Time is moving slow and not helping.” the music continues, before he comes back in “All these clever things are on my mind…” For the record the demo version doesn’t have a vocal pause there. They trudged on with “Train" and then another which was the "…Second time this one has ever been played." Tim said. Don’t know the title of this one, but I’m 99% sure it was the one they debuted in December, which at that show Tim said the song sounded like something you danced to at your prom. That’s pretty spot on for how the song actually sounds, but I like that. It’s always nice to hear a band do a song that may be out of their comfort zone but showcases their diversity. "So like I said last time." Tim began saying before the next song. "The general feedback for this one was that it says the F-word too many times, so it won’t be on the record. We’ll still play it, it just won’t be on the album. It’s called Digress.” I only have one thing to say about that… FUCK! This is about their best song in my opinion, or at least one of my most favorites. That is cool that they actually took the fans feedback into consideration, but really, it says the F-word too many times? How many songs use it more than 12 times, plus mean it in more of a derogative way. Hell, there’s a Toadies song titled “Velvet” where the first and third chorus, which is most of the song, is “…You hurt me you fuck…” repeated three times. And for the second chorus the F-bomb is changed to the C-word. And the song is still played live to date. Now isn’t that worse than this song of Meridian’s? Excuse me, sorry for the little rant, now back to the show. They rocked out another newer one, one I didn’t recognize, before ending their 35 minute set with, of course, “Hey Lover”. I really thought this was by far the best show they’ve done to date. Mark, Shannon, and of course bassist, Chris Gentry, and drummer, Moe Martinez, just get better with each show they get under their belts. And tonight, I felt they were the driving force behind the entire thing, putting on a truly awesome stage show! Not to leave Tim out of it, who I talked to afterwards and he said he wanted to “…Cut loose…” more than he did, but since they haven’t been rehearsing much he just couldn’t. But Tim on a bad night is still better than most front men on their best. Now just to wait out the next couple of months or so until the 8th Meridian show, which will also hopefully be the release show for their debut album.

And putting a close to the night was Moving Atlas, who took the stage at 12:06. They did a song or two then bassist, Geoff Lucke, apologized for them being gone for so long. “…This is the first show we’ve done since November.” he said, “But we’ve been busy writing new songs to eventually make a new album for you guys. And y’all are going to get to hear some of those songs tonight.” Not that any of that mattered to me since like I’ve said before about these guys, I’ve never been able to get into their recorded music, but live they are amazing. So it’s basically all “new” to me. They did a nice 10 song set, occasionally saying what the songs were about, “This one’s about breaking out of prison.” said vocalist, Dunagin Gaines, before starting one. And later on drummer, Ross Rubio, said the next tune was “…About drugs.” They made it just a bit suspenseful before beginning their final song, as some light chords echoed out, before Dunagin sang out, “Don’t want to contemplate the time…”, as he quickly built up to a violent scream with each word. It was the song that had more or less kept me hanging around, the mighty “Elephant Gun”. When it ended they thanked everyone for coming out and ascended the stairs to the green room. But one of the set lists was plainly visible, and it was obvious they were far from being done. After several chants of “One more!” by the fans they came back on stage. “They” being Dunagin and one of the guitarists, and what they proceeded to do showed they are not just a hard rockin’ Alternative Rock band. It had an acoustic-ish vibe to it and went on for a few minutes with their guitarist playing while Dunagin sang. Soon the other members appeared on the stairs and made their way to their spots on stage, and as he sang out part of the chorus, “…There’s cracks in the armor…” and I believe the line that followed is “…And I won’t let you get away whole…” And with that the full band tore into the song, turning it into a full-blown rock tune. And when it was done Geoff said that it was one of the new ones, “…It’s called Cracks In the Armor.” he said. They did a couple more songs before they truly were done. It was a 63 minute set in all and it was one of the best performances I’ve seen a band give. As I said earlier, I’ve listened to their songs several times and haven’t liked the recorded product, but I decided to give them one more try. And this time, I loved it. Mind you I did this the day after the show, so it was too late to get their EPs after their gig and the only thing on iTunes is their 2006 full-length debut. Not their more recent EPs. Damn. I’ll just have to wait until their show at the Curtain Club on Friday, June 24 to get their records. Assuming I can make it. But you should definitely check these guys out, not just their music, but the live show. They are hands down one of, if not the, best band that currently resides in Dallas. And I say that unbiasedly, having only been made a true fan after this show.

March 19, 2011 - Meridian

Another week, another great rock show going down at Tree’s.

Bronze Whaler was opening this show. It’d been nearly a year since the last time I saw these guys, and I thought they had broken up because they seemed to fall off the map for most of last year. Before re-emerging near the end of 2010 and doing some hometown shows up in Denton. They opened up with what must be a newer song, and didn’t allow any rest in between, as vocalist and guitarist, Sean Bonacum, began strumming at his guitar, beginning “Stories for Gold”. Then they followed it with “Santa Monica”. But most of their set was material I’d never heard before, including one that was pretty new. “So this next one is still a new one.” Sean told the people at Tree’s, very few of whom seemed to actually be paying attention to this great band. “So if it gets fucked up it’s my fault and not theirs.” he finished, referring to his band mates, bassist, Jacob Delott, guitarist, Brady Kinkade, and drummer, Gabe Musquiz. And when they finished that song, the curtain closed. “That was a short set!” I thought to myself. And I could see Brady looking around, as if that was unexpected. You then heard the sound guy’s voice, “They still have 15 minutes.” he said. They opened the curtain back up, and Sean had something to say about it. “…I’m not upset. Just more embarrassed. Someone requested them to put an early end to our show didn’t they?” he jokingly said. They rocked out their epic cover of “Electric Feel” next, and put an end to their 38 minute set with another newer song. I’ve liked these guys the past few times I’ve seen them, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought their records. But this show was the first time I saw them and was truly impressed by the show. It’s obvious they’ve been working at it. And hopefully all these newer songs they did means a new EP isn’t too far off. And be sure to check them out at Hailey’s in Denton on April 8th.

