It’s not too often I end up at the same venue two nights in a row, yet this night, I found myself back at Prophet Bar, for yet another round of touring acts.
The Limousines were responsible for getting me out on this Monday night, having seen them just barely over two years ago when they were on tour with The Sounds. They blew my mind then, and since that night, I had eagerly been awaiting their return to Dallas.
They were on tour with a couple of bands, and the one opening this show was Dresses, who were from Portland, Oregon.
I didn’t see much of them, as they had already started by the time I got there, though I enjoyed what I heard.
Every band on this bill was very different than the others, and Dresses was no exception, mining more of an indie/pop/rock sound, with the main members being frontwoman Timothy Heller and lead guitarist Jared Ryan Maldonado, who even played a ukulele for a few songs. While she was the lead vocalist, he also sang on some songs, and the two even harmonized at times, their voices blending to create some beautiful textures.
It was all well crafted, with more subtle tones at times that served to accentuate the vocals and even the lyrics to the songs.
I just wish I had gotten to see more of them and get a better idea of what they’re like, though I did enjoy what I saw.
They do have a record available, “Sun Shy”, which is actually their debut album. Give it a listen, and it may well make you a fan.
Sandwiched in between the opener and the headliner was San Francisco’s own The Limousines, who wound up having quite the following out this night, some of their fans rushing to the front of the stage as soon as Dresses left to ensure they had a good spot, all the while beaming with glee about seeing this electronic act.
They brought with them a pretty professional looking setup, from a couple of scrims (one on each side of the stage) that had multi-colored lights shining from behind them throughout the show. They also had a cool looking “case” that stood in front of the unused drum kit and had the band’s name on it, with the letters looking like all sorts of old runes. The letters on that were also illuminated, switching through the color spectrum.
Aside from aesthetics, they had also grown a member since I first saw them, now being a trio with the addition of a multi-instrumentalist who often played bass this night, but also dabbled on the keys/synthesizers and electronic drums.
Oh yeah, they also had a smoke machine, which frontman Eric Victorino triggered before walking backstage. In such a small venue, the fog got pretty dense as it billowed out, helping create a mood before multi-instrumentalist Giovanni Giusti, Eric and the bass player made their way on stage.
Their long awaited second LP, “Hush”, was released earlier this year after a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign, and they got their show going with the lead track and first single from it, “Love is a Dog from Hell”. It didn’t take long for the crowd to get into the song that laments love lost, moving about and even doing a little bit of dancing to the track. They were only just getting started as they immediately fired up “Undercover”, the bass during that song being so heavy at times you could feel the floor vibrating, which is always a sure sign of a great show.
It didn’t take long after the music subsided and the applause dies down for one female fan to shout at Eric, “Have my babies!” “I don’t have time for babies. I’m too busy.” he said, politely turning down her request, but it wasn’t the last time she would make it this night.
“Haunted” was the first of a few songs that saw Giovanni and the other guy heavily using their electronic drums, while Eric moved his mic stand out of the way on that one, giving him a little more freedom as he paced around more, and got pretty passionate at times. “I’m haunted, I’m haunted by you…” he belted out on the chorus, dropping to his knees at one point, packing that and many other lines from the song to the brim with emotion. That simply made it all the more enjoyable for the audience, and after finishing it, he had a question for everyone. “Does Dallas, Texas know how to dance?!” They proved they did on the incredibly catchy “Fool’s Gold”, which somehow managed to sound even better live, and was certainly more fun. Eric made an array of little movements with his hands during the first verse, conducting them to the music, while at one point during the song he instructed everyone to put their hands up. The fans listened, moving their fists up and down to the beat.
“Little Space” was definitely the most electronic sounding song they did this night, after which Giovanni and the other guy let up on the electronic drums, as he went back to his bass for the lively “Gimme Control”. “I’m sorry I declined your baby offer earlier…” Eric again told the girl from earlier, who was very into the show. “I’m just too busy. I am.” he said, looking at the bass player, who in turn was looking at Eric like that was just an excuse. The trio moved on with “The Last Dance”, which featured some real percussion as Giovanni periodically beat on a floor tom that set beside him, against the wall of stage left.
“…Tell me, how am I supposed to know, should I hold you, should I let you go? Let me know, I’ll let you go…” Eric sweetly sang on another gem and instant classic from the “Hush” album, “Bedbugs”, ending it as he crooned, “…I could lie and tell you we could still be friends…”
Everyone was saddened to hear Eric announce they had just one song left, but after a quick chat with Giovanni, they decided to do two. One of those songs was “Stranger”, and as they finished it, one girl let out a loud shriek of excitement. “I guess I am having your babies.” Eric said after pinpointing it was the same girl as before “She’s a shrieker.” he stated while laughing. As it stood, they had played the majority of “Hush”, and now, to end their 41-minute long set, they performed the title track. That song is something else in the live environment, and Eric was in top form while performing it, in complete control of the stage as well as the audience’s attention while he thrashed about on stage, then, in true rock star fashion, left the stage right after his final line.
Even after two years I still remember that first of theirs I saw pretty vividly, and the one this night at the Prophet Bar is another one that’ll live on in my mind for quite some time. And since they didn’t do anything from the “Get Sharp” album, it almost was like seeing them again for the first time this night.
Their showman for sure, and the three of them owned the stage this night as The Limousines. However, as amazing as Eric’s voice is (and it does sound even more remarkable live), and as mind blowing of a live show as they put on, one of the most surprising things to me is that is heavily as they rely on electronics and even backing tracks, none of it sounds synthetic. It’s all very real and has a clean, organic sound to it all.
Check out their records in iTUNES, and they do have one more show booked for the year in San Jose, CA at the Blacnk Club on December 20th.
They alone were worth coming out on this Monday night and the $15 price tag, but there was one more band after them, and they hailed from Nashville, TN.
I had listened to a little bit of Mona’s music just a few days before the show, and honestly, didn’t really get into it. There are plenty of bands, though, that end up being better live, and I figured I’d stick around for a few songs and give them a chance.
They played a decent amount of material from their self-titled record, beginning with “Listen to Your Love”. Whatever reason I had of not liking their music beforehand was quickly dispelled with that explosive number, which had pulled pretty much the entire crowd (of around 80+ people, not band for a Monday night) as close as they could get to the stage, watching in awe.
Well, I now knew I’d be sticking around until they finished.
The quartet killed some time as they dealt with the drummer, Vince Gard’s monitor, which wound up not being turned on. “…That means he played that song like a badass!” said singer and rhythm guitarist Nick Brown, before they moved on to another single from their debut album, “Teenager”. Audience participation was a must on it, and they got nearly everyone clapping to the beat at the start of it, while Nick asked the fans to sing along at the end, which most everyone seemed happy to do, though it wasn’t loud enough. “Vince’s girlfriend is louder than that!” Nick told everyone in order to get some more out of them, and that helped lead to the start of some Texas jokes, since his girlfriend was from Texas, and her sisters were actually part of the audience.
After having some fun and laughs with everybody, they got back into show mode, doing a song from the recently released “Torches & Pitchforks”, “Wasted”, which I did find to be a bit repetitive at times. You could already tell that humor, especially in regards to banter, was a big part of Mona’s show, and at this point it appeared they were about to do a cover. “I heard there was a secret chord…” Nick crooned while softly plucking the strings of his guitar, getting an excited reaction from a few fans. A rendition of “Hallelujah” was not coming though, as he stopped right there. “Are you fucking kidding me?” he said, about the idea of them even covering that song, before they promptly tore into “Darlin’”, lead guitarist Jordan Young, bassist Zach Lindsey, Vince and Nick all rapidly rocked out on their instruments.
Upon finishing it, the Texas jokes continued, and while none were negative, they were pretty hit and miss with this group of Texans. “…I know, Texas jokes aren’t funny. Lighten up. It’s a Monday…” Nick said, acting as if he was irritated, but in a joking way. And since that wasn’t working, he put the target on himself. “…That guy with the mic makes less and less sense the more he drinks…”, which got the biggest rise from the crowd yet.
They kept going with a couple of other songs, the latter of which wound up being one of my favorites of theirs. It was very sharp and filled with venom, essentially being the epitome of a rock song. It was interesting when they finished it, though, Nick saying to everyone, “…Sometimes you play songs that aren’t even songs…” “Was that even a song before we started it?” Zach asked, giving the impression that perhaps it came about spur of the moment. Nick then moved the conversation in to what concerts have evolved into these days. “…You hear what you know, and then leave…” He then added, “I don’t believe in that.”, before continuing with, “I know music played by humans for humans is a novel idea…” The thing is, all of that would almost be funny if there wasn’t so much truth to it.
Is what wound up being funny, though, was that after this speech about people only sticking around to hear the “popular” songs, they did “Goons (Baby, I Need it All)”, which Zach pointed out after they finished was the one song that everyone here knew (well, I didn’t know it, though.) It was ironic that things would work out that way, but certainly not hypocritical.
The talk of music continued, and now Nick also incorporated some real life experiences in order to show how different everybody is. “I’ve met people that have dicks who like other people with dicks. I’ve met people with dicks that like people with vagina’s…” He then threw in a meeting with someone from here in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas. “…Earlier I met a guy who’s been homeless for six months and said he’s an atheist…” (while on the topic of religion, at one point during the show Nick informed everyone that he was the son of a pastor, I believe it was, laughing when he said no one probably would have thought that.) The purpose of all that was to show that while we’re all different as far as background and beliefs go, we’re still all pretty much the same. “…Music is bigger than all of us. Fuck religion… fuck state….” he said, adding a bunch of other institutions to that list, before closing with, “I believe in music.”
I think that was the most Rock ‘n’ Roll speech I’ve ever heard, being very impactful, and they of course had to prove that, going almost right in to “Shooting the Moon”, which Nick put his guitar down for. He joined the audience on that one, as the crowd parted, letting him go where he wanted, which was almost back to the bar, before he eventually returned towards the front of the stage. They toned things down just a bit with “Like You Do”, and only did more so once Nick got his guitar back, knocking out “Pavement”.
I believe they followed it with another track from 2012’s “Mona”, “I Seen”. Regardless of if that’s right or wrong, Jordan, Zach, Vince and Nick tore it up on their respective instruments, and even though their 70-minute long set was almost over, they still had a lot of energy left to put into it.
One more song came next, after which they again thanked everyone for coming out on this Monday night. “…No one ever wants to do anything on Monday’s.” said Nick, before they brought the night to a close with “Lean Into the Fall”.
What they did was put on a real, entertaining performance, the likes of which are hard to find.
Making it all the better was the fact that I was not prepared for it in the least, and that’s always a great feeling when you see a band and they completely blow you away.
Anyway, in watching the members of Mona on stage, all the potential they have is readily evident, which makes me glad I saw them here at the Prophet Bar, because there’s no doubt they’re destined for bigger and better things (and bigger stages). They just have all the key components, from the live show, to writing meaningful music that has that certain radio friendly quality to it, and everything else a band needs to succeed.
They may be done playing for now, but keep an eye on their tour schedule, ‘cause they’ll no doubt be busy in 2014. And in the meantime, check out their music on iTUNES.
Very fun night, and it was nice getting to some bands from beyond the North Texas music scene. Too bad every Monday night can’t be this much fun. Oh, and this also wound up being the 600th concert I’ve seen. Not bad if I do say so myself.
It’s not too often I end up at the same venue two nights in a row, yet this night, I found myself back at Prophet Bar, for yet another round of touring acts.
The Prophet Bar was hosting a very unique show this night. Free Dominguez, best known as the frontwoman of Kidneythieves, was performing this night, and this final show of an only two-show tour of Texas was more of an intimate party than just your typical concert.
This Dallas date was billed as a “private event”, with buying tickets in advance being the only way to get in, as no tickets were sold at the door, giving it an exclusive feel, to an extent.
On top of that, Free had organized the lineup, with her cousin Jordi Baizan and fellow Los Angeles based singer Sierra Swan opening for her. (Dallas locals At Night were also scheduled to perform, though their van broke down on the way back from their Houston show).
However, since this was such an early show (starting about 6PM), both openers had finished by the time I was able to get there, though I heard good things about both.
Still, everyone was most excited for Free Dominguez, who had been over at the merch table meeting people and signing stuff for most of the evening (from what I heard), only leaving shortly before her and her bands 8:40 start time in order to get ready for the show.
Much of their 67-minute long set was comprised of material from “Volcano and the Sea”, an album that at one point during the night Free said she had been wanting to make for ten years, sounding elated that it had finally happened.
They kicked things off exactly how the record does, with the beautifully serene yet roaring rock number, “Calling”. She informed the decent size crowd on the title after they finished it, chatting with everyone briefly. “This is going to be our last song.” Free joked before they launched into “Beautiful”, which was just one of many songs this night that guitarist Static was able to shred on.
Drummer Beak Wing counted them in on the mesmerizing “Line in the Sand”, which was the last song they did in order as is heard on the record, and afterwards Free again spoke with the crowd, creating a real rapport with everybody. One thing she did was point out a couple who had drove all the way from St. Louis to see this show, a feat that earned them a round of applause. “…It’s stuff like that that keeps me doing what I’m doing…” remarked Free, being genuinely humbled by that, as well as all the fans in general who had come out to show their support.
“Make me a simple life before I die…” Free crooned as they started “Simple Life”, which somewhat deals with materialism, and wound up being a highlight of their show. At least I thought so. Upon finishing it, she pointed out one of the lines from it, for those who might not have caught it, and that was, “…Things that are forever are forever changing…” She commented on how that’s more or less a mantra for her, and it is probably one of the most true lyrics from a song. Talk then led to the next song, which Free noted was the first song she and Static wrote that wound up leading to “Volcano and the Sea”. “…He was screwing around on Skype…” she said, saying she liked what he was doing on his guitar and asked him to continue.
They then slowed things down with the dark and gorgeous “Corridors”, with Free hitting some utterly beautiful notes with her voice. “That’s always a fun one to do. It’s always different.” she stated, referring to Static as “the feral one”, adding that he always keeps them on their toes while performing it. And while they had toned things down with that song, they were about to scale back even more as Beak Wing and bassist Matt McJunkins left the stage. Free told everyone that for this next segment, she let Static pick the songs they were going to play, ones she hadn’t prepared for and was going to be as surprised as the audience. “…I might even forget the lyrics, like I did last night in Houston.” she said laughing.
This portion of the show saw them doing some stripped down covers of Kidneythieves songs, and the first one was the lead track from “Zerospace”, “Before I’m Dead”. They may have sounded a little different, but it was these songs that everyone seemed to love, and much of the audience was even singing along to them, especially “Jude (Be Somebody)”, which everyone seemed ecstatic to hear, and it did even catch Free off guard. “I don’t know what it is.” she said after Static’s first riff on the guitar, reiterating that after the second, before realizing. And no, she didn’t flub the words to either of those tracks.
As the rhythm section returned, Free took a few moments to discuss another project she and Static are working on, which will be a hip-hop collaboration. She expressed her love of the genre, even saying they recently got word from the label that they will be able to get who they want to collaborate with for what I believe she said would be an EP that would most likely be released in the first half of next year. She sounded very excited about it, and it will no doubt be an interesting record to hear once it’s finished.
As they got back to her solo material, they did some revamped renditions of a couple songs from “(.Unearth.)”, the addition of Matt and Beak Wing really helping flesh out the songs from how they are on the album, helping transform “ Darkest Rivers” into a beast of a song, and one they could all really throw down on. “…Enjoy it…” said Free, urging everyone to get the most out of it, adding, “…’Cause I don’t know when we’ll be back…” Following it was “Questions + Lies”, which helped wind the evening down, but they still had a couple songs left to do.
But before playing any more, Free pointed out that a special guest was in attendance, and that was someone who had backed their Kickstarter campaign, picking the reward option of having her write a song about him. In order to get to know him she said they had talked online many times, and she also had him keep a dream journal for a while, which he then gave to her. She was excited about the song, saying how good it was sounding and that she has had to fight the urge to share even a snippet with him, because she wants him to be surprised when he hears the full song, which she said would be titled “Mr. Goodnight”.
They got back to it with “Hearts Like Parachutes”, which made them appear as if they were still getting warmed up, with the whole band really loosing up, especially Matt, who thrashed about to the beat. Then, before their final song, Free pointed out someone else who was in attendance. It was a young girl who was at her first ever concert, and Free said she was glad the child had been in the bathroom earlier when she said the “f-word”. “…I’m sensitive about that stuff…” she clarified, shortly before encouraging everyone to support their favorite band by buying their music, then bashing a streaming service with, “Fuck Spotify!”. It was “Wolf” that brought their show to a close, though even after a little more than an hour, no one was ready for it to come to an end, letting it be known when it was said that would be the last song. “Do you not want me to enjoy this shot?” Free said jokingly, having gotten one early on in the night, but only drank a portion of so it didn’t “fuck up” her voice as she put it. A respectable ting to do I might add, since so many musicians these days don’t seem to think twice about how it might affect their singing.
As the band retreated back stage, the DJ they had at the event began to spin some more music as everyone started to mingle a bit, thinking it was over. It wasn’t.
Static and Free returned to the state after a minute or so, performing over the track the DJ had going, giving everyone one little bonus track.
It was truly an incredible show, and making it all the better was the intimate feel it had. The Prophet Bar is a smaller venue, and all four members were fairly cozy on stage, having just enough room to do a little moving around. That didn’t keep them from putting on one helluva show, though.
There’s no question that Static is a phenomenal guitarist, stealing the spotlight at times as you watch in wonder at his mastery of the instrument. Beak Wing and Matt are also experts at their craft, while Free Dominguez is amazing in all aspects. Often this night she could be seem conducting her body very fluidly to the music, moving her hands and arms about in perfect time to what her band was playing. On top of that, she has a stellar voice, which was no doubt the main tool that left everyone in awe this night.
Honestly, the first time I ever heard any Kidneythieves songs was the covers they did this night, it has prompted me to listen to their records. And while it may be a departure from the group that made her famous, Free’s solo music is every bit as great, albeit in a different way, but in the end, it’s all riveting music that will pull you in and make the trip an experience.
If you haven’t yet heard her solo stuff, check it out in either iTUNES or Bandcamp.
I’m glad I wound up going to this show, as it was well worth it, and I definitely won’t miss out on the next one… Whenever that may be.
Having six bands on a bill means getting the show started early and having most of the bands do shorter sets. So, by the time I arrived to the Curtain Club this night, I had already missed Item 9 and A Life in Arms Reach, while Down to Friend was getting ready to take the stage for their CD release show.
Personally, I wasn’t much of a fan. They were heavier than what I like, with a hefty amount of screaming. But even I managed to find their high-strung show somewhat entertaining, and their fans clearly loved it, moshing pretty much the entire time they were on stage.
And if their genre sounds more like your style of music, you can find the EP they released, “So Awesome, It’s Stupid” in iTUNES.
The music style changed with the next set of bands, with Waking Alice ushering in the rock portion of the night.
They may have had an abbreviated 30-minute long set, but it was still long enough it allowed them to hit the highlights, and they packed it full of rock., an getting them off to an excellent start was “Treason”. As usual, the song was sped up from what you hear on the “Retribution” EP, drummer Jonn Levey providing a quicker beat for the song, resulting in it having much more of an urgency to it. It seemed like they might slow things down with the following song, which frontman Rus Chaney noted was a brand new one they had written a couple of weeks before. “It’s a love song.” he added, prompting a jokingly disappointed “awwwe” from their fans and friends. “Shut up.” he quipped, saying it was more of an atypical love song, and, if I heard the name right, was titled “Paper. Rock. Shotgun.”
It certainly wasn’t your normal love song, and music wise it even had some slightly dark undertones at times, though the lyrics were definitely that of a love song, and not in the generic way that so many songs like that are written in. And if there was still any doubt that perhaps it was not a rock song, than Brandon Brewer’s guitar solo quelled it, being slick, polished and all around awesome. It also further whets the appetites of their fans, giving everyone a little more insight into what Waking Alice has been working on, and already has me intrigued as to what will be coming down the pipeline next.
“Scars” had a super tight rhythm section this night, particularly at the beginning and before the choruses, when bassist Brayton Bourque swiftly plucked the strings of his bass in perfect synch to Jon’s drumming, which was pretty fast in itself. Very cool, and just shows how the band is still tightening up their live show.
They were already halfway done with their set, and continued on with their latest single, which Rus mentioned at the time may even still be up for free download on their Reverbnation page, joking that every now and then they can be nice and give stuff away. He was referring to “Hostage”, the heavy and intense track that has quickly become a fan favorite. “Fighting for myself to break free from your grasp. Now I’m on my feet, I’m gonna kick some ass.” Rus sang on that beast of a song, before they moved on to some classic Waking Alice. “…You might know it.” remarked Rus before they launched into “Biggest Lie”, which is always an interesting one to hear, due to the ever changing guitar solo Brandon does during it. The one this night was one of the best riffs I’ve heard him go on, having a very raw rock sound, and Jonn also got the spotlight for a few moments, as he knocked out a drum solo.
