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.
Area station KXT (91.7 FM) was celebrating their fourth anniversary this night, doing so by having organized a concert at the Granada Theater. And what a concert is was…
Johnny Marr (formerly of The Smiths) was headlining, but they had gotten a lone local band on this bill, and the Fort Worth/Dallas based Oil Boom had the pleasure of opening up this show.
The trio hit the stage at eight on the dot, drummer Dugan Connors counted them into their first song. Singer and guitarist Ryan Taylor then ripped into his guitar, starting one of their latest singles, “45 Revolutions Per Minute”, and if there was anyone in the room who was skeptical about the opener, that song quickly dispelled those thoughts. It’s a rocking good time, having everything desirable in a song, and they were only just getting started, as Dugan wound them into their next song with some steadier beats, while Ryan lightly plucked away at his axe.
“Happy birthday, KXT!” Ryan quickly shouted after finishing that track, as they tore into another unrecorded number, which boasted a sensationally tight rhythm section, bassist Steve Steward and Dugan ruling the tune. Well, except for the nice little solo Ryan got.
They were making sure they had time to play everything they could in their 31-minute set, but occasionally at time to insert some dialogue, such as at this point, when Steve held up his hand, making the “devil horns” gesture. “So, Johnny Marr is cool. Right?” Getting a roaring reaction of agreeance from those who had shown up early, then he added, “I’m not sure if the devil sign is right.” He didn’t have much time to reflect on it, though, as they bolted into another fun number, following it with another track.
“…I need that Rock ‘n’ Roll, I need that Rock ‘n’ Roll…” Ryan repeatedly sang throughout their next number, after he had made a quick guitar change, with the song being probably one of the most appropriate ones of the night. “You may have heard this next one on KXT.” Ryan informed any potential listeners of the station. “It’s “Don’t Worry, be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin he cracked. “I was going to say it was The Chain by Fleetwood Mac.” Steve chimed in. It wound up being neither, and instead was what is arguably the best track off the 2012 “Gold Yeller” EP, “The Great American Shakedown”. It’s filled with some soulful rock guitar chords, and the chorus will instantly have you singing along to it.
Sadly, that brought them to their final song of the night, which wound up being their longest, too, and worked as a fitting song to end with. “…I’m slowing down…” sang Ryan at points of this bluesy and slightly soulful number, as he Dugan and Steve, eventually trailed off on their playing, giving the impression that they were done. They weren’t quite done yet, though, coming back in strong, and finishing it out.
While their time on stage was short, they packed it full of energy, and their fun songs that sound a little like classic rock, while also incorporating some blues and soul into it all.
It may not be cutting edge, but it is pretty original music, and making it all the better is how polished their musicianship and stage show is, all of which resulted in me loving them even more this time around than I did the first time I saw them.
From Ryans’ distinct voice, to the humor he and Steven throw in from time to time, and even the faster paced, infectious songs they have, which are in part thanks to the quick beats Dugan busts out, there’s surely something about Oil Boom that will appeal to you. And out of all the local bands that could have opened this show up, these guys really deserved the spot, and I can’t imagine anyone having gotten the night off to a better start.
They have another Dallas show set for November 30th at The Prophet Bar, and check out their records in iTUNES.
Following them was singer/songwriter Meredith Sheldon, who was accompanied by another electric guitarist on stage.
“…I’m very happy to be back here for only the second time in my life.” she said after taking the stage, with “here” being the great state of Texas. She also noted she was from Massachusetts, and when she finished speaking of course one guy felt the need to comment, shouting at her, “Your hot!!”, a remark she kind of laughed at before dismissing it.
That was about all the talking she did, as they launched into a 35-minute set of continuous music, as they went from one song right into the next. They were a big departure from the acts they were sandwiched in between, being more minimal in some ways, yet they still retained a very rock element in their performance, and each could really shred on their guitars when they needed to.
They were still somewhat quieter, though, and her singing was fairly soft at times, giving what I thought was a very interesting dynamic to her songs.
In the end, I was a bit indifferent to it all. Some of the songs I really liked, others I just didn’t feel. For two people, though, they manage to put on a fairly entertaining live show.
With them off stage, the crowd couldn’t wait to see Johnny Marr, anxiously waiting for the 9:50 start time to roll around…
(I reviewed Johnny Marr’s set for On Tour Monthly. It can be found HERE.)
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 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.
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 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.
How many concerts are six years in the making? Not many, but the one being held at the Granada Theater this night was.
It had been six years since The Polyphonic Spree, the massive twenty-piece pop choral group, released their last original album. Lucky for me I only became a fan a few months ago, so I didn’t have to endure that grueling wait, but that didn’t mean I was any less excited for the release of “Yes, It’s True”, or what was bound to be an unforgettable performance in celebration of its release.
Kicking off the night was current Los Angeles resident Harper Simon. He wasn’t an acoustic act, though, which is what one might think since he and his full band just went by his name. Their 37-minute long set consisted mostly of songs from their most recent effort, “Division Street”, though I admittedly had trouble trying to figure out exactly what they played.
I felt they got off to a bit of a shaky start with their first couple of tracks. I’m not necessarily even saying they were bad, just unsteady. After finishing that second one Harper mentioned this was the first time he had ever played Dallas, but he seemed to be liking it. He conversed with sixty plus people who had gotten there early for a few minutes, ending by saying how great it was to be in The Polyphonic Spree’s hometown, and that he was looking forward to the upcoming tour opening for the group.
They then tackled another song, and it was with this third one where they really hit their stride and began to take charge. It came across as being more Rock ‘n’ Roll than those first two tracks, with the drummer and bass player making things more cohesive, while the lead guitarist as well as Harper, who also was rocking an axe, cut loose, letting the notes soar. They were on a roll now, and after pointing out that this was the bass players first live show with them, Harper and his band mates began their next song. Actually, it was the drummer and keyboard player who started it, and a few seconds in Harper stopped them. “…That’s too slow…” he stated, in a nice yet firm way, resulting in the drummer stopping before counting them back in, this time picking up the pace. The song was “Bonnie Brae”, which, like most of the others, had a dreamy pop/rock quality to it, making it completely engrossing.
