Saturday, August 16th, 2014 – Larry’s Live and Local Showcase: August 2014

I’ve seen some concerts in the suburbs before. Plano, Frisco, but never Allen. However, Allen was where I wound up this night.

There were some good shows down in my normal haunts of Deep Ellum, but nothing truly screaming my name. So instead of making a thirty minute drive, I decided to make a ten minute one and go check out The Dirty Rooster.

Larry Bates, who fronts the band Generation Wasted, works at the restaurant/bar, and once a month, he orchestrates his own local showcase, getting bands who would normally be seen in Dallas, Denton or Fort Worth to instead play in Allen.

Not only was it convenient to get to for me, the price of admission was also free.

The first room you walk into is the one with the stage, and there were several rows of tables filling it. It’s certainly not the club atmosphere where you often have little option but to stand. Instead, it encourages you to set and relax while you enjoy the entertainment (along with a drink and even some grub). A little different for me, though I found it kind of nice.

A solo artist was on stage (I didn’t catch her name and only saw the last couple of songs), and once she got off stage, they guys of Daylight Industries began lugging their gear up there.

The stage was nice. Much better than what I’ve seen at some other restaurant/bar places I’ve been to, looking like it was built with that intention, rather than something that was hastily thrown together as an afterthought.

I had seen the Southern Gypsy rockers just a month before, on what was the biggest night of their career (they received a plaque on the Wall of Fame at The Curtain Club); and the setlist was very similar to that night.

The five-piece opened with one of their newer songs, which I believe was “Gravity”; and they didn’t let the different setting impact their show in the least. Actually, no band this night did. Lead guitarist Brandon Tyner was slinging his guitar around while brutalizing the strings on it. They didn’t allow for any downtime, and continued the onslaught by immediately going into “White Russians”.

They didn’t have as much room to move about, though everyone was making use of what they had. Keith Allen walked about — mic in hand — as he shouted out the lyrics; and there were two points when Stephen Smith rose up from his seat behind the drum kit, before striking the cymbals with a devastating force.

They took a break now, and while I had trouble hearing the full conversation, Keith said something about he had four kids, in response to something one of the onlookers had said to him. “…That’s not a plea for help. That’s the fucking truth,” he remarked. He then did the “obligatory glass raise” (as he called it), making a toast to all who were there; while Steve pointed out that his parents were there.

“Aphasia” brought the pace down a bit, with its more melodic, though technical riffs of each verse. Bassist Barry Townsend let loose on the chorus, however, jumping back and forth on his little slice of the stage. Rhythm guitarist Ruvayne Weber was more or less doing the same on stage right, and perhaps it was because I was seated looking directly at that part of the stage, but he had my attention more than anyone else this night. He killed it from start to finish, and honestly, I thought he was even better this night than any other show I’ve seen them do since welcoming him to the band.

Steve dove straight into “Wandering”; the in-your-face drum beats soon giving way to what is the most furious, and subsequently one of the best songs they do live. They even had a little fun with it, extending the break before the final chorus, causing all of them to look anxiously at Keith, just waiting for him to belt out the next line, their cue to come back in. No sooner had it ended, and then Brandon launched into the opening riffs of “Western Sky”, their slightly reggae sounding number.

“…We’re Allen’s premier Johnny Cash tribute band,” Keith joked once that song was over. The laughs continued when he asked if everybody had a drink. “This is a little game we play called ‘Drink’,” he said shortly before “Junkie Logic”, which saw Ruvayne showcasing his skills on the guitar as he simultaneously ran one hand up the neck of it and another down it at one point.

“Are we boring y’all?” Keith asked, checking in on everyone afterwards. There was no real response, prompting him to look at it as the glass being half-full. “I didn’t hear a no,” he laughed, before they got to another newer song that will most likely be on their upcoming full-length record. Upon finishing it, he said it was called, “Fifteen Beers”. It was followed with the title track from their current EP, “Faith Healer”, which came complete with a clap along moment the band instigated towards the end.

“…Are we doing all three?” Keith asked his band mates, trying to figure out how the remainder of their set was going to play out. “We’ll be here a minute,” he quipped, as they continued discussing things.

They axed one song from the list, and then did what Keith said was called, “Never give a drunk man a microphone.” It was actually “Sit In”, and Barry really came to life on that high-energy number, thrashing around and hopping about, while Steve again stood up from his kit at the tail end.

“…I’m trying not to curse…” Keith remarked in the pause before their final song. He had done pretty well this night, not using too many expletives, though, most likely with intended irony, he dropped a few crude words then. With that, Ruvayne started them off on “Weight of the World”, another new song and the closer to their 41-minute long set. It was one Steve was clearly enjoying, as he was often mouthing along to the words.

“Thank you, you’ve been a great crowd,” Keith told everyone as feedback from the guitars filled the room, lasting for upwards of a couple of minutes.

This was a stark contrast from their last show, and not just due to the different setting. They didn’t have nearly as much riding on this one, which allowed for them to be a little more carefree. They’re a band who always has fun in the first place, but they were able to go with the flow more this night, like when one of Brandons’ pieces of gear quit on him, (I honestly didn’t even realize it until he said something to me after the show. It didn’t really change the sound out in the crowd.)

This night was all about having a good time, but even when having fun, Daylight Industries still provides a quality performance that not just every band is capable of.

You can buy their music in iTUNES, and also get several free downloads on their REVERBNATION. As for shows, they have a gig at The Rail in Fort Worth on September 5th, then one at The Boiler Room in Dallas on October 18th.

After them, was Red Angel Theory, a band who I had not seen in far too long. A year or more to be exact.

“How you guys doing?” frontwoman Monica Koohi asked as they took the stage to begin delivering what was the longest set of the night (an impressive 53-minutes.)

They had some newer songs in the mix, some of which I had heard before, and others I hadn’t, like their opener. Early on in it, the microphone came unplugged, and I think it took everyone (including Monica) just a second or two to realize what had happened, before she quickly fixed it. She often prowled around the stage this night, resting her foot on one of the monitors at times as she surveyed the crowd, and at one point during this song, she even crouched down as she sang, getting more on eye level with everyone. It came to a roaring close with some aggressive beats from Nick Sarabia, while guitarist Brandon Deaton stamped his foot along to it.

“This song’s called Shattered,” Monica announced, while a sample track bridged the gap from the first song into it. It was one track that Nick added some backing vocals on; and Brandon violently thrashed about on the second chorus, to the point his head came fairly close to the floor. Nick then segued them into their next number. “This is called Quarantine,” Monica informed everyone, then shouted, “Let’s go!”

They were definitely in charge of the crowd by that point; and after racing through that number, Monica checked to make sure everybody was still with them, while a spacy sounding track softly played in the background. The already hard rock band tapped into an even heavier side with “Scream”, which saw not only Nick, but also Monica doing some vicious, throaty screams at times. When Monica was belting it out, she leaned back and held the mic above her head, making for an awesome pose.

They rolled it right into the next song, but only after a music bed that quickly transformed into a guitar solo. Monica dropped to her knees during that time, getting caught up in the music for a moment before saying, “…If you’re still breathing, that’s a reason to stay alive.” As the music picked back up, Phil Sahs added his bass to the mix of the song that, for any old fans, was once known as “The Darkness”, but has now been completely rewritten (lyrically), and tweaked just a bit. It sounded great.

“Did you like that?” Monica asked as they hit a break, during which time a patron asked who they were. She told him, and he responded with “Y’all are awesome.” “He said we’re awesome, what do you think?” she asked, checking on the rest of the room, who seemed to echo that sentiment. She touched on the fact that without fans, they wouldn’t be anything, and then they had some fun.

I have never seen Red Angel Theory do a cover song before, but within the last year, they’ve apparently started trying their hand at it.

They spiced up the Simple Minds’ classic, “Don’t You (Forget About Me”), giving it more of an edge, yet it still retained its catchy, poppy style. “Do you remember that one?” Monica asked once it was finished. Brandon then leaned in and said something to her. “He said he heard it in movies when they were in the theater,” she said, of what Brandon had told her. “I only saw it on VHS,” she added. They then switched gears from that 80’s pop classic and did “Voodoo Child”, where Brandon really got to showcase his chops with one solo after another. Simply put, he slayed.

“Can I get more water? I’m making a mess up here,” Monica requested after that one, laughing a bit. The glass she had up there had been knocked over during that last tune. What came next was another new song (to me, at least), and it was the rawest thing I’ve heard the band do. It caught me off guard, because it was much more intense than anything I was expecting from them, and that was a nice feeling. More monstrous screams were prominently featured during it; and then they started winding down.

“Are you still with us?” Monica asked before “Suffocate”, a song that had Phil getting quite into it. “Inception” is still my personal favorite Red Angel Theory tune, and the rest of the onlookers seemed to react pretty strongly to it as well. On the first chorus, Monica stood in front of the microphone and waved her hands about in the air. Before going any further, she wished a happy birthday to Nick, and then they wrapped things up with “When the Dust Settles”, which brought things to a powerful finish.

The one good thing about going so long without seeing a band as you can instantly see their growth, and Red Angel Theory has undergone a lot in the last year.

They were even tighter and more cohesive than before. Brandon has gotten even more lively, as has Phil; and even in an environment like this, that’s a little different from your normal concert experience, Monica was constantly a riveting figure whom you couldn’t take your eyes off of.

You could tell all four of them have been pouring a lot of time into the new songs and even the band itself, and they’ve reached a whole other level because of it.

You can find the Rise for Something EP in iTUNES. Hopefully later in the year they’ll have another record to add to their discography, too. Their next show will be September 6th at The Rail in Fort Worth; and on the 13th they’ll be at Trees in Dallas. They also have a gig in Greenville at The Hanger on October 11th.

Wes Ford and The Foundry had the final slot this night. I’ve been hearing great things about the trio for about a year or so now, but had yet to see them play; and based on all the rabid fans they had brought out this night, it looked like it was going to be a great show.

Before getting to the Southern hard rock music, they began with some humor, as bassist Scott Arndt mentioned they could be found on Facebook, Reverbnation and such. You can find Wesley on Porn Hub…” he cracked, speaking of singer and guitarist Wes Ford. He named a few other adult oriented sites. “What’s the new one?” he asked Wes, who didn’t have an answer for him. They then started to lay down some heavy and thick tracks that immediately had you thinking, “These guys are awesome!” In just a couple of songs, they were definitely living up to the hype I had heard.

After a few songs, Scott said he was going to introduce everyone, and in an original twist, he proceeded to name off members of the crowd. “Oh, you meant the band!” he suddenly realized, as he pointed out drummer Jeff Michnal and Wes. “…My name’s None ya businesses. I got warrants out and shit,” Scott then quipped. He wasn’t through with the comedy yet. He now asked if everyone was tipping their bartenders. “…It’s not just a city in China,” was the unexpected punch line; and then he added someone had confused him earlier when they told him the city was in South Korea.

They got back to it with “Dying Bed”; and right at the start, Jeff flipped a drumstick into the air. It went way off to the side, where he didn’t stand a chance at catching it. Still, it was cool in a slightly funny way. The lengthy song was as much of an instrumental jam as it was sung, making for a nice balance. “Swamp Chomp” came after, and while it was a similar structure, it was a little more bluesy sounding.

“Do you like love songs?” asked Scott before their next track, one that Wes pointed out afterwards was written about his ex-wife (it wasn’t a good thing). They then finished their 47-minute long set with what was a bit of a sing along at times, though the raw rock vibe was still there; and at one line, when saying, “Fuck”, Wes waved his middle finger in the air.

They had an overwhelming presence about them; and I know there were several people there who hadn’t seen the band before and found themselves unable to pull away while they were on stage.

The music may not be cutting edge, but they bring a refreshing element to it, and every song brought something different to the table.

Their next show will be in Dallas at The Curtain Club on September 6th.

The Dirty Rooster is really a great place to see live music, and all three of these bands helped make my first experience there an excellent one.

The lighting and sound are both high quality (not necessarily equivalent to venues that are specifically suited for this, but also far superior to many of their counterparts.) It provides a good atmosphere, very welcoming; and it caters to all types. From people who may want to grab a drink, to those looking to relax with a game of pool or darts, and, of course, the music lovers.