They then closed with a cover. “…It’s probably Jonn’s favorite.” Rus commented. Jonn then smiled as he led them into The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Geek U.S.A.”. They put a good spin on it, and I found myself liking it even more this time around than the (only) other time they did it. You could tell they’ve put some more work into it since their September show, and hopefully it’ll be a cover that sticks around for a little longer.
Their set did seem to pass by a little quick, and I think everyone of their fans would have liked to have heard another one or two tracks, but there’s always next time for that. Actually, this shorter set seemed to make them hustle a little more, invigorating them and making them even more dynamic than usual.
They have one last show for the year lined up on the last day of the year (December 31st) at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, for those who really do want to rock in the new year. And of course check out their music (new and old) in iTUNES.
InnrCor was next up, another band who was celebrating the release of a new record, as well a brand new lineup for the group.
I stuck around for a bit, but just never really got in to it, and since I had been feeling under the weather since early on in the week, still didn’t feel great and I knew I didn’t like the headliners, Mad Mexicans, I went ahead and called it an early night.
It may have been a relatively short show for me, but that should say something about Waking Alice, too, ‘cause they alone were well worth the trip to the Curtain.
It’s hard to believe, but it had already been almost six months since Spooky Folk performed their Farewell for Now show, giving their hometown of Denton one last show to savor before singer Kaleo Kaualoku moved to Colorado. It was made clear they were just going on a hiatus, though, not breaking up, and would be doing shows whenever he could make it back.
Like this night for instance, where Dan’s Silver Leaf was again serving as the setting for their gig, and a well attended one at that.
The range in music styles was pretty eclectic this night, beginning with Peopleodeon, who did a short 18-minute long set.
The quintet was very electronic based, with the only live instrument being the drums. Though there are an electronic act or two that I do like, for the most, I’m not a fan of the genre. It wasn’t just that, though. Their singers voice was very soft, easily being overpowered by the music, nor did she have much of a stage presence, standing with her hands in her pockets as she sang into the microphone.
Needless to say, they didn’t win me over as a fan, and I’m glad they didn’t get too much time on stage.
It didn’t take long for them to clear off and Pageantry to set up their gear, getting the night going in more of a rock direction when they took the stage shortly before eleven.
Their final Denton show of 2013 was comprised mostly of newer or non-album tracks, such as their opener, which did a great job of setting up the dreamy rock landscapes their music takes you through. As the song came to an end, singer and guitarist Roy Robertson transitioned them into their next song with some hypnotic guitar notes. The title track of their debut EP, “Friends of the Year”, is an engrossing one, then, after quickly informing the audience of who they were, they got back to work with another tune.
Drummer Ramon Muzquiz segued it into the following song with some hefty drum beats, while a a loud mix of the drums, guitar and Pablo Burrulls’ bass wound them into the next song, “Disaster”. The very rhythmic track was a highlight of their set, as was the song that came afterwards. “I just want to crawl all over you…” Roy sang at the start as well as on the chorus, which is quite infectious.
Before that one, Roy had remarked that this would be their last Denton show of the year, noting they would be taking a little time off from performing, and now, as their 39-minute long set neared the end, they took another break as he pointed out their merch table set up in the corner. “…We have shirts for boobed and no boobed people.” he said. I’ve never heard men’s and women’s shirts described that way, and it was quite funny. He then announced the name of their final song for the night, which was “Caution”.
Their time on stage seemed to pass all too quickly, and I only wish they had, had a little more time so perhaps they could have done the other two tracks from their EP.
It was still a great show, though, and I think it’s safe to say Pageantry is one of the more original bands that resides in North Texas.
Roy is an excellent song writer and story teller, which is readily apparent, while the music has dashes of pop thrown in, giving it a bit of a glossy sound, but not enough to undermine the rock elements, which comes first.
Check out “Friend of the Year” on their Bandcamp page, and just keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE for more updates on them. They did a little tour a few months back, and released that EP earlier in the year, so it seems safe to say that 2014 will be an even bigger year for Pageantry.
The crowd had enjoyed both of the opening acts, but it was Spooky Folk who everyone was most excited about. As I said, it was May when they last played in Texas, while they performed at a music festival in Denver back in July, and they were greeted with open arms, packing out about three fourths of Dan’s Silver Leaf, with some people even standing out on the back patio trying to glimpse in at the stage.
Songs from their debut self-titled record as well as the upcoming “Youth is a Notion” were in play this night, and they started with a series of newer songs, drummer Chris Brown knocking out some powerful beats to kick off their opener. I’m sure I had heard it before, though I didn’t remember it, but it really stood out to me this night, and I’m already betting it’ll be one of my favorite cuts from the new album.
“I Believe”, which boasts a riveting ebb and flow, having some sweeter spots along with sections you could rock out to, seemed to get them into the full swing of things, as well as garnering the full attention of everyone. While the final notes from Petra Kellys’ violin, along with the other instruments, trailed off, singer and rhythm guitarist Kaleo Kaualoku began plucking the strings of his guitar, leading them into “Notion”. “Youth is a notion that is crooked as crime. Death lies in waiting in these shadows of mine…” Kaleo sang at the start of the track, which is just another one of their songs that deals with real life themes.
“So what’s been going on these last few months?” Kaleo asked the collection of friends and fans, who were clearly glad to have him back, even if it was just for a few days, answering the question with cheers and applause. He continued chatting with everyone, eventually mentioning their new record. “…It’s finally done.” he said, adding it should be available in the next month or so. When he ran out of stuff to say for the moment, he asked Petra to take over for him. “Kaleo abandoned us for Denver!” she exclaimed, giving him a hard time about the move. “It’s only a twelve hour drive.” he said, to which she corrected, saying, “More like fourteen.” “It’s only an hour and forty-five minute plane ride.” he replied.
Aside from some tuning that was going on, guitarist Jesse Clay Perry had moved over to stage right, where he now clutched Scarlett Wrights’ bass, while she had picked up her melodica. You could feel how anxious everyone was getting about hearing one of the fan favorite songs, but instead of jumping right into it, they eased in with a serene violin intro, mixed with some soft guitar notes. It was a delightful intro to “Resurrect!”, almost as good as the song itself.
Everyone was on a high from that song, and after another new one, Scarlett pounded out some thick bass lines, a little unrecognizable at first, but eventually becoming clear it was leading them into “This Sleep”. “It’s good to be back in Denton for a few days.” Kaleo stated after finishing the song, as they geared up for another classic. The crowd was ecstatic when they heard them rip into “Polaroid”, most of whom sang along to every word, appreciating something that before was probably taken for granted a bit, back when Spooky Folk would (and could) do multiple shows a month.
“If you can hear me, clap once.” Petra told the audience during another break, having fun with them by adding, “I said once.” after dozens of people had clapped their hands together. During the lighthearted moment, Scarlett exited the stage, while Chris and Jesse got more out of side, as Kaleo and Petra did softer track from the new record, and one she was quick to point out was her favorite. That pretty song was followed by another new one, requiring the full band like just about every other song of theirs, and it was a pretty lengthy one at that. It was a truly fantastic number, completely captivating me. It was balanced out by the shortest song they could have done, and it was done with the full-band, verses as a duo like the last time they played Dan’s. The song was “Diddle”, and the bass, drums and extra guitar made it even more moving, while Jesse and Scarlett sang along with Kaleo and Petra at the end, “…Looking for love in all the wrong places seems to be common these days…”
It trailed off, giving way to the gradual rise of “Kicking and Screaming”, one of two newer songs that became a hit about as quickly as it was worked into their live show, and they prepared to end things with the other. Kaleo pointed out that the next song was the last one of the night, which had to have put a little doubt in everyone’s mind, especially when it was revealed to be “Disheveled”. Nothing against the song, which is quite possibly the strongest in their arsenal, allowing Jesse to shred on his axe, while Kaleo adopts a whole different demeanor as he belts out the chorus. It ended exceptionally, with the entire band chanting, “Oooh” over and over, which would have been a perfect way to cap the show off, except for the fact that it wasn’t the one song everybody was wanting to hear.
“We’re gonna cut all the bullshit…” Kaleo declared after the applause subsided, adding that everyone knew they were going to do one more song, and they didn’t drag things out by having the crowd beg for an encore that clearly would have been coming. Instead, they dove right into “Bible Belt”, which is typically a sing along, and it was a massive one this night, much of the crowd singing along to the chorus, “I was born on the bible belt. Give me something sharp so I can kill myself, ‘cause I can’t go on living this way…”, ending their 53-minute long set perfectly.
It wasn’t as epic a show as they had done back in May, when they did two full sets, playing their first record in its entirety, as well as much of the sophomore release plus some covers, but it was still a memorable one. They hit all of the highlight tracks from “Spooky Folk” and then some, and they were well placed around all the new material.
What was surprising was how in tune they still were with one another. I’m sure they did some rehearsing for this show, but you still have to consider the fact that they hadn’t been on stage with one another in about four months, yet you never would have guessed it. The chemistry and tightness was still there, and it was impressive.
It’ll probably be some time before Kaleo gets back here in order for Spooky Folk to do another show, but at least the fans will soon have a new record to help hold them over to whenever the next show may be.
And until that record is released (which would assumingly be December at this point), check out their first one on their BANDCAMP PAGE.
But as great as the bands were, and as fun as the show was, the best thing about this night was that there was no sadness about it, like the farewell for now show. The mood was more festive this night, from the fans and band members alike, who were just happy to be seeing the band again, while Jesse, Petra, Chris, Scarlett and Kaleo were glad to be playing those songs live once more
It had been over a year and a half since I last saw the Austin based folk outfit Wild Child in Dallas (having caught them at SXSW earlier this year), and this night was going to be a big one for the band.
Two days prior to this show at the Prophet Bar, the band released their highly anticipated sophomore record, “The Runaround”, making this the Dallas CD release show for the new album, and their Dallas fans were ready to partake in the festivities.
The lone opening act on this show was Prophets and Outlaws, who played a mix of new and old songs during their 39-minutes on stage, along with some covers.
It was one of those newer songs that they opened with, before doing a song that singer and guitarist Matt Boggs said was their “ode to Elvis”. It was the shorter “Honey Child”, which certainly could have gotten a lot of hips shaking about, though there were only a handful of people up front actually dancing to the soulful, bluesy song. Next came one of their covers, and it was a well known classic, made famous by The Band.
They did a brilliant rendition of “The Weight”, utilizing every vocalist in the band, which was most of them. Drummer James Guckenheimer, bassist Matt Murrow, guitarist Stevie G and keyboard player Jamie Ringholm all sang a different verse of the song, coming together and harmonizing on the chorus, along with Matt, even doing it in rounds to add a distinctive flare to it.
“Do y’all want to hear a brand new song?” Matt asked the decently sized crowd, though most of them seemed indifferent to it. All the same, they rolled things right along into a new one, and after another track, they broke out another cover. I believe it was a version of Ray Charles’s “I Don’t Need No Doctor”, with a little more of a rock spin on it, and Matt has a certain quality to his voice that allowed them to pull it off.
“This is our best one, in my opinion.” Matt stated before they broke into the lead track from their self-titled debut EP, “Soul Shop”, a rather relaxing song. “We’re gonna need some howls on this next one.” said Matt, noting it was a newer song they were thinking about releasing around Halloween. A few of the onlookers answered his request, doing a wolf howl once or twice during the song, and once it was finished they had just enough time left for one more tune.
I’ll say that for what they do, Prophets and Outlaws pull of the style exceedingly well. However, after seeing this full band show and an acoustic one a few months back, I have to say that their music just isn’t what I care for.
It just doesn’t grab me and strike a chord in me or anything. That’s all relative, though, and if you like a mix of soul and blues, that have slightly more of a country sound, then this is definitely the band for you.
They have two EP’s you can check out and purchase in iTUNES. As for shows, they tend to keep fairly busy, and on October 31st they’ll be at the City Tavern in Dallas, with a show on November 1st at Grotto Live in McKinney. For more tour dates, check out their REVERBNATION PAGE.
They hastily cleared their gear off, while Wild Child began the process of setting up, and by the time they were ready to go, singer and baritone ukulele player Alexander Beggins asked for everyone to get a little closer. Apparently, the band has made a lot of area fans since I first saw them, as the majority of the people who were scattered around the bar and elsewhere made their way right up front.
They began with a joke, though it didn’t start out that way as singer and violinist Kelsey Wilson first mentioned how early they had to be up this morning in order to perform on one of the local morning shows on one of the TV stations. She pointed out getting up that early made her want to punch people, but she did alright, only punching one news woman. “…But she only made it through the first half inch of her makeup…” Alexander chimed in, the crowd, along with his band mates erupting in laughter.
That was a great way to break the ice, and with there being no way to top that, they promptly started the show with the title track and lead song from this new album, “The Runaround”, a very fun song that got everyone moving around at least a little. “How are you doing this fine Thursday eve?” Alexander asked the fans, which spurred a conversation between band mates as Kelsey stated she always hopes it really is Thursday when he asks that question.
After bantering (mainly) amongst themselves for a moment, they got back to the music, hitting their more tender side with the second track on the record, “Victim to Charm”. The violin and cello, which was played by Sadie Wolfe, worked together harmoniously at the start of that one, “Dear, don’t be alarmed, as I trace the freckles on your porcelain arm…” Alexander sang softly into the mic. It’s a beautiful line for an equally beautiful song, that also featured some nice harmonies from the two vocalists.
Those new ones were well received, though the fans almost turned into rabid animals when Kelsey said they were going to do some old ones, clearly eager to hear the ones they knew and loved. That collective mood of excitement shot through the roof as Alexander played the opening notes of “The Escape”, the audience singing right along with Kelsey and Alexander, whose voices layered over each other’s nicely. “Lost my breath, I’m feeling weak, my bones escape my skin…” everybody sang, the fans obviously ecstatic that this favorite of theirs was still in the setlist. They took things down a few notches with “Silly Things”, and while the rhythm section was lighter, it was still pretty powerful, Chris D’Annunzio lightly plucking the strings of his bass, which caused the floor to vibrate at times. The crowd again proved their love for Wild Child and their music, loudly singing along to the final line, “…Come get your coffee pot, ‘cause it hasn’t been used since I last used you.”
The band appeared a bit surprised by all the love they were getting, and now pointed out that this was the first crowd they had played to since “The Runaround” came out just two days prior to this. And now, having done the first two tracks from both their new and old albums, it was time to get back to some newer stuff with the first single from “The Runaround”.
Kelsey informed anyone who didn’t know that they had just released a music video for the song “Crazy Bird”, saying it was “weird”, which could be a big understatement. However, while the video is weird, the song itself is not, and both will leave a lasting impression on you. It was fun and upbeat, being an irresistible song that will immediately put you in a happy mood.
Speaking of happy mood, Kelsey said they had picked up a new motto from their friends in Prophets and Outlaws backstage. “You can only have as much fun as you want to have.” she said, Alexander adding those were “words of wisdom”. It is true, and they and the crowd were prepared to have as much fun as possible this night, and not much could be more fun than a “butt grabbing song”, which was exactly what Kelsey said t he next one was. Not much of that was going on as they busted out another slow one, “This Place”, though, Evan Magers adding some soft, subtle notes from his keyboard at parts, while Carey McGraw kept a slow and steady beat going on the drums.
That slow tune transitioned well into “Stitches”, which at first didn’t come across as what Kelsey said was their “new favorite party song”, but once it got going, it clearly was a fitting party tune. As soon as it concluded they seamlessly launched into another old one, “Bridges Burning”, the audience echoing along with Kelsey, “…Wait for me, I want you to wait for me…” “Y’all are tripping me out!” she exclaimed after finishing the song, still seeming a bit baffled by all the love. The audience was then presented with a choice of either getting a new fast one or an old fast one, which was “Cocaine Hurricane”. It was unanimous, and the choice was that old fan favorite, which is still a highlight of their shows.
Their 53-minute long set was nearing its end, and they still had a couple more new ones to do, one of which was the instant classic, “Living Tree”. “You guys are my favorite people in the whole wide world.” remarked Kelsey after they finished the song, still overwhelmed by it all, and they began to wind things down with the final track on the new album, “Left Behind”.
There was only one fitting way to close to the show, though, and that was with the final number from 2011’s “Pillow Talk”, the haunting, “Tale of You & Me”. “Sleep good and hold tight. Just know that’ll make it right.” the whole band shouted repeatedly at the end, creating the greatest sing along moment of the night, the entire crowd joining them, making for the best possible end to what was surely Wild Child’s best Dallas show yet.
This was quite the night, and Wild Child is quite the band. The duel vocalists and the way they constantly change things up, from both Kelsey and Alexander singing lead, to incorporating some dynamic harmonies and even singing in time with one another are what make them standout so much. And while those two do tend to be the main focus of the show, the rest of the group is of course just as vital a part, and contribute a lot to the energy they have.
On that note, it was their older songs that they did that were the most cohesive and flawless. That’s nothing against their new material, but you could tell those oldies had been performed hundreds of times over and they’d developed such chemistry for them, while some of the newer ones they still haven’t worked out all the movements.
In the end, though, it’s easy to see why the band just performed at Austin City Limits (doing a gig at the festival a couple days after this Dallas date), and why they’re creating such buzz. And the way folk music is becoming such a big thing currently in mainstream music, and given the unique and fresh spin Wild Child puts on their tunes, it’s believable that they have a shot at making it.
Wild Child will be on the road until the end of the year, doing shows from the East Coast to the West Coast and several states in between, and for all those dates go HERE. And do check out both of their albums in iTUNES, and if you dig ‘em, definitely buy them.
If you’ve been in Deep Ellum at all over the past years (and probably further back than that), you’ve no doubt seen Anthony Streeter, who often worked security at the Curtain Club. Hell, out of the nearly six and a half years I’ve been going there I remember seeing him at almost every show I caught there.
Recently, he was diagnosed with MS, and to help him out with the bills he incurred, a couple of benefit shows were put together, one of them being this night at, where else, the Curtain Club. And for the first time in a long time (or ever?), I went to concert not because I wanted to see the bands playing, but for the cause, despite having never known the man personally.
Enamored was the first band I caught this night, getting their short 25-minute set going the same way their “Requiem” EP does, with “Empty”. The turnout may have been small so early on, but those who were there should have been hooked immediately by that one, and a handful of people gravitated towards the stage. They then brought things into a little more of a raw rock mode, Thomas Stewart pounding out the drumbeats of “Release” with a fury, while Aaron Heles and Robert Albritton walked about the stage, picking at their guitar and bass, respectively.
Soon, Aaron led them into the next track and one of my favorites, “Bring Down”. “I’m never coming back now, I’m leaving this all behind. My life is moving forward…” belted out front women Jules at the start of the track, her deep, powerful voice gripping the listeners. One of their non-album tracks, “Better Off Alone”, came next, before kicking it back into overdrive with “Escape”.
A little break followed as Aaron had to tune his guitar, while Jules (somewhat) joked that it was “beer thirty”, before laughing that they needed a new guitarist who could tune faster. Once he got it ready, they showed off their softer side with “Free”, which has a great ebb and flow to it. “…This one’s called Slaves and Toys.” announced Jules before their next song, and before one of those songs she informed everyone they would soon be going back into the studio to record some of those, which will definitely be something to look forward to.
With that, they had reached the end of their performance, having time for only one more, which was “Never Again”.
Enamored keeps getting better, and even in just the few months since their CD release show (when I last saw them) I’d say they had stepped it up a bit.
Robert and Aaron seemed to have a little more presence, at times being very meticulous and calculated with what they were doing, and at others simply attacking their instruments. As for Thomas, he’s a machine on the drums and is a good fit with the group, while Jules has an amazing vocal range capable of hitting all sorts of notes.
Go see ‘em if you can, they won’t disappoint you, and you can check out their EP in iTUNES.
Eaglesnake was the next band up, and personally, I wasn’t a huge fan… At least not of some of their stuff.
Along with the typical band lineup, they had a singer who also played a keytar, and then a hip-hop vocalist. Now, I’m just not a real fan of hip-hop, which made it impossible for me to get into some of their stuff. On the other hand, the songs the other guy song, which were more rock based, were quite good and very enjoyable.
They did end their show in a killer way, though, as the keytar player used the instrument to play the Star Spangled Banner in its entirety, delivering a stellar version of it.
Next up was Fantasma, whom I was looking very forward to seeing, not just because they’re a great band, but also because it had been around a year since I had last caught one of their shows.