Second up, and releasing their new CD, was Feel Never Real. I’d heard of them a few years back on Myspace, but I never much cared for their music, and thus never saw a show. But man, after tonight I’m gonna have to try to see them a bit more often. The stage opened on this three piece band and you could immediately feel their presence and energy. They had a couple of “boxes”, one on each side of the stage, that bore the bands logo and name. Their bass player, Mathew Cass, spent a lot of time standing on the one of those on stage left. And when vocalist and guitarist, Tim Jones, wasn’t singing he’d step up on the one near him, so everyone could get a good view. They went through several songs, doing only a couple from their first release, and “Drunkstar Anthem” and “Good Enough” from their new record. Those were about the only ones I caught the names of any ways. But I’d say the highlight of their set came when Tim said they were going to do “…Something that hadn’t been done before.” And as drummer Shea Lange left his kit an approached a keyboard on the far stage right, Tim explained this song was the last one on “The Sea of Disease.” It’s titled “Anymore True”, and it’s pretty basic, as far as it’s just keys and vocals, and fairly moving. Their whole set I felt was a top notch rock show. To the degree that this is what a lot of bands should strive for. And for the twenty minutes in between bands, I thought these guys might be the best ones on this bill…

Meridian was hitting the stage next. And I can’t miss one of their gigs, not just because of the great show they do but because then that would break my perfect streak of seeing all the shows they’ve done. And separating this one from their past performances was that they were debuting the retooled songs. The ones that have had the magic touch of producer, David Castell, who they are working with in the studio right now. And man, he has helped them accomplish some amazing things! Some of the differences are subtle, others pretty obvious, but they’ve turned some already incredible songs into something even greater. They kicked things off at 11:04 with the new version of “Nights”. One song I would’ve thought they’d be hard-pressed to improve upon, but a sweet guitar lick did just that. They continued right along with one of their only songs I haven’t caught the name of, but every time I’ve heard it, it sound like on the chorus Tim sings out, “…This is war…”. Regardless what it’s called, it’s still one of my favorites. And when that was done, Shannon started picking away at his guitar, beginning “Wrecking Ball”. I wouldn’t say I dislike this song, but out of all their material this one has always been one of my least favorites. Until tonight! Maybe it was because of the help of David Castell. Maybe I just simple listened to the song in a different light. Maybe it was a bit of both. But whatever it was, I think this might have been the best song they cranked out tonight. So far the songs had been a little switched up from what I’m used to, and they continued it next, doing a song typically done next to last, “All Hands”. I believe it was after that song the instruments fell quiet, and Tim suddenly said, “Oh! I guess this is where I talk…” As he stated who they were and all that stuff, before they went into the new version of “Starts and Ends”. It begins more or less like the demo version, with the music starting at the same time Tim sings the first verse. “I hope you find yourself cause I’m leaving…”, but then there’s a pause in the vocals, while the music continues. Then Tim comes back in, “…Time is moving slow and not helping…”. Sounds pretty awesome. I think they played “Train” next, but for some reason that’s one song I can never quite remember. Then they debuted the first of two new songs. I LOVED this one! It was as rocking a song as I’ve heard them do, even topping “All Hands” and “Digress” in my opinion. And that latter song followed, only after Tim gave a little speech about it. I didn’t catch the first part, but what I did was “…They said it used the F-word 9 times too many…” then something to the effect of, who cares. Who cares indeed, cause I love the chorus, “…Fuck all your politics. Fuck all your stupid tricks… Fuck all the things you say. Words only get in the way…” They debuted their other new tune next, then finished their 35 minute set with “Hey Lover”, which had a little different intro. Hell, I didn’t even know what song they were doing till I heard the vocals. Man, these guys have always brought their A game,but tonight they were a whole new beast. They were a fine tuned, well oiled, rock machine! I’ve never seen Mark own it on the guitar like he did. And that includes the couple of Miser shows I caught in the past. And while bassist, Chris, and Shannon didn’t move around as much as I’ve seen them other times (probably cause they didn’t have much room. See below.) they still radiated presence. And Tim, well out of the now 24 performances I’ve seen him do, from various bands, tonight’s was at least the second best. But I’d lean more towards first. I would say something about Moe too, but I never really had a great view of him (again, see below.) Even the ordering of the songs was the best I’ve heard. It just had a perfect flow to it. And there were more differences in the songs that I listed and ones that I didn’t, but while I noticed most if not all of them, I don’t remember them all to describe. But they are the SHIT! And on one last note might I say that while I’ve heard plenty of albums that David Castell has produced, I’ve never had an experience like this. Where I’ve heard a bands songs as they were written and then get to hear the new versions, the new heights that Mr. Castell pushed them to. And it’s pretty cool!

