Tonight, Trees was hosting what will probably be one of the best local shows of this entire year. Indeed, the lineup was astounding, featuring some great local Dallas bands and then a little ol’ band from San Antonio who I recently declared the best currently active band in all of Texas. I’d actually been looking forward to this one for over a month, and was thrilled that the day for it had finally arrived.
Signs of Reason was already rocking when I got there, finishing up “Adjust to Change”, but I don’t believe I had missed much of their set. They followed it with a bunch of other great songs, and I believe it was the song they did afterwards that I liked the most, “Where Rockstars Go to Die”. It quickly became apparent that the band has more of a mainstream sound to their music, at least in the fact that their originals are very radio friendly sounding, which helped them pull off a cover that they did. “If you haven’t heard this song, then you’ve been living under a fucking rock…”, vocalist, Garrett Gale, told the crowd. I figured I’d be one of those people who had been living under a rock, but I actually knew the song… But for the life of me I can’t remember what it was now, it did sound very true to form, though. I really don’t know what else they played, since I’m not familiar with their music, but at one point they did “The Thief”, where Garrett called attention to guitarist, Brandon Goforth, who took off on a rip-roaring guitar solo. They saved one of their best songs, “Only Human”, for next to last, which saw Michael Johnson pounding out some powerful beats on the drums. Then, during their final song, Garrett took time to name all the band members, which also included their other guitarist, Chris Cole, as well as their bassist, who Garrett mentioned was a very new addition to the band.
Again, their music does a mainstream feel to it, but they pull it off well, and don’t sound nearly as generic as most actual mainstream acts do. It was a really good set and they had a good sound, though there were a few times where I thought Garrett’s voice fell flat. It was nothing terrible, like, not enough to be detrimental to them or their performance in anyway, but still, I did kind of hear it.
They’re a good band, though, and seem to be on the rise, which is really something considering they haven’t been around for too long. If you want to check out our purchase their record, you can buy all 5 tracks (in mp3 format) from their REVERBNATION STORE.
Redefine was up next, doing their first show in a little over two months, when their previous drummer decided it was time to leave the band. They found a replacement quickly, though, making their set tonight the live debut of their new drummer, Jaron Davis.
They got their 35 minute long set going with “Take Your Medicine”, which reminded me immediately of why I love Redefine shows. They came out of the gates strong, as lead guitarist, Chris Apaliski, dashed around the stage, jumped up on and then off of the drum riser, and so on. Bassist, Mike Diquinzio, was more or less doing the same, as was fellow guitarist, Ryan Maynard, and it’s these high-energy shows that make Redefine so enjoyable. The song that followed it was new to me, or if I have heard it live it’s been long enough ago that I’ve forgot. It was pretty intense, even for these guys, and had Scott Headstream screaming into the mic for the majority of it. It sounded killer, though, and I like the direction they went in with that tune. Scott announced the next, as Maynard started them into the heavy hitter from their latest EP, “Motorcade”. They next did another song from “Blur On the Horizon”, as the music began to build before Scott sang, “Oh, don’t you go waving your battle flag…”, the first line of “Arcana”. They next ripped into “The Silent Hum”, which may well be the best song they do live, and after it was done, Scott lightened the mood with a joke. I believe it began with him promoting their websites, then added something like, “…We have a sex tape… We’re all in it…”, then said that if people wanted to watch it, just search for Redefine. That was a segue into their next song, “Like a Vision, a Ghost”, which, if memory serves me right, they started a bit differently, with the intro even more minimal than it already is, as Scott sang, “I need to hear whisper, because I’m tired of scream. It’s her lips I remember when I see the scars from her teeth…”. Up to this point, the show had been fantastic, with the exception that I found it hard to hear Scott’s vocals. They were audible, but not too loud, but I didn’t think a whole lot about it, thinking it was probably the fact that I wear earplugs. But after that song, someone else in the crowd asked me if I could hear his singing okay, saying he couldn’t. It was apparently quite enough in the building that Scott overheard this and asked the sound guy for more of his vocals, and man, did it ever make a difference. You could hear him much stronger on “Fall Down, I Believe It”, during which he pulled out the trusty Redefine megaphone, using it for a line from the second verse, “…Wake up, you’re falling anyway…”. Sadly, once it was done, they were on their final song of the night, but brought the show to an amazing close with “Leave The Light On”.