Larry presents this showcase on the third Saturday of every month, so September 20th will be the next installment. If there’s ever a band playing you like, or maybe you don’t have anything to do, go check it out. It really exceeded my expectations. It’d be nice if this could also become a little more frequent than once a month, too. Who knows, it could even make Allen a hotspot to go hear some local music.

Saturday, July 13th, 2013 – A Night of Heavy Rock in Denton

I’ve said it before and will no doubt say it again, I don’t get up to Denton much these days. But when there’s not much going on a Saturday night and the only concert I really wanted to see was taking place in the town, why not make the drive to it. Besides that, the show was going down at Andy’s Bar, which may not necessarily be the best venue in Denton, but it will always be a special joint to me. Simply because for so long it was the only venue in Denton I went, and since most of the bands I like rarely play there, I’ll take any opportunity I can to see a show there.

Originally, there were four bands on the bill, but Southern Train Gypsy had to drop off last minute, meaning Red Angel Theory was the first act up this night. And on a side note, this was the first time in a long time (or possibly ever?) that I’ve seen a band on back-to-back nights.

They were a bit quicker in running through their songs this night, squeezing all eight into a mere 30-minutes. They got going with “Psycho”, a full throttle rock song that commands tour attention, and even though there were some sound issues to begin (it was the venues fault, not the bands), the song was still able to reel you in with its sweet guitar licks from Brandon Deaton and the at times vicious slapping of the bass Phil Sahs was doing. Drummer Nick Sarabia led them into their next couple of tracks, one of which was “It Often Lies”, while the other was “Shattered”. The latter of those is really growing on me more and more (especially after hearing it two nights in a row now), and the rewrites they have done to some of the lyrics help push it beyond what it already was. That and the primal scream front women Monica Koohi lets out before the final chorus will amaze you, and catch you off guard if you’re not expecting it.

One of their newest songs, “Quarantine”, followed and Phil, Brandon and Nick wound the songs together smoothly and flawlessly, and that transition is one of the coolest parts of their show, just because of how fluid it is. The song isn’t too bad, either, and while it’s only the third completely brand new song the band has added to their live set, it gives the fans just one more reason to love this new version of Red Angel Theory. Still, they keep many of their classics alive, such as “Inception”, which is still one of their coolest songs in my book, partly due to the violin intro (which is of course done as a sample track at live shows) sounds so good. Aside from that, it’s just a killer rock song, with Nick even adding some backing vocals on it, or rather backing screams.

As they geared up for their next song by tuning and swapping out to different guitars, another sample track played, subsiding right around the time they launched into the raw rock number, “Suffocate”, which was proceeded by “The Darkness”. During the silence in between those songs however, Monica informed everyone that “The Darkness” was more of an uplifting song, saying that there’s a lot of negative stuff that can bring you down if you let it, while the song is about overcoming and rising above it. The crowd wasn’t given much time to recover from it before they wound things into their final song of the night, the gritty “When the Dust Settles”, and towards the end of it Phil jumped into the air, in near perfect timing with the drums, making for a true Rock ‘n’ Roll moment.

Like all the bands that played this night, they experienced some technical difficulties, and probably more than their fair share, because for about the first half of their set I had a hard time hearing Monicas’ voice. It was a club issue, and I’m certainly not faulting the band for it, but still, it was there. That didn’t hinder them in any way, though, still delivering an amazing an insanely high energy performance. And if you haven’t experienced it firsthand yet, you really should.

I have to say, I enjoyed seeing them two nights in a row, and it just reaffirmed that they are becoming one of better (and even best) bands in the area. For only a few bucks you can buy their “Rise for Something” EP in iTUNES, so check that out, and keep an eye on their REVERBNATION PAGE for future show updates.

White Elephant was the next band up, and they were fresh off opening the BFD music festival from the day before, where acts like Slash and Megadeth performed. This was also the final date of their little “summer tour”, which had been going on for a little over a month and say the group playing all over the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Guitarist Matt Miller got them going on their first song, “October 5th”, with the rest of the band soon joining in, while vocalist Pete Thomas softly sang the first few lines of the song, giving it a bit of a chilling feeling, before his voice roared to life. It had been so long since I last saw them, I had almost forgotten how much fun their live shows were, but it didn’t take long before I was reminded as they livened things up. They kept the heavy dose of rock coming with “Coriolanus”, which, like most of their songs boasts a tight rhythm section of bassist Josh Armstrong and drummer Ben Rhodes, and has the nice chorus (or pre-chorus) of, “…Holding the knife in your back… Hope that you’ve got a good hold. Holding the knife in your back… Twisting and turning it slow…”

They ran through a ton more songs during the 40-minutes they had the stage, and after their third track, their old drummer Will Jaeger, who was in the crowd, made a comment. “That was pretty good…” he said, joking with his old band mates, and Pete had a nice response to that. “…Good like your sister…” he quipped, proving that over the many years this veteran singer has spent performing, his voice isn’t the only craft he’s been honing. They then moved on with another song, wit Pete throwing in some more comedy, telling everyone to be nice to the bartenders and tip them. “…Don’t drink so much that you think they owe you a free beer, ‘cause they don’t…” he said, noting that if you wanted to give them a handjob, maybe they would give you a free beer.

Ben then ripped into the short but explosive “Another Rapture Missed”, while their next song had a dynamic instrumental outro that Josh, Matt and Ben cranked out. A couple more songs followed suit, one of them being “Girls That Fight are Beautiful”, and afterwards Ben pointed at the man whose spot in the band he filled, as they welcomed Will Jaeger on stage for an impromptu performance with them. “I think I remember most of this.” He said after taking a seat behind the kit, which left some uncertainty among the band as far as how well this was going to sound. It didn’t start off well, and believe it or not it was because Matt flubbed a bit of the song, something Will was quick to point out so he didn’t get blamed for it. They took it from the top and this time it went off without a hitch, and even though Will hadn’t touched a drum kit in months, you couldn’t tell it, as he still had his same old fierce, aggressive style of playing that made him one of my favorite drummers to watch. He could tell it, though, and admitted after the song that by the first chorus he was worn out.

Ben than retook his kit, and they kicked off their final song, “Kill the Headlights and Drive”.

It was one hell of a show, even though they held back a bit (Pete didn’t get out in the crowd and incite a mosh pit, probably because there weren’t enough people up front for that to work), but that was the only aspect where they were more reserved.

Seriously, these guys never cease to both amaze you and blow your mind, and I started questioning myself as to why I hadn’t seen them in so many months.

You’re gonna want to be at the Curtain Club in Dallas on August 16th, because that is when these guys will be releasing their debut album (a six song EP). Don’t miss it.

Capping off the night was yet another Dallas band, and that was Secret of Boris. Sure, I had seen them only a few weeks before, but before that it had been so long since that last time I caught them live, why not see them again.

Their 38-minute long set was a blend of old and new, with the opener “Retro” going in that first column, while “Tonight” is one of their newer tracks. “…It’s about tonight.” singer Cameron Taylor said after announcing the title. Indeed it is, albeit in more of a suggestive way, which is precisely what makes it so good. “Ryan Ragus!” Cameron said during the middle of the song, attempting to hand the spotlight over to the bass player, he wasn’t rocking out a wicked bass solo or anything, though, instead he was drinking his beer. It then turned into a comical moment when Cameron added, “Not doing shit.” The laughs continued after the song when Cameron drank some water and commented on it. “Water is awesome. Sometimes I forget what it tastes like.”

He then asked if anyone there liked eighties music, getting a fairly loud response from their little section of fans. “…That’s not a segue into anything, I was just wondering.” he said. It was a segue, though, and before you knew it drummer Ryan Scherschell and guitarist Ryan Byrd had begun the classic eighties song “Take On Me” by A-Ha. It’s not a song that you would think these guys would cover, but that’s a large part of why Secret of Boris is so enjoyable, because they don’t always do things you would expect, breaking the mold a bit from other rock bands of similar style.

At this point, they were in need of a sample track, and their device that was supposed to play them began messing up, prompting Ragus to do the only thing that made sense, beat it into working. “…It’s called percussion maintenance…” he told Cameron who started laughing at him, going on to say that if hitting any type of appliance doesn’t fix it, then you go buy a new one. His method did work, and as the track kicked on, Cameron announced the title, - “ This is What You Became”. That’s definitely one of their most infectious songs, and was a highlight of their set, while a personal highlight of mine was the following track, “The Watcher”. It was the first of a couple of songs that required Cameron to pick up his guitar, and as I’ve said before, I love the vibe the song creates with its lyrics, and “Something Else” tells just as captivating a story. It was during that latter song that Ragus grabbed the glasses Cameron started the show wearing, but had since laid down, and they looked like pairs John Lennon wore. He put them on and faced Cameron, all the while slapping out the bass lines, and when Cameron finally turned his head and caught a glimpse of his band mate he couldn’t help but laugh.

They were in the homestretch now, and busted out what’s arguably the most fun song of their set, their rendition of Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push it”, resulting in some of the bands fans turning the space into a dance floor. Following in a similar vein was their latest single “How Do You Feel?”, which is one you can definitely groove on if you wish, while the rocker known as “Virus” brought things to a close.

Collectively, Scherschell, Byrd, Ragus and Cameron are nothing short of a well-oiled machine, powering through the technical difficulties that arose and making the best of it, while still putting just as high energy a show as you would expect from them. Also, you’ll be hard pressed to find a band who writes music that’s as fun as what these guys do.

They have a couple more shows lined up, one of which will be in Fort Worth at Tomcats West on July 27th, the other happening up in Greenville, TX at The Hanger on August 3rd. They’ll also be in Vancouver, Washington on August 17th performing at the Couvapalooza. You can also find some free downloads of a few of their songs on REVERBNATION, and if you dig that, then buy “Your Ghost” in iTUNES.

It was a great night with great bands and great people. Sure, things might have been rough at times, but that comes with playing Andy’s and you have each band and every member of the bands for soldiering on, still putting on fantastic shows, and not making a big deal out of it. That’s real professionalism.

Friday, July 12th, 2013 – Who I Am

Apparently, this is the time of year (at least for 2013) to be releasing new albums, because this was the fourth straight Friday I went to a bands CD release show, and this night it was The Circle’s turn to release an album. Not just any album, though, their debut EP, and this long awaited event was taking place at their Dallas home, the Curtain Club.

Days before the show Hazeland had to drop off, though a replacement band was found, and things got pushed back a bit, since that new band took the opening slot. I never caught their name and missed the majority of their set, though they did sound all right based on what little I heard.

That last minute opening act benefited the next band, the Tyler based The Truman Syndrome, who got bumped up to the second slot instead of being the opener. I was quite excited about this, because it had already been five and a half months since the first (and only) time I had seen the group, and out of the numerous times they’ve played D/FW since, I just hadn’t been able to make it to their show. Lucky for me, that was finally about to change.

During their 34-minute set they ran through the bulk of their self-titled debut EP, doing most of the songs in subsequent order. As the curtain opened on them, bassist Jim Taylor held his bass in the air, playing it by using the classic windmill motion, while he and guitarist James Barrera got some feedback going to set up “Never”. They didn’t seem to need any time to warm up, being in show mode almost instantly as those two tore it up on their instruments, while JC Childress ran back and forth across the stage, often jumping up on the monitors while belting out the lyrics.

“This next song’s called You Will Find…” he informed the audience, as Tim Mitchell wound them right into that song. Things only continued to escalate with that one, growing more lively, and on the bridge James jumped down on to some of the steps in front of the stage. That allowed the crowd a better glimpse of his fast paced picking, before he returned to the stage on the chorus, “One day you’ll find, that in time, they will let you down…”

Upon finishing that song, JC took time to state who they were and where they hailed from, adding they felt like they were “…the bastard sons of Dallas…” Indeed they are, what with all the gigs they play here in the metroplex, and I doubt anyone would argue that the Dallas and Fort Worth area is now the bands home away from home. They then launched into a newer song they’ve cooked up, “By the Wayside”, which was quite killer, and at the very least is on par with every track from their EP and left me interested to see what else they’ll write in the future. They returned to their material from the album with a single, but first JC noted they had filmed a video for it, and if I’m remembering right he said shot it in one of the remaining buildings from the OKC bombing, coincidently doing it just a few weeks before the Boston bombing. The onslaught of hard rock music than continued with “Overcome”, which is easily one of their most standout tracks, and had a majority of their fans singing right along.