In that year’s time the band has been working on some new music for their sophomore release, material that filled their show this night, including their opener. It was great tune, featuring some killer bass lines from Daniel Castaneda. Only one track from “Stories of Earth Women” found its way into their set list this night (at least only one they played), and that was “Panda”, drummer Michael Kudlicki cutting loose on each chorus when the song exploded, truly getting wild on his kit.
A string of new songs followed, beginning with “Fire and Blood”, and after another one this loud rock band who has electronic elements laced into their music slowed things down. Dale “DJ” Wilkerson Jr. started singing, mostly a cappella, knocking out the first few lines of the song before his band mates eased into the song. It was (at least to start with) very different from most of their other stuff, which allowed it to stand out even more.
That different pace was continued as they pulled out a cover I had forgotten they had even done, and one you certainly wouldn’t expect from them. “I had a way then, losing it all on my own…” DJ crooned over the sample track for “Lights”, of course originally done by Ellie Goulding. It’s a far cry from the same song you’ve heard blanket the radio, though, as Fantasma puts much more of a rock spin on it.
While gearing up for the next song, DJ passed the time by cracking a joke. “I think the band before us made up half the crowd.” he said, before looking at guitarist Chad Abbott. “Was that a bad joke? I’m sorry, that was a bad joke.” he added, however, I found some humor in it. They were then informed they had enough time for one more, and with another new one already queued up, they went with it to close out their 29-minute long set.
I thoroughly enjoyed it all. First off, this was the first time I had seen them since Chad (best known as rhythm guitarist for SouthFM and in slightly more recent years Social Jab), and his slick, precise style of playing meshes well with the band. And while on the subject of new things, those songs seem to be a grade above what was on their first album, which is saying a lot.
As for the rest of the group, Dan, Michael and DJ all turned the heat up a bit, too, and put on a fierce live show.
Do check out their record in iTUNES, and keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE, as they do have a few more shows before the years end.
Closing out the night was local heavyweight Adakain. I had seen the band a few years ago (at least) at a show here at the Curtain, but that was well before they went through a lineup change, adding Ryan Ray on as the lead singer. Needless to say, I was looking forward to this.
They proved themselves a force to be reckoned with right from the start, with their high-octane show, guitarist Taylor Walding, bassist Jason Schauer and singer and guitarist Ryan Ray all thrashing about to Ryan Carroll’s drumbeats. That energy never ceased as they tore through their first couple of songs, before getting to one that was a staple of Ryan’s past project… Sort of. Assuming the title is still the same it was “How Could You?”, albeit a reworked version from what I was used to, which in the end seemed to bring the song new life.
Upon finishing it they took a breather. “…The music scene is badass…” Ryan stated, talking about how we take care of our own, and all came together this night for such a worthy cause. He then ditched his guitar for their next song, allowing him to be even more mobile than before, even doing a bit of jumping around the stage.
“…This song’s about never giving up on your dreams…” Ryan told everyone in setting up their next track, elaborating that so long as you have that drive you need to keep at it, because your dreams can’t come true if you’re not pursuing them. “This one’s called That Feeling.” he finished as the ripped through it. The following song also got a little explanation, and it was about letting people change you to please them, and how you shouldn’t. “…Fuck that, am I right?” Ryan said before they launched into one song that really stood out to me.
They wound it right into the next one, and in the little lull that connected the two Ryan again thanked everyone for coming out, acknowledging that everyone had to probably be up early for work the next day and how they appreciated the audience staying late. Not much noise was made when he asked who all did have to go to work the next day. “What, are you all drug dealers?!” he joked.
Now, in the final stretch of their 43-minute show, they pulled out some of the songs they’ve recently written, even working on them with Jeff Blue out in LA. One was the heavy hitter that is “Honey”, a vicious song that has some mainstream rock elements to it, and it’s my personal favorite from this new batch.
Longtime Adakain fans cheered as the band then pulled out the lead track from the “Silhouette of Lies” EP, “Sky is Falling”, which was proof to the adage, “save the best for last”, ‘cause it was without question one of their best songs this night. “Bleach it Out” came next, giving it a run for its money, and then they wrapped up the night with “Hello World”.
I’m going to have to try to make it to some Adakain shows a little more often…
The incredibly high-energy show they put on was more than enough to completely captivate you, and mixed with their great songs, they’re a pretty powerful force.
Adakain has been around for a little while now, making waves in the D/FW area and even across the country when they’ve toured, and maybe now, with this newest lineup, they can finally break through. The potential is definitely there.
You can buy the bands older stuff in iTUNES, while they have their three newest tracks up to listen to on their REVERBNATION PAGE, and stay tuned to it for future show updates the band will have.
It was a great night, and it was nice to see so many people come together to help a guy out. The turnout could have been better in my opinion, but still, for a Sunday night, it wasn’t bad at all.
Kudos to the bands who played and the fans who came out, whose sheer attendance proved how much they care not just about the local music scene, but the community, and the people who are a part of it.
It seemed like it had been a little while since I had caught a show at the Doublewide, but with the one the venue was hosting this night, it was impossible to pass up.
Here Holy Spain was headlining, doing their first show since releasing their latest EP at the end of July, and they had a couple of other Dallas acts opening up for them.
Dead Mockingbirds was first up (despite being listed as second on the Doublewide’s website), and this trio got the night off to an excellent start.
They crammed quite a few songs into their 41-minute long set, and their fifth one in was one of my favorites, just being a killer song that singer and guitarist Kenneth Everette Pritchard shredded on, and the bass intro that Trinidad Diaz started it off with was very enticing. Upon finishing it, Kenneth thanked the people who had made their way into the showroom. “…It’s one of the new ones…” he stated.
They weren’t all about rock music, though, throwing in some humor here and there, like after their next song when Kenneth thanked the sound guy, referring to him as their new best friend. “…He doesn’t know it yet, but we’re going to go hang out at his house after this…” he joked, before assuring the sound guy they weren’t going to do that.
They knocked out a couple more, and near the end of one Kenneth dropped to his knees at the center of the stage, fiercely and quickly plucking the strings on his ax for a knockout solo. Matthew Crain then got his turn at a solo, banging about on his kit as they fired up another song. After that one that proceeded it, Kenneth announced it was about “schizophrenia”, which made sense, since it was a pretty wild and crazy sounding number.
They then headed for the end, cranking out four more tracks, including one of the cuts from their recently released 45 record.
I was pretty impressed by these guys, who threw down with the best of them, being very forceful in their performance.
With that, the live show is definitely where it is at for this cohesive trio, who were obviously there to entertain and had fun doing it.
I did have a little trouble hearing Kenneths’ voice at times this night, though I’m not sure if that because the mic volume could have stood to be turned up or what. Still, that was far from being a strike against them.
If you go to the bands REVERBNATION PAGE, you can download some of their songs for FREE, and also keep an eye on that page for future show updates.
Sandwiched in between the opener and headliner was Plissken, and with a name like that, I was interested to hear what they were like.
Personally, they were way too heavy for my tastes, what with the throaty screaming their singer did, and because of that I zoned out on them.
It just wasn’t my cup of tea, but if that’s something you enjoy, check ‘em out.
A little after midnight Here Holy Spain was ready to go, and they had a set planned that would traverse their entire career, from old to current, and even some new material.
A sampling of that newer stuff began their show, kicking off an onslaught of songs. It was titled “Boss Level” (according to the set list), which they quickly sailed through, bleeding it seamlessly into the title track from their 2009 LP, “Manic”. Drummer Scott Brayfield and bassist Erica Guagliardi created a tight knit and quick rhythm section on that one, which eventually gave way into one of their other new ones, “Warning Signs”.
They didn’t stop there, Scott transitioning them right into the next song, before singer and guitarist Wes Todd fired up the first notes of “Drive Out West”, one of the instant classics from the newly released “Under the Undertow” EP. Now only “Division” remained untouched, and they fixed that quickly with the lead track from that full-length, “No Love”. Most of the tracks from that album are filled with a lot of bitterness and anger, which Wes harnesses well, as the raw emotions seep out into his singing. They had a couple more offerings from that record, too, continuing with “Waiting, Wearing Your Skin”.
It only took 15-minutes for them to work through those six songs, and while some of them are shorter, that still speaks to how efficient the members of Here Holy Spain are. As they paused to tune, Ben could be overheard confirming with Wes what the next song was, which was “Can’t Control”. “…They just can’t control it. They try, but they can’t…” Wes joked with his band mate, while they readied themselves. On one of the lines from the second verse, “…My beating, bruised, screaming bleeding heart…” Wes took most of the aggression out of his voice (compared to the album version), giving it a different feel, and it actually made the song sound even better.
To eliminate anymore downtime, Scott tapped on some of his cymbals while the rest of the group tuned, getting things ready for one last song from their new batch. It was called “Physics”, and Ben seemed to be the one that stole the show on that one, having some killer and catchy parts on both the verses and choruses, simply killing it. That one was definitely my favorite from this new set of tunes, and it was followed by my favorite from that new EP they put out in July.
While simple, the opening chords of “Golden Gun” are mesmerizing, and lyrically it’s easily one of the best, deepest things Wes has written. “…How long ‘til the dawn is coming? how long ‘til I drop? I never knew you better than I never knew my god…” he sang before the rest of the outfit joined in as it roared to life.
After one last timeout to get prepped for their final songs, they pulled out the emotional “Even The Bright Ones Burn Out”, before segueing it right into the turbulent “Way Out One In Five”, which concluded their 36-minute long set.
As usual, they knocked it out of the park, and I (and I’m sure other fans) enjoyed hearing the assortment of songs from their previous, current and coming albums. Speaking of that, their new, new material is fantastic, and even though their new EP is barely two months old, it has me looking forward to what their next release will be like, even though that’s probably at least a year away at this point.
If you want to hear some good rock music with a flare of punk, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a group better than Here Holy Spain, especially in the live setting. On that note, they do have a show at Club Dada on October 12th. And don’t forget to pick up their music in iTUNES, and if you collect vinyl, you can get a hard copy of their split vinyl release from IDOL RECORDS online store.
Trees had put together a rather last minute local rock show for this night, with it coming together only about two weeks before. I knew nothing about it, aside from that Paco Estrada was playing it, doing his first full band Dallas show in three months, and it had been even longer than that since I saw him last, so there was no way I could miss this one.
There were only two opening bands, and I never caught the name of the first, probably because they had so many friends/fans out they didn’t think to drop their name, assuming everyone already knew who they were.
They didn’t do a lot for me, and part of that was due to their singers’ voice. In fairness, he did note he had been sick, even saying himself, “…My voice sounds like a bag of dicks…”, but all the same, there was only one song they did where I thought he sounded good and it was enjoyable. Aside from that, their music seemed a bit generic, very of pop/rock, and in a tiresome way.
A trio took the stage next, known as Nine Left Dead who had made the trek from Oklahoma City.
They opened with an instrumental song, which made me curious if that was going to be all they were, but starting with their next song, one of the members began singing (I believe it was the bass player).
The further they got into their show the more I enjoyed it, and some of their songs I thought were pretty well crafted, having some excellent music beds that were even catchy at times.
The only bad thing was they never really got any momentum going, often taking lengthy pauses in between songs, and at one point near the end the singer apologized to everyone, citing they were currently in the studio working on some stuff and they didn’t have much planned.
They could definitely stand to polish and tighten things up, but they are on the right track.
Last minute like this, you can’t expect to get an all-star lineup, but at least they were able to get one all-star act, and Paco Estrada and his band were about to take the stage.
When it came time for Paco and his band to start, pianist Scotty Isaacs began, softly striking the keys as he created a heavenly intro to “American Girls”. That was just one of several songs they did from the upcoming “Bedtime Stories” record, and Paco led them in winding it into their next song with some licks on his acoustic guitar.
Afterwards was when Paco formally introduced himself to everyone, though most of the meager crowd was probably already familiar with him. After another one of their new jams, they launched into one of the true gems from Paco’s recent years, and one that is just starting to find a life in the live set, “The Girl with the Heart of Steel”. “…The love you gave that could never be returned. So you took the knife and you cut your hand. You swore by your blood they could never break your heart again…” Paco belted out before they reached the chorus, “And that’s when you became the girl who could never feel…”.
He has penned a number of excellent songs over the years, and that one is close to the top of my list for being one of his best, especially in terms of lyrics. The new stuff kept coming with another catchy song, after which Paco slightly joked about one of the cities he frequents. “…Austin’s a good place for music, Dallas is of course great… But there’s just something about Tyler…” he said, not meaning any disrespect to the town at all, rather just saying it had a different vibe to it.
Things got more lively when they busted out “She”, whose more rock sound allowed Joel Bailey and Ryan Thomas Holley to cut loose a little more on their bass and guitar, respectively. Still, no one seemed to take more advantage of that song than drummer AJ “Irish” Blackleaf. He went ballistic on his kit, having almost a robotic style of playing by keeping his arms fairly rigid, but he tore it up, all the while wearing a smile, quite obviously having the time of his life.
As they wound up most of the upcoming music, they started to tap some of Paco’s (more recent) back catalog, with the fan favorite “Whiskey Kisses”, which sounds so much better when fleshed out by the full band. It was followed by another song all about love, which Paco explained was about a fairytalesque love, where you’re more or less caught up in the moment. It was a beautiful track, with the line (which I think I got right), “…These are the moments that make the hard times worth it…” being one that really stuck out to me.
That flow kept going with “When We Were Made”, Ryan adding some excellent notes to the end of it, which, while somewhat subtle, were enough to take the song to a whole other level. “Breaking Down” then brought the night to a close, the song springing to life towards the end when Paco crooned parts of the chorus. I really don’t think I’ve ever heard that song sound so intense before, as they embarked on more of an instrumental portion. As it drug on, I started to wonder if they were going to tack a cover song onto the end of it, as is tradition, or if they had switched it up in their time off. Eventually, it was met with the one response I was hoping for, the music subsiding as Paco sang, “Did I disappoint you, or leave a bad taste in your mouth?” I still say the addition of U2’s “One” is the best cover they’ve mixed with that song yet, and it seemed to sound extra amazing this night.
Paco had stated that would be their final song of the night, so as soon as it was over, the house music started coming back up, while a handful of fans begged for an encore. Their request was met when Paco stepped back up to the mic and said they did have one more for everyone. That last song was “Haunting Me”, and it was a nice end to their 59-minute long set.
It was an excellent show, and after again hearing some of those new songs, it got me all the more excited for “Bedtime Stories”, which will no doubt be a great collection of songs.
Also, the full band serves Paco, well, and after years of having a rotating cast of musicians accompanying him, it’s good to finally see some starting to became mainstays, like Joel and Scotty. Hopefully Ryan will be able to make this permanent, too, because his voice and slick playing added some nice elements to things this night.
Next up, Paco will be doing a couple of Austin shows, one on September 26th at 219 West Rooftop on 6th Street. The following night he’ll also be playing Darwin’s Pub, with Ryan Holley helping him out on both shows. Also, check out his records, including the very new “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” EP on his BANDCAMP PAGE. (Also, check out this interview Paco did with DFW Undercover.)
Despite the low turnout (which was expected for a last minute show), it was good night, and Paco and his band were more than worth the cover price.
It took six years, but the Toadies finally brought their roving music festival known as Dia de los Toadies to their hometown of Fort Worth.
Actually, with the festival having been stationed in New Braunfels for the last three consecutive years, it was easy to forget the festival was meant to roam about the Lone Star State in the first place.
I must admit, it felt a little strange to me, though, being only the third time I attended the festival it was also the first time I (or rather my dad and I) didn’t have to trek south to Central Texas for the event. Instead, it was just a short(er) little jaunt over to Fort Worth and the Panther Island Pavilion, which was the spot for this year’s event.
It wasn’t a little slice of heaven like the setting of the past few years, but it was a nice space. Still, it could benefit from some shade trees, and while it was fairly removed from Downtown, leaving the attendees unable to see or hear any traffic or anything, the buildings of downtown Fort Worth still served as a reminder that you were in the city.
Being in North Texas this year, the lineup drew almost exclusively from the areas talent, and getting the day long festival going was some students at the School of Rock, but not just any students, they were students from the dean’s list.
Their nearly 30-minute long set consisted entirely of covers, including some Fleetwood Mac and Janis Joplin, among others.
The group consisted of a large collection of musicians, who often played musical chairs, with five of them beginning with an instrumental piece, before a girl who looked like she was perhaps ten joined them on stage for their first song with lyrics, and surprised me by having a more powerful voice then I was expecting.
It was a good glimpse of what could perhaps be a future crop of local area musicians, and while all of them were already good at their craft, there were two that really got my eye. One was the first bass player who was on stage with them, and played most of the set. He killed it, having an awesome style of playing while slapping the bass. The other was one of the other vocalists, and before their final song, an instructor or someone with the School of Rock walked up to the mic, informing everyone that Zoe (the singer) would soon be graduating from the school after something like four years, and this would be her last time performing as a student.
She had a wicked voice, often conjuring more of a sharp growl, and as a front women had a great presence, getting into the music and moving accordingly to it, and just had an aura about her that ensured they had your undivided attention.
Kudos to the School of Rock for doing what they do, and to all the kids for putting complete dedication into their set and best of luck to them as they continue to improve.
Over on the smaller stage, the Play.Rock.Music. stage (of course named after the Toadies most recent release) was the Fort Worth based, The Cush.
Their 28-minute long set featured a hefty bit of new material from the album they are currently working on, and I believe their opening song was one from it. They did throw some more rock stuff into their performance to better fit with all the other acts, however this song was a little softer, and featured some truly gorgeous harmonies and textures from the husband and wife duo of Burette and Gabrielle Douglas, the former playing a guitar, while she rocked the bass.
She did most of the singing on it, and afterwards they did another new one, which if I heard correctly was titled “Orange Like Water”. Afterwards, drummer Todd Harwell led them into a song from 2010’s “Between the Leaves” with a mighty drum roll, launching them into the explosive “I Shout Love at the Heart of the Atom”. They might be more of a low-key outfit that does more indie like songs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t throw down when they need to, and that song served as a prime example of that, and really allowed guitarist Josh Daugherty to cut loose.
“This song’s called The Drone.” Burette said to the small crowd of onlookers, before they did the more soupy, dreamy sounding song which was drenched with some sounds courtesy of a synthesizer. They were almost done, now, doing two more newer ones, and “Cover Your Eyes” kicked things back up into high gear. It was easily the most intense thing they played this afternoon, and Todd knocked out some strong beats on the song’s outro, which all but belonged to him, before they did their closing track.
In fairness, I haven’t see The Cush much, with this being only the third time I’d caught them, but they grow on me each time around.
In fact, Gabrielles’ voice sounded better than I’ve ever heard before, being absolutely beautiful. Part of may have also had to do with the new songs, which I found to be some of their best stuff to date, particularly the more rock oriented songs. They pull of both styles exceedingly well, though, and the duel vocalists adds an interesting component to their whole dynamic.
Check out their records in iTUNES, and stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE for future show updates and news about their forthcoming record.
Back over on the main stage (which was the Panther Island Pavilion stage I should add) a newer Dallas group was getting ready to perform, and that was These Machines are Winning.
The band has earned praise since their debut, and especially after releasing their first record earlier in the year, but I had yet to see them, and in fact, had never even listened to their music, so I was clueless on what to expect.
However, I did not expect to see three guys (they did not have a drummer by the way) dressed in solid black, which included hoodies, and yes, they did have the hood drawn over their heads. Probably one of the crazier things I’ve seen a band do in in heat that was pushing 100 degrees, but that also earns them some serious props for sticking with their signature look regardless of how hot it was.
“It’s Been So Long” kicked off their set, and I was a bit surprised to find out how electronic based their music was, with the percussion also being thrown in on the sample tracks. I don’t mean that as a bad things in any way, it just wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It was a striking sound right from the start, and I mean that about just the tracks themselves, let alone with the slick guitar parts that lead guitarist Dave Christensen and singer and guitarist Dylan Silvers, were adding on, as well as the rhythmic bass lines Hightower was cranking out. It completely enveloped me, and they had me mesmerized throughout the duration of their 26-minute set.
With a little bit of feedback they brought it right into the following song from “Defender 1”, “Get a Little Closer”, which was eventually bridged into “Brains Inside Our Head”. Dylan ditched his guitar for “Just One More (Monolith)”, taking up more of a front man role and proving he was just as comfortable on stage without a guitar as he was playing it, walking around a bit while delivering the lyrics. “This song’s called Beat S.” he announced after placing his guitar back around him. “…You’ve been looking at me like I was somebody else. You’ve been looking at me like I could fix this whole god damn mess…” he sang on the second verse of the song which somewhat breaks the mold of traditional songwriting by lacking a true chorus, something it really doesn’t need.