They slowed things down for the next song, with a stagehand bringing an acoustic guitar out for Harper. While plugging it in and making sure it was tuned, he again addressed the crowd. “…I’m having a moment with you as an audience…” he said, making a great compliment, which spoke to both how receptive the people were being to him and his music, as well as how much he truly appreciated the crowd. “Just Like St. Teresa” was a big departure from the rest of the show, though the folksy sounding song was great, and as it tailed off, the lead guitarist picked things back up, segueing them directly into their next song while Harper switched back to his electric.
“Veteran’s Parade”, the lead track from Harpers’ latest release, was a real highlight of their set, while “Dixie Cleopatra” concluded their time on stage, and while Harper’s skill at playing the guitar was more subtle at times, this was another song where he (as well as his band mates) got to show their chops and shred.
It was a very enjoyable set, and he seemed to win over a number of people on his first trip to Dallas.
After listening to the recorded music, I do think it sounds different from what you get in the live setting, particularly his voice, which just has some different qualities to it in this environment. It was all for the best in my opinion, because raw his voice seemed a little more soft spoken than what it is on the record, which enhanced the mood of the songs. It was just little things like that, that I don’t feel are quite captured on the albums, but live they make the music that much better. And speaking of the music, it was fairly feel good, with some of the songs having tinges of surf pop (at least I thought so), and they were all very easy to get into.
It’s easy to see why they were tapped to go on tour with The Polyphonic Spree, because both acts to mesh pretty well music-wise.
Their next dates are: August 15th at Neumos in Seattle, WA, the 16th at The Venue in Vancouver, Canada, the 17th in Portland, OR at Wonder Ballroom, the 19th at The Chapel in San Francisco, CA, the 20th in Santa Ana, CA at Observatory and the 22nd in Los Angeles, CA at the El Rey. You can also purchase both of Harper’s records in iTUNES.
Second up this night was the Fort Worth based folk rock band known as Telegraph Canyon, who had a little bit of a tie to The Polyphonic Spree. It turns out, that violinist Tamara Cauble used to play with The Spree at one point, making this a reunion of sorts, albeit in a very roundabout way.
The sextet opened with their newly released single, “Wheel to the Garden”, from their much anticipated forthcoming album. In fact, many of their songs this night were newer ones from it. It was merely the first of many brilliant songs they cranked out this night, though “Wheel to the Garden” featured some amazing harmonies from lead singer and acoustic guitarist Chris Johnson, violinist Tamara Cauble as well as bassist Chuck Brown, their voices intertwining quite gorgeously. At one point during the song Chris walked back towards the gear, jumping on his amp as he focused on his playing, continuing to get more into it, before hopping back down when he was required to sing again.
The dialogue with the ever-growing crowd was kept to a minimum, as they blazed through all the songs they had planned, and following that opener was a track from 2009’s “The Tide and the Current”, “Safe On the Outside”. It took the array of textures from their first song and built upon them, showing even more depth. “How many of you have seen us before?” asked Chris, resulting in quite a few hands shooting up in the air, as well as some cheers and applause. He went to thank the Granada for having them out, joking that he didn’t know why, but they kept asking them back to play, and he was very glad they did.
Chris then swapped out to a banjo, and while he was doing that a stagehand miked the xylophone that the keyboardist, who I believe was named Bobby, and later in the show Christ noted he was the newest addition to the group, was getting ready to play. It’s not an ordinary xylophone, though, looking more like a children’s toy, since it’s made to look like a tiger. Drummer Austin Green started a soft, steady beat before the other instruments joined in on “Shake Your Fist”. The simple part from the xylophone is also what makes the song stand out so much, as is what happened at the end, when Erik Wolfe proceeded to play his guitar with a bow, like what a cello player would use, resulting in somewhat of an ethereal sound.
The different instruments just kept on coming, and now Bobby picked up a mandolin for their next couple of songs, two newer songs of theirs which segued nicely into one another. He then got down with an electric guitar, while Tamara picked up the keyboard duties, before they returned to their original positions for yet another newer track. After all that, they pulled out another classic, “Quiet Assurance”, which really livened things up, before following it with another tune. For their next one, Chris again busted out the banjo, while Bobby picked the mandolin back up for the haunting, “Reels and Wires”. “…The water’s washing over you. Holding all the reels and the wires, give it all up in good time. The waters washing over you…” crooned Chris near the end, before he, Chuck and Tamara again harmonized into their mics, softly “ooooh”ing. Austin also added a different sound to this one, using a maraca in place of one of his drum sticks, creating a nice little sound.
They had been playing for awhile already, and seemed like they should be finishing any moment now, but they still had a few more songs to offer, and no one seemed to mind that, despite being anxious for The Polyphonic Spree. They gave the now nearly sold-out crowd, before concluding their 55-minute long set with a number from their debut album “All the Good News”. Chris placed a neck holder around his neck to hold the harmonica, while Bobby got Erik’s guitar, and he in turn got a rather large bass drum with a strap that he placed around his shoulder. They then started in on “Old Dark Hymns”, It takes on a whole new life live, than the way it comes across on the album, sounding nothing short of epic, and seemed to whip the crowd into a pretty excited state before the band waved goodbye and the screen descended, covering the stage.
I’ve had a few encounters with Telegraph Canyon, the first being a little over three years ago at the inaugural Homegrown music festival, and then earlier this year. Their music didn’t appeal to me much that first time around, and while I enjoyed it more the second time, I still wasn’t a fan. But this night, it clicked with me. I’m not even sure there was much of a difference as far as their performance went, aside from maybe they made sure they were more on the ball than usual since they were playing the stage of the Granada.
