This was going to be a long, extremely fun day and it was all going down at Whitewater Amphitheater.
This was the Dia De Los Toadies, and featured twelve bands from Texas performing on the venues two stages over nearly nine hours, ending with of course, The Toadies.
The gates were supposed to open at two, though they didn’t because after arriving shortly after two they were just opening them. It was still close to an hour before the first band would hit the stage, though, but fortunately, this outdoor venue is well shaded and has a decent amount of seating, so my dad and I could at least relax to some extent.
A minute before their scheduled start time of three o’clock, the Austin quartet, O Conqueror, walked onto the Biergarten Stage. The band had won a battle of the bands contest, which could make one skeptical, but they were picked by two members of The Toadies, which boded well.
I thought they got off to a rougher start. That or it just took me a little while to warm up to Dustin Doering’s voice. It’s not bad by any means, I guess just more different from what I typically listen to, though, and definitely fits in the Indie genre of music. It took several songs, but I did start coming around, but sadly, by that point their time was almost up.
In hindsight, I did enjoy them more than I thought I did at the time, and they are well worth checking out, especially if Indie music your thing.
They will releasing their debut album, “King Me”, at SoCo Sound in Austin on November 16th. They’ll be keeping busy until then, too, with a show at The Prophet Bar in Dallas on September 22nd. On September 29th they’ll be performing at the Pecan Street Fest in Austin, with a show at Stubb’s in Austin the following night. Also, if you go their OFFICIAL WEBSITE and sign up for their email list, you can download two FREE tracks, which are pretty good.
The few dozen people who were already there then made the short trek over to the main stage, which is lacking in trees like the ones that surround and shade the Biergarten stage, but luckily, the covering on this stage sticks out far enough that even at three thirty it had created a small shaded area.
They had someone to introduce the bands on the main stage throughout the day, and he said that they always liked to really get the day going with a Country band, and the one for this year was the Dallas based, The King Bucks.
Now, The King Bucks are highly regarded up here in the metroplex, and from the couple of times I’ve seen them, I’ve wondered to myself, “Why?” The last time I saw was at an Irish themed pub in Frisco, TX, and what I saw of their show was nothing but covers of old Country songs, none of which I found even remotely entertaining. Now, that’s a shame, since the band is comprised entirely of notable local musicians, including one I’m a fan of, Danny Balis.
Anyway, all that said, it should be clear that I wasn’t looking too forward to this set.
They opened their 40ish minute set with the lead track from their “Bar-B-Que Drugs album”, “Treason”. It’s a very fast paced song, and saw Keith Killoren acting as the main vocalist as well as a guitarist, while most of his other band mates assisted him on the chorus, “But I see your eyes for the treason, the beauty queen never falls…”. Hmm, they weren’t nearly as bad I remembered, in fact, I really enjoyed this song. Keith stayed on as the vocalist for a few more songs, before keyboardist, Chad Stockslager, said they wanted to welcome Danny Balis to sing a few songs, as he traded instruments with Keith, who took over bass duties. He then sang a few songs, one of which was “Gentle Lovin’ Man”, and sounded like what a true Country song should. I first saw him last year at a few song swap shows and became an instant fan, and he has an astounding voice and a real knack for writing music. They kept rotating, and later on in their set Chad said they were going to do a song about “a girl in a yellow hat”. “It is called, The Girl In the Yellow Hat.” he said, in a smooth, soft voice, that sounded like it belonged in a TV commercial or something, while he played some keys. “Will you stop it with that shit?!” Joe Butcher asked him at one point of their set, to which Chad responded, “…I’ve got a good thing going on over here…”. Getting back to the show, Chad sang lead on that last mentioned song, a very piano driven song that livened things up and could have easily incited some dancing. Joe sang some songs as well, and for one he sat his guitar down and took a seat at the pedal steel guitar, as drummer, Chris Carmichael, started them into “The Undertaker”.
Several other songs were squeezed into that time-frame, since a lot of their material is on the shorter side, and I must say, I loved it all. Which is great, since like I’ve said in the past, I rather enjoy when a band can prove me wrong on my previous assumptions of them.