Upon finishing it, Dylan then named their next song, “Fornication”, which I thought was probably their most rocking number, even though it still had a real electronic element to it. It eventually gave way to “You Have Been Talking to a Ghost”, as they continued to power through their set as quick as they could to fit everything in, and once it was done they took a pause. Dylan spoke more to the ever growing crowd, rather than thank the people for coming out and the Toadies for having as he had done at other points in their set. “It’s fucking hot. It’s gonna cool down. It’s gonna rain.” he said.
The first part of that was very true, but sadly the other two sentences never did happen this day. With that said, the trio tackled their final song of the day, “If This City Won’t Sleep”, capping things off nicely.
Sometimes, when it comes to electronic samplings, I think they can sound fairly cold and sterile, but that was far from the case with These Machines are Winning. It was very vibrant, and while I’d hesitate to say they are breaking new ground, their music is highly original and very different from most of the stuff currently out there.
It is very creative music, and the synth sounds work in perfect combination with the rock flare Dylan, Dave and Hightower bring with their live instruments.
Since seeing them, I’ve listened to “Defender 1” a few times, and the songs do translate well on the record, and they do pull them off live exactly how you hear them, though it is the live show where things are really at for them. They put on a pretty energetic show, as well as a fun one, and one I hope to see again soon.
To keep up to date on their shows, just stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE, and do be sure to preview and even buy “Defender 1” in iTUNES.
Over on the other stage, an old iconic Denton band was about to be doing one of their occasional reunion shows.
That band was Baboon, who was part of the “Fraternity of Noise” (a title that was collectively given to three bands back in the early 90’s), and while that may have been well before my time, I was still somewhat familiar with Baboon, and have been for a little while now. (side note: this was the second year that Dia de los Toadies has featured one of the bands from the “Fraternity of Noise”.)
Baboon has been in business for over two decades now, and semi-retired would probably be the best word to use for them. They’ve never actually hung it up and called it quits, though their reunion shows are few and far between, and because of that they had quite the audience.
They traversed much of their lengthy career, at least as much as they could, the fiery “Rise” was how they began things. It definitely piqued my interest as they jumped into action, and each member of this quintet was pretty spry, and certainly didn’t let their age show on them.
“Lush Life” wasn’t quite as aggressive as that first track, but still packed a good punch, and they quickly followed it with “Breaking Glass”, which I thought had some sweet guitar lines, which in turn made it a catchy little tune. Before the next song, vocalist Andrew Huffstetler noted they were doing it because it was a request, pointing out that is something they don’t always take. They named the evidently longtime fans, who I assume were in a relationship of some type, since they said the guy had requested it for the lady, and fittingly so, because “Nation of Twos” was somewhat of a tender love song.
The mood changed when they fired up “I’m Okay if You’re Okay”, which I found to be the most interesting song of their set. There was an eerie atmosphere to it at times, with some haunting riffs from guitarists Mike Rudnicki and James Henderson, while Andrew forced his voice into a falsetto tone, letting loose a violent scream shortly after, while the rhythm section of drummer Steven Barnett and bassist Bart Rogers was off the wall. At times, parts of the song seemed so opposite one another it was almost contradictory, yet it worked.
With some beats on his kit, Steven wound them into “Dracula Eyes”, which wound up being one of my favorite songs they did. It may not have been an all-out onslaught of rock like some of their other material, but it was an all around brilliant song. They continued busting out the classics with “Closer”, then eased into “California Dreaming” with some light guitar chords, at least until the song took off. By the time it was done, they only had one song left, and it was “Evil”.
It was a great 32-minute set in my opinion, but for the longtime fans, it evidently was not long enough, with the chants for an encore starting no sooner had the final notes been played, making them the only band (aside from the Toadies) to get demands for an encore. It was a request Baboon really seemed to want to grant, but with the time constraints of the festival, they were unable to do so.
Obviously, I can’t attest to what a Baboon show was like back in the day, but from the looks of it this afternoon, I’m going to guess that they haven’t lost much of their edge.
In terms of a high-strung, energetic show, Baboon was the best there was on the festival, constantly moving about, and in Andrew’s case even jumping, proving they could run circles around the fresher bands they were sharing the stages with.
There were times when Andrews’ voice would crack a little, but that was only on some of the high notes he hit, and that’s the only compliant I can make about their show.
In regards to their music, I think it has withstood the tests of time, still sounding creative and fresh compared to any rock you’d hear now days, probably because they just don’t make rock bands like Baboon anymore (at least not in mainstream rock).
Who knows when these guys will be pulling out the drums, guitars, bass and microphone again, but whenever they do, I’ll definitely try to be there to witness another show.
Back over on the main stage, another trio was ready to go, and the rock continued with Oil Boom.
The band is readying a brand new record, and they squeezed in several songs from it, but also threw in some current and older stuff, like “45 Revolutions Per Minute”, a smart, fun little tune that was completely consuming. Dugan Connors kept the drum beats going, bringing them into one of those songs from their upcoming record, and it was followed by another.
Once it was done, bassist Steve Steward made a reference about how big the stage was, and it wasn’t your typical reference. “Remember that part in the Batman movie, where Batman, or Bruce Wayne and Vicki Vale are in the dining hall on opposite sides…” he said, speaking of the 1989 Batman film. “That’s what I feel like…” he said, then added, “Ryan’s Vicki Vale, obviously.” talking about his band mate, singer and guitarist Ryan Taylor.
That made for a great laugh, and served to only make them more entertaining than they already were, before they continued on with two more songs, tied together nicely with a little bit of guitar feedback. “…Here’s one you all will know, maybe.” Ryan said to the crowd. It was one from last year’s “Gold Yeller” EP, and though I didn’t know it, I quickly became a fan of “The Great American Shakedown”. “Shaking down, shaking down, shaking down, you know I’m all shook down…” Ryan sang on the chorus, the unique tone his voice has making the song all the more irresistible.
The next song they did featured a stellar guitar solo from Ryan, and while it was the most prominent instrument at the time, Steven and Dugan held it up with a tight rhythm section, then after one more new song, they reached the final song of their 37-minute long set. It was one off their first record, and even though “Bite Your Tongue” was older and had been written with the bands original singer, it still came across as a staple of their set, and was one of the highlights.
Having heard of Oil Boom for a few years prior to this, it was good to finally see them live. In fact, I had listened to their music a few years back (around the time of their first album, so circa 2011), and wasn’t really drawn in by their music, but damn, their stuff this day sure got me hook, line and sinker.
A lot of that has to do with Ryan, who, just in comparing their two EP’s, is a much better singer, in my opinion, giving their sound a whole a new style. And speaking of their sound, it is rock first and foremost, but there’s some underlying blues and soul qualities to it, some of their songs even having a revamped 50’s to 60’s era sound to it.
Now that I have seen Oil Boom, I’m wondering why it took me so long to do so, and I’ll have to make it a point to see them a little more often when I can.
They’re keeping busy, with a show in Austin on September 28th as part of the Pecan Festival. On October 4th they’ll be in Houston at the Continental Club, then Sundown at Granada in Dallas on the 5th. The 12th will see them in Fort Worth at the Flying Saucer for Beerfest, and the following weekend they’ll be back in Cow Town for Lolaspalooza at Lola’s Saloon on the 19th. On the 25th they’ll be at the Blue Note in Oklahoma City, with a Tulsa gig on the 26th at the Mercury Lounge. Lastly, on November 9th they’ll be back in Dallas at the Granada Theater, opening for Johnny Marr of The Smiths. As for their music, you can of course pick up their EP’s and some singles in iTUNES.
The pace of the day was about to take a drastic change over on the Play.Rock.Music stage, though not everyone (myself included) knew just what they were about to experience.
This San Antonio based quartet known as Piñata Protest was on their way out to California to start a tour with Guttermouth, but they were stopping here first to give the Dia attendees a taste of their self-described (according to their Facebook page) “Mojado punk” brand of music.
I was expecting the punk part, though, especially not after seeing singer Alvaro Del Norte wielding an accordion. Not the most punk rock sounding instrument, at least you wouldn’t think it would be.
The outfit recently released their new record, “El Valiente”, and they opened with the first full song on it, “Vato Perron”. It quickly became apparent they’ve carved out their own little niche for themselves, the accordion adding a real Mexican flare to their music. Actually, all of the instruments did, from the notes Matt Cazares played on his guitar, to the rapid fire beats drummer JJ Martinez was cranking out, working in perfect tune with Marcus Cazazres’s bass lines.
It was all fast paced like punk music, is though, and they lowed through their 34-minute long set, going almost straight into another number. That new album of theirs wasn’t the only source of music for them, and actually, they seemed to draw equally from it and their first release, “Plethora”, running through the short “Jackeee”, before doing the title track of album two, “El Valiente”.
They were both throwing down and making for a very fun live show, but it was about to get a little more hardcore. Alvaro took off the accordion he was using. “Are there any punk rockers out here?!” he asked, saying he meant real, true punk rock fans, not pretenders. Some of the onlookers roared back at him to signify there were. “…Prove it.” he said, “Start a fucking circle pit…” he commanded. As for the song, I don’t know exactly what it was, but I’m leaning towards “Que Pedo”. Regardless, once they tore into it, a mosh pit erupted, lasting the whole not even complete minute the song did. Actually, some of the people looked confused, surprised the song was already over, but hey, that’s a true punk rock song right there. Short, intense and to the point.
After another tune, they did an Irish song for everybody. At least that’s what Alvaro told the spectators. “…This is an Irish drinking song for all you Irish motherfuckers.” he laughed. I believe it was “Life on the Border”, and upon finishing it, they geared up for their next song by getting the audience to clap along. Alvaro asked for everyone to get their arms higher in the air, making a wisecrack once they were fully stretched upwards. “Oh, I can smell your armpits from here.” He said, waving his hand about as if he were trying to waft the smell away.
That song was “Guadalupe”, which was relatively tame by the standard Piñata Protest had so quickly set, before rolling it into “Suckcess”, kicking things back up. The full-blown punk rock side they are capable off showed itself again with their next song, another pit forming, as a handful of people slammed against one another for the duration of another song that was unknown to me.
By now it seemed like their time should be running out, but with very few songs that are even three minutes long, they kept powering on with “Volver, Volver”, which JJ wound into “Rocket”, Marcus banging his head about to the drum beats of that partially instrumental song.
A very catchy song was “Tomorrow, Today”, and once they finished it, it was time to put their spin on a couple of traditional songs. “…This song’s about a little cockroach, who likes to smoke weed…” Alvaro said to the crowd, who both laughed and cheered at that, before he went on to dedicate it to all the “officers in uniform” for keeping everyone safe this day. I promise you, you have never heard “La Cucaracha” sound like the way these guys did it, putting a very punk twist on it, even complete with a trumpet. They then wrapped up their set with Alvaro said was another traditional song, “Cantina”, another one they no doubt made much more punk sounding than it originally is.
Piñata Protest was easily the most original sounding band of the festival (and that could actually be extended to most original band I’ve ever heard in general), and they also stuck out as being one of the highlight acts of the day.
Fun and aggressive is an interesting mix, especially in the way they mixed it, but that was made them so enjoyable. It was something fun that you could cut loose and have a good time listening to, though also doubled as a fierce and tight rock show.
These guys pull off their unique style incredibly well, and their live show is one to behold, because they won’t disappoint. There’s also a good chance they might be near you on this tour they are a part of. For all their dates, click HERE, and they will be on the road through mid-October. Also, do your ears a favor and give them a taste of something different by checking out their records in iTUNES.
Back on the main stage, it was time for another drastic shift in music (compared to the band that had just finished), and everyone was about to get countrified by the duo, The O’s.
“Thunderdog”, the band’s latest LP, was the main source of their music this day, but they also drew from “Between the Two” a little bit, like with their opener, “We’ll Go Walkin’”. “Every morning, when we wake up, I brew up some lovin’ and pour you a cup…” sang John Pedigo at the second verse of that sweet love song. That overwhelmingly happy song transfers its emotions well onto the listeners, making it impossible to be in a bad mood.
“…This song’s called Dallas.” said acoustic guitars and other vocalist Taylor Young, who also adds the percussion by stomping on a pedal to hit the bass drum that sat at his feet. That tune was the only bumpy part of their set, as I had trouble hearing Taylors’ voice, and even John’s as he harmonized with him. Whatever the issue was, it resolved near the end of it, which was just in time for them to do the lead track from “Thunderdog”, “Outlaw”. It’s perfect proof that this new record features their best collection of songs yet, and this song’s at the top of the list. “…We’ve all got the right to fix things that we don’t like… Revolt, reshape and reload…” the two sing on the chorus, which I think sends the message that if you want something to change, you can and need to be the one to make it happen.
“Found the One” continued their show, and they shared a little bit of the banter they usually make, something Taylor mentioned earlier when he apologized, “…We’re trying not to talk as much today as usual…” Here, they pointed out the producer of their recent record. “…You look hot…” Taylor told, before pointing out he meant in hot in the sense of the temperature. John then chimed in, saying something to the effect that he thought his band mate meant the physical sense, because he was looking pretty good.
They then started a real gem from the new album, “Rearranged”, which was also a very captivating moment of this performance. “Well Taylor, it looks like wearing black wasn’t a good idea after all…” John said to his band mate, as they began to talk about some of the other bands, like These Machines are Winning and their outfits, while saying Baboon probably had the smartest idea by dressing in all white. “…That joke never gets old.” Taylor stated, giving the impression they used that before, which only made the joke that much finnier. They then stepped it up with the only song they have that is borderline rock, and that is “Kitty”, which sees John shredding on his banjo at the end.
There was a long build up to their next song, John doing a lengthy harmonica solo before the two started the music bed of “In Numbers We Survive”, which they segued nicely into “Pushin’ Along”, which required John to use his pedal steel guitar. It then came time to end their 42-minute long set, and what better way to conclude it than with “Everything’s Alright”.
I believe I said this the last time I saw The O’s, and I’ll say it again, they’re growing on me each time I see them. This was definitely the best show I’ve seen them do, even topping the festival I saw them play back in May, mainly because they were able to squeeze some additional songs into this one.
If you’re looking for great, quality country music, then they’re a group to check out. Both John and Taylor are fantastic singers with their own unique sounding voices that can add different tones to their music, and they can harmonize like no one’s business. They also write some topnotch music with brilliant lyrics.
You can find their three records in iTUNES. They’re also keeping busy through the rest of the year, playing Three Links in Dallas on October 4th, with a gig at the State Fair of Texas on the 11th. The 20th will find them back in Fort Worth at Lola’s Saloon, then on the 25th they’ll be up in McKinney at Hank’s Grill. For November they have shows planned in Grapevine, Dallas, Plano and Denton, and even a show in Nashville, TN come early December. For all of those dates, go HERE.
The Burning Hotels were ready to go over on the other stage, having amassed quite a crowd.
While everyone loves these guys, they’ve never won me over, but I was open to perhaps this being the time the band finally clicked with me.
Their 35-minutes on stage began with “Always”, with a couple of other songs (I suppose newer ones) coming next, none of which did much for me. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of Chance Morgans’ voice. However, I have enjoyed the songs that guitarist Matt Mooty sings on, and had been somewhat looking forward to “Days are Gone”. It was the first song of the night where Matt really had a part in singing, and maybe he was just having an off night, but his voice was far from good.
It really caught me off guard how incredibly pitchy he was, and the same could be said of Chance, as they continued on with “Lovely Lovely Lady” and “Sound City”. By that time, I had all but zoned out, making it seem like the perfect time to go ahead and get a place in line to buy some Toadies merch, as The Burning Hotels finished up with three more songs, including “Allison” and the closer, “Beard”.
I’ve tried to get into The Burning Hotels, I really have. There even a handful of songs that I really like the recorded versions of, but in the end, honestly, I just feel these guys are overrated.
All the same, if you want to listen to/buy their music, you can do so HERE and HERE.
Now after seeing a few acts I had caught before, I was looking forward to checking out another act that was new to me… Well, sort of.
I had heard of The Dirty Rivers Boys before, about a year ago, and loved their music, but hadn’t managed to see one of their shows when they had come through town, at least not until now.
They looked much different than any of the other bands this day, with the bass player, Colton James, wielding an upright bass, while drummer Travis Stearns sit atop a cajon, with only a partial drum kit of a snare and a tom around him.
No sooner had the MC of the event introduced them, then they got down to it, opening with the lightning quick, “Letter to Whoever”. The catchy beat reeled you in immediately, and I believe it was Nino Cooper who handled the singing on that one, while also playing a guitar, and he spit out the words just as rapidly as the song was quick. There wasn’t even really time to applaud their efforts as they continued on to their next song, “Heart Like That”. “She’s just a girl with a ramblin’ heartache, he’s grown a hard, lost man…” went the chorus of that infectious track, which wound up being my favorite of theirs and a real sing along quality to it.
Those two songs had come from their first full-length record that came out last year, but now they went back to the first two EP’s they released, playing a song from “Train Station” and “Long Cold Fall”, respectively. They switched things up slightly with “My Son”, which showcased what incredible harmonies the quartet is capable of, as Nino, fellow guitarist Marco Gutierrez (who did the majority of the singing on it), and even Travis all chimed in, their voices blending together to make a beautiful sound. Nino then took back the reigns for their next number, briefly saying it was a song he wrote about a union painter he had met, aptly called, “Union Painter”, and had a true country sound to it.
“This is what we like to call a Chinese fire drill.” Marco told the crowd, as they all took on different roles for the next song. If I got it right, it had Travis playing a banjo and singing, Marco on bass and Colton rocking the mandolin. Once they finished it, they reverted back to their typical instruments for what they said was a “drinking song”, which was “Draw”. They rolled it into another song I wasn’t able to figure out, though it was more of a heavy hitter than the previous song. “…There’s this brand new thing on the streets called punk rock…” one of them said before ripping into the song, which did have a slight punk rock feel to it.
Their 40-minute long set was nearing the end, cranking out one more softer song in the form of “Youngblood Blues”. They then prepared to go out with a bang, Nino switching out to a mandolin for their last two songs, “Boomtown” being one of those, and it got everyone pretty active. It was wound pretty fluidly into their final song “Raise Some Hell”, which at times sounded like an Irish jig, making it all the more fun.
That was actually somewhat of an abrupt end to their set, because I figured they might do a little more, and they were one of the only bands this day that had me wishing they had gotten a longer set time. And really, it’s always good to leave the crowd, even if it’s only some of them, wanting more
Everything about The Dirty River Boys was phenomenal, from the lively show to the killer music and just the attitude they seemed to have about it all. By that, I mean they were just having fun doing what they love to do, with just enough seriousness that any band needs, while still being pretty relaxed and just going with the flow.
Their show was one you could just cut loose at and have a good time, though it certainly didn’t hurt that each of them had exceptional voices, and the harmonies were to die for.
Check out all of their records in iTUNES, and even go catch a live show if you can. They’re keeping busy with shows all over Texas, Oklahoma and even a few other states, spread out through the end of November. For all those dates, go HERE. They will be back in the D/FW area on November 22nd at the Granada Theater, then the next night they’ll be in Austin at Antones for their last show of the year.
Night had finally fallen and the heat was finally more than bearable now, as the show entered the headliners portion of the night.
I had been pretty excited about the Tyler based family band, Eisley. I had missed their last stop or two through Dallas, and they were finished touring for the year, but thankfully they were doing this one-off show.
They played an assortment of songs from various points in their careers, though opened with the title track of the album they put earlier this year, “Currents”. It seemed slow at first, but by the time they hit the chorus, when guitarist Sherri DuPree-Bemis joined sister Stacy King in crooning, “Do you believe in fate, baby? Ask me, ask me…” it roared into a force to be reckoned with.
Dialogue was kept pretty minimal, simply thanking the fans for coming out and the Toadies for having them, as they worked to fit in everything they had planned, and next moved on to “Invasion”. Afterwards, Sherri took over lead vocal duties as they busted out a few from what is their best record in my opinion, “The Valley”. “Better Love” was one of those songs, and by the time they finished it, Sherris’ guitar had a broken string. “…Do we have an extra guitar? We probably don’t, do we?” she asked, before choosing to “rock it out”. “What string is that? G? Who needs the G string?” she joked, before pointing out is was another that had snapped. Drummer Weston DuPree then started them into “Sad”, he and bassist Garron DuPree creating a knockout rhythm section on that one.