Still, the music really gripped me this night (and from the looks of many other people), successfully converting me into a fan of Telegraph Canyon. Afterwards, there was a comment of “Nice Mumford and Sons tribute set.” that someone made via Twitter, which showed up in the live Twitter feed displayed one of the screens inside the venue. There music’s more than that, though.
It’s at times, dark, ominous and moody, sometimes all at once, with a lot of layers to it and acute musicianship, set off by the distinctive and strong voice Chris has.
Honestly, they came very, very close to giving The Polyphonic Spree a run for their money. That’s how great they were this night.
They have a few shows lined up over the next few months, with one being on September 20th at The Live Oak in Fort Worth. On October 4th they’ll be in Hot Springs, AR where they’ll be part of the Hot Water Hills Festival, and on November 16th they have another Dallas gig booked at Sons of Hermann Hall. And you can of course find both of their albums in iTUNES, and by this year’s end (at the latest) they should have their third record released.
The crowd was amazing. It had been a very long time since I had seen the Granada this truly packed, with even the upstairs level full, while people were packed tightly in on the tiered levels in the general admission section.
The thirty-minute (give or take) intermission passed rather quickly, and at 10:31 when the lights dimmed, a loud cheer erupted from the fans mouths, followed by an odd hushed silence. A white banner was stretched across the stage, and while the bands heartening intro music played, front man Tim DeLaughter began to write in it, working his way from right to left I might add.
By the time he finished spray painting all the letters on it, it read, “We go back a long time”, and he even added a some eyes and a smile to the center of the O in “long”, while also adding an arrow to it all. Soon, a pair of scissors appeared as he cut the banner from the bottom up, revealing the massive band dancing about, already getting down to the music, but soon, they stopped. Nineteen out of the twenty members stood so perfectly still you would have thought they had turned into statues, while the trombone player was tinkering with his instrument, apparently having some technical difficulty. They all sprang back into action after a dozen or so seconds, with the intro music giving way to their first song of the night…
The keyboardist then entered in, banging on the same key, creating a euphoric sensation amongst the crowd as they realized it was “Section 12 (Hold Me Now)”. “He started the day with a mood and a shake, he was finally arranged…” Tim sang on the first of many joyous songs that would be played this night, while he darted about the stage. They bridged that song together nicely with “Section 25 (Younger Yesterday)”, and while it was a little less exuberant than the first song, better showcasing the violin, cello and such, it still stuck with The Polyphonic Spree’s mold of being incredible positive, uplifting music.
The fans finally had a chance to applaud their hometown heroes after that song, and it went on and on, seeming like it may never cease. Tim beamed at the audience, as did the rest of the band, appearing to feel overwhelmed by all the love, and he offered a “thank you” or two back at everyone, sounding very sincere by it. After those couple of tracks from older albums, it was time to pull out something from “Yes, it’s True”, the album this night was all about. The stage fell under complete darkness for a moment, before Tim turned on some globes, two of which sit at the front of the stage, revolving around and projecting an array of vibrant, largely pastel colors out at the crowd. There was also one that sat further back at center stage, emitting bright lights. They succeeded at creating a mood, and while generally I don’t pay too much attention to the lights, this was absolutely breathtaking. The dreamy sounds of “Popular by Design” were intoxicating, and while the song does sound different live then it does on the recording, it’s in a good way. “You know that I know you’re popular by design…” the six-part all female choir sang, with Tim accompanying them on the chorus, giving it an extra punch. Then, as if they had done it a thousand times already, Tim switched the lights off at the exact moment the song came to an end, while the house lights powered back on.
The stuff from their previous album, 2007’s “The Fragile Army”, kept coming, as they pulled out “Section 29 (Light to Follow)”, and as it drew to a close, Tim slowed his dancing down, to the point he was doing the robot, before gradually giving himself a little more range as he limbered back up. Their near flawless pace continued as the band segued them right into their next song, and it was another that really captured everyone’s attention. “I wrote this song on the Katy trail…” Tim stated, adding that he knew everyone knew it. “…This is Two Thousand Places!” he exclaimed, as they launched into “Section 14 (Two Thousand Places)”. One of several epic moments of the night was created during that song, which turned into a sing-along, when Tim pointed the mic out at the audience, the fans chanting the heavily repeated line, “You gotta be good, you gotta be strong, you gotta be two thousand places at once.” The throng of fans thoroughly enjoyed being made a part of this event instead of simply spectators, and so too did Tim enjoy seeing so many people singing along to his music, you could tell from the grin he was almost constantly wearing.
Tim again acted as a conductor as they immediately started their next number, thrusting his arm into the air, the drummer dropping a single beat in perfect time with it, and so too did the rest of the group play a single note on their instruments. That went on for a few times before they dove into one of my favorites, the upbeat and infectious “Section 23 (Get Up and Go)”. Towards the end, Tim wrapped the microphone cord around his neck, taking a few second breather as the group finished up that song, before unwinding it as they did the track that precedes it on the album, “Section 22 (Running Away)”. They took an actual break afterwards, and Tim thanked everyone for coming out to the show, which he noted had been many years in the making. And speaking of the new album, it was about time they did another song from it, and in setting it up he mentioned he had written it down on Ross Street, I believe in an old theater located there.
It was the first single from “Yes, it’s True”, “You Don’t Know Me”, and it’s also probably one of the most encouraging songs the band has ever churned out. “There’s always someone there to bring you down again. There’s always more to you then there are of them…” goes the song, which is nothing short of a feel good anthem. The globe lighting from the earlier song was in play for that song, as well as for the next one. “What’s that? Another new one?”Tim asked before they did another heavy hitter from the album, the brilliant and poppy sounding “Hold Yourself Up”. “Section 8 (Soldier Girl)” got off to a more intense start than usual, with all of the women in the band shouting into their mics a few times, giving it a nice jumpstart that enhanced the overall mood of it.