There’s a lot of talent in the band, and really, how many acts have you seen that have four members who are highly capable singers?
The band keeps fairly busy, and has a show at Adair’s in Dallas on September 22nd. On the 29th they will be at Lola’s in Fort Worth. Then in October you can catch them at the Lake Highlands Octoberfest on the 6th. On the 13th they will be at The Gin Mill in Dallas, and they’ll be back at Adair’s on the 27th. Then, on November 10th, you can see them at Tolbert’s in Grapevine. You can also check out both their records in ITUNES.
It was back over to the secondary stage, where the former Dentonites but current Austin based band, Cartwright, was set to take the stage. Out of ever band that played this day, they were the only ones whom I flat out did not like. One song their singer and guitarist, Ben Russell, said was about a time he “…took too much LSD and called my mom to talk about it…”. I mention that because for this show he looked like he had taken too much LSD, and appeared almost totally out of it. Couple that with his inability to sing well, and you got a performance that was very lackluster. Their only saving grace was the fact that the other instrumentalists brought a lot to the table. Nick Cornetti was a machine on the drums, and they keyboard that Joe Cornetti played was very audible, which surprised me, since most of the times keys tend to be an underlying instrument, and he made some killer sounds on it.
If you would be interested to check out their music, you can do so HERE.
Back over on the main stage, Sixteen Deluxe stood at the ready, and once they got a brief little introduction, they were ready to embark on a 37 minute long set.
This was a far cry from their set last night, and much like I said about that show, this one, too, had its positives and negatives. The only negative was that I found it difficult to hear vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Carrie Clark, for most of their songs. On the other hand, there was nothing restricting them this afternoon, so they were able to give it their all. After their first song, they went straight into “Over and Over”. Yeah, their psychedelic/dreamy sound was coming through a lot better today, and was quite good. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the bulk of their material, so I can’t elaborate a whole lot, but it was a very enjoyable set, and I often found myself liking each song more than the one before. Here and there they stopped and had a few words with the audience, while others then powered through, bleeding the songs into one another. At the tail end, they did a song titled, “Large Animal Clinic”, before saying that they had one more left. I believe Carrie who started “Idea”, with the rest of the band joining in when Steven Hall smashed down on the drums. It’s a very well written song, with some soaring guitar lines from Chris “Frenchie” Smith, and they landed a good hook with that one, “…Now things are changing for you, yeah. Looks like she got an idea…”.
I mentioned there was nothing restricting them this show, well that made for a stellar performance. “Frenchie” could shred pretty hard. At one point he even jumped up on an amp and rocked out for a bit before leaping off of it. Carrie could play pretty well, too, while bassist, Jeff Copas, had a nice style of rocking out on his bass.
It was a very fun performance, too. Carrie often wore a smile, and you could tell they were all enjoying being up there performing.
In case you missed my review of the acoustic night of the Dia De Los Toadies, I’ll tell you again how to find their music and such. You can get their albums on their BANDCAMP PAGE at the “name your own price” (so potentially free) and you can also pick up “Emits Showers of Sparks” and “Year One” in iTunes. They also have a gig next month at ND in Austin on October 6th.
I like these guys, and hope to see them again sometime.
As we started to walk back to the other stage, I heard the next band getting ready to start. “We’re called The Phuss, and we’re going to play some Rock ‘N’ Roll music for you.” said Joshua Fleming.