The brief explanations of the songs continued with JC mentioning Hollywood and how a lot of people move out there hoping for fame and fortune, only to lose it all. He went on to say that there are also a lot of good people out there, too, basically people who don’t only care about themselves, using all that as the segue into my personal favorite song of theirs, “Hollywood Divine”, which boasts a thunderous rhythm section and some soaring guitar riffs. Afterwards, talk turned to religion when JC said something about us (people of Texas) living in the Bible Belt, quickly pointing out he meant nothing by that and didn’t care what anyone believed in personally. Their hometown is definitely part of that Bible Belt, more so than most, and he said the people of Tyler had only recently voted and passed a bill to make the town wet, and he sounded rather impressed when saying you could now get booze in places like convenience stores. “We’re all gonna burn in a lake of fire. We’re all gonna burn by our own desires…” he sang on the first line of “Lake Of Fire”, a song that definitely has some slight religious undertones to it, as it should since beforehand he said they wrote it about people in their hometown (and presumably other smaller towns across the country).

“…Well, I hear the story in you, and you have been abused…” goes one of the later lines, and while singing it JC beat his fist against his head on “abused”, and shortly after James fell backwards (intentionally, I think), laying on the floor for a few seconds while still cranking out the guitar notes. That was their final original song of the night, and Jim took over the spotlight for a bit during his bass solo at the start of their final song, jumping about and moving his legs every which direction while he slapped his bass. I had completely forgotten that they covered the Tool classic, “Sober”. Tim soon entered in as they began to flesh it out more before it roared to life. They do a fantastic rendition of it, and even JC has a voice that is pretty fitting of the song, allowing them to pull it off pretty much to the tee. When they hit “trust me…”, Jim let go of his bass and sent it spinning around his body, making several rotations before he grabbed it and got back to business, which all in all made for a memorable moment and one hell of a way to end their show.

These guys know how to put on a show and command the audience, and they did just that this night. All four of them are extremely energetic performers who certainly pull their own weight, making it hard sometimes to decide who need to be focusing on. And that’s a good thing. On top of that, they write some killer music, and if you like heavier rock to hard rock than you must check out The Truman Syndrome.

They’ll be up in Denton on July 19th at Andy’s Bar, while on July 20th they’ll be playing their hometown of Tyler at Click’s. They’ll be back at The Curtain Club on the 27th, and then on August 3rd you can catch them at Venue717 in Longview, while Click’s will again host them on August 17th. Also, check out their debut EP in iTUNES.

That was an incredible way to get the night started, and on a more typical night, you could probably say they would have been near impossible to compete with, let alone top. But this wasn’t just another typical night, and next up was Red Angel Theory.

They began with one of their newer tracks, “Psycho”, and with its raw rock sound it makes for a fitting opener, as they took charge of the crowd with it. “This next song is called It Often Lies” said front women Monica Koohi, and right after Nick Sarabia beat down on his drum kit while Brandon Deaton proceeded to shred on his guitar. They weren’t about to let up after that, and they immediately tore into one of the songs from their EP, “Shattered”. It’s a very different version than what you’ll find on the EP, though, since much of the lyrics have been rewritten, and the changes seem to be better suited for Monicas’ voice, letting her leave her own mark on the song, verses singing it the way it was originally written with their original front man. Perhaps the best part of it, though was the brutal and primal scream she let out before the final chorus, showing off a whole other side to her vocal abilities.

Brandon, Nick and bassist Phil Sahs never quit playing, and with a few rocking notes and chord changes moved them seamlessly into another new number, “Quarantine”. I had loved the flow their show had, had thus far anyway, but that was a killer segue into what was an awesome song and only made me like the new direction the band is headed in even more. The music finally ceased after that, but not for long, and soon Nick started the sample track intro for one of my favorite songs of theirs, “Inception”. It just has a nice flow to it as far as ebb and flow goes.

No sooner had they finished it then another sample track started, and while it played out it allowed Phil and Brandon to switch out to a different guitar and bass and do some tuning. “It’s about to get a little dirty.” said Monica when they were just about ready, as they launched into another badass newer track, “Suffocate”. That put them at the tail end of 35-minute long set, and now Monica made a little speech about there being “… a lot of negativity in the world…”, and how one of Red Angel Theory’s goals is to help you stay positive and not let things bring you down. “…That’s what this next song is about.” she finished as they started “The Darkness”, which is a bit of an uplifting/inspiring song, despite the heavy sound. No sooner had it come to an end, then the quartet tore into their final song, “When the Dust Settles”, bringing things to an impressive finish.

Over the past few months, Red Angel Theory has really stepped up their show schedule, even doing a slight bit of touring, and you can tell all of that is really starting to payoff for them. They’ve become incredible tight and in synch with one another and I love the methodical approach they take to their set, often bridging the songs together, to give it an epic flow.

It’s only been about six months since they played this stage and Monica made her Dallas debut with the band, and really, that’s not all that long ago, so it is kind of remarkable that they’ve found their groove with one another so quickly. They’re clearly not stopping there, though, and are continuing to push themselves to the next level.

Their next gig (and last one on the books at the moment) is going to be Saturday, July 20th at The Hanger in Greenville, so check that out. Also, listen to and buy their “Rise for Something” EP in iTUNES.

Next up was the main course of the night, and that was The Circle, who no doubt had the biggest crowd this night.

A minute or two before the curtain opened, vocalist Don Mills suddenly addressed the crowd, encouraging everyone to pack in tightly around the stage, saying they would soon be taking a picture of the audience and wanted everyone to be a part of it. He then stopped, as their intro began to play.

When the curtain finally opened, it was only the instrumentalists on stage, guitarists Craig Nelson and Alan Sauls, bassist Kenneth Henrichs and drummer Marc Berry, who fired up their first song, which I believe was the lead track from their “Who I Am” EP, “The Other Side”. Don then rushed on stage, grabbing the microphone, and they were off. They, too, decided to throw one song after another at the fans, though on a smaller scale than the previous act, and as the song came to an end Craig immediately started “406” with some rip roaring guitar action. It was slightly different from how I remembered it in the past, and that was due largely to Don, who sang it differently. I certainly don’t mean that as an insult, though. In fact, it made me like the song even more (an it’s already one of my favorites of theirs), and the different tone he used on it gave it a lot more depth in my opinion. Oh, and the occasional backing vocals Kenneth threw in only intensified it.

Upon finishing it, Don made a toast to all the bands playing this night, using his signature line, “…Local music is by far the best music that has never been heard…”, a statement I certainly agree with. “Can I get an amen?” he then roared as the crowd cheered and applauded. They didn’t have much time to spare, though, and soon they moved on to “Beggars Can’t be Choosers”, another song Don sang in a slightly different manner, and again it made me like it even more. “Skeptical” was another great song from their set, and definitely one of the heaviest, and when it was done they tapped another cut from the EP, “Failure”. It’s one of their deeper songs, emotionally speaking, and after wrapping it up, the man responsible for it (at least the recording of it) Alex Gerst, who owns Empire Sound Studio and produced The Circle’s EP, got pointed out by Don.

He praised the man, who is arguably the best producer in the area, and eventually was interrupted by his band mates who started “My Trip to the Desert Sucked”, causing Don to quickly whip back into performance mode, getting into the strong rhythm section the track has. It was followed by what I assume was one of their newer songs, since it was one I wasn’t familiar with, but they soon got back to the stuff from their EP, doing what is essentially the title track, “I Am”. “Why do you try to walk away? Why do you try to bring me down? Why can’t you just understand this is who I am…”  Don smoothly sang on the chorus of that heavy hitter, mixing in a slight growl from time to time, which only makes the song pack more of a punch. While the final notes rang out, Marc suddenly got their next song going, and if the beats weren’t enough of a giveaway, then it was certainly clear what the song was once Kenneth, Alan and Craig layered their bass and guitars over it. That song was their single, “Sleep On it”, which meant they were at the end of this show, but before embarking on that final number, Don first got the crowd to participate some, by having them clap along to the beat. Towards the end, Don held the microphone down towards the audience, allowing Kenneths’ nephew to sing (or rather, scream) a few lines before taking back over, as the band brought their 36-minute long set to an epic close.

Usually, that’s that, as they always end on their lead single, but I found myself wishing they could do at least one more song, and evidently so did everyone else, because the chants for an encore soon started. It seemed possible, not only because it was their big night, but also because four-fifths of the band were still on stage, and didn’t look like they were about to unplug their instruments and call it a night. So, the fact that they did end up doing an encore wasn’t too surprising, though the song choice was.

They had a few more originals they could have done, but instead, they had worked up a cover to make this show even more memorable, and it was by Dallas natives Drowning Pool. The song came from the iconic “Sinner” album, but wasn’t the one most people would think of, instead they busted out a rendition of “Tear Away”. It was a perfect for the group, though it wasn’t just the killer cover of it they did that made it stand out, but the ensemble cast they had (unexpectedly) join them to help out. JC from The Truman Syndrome joined them on stage and sang a portion of the song as Don ceded control to him. Eric Hawkens, front man of Awake in Theory, was even in attendance, and while reluctant at first, he was eventually coaxed up on stage to help on singing a few of the lines, while Don and Xtina Lee from Solice finished up the song.

This was definitely one of the best Circle shows I’ve seen thus far, and as is the case with all CD release shows from any band, there was a certain level of excitement in the air, from the fans and band alike, and that was an energy they fed off of, using it to propel their show. And the fact that they paid tribute to what is one of the most well known metal bands from Dallas, well, I still find that cool, and it was a nice treat, because I got the impression they had readied that song specifically for this one show.

This EP of theirs, “Who I Am”, you can already purchase it on iTUNES, and at around four bucks, it’s a steal. They also have a couple of gigs lined up this weekend, the first of which will be in Austin at Spinner’s on July 19th, while on the 20th they’ll be in Waco at Fast Eddies.

There was one final act up this night, and that was Phavian, who had come all the way from Los Angeles, and this Dallas show was one of the early gigs on their over three month long tour.

Earlier this year they released their latest EP, “Meridian II”, and were now embarking on a nationwide tour in support of it, and fittingly so, most of their material this night drew from that release.

Not their opening song, though, which came from “Meridian I”. That song was “Feldgrau”, and got their 39-minute long set off to a good start, and I found it to be a nice introduction to their music. By the way, their music was a mix of progressive rock and metal, played quite well by guitarists Puyan Hassani and Rob Cubillos, while Patrick Hassani and Jason Lobell solidified the rhythm section on the drums and bass, respectively. The you had the vocals, which weren’t quite what one would expect to accompany that genre of music, and I mean that in a good way. I felt front woman Elizabeth Matson had more of a classical sound to her singing, which complimented the music quite well. The final minute and a half or so of that song was all instrumental, during which time Elizabeth really got into the music, alluringly dancing about the stage.

The journey through their concept albums continued with the softer “Adam’s Ale”, the lead track from “Meridian II”, and without the roaring guitars or deafening drums to compete with, Elizabeths’ voice was truly able to shine, revealing what a truly impressive voice and range she is capable of. Afterwards, she got behind the keyboard that sit on stage left as they cranked out the subsequent song on the record, “Purl”. They ventured into more of their jam band side with that track, as that eight minute long song is largely instrumental, covering the spectrum from sounding nearly acoustic at times, to some hefty parts you could bang your head to.

However, it paled in comparison to their most epic song of the night, “Watersong”, which on the album clocks in at almost twelve minutes. They hit a snag a few minutes in, though, when the music suddenly ceased and Patrick began desperately asking if he could borrow one of the other band’s snare drums. “…I broke mine…” he said. It took a few minutes, but The Truman Syndrome eventually came to the rescue, giving them their snare. “Now to pick up where we left off.” Elizabeth said as they jumped right back into the song, which I felt wound up being the best song of their set, despite that little hiccup.