They marched on, though Tim quickly had his band quiet things down so he could explain the song. Apparently, it was only released on a Japanese release, but they had busted it out a few days before in London for a show which was broadcasted live on the internet, and now they were going to do it for their hometown. “…It’s a fun little diddy…” said Tim, while also pointing out that he “vetoed it” from the “Together We’re Heavy” album. The song was called “The Best Part”, and it was indeed fun, and I found it to be one of the best songs of their set. “Let’s do…” Tim trailed after that last song came to an end, and he leaned over to the cello player to I assume ask her what the name of the song was. “We Sound Amazed!” he shouted after leaning back in front of his microphone.
The mostly soothing sounds of “Section 11 (We Sound Amazed)”, matched by Tim crooning was one of the most beautiful moments of the night, and it also served as a sign that their show was in its final leg. They bleed it so perfectly into their next song, you could hardly tell where it ended and “Section 2 (It’s the Sun)” began. The audience was eager to help out on that one, too, and the final lines of “Hey, it’s the sun!” were shouted enthusiastically by almost everyone. Now it was time for the cover portion of the show, and first up was the Nirvana classic “Lithium”, with a bit of a pop rock twist added on it, of course.
There were several stand out moments from this show, but the one that takes the cake came during this song when Tim seemed to suddenly vanish from the stage, and he made his way out into the audience, getting to probably the second row from the stage. About halfway through the song he asked everyone to sit down, and while he had to say it a few times, and even pointed out a man in the upstairs are who wasn’t following instructions, everyone eventually obliged. “…Alright, from the top…” he said, the crowd softly joining him in singing, “I’m so happy, ‘cause today I found my friends. They’re in my head…”, before he and everyone else in the building jumped back up when the song kicked back in. I have to say, that’s one of the coolest moments I’ve ever experienced at a concert, and it’s a moment that will stick with me for a long time, if not forever.
Some reminiscing went on before their next song, as Tim spoke about the iconic Dallas band he was a part of known as Tripping Daisy. “…The band that just keeps coming up…” he said, before soon going over and hugging bassist Mark Pirro, who was also part of that 90’s era band. It was clear what they were setting up, but it was still so incredible to hear the classic “My Umbrella”, from the album “Bill”, which was put out over twenty years ago now. The harp, French horn and countless other instruments add so much to that song, no doubt changing it from the way it was done all those years ago, but it’s still a beast of a song. That rock number soon gave way back into the dreamy pop style that makes The Polyphonic Spree so delightful in the first place, and they concluded their 89-minute long set with “Section 9 (Light and Day - Reach for the Sun)”.
They didn’t take their leave right away, though, as Tim embarked on a several minute long speech about a variety of things, from thanking everyone for making “Yes, it’s True” possible (it was funded via a successfully Kickstarter campaign) to just thanking their hometown crowd for coming out and making this such a special night. I can’t say I’ve ever seen any band to that before, stay on stage after they’ve finished and chat with the audience, making sure each and every person knew how much their presence there was appreciated, as well as everything else they might have done for the band over the years. He also addressed the fact that they only played the first three songs from the new album (the three that are instant classics, in my opinion). He stated that the next time they hit Dallas they’ll have more worked in. “…We’ll work our way down…” he said, stating that this was the most diverse album they’ve ever put out, which is certainly true.
Granted, I’m still a very new fan of The Polyphonic Spree, having first seen them at the Homegrown music festival this past May, yet this was already the third time I’ve seen them. I mention that because while I may not have much authority to say this, I still confident in saying this was the best performance The Polyphonic Spree has ever given Dallas, and may well even be one of the best of the bands thirteen year career.
The difference I noticed from those two previous area shows I’ve seen was how much tighter they were this night. They’ve been touring a lot lately (like those gigs in the UK), and playing more consistently has resulted in them really solidifying, to the point all the twenty of the members made what they were doing look near effortless, as if it were second nature to them.
They were in rare form, and they made sure this CD release was exactly what any CD release show should be, and that’s an extravaganza. There was never a dull moment and just the way they all handled themselves on stage ensured this performance would be etched into the minds of everyone who saw it for a very, very long time. It was utter perfection by The Polyphonic Spree, even a step above their already high standard.
You can find all of The Polyphonic Sprees’ music in iTUNES, and they are currently touring heavily in support of this new album. August 15th at Neumos in Seattle, WA, the 16th at The Venue in Vancouver, Canada, the 17th in Portland, OR at Wonder Ballroom, the 19th at The Chapel in San Francisco, CA, the 20th in Santa Ana, CA at Observatory, the 22nd in Los Angeles, CA at the El Rey, the 23rd at The House of Blues in San Diego, CA, the 26th at Club Congress in Tucson, AZ, the 27th at Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix, AZ and the 29th at Fitzgerald’s in Houston, TX. They are also doing some one off shows, one at Bestival in Isle of Wight, UK on September 7th, while the other is an Austin, TX date on November sometime in early November as part of Fun Fun Fun Fest.
Once the band exited, so did everyone else, filing out of the show room, a smile on their face and likely in a happier mood then they entered in with, but still disappointed the show at to end in the first place. But as Tim said at the end, “…There’s always next time…”, and I have a feeling next time can’t come soon enough for the residents of North Texas.
Deep Ellum was thriving this night. For starters, there was a huge national show going on at one venue, while five others were taking part in the Deep Friday’s event, where for one price you can get into all five venues on the first Friday of every month. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great seeing so many people down in the area, even if it may be a one-off night, but the downside to that is it makes finding a parking spot a pain.
I’m not used to spending five minutes looking for parking, let alone twenty to thirty, but eventually found a spot and headed to my destination, which was, of course, the Curtain Club.
Yes, the purpose of Deep Friday is to be able to bounce between venues, but the Curtain’s lineup is always so stacked, I can never seem to pull myself from the place, as was the case this night.