“I feel like I have to hold my head on when I sing that one, ‘cause it’s so hard.” Stated Sherri while she caught her breath, Stacy joking with her that it might just fall right off if she didn’t. She didn’t have to exert herself quite as much on the next two songs, “Save My Soul” and “Mr. Moon”, the latter one finding Stacy fully focusing on her keyboard. Upon finishing it, they did chat with the crowd for a few minutes, as Sherri recalled her, Stacy, Chauntelle DuPree-D’Agostino and the rest of the group cutting their teeth at the clubs in the Deep Ellum part of Dallas. “…None of us were old enough to legally get into the clubs, but they still let us play…” she said, before cracking, “Now we’re just old moms with babies…”
Fitting along the lines of that reminiscing was their next song, and old one from 2005’s “Room Noises”, which they said they were doing just for their fans in their home area. No, it wasn’t the ever popular single from that disc, but it was one that’s every bit as good, “Golly Sandra”. It was quite nice getting to hear that more classic song of theirs, which is one of my favorite Eisley tracks, and it was balanced out by the title track of one of their newest releases, “Deep Space”.
Chauntelle added some commentary after they finished it, laughing as she said she had forgotten some of the chords near the end of that song, so she just winged it. “…We’ve been off for two months and I’ve been painting a house…” she informed everyone, noting that between that and being a mom she didn’t have much time to practice. Her sisters agreed with her, that two months in “mommy world” keeps you busy enough that you would forget some things. They followed it with another track from the EP, and considering what had just happened, it seemed apt that it was “Laugh it Off”, which eventually wound into one song that never disappoints, “I Could Be There For You”. It’s nice how it features all three of the sisters singing at least a few lines apiece, particularly Chauntelle, who doesn’t show off her voice on any other song but that one.
They had one last song to do from “Combinations”, and that was “Many Funerals”, after which they once again thanked everyone for coming out. They then wrapped up their 58-minute long set with their current single, the ethereal sounding, “Drink the Water”.
I must say, I was slightly disappointed they weren’t able to fit “The Valley” into their set, but that one stellar song missing didn’t do anything to diminish they knockout show they put on.
The rush they seemed to be in only aided them, making them appear to be even tighter than they already are as they tore through all those tracks, while simultaneously giving it a very fluid feel.
This was definitely one of the best Eisley shows I’ve seen (even though I’ve only seen a handful), and even though it was a one-off performance, the group was more than on point.
Expect to see them back out on the road sometime next year, and in the meantime, hit up iTUNES to check out the collection of albums they have put out over the years.
The main support slot for this year’s Dia de los Toadies went to the Austin based Gary Clark Jr., who is a mix of rock, blues and even some soul.
“When My Train Pulls In”, one of the singles from his debut full-length, “Blak & Blu”, kicked off their set, quickly proving they can also add jam band to their style, too. The recording of that song is close to eight minutes, but this live version lasted slightly over ten, as Gary Clark Jr. riffed and shredded on his guitar, while his band mates, a drummer, bassist and guitarist, tore it up right along with him.
They kept the jam fest going with “Don’t Owe You a Thing”, and then roared into full rock mode with “Travis County”, which was also one that could have and did have some people dancing along to its contagious, poppy vibe. It had quickly become apparent that Gary wasn’t much for chitchat, and he only occasionally offered a “Thank you.” in response to the cheers he was getting. He was all about the music and letting it consume him, and as they carried on, they switched things up from those first few songs.
The falsetto tone of voice he suddenly switched to for “Please Come Home” was enough to catch those who were unfamiliar with him off guard. It was truly impressive how well he pulled that off, though, keeping it up for the duration of the more tender song, which, like every other song, was complete with a guitar solo to demonstrate mastery of the instrument.
“I don’t believe in competition. Ain’t nobody else like me around…” he smoothly sang at the start of “Ain’t Messin’ Round”, which saw their return to the rock genre. It was followed by an instrumental song, which I’m guessing was “Third Stone from the Sun”, Gary lightly picking at the strings on his guitar, and as the time went on, he progressively picked up the pace. It eventually gave way (rather seamlessly, too) into the soulful and even somewhat funky “If You Love Me Like You Say”. The long instrumental segment of the song also featured a good little drum solo, before the full band broke back in to march the song along to its end.
Next up they did the title track itself, “Blak and Blu”, bleeding it into what was arguably the best song of their 63-minute long set, “Bright Lights”. “…You’re gonna know my name by the end of the night…” Gary crooned on various parts of the song, which, when taking out of context, was very fitting, because everyone who was getting their first taste of his music certainly wouldn’t be forgetting him anytime soon.
It was complete with a jam portion, and once they finished it, their set suddenly ended, as he again thanked everyone and he and his band left.
I was kind of mixed about them. On one hand, I’ve stated many times before my disinterest in instrumental music, yet their songs abounded with them, at times causing me to lose some interest. On the other hand, the musicianship (especially on Gary’s part) was superb, and even standing a good ways back from the stage his intricate playing was something to marvel at, making the instrumental parts more than bearable to me.
Overall, I did thoroughly enjoy their show, and it truly was a show they put on. They have a different sound about them, one you don’t hear much of these days, and the crisp, fresh sounding voice of Garys’ is what sets is all off.
Gary and his band will be out on the road from the end of September through the end of November, hitting up several parts of the country. For full details go HERE, and they will also be performing at the House of Blues in Dallas on November 27th. Also, be sure to pick up a copy of “Blak & Blu”. You’ll surely love it.
For the first time in nearly eight hours, silence fell on Panther Island Pavilion. Well, at least silence from the live music. The roadies set to work on getting their stuff off stage and setting up the Toadies gear, allowing the fans to make a beer run or do anything else without fear of missing anything.
By around 10:30, things were all set as the intro song for the Toadies began to play. It wasn’t one of their typical intro songs, though it fit well given where they were. It was George Straits’ “Big Balls in Cowtown”, and after the song had nearly played all the way through, Vaden Todd Lewis walked on stage.
Now, if you’ve seen the Toadies a few times within the last several years, you know they typical stick with the same tried and true set list, usually opening with the same song with many others falling in the same spot each time. There’s nothing wrong with that, hell, I love their traditional set list, but for this year’s Dia they decided to throw everyone for a loop, throwing a multitude of surprises in.
I’ll preface this by saying I find “Play.Rock.Music.” to be every bit as good as the iconic “Rubberneck”, with not a single track on that record being one you should skip over, and one of my personal favorites from their latest disc is “We Burned the City Down”. So, I was pleasantly surprised when Vaden began strumming on his guitar, singing, “Well, misery loves company, that’s why we’re thick as thieves. Let’s move out to the country and live just the way we please…” Soon, Clark Vogeler made his way to stage left while Mark Reznicek took a seat behind his drum kit, joining in after the first chorus, as if they had done this song a few dozen times over already. Once the song kicked into high gear, Doni Blair stepped on stage, bass in hand, as they concluded that deep cut/rarity, and it wouldn’t be the last one of those this night, either.
Their wasn’t even time to applaud that one before some cheers erupted from everyone, excited at the start of “Backslider”. After all, it is those classics that are still the bands bread and butter, even all these years later. Afterwards, they moved on to that follow up to that album, “Hell Below/Stars Above”, Mark counting them in on the rather unexpected “Jigsaw Girl”. That’s an easy song of theirs to overlook, but in hearing it your reminded what good track it is, especially in the live setting, with its nice ebb and flow, while Doni and Mark created an impressively tight, albeit soft rhythm section on the verses. They weren’t about to stop there, and with a mix of mangled feedback they swirled things into their next song, another one I had not experienced live.
Even by their standards, “Cut Me Out” is an extremely intense song, allowing all four of them to get wild, Clark tearing it up on his axe at lightning speed. The crowd seemed to enjoy it, and in a set that was comprised so much of songs that they have seldom done in recent years, it was must play. They rock kept coming as they segued the end of it seamlessly into “I Come from the Water”, the only song that was fit to follow that other up. “Sing it!” Vaden shouted into the mic as he stepped back from it, giving the audience their routine chance at singing the chorus back at them, the shouts of “I come from the water!” flooding out of the fans mouths.
So far, this was shaping up to be what was probably the best Dia de los Toadies yet, and after a quick time out where Vaden thanked everyone for coming out, saying, “…We’ve had a blast for the last two days…”, they continued to crank out some more music.
In recent years, only a couple of songs still get played from the record that officially marked the bands comeback, “No Deliverance”, but they were looking to change that this night, and next did one I hadn’t heard in a few years, “Don’t Go My Way”. As that semi-dark and haunting song came to an end, Clark led them into the next, one of their newer cuts, and it was the best intro I’ve heard him do yet for “Animals”, really putting his whammy bar to use for it. It was just more exaggerated than what you hear on the recording, and that heavy song about the most primal human instinct fit perfectly with the one that came before it. It was then Todd’s turn to start the next one, the pulse pounding “Push the Hand”, before offering up another classic in the form of “Quitter”.
The banter resumed after that one, with Todd pointing out he recognized a few faces from the almost acoustic show the night before. “…That’s always weird and cool…” he said, referring to how it gets them out of their element. He then thought back to the early days of the Toadies. “…They would run us out of the clubs when we first started…” he said, pointing out it was nice now how they get to do this festival each year and play as late as they want to. He even stated that the best part of this night was yet to come, and that they were even going to have some surprise guests join them.
Doni then got them going on “Summer of the Strange”, a song that garnered some very audible cheers from some, seeming to signify that, while new, it’s already become a fan favorite. They then dusted off “I Am a Man of Stone”, which was were one of only two mistakes were made out of this night. Todd got a bit tangled up before the second chorus, flubbing the line, “…Now you’ve got me branded. Broken but still standing, watching you wreck everything…”, starting by uttering one of the earlier lines, before realizing his mistake, which only threw him further off as he tried to recover. Those couple sentences certainly couldn’t ruin the song, but it happened nonetheless.
However, no mistakes were made on “Away”, another song that briefly became a sing along, the crowd chanting, “When I’m away.” a few times over. What happened afterwards, though, was by far the best part of the night for me. Four and a half years is a good chunk of time to have been seeing these guys, and each time I’ve seen them I’ve hoped to hear the lead song from “Hell Below/Stars Above”, and within the last year I finally gave up hope of ever hearing it. So, I was both ecstatic and shocked when Todd began rapidly strumming his guitar, churning out the opening part of “Plane Crash”. The brief jolt of high energy Rock ‘n’ Roll that song offered was something else, and after all those years of hoping beyond hope to hear it, it was everything I hoped it would be.
They had already thrown several curve balls had their fans, and another one came next when they started into “Hell In High Water”. Sure, it has been a staple of their shows since 2008, but more recently it has been reserved for an encore. Yet here it was, in the main part of the set, begging the question, “What did they have planned for their encore?” As fans know, near the end of that one Clark has a sort of solo, knocking out a few lines while pressing his guitar against his amp. Once he finished that he returned to the front of the stage, when Todd made the remark, “I feel like we need one more.” Prompting Clark to return to his amp, letting out wicked and near deafening note.
Upon finishing it, Todd again thanked all the bands who played the festival. “…If you’re wondering how we put all this together each year, fuck, I don’t know…” he laughed, before thanking Kirtland Records and Sonar Management for helping organize it all. “…If it weren’t for you guys I’d have more gray hairs than normal…” he remarked. They then suddenly jumped back into the show, the fans hollering after quickly realizing it was “Possum Kingdom”, and shortly before making his entrance on the drums, Mark struck a pose by angling his arms towards the sky, as if he were a super hero about to take flight.
All these years later that’s still the one most fans love the most, which may not be a good thing, because shortly after they finished was when a very steady stream of people began to leave, and they kept filing out until the night came to an end. It was sad, really, but on the other hand, it showed who the true fans and diehards were.
That song was a sure sign the night was coming to an end, yet at the same time, there were still several songs I could think of they hadn’t played yet, making me wonder how much more they really were going to do. It turned out they had a lot left to give before wrapping up the main portion of the show, and next dug out “Unattractive”, before hitting another favorite of mine, “Sweetness”. “No Deliverance” changed the pace up a bit, being one of the few songs where Todd uses his bullet mic almost exclusively, and once it was over, he mentioned they only had a “couple left until the fake ending”. “…Do you know about the fake ending?” he asked the crowd, all of whom of course did.
During those last few songs a small mosh pit had broken out semi close to the stage, and Todd asked everyone to be careful, saying no one wanted to see anybody get hurt. “Well, there are some people I’d like to see beat up.” Todd said, adding, “Sorry, Doni.” Once the jokes were finished, they continued going off the beaten path by doing “Tyler”, which is normally reserved as an encore, and again begged the question, “What do they have planned for this encore section?”
“This is a good one to shake your ass to, if you brought it. I brought mine.” Said Todd before the final song of their 81-minute long set, which was none other than the high-speed “Rattler’s Revival”.
They took their leave, as did some more of the fans, obviously not concerned with the special guests the band said they had coming up.
A minute or two past before they returned, and once the four-piece reconvened on stage, Clark did the talking. He introduced the first of their series of special guests, a man he said was responsible for much of the Toadies sound, the bands original guitarist, Charles Mooney. Clark ceded his guitar to him and left, and as Charles struck a few notes, a technical issue arose. “…It can’t be a festival without an issue.” Todd said, demonstrating some quick wit by adding, “It has to do with my dad…” To pass the time he got the list of every band who had played and named them all, then bantered on, pointing out that he has been doing this for twenty-four years now, and what a nice privilege that has been.
By that time, the issue with the guitar was resolved, and for this song with Charles, they dug deep, all the way back to “Pleather”, doing “Ruth”. You couldn’t tell it had been about two decades since he had played with the band, owning it on that song, even using his teeth to pluck the strings at the end, all with a vicious stage personality. It was great moment, and he seemed to have a lot of fun doing it.
Clark took back over once it was done, and Doni welcomed their next guest on stage, his little brother, Zach Blair. Vaden pointed out he plays in Rise Against. “..I think they have some potential…” he joked, while handing his guitar over to Zach. It appeared that for one song he was going to be nothing but a front man, and that song was “Velvet”, which saw him pacing about the stage, taking advantage of the mobility he suddenly had.
Shortly after, Zach was replaced by their next guest, James Hall, who had been an opening act for them on the previous night. The thing I hated most about one song from “Play.Rock.Music.” was how nearly impossible it would be to do live, and even worse was it was another favorite of mine from that disc. So, I was quite surprised when Vaden announced the song, “Laments of a Good Man”, with James singing what, on the song, is the devilish voice heard inside the characters head. It translated pretty well live, and James had a good voice for it, sounding a bit wicked. The only hiccup came right at the very end, when he flubbed one line, which in turn made Vaden stumble over his part, laughing about it once they finished the tune.
No Dia is complete without a cover song, and this year (at least for the rock set), they did was Vaden joked was a “obscure” cover. It was a rendition of Joe Walshs’ “Rocky Mountain Way”, and while it didn’t sound like anything the Toadies would do, that was what made it so great, because it put them out of their element a bit, proving they can tone it down a bit.
After nearly twenty minutes this encore was surely close to an end, and their parting song to everyone was “I Burn”. It’s the only way a Toadies show should end in my opinion, capping off the 23-minute long encore nicely.
I’ve only seen three Dia de los Toadies, but out of those three, performance wise, this was the best one, hands down. I return to all the deep cuts they did. That’s how you make this an experience for the fans, perform songs you haven’t touched in awhile or have perhaps have even never played live to make it even more of a spectacle.
It sure worked well for the toadies this night, who were in rare form, even for them, and the banter, which can be lacking at some shows, was well above par, further making everyone feel like they were more of a part of this whole thing.
You can say what you want to about the Toadies, but there’s a reason why they were able to rise from the ashes of their seven year breakup and prove they were not only still relevant, but also a force to be reckoned with. Dia de los Toadies is a testament to that. Well, that, and how many people still love the band and the music they create.
There’s nothing on tap for the band right now, but who knows, they might do one or two more shows before the year’s end. And if you don’t already have them, go check out all their records in iTUNES.
This was a very fun Dia, even without the road trip to Central Texas, but now the question is where will the seventh installment of the festival be held? All of Texas is fair game, and while it could return here to Panther Island Pavilion or New Braunfels, it could just as easily could be held anywhere else.
This weekend was going to be spent in Fort Worth, and originally, I planned on seeing the Toadies this night as they kicked off the sixth edition of their music festival. Then I happened to check the show calendar for one Hayes Carll, only to see he was going to be playing at Billy Bob’s Texas this same night.
That show had already won out beforehand, but was only made better when I happened to score a pair of tickets via a contest Hayes did on Twitter a few hours before the show.
I had only been to Billy Bob’s once before, to see the aforementioned band, actually, and the set up this night was much different this time around. The substantial floor in front of the stage, which was completely empty on my first trip here, was now filled with seemingly endless rows of tables, stretching as far as possible from side to side and front to back. I assume this is probably how Billy Bob’s typically is, when they don’t have a rock band playing that could bring some rowdy fans.
It was a nice setup, and I was glad to find out that not only were there seats, but also what a good spot they were, being in the second row back from the stage and a little to the left of it.
It was a little after the 10:30 scheduled start time when someone there from Billy Bob’s got on stage and welcomed everyone to the show, plugging some of their other events while also noting what a big Hayes Carll fan he was, and how excited he was for the show. Once that business had been taking care of, he then welcomed the man of the hour to the stage, as Hayes Carll and his Gulf Coast Orchestra took the stage.
Hays got things going by plucking the strings of his acoustic guitar, slowly giving the first song shape, before singing the first line of “The Letter”. “I meet some wild people out here, those who are pretending and others more sincere…” he crooned on the seemingly appropriate opener that’s somewhat about his journeys on the road.
Upon finishing it, he officially announced who they were. “…All the way from Austin, welcome Hayes Carll and the Gulf Coast Orchestra.” Hayes said loudly as whipped into “Faulkner Street”. His Gulf Coast Orchestra got to step it more with this song, particularly Scott who no longer had to gently play his lap steel guitar, and electric guitarist Travis was able to cut loose on a brief solo or two. They moved right along to the next song, the crowd cheering after the first few chords that Hayes played. He then softened his playing, “I have two songs that start this way. I hope it’s the one y’all want to hear.” he said to the sizable audience. I believe it was the one fans were most excited to hear, and that was one of the fan favorites from the “Trouble in Mind” record, “Girl Downtown”. It had much of the crowd enthusiastically singing along, and it was also the first of a few consecutive numbers that found Travis holding the side of his guitar against him, picking at it as if it were a lap steel, while I believe Scott switched over to an electric guitar.
Even though they were only a few songs in, they had been knocking them out left and right, but now it was time for a story, as Hayes mentioned his hometown on the Texas coast, which was around Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula, and it got a roaring applause from everyone. “…That’s the loudest applause Crystal Beach has ever gotten.” He said while laughing. He talked about a variety of things down there, but the central focus was one Bob’s Grill and World Famous Sports Bar, a club he used to play, which he said had a “misleading” name. “…The whole place was probably about as big as this stage is…” he said, adding that no one who was currently in attendance would have been there. He then backtracked slightly, “Well, you two might have been, but you would have been watching a fishing tournament or something.” He stated he was a bit of a wonder down there, being the only person who could both play a guitar and sing at the same time, so he quickly made a name for himself and started picking up more and more shows. “…My show at Jeannie’s One led to my show at Jeannie’s Two, which was a bait shop located right behind Jeannie’s One…” he said, while rattling off a few other venues.
He then wound things back to Bob’s, which was owned by (of course) Bob, who, as Hayes put it, “…was a drug dealer.” He went on to say he bought some exotic animals with his profits from selling drugs, “…But the prized possession in his collection was a African Lion.” said Hayes, adding that there was a window behind the stage at Bob’s, and when Hayes played there, Bob would often bring the Lion’s cage there and place it behind the window. He continued own, mentioning that Hurricane Ike had devastated the area a few years back, but before it hit, Bob did “the Christian thing” and let all of his animals loose to give them a fighting chance. “Now, instinctually, that lion went to higher ground…” Hays told everyone, with higher ground happening to be a church, a church which some people also took refuge in, entering only to see a lion already in there. “…It was three days before the National Guard could get in there to assist everyone, so for three days those people were on one side of the church, while the lion was on the other… Like a sort of redneck Life of Pi…” he added. “Now, the reason for that long winded explanation is because this next song has a line about a lion tamer, and I didn’t want anyone to get confused.” he pointed out.
The intro alone to “I Got a Gig” had an excellent sound, with one of the guitarists starting first, while the other followed suit shortly after. Oddly enough, it gave it somewhat of a haunting sound, but was soon broken when the rhythm section, bassist Cody and drummer Mark, as well as Hayes joined in. And that explanation does indeed help the song make a little more sense, as he sings on the third verse, “There’s an old lion tamer parked behind the bar, a hundred pounds of weed in a stolen car…”.
They then slowed things down as Hayes led them directly into “Rivertown”, a personally favorite of mine from the “Little Rock” record, and one I was ecstatic to hear them do. “…And time will bring you down, time make you cold. I turned my back some time ago, and now I’m going home…” he sang on the rather somber track, before they immediately picked the mood back up with the title track from that 2005 release. Both Scott and Travis used an electric guitar for “Little Rock”, a very rocking number, and while they were doing more intense songs, it only made sense to the title track from his most recent release, but first, it was time for some more witty banter.