As things drew to a close, Elizabeth thanked the other bands, saying it was nice to be a part of what was such a special night for The Circle, and also shouted out her “sister” in Red Angel Theory, saying it’s always great to see women rocking out. She then pointed out that Monica wasn’t her actual sister, just in music. That then led them to their final offering of the night, which was a track from their upcoming “Inversion” EP, “Green Iris”. It served as a book end of shorts for their show, ‘cause much like the opener, this song was pretty metal, more so than some of their stuff, making it seem like things had come full circle. And while not singing, Elizabeth could again be seen succumbing to the music as she danced and swayed about, conducting her body in excellent synch with the song.

Earlier in the week, I had checked out some of Phavian’s stuff online and liked it, but I was pretty impressed with how their songs translated live. There’s multiple layers to each and every song, all of which are very intricate and you actually get to see that at a live performance, which is why I enjoyed their music even more live. That and because of the rocking live show they put on. Puyan, Rob and Jason put on a high energy show, often thrashing about while shredding on their instruments, while Patrick was killing it on the drums, and there’s no do doubt that Elizabeth was able to hold her own with them performance-wise.

Their tour will continue through October 5th, and for a list of all the dates they have, go HERE and see if they’ll be coming to a town near you. I’d also recommend downloading their “Forward” EP, which features one track from each of their four concept records, each of which tell a piece of a much larger story. If you enjoy those samples from that FREE release, buy their music in iTUNES, and in the near future they should be releasing the final two EP’s that are part of that story arc.

They’re a very interesting band, highly original and very creative, and one I’ll definitely be seeing again whenever they return to Dallas.

As usual, this was another excellent night of music hosted by the Curtain Club, and another big congrats to the guys of The Circle on the release of their debut record.

Sunday, May 26th, 2013 – The Benefit for Micah Creed

The bands of the Dallas/Fort Worth music scene have been banding together a lot lately for various causes, from the fertilizer plant explosion that destroyed the town of West, to the tornado that ripped through Moore, Oklahoma, which is fantastic. It’s great to see people come together for stuff like that, but it’s even better to see bands unite for a cause that isn’t also a major news story, and that’s what was going on this day before Memorial Day.

This night was in support of a 7-year-old boy, Micah Creed, who has a rare brain tumor, with the proceeds of this night going to benefit his family to help with the expenses incurred by his treatments.

Over a dozen bands had been assembled to play three clubs, The Curtain Club, the Liquid Lounge, which hosted several acoustic artists, and the Boiler Room.

The Curtain Club was my first stop of the night, where Mara Conflict was getting ready to rock the stage, and it had been a few years since I had last seen them.

Their 39-minute long set began with a sample track, a speech rather. It was the “Mad as Hell” speech from the 1976 film Network, making them one of a few bands I’ve seen recently who have used that speech at some point in their show. Perhaps that says something about the state of our country right now.

The five-piece then ripped into their first song, and they were a lot more hard rock than what I remembered, especially with these first couple of songs, where front man Joshua often let out some brutal screams, something I’m not always a fan of, but I didn’t mind it.

“How the fuck are y’all doing?!” he asked the handful of people after finishing their second song. He then went on to say they have been working on some new stuff and had with them a demo they would be handing out later with two new songs, and the next one was one it. It was “Broad Brush”, which in my opinion was their best song of the night. It’s borderline metal, with Dylan rapidly firing off the beats from his drum kit, while Ben and Jarrod roamed about the stage, quickly hitting the strings of their guitars, giving an energetic performance to accompany this killer song.

They moved on to what I assume is another newer one, “You Sleep”, then did another track, which had a very lengthy instrumental part, allowing bassist Charlie, Dylan, Jarrod and Ben to show their prowess as both musicians and performers. They lightened things up ever so slightly with “Closure”, which didn’t seem to have quite as much screaming as their previous songs and made clear what a great singer Joshua is, and his voice has got a nice range to it. Make no mistake, though, this was still a song you could headbang to. They cranked out one more before ending with a track from their self-titled EP released in 2009, “The Fault is Mine”, which gave a strong finish to their set.

It was a good show, and despite the lack of fans they still hold back, and gave it their all. They’re an awesome band, and I had forgotten how entertaining their stuff is, especially their new songs, and if you’re a fan of hard rock music, than you definitely need to give Mara Conflict a listen.

You can buy their three song EP in iTUNES and they do have another show lined up for June 30th at Wit’s End in Dallas.

As soon as they finished I headed over to The Boiler Room to see what was going on there.

A band by the name of As Above, So Below was rocking out, a little ways into their set, and for a Sunday night they were playing to a very sizable crowd. They definitely had the largest draw out of any of the bands that I saw.

The group was fronted by Jacob Pierce, perhaps best known from the defunct band Faint the Fiction, who made a name for themselves, even if it was mainly just here in the D/FW music scene.

He and the rest of his band mates, bassist Johnny Reeves, guitarist Max and drummer Joey Payow were putting on a real performance, which was enhanced by the lights they had brought with them, which set up the amps as they shone all over the stage. “This next song’s called Paint it Red” Jacob told the audience, who was soaking in every little detail of the show. They followed it with the single from their upcoming debut EP “Built to Fail” as well as a few other songs, one of which was a cover, before ending with “Truth be Told”.

Their music was heavy and loud, with a bit of a sharpness to it, which alone was more than enough to get people engaged, but the stellar performance made sure they held everyone’s undivided attention.

That’s what really captivated me, the primal attitude they had towards the show, giving it their all and letting it be very raw and real. Oh, this also happened to be their first ever live show, and they managed to make a big impression on people, both old and new fans alike, and as soon as they finished almost everyone in the club was talking about what they had just seen.

It may be a little different from what I typically like, but they instantly made me into a fan, and I look forward to seeing them again, and many other times at that.

They have a show coming up at Trees in Dallas on June 22nd and from the way they talked this night, their debut album should be out in the near future (say a few months from now) so stay tuned for that as well.

I stuck around for the next band, which happened to be Red Angel Theory, whom I had last seen on this same stage about a month and a half prior to this.

 One of their newer tracks, “Psycho”, got their show going, right after an intro song played, and they tore into the song with a fury, in particular Phil Sahs who thrashed about and rocked out on his bass, and later in the song guitarist Brandon Deaton let loose some sweet riffs on his axe. Next they got into their older, fan favorite stuff with the heavy “It Often Lies”, which was immediately followed by “Shattered”. They experienced some technical difficulties on that one, and while drummer Nick Sarabia was singing the backing vocals throughout the song, his voice went unheard by the crowd. He didn’t stop singing, though, but without his voice the song lacked the fierce punch it usually has. That’s not to say it was a disaster either, though, as Monica Koohi can muster an equally as vicious sound to her voice, so it still sounded great, even if it was silent for a second or two here and there.

Afterwards, they wound things into another new song, before doing the song I was most hoping to hear before heading back to the other venue. That song was “Inception”, which Monica set up by saying it was “…About starting over and new beginnings…” That masterpiece song was a definite highlight of their set, and I stuck around for the one after it, which happened to be another newer one, “Suffocate”, during which Brandon  owned a brief guitar solo.

It’s not that I didn’t want to see the rest of their set, but I’ve seen Red Angel Theory more than a few times, and I couldn’t say that about the other band.

As for their set night, sure there was a little technical hiccup, but aside from that it was great, especially in terms of energy. They seemed like a completely different band than the one I had just last month, appearing more dedicated than ever, like they were on a mission and they weren’t going to stray from it. Presumably that mission was to put on as spectacular a show as possible, and they accomplished just that.

You can find their three song EP in iTUNES and they do have a few shows coming up over the next months, beginning with June 29th at Hailey’s in Denton. On July 12th they’ll be at the Curtain Club in Dallas and then on August 3rd they’ll be in Greenville, TX at Hartline’s.

I ducked out and headed back to the Curtain Club. Hazeland was getting ready to rock the joint, and I had been wanting to see them for months now but just hadn’t been able to. Actually, I had seen them once before with their original vocalist, and with all the screaming they were too hardcore for my musical tastes, but they had a new singer now and what I had heard online I really liked.

The band began right about the time I got over there

The rhythm section of bassist Mike Hayes and drummer Clay Wise got them going on their first number, “Look Here”, which was made to be an opener. “Hey, hey, hey turn on the gas and kick a little ass…” sang front man Brad Amos  on the chorus, before formerly introducing each member during the instrumental break, which was ruled by Robert “Ozz” Veliz, who did a wicked guitar solo. They followed it with another track from their newest EP, the rhythmic “Hustle”, which had Mike and Brad singing most of the song in unison, their voices combining together to make a very interesting sound, and a fantastic one at that. And when he wasn’t singing, Brad was often seen jumping about center stage, obviously getting into the music they were making.

The next song they did was a new one, a brand new one, and Brad mentioned they would soon be heading into the studio to work on a new record due out in the fall, and this song “Control” would be on it. I found it to be one of the best songs of their set, maybe even the best, and it was the furthest away from their old material, and there was even a noticeable difference between it and the bands current music, with “Control” sounding much more solid. It wasn’t all new music, though, and next they did the slightly older “Killer of the Year”, which was a very tune, both in terms of the song and performance that went along with it, making it easy to get into.

Upon finishing it then Ozz started having some problems with his gear, when one of his pedals messed up, then a sample track began to inexplicably play, causing all four of them to look around wondering what was going on. That got resolved (well, somewhat) quickly, and they carried on with their next song, a track from 2011’s “Carnival of Dreams” record “Backstabber”. It did sound better with Brad at the helm, and I liked the funkiness of the first half of it, before it turned into a full-blown rock song near the end with dazzling guitar riffs, some pulsating bass lines and thunderous drumbeats.

They had saved the best for last, and “Empty” started to close out their set. “You never loved me, you used me like a toy… but I won’t be fooled again, I know it’s just all one big empty LIE!” Brad sang on the songs bridge, or rather spoke part of before belting out that last line. That’s definitely the best song in their arsenal, but they weren’t quite done just yet, closing out their 28-minute long set with a cover song that had reggae vibe to it, and they owned it.

I hate that it took over six months for me to see the band with their new lineup, but it was worth the wait, and they put on a great show.

There was a bit of theatrics to their show, with Ozz wearing a hockey mask of sorts, though it was painted blue with some black mixed in on it making a very cool pattern that was very attention getting. Then you had Mike, who looked kind of Slash-esque with the hat he sported, but not in a copycat sort of way.

All around I really enjoyed it, Brad’s a great singer, it was good seeing Clay back on the drums, even though he has been with the band for a few months now, and they all made for a very entertaining show. That’s all the more reason I’m glad I was able to see this show, because this would be the final time that Brad and Ozz would perform live with Hazeland, and one short week later they both announced that they had resigned from the group, and with Ozz gone that makes Mike the only original member left.

Hazeland shows no signs of stopping, still going into the studio to record, and it will be interesting to see how the reforming process goes. Best of luck to everybody involved, both current and now former members. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for everybody.

If you’d like to purchase their music, you can find both records in their store on REVERBNATION. They also have a show scheduled for July 12th back here at the Curtain Club, but I guess that could all depend on if they can solidify a new lineup by then or not.

Part of wished they had played a little longer, but on the flip side I was alright with the shorter set, because when they finished I hightailed it over to the Boiler Room to see The Circle.

I think they were still on their first song when I walked in, and being the headliner here at the Boiler Room coupled with the fact that it was still so early (they started around 11:30) that afforded them a rare opportunity to play as long as they wanted to.

After their first song (or at least the first one I caught) the band wound things right into their next song, but first singer Don Mills raised a toast to all bands that played this night, commending them for coming together in support of this worthy cause. They then tackled one of my favorite songs of theirs “406”, which is raw and brutal in the best possible way with Don screaming on some parts of the track and singing on others, like the chorus, “Can you bring me back to life, ‘cause I’ve been dead for so long…”. The song didn’t go off without a hitch, and not too far into it Kenneth Henrichs started experiencing some trouble with his bass.