It had been awhile since I last saw this North Texas based Punk Rock outfit, and what better way to begin the Rock “N” Roll they spoke of than with “Strike You Down”. Drummer, Trey Alfaro, started them into it, and pretty soon the band was full steam ahead with what was one of the strongest sets of the day. That song had barely ended when Josh started strumming his guitar, kicking off “Something to Die For”. Afterwards, they kept on going with “One for Now Three for Later”, which has a nice, although brief bass solo from Forrest Barton. The trio tore back into it after that, and Josh screamed out the chorus, “Sometimes I feel like a double standard, she feels she’s chasing a ghost…”. Before their next song, they looked at one another, shouted out something, then tore into “Stupid Girl”. It was a sensational onslaught of rock they were delivering, and still showed no signs of letting up as they brought it right into another song, which I believe was “You Ought to Know”. After that, they finally took a break, and Josh began to talk about their new album, how it was produced by Vaden Todd Lewis and what it was like working with an idol of his to help craft some of the songs we were now hearing. He then asked everyone to move in closer, because, as he said, “Today’s my god damn birthday…” That was a good enough reason for the crowd, who moved as close as possible, and were now so tightly packed that no one had their own “personal space”. This dedication surprised me, in a way. I know The Phuss plays quite often, and has started branching out here in the Austin area, but everyone seemed to be captivated by them, as well as singing along to every song. I guess they do have a loyal following down in this area, and that is pretty cool. They got back to it with “The Romantic”, which was a standout in their set, and then did the downright gritty, “Bleed”. After one more song, it was already time to wrap things up, and Josh asked a very important question. “Who all’s going to church tomorrow!?” He went into a short speech, if memory serves me correctly he likened this event to church, and then Trey set a steady beat on the drums, juggling the drumsticks in a way, as he tapped one of the pieces of his kit, caught one stick as he tossed the other in the air, and repeated it. It’s really something to behold when you’re watching it first hand, and you could feel everyone’s excitement mounting while he did this intro for “Preacher Preacher”, which would end their 32 minute set.
There is no question, this was the best Phuss show I’ve seen to date. Josh’s voice was crystal clear this afternoon. Not sure what caused it, because the sound systems at the other venues I’ve seen them at are very great, but that has been my only compliant with these guys from time to time, so with that taken care of, there was nothing to hinder them. They may well be the hardest rocking trio in the Lone Star State, and definitely were at the Whitewater Amphitheater this day.
Like I said, these guys keep busy, and have shows in Dallas on September 22nd at The Foundry. September 27th at The Basement in Fort Worth. September 28th at Andy’s in Denton. September 29th at The Warehouse in Fort Worth. October 5th at Eskimo Joe’s in Stillwater, Oklahoma. After a stop at Club Girabaldis in Milwaukee, WI on October 7th, they will be back in New York for a string of shows. October 14th at Trash Bar, the 16th at Bowery Electric and the 17th at Bar Machless, all of which are in NYC. Then they have special Halloween gig at Rubber Gloves in Denton on the 27th where they will cover songs from Alkaline Trio. Also, don’t forget to check out their SELF-TITLED record in iTunes. There’s nine songs on it, and not a one of them are bad.
When I turned around after they finished, I saw a familiar face of someone I didn’t expect to see, Casey Hess (of Descender). Chatted with him for a few minutes, and by that time the next band on the main stage had just embarked on their set.
It was the Riverboat Gamblers, a band I’ve listened to many times over the years, and have never been able to get into. From what I heard, they received nothing but rave reviews, but I was always at a loss as to why, because what music of theirs I listened to (granted, this was a few years back) I just didn’t think sounded good. Maybe this live show would better, though… (Also, I want to go ahead and note I did my best to piece together as much of their set as possible, and there is certainly the possibility that it’s not 100% accurate.)