“This song’s about a soldier who has a morphine induced coma…” Hayes informed everyone, then outlined all the things that happen in “KMAG YOYO” as being hallucinations from the drug. The funny part came when he said he has young singer/songwriters ask him what the formula is to have a hit song in the Top 40 country charts. “…Some people write songs as a story…” he said, also giving a few other examples of writing styles, calling them “irrelevant”. “…The thing you need in your songs is keywords. See, I know this, obviously.” he said, in perfect deadpan humor. He went on to say, “…I usually teach a seminar about this…”, before telling anyone who wanted to learn a thing or two to grab a pencil and some paper. “Those keywords are…” he said, then preceded to list off “Taliban”, “IED, or any other acronym you can think of”, “Trucks” and “Spring break” were some of the words he said every song needed to have to be a hit, and once he had dropped that knowledge on everybody, they ripped into the very rhyme based “KMAG YOYO”. Scott truly got to show off his chops as a guitarist on that one, killing it on the guitar solos, even embellishing them from how they are on the record, subsequently giving it even more rip-roaring action.
There was just enough of a pause to allow the audience to applaud them, while Travis took a seat behind the pedal steel guitar, finally putting it to use on the gloomy “Chances Are”. Things got a little more uplifting after that semi depressing track when Hayes announced the next song was (and I’m sure I’m paraphrasing this) “drunks, and the women who love them.” Between that and pointing out that it was one he had co-written with Ray Wiley Hubbard, the fans knew exactly what song it was, loudly cheering for “Drunken Poet’s Dream”, which featured Travis on the mandolin. They didn’t let up, segueing it right into the next one. “I haven’t done this one in awhile, let’s see if I can remember the lyrics.” said Hayes before he started spitting out the lines of “Down the Road Tonight”. He didn’t seem to have any trouble with the words, and probably around halfway through the song they lightened up on the playing, allowing Hayes to formally introduce each of his band mates. Once he had done so, he left the stage, leaving Mark, Cody, Travis and Scott to do an instrumental jam, and quite a great job at it, at that.
After a minute or two, Hayes returned as they finished out the song, “Jukebox gypsies, mustang sally’s, don’t go walkin’ down dark alleys…”.
Most of his band left after it, leaving just he and Scott on stage, with Hayes informing everyone he was going to do a new song from his upcoming album, due out “…In the spring… Of 2017.” he joked. This was one he wrote about his son, who told him he wanted to be a magician. “Not a musician, a magician.” Hayes reiterated. He mentioned that’s a hard thing, because “…you see a life full of suffering ahead…” for your child, even saying his son wasn’t very good at first, and he would tell him when he was doing tricks for him that he could see what he was doing. “…But he didn’t listen to me or any of the other naysayers…” Hayes said, adding he had recently even become a member of the Austin Association of Magicians, an accomplishment that received some applause from the crowd. “You’ve heard of them?!” Hayes jokingly said, with surprise in his voice. He went on to say that his son is “…the youngest member, by about fifty years or so…” and they meet every other week “…At the IHOP, right by my house.” he finished.
There was an overall meaning to that story, though, as Hayes said he wished he had, had that spirit and determination his son does when he was his age, pointing out that everyone could benefit from picking what they really want to do and doing it, if only it were that simple. “…I hope he never loses that.” he said in closing. The song is called “The Magic Kid”, and it’s a sweet song with a message that everyone could take to heart, as he sings a few different times during it, “Who we are is who we are. Why is that so hard to be?”
While acoustic, it was a good change of pace from the other slower songs which dealt more with heartache, and as the Gulf Coast Orchestra filed back out on stage, Hayes again lightened up the mood by saying the next song was about license plates.
He named a few states and their slogans, like how Oklahoma is the OK state. “I like that, they’re like, “We’re not great, but we’re ok.” He said, and after mentioning North Carolina’s, he joked that that South Carolina’s was, “We wish we were North Carolina.” Talk then turned to the “Live Free or Die” state, New Hampshire, which Hayes said he felt was the best motto, eventually wrapping things up by saying how horrible it would be to be in prison in that state, having to make license plates that read, “Live Free or Die”. “…If you all listen to the third verse of this song, we might learn something tonight.” he told the audience before pulling out a track from his debut album, “Live Free or Die”. It was a humorous song, and that lesson he mentioned, well, it was, “…So if you catch your wife with another man, it’s best to hold off as long as you can. Then shoot him in another state where they got a different license plate.” That is just another example of what a brilliant writer Hayes is (and evidently always has been.)
“Bad Liver and a Broken Heart” came next, albeit a much different rendition than that which you hear on “Trouble in Mind”. Hayes used a harmonica on parts of it, doing a very scaled back acoustic version of it. Personally, I am more of a fan of the album version, probably ‘cause I’m a rock fan first and foremost, but even acoustic the song sounds really good. Fitting with that tone was “Hard Out Here”, which again saw Travis playing the pedal steel. In what I’m guessing is typical fashion, Hayes added some additional lyrics near the end of the song, drawing from experiences on the road, as recently as that day.
He spoke it more than singing, telling the audience of how they played a show in Marfa the night before, and didn’t get to bed until about five in the morning. He continued by saying the hotel room was infested with various bugs and such, like a tarantula, which happened to be in his bed. So, after (literally) a couple hours of sleep, he said he and his band mates woke up and got in the van to head to Fort Worth, only to discover their van had broke down, resulting in some of them riding in an Impala to the show, while the others drove a U-Haul with the gear loaded in it. Such is the life of a touring musician.
Soon after finishing it, they pulled out another blistering number, “Stomp and Holler”, which was a signal that they were at the tail end of their performance, and they wound it pretty fluidly into “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”. Then, to wrap things up, they did the one song I had anxiously been waiting to hear since they first got on stage, “Beaumont”. That beautiful, straightforward love song about the feeling not being mutual was a perfect way to close things out, and that’s actually one of the few songs I’ve heard any band do that works well as both an opener and a closer (Hayes opened with it at a Dallas venue a few months back).
By the time that was all said and done, they had been on stage for an impressive 90-minutes, leaving me wondering if there even would be an encore or not.
Everyone was hoping for one, though, making sure the band knew it, too, by chanting “Hayes!” repeatedly. It had only been a minute or so since they had left when they made their way back out, Travis picking up the mandolin, while Scott was finally going to use the accordion. “I say this every night, but I would do this every night rather anyone shows up or not, but it’s sure a lot more fun when you do.” he said to everyone before embarking on a 12-minute encore portion. It was nearly impossible not to smile as they ran through the upbeat and incredibly catchy “Bottle in My Hand”, before an electric guitar and the lap steel were put back to work for “Wish I Hadn’t Stayed So Long”. They had one last song left for anyone, another one that came from “KMAG YOYO”, “The Lovin’ Cup”, offering a good, upbeat way to call it a night, and after again thanking everyone for coming out, Hayes and the Gulf Coast Orchestra retreated back stage.
It was a fantastic show with a nice selection of songs from all of his releases, hitting just about every song the fans were wanting to hear and then some.
This was only the third time I’ve seen him live, and it was definitely the best, due mostly to the song selection in this lengthy set.
Hayes is a true entertainer, in terms of a singer and songwriter in the witty and/or honest songs he writes and the almost non-stop doses of laughs he adds to the live performance. So, if you want to see a very enjoyable and memorable show, go see Hayes Carll.
For a list of his tour dates, go HERE. He’s staying pretty busy through the end of September, with a few dates in the Mid-West and the East Coast, and will n doubt be announcing some more shows throughout the rest of the year, so stay tuned. And to check out/purchase his music, head over to iTUNES.
It was a very fun night at Billy Bob’s, and at least now I can say I’ve seen a legitimate country show at the world’s largest honky tonk.
For this month’s Deep Friday, the Curtain Club was going with a specific theme, and that theme was chicks who rock. That meant only female fronted bands were gracing the stage this night, and I looked at it as a good way to see a couple acts I don’t see all that much, as well hopefully get turned onto some other bands I had previously been unfamiliar with.
By the time I got there a little before nine, the first band, The Neverending, was almost done with their show.
I caught maybe their last song and a half or so, and personally it didn’t do much for me, so I don’t think I had missed out on much.
Second up was the band who was responsible for getting me out here in the first place, and that was Drayter.
A lot of things had changed with the band since I last saw, such as half the lineup being replaced, as they worked in a new singer and drummer, and just the previous week they had, had their CD release show for their second EP.
I had at least heard the record before this, which only gave me more of a desire to see them live, and what better place to see them play then my favorite Dallas venue.
The three instrumentalists, guitarist Cole Schwartz, bassist Trajan Acquista and drummer Brandon Pertzborn kicked off their rather short 27-minute long set by jamming briefly, offering a prelude of what was to come.
“You’re not the only one with a loaded gun.” sang vocalist Nyssa Garcia, who took the stage once the music subsided, singing that line a cappella. It was the calm before the storm, as Brandon pounded out some rapid fire beats on his kit before they ripped into one of only two older songs they did this night, “Mouth Like a Weapon”. It’s still one of their best songs in my opinion, working especially well as an opener, and the two new members seemed to help flesh it out even better than before, intensifying it a lot.
They rarely ceased playing this night, instead doing some type of instrumental bridge between songs (something I love to see bands do, because it gives the show a much better flow), and upon finishing that song, Trajan had a short bass solo, with Brandon soon joining in on the drums. Coles’ guitar than sprang to life as he played the opening notes of one of their new songs, the instant classic, “Scream”. “…I wanna hear you scream, I need to hear you scream for me. Young hearts were meant to bleed, so bleed all over me…” Nyssa belted out on the second chorus, her voice sounding even more remarkable live then it comes across on the record.
They didn’t take much pause before Cole started softly plucking the strings of his ax, bringing the mood down just a bit for “Inside Out”, which was still a pretty rocking number. Afterwards, Cole and Trajan had to tune their instruments, charging Brandon with filling what would have been silence, and he did so by embarking on a drum solo. It seemed like it was going to be a short one at first, kind of tapering off maybe around a minute or so into it, before coming back in strong and with a vengeance, simply destroying it.
That solo eventually became the intro for “Follow Me”, a song that’s been reinvigorated with the new lineup, and another, albeit shorter drum solo proceed it, before the group continued working their way backwards through their latest EP, now tackling the second track from it, “Dangerous Games”. Upon finishing it, silence fell in the Curtain Club for the first time during their show. It didn’t last long though, as the audience (they had the place packed, commanding the largest crowd of any act this night) let Drayter know how much they were enjoying it with a roaring applause. Nyssa thanked them all, and when it quieted down, she did some more singing a cappella style. “Sweet lies.” she crooned three different times, accentuating the word “sweet” by stretching out the “e” sound. They then launched into the song of the same name, which is at time fairly heavy, and “Sweet Lies” brought their show to a slightly abrupt end, with Cole stating, “That’s it.” after they finished it, as the curtain closed on them.
I enjoyed Drayter the first time I saw them a couple of years or so ago, when they were mainly a cover band, and the last time I saw them, earlier this year, I thought they were great. That said, I don’t mean to undercut either of those shows nor the previous members who were in the band at that time, but what they did this night they certainly wouldn’t have been capable of seven months ago.
Nyssa is a powerhouse singer, and like I said, she somehow sounds even better live than what you get on the record. Not only that, but she was a pretty energetic front woman, too. Both she and Brandon add whole new elements to the band, and in turn I thought that made it easier for Cole and Trajan to step up their game. Both seemed more dynamic than even before, moving around the stage some of the time, and other times they stayed more on their respective sides of the stage, shredding on their instruments.
They were undeniably the best act this night, wowing me, and no doubt many other fans as well. The band accomplished a lot before the lineup change, and after seeing them this night, they will no doubt achieve a lot more in the future.
Do head over to iTUNES and pick up a copy of the “Drayter” EP, as well as the single “Mouth Like a Weapon”, which will only be a little over $5 with tax. So, very affordable. As for shows, they have a few lined up in October. One will be at the Tobian Auditorium in Dallas on the 12th, the next on the 20th in Mansfield for a music and arts festival, then they’ll be performing at another festival on the 26th, that one will be the Downtown Plano Arts Festival in (of course) Plano.
Things briefly deviated from the rock sounds when the next act, a female rap duo by the name of LTC, took the stage.
I’ll preface this by saying I do not care for rap/hip-hop music, yet on the flipside, there are two local acts that fall into those categories that come to mind, both whom I love.
As for LTC, I gave them a shot, sticking around for all three of their tracks they did at this debut show, something not every patron did.
“…Kicking ass and taking names…” and “…Girls just wanna have fun, too. With you or without you…” where just two of the liens that were often repeated on some of their songs, getting a little repetitive for my tastes.
To me, it seemed like your typical rap stuff, just from a woman’s perspective, at one point talking about Gucci handbags (or something from that label) and the next they were saying something about lighting one up. That’s all good, I guess, but is what draws me in about the two rap/hip-hop acts I do like (whose names I won’t mention, because I’m not big on the cross promotion idea when they are completely irrelevant) is the fact that one is incredibly inspirational. The lyrics are deep and will strike a chord with anyone, while the other group seems to embrace the fact that they are, in my opinion, a novelty act, but they own it and write good songs that will also have you laughing hysterically.
I didn’t get any of that in this little sampling of LTC, rather it just seemed like cliché rap. As for their rapping abilities, one was kind of decent, while the other could use some work.
They do have sex appeal, I’ll give them that, but I’ve never believed that, that’s a just compensation for lagging in the talent department, and that goes for any act.
There’s that saying that it takes ten thousand hours of practice to become a master at what you do, in which case these ladies have a lot more time to put into honing their craft.
The next band had already setup beforehand, so there wasn’t much downtime in between the acts, and before you knew, Madwak was on stage.
They were a new one to me, and while I was debating taking advantage of the Deep Friday deal of getting into multiple venues for the one cover price and going and seeing another band, I decided to stick around for them. Their opener, “Daisy Queen”, was quite good, and despite the title, it was fairly dark sounding and very heavy, two qualities that bound all of their songs together.
Thomas Driver started them off on their next song, “Storm Crow”, with some ominous bass lines, the slower pace of the song aiding in making it sound pretty bleak, though it did really come to life for just a bit, with drummer Sunny Sustaita picking things up, while guitarist Tony Powell got to get more into it. I believe they followed it with “My Way”, but regardless of whatever it was, it had an extremely catchy music bed, with the guitar, bass and drums all working together and complimenting one another very nicely.
They then unleashed a new song on the audience. “…I hope I remember words… If not I’ll just make ‘em up…” joked singer Patty Wak, who also thought back and noted that it had been quite awhile since they had played something brand new. It went off without a hitch from my perspective, with Patty remembering the words just fine (or doing a great job at making them up), with the only thing being Sunny dropping one of his drum sticks, though he quickly recovered from it.
“…We like songs that are dark and creepy…” stated Patty, after she had announced their next number, “Into Darkness”. Those are two great adjectives for the band’s music, and they pull it off perfectly. “Give Me Money” fit that mold to a lesser extent, though still sounded just as kickass as everything else they had done, and they brought their 43-minute long set to a close with a few other tracks, even segueing that last two into one another.
They were a really good band, and for anyone who wants to typecast females as only being good at pop music (let’s face it, there are people like that out there), then Madwak was good proof that, that is not the case.
Eerie and haunting music seems to be their specialty, and one they pull off well, with Patty having a huskier singing voice that fit the sounds perfectly. They also created an interesting vibe on stage„ having mannequin heads placed here and there on the stage with brightly colored wigs on their heads.
All in all, they made me a fan, and hopefully I’ll catch them around every now and again.
If you go to their REVERBNATION PAGE, you can find several of their songs up for free download, so take advantage of that. Also keep an eye on the page for future show updates.
Silver Loves Mercury was up next, and about if not over a year since the first and only time I had seen them, and I was looking forward to finally seeing them again.
“We are Silver Loves Mercury, and we like it dirty.” Said front woman Roxi in a rather seductive voice before they ripped into the first song of their 40-minute long set, “Switchblade Vodka”. They didn’t seem to need any time to warm up, instead going full throttle right from the get go, Kitty shredding on his guitar, and during the guitar solo, the drummer stood up from his kit, twirling one of the drum sticks, before slamming back down on the drums.
They wound it right into another quick, catchy number, “D.M.T.U. Girl”, with Roxi taking a momentary break from racing around the stage, as she drooped to the floor, laying on her back while still snarling out the lyrics.”We have something a little new for you…” she said once that song came to an end, as they offered a taste of what new stuff they’ve cooked up. It fit the mold of other Silver Loves Mercury tracks, having some sweet guitar riffs, also boasting a nice rhythm section, which is rounded out by bassist Von Schultz, as well as having a dirty, sexy sound to it all.
“…And now that bitch is about to get sucker punched.” Roxi yelled as soon as the song ended, leading them into “Suckerpunch”, where the drummer repeated the twirling of the drum stick he had done earlier in the night, while Roxi spun the microphone in the air during the instrumental breaks.
They weren’t about to slow down, and Kitty transitioned them into their next tune, playing the hypnotic notes that begin “Owell”. They continued playing some stuff from their debut record, “Treasures of Gomorrah”, like “My Own Armageddon”, which allowed them to slow things down further with “Nothin’”. They picked things back up after that one, though, doing another intense song, which found Kitty laying down on the floor, still picking at his guitar, then Roxi set on top of him, straddling him for a few moments.
They continued knocking out song after song, next doing “Up”, with their drummer driving them into the next, then stopping after one more. Roxi took the time to thank everyone for coming out (they, too, had a very sizable crowd of onlookers). “…We’re not a one night stand, we’ll love you every time you come out.” she said when talking about how much they appreciated the support. They then got to the song that every fan of theirs had no doubt been waiting to hear, “Burn”, and once they finished the beast of a song, Kitty took a flying leap onto the drum kit, almost completely clearing the bass drum, knocking several pieces of the drum set to the floor, along with the drummer himself.
It was one hell of an end to what had been a very raw display rock, all of which reminded me why I was so drawn to band the first time I saw them.
One thing I mean by “raw” is that they don’t come across as being over rehearsed, instead just going with the flow of things. The of course you have another meaning, which is both their music and performance is brutal in the best possible, also oozing with just the right amount of sex to further reel you in, without coming across as classless or anything.
I’m definitely going to have to try to see them more often, because overall, this was a very fun show. Their next gigs will be on September 13th at Wit’s End in Dallas, with another Dallas show on the 26th at the Bryan Street Tavern. Then, on October 26th, they’ll be up in Wichita Falls at Fat Albert’s. And do go into iTUNES to preview/purchase their two records, one of which is an EP, with the other being a LP.
Koppur Thief was closing things out, doing their second show of the night, having played another venue a few hours earlier.
They had a great light show to accompany their performance, with a few multi-colored lights scattered about the stage, including one mounted on the bass drum that spun in circles, creating a sort of rainbow.
I stuck around for a couple of their songs, but they just didn’t mesh with me, so I decided to go ahead and call it a night.
It’s not that they weren’t good or anything, they definitely were, it just wasn’t up my alley.
If you head over to their REVERBNATION PAGE, you can find some free downloads of several of their songs. As for shows, they have one a month through the rest of the year (and I imagine more may pop up, too), all of which are at O’Riley’s in Dallas, with the next one being September 13th, then they have one on October 11th.
Kudos to the Curtain Club for going with the theme they did for this night. You may see a female fronted band on a bill here and there, but you seldom see a whole concert of nothing but that, and it was a nice reminder of just how many talented female fronted rock outfits reside in the North Texas area.
The Door was hosting some touring bands this night, and quite an excellent touring show at that.
The Dangerous Summer had been touring the country hot on the heels of the release of their third record, and one of the bands joining them on the tour was one of my favorites, Tommy & the High Pilots.
There was one local Dallas band on this bill, though, and that was The Happy Alright, who I happened to miss (the show did start at 6:30, after all.) But with a name like that, surely they were good.
Following them was a band from Portland, Oregon called Rare Monk, who I thought was hit or miss at times. On one of the first songs of their set, singer Dorian Aites was banging away on the keyboard while screaming into the microphone, screaming on what was really rather a poppy song. It just didn’t seem to fit with their overall vibe, but after that, they seemed to hit their stride, and I really enjoyed it.
Then they got to their final song, which was a cover. “…’Cause they’re fun to do…” said Dorian, stating why they were doing a cover. It was a Pixies song, specifically “Where is My Mind”, and it was kind of butchered, at times sounding like how you would expect the track to, but it was the vicious screams that moved it so far away from the original.