Blacktie Renegade was the first band up this night, and due the parking thing, I’m not sure if they had just started when I got there or if they had been playing for just a little bit. Either way, I think I saw the majority of their set, and I was very glad I did.
This newer band (they’ve only been around since earlier this year) has some killer music, and it was matched by an incredible performance. That’s what really got me, especially after learning that they are newer to the scene, was how cohesive they were. They gave the impression that they’ve been doing this for years as this group, with Brandon and Eric running about the stage, shredding on their guitars, while drummer Ricky and bass player Dave tore it up on their instruments. The you had Mickey, who has a great set of pipes and did a really good job of commanding the crowd, being quite energetic.
Mixed in among their originals were a couple of covers, and their next to last song Mickey mentioned was an old one, but a good one. It was a rendition of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name”, which surprised me, because Blacktie Renegade was nothing like Rage, yet they pulled off a pretty spot on cover of it, and it was very fun at that.
Mickey even jokingly apologized after they finished it, saying something like, “I didn’t use much language, did I?”
I was turned into a fan instantly, and after listening to the few recordings they have, I think they sound much better live than even what their recorded material reflects. So, if you get a chance, go see them live. They don’t have anything on tap at the moment, but from the looks of it, they’ve been playing every other month or so. Also, on their REVERBNATION PAGE, you can download their three singles for FREE.
They did a very good job of kicking things off, and the night was only set to get better with Alterflesh taking the stage next.
Alterflesh doesn’t just put on a show, they create an ambiance, and when the curtain opened on them the stage was adorned with a few paintings of varying sizes, a nightstand with a lamp and some books, as well as some candles scattered about, plus a statue of Buddha, adding to the spiritual effect of their shows. Singer and rhythm guitarist Dayvoh greeted everyone with one of his messages, and while I don’t recall word-for-word what he said, I believe he mentioned the vastness of the universe, “…It’s so strange we are even here at all…” he said, then officially welcomed everyone to the show with, “Step through the portal my brothers and sisters.”
“Megahub” kicked off their 35-minute long show, and they instantly sprang to life, evidently not needing much of a warm-up period. Paul Kubajak was jumping about while slapping the strings of his bass, while Ben Schelin slashed away at his guitar. Dayvoh was tearing things up, too, at least when he wasn’t rapidly spitting out the lyrics in a style that is most comparable to spoken word poetry. That’s definitely the most standout quality Alterflesh has, setting them apart from any other band, and as they wrapped up that song Dayvoh segued them into the next one, throwing a bit of humor in to the show. “Sometimes if you make mushroom tea, strange things happen. This song’s called So Much More.” he said, getting a laugh from their large audience.
The heavier percussion tune was a good lead in to their next song, a new one that had only been played live once before. It was titled “Believe It”, and it was the first of a few songs this night that saw Dayvoh sitting his guitar down to instead focus exclusively on being a front man. He’s quite a front man at that, and is extremely energetic, moving about, actively engaging the crowd, while also getting very into the song itself. At the end of he walked up on to the drum riser, and in perfect timing with a loud beat supplied by drummer Kevin Mills, Dayvoh leapt from the riser, back to the forefront of the stage. As for the song itself, I really liked it. It was much heavier and thicker than their other songs, in a hard rock way, showcasing another layer to their already completely unique sound.
“…This next song’s a social rant…” Dayvoh stated, speaking of my favorite song of theirs, “Watch Rome Burn”. Paul got downright wild on that song, bouncing all over the stage, from his post on stage left, over to where Ben stood and back again, all the while fiercely plucking and slapping the strings of his bass. It was brilliant. Afterwards, Dayvoh picked his guitar back up for what I believe was “Start Over”, before he placed it back down for their final two songs.
“Into the Sun” was another new one, and despite the title, there some darker musical elements to it at times, adding some depth to it. They then capped off their 35-minute long set with what is arguably the most inspirational song they have, “New Horizon”, which spreads a message of making the most of every day, and it was a fitting song to end with. “Stay positive and cultivate your dreams.” said Dayvoh, uttering his signature phrase.
It had already been a few months since the first time I ever saw Alterflesh, and they had only played one gig in the three and a half months from that show to this one. You wouldn’t have guessed it from watching them perform this night, though.
They were a completely different band than I saw back in April, being even more cohesive, operating as a skillful unit. They had all stepped things up, and while I admittedly usually watch the other members over the drummer, Kevin made sure you kept an eye on him. Ben shredded on his guitar with a passion, while Paul managed to pack even more energy into his performance than he had last time. The same could be said for Dayvoh, too, whose head and arms were covered with blue dots he had, had painted on. I’m not sure of the reason, aside from being something to get attention, and in the end, that’s what it’s all about, because you want people to remember the show, and that’s something that will last in people’s minds for a long time.
They truly are one of the most unique bands I’ve ever heard and they put on a very strong show. Nothing is scheduled at the moment, but keep an eye on their REVERBNATION PAGE for future dates. While there, you can also listen to some of their demos.
On a side note, it was remarkable how many local bands were out to support these guys. Born and Raised, Solice, Agents of Solace, 26 Locks, and those are just the few I remember, while in all I think Dayvoh counted 14 bands represented, many of whom didn’t even have shows in the area that night, they were there simply to see Alterflesh. It was cool to see so many bands supporting their comrades, and as Dayvoh said a few times while on this subject, “For anyone who says that Deep Ellum is dead, fuck you!” So true. It might not be thriving, but it is very much alive and well.
Things took a turn with the next band, Mara Conflict, as the night entered the harder rock portion of the night…
They opened with one of their numerous newer songs, “Tempting the Mind”, which got things off to a heavy start, even brutal at times. Brutal in a good way, of course. It allowed them to quickly establish their dominance, Joshua doing a mix of singing and screaming, but most often it was the latter, fitting well with the raw sound it had. As soon as it ended the front man walked towards the drum riser, facing it as he bellowed, “Why don’t you, why don’t you…”, the first line of one of their new singles, “Broad Brush”. There are tinges of a progressive style mixed in to that hard rock number, noticeable in both Ben and Jarrod’s guitar parts. That tune is just a solid wall of sound, and if the first song hadn’t done the trick, then “Broad Brush” surely had everyone banging their heads to the music.