When we got over to the main stage, they were halfway through “Bite My Tongue”. It would seem all the fans of TRBG had done something I had not, and the was seen one of their shows. As soon as I laid my eyes on the band I was blown away by their raw and brash stage show, with guitarists, Fadi El-Assad and Ian MacDougall, bassist, Rob Marchant, and drummer, Sam Keir, tearing it up. And then you had vocalist, Mike Wiebe, who was running around the stage like a madman. I believe it was after that song that Mike quickly said the band formed in Denton, but has since relocated to Austin. “…I’ll talk more about that later, though, and why this is such a cool show for me…” he told the audience, before they ripped into “Save You”, then fired up another immediately after the final chords had been played, then did the same thing once again when that song was finished. They stopped, but only long enough for Mike to say the next song was titled “Soliloquy”, another one from their new record, then brought it right into their next tune. After that was when Mike mentioned why this day was extra special for him. He mentioned how cool it was that The Phuss had played just before them, but mostly he was excited that Brutal Juice (who would perform later) was playing this festival, saying he used to go see them a lot and that they were the band who made him think, “I want to do that!” They then dove into another song, which possible was “Loser Neck”, and it was during this song where things got very interesting. There’s a fence on stage right, to separate the backstage area, and while performing, Mike ran over and jumped up on the fence. You could tell he had to work at maintaining his balance, but he did so just fine as he surveyed the crowd. Then came the question of getting down, and why do something simple like climbing back down the fence that now had him at least five feet higher than the stage. Dos Equis was a sponsor of this event, and they had some flags hanging on either side of the stage. Mike grabbed one and tested it somewhat, before grabbing hold of it and using it to lower him back down to the stage, and as he did so, it snapped. By this time they were on to another song, so he stood there, holding the flag and waving it around, before someone finally removed it so it wouldn’t loosely hang there. After finishing that song, Sam started them into “Eviction Notice”, and despite them still having a few songs left, I thought it was a good one to go ahead and start winding down with (if you can call it that, because these guys never once slowed their pace.) “Comedians” was a very good song, and started one final onslaught, as they didn’t take a break from here on out. Things picked back up to their borderline Punk/Rock sound with “What’s What” and “Rattle Me Bones”, both of which come from the “Something to Crow About record, and then they got to the final song of their 42 minute set. “Don’t Bury Me… I’m Still Not Dead Yet” seemed to be an appropriate way to end the show, like their time might have been up for now, but things were far from being over.
Talk about winning me over. The Riverboat Gamblers did exactly that, and even upon revisiting their music, I have found myself more fond of it (though I would say their three most recent releases are better than those that precede them.)
There is no question that the live show is where it’s at with these guys. This was one of the most high-energy performances I have had the pleasure of seeing and I felt there was a real sense of urgency to it. Each of them are excellent on their own, and together they make a very well oiled machine, which I thought was demonstrated well on some of the songs where Ian, Fadi and Rob would sing a line, with Mike tackling the next one and so on. Point is, they are in perfect synch with each other.
They’ll be hitting the road in October with shows all along the east coast, and you can find their full tour dates HERE. Go see them if you get the chance, because I know that whenever they play the North Texas area again, I won’t even think about missing the show. Oh, and don’t forget to check out their music in iTunes.
The Soldier Thread was up next on the Biergarten Stage, and I made it over there just as guitarist, Todd Abels, and keyboard player, Justin McHugh, finished up the intro for the first song of their 27 minute set, “No Parachute”. As it faded out, Drew Vandiver laid into the drums, setting up “Part Of You”. Vocalist, Patricia Lynn, switched up a few lines of that song from how they are on the recorded version. For example, after a part of the second verse, “…I’m just a passenger…”, which was sang in a normal tone, she raised her voice, adding a fiery element to it, as she belted out, “…My heart is going up in flames.”, before getting to the wonderful chorus, “I would like to satisfy you. But I know better know, oh, I could never be enough for you…”. They paused for a moment as Patricia once again told everyone who they were and where they were from (Austin), since their audience had grown, but was sadly still lacking from what it should have been (I’ve actually seen them have bigger, more engaged crowds in Dallas). After that, they did another song from their latest EP, “Would It Kill You?”. By the time they started “Matador” a few more people had come up and danced along to the lively song, which was followed with a non-album track, “Heartbeat”. They were practically done with the song when I guess the amps blew a fuse or something got unplugged, and you could barely hear the guitar, keys, or vocals, as they finished out the tune and looked at each other, appearing to be a state of disbelief. Stuff like this happens, and even though they got the issue fixed rather quickly, it was still unfortunate. A few people shouted that they needed to improvise, and for a minute, I thought maybe it would come down to them needing to do an acoustic-ish song. They jumped back into it with the single from “The Bull” EP, “Pretty Bones”, and then brought things down a little with the song that proceeds it on the record, “For You”. “This is our last song.” Patricia told everyone. The set seemed to be on the short side, at least it passed by super quick, even with those few minutes where nothing happened, but they had at least been able to hit the highlights, and left everyone with one final staple song, “Anybody”.
It was a very good set, and I personally found it nice to have another chance to see the band, rather than waiting for them to get back to Dallas again. And on some levels, this was the best show I’ve seen them do. It’s also worth pointing out that they are still lacking a bass player, yet I really don’t think it impacts their show. If anything, it makes the keys a little more audible. So for now, they’re getting along just fine without a complete rhythm section.