Headlining was a band called Anchored. I’d never heard of them before, which is a bit weird cause I thought I was at least aware of most of the bands in the area. Weirder still is that the band is comprised of Brandon Narrell (former singer of Advent), Josh Franklin (former guitarist in Faktion), and Joel Estes (ex-Venture guitarist). I was a fan of all three of those bands and I would’ve thought I’d know about a new band featuring any of them, yet alone all three. And they of course had a couple other members in this band to round out the line-up. The freakin’ huge bus (RV) out front of Tree’s would lead you to believe they were somebody. As would the drum kit that had been sitting on the drum riser all night, forcing all the other acts to set their kits up on stage just in front of the riser. Something usually reserved for big name touring bands. The key phrase in all of that, “Would lead you to believe.” Their whole 50ish minute set just seemed like they were trying to build themselves up to the level they thought they were. Many times in between songs Brandon would say something like “Y’all make some mother fucking noise for us!”. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this sometime in the past, but I’ll get into it again. If the crowd likes your music, they will be making noise, lots of it. Once, maybe twice in a show I can understand saying something like that. But when it’s repeated to that extent it just gets on my nerves. And no, I will not make noise for you because you ask for it. Oh, and stating one of their songs, “Last Night”, was ranked number 28 on the Top 40 in the country. Now I rarely listen to the radio, but I’d never heard it before. And then doing a cover of “Crazy Bitch”, and during another song suddenly breaking into “Sweet Home Alabama”. All just trying to make themselves look and sound cool. They had no presence. I felt no emotion or passion from them. And I don’t think many other people cared for them, cause I’ve never seen Tree’s so empty when a headlining band was playing. As most people retreated to the patio. The whole show was nothing more then a joke. I heard from a little birdie after their set that money is really no object for Anchored. That explains the RV that is nicer than most people’s houses. And while money can buy a lot, it can’t make your music not suck. And it can’t make people like you. Hell, Meridian and FNR had a lot more people watching them then these guys did. And the sad truth is those bands both have actual talent, but will probably never get the fair shot they deserve. And here’s a band, with nothing going for them, but yet they’ve “…toured the nation three times over.” they said, and are getting ready for another tour. It’s shameful. But I guess that’s the state most of the music industry is in these days. Where talent and good music accounts for nothing, and image seems to be everything.

Feburary 11, 2011 - “…On Nights Like This, People Will Be Torn Apart…”

Since first going to Tree’s after it’s re-opening I’ve liked the club, mainly because they always managed to assemble such killer line-ups of local talent. But so far this year those local shows have been lacking, nay, non-existent. Sure they’ve gotten a local band or two on some of their bigger shows bills, but that’s been about it. That is until tonight. And some thanks for this show should go to Sevendust, who had to cancel their tour, which was originally going to be making a stop here this night.

I got there a little late, and the first band, Sonar Lights, was already on stage rocking. But I still caught the majority of their set. And what I heard and saw was a band filled with talent, and if they just had the fan base out supporting them, they could’ve easily been headlining. They die mostly originals, such as “Help Me”, “Mr. KnowItAll”, and the show closer “Game”, all from their debut EP. But they even did a great cover of a Beatles song, with much more of a rock sound to it. These guys really blow me away, and while they said this was their first time at Tree’s, it certainly will not be their last.

Next up we had Shining Silence. I think it was last June, or at least sometime around the Summer, when I saw them here, and was none to impressed with them. And I liked them even less the second time around. The music is some pretty good Hard rock, but their singer’s voice is just total crap. It’s barely even audible most of the time, but when it is it just sounds like a whiney scream. They did at least get the courtesy of applause from me, but not very enthusiastically.

I believe it was the host of 97.1 The Eagle’s Loud and Local show, Angela Chase, who introduced the next band. Meridian. Saying they could be heard Monday nights from 11-midnight, during the L&L show. And after she was through the band tore into their first song, “Hey Lover”. Since I’ve seen the past four shows, I’ve picked up on their set list, and have come to know exactly what to expect. That is to say I thought I knew. It was a bit refreshing to hear them open with what, until know, had been the show closer. And it was a fantastic opening number, in the sense that it really pulls the listener in, which is exactly what you want to do at a show. However, I think the other tune better sets the tone for their shows. They continued their onslaught of rock with “Digress”, another song that I love, but haven’t yet caught the name of, “Wrecking Ball” and then I believe “Train”. And during the latter frontman, Tim Ziegler, made his way over to stage right where one of the tree trunks stretches from the stage to the ceiling, and seemed to hide behind it for a second, before peering around at his band mates, bassist, Chris Gentry, guitarists, Mark Sims and Shannon Nedved, and drummer, Moe Martinez. I believe it was after that song they were forced to take a little time-out, as the drum monitor had fallen. But they got it put back up pretty quickly, and then went into a song I was a little sad didn’t make the cut for their last gig, “Secret Safe”. I’m fairly certain they did their newest song next, followed by “Starts and Ends” and “All Hands”, and somewhere in between one of those songs Tim let everyone know about the bands goings on. That being that they are currently in pre-production for their debut record, which he pointed out they needed money to make. “We like shots…” he said, referring to a guy who earlier bought shots for the band, “…but we’d rather have money.” As he encouraged everyone to go buy their newest t-shirt (which I of course did.) So far they’d played every song I was expecting, but their set was nearing its end, and I was getting a little antsy thinking they weren’t going to play “Nights”. When what did they wrap up their 38 minute set with? “Nights”. I know I’ve said this the past three Meridian shows, and I don’t want to seem repetitive, but I genuinely mean it when I say, this was the best Meridian show yet. They seemed much more cohesive together and the level of the performance blew the past ones out of the water.