They followed it with a couple of brand new songs, the first was titled “Solstice”, while the next one was “…so new it doesn’t have a name…” At least that’s what Joshua said of it. It was an utterly amazing song, my favorite of the night (not just confined to their set, either, but out of all the bands), having a killer music bed, with the drums, played by Dylan, the bass, which Charlie rocked out on, and the guitars meshing in perfect harmony, with a slight chaotic feel.
To balance out the new, they next did an old song, “Excuses Never Fly”, from their self-titled EP. The devastatingly awesome, “You Sleep”, which is just another one of their songs working together well enough it gives the song a much larger scope. Things began to wind down with “Cleareye Pane”, and they had enough time in their 35-minute long set to (aptly) conclude with the rip-roaring, “Closure”.
Mara Conflict is an awesome band, and they seemed better this night than they were when I saw them here at the Curtain at the end of May. I imagine the fact that they had a real audience this night made a lot of the difference, since it’s always easier for a band to get more into their playing when there are people truly enjoying it.
Joshua has a great voice, capable of an excellent range, and he can both scream and sing with the best of them. He, Ben, Dylan, Charlie and Jarrod also exude a lot of energy during their time on stage, ensuring you won’t take your eyes off of them, or at least not for long.
You can find their three song collection of singles in iTUNES, so buy and even go see a show (of which they will surely have coming up in the near future). Just support them, maybe that way they can get their next album out a little sooner than planned.
The headlining spot went to Serosia, who had rocked the place barely a month before. That didn’t their fans were any less eager to see them, though, especially because the day before on Facebook they mentioned they had some exciting news, which would be heard first at this show.
Their intros are always different, and this night, before the curtain was even parted, some low, pulsating riffs could be heard from Joseph Kubans’ bass, while Derek Troxell slapped the neck of his guitar, giving it a real distorted sound. That placidness didn’t last long, as Anthony D’Agata exploded in on the drums, the other instruments roaring to life, too, as they got “Ventriloquist” underway. It was a dynamic start to their 43-minute long show, and continued with the momentum they had going, the three instrumentalists bridging them into the next song, while vigorous front man Lucas D’Agata commanded the crowd to “fucking jump”. He was doing just that, and some of the fans did the same as they launched into “Friendly Fire”. That beast of a song had everyone moving around, and I believe it was one of a few songs that even incited a small mosh pit, and fittingly so, since Lucas was switching back and forth between his smooth, somewhat melodic singing voice and his savage screams.
“Criminal” had nearly all of their devoted fans singing along, quite enthusiastically I might add, and after finishing it Lucas asked the crowd a question. “Is it hotter in here than usual?” There was a bit of a mixed reaction, with some people agreeing, and others shrugged, as if to say, “No.” Lucas then got to the punch line, “That’s cause we’re up here…”, a remark that got a boisterous response from the audience. “Sway” touched on the bands lighter side, Derek carefully plucking at the strings of his axe, though it was after the second verse when things really took off. One minute, Lucas was knelt down on the floor crooning, “…You have the power to fly but you fail to try…”, the next he sprang up, jumping into the air. He raised his outstretched legs up, while lowering his head down, and for a split second, while he appeared bent in two in midair, his legs even went above his head, before he quickly lowered them again, planting them back on the stage, and all the while he didn’t skip one of the lyrics.
The further along they got, the better the performance became, but took a timeout here, during which Lucas mentioned it had “been an emotional week” for all of them. That was the start of a very heartfelt speech, as he talked about how you spend years chasing your dreams, ultimately getting to a point where you think they will never pan out, and then, something happens. “…Stick with your dreams…” he said, pointing out that the moment you give up is the moment they can never come true. Already the fans were eager to know what was going on, but that would come later. Instead, they marched on with “The Architect”, and it and the following song, the newer “Reduced to Memory”, were prime examples of the banter that came in between those two songs, when Lucas said he was excite about the future of rock music, asking everyone if they were “sick of hearing banjos”, a sentiment everyone seemed to agree with.
“Wanna hear what’s up?” Lucas asked the crowd. It was answered with a resounding yes, but they were going to drag that announcement out, and instead, Anthony, Joseph and Derek started a little intro. It wasn’t until Derek played the beginning chords of “Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars” that the song became recognizable. Evidently, the best had been saved for last (and I include that previous song in that statement), and now Anthony banged on his kit, but only for a few seconds before his brother stopped them. “Do y’all want to hear the news now?” he asked, getting the obvious response. “…Let’s wait…” he said, as they returned to the hardest hitting song they did this night, “The Eye of Providence”.
Now, as their set neared the end, it was finally time to share their big news with everyone, and it proved to be worth the prolonged wait. Lucas beamed as he said they would be touring as the main support act for Sevendust, with 10 Years also being on some of the shows. “…Has anyone been to the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas?” he asked everyone, saying that was where they would be joining the tour, kicking things off in style, no doubt. He even noted that the lead song from their “Variables” EP, “Superposition”, would be making its way to radio airwaves, soon, so to call and request it. That wound up being a nice segue, because that was the song they had planned next, closing out their show with what became a sing along for a few moments, the audience chanting “I feel a war.” back at the band.
This was one of the best Serosia shows I’ve seen, and I think it’s safe to say they were riding high on that good news this night, renewing their hope in their career path, which translated into the live performance.
If you’ve seen Serosia before, you know all too well why they’ve gotten the opportunity to do some shows with Sevendust. If you haven’t, well, they are without question one of the most professional bands currently in the local Dallas/Fort Worth area music scene and they put on one of the most raw, organic rock shows a band can. Performance-wise they are topnotch, putting on a show that could rival many touring acts, while their music has radio friendly qualities, yet remains highly original, and there’s an excellent chance they’ll leave your mind blown.