Aside from those two mentioned songs, I really dug ‘em. This standard rock band did also have a violinist, though, which was played by Isaac Thelin, and while he was no doubt a great violinist, the instrument just didn’t go with their style. It sounded more like the guitar, and instead of complimenting it and working together, they more both sounded the same, to the point it was overkill.
Their tour with The Dangerous Summer is almost over, but they have a few California dates left, and you can find specifics out on their TOUR PAGE. And if you want to listen to/buy their music, you can do so on BANDCAMP.
Santa Barbaras’ own Tommy & the High Pilots had the main support slot on this tour, which, while it might not have been “their” tour, it was still a big one for the band, being the first time they had hit the road since releasing their fourth disc, “Only Human”, in late May.
That album is the basis for this being the “Year of the High Pilots” (there was a small sign taped to the drum kit that read “#YOTHP”, which evidently began as a joke but has become a small-scale movement), and that record was pretty much the exclusive source for their songs this night.
Their 40-minute long set began with bassist Steven Libby adding some extra percussion by beating on a floor tom, in synch with what drummer Matt Palermo was doing, as they eased into the vibrant “Young and Hungry”. They managed to pull in a lot of the audience with that song, and while the crowd was relatively small, they still congregated around the stage, obviously liking what they heard. As for me, even having seen the band half a dozen times before this, I was left in a state of awe just by that one song, simply because their new sound is so different from their past stuff, being even more upbeat and so enthralling.
They didn’t waste much time, as Matt bridged them into their next song, with Michael Cantillon adding some beautiful notes from his keyboard over it, before things exploded into “Innocent”. “…Sometimes I wake up, deep in the night, and I want to tell you I’m innocent…” sang singer and guitarist Tommy Cantillon on the chorus, his voice soaring just as the song itself did. They slowed things down slightly with the title track of the new record, “Only Human”, which is one of the songs that really utilizes the vocal harmonies of Tom, Mike and Matt, creating some gorgeous textures that you never would have guessed they were capable of, but after hearing it you wonder why they haven’t done more of this sooner. Towards the end of the song, when it slowed as Tom repeated the songs opening line, Mike moved away from his keyboard, busting out some nice dance moves and making the show all the more fun.
Isaac Thelin of Rare Monk joined them for their next song, violin in tow. Following their previous song nicely was my favorite from this new album, “Devil to Pay”, which allows Tom to truly show off his vocal chops while he sings the first verse a cappella. “…The way I’ve acted, you’d think I’d know better. I never wanted to become your dead letter…Waking every morning just to wash my dreams away…” he crooned, before his band mates joined in with some harmonies. “So tell me, do you love in the worst way still?…” they sang on this beautiful song, which was only enhanced by the violin, making it seem all the more sweet.
Upon finishing it, Tom quickly strummed the strings of his guitar, giving the impression they were about to step it back up, before suddenly taking it off and holstering it in a stand. He then returned to the front of the stage, slowly pulling out a harmonica as he spoke to the crowd. “I’m going to tell you all something I learned a very long time ago…” he said, “There is no such thing as a wrong dance move…” he finished, informing the audience he’d like to see them moving around to the song, which he pointed out was one they didn’t write. Within the last year, they’ve made their cover of the Talking Heads “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” a staple of their shows, and personally, I was ecstatic to find it still had a place in their set list. They don’t merely cover the song, they put their own twist on it, making it completely different (and I dare say better) than the original. About half way through, Tom left the stage, running throughout the crowd, showing off his dance moves. Some people appreciated it, like the one woman he stood back to back with, and while she was surprised at first, she kind of danced with him, having a good time, while other people looked at him like he was either spastic or having a seizure, and they didn’t know what to do. It was all in good fun, though, and I found it all very amusing. While all that was going on, Mike had switched out to a acoustic guitar, and shortly before Tom got back on stage, Isaac rejoined them, this time with a saxophone, another instrument he appeared to be an expert at, and it gave the song a real nice quality.
The jokes flew after that, when Tom asked everyone if they were ready for The Dangerous Summer, then added, “…It’s been a fairly safe summer so far.” Some people found that to be hysterical, and after noting he was glad it hit the mark with some people, he said something to the effect of, “This shirt is a joke.”, referring to his wardrobe, specifically his possibly loud shirt.
They then got back to their original stuff, with the lead track from “Only Human”, “Get Up”, which again found Steve briefly playing a tom, before getting down to business on his bass. It was one of the shorter songs they did this night, but hands down the most intense, too, and if you somehow hadn’t been feeling it yet, that tune was sure to reel you in. “Somebody Make a Move” came next, and while it is an original of the High Pilot’s, it came across like it could easily be a cover. I mean that in a good way, because it has so many elements that songs seem to need to have these days to get radio airplay, and while it may not be a single of theirs, I could definitely see it being a good one for airwaves. Once it was done they had one last one to offer to everyone, segueing directly into “Outta My Head”, which was a bit of a sing along for their small number of long time fans, and gave what was one of the best shows I’ve even seen them do a very impressive finish.
Seriously, this show is second only to the show I saw them do in Austin during this year’s SXSW.
Part of what makes the High Pilots so good as the fact that they are continuously evolving, rather than finding one particular groove and sticking with it. Their new music is so different from any of their previous stuff, even more infectious in some aspects, and is certainly their best stuff to date.
Sure, there were a few older songs that I wouldn’t have minded hearing this night, but at the same time, it great getting to hear so much new stuff, especially when it’s all such standout material. It created a sense of wonder for me, just soaking it all in and enjoying it.
Even their live show seems to have benefited from the new songs, as they’ve tightened things up a lot, as well as have gotten a little more active and engaging.
Tommy & the high Pilots are one of those bands that really should be famous, something you’d surly agree with once you listen to their music if you haven’t already done so, and hopefully, this really will be the year of the High Pilots.
They have a couple of dates left, one on September 13th at San Diego Music Thing in San Diego, CA, and the other show on the 14th in Fresno, CA at the Victory Café at Hardy’s. Check ‘em out if you’re in the area, and you can find all of their records in iTUNES.
Shortly after they finished, it was time for The Dangerous Summer to hit the stage. I was a newer convert to the band, having only listened to them a week or two before this show, but was instantly made into a fan, and was looking forward to what the current Los Angeles based group would bring to the stage.
This tour was in support of “Golden Record”, their latest LP, so of course they played a lot of stuff from it, including opening with the lead track, “Catholic Girls”. By this time, the crowd numbered around sixty people plus, not a large turnout, but they were definitely a rabid fan base, some even shouting along to ever word of the song, something you don’t often see fans doing when it comes to new material.
Still, it was the “classics” that everyone was really wanting to hear, and all it took was one of the guitarists, Cody Payne, playing the first few chords of “Where I Want to Be” to get people really riled up. They continued cranking out some hits from 2009’s “Reach for the Sun” record, segueing things right into “A Space to Grow”, with Ben Cato doing a bit of a drum roll to lead them into the following track, which got one of the loudest responses out of everything they did this night. That song was “The Permanent Rain”, which was overflowing with emotions, and AJ Perdomo did a great job of packing them all into his singing, while busting out the bass lines.
The onslaught of songs ceased for a moment after that, allowing Michael Cantillon of Tommy & the High Pilots to make his way on stage and behind the keyboard, while AJ chatted with the crowd. They toned things down just slightly with another new one “Miles Apart”, before getting to some stuff from the only other album they had yet to touch on this night, and that was “War Paint”.
The title track itself was a beast of a song live, and Cody and fellow guitarist Matt Kennedy really got to cut loose, as did AJ, moving about whenever there was a break in the singing. “Siren” came next, and fitting nicely with it was the new tune “Honesty”, before they picked back up into their more aggressive rock/pop sounds with the hard hitting “No One’s Gonna Need You More”.
“…I still feel you in here, I still live inside your eyes…” sang AJ near the start of “Knives”, a slightly dark and brooding song that creates an excellent mood. “Sins” was almost just as fierce, while I found “Of Confidence” to be a highlight of their set, and was a prime example of what an exceptional writer AJ is. The deepness of the lyrical content continued with the heavy (emotional speaking) “Northern Lights”, and while it was the softest thing they did this night, it also seemed like it was one everyone had been wanting to hear the most.
The audience was a bit disappointed when AJ stated they had one song left, obviously wanting the show to continue much later into the night, but “Never Feel Alone” seemed to appease everyone, and brought their 59-minute long set to a close.
Or so it seemed…
AJ went over to their stage hand, who had been busy tuning guitars for them all night, and spoke to him for a second, before returning to center stage. “So, we do have one more song for you all.” He said to everyone, no doubt making the crowd curious as to what this final song would be. It wound up being another gem from “War Paint”, “Work in Progress”, which really did cap of the show this night.
They put on a really great show, one that I enjoyed much more than I thought I would. Their primary focus was no doubt the music, as they tore from one song right into the next, but AJ was also comfortable behind the mic, and could hold a conversation with the audience. He often reminisced about past Dallas shows, asking if anyone came out to different ones from years past, and more than a few fans had been in attendance at those.
AJ even went as far as to say he always felt at home when he was here in Dallas, quite a nice compliment.
They’re pretty intense live, though the most gripping thing is still the lyrics, which are sure to resonate with everyone. Even this night I personally had some trouble hearing AJs’ voice, and his vocals could have stood to be turned up a little more, but still, it’s definitely the best element the band has.
They’re at the tail end of this tour, with shows at Soma in San Diego, CA on September 12th, the 13th at the Alley in Sparks, Nevada and the 14th at the Victory Café at Hardy’s in Fresno, CA. From late September to early October they’ll be over in the UK and then in late October they’ll be traveling to Australia, and for full dates on those shows, go HERE. And if you don’t have any of their music, pick it up in iTUNES.
It was a great night of touring bands here at The Door this night, with some making me a fan, while others made me into more of a fan.
This was a big night for the local music advocates that collectively make up DFW Undercover, who specialize in doing video interviews with bands, as well as live photography (via Piercing Photography). This night marked their first ever showcase, and it was a singer/songwriter showcase at that.
The Labb in Denton was the host venue, and while I had heard of it before, I had never actually been there.
It’s mainly a sports bar, and as far as sports bars go, it’d be one I’d frequent if I lived closer to Denton… And if I was an avid sports fan. It was a nice place inside, with several large TVs hanging above the bar, and of course some pool tables and dart boards were scattered around, as well as some tables. The patio was where the show was taking place, though, where a decent stage is built as a permanent fixture, with plenty of tables and chairs to accommodate onlookers.
Zach Smith was the first artist this night, but I got there a little later then I intended, which resulted in me missing most of his set.
I really enjoyed what I heard, though, especially the song I walked in on, which featured a backing female vocalist along with him and his percussionist. “This next song’s about alchemy… But it’s about other stuff, too.” said Zach before beginning “The Stone Refined”, which was followed by a track titled “Waiting for the Sun”, which ended with a very long but very good sounding instrumental outro. They then did one last song to conclude their set, which Zach pointed out to his little section of fans was, who had been cheering him on, was one they had never heard before.
Even with only catching a glimpse of his performance, I thought he sounded great, and he has an excellent voice.
Aside from this solo stuff, he also plays in a band called Cloth’d in the Sun, so check them out, too.
Up next was Dallas based singer/songwriter Ashley Falgout, who, like the other acts on this bill, I had never heard of previously, but was interested to hear.
She played a large array or original material during her 52-minute long set, and after finishing her first song, she confessed/joked that she does “…a lot of songs that are half-ass written…” That may be true, but to me, I certainly never would have guessed that, let alone thought it.
After playing another tune, she mentioned how warm it was (the downside of a patio in the Texas summer), then proceeded to set up a cover song. “Sometimes I learn other people’s songs…” she said, then added, “Or two chords out of it…”, noting that she doesn’t feel it has to be precise. That led to do an amazing rendition of Ani DeFrancos’ “Not a Pretty Girl”, a song that she really turned into her own.
She did a nice job of conversing with the crowd, even if it was a one-sided conversation most of the time, it made it seem like she was really able to connect with everyone, and now talked turned to Spotify. She said she only recently learned what it was, and her album, Long Over Due”, could be streamed on it. “…Or if you want to give me money…” she said, pointing out it was also on iTUNES.
She did another killer song about a past relationship, and followed it with a medley of one of her songs as well as a cover of what she said was her favorite song, but (not surprisingly) was one I didn’t recognize. Afterwards, she cranked out a few more numbers, before ending with what I think was “Just Another Lullaby”, and then that was only because the sound guy informed her she needed to wrap it up.
She wound up being my personal favorite act of the night, with her incredible and distinctive voice, which even sounded a bit sultry at times. She was also a very talented songwriter, with fantastic lyrics that often seemed pretty personal.
If you’re into the whole singer/songwriter genre, then Ashley Falgout is definitely one you need to listen to, and her record can be purchased HERE.
There was one last act up for the night, and it was more of a full acoustic band, led by Fred Rush. He’s probably best known as being the drummer for Ugly Mustard (who have been a fixture in the D/FW music scene since ’93), and as far as his new solo project went, this was only going to be their second show.
This acoustic trio, which also consisted of Jeff Michnal on the cajon and Johnny Pina on an acoustic bass, opened with “My Heart Screams”, which was a real knockout. “This is what I’ve been waiting for. I can’t believe I found it, finally…” Fred crooned at the start, shortly before the song kicked into high gear, given they were just using acoustic instruments, after all. Once they finished it, Fred took a moment to thank DFW Undercover for hosting this event, as well as the goal they have. “…I’ve been on a soapbox for twenty to thirty years…” said Fred, saying that the people behind DFW Undercover seemed to be on the exact same soapbox. That soapbox he was referring to was sharing the mentality that everyone in the scene needs to come together for the sake of making things better, rather than bands, venues and the ilk acting as if other bands and venues and such are their competition.
They then moved on to what was a pretty upbeat sounding song, “Insomnia”, with another tune sandwiched between it and “Marigold Lane”. They played several seconds of that latter one, before Fred suddenly brought things to a halt. “I started it in the wrong key.” he said, laughing, adding he thought about going with it, but then decided against it. It had sounded good before, but the key it was supposed to be played in served to make it an even more infectious song, and towards the end of it, Fred’s son, Trent, joined them on stage, adding a little extra percussion to the mix. He grabbed a guitar for the next song, though, and took a seat on a stool on stage right.
Fred stated that they were going to do a cover song, and they gave the crowd a little tropical taste by trying their hand at the Zac Brown Bands’ “Island Song”. Not quite what you’d expect from some guys who are typically in rock bands, but they pulled it off nicely, and despite the contrast between it and Fred’s original stuff, that cover meshed nicely with it all. They had another cover in store for everyone, and as Fred put it, it was in the “spirit of the singer/songwriter showcase”. “…I don’t know where he gets it from…” Fred cracked after informing everyone that his son played in a band, and now the father and son duo kind of co-sang on “Diary for Poets”, which Trent wrote for his group Welcome to Wednesday, though it was Trent who did a bulk of the singing on this one.
Trent, too, could certainly sing, and he and Fred created some awesome harmonies on that track. “…The band was called Fred, I think we’re going to rename it Trent.” Fred joked after they finished it. Apparently, Trent was supposed to leave after that, but he decided they should do an impromptu performance of “All Apologies” by Nirvana. Jeff, Johnny and Fred went with it, with Fred chiming in from time to time, and given the fact that this wasn’t planned, they nailed it. At least I thought they did.
Trent did exit the stage after that one, and they began wrapping up their 51-minute set with another original, before things got a little heartfelt with the last song. Fred dedicated it to his father, whom he said was like Superman to him growing up, and that currently he was experiencing some health issues. With that said, it was fitting that the song was called “Ordinary Superman”, and it brought their set to a wonderful end.
You wouldn’t have guessed this was just their second show, ‘cause Fred seemed perfectly at home behind the microphone with a acoustic guitar in his hands, just like Jeff looked comfortable playing the cajon, yet both have little live experience with any of that.
Fred has a pretty unique sounding voice, too, so it’s hard to believe he’s been keeping that in for song. Oh, and he writes some really good lyrics as well. And for the record, Fred Rush and his band made a lot of noise for an acoustic group.
I know what I said about the artist before them, but I liked Fred Rush and his band just as much, in a different way.
That’s what was so cool about this night. All of these singer/songwriters covered different areas of the spectrum, which was just another reason why I loved the showcase so much, because I don’t see that many singer/songwriters, let alone a small handful on one night, so it was nice that it was all so eclectic, with each act having different styles.
Kudos to DFW Undercover for orchestrating such a cool event, and expect more from them. In fact, they have another show at Hailey’s in Denton on October 11th.
All photos courtesy of Piercing Photography. All rights belong exclusively to them.
A weekend isn’t complete without spending at least one night at Curtain Club seeing a show. That’s not to say I’m there ever single weekend… But just about every single weekend, and this night was a good night to see a show there.
Five bands were rocking the stage, most of whom I had heard of before, though hadn’t seen, and ever others where brand new to me, which meant it was surely going to be an interesting night.
Starting off the show was a young band by the name of Outcast Hero, who calls the suburb of Flower Mound home. And by young, I mean that each of five members where in their mid to late teens.
They opened their 34-minute set with “Innocence”, one of many originals they did this night, instantly revealing they had some nice chops. It was a really good song, and guitarists Bill Hall and Ben Jester, bassist Marco Molina matching the song, exploding when it roared to life, as did front man Kevin Easley. They didn’t have many onlookers, but the handful of people that were there seemed glued to the stage. They knocked out several more songs, with Kevin occasionally adding a third guitar to the mix, and also playing a keyboard from time to time, before they got to a cover song.
“…You might know this one.” one of them said, before they busted into Jet’s “Are You Gonna be My Girl?”, doing a pretty spot on version of it. They then offered up a few more originals, and sandwiched in between these final three songs was the piano heavy “Home”, which was surprisingly beautiful, and probably the best song of their set, in my opinion.
Given their age, they were quite good, and came off looking like they had been rocking stages longer than what they probably have been. That’s not to say there’s not some room for improvement, as far as becoming more cohesive and such, but that will no doubt come with time and getting more experience under their belt.
Taking the stage next, and on the opposite end of the experience spectrum, was Spill.
I had seen these veteran rockers once before, doing an acoustic set here at the Curtain a few years back, and it became readily apparent that they were a completely different beast when they were plugged in.
They hit the stage with the strength of a hurricane, and only managed to get better the longer they played. Todd Hunter was a beast of a front man, jumping around here and there, even spinning in the air while doing so, and just commanded your full attention. Guitarists David Binnings and Seth Ludeman, bassist Larry Henderson and their new drummer did a great job at holding their own, though, each one being energetic and slick with their playing, so no matter where you looked, there was something constantly going on.
They ran through several songs during their time on stage, I believe doing the three singles that comprise the “The Cruelty of Time” EP, which would be “The Sway” and “Silly Little Things”. It was “Promised Heart” that was a truly gripping song, though, and one that I could easily see being widely played on the radio, if it can only get that kind of attention first. “This is a song I promised my son I’d do a music video for, but I didn’t take the proper steps…” Todd stated to the crowd before starting the song, adding that he’d appreciate anyone who wanted to film it with their phone and send him the video. “…That way I won’t be a failure of a father, again…” he joked.
It was a sweet love song at its core, and balancing out the serious stuff was some more humorous covers, like their rendition of Taylor Swifts’ “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. Yes, they really did cover that pop song, but they stepped it up so much, making it a true rock song, I didn’t even know what it was until they reached the chorus, proving it was a far cry from Swift’s original version.
there show was filled with many other songs, which I sadly don’t know, as well as some jokes, like when Todd pointed out they were probably one of the only bands to get two plaques on the “Wall of Fame” at the Curtain Club, pointing out their current one at the very end. “…We’re on the way out… After this I think it’s just going to fall off into this trash can over here…” he said laughing, referring to their plaque being on the very end.
They were by far the best, most professional band of the night, and they brought an arena-sized show to this club setting. So know I have to ask myself, “If Spill has been around for thirteen years, why have I barely heard of them?”
Yeah, I have seen their plaque(s) over the seven and a half years I’ve been a patron of the Curtain Club, but had never seen them do a real show until now. Perhaps I’ve just been living under a rock or something, and didn’t even know it.
Hit up their FACEBOOK PAGE to stay up to date on their future shows, and you can buy their three current singles in either iTUNES or BANDCAMP. At the very least, just give the music a listen.
Following them was another long running band, The Farstar, who has a decade long career under their belt.
They were another group I had heard of before, going as far back as the days of Myspace (that dates things, doesn’t it?), but had never seen them, and recalled little about their music. In fact, through all these years I, for whatever reason, assumed they were an indie band, and I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Their first song got them off to an explosive start, and they didn’t let up much with their second song. I think part of why I was so impressed was because it was so different from what I was expecting, being full-blown Rock ‘n’ Roll.