The band has a few albums & singles you can buy, and can find all of them in iTunes by going HERE. I can’t find any of their tour dates at the moment, but I’m sure they will have some more sooner or later, so keep a check on their Facebook page to see if they’ll be coming to an area near you.
“So, I just got to talk to Page Hamilton…”
That was what the MC said once most of the people had gathered over by the main stage. He went on to say that the next band, Helmet, had started in the 80’s, broken up for awhile, but where now back together, and have been touring with the Toadies on and off this year. I knew absolutely nothing about the band, hadn’t heard their music and had no clue what to expect.
“Unsung” began their set, and progression of that songs intro is pretty killer, with the drums and getting layered over each other, before Page Hamilton and Dan Beeman rocked out some awesome chords on their guitars. So, I liked the music, and once Page started singing the first line, “Your contribution left unnoticed some. Association with an image…”, I realized he had a pretty good voice. At least it was going to be an enjoyable show. One of the bands newer songs, “So Long”, came next, and with eighteen years in between these first two songs of the set, they didn’t seem to have changed much. The music still has a raw, gritty sound to it, and Page’s voice really hasn’t changed too much. They pulled out a couple tracks from their 1994 album, “Betty”, the first of which I think was “I Know”, while the other was “Speechless” a got a little set up. Page said it was one fans requested a lot, “But we didn’t really do it, ‘cause I’d forget the lyrics to it a lot…” he said, being rather candid in my opinion. “…But we’ve actually rehearsed it now…” he added, saying they’ve been having fun doing it. They wound it right into “See You Dead”, and subsequently segued it directly into the next tune. It was obvious the band likes their older material more (and I’m sure their fans feel the same way), because “White City” was one of the only other new songs that found its way into the setlist. I did my best to piece together what they did, but the next couple of songs I’m at a loss out, though they bled one right in to the other, and one featured a rocking little solo from Page. Afterwards, he said they had another song from their ’94 that they had been “…having some fun with…”, which was “Overrated”. After another song, they did the heavy, “Smart”, which has some real gruff borderline screams, then let loose with “In the Meantime”. They had gotten a very long set in relation to the other bands, though it didn’t seem like it (except to my legs, which were starting to tire already), but now Page said they had one last song, and “Milquetoast” ended their 55 minutes on stage.
They were another band whom you could tell was really having a blast up there, I guess in part since this was a one-off show for them. At one point, I think around the time he introduced the band, he said the Toadies had been great at working around their (Helmet’s) schedule as far as touring went. They had evidently taken a break earlier in the year when (I believe) their bassist, Dave Case, needed to be home when his child was born, and where currently doing the same for drummer, Kyle Stevenson. But if their drummer was away, how could they do this show you might be asking? Well, the brother of guitarist, Dan, had learned all the drum parts just for this one show and had flown down here to Texas with them to perform. So for very good reason Page asked everyone to give it up for Pete Beeman. I have to say, that guy slayed it on the drums, and had they not mentioned that, I would have assumed he was the full-time drummer.
Pretty good band, pretty good show, and I don’t know how much it really pertains to their set, but during it, there were some buzzards circling overhead. Now, how many concert venues are there where you can see something like that?
On October 18th Helmet will be back on the road with the Toadies for their west coast tour, and you can find all their tour dates HERE. Also, check out their records in iTunes.
After they finished, the guy who was the MC of sorts walked back out on the stage. “I haven’t said this in about five years, but you need to get over to the other stage NOW to see Brutal Juice…”
Brutal Juice. I’ve heard of them, but by the time I got into the local music scene, they had come on gone. But they do, do the occasional reunion show once a year or so, and that was the case for this event. I was intrigued to see what their show would be like after all the good things I’ve heard. Their live show was impressive, just at the end of their first song their singer did a headstand and held it for at least half a minute. Now that’s something you don’t see every day, and it was pretty impressive. But that’s where I have some mixed feelings on the band. From the performance aspect, they are a beast not to be trifled with, and if they are this good now, I wonder what they must have been like when they were going full throttle back in the day. However, the vocals weren’t really my thing and were closer to the screaming side of things then I care for. Two of the five guys acted as their lead vocalists, one of whom was also a guitarist, and while he was singing the other guy rocked out furiously to the music. After a few songs, I decided I didn’t have to see them and went to get a bite to eat.