Their dates with Sevendust are as follows: September 18th in Las Vegas, NV at the Hard Rock Live / September 19th in Salt Lake City, UT at In The Venue / September 20th in Billings, MT at Babcock Theatre / September 23rd in Ft. Collins, CO at Aggie Theatre / September 24th in Colorado Springs, CO at Black Sheep / September 25th in Cheyenne, WY at Atlas Theatre / October 1st in Kokomo, IN at Center Stage / October 2nd in Battle Creek, MI at Planet Rock / October 9th in Asheville, NC at Orange Peel / October 10th in Wilmington, NC at Ziggy’s By The Sea.
If one of those cities is near you, don’t pass up the chance to see them. Also, between iTUNES and their store on REVERBNATION, you can purchase all of their releases.
There was one final band left this night, but a little while after Serosia finished I decided to leave, before the tiredness I was experiencing got worse.
It was another fantastic Deep Friday, though, and be sure to mark your calendars for the next one, on Friday, September 6th. If you buy tickets in advance you can get into five venues for only five bucks, otherwise it’s ten at the door, but you still get into all the clubs.
It’s not often anyone gets to witness a birth of a band, and far more rare is the chance of anyone actually caring about, sans some close friends and family of the band members who go to the show more out of necessity. That wasn’t quite the case this night at Dan’s Silver Leaf, though, because it was no mere bar band making their live debut. This night was seeing the birth of a newer super group by the name Overseas, who was known to most fans of the Texas music scene as being a new side project from Will Johnson (the singer of Centro-matic).
While the collaboration began a few years ago, there was nothing tangible until this past June when they released their debut record, making the next step these rare clusters of live shows. Rare due to the fact that the four members are spread out across the country, hailing from Texas, New York and Washington state.
Joining them on their Texas jaunt was the Austin based Monahans, a band I had not seen in a few years, and I was glad to see they had been tapped as the opening act.
Their set was mainly comprised of songs from their 2013 releases, and they opened with “The Meadow”, singer and rhythm guitarist Greg Vanderpools’ smooth, vibrant voice cutting the serene intro, going hand in hand with the music. That quality alone seemed to entrance everyone, even calling in more people from the patio, interested in what was going on, and despite the technical difficulties Britton Beisenherz had with his guitar during the song, the applause was still roaring.
As he and the sound guy worked to fix things, Greg made some small talk with the audience, mentioning how “thrilled” they were to be playing with Overseas. Shortly after things were back in working order, though Britton laid his guitar down, instead focusing on his keyboard, starting them on the quick paced “Forward/Reverse”, which was a highlight of their set. Roberto Sanchez was killing on the drum kit, rapidly firing off the solid, strong beats, and making them even tighter was Joshua Zarbo’s bass lines, and later into it Britton did abandon his keyboards to throw his guitar back in the mix.
Some more banter followed that song, and it was good sarcastic wit at that, with Greg saying, “…August in Texas can only mean one thing; pack all your friends in a club, put on your favorite long sleeve shirt and see what happens.” On this 100+ degree day, it was hard not to laugh at that, and before getting into their next song, Joshua took over Brittons’ guitar, allowing him to focus exclusively on the keys. They then did a 180°, slowing things down drastically with the beautiful “The Loss of Feeling”, and while it was less energetic than the first few songs, it was no less captivating.
There was a bit of time to kill after that one, too, but Greg freely admitted he had ran out of things to say. Joshua picked up the slack, though. “I haven’t ran out of things to say…” he said, mentioning that he used to live in Denton, even saying they “…were some of the best years of my life…”, a statement everyone readily applauded. “…This song’s off our newest album…” Greg soon said, referring to the “Leveler” record. “It’s called Diamonds.” They completed that song, and then Roberto set them right off onto their next number, “Awakened”, which again found Britton predominantly playing the keys. Both songs meshed well together, giving the vibe that this one was an extension of the last, and the fact that “Awakened” was largely an instrumental song was nice too. It allowed the onlookers to really take notice of their musicianship, which was impeccable, and each member of the quartet has a very fluid style of playing, but can throw down, too.
The relaxing vibes continued with “Echoes”, but things soon escalated back to a serious rock vibe with “Beat of a Thousand Drums”, which had a rather epic sound to it, and it was followed by another awesome number. That led them to the final song of their 42-minute long set, and when speaking of it, Greg said it was one he found depressing for a very long time. They then eased into a rendition of The Smith’s song “Death of a Disco Dancer”. It was a spot on cover of it, and they also managed to make it their own, putting a little more of a rock twist on it, and it was a splendid way to end their show.
Before this night, I couldn’t have told you much of what I remembered about Monahans, aside from knowing I liked their music, but after seeing them again, man…
They killed it this night, and even came close to upstaging Overseas, without trying to, of course. Their music is a nice blend of rock and indie, focusing more on the former, though taking some of the dreamy qualities from the latter. It’s a constant intriguing bombardment of the senses, while the lyrics are near genius, and if you listen to their recorded stuff, expect their live show to sound just like that… Probably even a hair better
Speaking of their records, you can find them all in iTUNES, and keep tabs on their OFFICIAL WEBSITE for updates on any future shows they’ll have.
They were a great appetizer, but of course, everyone was most anxious for Overseas, and shortly after Monahans cleared their gear off stage than the crowd began to from at the front of the stage, as fans eagerly awaited the headliner. By the time their 11:15 start time rolled around, it was hard to even move, with a gap at the back just big enough for one person to traverse at a time. No one seemed to mind, though. They were more focused on seeing this debut show than caring that their personal space was being slightly invaded.