To kill some time Don said he had tried to see all of the bands that played, but pointed out there was no way anyone could and again praised everyone who partook in the event, from the organizers to the bands and of course the fans for coming out. The bass still wasn’t up and running, but they weren’t going to wait around anymore, and Don plainly pointed out they weren’t the first band to ever have something like this happen, and sometimes all you can do is push on. They did just that, and while “Beggars Can’t be Choosers” lacked the full rhythm section, Marc Berry was able to compensate for it with his massive drum kit, and guitarists Craig Nelson and Alan Sauls didn’t seem affected by it, still rocking out on their axes.

Kenneth rejoined the band sometime on their next song, and to solve the problem„ the bassist from Enamored (who played earlier) set up his rig and let Kenneth use it. He seemed to be making up for last time, instantly getting into the song and just dominating things as he slapped the strings of his bass. The gritty “I Am” came next, and around the final chorus Don asked everyone to give them a thumbs up or thumbs down to let them know if it was good or not. “I hope you liked it.” He said, adding it would be one of the cuts on their debut EP. They kept things moving with a couple more songs, and after the first one Alan rolled them right into the next with some great guitar chords, while Don counted them in to it.

“Skeptical” was another personal highlight of mine, and by this time they were all operating in perfect synch with one another, becoming a true force to be reckoned with. After finishing it, Don glanced at his watch to check the time, then remarked, “I don’t know why I keep looking at my watch, it’s dead.” That led them into another song, during which Alan broke a string on his guitar, though he continued to play it, switching to another one before doing “My Trip to the Desert Sucked”. Near the start of it Craig leapt into the air at the same time Marc pounded out a beat on his drums, which was pretty cool to see. Then at other times, mainly on the chorus, Kenneth added some backing vocals to the song with his loud, vicious scream, complementing Dons’ voice nicely.

They dusted off one of their oldest songs, “Somewhere”, and later in the song Craig owned it, shredding on his guitar during his little solo. That led them to their final song of the night, which was of course their current single, “Sleep On It”. It has something different than any of their other songs, making it standout even more than their other stuff already does, and was (and is) the perfect way to end their set. Before getting to the bridge, Don brought Kenneth’s nephew, Tyler, to the stage and the young kid helped in the singing/screaming, and did a great job.

That seemed like the end, but the final notes had barely finished resonating when someone shouted for one more, then the sound guy joined in, in egging the band on for one more. Don told everyone there was one song they had decided to cut from the set this night, and that ended up working out rather well, because they were now able to do it for the encore of their nearly hour long set.

The set was one of the best I’ve seen them do, even with the small technical issues, and they’re clicking better now then even, at least out of the year that I’ve been seeing them. They’re definitely improving with each show, and then I think their time in the studio has helped them excel even further. So, if you want to see an amazing live show from a band that writes killer music, then go see The Circle. You’ll be glad you did.

Head over to their REVERBNATION PAGE to download some live cuts of their songs, and buy “Sleep On it” in iTUNES for a mere $.99. Hopefully that will hold you over until their EP is released. Also, they have a show coming up on July 12th in Dallas, at, you guessed it, The Curtain Club.

They were the perfect end to what had been an excellent rock show, and I enjoyed seeing a band I was unfamiliar with, a few I was but can never see enough, and then one I had been wanting to see for some time. It was a fantastic night, and it was great seeing people come out to support such a worthy cause.

Saturday, April 13th, 2013 – A Night of North Texas’s Finest

There were several great shows going on this night in Deep Ellum, but I settled for the most rock filled event of the night, which was taking place at The Boiler Room.

As far as I knew there were only three bands on the bill, but upon walking in I discovered there was a fourth, and it was the Wichita Falls based rock outfit, Twicebroken.

It had been quite awhile since I last saw them, so it was a very pleasant surprise.

A lot of their 37-minute long set was newer material, including their opening song which began a fury of Rock ‘n’ Roll. “This next song is called “Can’t Stop I Won’t Stop.” announced frontman Aaron Mullin, giving themselves just a few seconds of downtime before guitarists Bryan Crowe and Brandt Holmes fired up the intense number. Upon finishing it, Aaron mentioned that they had finished up a tour not long ago. “…It was awful…”, saying that their van had broken down while in Michigan I believe, leaving them stuck there for a few days. He obviously didn’t have good memories of it, and the way he talked it won’t be something they do again anytime soon. They did a couple more songs next, one of which was called “Crawling Out”, and then arrived at a single of sorts from their self-titled debut album, “Already Gone”. You really got to see how tight they are with one another during that one, with bassist Nick Knowles, Bryan, Brandt and Aaron all operating in perfect synch with the beats Billy Pennington was pounding out, thrashing around to them and such.  Another song they did from that album was “Walkin’ Away”, which has a more Southern Rock flare to it, then slowed things down with a much more sentimental song. Aaron stated that he wrote it about a friend who died in a crash about a year ago and he wanted to write something in her memory. I think the song was titled “Walk with the Angels”, and there was a duality to it, being both very beautiful and quite sad. They started winding things down with “The Enemy In Me”, and wrapped up their set with what is arguably the best song in their repertoire, “Preacher Man”.

Their set was chocked full of rock and matched with one of the most intense live shows you can see. That was what drew me to them whenever it was I first saw one of their shows, and they’ve only honed their skills since then, making them a true force to be reckoned with.

Hell, on any normal night they would have stolen the show right out from under the other bands on the bill, but this wasn’t a normal night.

Definitely go check out Twicebroken’s album in ITUNES, and while they don’t have any shows lined up at this moment, you really should go see them if you have the chance.

Second up this night was Waking Alice, who had made the trek from Fort Worth to Dallas to do their first show of the year.

They got started with what I think is one of their newer songs, and one I’m quite fond of, then tackled a couple of songs from their newest EP, “Retribution”. One of those was “Treason”, which drummer Jon Levey and guitarist Brandon Brewer got underway with some thunderous beats and roaring notes. “…Come on one more time, play the game with me…” Rus belted out as they reached the songs chorus. It is the most rocking song on their EP in my opinion, and that showed during their performance of it, which was just a little more vicious than some of their other stuff. “This next song is called Scars.” Rus announced, before they started the slightly darker (in a musical sense) sounding song, which has some thick rhythm parts where Brayton Light tore it up on his bass. That’s all evened out, though, by Brandon’s killer solo that closes out the song, however, it was outshined by the instrumental break/jam during “Biggest Lie”. Brandon captured the spotlight during it, just riffing and going with it, but Brayton and Jon certainly added their two cents on it, while Rus took a backseat. They do that at every show, but the most interesting thing is it’s always a little different, so it never gets stale. After that powerful number, they scaled things back ever so slightly with “Fates Design”, which tells the story of Rus meeting his now wife, but not in a cliché way like most of those songs are done in. They got back to the high-energy rock stuff with “Wasting Time”, though I believe it was that song that, before starting it, Brandon cracked a joke. Now, I couldn’t understand what he said, which might have been the same problem other people had, resulting in essentially no laughter. “You better laugh at that, or we’re not gonna play this next song.” he said. Rus chimed in, “I think he’s serious.” He did seem it, but it wasn’t long before they started the song, following it with another classic from the bands catalog, “Chasing Memories”. I love the new stuff they’ve done with Rus, but some of their older material, like that one, are at least every bit of good, and it’s given all new life with the slightly different approach Rus takes to singing it. They had one song left in the chamber, and it was brand new one no less. “…It’s That One…” said Rus, saying it again and pointing out that, that really was the name of the song. I really liked it, and out of the handful of songs they churned out with Rus at the helm, this one now stands out as being one of my favorites and it was great way to end their 42-minute long set.

Which each show I’ve seen, they’ve continued to improve and tighten up, delivering a better show each time, and this night was hands down the best Waking Alice show I’ve seen yet.

It’s a nice lively stage show they put on, and coupled with their music, it should have no problem holding your attention.

Their next show is going to be on June 1st at Andy’s Bar in Denton, and it’ll be one you want to see. And be sure to head over to ITUNES and pick up their albums. Again, the newest is “Retribution”, but they have some older stuff available as well, featuring the bands previous vocalist.

The night wasn’t about to slow down, especially with Red Angel Theory being the next band up.

Their 32-minute long set was kicked off by one of the new songs they’ve cooked up, which is just one of the great things that has come out of Monica Koohi fronting the band. It was clear right from the start they, like all the other bands on this bill, were taking a no holds barred approach to their performance, and tore through that commanding opener. They weren’t about to lose the momentum they had built with that one either, as guitarist Brandon Deaton immediately fired up their next song, “Shattered”. Early on in the song drummer Nick Sarabia could be seen flipping his drumsticks up in the air then catching them, as well as adding some backing vocals during the chorus, adding some extra force to Monicas’ voice (not that she needs it) which is what makes that song stand out so in my opinion. They let loose another newer song on the audience, before taking a breather, as Monica announced who they were and such, also mentioning what they were going to do next. It was “It Often Lies”, another heavy song of theirs with Phil Sahs bass lines and Nick’s drumming working well together. “…Standing tall and proud, fighting till the day we die. Open up yourself, now it often lies…” Monica sang in her one of a kind voice, right before the songs second chorus. They followed it with what is arguable their best song, “Inception”, a true powerhouse of a song, that even comes across as an anthem of sorts. Monica got ahead of herself with the next song, saying it was one, before Nick corrected her. Instead, it was another newer one, called  “Suffocate” I believe, and out of the three newer tracks they played this night, it was my personal favorite. Now they got to the song Monica was ready to do a few minutes before, but first she had to introduce it. Her speech involved stating that Red Angel Theory was “not about negativity”; rather they are about taking any negative thoughts and energy and turning them into something productive and creative, like music for example. The song was “The Darkness”, and despite the title, there are some positive, almost uplifting moments of the song. They went for a strong finish, as Nick started them right into their final song, “When the Dust Settles”, which happens to be the title track of their debut EP from last year. He provides some more backing vocals on that one, this time in the form of some ear piercing screams, which gives the song an extra layer of depth. It’s one hell of a song, and served as the perfect way to end their set.

I liked this Red Angel Theory show much more than the previous one I saw with this current lineup. Partly because now I knew what to expect and Monicas’ unique voice wasn’t as foreign to me as it had been before, and partly because they’ve got more shows under their belt now, and that experience showed.

They were awesome when I saw them a few months back at another Deep Ellum venue, but they were really clicking this night.

Monica was often racing around the stage, with a certain urgency to her step and her singing, which made it easy for your eyes to be glued on her. Brandon and Phil were a little less mobile, but they still have a presence about them. Besides, their musicianship speaks for itself, and you can admire it all, from the subtle nuances to the more intricate riffs each one cranks out. As for Nick, well, he’s a beast, plain and simple.

This was the best show I’ve seen them do yet, in either of the bands lineups, and it makes me excited for what they’ll be like down the road.

Go pick up their new EP, “Rise for Something”, in ITUNES. Then, if you want to hear those tracks live, go see them at The Worship Lounge in Colleyville, TX on May 17th. They’ll be up in Greenville on May 25th at the Texas Tattoos and Art Gallery, then on June 29th they have a Denton gig scheduled at Hailey’s. And on July 12th they’ll be back in Dallas rockin’ the Curtain Club.

This had been an amazing show so far with some killer bands playing, and now it culminated with Early Pearl taking the stage.
They ripped into their 50-minute long set with “Get Out”, and as soon as they started it you could practically feel everyone’s excitement as the adrenaline level in the club skyrocketed. As it came to an end, frontman Bishop Booker pumped one of his fists in the air, while he repeatedly shouted the final line, “Get out!”. They kept things moving right along as lead guitarist Chris Jackson wound them into another high-octane track, “State of Affairs”, before slowing things down just a bit with “Breakdown”. The coolest part of that song (and one of the most memorable moments of this show) came towards the end of it, when guitarists Chris and Ryan Maynard, plus bassist Chris Ivey all moved to stage right and formed small circle of sorts. Then, Maynard proceeded to hit the strings of Jacksons’ guitar, while Jackson did the same to Chris’s bass, who in turn played Maynards’ guitar. Like I said, it was cool to see, but above all it was a fun moment, and you could tell the three of them were having a good time doing it. “…This is Hindsight.” Said Bishop after he had talked with the crowd for a moment, which started them on a string of new songs, however, out of all of them, it was one of the best in my opinion. As serious as they were about rocking, there was also some entertaining banter between some songs, like here when it was said that Bishop had once gotten “…someone pregnant just by looking at them.” If I’m remembering correctly that all started because some of his sweat had dropped on a girl at the front of the stage, and he was joking that she couldn’t even talk after that happened.