Speaking of that, I want to say, when you have an all day event of this scale, you NEED to be properly stocked when it comes to concessions and such. I say this because after waiting in line for ten to fifteen minutes to get something to eat, I was informed the only things they had left where fries and cheese quesadillas, none of which sounded to appealing to me at the time. Like I said, for a day long concert like this, you need to make sure you have enough supplies to make the other items on your menu, such as nachos, corndogs, etc. It was ridiculous, and honestly, I got a little peeved by this.
So, after wasted time in line, I returned to the smaller stage where Brutal Juice was about to finish up. “Pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered…” they softly sang, which sounded like a perfect line to use in a horror movie. It grew louder before they tore into the song, which was a very heavy rock/thrash song and consisted of that one line being repeated. As simple as it sounds, it was a good tune, and I was surprised that, that ended up being the end of their set, and they suddenly thanked everybody and began to tear down their gear.
I can’t say I’ll try to see this band again, but I’m glad I got the opportunity to check them out. They were alright, and if they sound like they might interest you, go see ‘em whenever they do another reunion show.
It was getting closer, and now there was just one band on the main stage before the Toadies. They were the most interesting band of the day, and also one of the handful who did not hail from Texas. They were Mariachi El Bronx, and they had come all the way from Los Angeles.
Most of the band was on stage, but they still lacked a few of their eight members, who were still putting on their outfits for the show. Their singer started a little speech, part of which was something like, “…We will unleash a fury of sexual torrent, the likes of which the world has never seen…”. That sounded exciting, and had me looking even more forward to seeing what their live show was going to be like.
The remaining members soon walked on stage, and the band consisted of a couple guys who played trumpet, a violinist, an acoustic bassist, an acoustic guitarists, a drummer (who didn’t not have a full drum kit), and of course, their vocalist. Their 52 minute long show began with “48 Roses”. As their name suggests, they have a mariachi sound, and that song is a prime example of it, with all the instruments working brilliantly together, each one having its own distinct moment where it shines. I liked the start they got off to, but over the course of the next few songs, I never felt it take off, and found myself wondering if maybe they were one of those bands who is just better on the albums than they are live. That’s not to say songs like “Litigation” weren’t good, but they obviously lacked the loud, attention grabbing music that all the rock bands had. “This song’s about starting over.” said their singer before they started “Great Provider”. “Holy” came next, and if my memory serves me correctly, it was the song where their singer went into a very detailed intro for it, talking about how a pale horse could be seen approaching in the distance, and on him was an even paler rider. He eventually said the rider was the guitarist, who then started them in on the song. So far, the show had been good, but I just didn’t feel enthralled by it like I thought I would. Then they started on an upswing with “Slave Labor”, which was followed by what has become my favorite song of the bands, and according to what their singer said, it was the first song they wrote as a band, “Cell Mates”. He soon started with the first line of the song, “In my defense, these prison walls, they couldn’t hold anything in at all…”. It only got better with the infectious “Norteno Lights”, and the line, “…I walk the street, by chance we meet. This twist of fate is crueler than it seems…”, will stay with you long after they have left the stage. All shreds of doubt I did have had been washed away at this point, and next they did “Silver or Lead”. An instrumental song followed, I believe it was “Mariachi El Bronx”, and during the next four plus minutes, their singer introduced every member of the band. The song lets everyone have their own moment, and that was when he’d say who they were (my apologizes to the band, because I don’t remember who filled what position.) I also think it’s worth noting that when the drummer was introduced, it was asked he get an extra round of applause for standing up, because he lacked a stool, and performed the entire show on his feet. They started to wind things up with “Revolution Girls”, while “Clown Powder” ended up being their final song of the night.
A lot people seemed to want more, and while it would have been nice, I was satisfied with that ending. Then Vaden Todd Lewis walked on stage and grabbed a mic. “Do y’all want Mariachi El Bronx to do one more song!?” The crowd resounded with near unanimous cheering and applause. And really, how can you say no to one of the guys who created the festival that you are performing at.