Headlining this show was Reckless Intent. Seems like I’ve unintentionally been seeing them a good bit lately. And with each show I like them more. Tonight proved to be no exception. For whatever reason the curtain was never drawn in between any of the other bands, but it was while these guys were setting up. Then a little after midnight an intro track, and shortly after the curtain opened on singer/guitarist, Ryan Ray, bassist, Aaron Decker, guitarist, Jackson Dunn, and drummer, Jordan Hatfield. And between the crowds excitement, in the now pretty full Tree’s, and the energy the band was exerting, with both Aaron and Jackson constantly going back and forth from one side of the stage to the other, I felt like I was at an arena style rock show. Every show I’ve seen they’ve rocked, but tonight they owned it from the get-go, with their first song, “Get Up”. They did a slew of songs afterwards, and in between some Ryan took what I interpreted as a slight jab at the band who originally was going to be here. “It’s too bad Sevendust couldn’t have been here.” he said. Oh yes, too bad indeed. They finally did a couple songs from their EP, “The Light” and “How Could You”, before doing one I think they said was called “Need to Know”. They continued marching through their hour long set with several more songs, including “Just Say It” and “Wrong Again”. Then Ryan used some girls who were getting drinks for the band as a segue into the next song. “If you want to fuck you just have to ask.” he said, “You don’t need to get me drunk…” and eventually announcing the next song, “Filthy”. Before their final song he mentioned that there was several things he wanted to say, but didn’t want to come off as being preachy. But then gave a quick little speech saying “… No matter what, people, even your friends, are going to talk shit about you. Whether you’re doing something right or wrong it’s going to happen. And you just have to ignore them and know they don’t have anything better to do than that.” And with that they tore into their last, and most hard hitting, song, “Thank You”. Like I said, I’ve only seen these guys unintentionally, with one of the bands opening usually being the reason I’m at the club. But so far Reckless Intent has been the icing on the cake. Go check them out in exactly one month (March 11th) when they will once again rock Tree’s, opening for Drowning Pool.

December 11, 2010 - The Forty Percent Reunion Show

Meridian was the main reason for me hearing of this show. And then I saw the band that was headlining, Forty Percent. Wondering who they were I checked them out, only to find that Moe (Meridian’s drummer) and Coach (from Miser) were in the band, that was born around a decade ago. And broke up sometime around 5 to 7 years ago. I bought their CD, “Portland”, from Amazon.com and began to play it non-stop, cause it’s so freakin’ awesome. And eagerly awaited this night, which for me would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see this band.

Upon arriving at the Curtain Club tonight I was told by the parking lot attendant in the lot adjacent to the club that he’d “Have to start giving me a discount rate.” He didn’t. Ha ha. And as soon as the door guy at the Curtain saw me he said “You know there’s no discount program for coming here so often? You won’t get a free cup kozy or anything.” “Dammit.” I replied, “Not even a free shirt?” I guess it does pay to frequent a club though, cause he didn’t even have to check my ID since he’s seen it enough.

Getting the night started was Spill, doing an acoustic set. Their opening song sounded great, and with the less noisy instruments when their guitarist sang the backing vocals for the song, it sounded more like he and the singer were harmonizing. “Thanks.” their singer said to the small group of people who’d arrived early. “We only fucked that up three times. Usually we have louder instruments though and you can’t tell when we fuck it up.” And that got some laughs out of some people. Their almost 40 minute set was, of course, made up of mostly original material, but they did throw a cover song in. Then to end it they did a song that “…Everyone in here knows!” said their singer. I didn’t recognize it based on the music, but once they got to the words I did. “Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose…” WOW! I can honestly say I’ve never heard a rock rendition of that song, but I liked it. Spill was pretty awesome, and I wondered how I’d never heard of or seen them at some point, since they’ve been around for 10+ years. (They said they played one of 40%’s first shows at the Curtain back in the day.) I’ll definitely be seeing them again, but since I can’t find any website of theirs it might be awhile.

The Commotion was next. And after the shows I’ve seen here and there throughout the year, they finally brought with them a revamped set. YES! They opened with a new song, which I think I heard them debut at Tree’s a couple months back, and it’s possibly the best song they’ve done to date. They then went into the stuff from their myspace, “Just a Test”, “Dare”, “Killing Time”, and another one or two, and then finished with “Backseat Driver”. These guys really are tightening up and becoming quite the rock outfit. Definitely a band to check out.