They got back to the music with “Sooner Or Later”, and after someone bought them some shots, which they of course subsequently did, they tackled “Letting Go”. “Will I see you later, ‘cause I’m letting go? Will you open for me, or will you let me go?” sang Bishop on the chorus, amidst a barrage of drumbeats from Bobby Primm, and shortly after Jackson started his knockout guitar solo. Upon finishing it Bishop went to say something to the fans,but it came out wrong and rather nonsensical. “…I’m sorry.” He apologized, “I’ve been drinking and can’t speak English.” That got a laugh from everybody, and they then set up their next song, a very new song, and Chris asked everyone not to be too hard on them if it sounded horrible. It was only the second time they had done it in front of an audience, but I don’t think they had much to worry about. The song is called “Sure and Jaded Symphony” and it’s a killer song, being almost melodic at times, and others it’s just raw rock, which is exactly what you expect from Early Pearl. For the next song, Bishop announced he was going to do a little screaming, adding, “…I usually only scream if I’m with the right woman.” Chris chimed in at that point, “Or the right man.” “Man, I’m not even gonna talk to you after that…” said Bishop, while Chris just laughed. That led them to “Say It”, a song that is unlike any other of theirs, and even though they hadn’t been holding back in terms of their performance, they certainly didn’t pull any punches on that track.

As their set started coming to an end, Bishop made a brief speech. I don’t recall everything he said, but one thing was along the lines of there are a lot of bands out there who aren’t staying true to themselves. He went on to say that they supported what everyone of their fans was doing, since they support them. “…Early Pearl shows are about wearing funny hats…” he said as he kind of pulled a hat of a girls head. Overall, the takeaway message was to be yourself, which is a good message to send in my opinion. Now, they got back to some stuff from their album, both of which are fan favorites. “Dear lover, I need you to listen one more time. I’ve tried to deny you, but you just slowed my stride…” Sang Bishop, as they got “Turn” going, before bringing things to a close with “This Is”.

The fans were shouting for an encore, even though the two Chris’s were the only members left on stage at this point. “I’m sorry.” said Ivey, “In ten years we’ve only written ten songs.”

The fans, myself included, were eventually okay with that, but I’m not gonna lie, I was hoping they might bust out “Regret” for an encore. Maybe, next time.

As it was, it was still an excellent show, though.

To somewhat repeat what I said about the last Early Pearl show I saw, they put on real rock show. Sure, there are many bands that do that, but Early Pearl is a head above most others. Their music is still some of the best I’ve heard, and the live show is one of the best I’ve seen, and they won’t leave you disappointed.

In a month and a half now I’ve seen Early Pearl as much as I did in 2008 and 2009 combined, and will no doubt see them at least a few more times before the years over with. You should do the same, and while they have no shows scheduled at the moment, keep a check on their FACEBOOK PAGE for future show updates.

Also, head over to their SOUNDCLOUD PAGE to download their entire “This Is” album for free, as well as some live cuts of several of their new songs.

This was one hell of a rock show, and I’m glad I decided to spend my night at the Boiler Room.

Saturday, March 31st 2012 – Texas Music Unites

Tonight was an incredible, special night for several reasons, and despite feeling like shit from being diagnosed with strep throat only 24 hours prior to this show, I still didn’t see that as a reason to miss this one. Why was it special? Well, for starters this show marked the official launch of Texas Music Unites, who, as the name suggests, it out to unite the Texas music scene and help elevate all the talent found here to a new level. There was also an amazing line-up of talent taking the stage, and what other venue in Dallas would be best suited to host this caliber of talent than the Curtain Club? If those two things weren’t enough, WhiskeyBoy Radio was presenting this show and my boss, Matt “WhiskeyBoy” Blake, was hosting the event… My bad, I think he prefers to be called the “evil network executive” over “boss”. So, the stage was undoubtedly set for epicness, and epicness it did get…

I got there not long after the first band, Cold Bloom, had started, and as I paid I happened to see the Texas legend himself, “WhiskeyBoy”. I wondered in and began to pay attention to Cold Bloom, a band I have heard of before, but never actually heard. The voice of Josh Miller was what grabbed my attention from the get-go as it sounded amazing. It even reminded me of someone in particular, though I can’t think of who right now. They ran through some songs, one of which was titled, “Medicate”, and after awhile Josh turned it over to his band mates, leaving the stage while Phil Powell rocked out on the drums as guitarists, Jayson Pilkinton and Geramy Mays, and bassist, Kori Sinister, churned out some notes as well. Josh returned after a bit, and one of the songs they did then was the most intense of their set, “Burnt” I believe it was called, which found Josh doing some hardcore screaming. That’s not typically what I like, but it sounded killer.

Their set was phenomenal, and not at all what I expected to walk into. The band has an amazing progressive rock sound with a tinge of metal. They are a definite must see, with both the show and music being great, and I will definitely make a point to see them more often now that they are on my radar. Speaking of seeing them, they have a show on May 14th at Trees opening for In This Moment.

Up next was Fantasma, who was of course introduced by the host of the night, “WhiskeyBoy”. A semi-serene sounding sample track began their set, before Michael Kudlicki roared to life and began pounding away on his drum kit, while vocalist, Dale Wilkerson Jr. or “DJ”, added to the percussion by slapping another drum with his hands. All the way the spacey, otherworldly sounds echoed in the background. It’s pretty dramatic and really builds suspense, before Dustin Daulton and Dan Castaneda rip into the song, “Ra”, with their guitar and bass, respectively, and really get it underway. Dan and Dustin really let loose at the instrumental bridge towards the end of it, leaving their posts on each side of the stage and moving towards the center, just rocking out. Dan did so much in fact he knocked over the stool that sat there in case DJ wanted to use it. That was the only noticeable “fault” I could find thus far, was that DJ wasn’t on his game like he usually is. Turns out, he had, had his gallbladder removed a few days before, so not being up to par is completely understandable, and because of that they had enlisted a guest vocalist to help them out on some songs. The front man of Carmeci, who is named Carmeci, joined them on stage, taking the stage left mic from Dan and added some killer backing vocals, which at times sounded more like lead vocals, to “Dancers and White Lines”. He and DJ sang each chorus, “I can’t wait for your world to change…”, while Dan moved over to stage right mic to add his screams of, “…STEP BACK, LET GO.” Two songs in and my jaw just might have already been touching the floor in sheer awe, and there was still a lot left of their 42 minute set, too. Next, Dustin started them off on “The Chase Scene”, which I still think has the best sample track intro/outro ever. “This next one is called The Good Son.” stated DJ, as they did another stand out track from their album, which I do believe was another that Carmeci helped them out on as well. Speaking of their album, “Stories of Earth Women”, I wasn’t familiarized with all the material when I saw the CD release show last December, so I didn’t know what all they did and didn’t do. But in listening to it, the closing track just never struck me as being one that would make the live cut, though it is a personal favorite of mine. So, when DJ said the following song was “The Rest to the World”, I was ecstatic. The piano intro for the song played out, which can be very misleading, as the band eventually tears into an all rock song, with Dan doing his signature move of stomping around on stage. The mesmerizing, “My Little Centerfold”, came next, and then every Fantasma fan who was there got a special little treat… The debut of a brand new song titled “Fire and Blood”. Like some of their other tunes, it was hard to get a feel of it from the initial intro, which I thought almost sounded like it belonged as the background music to some of the very first Super Mario Bros. video games, but once it got going, it slayed. Very great tune, and based on this, I’m looking very forward to what else they will crank out in the future. Now, it was time to end their set, which was of course capped off with “Colors Run Red”. When the song subsided in the final moments, Michael left his drum kit, as Dan and Dustin stopped playing, while DJ crooned the final few lines, before they thanked everyone and said goodnight.

As I said, DJ was far from being at his peak level as a performer, but I didn’t feel like it hindered the performance in any way. He still put on as good a show as he possible could, and for any energy he lacked, Dustin and Dan more than made up for it. And having Carmeci stand in as a backing vocalist added to their sound exponentially. I’d really like to see this happen more often, even when DJ is 100%, and if it doesn’t and you missed this, I’m sorry, it was your loss. Be sure to pick up their record, “Stories of Earth Women” on iTunes for only $9.99… It’s well worth it, and if you see that the band is doing a show near you, go see them. You won’t regret it.

Next up on this fantastic bill of Texas rock bands was one who had been absent from the live scene for a while as they took time off to record their debut EP. The band was Red Angel Theory, who got a very enthusiastic intro by Matt “WhiskeyBoy” Blake.

Guitarist, Brandon Deaton, drummer, Nick Sarabia, and bassist, Phil Sahs, began the first song as Matt wrapped his intro up. Those three guys got their first song, “It Often Lies”, going before vocalist, Justin Ranton, walked on stage and the show began. You could feel their presence before, but once he got on there it skyrocketed. Man, what a hell of a way to start the show, and while part of me wondered if it could get better from what the past band did, this song right here proved that it could. Brandon began the next song, “Shattered”, a song that finds Nick singing, or more rapping in a way, some of the backing vocals. It sounds great on the recordings, but the way his voice and Justin’s intertwine live was something else entirely. At one point Justin knelt down near the drum riser, singing his part with such passion, and then waiting for Nick to do his thing before his [Justin] next part. There was only one bad thing at this point, and that was that since I felt under the weather I was sitting at the very back of the Curtain Club, while the large group of people who were already here were up front, hindering my view. It didn’t diminish my excitement for what was going on, but it did impact my view, and I could tell I missed some stuff on stage. Next up was “No Regrets”, which Nick got going by building up with some quick beats. Again, it had been an excellent show thus far… And it was about to get a whole lot better. “Inception”, the first and possible best track on the record, was played next. During the middle of the song Justin took a moment to thank the host of the night. “This song is for you, Matt Blake.” He said, remembering that in Matt’s review of the album he pointed out this one as being his personal favorite song. This one just has all the right elements, getting off to a slower start before exploding at the chorus, a chorus that is insanely catchy I might add. It then slows back down on the next verse, still managing to pack a punch, though. Then it makes the vocals the highlight at the end as Justin sings, “I can’t remember what I came here for. Was it good for you? Can’t you see, all the memories turn and pass us by like the sands of time?” It is perfection, pure perfection. Justin announced the next song, “Promised Land”, which was the only tune they did this night that cannot be found on their record. It gets off to a nice start, having some killer notes from both Brandon and his guitar as well as Phil and his wonderful bass. However, even after all that the highlight of their set had yet to be performed. I found this out only recently, but when the band went into the studio to begin recording, the song that became the album’s title track was still being hammered out, therefore,it had never been played live… Until now. There was a longer pause in between this song and the last than there had been at any other point in their set, but it was worth it as they soon tore into “When the Dust Settles”. This is another song that showcases the vocal talents Nick has, though in a much different way than earlier. On this one he does more screaming, especially at the tail end of the song as he screams out, “WHAT IS LEFT!” while Justin sings, “When the dust settles.” Afterwards, they had one final song of an all too short 29 minute set, putting it to an end with “The Darkness”.

In regards to the show, this was hands down the best one that I’ve seen Red Angel Theory do. Granted, I’ve only see them twice before this, so I don’t have much to draw on, but it is evident that in their time off they honed their skills, too. I recall Justin being a very good front man, but tonight he dominated. Phil was a beast on the bass, while Brandon shredded it on the guitar. And Nick, well, from the fleeting glimpses I caught of Nick, he was a machine back there on the drums. Red Angel Theory was good before, but tonight they elevated themselves to a completely new level. And if they can continue to do this every time, there is no reason they won’t soon become one of the best bands currently in Dallas.