They went back to their instruments rather hesitantly, and I saw their violinist ask their singer, “What do we play?” They quickly settled on one. “This song is called My Brother the Gun.” their singer said, and that song really would be the end of their performance.
They were yet another band who appeared to truly love being up there, and it was evident throughout the show. Once their singer said how good it was to not be playing a club, instead being out in the open air on this “beautiful day”. Another he said they had gotten a lot of big opportunities in the U.S. and even the world, noting that none of that would have been possible without their fans. While yet another time he mentioned that this was proof that you can create whatever type of music you desire and people who embrace it.
After that first handful of songs, they really picked up, and I they lived up to what I thought their live show would be like. They really do capture the essence of a mariachi band and have crafted some outstanding songs. And no disrespect to the other members, but I feel what really sets the songs off is the voice of their singer.
The only negative thing I can think to say is that the word “motherfucker” was used a little too much. I’ve said stuff like this before about other bands, and I again want to reiterate that I am NOT a prude, and no, cussing does not offend me and it’s nothing I don’t say numerous times throughout the day. But after the fifteenth time of, “Make some motherfucking noise for us!”, I feel it begins to slowly diminish the bands professionalism, and really, I think the crowd can only hear that so much. Again, I’m not saying to any band don’t cuss, but just don’t repeat the same phrase over and over again throughout the set.
They have two album available, and you can find them HERE. There was even talk about a third being released early next year. And hopefully there will be a tour after that album comes out, and hopefully that will lead the band back to Texas (specifically the Dallas area.)
The final act on the Biergarten stage was the other band who had won a contest to perform at this year’s Dia, and that was the Austin based, Diesel and Dixie.
They were already rocking out when I got over to the stage, and I’m really not sure if they had just started, or if they had been at it for a few songs. Now, I don’t know what all they did, but the main thing about them is this; They are a no frills Rock band who makes down and dirty Rock music in its purest form, with a bit of a southern sound. They put on a mean stage show, and even though it was cramped up there with five guys, their singer still ran around, delivering a great performance, while the three instrumentalists brought the same amount of energy to the table. One song was “Grandma’s Jam”, which their singer said was about the drummers grandmother and some delicious jam she made, but then it turned into something else, and, if I’m remembering correctly, he said it became about how many Yankee’s she killed in her day (yes, I think he was joking about that). It was something like 20 minutes that they got, and that was capped off by the final song on their debut album, “Georgia Overdrive”, which packed a real punch.
You could tell the band was grateful for this opportunity, as they repeatedly thanked the Toadies for the chance to perform at this event, and also thanked everyone who was over there watching them (which was a small number of people, as most were staking out spots for the Toadies.) They just came across as real likeable guys, and a band I will definitely see again.
Check out their debut record, “Short Wave Rodeo”, and from the end of October through mid-November they’ll be on the road hitting Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, and parts of Texas. Live in one of those areas? Go look at their TOUR DATES and see if they’ll be coming near you.
Finally, after being outside and on my feet for about eight and a half hours, it was time for The Toadies.
The MC came out on stage to introduce them, spoke of their new record, and even said something about last year’s Dia De Los Toadies. “…”I’m just glad we’re all still alive…” he said, speaking of how brutally hot it was last year, when everyone silently rejoiced when the sun set, though even that didn’t bring complete relief. Thankfully it had been the total opposite this year. A nice breeze blew most of the day, it was much cooler, and while it was nothing more than a few drops of rain that lasted a couple of minutes, it did still rain.