Next up, the band that’s on the fast track to being my current favorite local act (watch out Trebuchet and Descender), Meridian! Their intro track got things started, and then the curtain opened to all of them on the stage, ready to rock. They opened with the usual, “Nights”, which I love more with each listen. “…On nights like this, strangers come together. On nights like this, people will be torn apart…”. Brilliant!. Continuing the onslaught of rock was “Digress”, another one that again sounds incredible, and then “Wrecking Ball”. They took a short break, in which Tim expressed how excited they were to be playing 40%’s reunion show, and reminisced about one of the first local shows he saw, in which 40% played. And later told me Coach was his inspiration for becoming a singer. They got back into the show with “Train”, which at times can be one of their softest songs. At least that was true until they debuted their latest tune. “Think high school prom dance, for this one.” Tim said, in his best teen girl sounding voice. In a “like, you know, whatever” way. Yeah, it was softer than any other song they’ve done thus far. But every band needs a song like that, and it was pretty good. They saved their best songs for the last three, my favorite “Starts and Ends”, another killer one “All Hands”, and finally “Hey Lover”. I’ll admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of that last one from the get-go, but the more I hear it, especially live, the more I get into it. And I’d say it’s official now, they’ve worked all the kinks out of this still new band. Quite an accomplishment in a mere four shows. And I’m really starting to notice what great musicians, Mark, Shannon, and Chris are, all being just as dominant and driving force of the live shows as Tim. Four shows, and so far I’ve seen all of them (and hope to keep it that way till they do their first out of area gig) and I become more of a fan with each show. I don’t know when they’ll have a CD out, but hopefully within the next year, cause I’m already anxious to have one so I can listen to these tunes whenever I want. Which would probably be all the time.

Midnight came and went. As did 12:15 and 12:30. But finally, at 12:33, an intro track started and it was time for Forty Percent. The curtain opened on an odd sight though. A large, thick, piece of plastic stretching the length of the stage. And the band was playing their first song. I saw no point for this at first, other than it looked a little cool seeing ten foot tall shadows of the band members. Then frontman, Coach, approached it and with spray paint painted an “R” on the stage right side, then the left. He then started singing, and during a break added and “E” after the first “R” and before the last. I had a good idea where this was headed now, and sure enough as the song drew to a close, he painted the final letters on. Starting at the end of the word and working his way to the beginning. It read “REMEMBER”. Someone grabbed the plastic then and pulled it to the side of the stage and tied it up to keep it out of the way. The band was there, in full rock mode, and they also had an impressive “homemade” light system. A wall of clear Christmas lights covered most of the wall behind them, which is at least 10 to 12 feet tall, and the lights looked like a perfect, huge net. There were also light bulbs hanging from wires just above the band members heads. And the masterpiece of it all, a quite snazzy sign that read “forty percent”. With several lights placed inside each letter, which throughout the show would either all light up or blink. The band had gone right into their second song, “Nothing Changes”, and the plastic had been pulled back just in time to see Coach sing the first of it. “Fly away, fly away. Fly away to the next moon and don’t come around here no more…” They raced through their set, with no pauses or words said, doing songs like “Not For Me”, “To October”, “Beautiful Ride”, “Fall Away”, and the beautiful “Gently”. It became apparent quickly what great musicians these guys are. I always thought Coach’s voice sounded a bit nasally voice at the two Miser shows I saw. But not tonight. In fact the songs sounded almost like listening to the album. And he’s one of the best frontman I’ve seen. And while I’d never heard or seen the other member, they were pretty awesome themselves. Their guitarist was pretty badass, just shredding away at times and acting as if it was nothing. And their bassist had that calm, laid-back persona most bass players have when on stage. But he rocked out much more than most bass players too. As the last chords of “Gently” rang out, their drummer got up and left the stage. Then Coach, kneeling in front of the drum kit, said his first word of the night, other than singing. “Moe.” As their original drummer, Moe Martinez joined them. They cranked out “My Runaway” and “St. Louis”, which is easily their most intense song, and maybe on other, before Moe left and the other drummer took back over. Most of the next several songs I didn’t know, except for “Humble” and “Sore”. Then Coach spoke again, thanking all the bands that played “…And most importantly y’all for being a part of this.” As they went into their sixteenth and final song of the night, “Outerspace”. Which everyone had been screaming for since they started, and 73 minutes ago. When it was done all but Coach left the stage, who knelt down at the front of the stage and looked like he was waiting for something. Of course people shouted for an encore or two, but according to the set list, which I could see, “Outerspace” was the last thing written on it. Eventually Coach shook his head no, then went over and grabbed the piece of plastic, un tied it, and stretched it back across the stage. An outro track played, and soon enough Coach’s figure disappeared from sight. At the start I thought “REMEMBER” was talking to the old school 40% fans, like in remembering the old days when the band was together. And now we were left with “REMEMBER”, which this time I took to mean, remember what you just witnessed.

It sucks to hear a band like that, that was so talented, but is no more. Buy their CD and have the songs become your current obsession. And then get to see them for both the first and last time. The show wasn’t 100% perfect, at times it was hard to hear Coach’s voice of the instruments. And then there was a part where Coach was rocking so hard that he accidentally unplugged the mic. But he quickly got his other one, that distorted his voice a little, and used it till they were able to get things straight and plug the main mic back in. And maybe it was wishful thinking, but I was really hoping they’d play the entire “Portland” record, cause there were several songs from that, that they didn’t do that I would’ve loved to have heard live. But I’m glad to have gotten what I got, and I’ll always remember seeing this old powerhouse from the music scene’s glory days.