It was a very impressive set they did, and I would say one of the best Redefine shows I’ve seen. At one point during their show, Scott remarked at how hard they had been working Jaron to make sure he knew the material, and their hard work from the practice space was definitely noticeable. He looked like he had been playing these songs for years, and meshed perfectly with the live show these guys put on.
Their next show on tap is slated for July 13th at The Curtain Club in Dallas. They will also be performing the Broadcasting for Boobies benefit on August 4th at The Ranch in Arlington, which will be sponsored by RYA Entertainment/WhiskeyBoy Radio. And you if you don’t own them already, be sure to check out their EPs, “Blur On the Horizon” and “The Power Of Persuasion”, in iTunes.
The crowd had been pretty small thus far, which was sad considering some killer talent had already graced the stage. It didn’t seem like it would improve, either, but as the San Antonio based Nothing More got ready to begin I looked back to the bar (I stood right up front, near the stage) and there didn’t seem to be an empty space in the whole venue. These people had missed out greatly, but they at least knew to make it there in time to witness Rock ‘n’ Roll perfection.
Drummer, Paul O’brien, strode on stage and back behind the kit, while Mark Vollelunga followed suit, taking stage right and grabbing his guitar. Once Daniel Oliver joined them on bass they began to rock out, but the show got into full swing when vocalist, Jonny Hawkins, rushed on stage and started pounding away on his three piece drum kit at the front of the stage. The excitement in the air was palpable, and their 43 minute set really took off as they rounded that instrumental greatness into “Gone”. The emotion put into this song is unbelievable, especially on the second verse as Jonny cries, “…I wish I’d never seen cancer, I’d die just to find that answer…” (for those not in the know, the song is about his mother’s battle with cancer, which she ultimately lost.) As the song wrapped up, you could hear some sample backing tracks echoing in the background. It repeated part of the chorus, “I’m gone.”, over and over, and as it faded out, they segued it into “Under The Eyes of Selene”. Mark slayed on this brief instrumental song, shredding on his guitar and thrashing around, as they brought it into “Sixty Second Affair”. Jonny’s one to do various little things to alter his voice, such as on this one, where towards the end he waved the mic around wildly as he made a noise, creating an awesome, natural sound effect. They brought on an onslaught of rock, and wound that one right into the first of two new songs, “First Punch”. The song maybe new, but the fans were quickly picking up on the chorus for it (as well as the other new ones) and singing along, like on this one, “…I’ll throw the first punch, ‘cause I’ve kept my mouth shut for far too long…” Afterwards, they brought that one into what I think is one of the most standout newer songs of theirs, mainly because I really like the chorus, which Dan and Mark also chime in on, “…I’ll keep sucking, sucking, sucking you dry until you realize you are no J-J-J-Jesus Christ…”. Mark and Paul kept the music going, while Jonny went over and picked up a rod/stand for their little trick that will leave you floored if you’ve never experienced a live Nothing More show. As he fit the rod/stand into a slot on his drum kit, Dan then placed his bass in it, holding down the strings as Jonny beat away at them with his pair of drum sticks, with Mark joining in at the tail end of it, as he held down various strings on the fret board. That never ceases to be a crowd pleaser, and out of all the times I’ve seen them do it, it has yet to get old (and I don’t think it ever will). I thought they might finally take a pause after that, but no, they whirled that right into another new tune of theirs. I don’t think they did it at their Denton gig last month, but I’m pretty certain I’ve heard this one before, with its chorus being, “…If I were God, just for a day, I’d be guilty of letting the whole world slip away…”. As it ended Jonny acknowledged