Purchase the bands EP, “When the Dust Settles”, on iTunes. You can of course get physical copies at shows, too (along with shirts and what not). Speaking of shows, they have several coming up over the next few months that you should really get out to, beginning with Saturday, April 14th at Six Flags in Arlington. You do need to pay for admission to the park to see that show, but if you want to go out, ride some roller coasters for the day and hear some badass rock music, then Six Flags is the place to be. On Friday April 27th they will be in Fort Worth playing at The Aardvark. Then Friday June 15th will find them back in Fort Worth, this time at Tomcats West for a show that is being presented by WhiskeyBoy Radio, Sawed Off Productions and my very own, The Music Enthusiast. We three groups are also doing a two day benefit show for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation on August 3rd and 4th at the Ranch in Arlington and Red Angel Theory will be playing the event that Saturday, August 4th, so come out and support. Oh, and listen to THIS episode of WhiskeyBoy Radio where the entire band was in-studio and did some songs.

The band of the night was up next, and to add to it, the curtain stayed closed this time as Matt “WhiskeyBoy” Blakes’ round face soon poked through. This was quite possible his best intro of the night, as he instructed everyone to pull out their cocks and stroke them during Moving Atlas’s set… Yeah, that’s the kind of wordsmith WhiskeyBoy is.

He disappeared, though the curtain soon opened on vocalist, Dunagin Gaines, guitarists, Ricky Dansby and Ben Scott, bassist, Geoff Lucke, and Ross Rubio, who’s drum set was bathed in such light for most of the show it was hard for me to even see him sitting back there. The music escalated before they really ripped into the first song of their 50 minute set, the title track of their latest EP, “Machina”. This definitely set a great mood for the show, especially at each chorus when Dunigan sings the line, “Behold, I send you out as sheep among the wolves…” in such an eerie and ominous manner. Indeed, the mood was set, and it was clear it was all about rocking out. That song had barely ended when Ross started back up on the drums, beginning the mighty, “Welcome Home”. I’m not trying to overstate this, but yeah, I felt crappy. Still, hearing them do that song, one of my favorite Moving Atlas tunes, I couldn’t help but get into it and start banging my head to the beats. They followed it up with one of the singles from this newest EP, “Crawl out in the Cold”, and then did rocked out one I didn’t know at all. I know the band spoke of doing a song from “Et Al” to celebrate their seven years together, so I’m not sure this one of those tunes or something completely different. When it was done, they waited a few moments before doing the next song, I assume to build anticipation. If that was the reason, it worked for me, as I wondered, “What are they going to do next?” Ross then but a beat down on the drums as Ricky, Ben and Geoff raced along with the killer intro to “5280”. The onslaught continued with the title track of their 2009 EP, “Red Shelter”, another semi ghostly song, especially at the line, “…You can’t take this from me, my hands are untied. I know what it feels like to be alive. If you stay topside then soon you will die. I beg you to come down…”. A sample track of a women speaking began to play once that song ended. What was said I don’t recall, but it served as a nice set up/segue into the next song, the epic, “Muse Accuser”. On the album, while I like the song, I’ve never been much of a fan of it. But live, live it translates into something far different than what you get just in listening to it. The ebb and flow it has makes the live performance of it, as all the instrumentalists can (and do) switch from in-your-face intense playing to a calm, relaxed style in an instant. The same goes for Dunigan, too, who shows off a little more of his softer singing side on this song. Next up was an “older” song as Dunigan put it, as either Ricky or Ben (I couldn’t see who for sure) started the opening line of “Year of the Rat”. “Parachute”, another track off the “Elephant Gun” EP, came next, and since they saved this older material for last, it had lead me to believe the title track would close out the show. Alas, that was sadly not the case, as I haven’t been to enough shows to have heard “Elephant Gun” nearly as much I would like to. They still closed the show in spectacular fashion, though. This night was a bit of a who’s who of the local music community with several notable local musicians attending. One of the bands hanging out here was Serosia, and for this final song Dunigan invited the bands singer, Lucas D’Agata, on stage to help with the singing. This was another one I was clueless to, but whatever it was, they knocked it out of the park.

I’m still a newer fan to Moving Atlas, as they finally managed to suck me in with their music a couple of years ago now and I haven’t seen just too many shows in that time frame. But each time I do see them, they make one thing clear; They may well be the most talented band here in Texas that is currently on the local circuit. They have the professionalism and showmanship, the music is top notch, and practically every quality a national act should have, they possess. A lot of other people I think have similar thoughts about them, too, because while the Curtain Club had a nice crowd for most of the bands, the venue was packed while they were on stage. The only time I’ve seen the Curtain this packed recently was at The FEDS reunion show a couple of months ago, so it’s nice to see that a hometown act can pull out this many people… Even if part of it was because this was their first show in a little over three months.

You can see Moving Atlas at Andy’s Bar in Denton on May 4th, and be sure to listen to and purchase their music on iTunes. The still new “Machina” EP, as well as the “Red Shelter” and “Elephant Gun” EPs, and lastly the “Et Al” record.

One final band was one the bill for the night, but sadly, not many people stuck around for them. This is one thing that grinds my gears, and I think I may touch on it a little bit here. As packed as the Curtain Club was for Moving Atlas, only a few dozen remained for Dawn Over Zero. I know it was late, but that’s not an excuse. Sure, I will leave a club before some bands, but only IF I know I don’t like their stuff. My point is, that if I only went to shows and saw the one band I went there for, then there would be a ton of my favorite groups that I never would have heard of. Going out and supporting one band is great and respectable, but staying to support the others is even better. It just upset me a bit because in this instance here, Dawn Over Zero is one of the most amazing bands in Texas right now and they don’t get to Dallas too often and are deserving of more than a few dozen people watching them. So folks, if you go to show, stick it out, because you never know when you might come across a band that you could like even more than the one you originally went to see…

Getting back on topic, Matt had one final introduction for the final band, the Austin quartet, Dawn Over Zero

They opened with the first song from their “Unity and Division” record, “Caricatures”. As soon as it started, the band came to life, especially lead guitarist, Steven Abbenante, who thrashed around to every beat that Mack Linan pounded out on the drums. And they didn’t let the small crowd bother them, either, as singer and guitarist, Mike Mears, did everything he could to engage the listeners. They next did the super infectious, “Catapult”, and towards the end of it Mike and bassist, Jonathan Boyce, harmonized as they sang a line. I dare say it sounded gorgeous, which totally contrasts the typical hard rock edge they have. That song never really ended, as they continued on with some notes which eventually turned into an older favorite, “Take You Under”. “Kidney Stone”, one of the bands few songs that is slightly less in-your-face, came next, and almost as soon as it ended Steven began a catchy, repetitive note on his guitar. Mike once again asked everyone to get into the song by clapping their hands. Some obliged, others didn’t seem to care that much. That went on for a few moments before Mike released the floodgates and started spewing the first lines of “Give and Take”. “There were times in my life when I took a look in the mirror, and I watched as the day goes by, and I think of the times I’ve tried to be a better man then I am…” That one has been one of my favorites of theirs for awhile, from hearing it live before the album was released and not knowing what it was, and each time I hear it live now, I love it a little more. It’s seriously one of the best songs they have… But they followed it with some other pretty killer tunes. “Short On a Dime” was one of those songs, and how could you not like a song with the line, “…I need a ticket for the next train to the moon, and I’m short on a dime…”? They wound that one right into their current single, “Carry Me Home”, with the final notes of it being transitioned into “The Obvious”, as Mack pounded on some of the cymbals. That right there could have been the show for me, because so far it had amazing. Thankfully, they still had time for one last song, though. The day that “Circulation” is no longer in rotation will be a sad one. Hopefully it never will happen, and luckily it did not tonight, as this masterpiece closed out 40 minutes of greatness. During this song, Mike did something I’ve never seen him do before; he ditched his guitar. Not for all of it, but at least the last half, and focused just on being a front man, telling everyone, “I want to see you jumping up here!” to which some did.

Astounding set, and I know I may not have said as much about them as the other bands, but sometimes it is better to keep the best things simplified. And that really is the case here, because if you want to find some good ol’ original Texas brand Rock ‘N’ Roll, you really need look no further than Dawn Over Zero. Buy “Unity & Division” in iTunes, as it is one of the greatest things ever produced. Also check out their self-titled EP and their Demo EP, plus the single, “Catapult”. And go see one of these upcoming shows: April 13th at Bar Six in Harker Heights. April 20th at 502 Bar in San Antonio, and then April 28th at The Dirty Dog in Austin. They will also be performing at Weirdo’s in Austin on May 19th.

This was an AMAZING night and I am now even more proud to be able to say I am part of the WhiskeyBoy Radio Network (Actually, I didn’t even know I could be more proud to be a part of this network, but apparently I can.) Go check out all of these bands if you are unfamiliar with them, as they will astound you. Go “like” Texas Music Unites on Facebook, because I can pretty much guarantee they will be doing great things for the music scene as a whole. Check out the Curtain Club, because it is the ONLY place in Deep Ellum where you can always see an all-local rock bill. And finally, head over to and check out all the fine programming they (we) bring you. Matt and his crew host WBR, Chrys Starr and his band of misfits do WBR: East Coast, while the two co-host the Double Shot Podcast every Thursday night. And I of course bring you The Music Enthusiast Podcast, the only show where you can find stellar local talent from around the globe (literally). Oh, and “Producer Lance” will be starting WBR: Gulf Coast in the future. And be sure to click on each individual show link to find the iTunes page and subscribe to every show so you will never miss an episode.


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


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

Album Review: “When the Dust Settles” by Red Angel Theory

Some people prefer quality over quantity… I am not one of those people. That’s not to say I like the quality to be crap, but rather that my preference is both of those two things. However, with “When the Dust Settles”, the long awaited debut EP from the Dallas hard rock band, Red Angel Theory, the quality outweighs the quantity by far.

The EP is comprised of six songs which span just a little over 23 minutes, but it is some of the best 23+ minutes of music your ears will ever hear.

Two immediate stands out to me when I listened to the record were “Inception” and “The Darkness”.

The former one begins with more of a unusual instrument to the band, as you won’t see any of them playing it live; a violin. It’s one of the most gorgeous violin pieces I have heard, though it is also quite ominous sounding, before it dies out and gives way to the rock music. I find this to be the most original sounding song of the EP, as it has the perfect build by beginning slower, ramping up at the choruses, and then slowly subsides at the tail end.

“The Darkness” is the longest offering on the EP, and goes along somewhat of the same lines as the previously mention song, with the opening guitar notes resembling that of feedback, and they set a ghostly, end of the world feel to the song, before Nick Sarabia’s drumming breathes some life into it. The softer side of Justin Ranton’s vocals are also shown on this song, at times sounding almost like an eerie whisper. Also, on the chorus, the song manages to break away from the vibe established on the verses, as it explodes out of nowhere and then tapers off just as quickly. I think the fact that they can pull such a transition off so flawlessly only displays their superb musicianship.

Another track on the EP is “Shattered”, which, like every song on the album, begins with an in your face intro and also has the most hard rock vibe of all the songs. I find this one, one of the more interesting songs on the record, as it incorporates Nick on lead vocals, who does his part in a rap style. Even more unexpected however is how well the rapping blends with Justin’s singing, as they intertwine quite well.

Something about “No Regrets” makes it come across to me like a classic rock song, just with a very updated and modern twist put on it, and I think it due time this will become a classic of the bands.

The guitars, bass and drums are obviously an essential part on every song, but on “It Often Lies”, Brandon Deaton guitar work, Nick’s beats, and Phil Sahs bass notes work in perfect harmony, with each instrument contributing an integral part to the track, as well as getting their own moment to shine.

Then you of course have the title track, “When the Dust Settles”. Justin has a vast vocal range, which can be heard throughout the album, but some of the most intense, hardcore screaming comes on this song and is supplied by Nick. “What is left?” he screams repeatedly in the final moments of the song, which is layered over Justin’s singing, “When the dust settles.” There is also a pretty stellar instrumental bridge featured on this song as well.

All the songs have a certain similarity about them that gives the entire thing a great flow, but don’t misinterpret that, as these aren’t the same song in a different packaging, much like mainstream radio is these days.

It’s truly a great record, and should stand an excellent chance at being named one of the best local releases of the year.

Until March 31st, you can pre-order the “When the Dust Settles” EP for $1 HERE.

Red Angel Theory will be performing at the Curtain Club on Saturday, March 31st. The show will serve as the launch party for Texas Music Unites and will include an staggering line-up of talent, with tickets costing only $5.