“This song’s called The Healing Kiss of a Blowtorch.” said front man Shannon Barrett, setting up the song from their “Strange Kids” EP, before segueing it into the subsequent song from that record, “I Used to Dream of Astronauts”, which was a bi slower than what they had been doing. Afterwards they dug deep into their catalog, pulling out a song from their first release, “It All Boils Down to Speed”. That wasn’t the only thing they had planned from “Broken Down and Wandering”, though, and they followed it with the lead track from the album, “Welcome to the Show”. I believe it was also on that song that they welcomed former guitarist Chris Hathcock on stage, adding a third guitar to the mix. Shannon explained it afterwards, saying that Chris was part of the band when they wrote and performed that song, and that it only seemed right to have him join them as a guest on it.
They cranked out another song before finding out they had enough time for one more, which Shannon left up to the crowd, giving them three or four options to choose from. “Cash Only” won out, concluding their 38-minute long set.
Kind of like the band before them, I began wondering why I hadn’t seen The Farstar before now., and how I’m going to have to start seeing them a little more often.
Their songs are fantastic, especially the lyrics, which are usually pretty deep, and their performance was really enjoyable. Each of them, bassist Michael Maney, guitarist Chris Lockaby, drummer Lance Lindsey, as well as their other guitarist and Shannon killed it on stage, constantly moving about and doing things to keep you watching.
I don’t think they play just too often now, but stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE for show updates. As for their music, you can get most of it for free on BANDCAMP, while their latest LP is only five bucks. Check it out.
Considering I had been here since early on, things were moving rather quickly, and next up it was time for We the Ghost.
The Tulsa, Oklahoma based group was returning to their Dallas home one last time before releasing their new record a few months from now, which meant this would be the last time for their Dallas crowd to hear some of their older songs live. They made that point clear on Facebook in advance of the show, and honestly was a key reason I came to the show in the first place, to get one last live fix of some of their “classic” material.
Not only that, but this was also the first time (at least that I had seen them) where they had the full band in Dallas, with violinist Jocelyn Rowland finally accompanying them. I caught just a few songs with the full band at one of their gigs during SXSW back in March, so I knew what a difference that one instrument could make, and was looking forward to hearing/seeing a full show with it.
The night wasn’t all about the older stuff, though, and they opened their 37-minute long set with their newest single, “Take Somebody Home”. “All eyes up front, all eyes on me…” sang acoustic guitarist and lead singer Beau Tyler, which seemed to serve as a call to the audience, and one that was hard ignore, given their catchy, original brand of music.
“…I think I sprained my ankle last time we played here…” Beau mentioned, joking that it was nice to be back and on two feet, before doing a song from the “White Noise” EP, “Let Me Know”. Jocelyns’ violin proved to be a critical part of the song, and one I never really realized was missing before, but it made this love song all the more beautiful. As it came to an end, Beau hopped up on one of their boxes at the front of the stage, which had the band’s name written on it, holding his guitar in the air as he picked at to bring the song to a close. They then wound it right into another newer song, which I’m guessing may be called “Love in Reverse”, since that’s part of the chorus, and followed it with yet another song I was unsure of.
Dain Samuelson, who stood on the drum riser next to drummer Jimmy Adams, really got to put his djembe to use on their next song, the more reggae sounding “She’s Gonna Fly Again”, which also featured a special guest. Towards the end of the track, Matt McHan ceded his guitar over to Neil Swanson, who briefly joined the band on stage. “The Son of Swan, himself.” Said Beau introducing the stellar guitarist by referencing the instrumental trio he plays in. Neil riffed for several seconds, adding a great element to the song. While Neil was shredding, though, I couldn’t help but look at bassist Ben Mosier, who’s a killer bass player with some serious swagger, but as a guitarist, he is still one of the best I’ve ever seen.
The hits from their first EP kept coming with “Your Remedy”. “I can be your cure. It’s the only thing that I ever know for sure…” Beau crooned on the chorus of the song, a song that I really hope isn’t one that’s being worked out. The mood got a little more fun when they busted out their rendition of Paula Abduls’ “Straight Up”, which they’ve certainly left their mark on, keeping a fairly pop based song, while making some changes so it better fits their style of music.
With their 37-minute long set drawing to a close, they pulled out some of their best material, like “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, and their small gathering of fans seemed ecstatic that they ended with “Right Where You Want”, a song from Beau’s previous band, that has (thankfully) found a new life with We the Ghost, because it really is one of their best songs.
This was probably the best WtG show I’ve seen, and despite a favorite of mine, “Wash These Sins Away”, being noticeable absent, it was still a nice assortment of songs they played. It was also nice to see a full band We the Ghost show, and that violin does help propel their already unique sound to a whole new level. And on another note about the show, I enjoyed the incense they had burning during their set (an element that I’m guessing they’ve borrowed from singer/songwriter and friend Paco Estrada), which creates more of a setting and seems to make the show more intimate.
If you want to hear something different, you should really give We the Ghost a listen, because I’ll guarantee it’s different then just about anything else you’ve heard before.
You can find both of their EP’s in iTUNES, and they will have another record coming out sometime before the year’s end. As for shows, they’ll be playing a couple of gigs at the College Bar in Stillwater, OK, one on September 20th and the other on November 1st. They’ll also be back in North Texas at the Queen City Music Hall in Fort Worth on September 21st.
It was late, around one in the morning when the Bedlam Brothers took the stage to round out the show. The time didn’t deter their small army of fans and friends, though, who moved right up front once they started.
“…Please save me, save me from myself…” crooned guitarist and vocalist Nick Santa Maria, as the southern rock trio kicked things off with the very southern rock sounding song, “Save Me”. Despite the softer start it gets off to, it proved to be an excellent opening song once it sprang to life, and if anyone was feeling tired, it surely woke them up.
“Dallas!!!” screamed Nick as soon as they finished that song, with drummer John Flores immediately firing up the next one, the heavy and loud “We Ride Tonight”. They weren’t about to slow down after that, either. Perhaps they were trying to make up for some of the lost time (since they had told fans they’d be going on earlier than when they actually did), or maybe they had planned to have this flow in the first place. Nonetheless, they barreled right along, launching into the rocking “First Time”, which got nearly everyone moving around.
They had definitely hit their stride by this point, and in taking a short break in between songs, bassist Craig McLaughlin mentioned that their next song required the audience to sing along. Nick led the audience in what to sing, just to make sure they knew, though it didn’t seem like people not knowing or forgetting it would be a problem, what with this dedicated little fanbase. The crowd did their part, shouting out, “Mary was a tortured soul!” after Nick belted out the name that is the songs title, “Mary Rose”.
They, or rather Nick, got a little nostalgic with their next couple songs, doing one that was from his previous band, Skylines. They entered into more of a rock realm with “Not Enough”, which featured a truly wicked guitar solo, and followed it up with another song from past projects, which Nick noted also happened to be a Skylines song for a bit. In between those two tracks, it was mentioned that John had thrown his back out recently, but was still playing, a feat that was both applauded and laughed at. Craig said something along the lines of, “Give it up for premature ageing.”, getting a laugh out of everyone, band mates included.
John’s back wasn’t the only that was out, either, and after that other song his hi-hat cymbal broke. It didn’t seem like a big deal, though, and was fixed quickly, and while he worked on in, Nick filled the dead air with ease, chatting with everyone and thanking them for coming out and staying out late.
They got back to it with “Run Run Run”, then slowed things down a bit with “240 Miles”. Upon finishing it, Nick joked that they had now met their quota for the night, and that they were going to bring it back up for the final song of their 38-minute long set. It was another older one of his, which had, had life in two of his previous bands, and he added he was fortunate enough to have a band mate from each of those past projects in attendance this night. Everyone seemed all too familiar with “My 9 to 5”, again singing along as the band cranked it out, and at one point in the song, Craig hopped up on the drum riser, facing John, as they both rocked out.
The Bedlam Brothers rounded out this night perfectly, delivering a pretty intense show, that I think was the best one I’ve seen them do yet.
They have that great, gritty southern rock sound, from the music to the vocals, and a raw, explosive show to match. A show that gets better each time I see them, I might add.
Give a listen to their “Saddle Up” EP, which is under six bucks in iTUNES, and keep tabs on their FACEBOOK PAGE for updates about future shows.
It was another killer night at my favorite Dallas haunt, and I’ll say it again, because I haven’t in awhile. The Curtain Club is the best place to go if you want to see a good local rock show, and every weekend, there’s at least something that will catch your interest.
A Tuesday night is a bit of an odd night for a show. At least it is in most towns, but not Denton, where the venues in the college town regularly host bands on any given night of the week. And making this show a little more special was the fact that the old Denton residents, now Austinites, known as the Riverboat Gamblers were kicking off their summer tour.
I had heard of the Gamblers quite awhile back, but had never seen them live until nearly a year ago down in New Braunfels at the Dia de los Toadies music festival, and since then had anxiously been waiting for them to hit the D/FW area.
Rubber Gloves was hosting the show, providing a more intimate setting to see the band in, though it seemed near impossible to reach the venue, which is right next to some train tracks, and a train was just sitting there on the tracks. Not being a Denton local, I don’t know my way around well enough to have figured out a back roads approach, which meant I waited nearly an hour before the thing finally got off the tracks.
By that time the first band had just finished, and the next band quickly set their gear up. They weren’t the next act, though. Instead, Mike Wiebe of the Riverboat Gambler got up on stage and announced they were doing something they seldom do, and that was have a comedian do a set, and then welcomed his friend on stage.
His name was John Tole, and I’m not in the business of reviewing comedians, so I won’t him. However, I will say I found him to be funny as hell. Nothing seemed to be off limits in his short little set, and that included making fun of himself, from his weight to his appearance. The humor was largely, shall we say, “adult”, and although it at times made you cringe, it was impossible not to laugh.
Great comedian, and definitely one I’d like to see again sometime.
At 10:35, the next band took the stage, and that was Blacklist Royals, who were from Nashville, Tennessee, and were touring with the Riverboat Gamblers.
During their 38-minute long set, the quartet played an array of songs, new and old, first playing a couple newer ones back-to-back. They had a bit of a punk rock sound (and look), and sped through those first two songs, before their singer and rhythm guitarist addressed the crowd briefly. “Things They Say” was one of several songs they did from their debut album “Semper Liberi”, and then did a couple more new ones which were bled into one another, and one of those was the title track of their next album, “Die Young with Me”. With some feedback emitting from the bass and guitars, they swirled it into “Rock and Roll”, which certainly seemed to embody the Rock ‘n’ Roll spirit.
Things then took a more serious turn, even hitting a somber note,when the singer stated that he wrote the next song about a fried who had passed away in recent years. It was pretty heavy, but that realness it captured was what made it such a fantastic song, one of the best of their show in my opinion. They rolled it right into another one, and after finishing it joked about how the Riverboat Gamblers fan demographic was not women, though there were a few in attendance, and the singer said something along the lines of, “You look good.” “…This next one’s a brand new one. We’ve never even played it before.” He said, before the group launched into a song that I believe was called “She’s the One”. This may have been its live debut, but they seemed pretty polished while playing it, and if he hadn’t have said that in the first place, I would have figured they had played it several times over before. The drummer transitioned them into their next track, “White Line Fever”, before they switched things up a bit, with the lead guitarist and bass player leaving the stage. “…This song’s about my hometown in my home state… Which is a long way from here.” The singer announced, performing the song solo, before they kicked things back up with another song or two.
Before wrapping up their set, the singer mentioned the merch they had for sale at the back, joking about it not being all riches while out on the road, even teasing that the bass player had to take out a loan just to afford the shirt he had on. “…He ruined his credit, but at least he looks good.” he said, getting a laugh from everyone. “…Sing it if you know it!” he later shouted, before singing the first line of the very patriotic “American Hearts”, “There’s an American heart, reckless and wild…”
That song brought their time on stage to a roaring finish, and while the Blacklist Royals didn’t have nearly as many eyes on them as they deserved, they did seem to make fans out of everyone who was watching, myself included.
Like I said, their music had a real punk flare to it, in the sense that it was fast and rather aggressive. However, after listening to their first album, I get a real [Bruce] Springsteen-esque vibe from them. Not in the musical style so much, but just in the fact that the Blacklist Royals songs tell actual stories that can strike a chord with people, while embodying the American spirit.
In listening to their stuff, it’s easy to see why they have toured so extensively over the last few years, both nationally and internationally, and they no doubt keep winning over new fans wherever they play.
Head over to iTUNES and give their record a listen, or even buy it, and stay tuned for their next record. And if you get a chance to see them live, you should definitely take it. You can find all their tour dates right HERE.
Now, it was finally time for the Riverboat Gamblers. The large crowd had packed in the showroom early in anticipation of the band, and people got even closer to the stage when drummer Sam Keir and bassist Rob Marchant made their way on stage. They got things going with some heavy beats and riffs, a prelude to the chaotic blitz that was to come, and kept it going while the remaining members took the stage.
Front man Mike Wiebe, guitarists Fadi El-Assad and Ian MacDougall and Rob then proceeded to clap, getting most everyone involved before they tore into their first number, “Rattle Me Bones”. That fast paced tune had everyone moving around, a mosh pit erupting at the front of the stage, while those who didn’t want to partake moved back to where it was safe. The band instantly got into show mode, and Mike continuously walked to the edge of the stage, leaning forward and falling out at the crowd, causing the moshers to stop, catching him, sometimes before his feet even left the stage as they simply pushed him back up. It was quite cool, and something he did constantly throughout the show.
As the song neared the end, he ran over to stage right, grabbed part of the curtain and ripped it from the wall (in fairness it’s not attached all that well), while Sam transitioned them into their next song. The adrenaline kept flowing as they launched into the lead track from 2012’s “The Wolf You Feed” album, “Good Veins”. “…You knew what I was before you fell in love. I’ve got bad blood you’ve got good veins…” shouted Mike, while his band mates often added some backing around him, adding a good layer to it and the majority of theirs other songs this night.
“…We pound these guitars like jackhammers!” Mike exclaimed as they took a very short timeout to tune up before getting back to business with “Bite My Tongue”. Ian, Rob and Fadi continued thrashing about while shredding on their instruments, as Mike hurriedly paced about the stage, at one point jumping up and grabbing the main support beam on the ceiling (which was just a few feet above his head), and hung from it for a few seconds. At this point, Mike noted that he and Fadi grew up in Denton. “…A lot has changed since then. Like, apparently now trains can just park on the tracks for as long as they want…” he joked. He went on to say they had moved off nearly ten years ago, but were now going to do a song they wrote while they still lived in Denton. “…Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, I want to play for you all a song from a record called Something to Crow About. It’s called Save You!” he roared as they exploded into what ended up being a sing along.
They kept on drawing from that now ten year old record, segueing things directly into “Hey! Hey! Hey!”, and soon after taped one of their more recent releases, doing the quick song “DissDissDissKissKissKiss”. As it neared the end, Mike left the stage, winding his way through the audience, and best I could tell even left the showroom, working his way into the bar area. The instrumentalists kept right on going, bleeding the music bed perfectly into their current single, “Blue Ghosts”. Ian handled the backing vocals at the start of the song, before Mike seemed to suddenly re-materialize, making his way back on stage, not missing a line of the song. Upon finishing it, they churned on one last quick song, “Death by Stereo”, before gearing up for what would come next.
Mike decided to get up close and personal with everyone for the next song, dragging the mic stand out into the crowd, everyone in the general area dispersing, giving him enough room while still circling around him to watch. The audience sang along to “Comedians” while the band cranked it out. I was one of the lucky few who was as close as possible for this, and at one point my hat got lifted as Mike put it on himself (I’m sure that has to up its value to at least 25 to 30 bucks), but the best part came when he continued to search for more antics to pull. He walked over to one side of the room where a folding chair sat, and once he moved it the sound of glass shattering could be heard. He then put the chair around him, the seat resting on his back, while he held the top of it so the bar wouldn’t choke him. It made for a crazy good and memorable moment.
Ian, Fadi, Rob and Sam moved right along into “The Ol’ Smash and Grab”, and Mike rejoined them moments later. As I said, he had often stepped off the stage this night, allowing the fans to catch him, but he did a full-blown stage dive during that song. No advanced warning or anything, just leapt into the air without fear of falling, and sure enough, everyone’s arms shot up in the air, catching him without fail. Once that tune came to an end, Mike joked that he needed everyone’s approval, and he’d appreciate it if people “wooed” along with him, leading the swarm of fans in shouting “Woo!” a few times over. Soon after they tackled “Keep Me From Drinking”, though it was the following song that was a standout of the night. “This song is very fast!” said Mike before they burst into “The Song We Used to Call Wasting Time”. He wasn’t lying, and the lightning fast paced rhythm section incited another mosh pit, and almost on the same level of quickness was another track from “To The Confusion of Our Enemies”, “Rent is Due”.
That unrelenting approach of diving from one song to the next was working incredibly well for them. And even when they did stop, it usually wasn’t for long, like now, when Mike mentioned how great their newest record was. “…That’s not me being cocky, either. Jesus told me so.” he said, setting up the glorious “Heart Conditions”. Their set was nearing the end now, but before getting to their last batch of songs, Mike told everyone a story, beginning with them driving down University earlier in the day, making him recall his youth.
“…I don’t want to sound like that guy who says things were better in my day or things are better now…” he said at the start, mentioning how earlier in the day he had seen a kid on a skateboard crossing the highway. I should note I don’t remember the whole story verbatim, but he went on to say back in his day you had to watch out for “cowboys” and such. He went on to say he had a run in with one of these cowboys at the Arby’s (which he noted was something else now), when one walked up to him and asked him a unintelligible question. “…At first I thought he was asking if I wanted any sausages, and I didn’t know how to answer that question…” Mike said, then added he found out the guy was asking him, “Do you want to start any shit?!”, to which he said he replied “No.” and then went home. That story got quite a few laughs, while the next part got the applause, when he said several years ago, he had met some very good friends, and a few years later they began playing friends house parties. And now, they tour the country and the world together.
No sooner had he said that then they tore into “True Crime”, before unleashing the monster of a song that is “On Again, Off Again”. They kept drawing from their 2006 record, doing “Don’t Bury Me… I’m Still Not Dead Yet”, which is nothing short of an anthem (an excellent one at that) and again at the crowd going wild. It was a fitting way to end their set, though they weren’t quite done yet, and Mike summed up the whole encore process. “…We can go out back for a few minutes while y’all chant for us to come back…” he said, “…Or we can do one fucking amazing song right now, and then all meet up at the bar.” The fans chose the latter option, skipping all the BS and getting right to the point. “…This one’s called The Art of Getting Fucked Over!” declared Mike, before they started the final song of their 55-minute set. He got back out in the crowd again on this one, grabbing the chair from earlier (the same one he placed around him), standing on it this time around. “I want to see the slowest circle pit ever around me.” He commanded, the audience pushing in as they began to encircle him. Next he said he wanted to see everyone’s hands on the backs of the people in front of them, giving them a little massage. Everyone did just that, chanting along with him towards the end, “G-A-M-B-L-E-R.” The tame circle pit suddenly sprang to life when the song picked back up, the people scattering and slamming against one another as it became a full-fledged mosh pit, and was an epic way to end what had been an epic performance.
The most enthralling quality the Riverboat Gamblers have is their brash, “fuck it” attitude. I mean that in the best way possible, because while a lot of bands say it’s all about the music, very few actually take it to the extent that they do. From the first chord you could tell Fadi, Ian, Rob and Sam had completely succumbed to the music, letting it flow over them, and the same could be said of Mike, who was being completely spontaneous throughout the night.
That’s kind of what I mean by the “fuck it” attitude, thing. Aside from the songs themselves, nothing was rehearsed or pre-planned. They just got up there, cut loose and let the chips fall where they may, so to speak. In turn, that makes the show a truly unique experience for the spectators, because this night was different than any other night of their tour will be. Just like the gig the following night was no doubt different than any other stop of the tour will be.
They’re performers through and through, and you if you want to see an intense, high-strung show, you’ll be hard pressed to find one better than what the Riverboat Gamblers put on.
For info on all their show dates, go HERE. They will be playing in Denver, CO, Seattle, WA, Portland, OR, San Francisco, CA, Fullerton, CA, Los Angeles, CA, San Diego, CA, Tempe, AZ, El Paso, TX and Austin, TX, with the tour ending on September 7th. They also have a show in Dallas on September 12th at Three Links (it’s part of the Elm Street Music and Tattoo Festival), which means I know where I’ll be on 9/12. And don’t forget to pick up their records in iTUNES.
Great night filled with raw Rock ‘n’ Roll, and, thanks in part to the comedian, a good dose of humor, too.