that they had been focusing a lot on new stuff, “…So where gonna do an old one for you…”. I don’t think it was one that anyone expected to hear (myself included). It was the final tune from the “Few Not Fleeting” album, “It Seems…”, which they’re making into a powerhouse of a live song. And the few lines of The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” that they’ve started adding to it, “…Look at all the lonely people, where do they all come from…”, does a lot for it, and definitely fits with the mood the song establishes, for example, “…He said he wants to die. He wonders how anyone survives being overlooked and trite…”. They had saved some of the best for last, once again bridging the songs together, this time as the sample intro for “Ballast” kicked in, before Paul, Dan and Mark tore into it. This is one of the heaviest, most intense things I’ve heard these guys do, and even though the song is only available to listen to via a few of their pages (Youtube, Reverbnation, etc.), there were plenty of people singing along to every single word. Their show finally came to a halt after it, but only so they could discuss what to do next, seeing as they were informed they only had time for one more song. “Do y’all want to hear one more or two more?” Jonny asked the crowd, which was a bit of a stupid question, as two was the obvious answer from the packed venue. But at least the sound guy allowed them two more, otherwise there might have been some very upset people in Trees, since their last two are staples. Dan began his glorious speech that mimics the “I Have a Dream” speech, only this is about him growing up being chunky. As he closed it with “…Most of all, Dallas, I had a dream where beef was what’s for dinner every night!”, they fired up “Fat Kid”, and then to cap off the show, rocked out “Salem”. That last one had every single person yelling along to it, especially at the end when Jonny held the mic out towards the fans as they all shouted, “Burn!”, and rotated with Dan and Mark shouting it into their mics next, followed by the crowd and so on and so forth. But the highlight of the song was when they took their percussion break, where Jonny proceeded to bash away on his kit, while Mark and Dan each grabbed a tom and walked behind him. He made the rounds, hitting his kit and the toms, before Mark handed his off to Dan, picked up a pair of drum sticks, and he and Jonny did little circles, hitting either the kit or toms, whichever was in front of them at the time. Their stunts like that add such an eye-popping, jaw dropping element to their shows, and make them just that, shows.
As I said, it had barely been a month since I saw them up in Denton, and while I liked the longer set they got that night, there was one thing that made this a much better show, and it was the fact that they were relentless, moving from song to song.
Starting June 15th they will be on tour with Bravo Delta and perform in the following cities: San Diego, CA on June 15th at Brick by Brick, Hollywood, CA on June 16th at Amplyfi, Tempe, Arizona on June 20th at Tempe Tavern, Albuquerque, NM on June 21st at Warehouse 508, Denton, TX on June 22nd at Hailey’s, and June 23rd in Tulsa, OK at The Eclipse. On June 24th you can see them at Whiskey Chicks Parlor in Oklahoma City, OK. For the month of July, they will be in Baton Rouge, LA on the 14th at Click’s Billiards and then the Riverside Warehouse in Shreveport, LA on the 27th. Then they have a hometown show at Sam’s Burger Joint on August 4th in San Antonio.
I just want to say I can’t wait for that Denton show, which they will be headlining, so you can expect them to pull out all the stops… At least I hope they will, ‘cause I might cry if they don’t do “Bullets and Blue Eyes”. And while you wait on the release of their new album due out sometime this year (hopefully), check out “The Few Not Fleeting”, which should satisfy your ears for awhile.
After a performance like that, I wondered if Moving Atlas could even follow them, and I was relieved to learn I wasn’t the only person who had those thoughts. But any reservations I did have quickly faded once they took the stage.