November 27, 2010 - “We Lived. We Laughed. We Loved…”

"…And while I know the band will never get back together, I hope another reunion show isn’t out of the question. Sometime, maybe after another almost four years."

The above is how I closed my review of SouthFM’s reunion show back in June. And fortunately, I was proven wrong!

A killer line-up of bands had been assembled here at Tree’s, and the thanks for that goes to Paco Estrada. He said later in the show that all the bands had his “…Favorite vocalists…”, and not only his favorite, but mine as well. As well as some of the best around. And the bill also got as close to the old days as possible. Instead of the old Greatness In Tragedy, fronted by Kirk Baxley, they had his current band, Mothers Anthem. And since Darby, who was fronted by Tim Ziegler, is no more, they had Meridian on the bill. And while I never saw SouthFM with GiT, I did see ‘em with Darby. And tonight I couldn’t help but reminisce of that night, 4 and a half years ago, when I walked into the Curtain Club for the first time ever, to see SouthFM and discovered Darby in the process. Hard to believe it’s been that long ago.

I think the only band that wasn’t hand picked by Paco got the night started, All Found Out. Opening bands can always be iffy, especially when pitted against the huge talent the other acts would bring, but these guys did pretty good for themselves. They were a five-piece, I’d say rock/pop band, but with not much pop thrown in, with the typical instruments used, as well as an acoustic guitar and keyboard that their singer played. They sounded really good, especially the couple of songs where he played the keys. “We saved our best song for last.” their singer said, as their 25 minute set drew to an end. “It’s by Justin Timberlake.” I wondered how this would go, cause well, Justin T. sucks. (Does anyone disagree with me?) But they ended up doing a great cover of “What Goes Around”, which actually wasn’t a bad way to end it. I hope to see them again sometime.

The Austin band, Eyes Burn Electric, took the stage next. I didn’t like them near as much as the House of Blues show a few months back, but part of the blame for that might go to their technical difficulty they had. One song in, maybe 4 to 5 minutes, lead guitarist Ryan Holly, encountered a problem. Not sure what it was, but after changing some cables and borrowing a pedal from Dave Shafer, they were back in business. Only after losing close to ten minutes. And when they finally did start again, their set seemed passed redemption. And the two songs they cover, “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight” and “Billie Jean”, which I’d say were the best songs they did back in August, failed to grab me tonight. Shit happens, I know that, and I’m not blaming the band for it. But I think it did seriously hurt their show.

Meridian was up next, doing show number 3, and their second here at Tree’s. The set started with a pretty cool backing track that lasted a couple minutes or so. And after it’d been going for just a bit the curtain opened, to reveal Moe behind his drum kit, but the other guys were absent. Then Mark made his way on stage, via the stairs on the [stage] left, followed by Chris, and Shannon. And once they were all up there they cut loose into their opening song. And after letting them have their moment to rock out, Tim finally joined them to get things going. I love the first song they do, it ranks 2nd or 3rd as my favorite Meridian song, and it’s a really good one to get the shows going. They had said prior to the show a new song had made it into the set, and I’m thinking it was the second song. (Hey, I got a 1 in 7 shot at being right.) Regardless of if it was new or not though, it takes one of those other spots I named above. “…Fuck all your politics. Fuck all your stupid tricks…Fuck all the things you say. Words just get in the way…” That’s part of the songs chorus, and it’s freakin’ awesome! They did a couple more songs, one of which is called “Wrecking Ball”, before doing “Starts and Ends”. And then they cranked out five more originals, saving “Hey Lover” for the final number of their 39 minute set. After a great debut show, and a second show that revealed they still had a few wrinkles left to iron out, & this one showed they have. Tim was much more energetic, about on the same level I was used to seeing back in days of Darby. The practice they’ve undoubtedly put in is definitely showing. For example, during some of the songs when Moe would crash down hard on the drums, either Tim or Chris (& maybe even Mark) would jump at the same moment as Moe hit the drums. In a totally unbiased opinion, which is REALLY hard to do considering the final two bands, Meridian was the best band of the night. And I truly mean that.

Mothers Anthem was next, doing their first Dallas gig in nearly 4 months. And the show started a bit differently. Their intro track started, and usually you see them all file on stage while the track is still playing, then they go into whatever song. But tonight the track played all the way through, and they began “Slowly On Your Own”, before the curtain opened to reveal them. With Kirk and Drew jumping about the stage, while Zak, Julian, and Jono looked like the badasses that they are. I guess they wanted to make the best of the time they had, cause they blazed through their 40 minute set, with the only real pauses being when they had to change out the guitars or bass. They ripped into “Awaiting the Fall” next, and then did the only song that I actually think I like less with each listen. “Perfect Person”. I don’t know why, but I’ve just never really felt “it” with this song. It does sound better live then the demo on their myspace, but I’d much rather hear another oldie. The fans ate up their next song, “Holding You Hostage”, before they went back into the new material with “Scream”, one I’m unfamiliar with, and one of their best new tunes, “Already Gone”. The crowd had seemed pretty excited, really during the entire show thus far, but it ended up being nothing when they found out what song was next. The band did their typical lead in piece before getting into “God Save the Queen”, and it alone had people yelling and screaming for “God Save the Queen”, and when they begun the actually song people just went insane. In a good way of course. “This next song is just plain dirty.” Kirk told the crowd. “And I’m sure one person here will be like I don’t want to hear a song like that. But you know what?” he continued “They’re only one person.” as they went into “Favorite Flavor”, before finishing with “Like A Drug”. I think I’ve said this after the past few times I’ve seen MA, but this was the best show that I’ve seen them do! The energy was somehow more intense than ever, and they just put on an incredible performance.