Find Red Angel Theory on:

Red Angel Theory is:
Justin Ranton - Vocals
Brandon Deaton - Guitar
Nick Sarabia - Drums/Backing Vocals
Phil Sahs - Bass

August 11, 2011 - Against All Will

Perhaps you’ve heard of Jeff Current. He fronted the Dallas band, Seven Story Drop for many years. Then, nearly three years ago, they broke up, so Jeff could pursue his music career in Los Angeles, singing in a new band, Against All Will. That band was created by former Puddle of Mudd guitarist, Jimmy Allen. AAW has played several shows out in the part of the country, and even toured a bit here and there, but never made it to Dallas… Until tonight. The band was making their Dallas debut at non-other than Trees. The perfect place for this homecoming of sorts. I was going to be here regardless, but, to make it better, Trees sent out a promotional email the previous week. And at the bottom they offered anyone who wanted it a spot on the guest list for two select shows. This was one of them. Yeah, you can’t beat a free rock show.

Yeah, I was excited to see Against All Will. But I was almost equally as psyched to see the opener, Red Angel Theory, who had wowed me a few weeks ago at the Curtain Club. Their intro song started playing at 8:29, and it was Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”. Seemed like an odd choice to me at first, but it actually flowed quite well into the song they opened with. The curtain opened on guitarist, Brandon Deaton, bassist, Phil Sahs, and drummer, Nick Sarabia playing the tune. While vocalist, Justin Ranton, stood a little out of the way, over at stage left, for a few seconds before walking to center stage. They ran through a few songs, before Justin said of their next song, “This one is called Shatter.” And both it, as well as the next song, which was their single, “Hard to See”, really showcase Nick’s backing vocals, which is more screaming. Even for a point during “Shatter” he somewhat takes the lead, before Justin begins screaming out the songs final lines. And after “Hard to See” another two or three followed to fill their 38 minute set time. During their final song, Justin launches into a little speech, which I don’t remember all of, nor could I hear all of it. At one point I think he said the point of Red Angel Theory was “…To discover who you really are…” And later he asked everyone to ask themselves what they had done to make a difference in the world. “…It doesn’t have to be anything big. It just has to mean something to you…” I liked these guys even more this time then I did before. Their music is just killer, and I’m quite excited about their debut album, which Justin said would “hopefully” be out in the fall. I’d promote their next show here, but I don’t know when that is. So, all the more reason you should go “like” them on Facebook and keep tabs on what they do next.

My Lucidity was next. Their songs were either a hit or miss with me. And for the most part they were a miss. I really enjoyed their music, it was just their singer’s voice, or lack thereof. His voice couldn’t really carry the real rock songs that they played. But on some of the songs they slowed things down a little, when they were joined by Orion Pitts on the violin. He did probably four songs with them altogether (maybe five) and about three of those were the ones I dug the most. And on those, his voice did sound a bit better.

And then it was time for Dallas “hometown hero” of sorts, to play his first hometown show in nearly three years.

At 10:33 Against All Will ripped into the first song on their “A Rhyme & Reason" album, "Swept Away”. Then the curtain opened, and vocalist, Jeff Current, was knelt down by the monitors, rocking out to the music. They followed it right up with “The Blue”, then Jeff took a moment to express how glad he was to be home. “…I’m seeing a lot of people who I haven’t seen in a long time…” he said. He also said something about wanting everyone to have fun, but to be nice. “if there are any pricks here, then check your ego at the door.” he told them. Luckily, there weren’t (or they listened to Jeff). Then, he encouraged everyone to sing along with the next song, if they knew it. The song was “Let Go” and a lot of people seemed to be familiar with it, as they helped out on the chorus for instance. “…I’m not your game or your puppet on a string. It’s getting a little too carried away. Hey, girl. I’m not your Play-Doh, you can’t just bend me and mold me into what you want…” They were only three songs in, and I was already amazed. And I didn’t expect to have that kind of reaction to them. “How many of you have gone out with a person that you just hate. You even hate the way that they breath?” Jeff asked the crowd (which was pretty sizable for a Thursday night.) “Well, that’s what this song is about, and the chorus is pretty simple. So, if you pick up on it, sing along. This one is called I Hate.” I just want to not I love the strategic pause taken in this song. The line is “…I hate the stupid face you make when you come (brief pause) home…” Their stagehand brought an acoustic guitar out for the next song, and handed it to Jeff. “Strap that acoustic on, Jeff.” said guitarist, Jimmy Allen, as he was hooking up the acoustic axe. “So, how many of you guys have had your heart ripped out, thrown on the ground, and been stepped on by a pair of Jimmy fucking Choo’s?” Jeff asked.  “Well…” he continued. “…If you were ever in a relationship with someone here, now’s the time to look them in the eye and flip them the bird. As they started the awesome, “All About You”. As it came to an end, Jeff backed away towards the drum riser, as Jimmy and bassist, Cello Dias, played some light notes. Then. he returned to the mic. “…All about…” he sang as Cello and Jimmy really came back into the song. And as soon as the word “…you.” left his mouth, drummer, Phil Gonyea, started pounding away drum kit. The cymbals, the skins, he was wildly beating on everything. “This next song is called Nothing Good Anymore.” said Jeff, who used the acoustic guitar on this song as well. “Cause the world is fucked.” They followed it with a newer song of theirs, “You Can’t Change Me”, and then did “Discard You”. Near the end of “Discard…” Phil started into a very familiar beat, though I didn’t really recognize it at the time. “Do you want to play this game with me, Dallas?” Jeff asked the crowd. He began prowling back and forth along the stage, shouting out, “Scream! Scream! Scream!” Then, he began singing the song they had turned this into. And when he got to the part of this rock anthem that everyone knows, the fans started chanting along with him. “…We will, we will rock you!…” That went on for four to five times, and after that final time they returned to the tail end of “Discard You.” “…I discard you. I discard you.” sang Jeff, finishing the song. Their stagehand brought the acoustic guitar back out to him for the next song, “Tomorrow and Today”. And after it, Jimmy asked the people a question. “So, Dallas. Do y’all want to hear a new one?” Everyone seemed excited at this. “These are my peeps.” chimed in Jeff. “I think they should get to hear a new one.” And what they cranked out next was probably their most intense song of the night. And honestly, I thought one of, if not the, best song they played. It ranks right up there with “All About You” in my book. “Well, Dallas. It’s that time of the night.” Jeff said when it had come to an end. “This is going to be our last song of the night.” Though I didn’t hear her, some girl near the stage apparently named the final song. “She said it.” said Jeff. “This is The Drug I Need.” Which put an end to their 53 minute long set.

I’d been looking forward to this for a long time, but I didn’t expect to like the show as much as I did. But they were incredible. Jeff has definitely grown as a front man, and that’s saying a lot. Cause when I first saw Seven Story Drop, oh, 4 1/2 years ago, he quickly became one of my favorite local performers. Hell, they are all excellent showmen. When they finished they expressed their thanks to everyone for coming out. Jimmy handed out a few of his picks to people at the front, and Phil did the same with his drum sticks. And each of them shook the hands of different fans. And Jeff left everyone with this. “…We hope to see you all next time. And we promise, it will be very, very soon.” All I can say is it damn well better be. Cause after finally getting a taste of a live AAW show, I want more.

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July 22, 2011 - Red Angel Theory

I arrived at the Curtain Club a little later than I would’ve liked to his night, but I didn’t figure it was a huge loss. Until I walked in and heard the music of the 5 piece, Red Shift. They were finishing one song, and their singer and, at that moment, third guitarist, Tommy Barker, introduced the next song as their newest single. “Gone Away” was what I understood him to say, and it was easily the best song I heard them do. But they only did three more afterwards, before their time was up. And for those last three Tommy ditched his guitar, and focused solely on being a front man. What I saw of this Denison, Texas based band impressed me. They were great performers, and they should have a bright future at this.

I’ve been to the Curtain a lot this month, so much so the times have run together in my mind. But either the first or second weekend of this month I was here, and there were some CDs laying on the tables. They were of a band called Red Angel Theory. I listened to the single that was on it, and they sounded pretty good. So good in fact, I decided to come out this night with the sole purpose of seeing them. And I wasn’t disappointed either. They went straight into their 32 minute long set, as vocalist, Justin Ranton, asked Dallas what was up. They really didn’t waste anytime in between songs, just moving from one to the other. As the second song neared it’s end, Justin moved out of sight, to the stairwell, and let guitarist, Brandon Deaton, bassist, Phil Sahs, and drummer, Nick Sarabia, have the spotlight. He did the same thing after song three. As the music died out, the intro track for the next song began, a mixture of keys and a violin, which sounds phenomenal. Then Justin returned, with a guitar. “This song is called Hard to See.” he said when he got back to the mic. (Note: This was the song on the single CD I had picked up.) Another intro track played after it, leading into the next song, and Justin ditched his guitar after that one was over. The next song, I think, began with Nick doing some light beats, before Brandon name ripped into it, as (SINGERS NAME) made his way back on stage. And they finished their show with two other tunes. I wasn’t a real fan of any of these bands coming into this show, so I can be completely un-objective when I say Red Angel Theory was the band of the night. They have the presence and showmanship. In fact, I quite enjoyed watching Phil slap and attack his bass. Their music is awesome, and as great as “Hard to See” is, there were two or three other songs they did that I liked even more. And Justin has a pretty good vocal range. His singing voice is much better than most, and he could turn it into a scream in a split second, which was best displayed in their final song. The only thing, they apparently don’t have a very big, or perhaps not too loyal, fan base. When the door guy put me down for them when I got there, I noticed mine was the first mark they received. I glanced again when I left, and they totaled two people this night. Sad, cause I could easily see them headlining the Curtain, if they can just bring the people. So check them out!

Revolution of Knowledge took the stage next. I almost think I’d seen them sometime in the past, but maybe not. Either way, I could’ve cared less for what I heard. Their singer either screamed the lyrics or sang them angrily. Neither way sounded too good. And it seemed like every other word he said was “Fuck”. Come on dude, increase your vocabulary a bit. Now, I’m certainly no prude when it comes to cussing, but, and I’ve said this before, I did it a lot when I was in like, Jr. High. Because, at that age, you think it makes you look cool when you use words like that. Then, when you get older, you realize it really doesn’t. I don’t know, I guess I just find it juvenile when all a person knows how to say are words that would be bleeped out on basic TV. I did agree with one thing he said though, “…Local music is the best music there is, that no one’s ever heard of.”So true. Music and vocally I may not have liked their stuff, but I’ll give them this, from a performance aspect, they were great. They brought a real, raw intensity to the stage, more so than the other bands this night.

Next up, the curtain opened on what seemed to be the most professional band of the night. Faint the Fiction. Well, before the curtain revealed them, their intro track played. The line/quote from Pulp Fiction, “…And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers….”. Though it got had much more of it, both before and after where I started the quote. Then they tore into their first song as the curtain opened. Vocalist, Jacob Pierce, looked like a character from The Matrix at the start. Wearing what looked like, or at least similar to, a trench coat and a pair of sunglasses. And I guess his cool looking dreads can help perpetuate that look, too. They did a couple of songs before doing one from their newest EP. “We have a new CD called Lies and Alibis.” Jacob said. “This next song is on it, it’s called Blame.” They did a couple more afterwards, before doing what Jacob said was one of his favorites from their older album, “Moving On”, then did a cover song. And finished their 39 minute set with three more tunes. I’d seen them once before, like a year ago, and remember thinking they were good, but tonight I was completely enthralled by their set, right from the get-go. Kinda like I touched on at the beginning, they have a real professionalism about them. Their crowd was few tonight, but they all acted like they were playing to a sold out House of Blues. And guitarist, Chad Meyer, and bassist, John Reeves, are just as entertaining to watch, and they killed. They’ll be playing Tomcats West in Fort Worth on August 5th. On the 19th they’ll be at the Boiler Room in Dallas, and the 20th they’ll rock Andy’s in Denton.

The Funk Among Us was headlining, but I just decided to call it a night. Two nights in a row where I’ve left before the headlining band. That goes against almost everything I stand for, in regards of supporting local music. Definitely can’t do that again for a LONG time, unless I know I dislike the band.

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