Before the curtain was drawn open, they began “Machina”, and once it was the four instrumentalists were in the midst of the song, but one member was missing. As guitarists, Ricky Dansby and Ben Scott, bassist, Geoff Lucke, and drummer, Ross Rubio, cranked out the song, Dunagin Gaines suddenly walked out from behind a silk screen on stage left, there were two on either side of the drum riser, each being a portion of their latest album cover. He approached the mic, and crooned, “Wherever you go, you will seek and find a friend. You will climb atop this home, and scream into the wind…” The mood that song sets for the rest of the show is incredible, as they’re announcing they’re here to rock, but, as I’ve said in the past, the song just has an underlying element/sound to it that makes it rather ominous. They got into some brash Rock ‘n’ Roll next, though, and after a pause just long enough for the fans who had packed the venue to applaud them, Ross launched them into “Welcome Home”. As they got to the bridge you heard their sample track/vocals in the background. “Don’t stop, don’t stop…” it went, with Dunagin quickly flipping the mic up after that and singing, “…Don’t stop with an inch to burn. The candle wick is thick you’ve learned…”. The icy sounding “Crawl Out in the Cold” came next, but after it was when then so far routine set got very interesting. Geoff said something like, “If y’all want to sing along with this next song y’all can.” and then Dunagin chimed in, “Yeah! Do y’all want to do that? If y’all know this next one y’all want to sing along with it?” The anticipation of what was to come built as they allowed a few moments of silence. Dunagin began to kneel down on the stage floor, and as he did so, he let out a line that I think everyone in Trees was hoping to hear. “Don’t want to contemplate the time…” he sang, with a bit of ferocity. I don’t know how long it’s been out of the setlist, and it’s been the song I’ve wanted to hear the most the last two times I’ve seen these guys, and tonight, they finally resurrected the title track of their 2008 EP, “Elephant Gun”. I believe it was when they exploded into the chorus from the bridge that Geoff, who had worked his way onto their box in front of the drum riser, leapt from it, right as Dunagin shouted out, “…You will bow…”. Once it was finished Geoff stated that was from their older EP, “…I think there may be a few copies back there for sale. I don’t know.” he said. “You lie!” Ricky shouted at him in a joking manner as he tuned his guitar. Geoff then added, “We’re gonna do some old stuff for you tonight. Real old.” Ross got them going on the song, and seeing the way he owned the drum kit for this solo of sorts was something else and definitely mind-blowing. The song was the oldest they pulled out this night, “Cheating Mark”, from “Et Al”, and live, it was one of the best songs of their set. They talked to the crowd for a minute after that song, but as they did, you could hear Ben playing his guitar. It was pretty light at first, but it grew louder, enough so that you knew it was “How We’re Infected” before they announced it. “Will the queens hold the scepters when the kings are all gone?… Nearly all of our wanting reeks of entitled air. And we all feel so numb that we hardly even care…” sang Dunagin as the song got started. He let out his final line while standing on that box in front of the drums, then tossed it to the floor at the front of the stage as the other guys finished out the song. But when the mic landed, it made an awful sound, and as the tune concluded Dunagin walked over to it, looked at it, then acted as if it were a wrestling opponent and he was about to jump on it, striking it with his elbow. He of course didn’t, and after checking it, it still worked perfectly. “We’re gonna slow things down a bit.” Geoff said, as they proceeded to play “Red Shelter”. Dunagin added some hand motions at the end, first striking his hands as if he was knocking over some buildings on the line “…I tore your tower down…” Then moved his hand lower towards the stage, “Invited you underground to compare skies…”, before looking up at the ceiling and finishing the song, “…We’ll meet you in red shelter, we’ll count our losses together.” Things picked back up, and swiftly, with “Muse Accuser”, and afterwards Dunagin went on what seemed like an odd tangent about Richard Branson. He said something along the lines of, “…He’s gonna take people to the fucking moon. Not space, the moon!…” I wondered where he was going with that, and then he stated what the next song was, and that it, “5280”, was about all of that. As Ricky was shredding on his guitar, Dunagin jumped back close to him, and, mirroring him in a way, started tearing it up on an air guitar. He did something similar at the end of it, only this time he licked one of his fingers and began to slap an imaginary bass. They went right in to setting up their next tune, as Dunagin asked what year it was. “Is this the year of the Rabbit?” No, that didn’t sound right. “…Is it the Year of the Rat?” That sounded more like it, and served as a nice segue into what is possible their grittiest song. After it, the fans seemed like they were only warmed up, as several different song titles were hurled at the band. “No, how about we do Parachute?” Dunagin said. That seemed to satisfy everyone, but there seemed to be one question that remained after they finished it; was that the end or not?
Indeed it was, and while several people waited around after they said they were through, there was no encore. Not that, that was a disappointment, because they had left everything on the stage in the 52 minutes they were up there. And the difference between this and when I saw them in Denton last month was night and day, proving that this band best excels when they have a stage big enough for them to roam around on. With their live shows, they’re very precise with everything, almost tactical in a way, yet they still manage to give it that raw feeling that a live show should have.
To find out for yourself what I’m talking about, go see them on July 13th at the Curtain Club in Dallas, and check out their records in iTunes, “Machina”, “Red Shelter”, “Elephant Gun”, and “Et Al”.
Thus ended this night of rock, and a spectacular night at that.
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