It was finally now time for the final band of the night, and just a few minutes after midnight SouthFM began what just might’ve been their last show ever. I was wondering what this would be like. The three shows I saw back in ‘06, which still seem fairly fresh in my mind? The reunion show back in June? Or maybe it would be something totally different. It was the third one. Their were a few things that made it different, but the most noticeable was lead guitarist and co-founding member, G.I. Sanders was missing. This show (as well as the one the week prior) conflicted with his schedule, so in his place they had Dan Rivera. He was the lead guitarist for the band Social Jab, and oddly enough Dave and Chad were in that band after SouthFM disbanded. They kept everyone guessing as to what the first song would be, playing some mangled chords. But soon rhythm guitarist, Chad Abbott, started into the more epic song, “Vesica Piscis”. I was not expecting that as the opener, but I liked it better than I ever would’ve thought. The next couple had little segues in between, much like how they began with just some mangled chords, before rolling it into the songs, “Push Me Away” and “So That I Could Rescue You”. They took a break (I believe) at this point, as Paco let everyone know who they were. Like everyone didn’t already. “We’re obviously Meridian.” he said, as he pointed to the Meridian logo on Moe Martinez’s drum kit. “This is first show ever here at Tree’s, so thanks for coming out to support us.” Dave then stepped up to his mic, “Yeah, I like this guy a lot better than that other drummer we had at one time.” Which is funny, seeing as the “other drummer” he was talking about was, in fact, Moe. Paco then told everyone who they really were, “We’re SouthFM!” he exclaimed, “And this is our last fucking show ever!” as the band launched into “Where Did You Go?” and followed it with “Dancing Like This”. The latter song featured backing vocals by Kirk Baxley on the “Swallowing the Pill” album, and I’ve heard when they’d do it live back in the day Kirk would join them on stage, assuming he was at the show. So I just knew he was going to walk down the stairs at any moment to help out with the song. And like they say, never assume. I was a bit disappointed, but that feeling left as soon as they played the first few chords of the beautiful, “Surface”. I think it was after the second chorus, Paco went into a verse or two of “Hallelujah”, which seems like a strange song to add into “Surface”, but the outcome is pretty good. And while he was singing that, guess who walked down the stairs? That’s right, Kirk. Who helped sing the backing vocals for the final two choruses of the song. It was pretty amazing to see/hear. As Kirk made his way back up to the green room, Paco introduced the next song. Saying “A friend of mine, Chad. No, not Chad Abbott, another Chad. He was talking to me about a hard time he’s been going through right now, and said it’s taking me too long to find my way around it.” Those last eleven words gave the next song away. “So this next one goes out to him.” Paco finished, and then it was time for “Habit”. A total shocker came next, as they performed “Killing Me”, which I was expecting near the end, if not at the end of the set. And then it was time for the song I was most wanting to hear, “Regret”, which featured some backing vocals by Eyes Burn Electric guitarist, Ryan Holly. When that song was done Ryan of course left the stage, as did Dan, and Dave. “This is the part of the show where we skip Dear Claudia.” said Paco “Cause we’re assholes.” Ha ha, good one Paco. “How could they not play one of their most famous songs?” I thought, and knew the song would just come later. But right now they slowed things down. “This song is from our first album.” Paco informed everybody, as Chad started strumming away at “Driving”. And in the final minutes of the song Dave and Dan returned to the stage, and took the more laid-back acoustic song, into high gear. I was expecting several more songs, cause at this point they were a few minutes shy of a 60 minute set, but when they started the most beautiful song ever written, “I Will Never Let You Go”, I figured the show must be coming to an end. And sure enough it was. And in the final moments of the song Paco gave everyone some advice. “Close your eyes.” he said, before pausing. “Make a wish.” (pause) “Find a dream.” (pause) And then he finished with, “And live it.” Pretty good words if you ask me. Then the curtain closed, and everyone waited for the sure to come encore. But it didn’t happen.

It was an awesome show, no doubt about it. But if this was indeed their last show, it wasn’t the way to end it. The show in June provided closure. They played every song people expected to hear, unlike tonight, just hitting some of the highlight songs. And it’s funny to me that the reason the band broke up was because Paco didn’t think it right to continue on without G.I., and yet tonight, he was absent. They’ve said twice now they did their last show ever, and the reunion show was understandable, cause every band has to do one of those. But then they went and did two more, which was originally going to be three. It’s kinda like that children’s story, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. You keep saying you’re doing your last show ever, but over time you do more, people are going to stop believing it. And that’s where I am right now, fully expecting another SouthFM show, sometime down the road.

October 1, 2010 - “…And All This Desert Blood Could Cover Everyone…”

Once again (or as always, depending who you are and how you look at it) Tree’s was hosting a stellar line up of bands.