The tranquil melody of “Here (Wish You Were)” filled the room, and as soon as he opened his mouth to sing the first line, David Bazans’ voice took a strong hold on everyone. Having no prior knowledge of him meant I didn’t know what to expect, but instantly he sounded exactly as portrayed on the album (a quality so few bands achieve these days), his rich, rather booming voice proving entrancing as he crooned the words of this rather somber song. He was also the bassist in the group, and the other part of the rhythm section was comprised of Will Johnson on the drums, a microphone right next to his kit. It was a chilling moment when he joined in after the first couple verses, harmonizing perfectly with David, their voices mixing gorgeously. It was a moment of sheer bliss, and truly met the definition of beauty.
They stepped things up ever so slightly with the lead track from their self-titled album, “Ghost to Be”, one of the many songs that Will sang while softly pounding out the beats. That short track was followed by the subsequent song on the album, the mostly instrumental “Redback Strike”. It was really the first full-fledged rock song they did, with brothers and guitarist Matt and Bubba Kadane doing some sweet riffs, though it was hard to see them doing their work, as they had their backs to the crowd for almost the entire show. I’m guessing they were watching for cues and making sure they were in time with everything, but still, it wasn’t too conducive of the typical concert atmosphere. Upon finishing that track, Will welcomed everyone to their first ever concert, and they kicked things into high gear.
Will got to cut loose on “Old Love”, and while I knew he had been a drummer at various times in his decades long adventures with different bands, I’ve only seen him act as a guitarist. But man, he tore into his kit with a passion on this song and was unrelenting. He’s a beast, no doubt, and it was good getting to see another side to this fantastic musician, and a side that isn’t seen much anymore, no less. All the while, David was belting out his catchy song, which tells an actual story and is quite deep at that. “I’m thinking back to a sensual act I enjoyed with a girl in my teens…” it starts, before taking an insightful look at a relationship. They marched on with another track from David, “Hellp”, continuing to play a portion of the songs exactly as they appear on their record, but before the next song, they had to do a game of musical chairs.
David seated himself behind the kit, while Will filled what had thus far been empty air at center stage, acoustic guitar in hand, while I believe it was Bubba who picked up bass duties. Evidently, Will isn’t the only multi-talented individual in the group, and in this format they offered up the first of four new songs. Their first batch of songs might be a fairly old now, but the fact remains that the album itself is still brand new, but it’s nice to see that their creative juices are already flowing again, allowing them to make new music. It gives hope that this side project does have a future, and for the record, this song sounded incredible. The Kadane brothers traded spots after that track, The mellow mood continued with “Lights Are Gonna Fall”, after which David reclaimed his bass, and Matt took over the drums, and while that was going on, Will was plugging in his electric axe. “…We’ve had fun over the last forty-eight hours figuring out how to b a band…” he said, after again thanking everyone for coming out. Much of the crowd laughed, and while it was meant as a dose of humor, but he showed he was serious, too, adding, “Seriously, we’ve been up a lot…” They then gave everyone another taste of what album two may sound like, then tapped another song from “Overseas”, “The Sound of Giving Way”, before everyone returned to their starting posts.
At this point, David first made mention of their new record, saying they were indeed working on one and would be playing some songs from it. “…A few of which you’ve already heard…” he said. But before doing any more new songs, they did the more leisurely paced “Came with the Frame”, which saw David again retaking the role of lead vocalist, and it was matched well by the next song, which also had a softer vibe. Will counted them in on the next song, one last new one, and it was one of my favorites, not just out of the new batch, but the whole show in general.
“Down Below” was the final strong push of the night, allowing Bubba and Matt to amp things up on their guitars, and the song that’s one of the best on their record was also a highlight of the show. Shortly after knocking out the final beats, Will left his kit, again grabbing that acoustic guitar, and this time no one took his place. They concluded their 54-minute long with the hushed “All Your Own”, which Will sang in a slightly gruff murmur, his distinctive voice being on full display for the few lines he had to sing.
And just like that it was over. The band waved goodbye, again thanking everyone for coming out. Everyone seemed fully satisfied with what they had heard and seen, not only witnessing a small piece of history as Overseas got their first live gig under their belt, but also hearing their entire record performed live, and then some. That’s a feat that I doubt will be done much, especially once they do release another album, when some of the songs from their debut will be relegated to deep cuts.
At times, you could tell they were a new band. Like I mentioned earlier, Matt and Bubba rarely faced the crowd, and I don’t mean to imply that, that was a hindrance to their show, rather than it just made them seem a little less personable as a group. It wasn’t just that, though, as there were times you’d catch small, ultimately insignificant things that reminded you they were a new band, however, the experience and professionalism each one has counterbalanced all that.
In those two days spent rehearsing they were able to get a lot done, and that’s the part that deserves more focus. They were still surprisingly cohesive, and there was never a moment of, “How are we going to start this song?” or “What’s next?”, as they rolled through their set very smoothly and fluidly, with Will, David, Matt and Bubba coming across as if they had played these songs hundreds of times.
Then you have the interesting dynamics. Sure, it’s nothing new for a band to utilize two vocalists, but Will and David aren’t mere singers with jaw-dropping voices. They’re also extraordinary storytellers, a quality that bled out of every single song they performed this night.
They may not be a band that will play live shows all the time, but that just creates more reason to see them when they do perform a show near you, and based on this night, I’d say the career of Overseas is getting off to a nice start.
They do have shows in New York lined up for mid August, playing the Mercury Lounge in New York on the 19th, then the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn on the 20th. They’ll then have a break until October, with a small string of shows along the West Coast, begging with Neumo’s in Seattle, Washington on October 11th. They’ll be in Portland, Oregon at Doug Fir on the 12th, before traveling to California for shows in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The first will be hosted at Bottom of the Hill on the 14th, while the LA date will be on the 16th at Satellite. And don’t forget, you can also find their album in iTUNES.
It was a fun night in Denton, and it was also proof that smart rock music, music that can actually make you stop and think, is still alive.