And first up was The Commotion, who began playing right as we walked through the front door. I said after seeing them last month they seemed to be lacking something. Specifically the cohesion of a “normal” band, seeing that it’s a solo project of Micah Creel, with the other members just doing the live shows. The songs sound amazing, lyrically, vocally, and musically. But they’ve never seemed that great on stage. Until tonight. The chemistry was really there, which I’ve never seen before, and they all seemed pretty into the show, thrashing around quite a bit. Even Micah, who usually just stands there playing the guitar and singing, was more active. And they even debuted a new song, “This one was conceived just about a week ago.” Micah told the handful of people inside Trees, “So we’ll see how it goes.” And turned out pretty well. I hope they can keep up the momentum they got going from this show, cause if they can, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

Hitting the stage next, and doing more of an official coming out show, was Meridian. The growth from two months ago to now was immense, and quite noticeable. They blazed through an awesome 10 song set, barely (if even) pausing between songs. And they didn’t use any cues this time, which meant there could be no missed cues like at their first show, which really upped the professionalism of it all. I am still a little surprised how pop based most of their songs are though. Not that I dislike it, in fact “Starts and Ends” is one of the best, most catchy, songs I’ve ever heard. But after first learning who all was in the band I was just expecting a little different style I guess. The only thing I didn’t like about the show was how it came to such an abrupt end. Usually bands will warn you with “We have one more for the night.” or something like that, but once they finished “Hey Lover” Shannon, Mark, and Chris all took their instruments off, which sent a pretty clear message it was done. I think it even caught the guy who works the curtain off guard, since they always close it as soon as the band finishes, but it stayed open for  several seconds after. But of all the things that could happen/go wrong with a bands set, that’s hardly a concern.


The main reason for me being at Trees may’ve been to see the previous band, but I was most excited at about the next one. Secret of Boris. Since seeing them last month their CD, “Your Ghost” has been stuck in my CD player. I’ve seriously listened to that thing somewhere between 70 to 100 times. And that’s being conservative. (I don’t think I’ve listened to a record that much since The FEDS put out “A Touch of Panic” 3+ years ago.) And after listening to those songs so much, I was finally going to get to hear them live (and know them). As the curtain opened on them, they were already raring to go, with Taylor and John on guitar and bass, respectively, playing some light riffs. And while frontman, Cameron, introduced themselves, the riffs started to turn into their first song. “Desert Blood”. It’s easily the hardest hitting song on the record and my favorite as well. And it serves as the perfect opener. “we’ve got all these lovely people up here.” Cameron had pointed out before they began, “But there’s plenty of room for the rest of y’all to join them.” And after that song a lot of people did crowd the front of the stage. “Alright, this next song is called Virus. And it’s about a girl I know right here. In Dallas.” Cameron announced to everyone, as the band started the first track from the record. They did the first of a few different cover songs for the night next, this one being “Voices”. (Not sure whom it’s by.) But they quickly went back into some originals. One of which was another personal fave of mine, “What You Became”. And the other was one I didn’t expect to hear them do, “Lost In A Daze”. At this point Cameron had gotten his guitar, which in one way diminishes the energy of the show, seeing as he’s constantly walking around the stage. But even when he’s stationed in front of the mic to play and sing, John and Taylor more than make up for the lost energy. Running about and frequently swapping out to the other side of the stage, so everyone can get an up close view of them. They did one more original, “Something Else”, before throwing in a couple more covers, “Burning Down the House”. Which sounded amazing, and as much as I enjoyed hearing the other songs, that one might’ve been the best they did. And the other cover was one I’d heard them do before, “Push It”. They had a couple more to give for the night, including “What Have You Done” and finally “Retro”. With a little help from the singer for Reckless Intent, who contributed the screaming parts of the song. Example, Cameron would sing “…You’re plagiarizing plagiarizers. Well don’t worry it’s already been done.” Then Ryan screamed out, “BEFORE YOU WERE BORN.” They were fantastic. Amazing. Phenomenal. And every other such word. I would like to hear them do a couple less covers next time though, in change for say “The Watcher” and “The Difference” from their record. Just saying.


Matt JC and the All Stars were next. I’ve heard of them for quite some time, and I expected more from them than what they gave. They had Christian Sly, of Frolic/Opus Flux, as their singer, who is a fantastic person to have fronting a band. Except when the instruments are so loud you can’t hear the vocals. As they began Christian introduced themselves as “…The most glorified cover band you will ever see.” And that wasn’t a good thing. There was also WAY too much going on, on stage. I believe they had 7 musicians plus four girls who danced about the stage in their skimpy, skin tight cloths. Now, I certainly don’t have a problem with girls in skimpy outfits, but with them there was far to many people on stage. My advice, lose some band members (did they really need a second drummer playing the bongos?), or lose just a couple of the girls. I will give them props though, as this was their final show before going on a tour for the troops. So they are at least doing something worthwhile with their band.


Reckless Intent had the honors of headlining this evening. They’re are a pretty new band, somewhat formed from the ashes of the fairly successful band Neverset, who I never really cared for and actually didn’t even know they’d disbanded. Anyways, one of their guitarists, Ryan, pieced together Reckless Intent, which he now fronts. I think the rest of the band is comprised of guys who have been around the block before too, and it definitely shows. I wasn’t expecting too much from them, which isn’t to say I thought they would suck either. More just the typical band that Dallas has began to breed again, where when they’re through you could say “They’re good.” Instead, I’d say they’re really great and a notch above most of the rest.