As he finished up the introduction, Clark Vogeler, Mark Reznicek, Vaden Todd Lewis and Doni Blair made their way on stage. There was that brief moment of silence after they got their instruments when you could have heard a pin drop. If everyone was like me, then they were wondering how this show was going to start, and in no time we got the answer. The guitars sprang to life, and, just like the toned down show from the night before, they kicked things off with “I Come from the Water”. As always, when they got to the chorus, Todd told everyone to sing it as he stepped back from the mic. I know I’ve mentioned in the past how cool it is to be in venue where practically everyone is singing aloud in unison, but it takes to a whole new level here at the Whitewater Amphitheater, when you’re out underneath the stars with upwards of a thousand people all shouting out, “I COME FROM THE WATER.” The song had just ended when Todd started strumming his guitar and singing, “I guess I left myself wide open…”, starting “Push the Hand”. They kept it coming as Mark counted them into the next song, before Doni joined in to get the heavy rhythm sound going that makes the intro to “Waterfall” sound so eerie. With those first three songs, they had represented three of their albums, and next they would represent a fourth. “Play.Rock.Music.” has been in my CD player on a regular basis since its release, and from start to finish I love the thing and hoped quite a few of the songs would make their way into this nights setlist. The primal, rock anthem, “Animals”, is one song I’ve grown to really like, and it was nice getting to hear it live. When they were doing that song (and pretty much every other new one), the crowd settled down, at least where I was standing, and I felt weird for being one of the only people singing along to the song. I guess that’s proof that it is still the classics that people like the most, and when Clark let loose the opening riff of “Away”, the audience livened back up. They never blended one song into the next like other bands this day had done, but after allowing a couple seconds for applause on that previous song, Todd started the next one, which was one of my favorites, “Sweetness”. After finishing it, he thanked every person for coming out to this year’s festival. “When I started this band twenty-three years ago…” he paused for a second then added something to the effect of, “Shit! I started this band twenty-three years ago.”, as if saying it aloud made him actually think about for the first time in awhile. He then went on to say that when he started the band, he never imagined that one day they would have their own music festival, nor did he think so many people would come out to it. He then addressed the record they put out at the end of July and told everyone they’d be hearing some songs from it peppered throughout the show, such as one of the singles from it which they were now going to do. “Summer of the Strange” is a very appropriate title for the song, I think in part because not only are the bass and drums the backbone, but also the most prevalent force in the song, which is something you don’t often see (or rather, hear). They kept that certain level of oddity going with the title track from their 2008 album, “No Deliverance”, which is one of a few songs where Todd sings into his other mic, distorting his voice slightly and giving it a gravely sound. The fans cheered and sang along to another song from “Rubberneck”, “Backslider”, and then pulled a new song I wouldn’t have thought they do, “Sunshine”. Not that it’s a bad song, but it never struck me as one they’d do live, and I have to say, it came across better live than I would have thought. They next rocked out “Little Sin”, afterwards Todd took a moment to set up their next song. “So, I wrote this song for my daughter, ‘cause I knew I was going to be touring a lot…” he said. It was cool getting to hear “Beside You” stripped down the night before this, but I found the full-band version much better, as the drums, bass and second guitar add so much more depth to it. At this point, Todd asked everyone how they were doing, “Anyone need a beer or anything?“ he asked. Someone close to the stage evidently said something, because he responded, “A rock song? You want a rock song? I think we can do that.” he said, looking at Clark, Doni and Mark, before breaking into “Happy Face”. So far it had been one hell of a show, and only got better when that song was over and Todd asked, “Is that Blair over there?” “My little brother, everybody!” Doni exclaimed, as Zach Blair walked out on stage. I believe Todd said some people may remember him from The Burden Brothers (though he is probably best known in these parts for the band Hagfish), and also said he is currently involved with a ”little start-up band based in Chicago” by the name, Rise Against. Todd took off his guitar and handed it to Zach. “This song is called Get Low.” he said as they started into yet another new one. Todd was able to do something he usually doesn’t have the opportunity to do, and that was prowl around the stage a bit, proving he’s still got the moves and the presence to pull it off. With that I had heard most of the new stuff that I really wanted to, and Zach gave the guitar back and walked back to the side of the stage. They kept rolling along with “I Am a Man of Stone”, which was followed by a song that was a sign the show was nearing its end, “Possum Kingdom”. Once the first note had been struck, practically everyone there cheered and applauded, and while not too loud, you could hear the crowd singing along to it. Afterwards, Mark brought right into “Hell In High Water”, which had a moment that was easily the most interesting of the day. Towards the end of it, Clark has a solo, and as he played it, a giant slice of pizza walked on stage. It was holding a piece of paper and held it up where everyone could see. It had a number on it, which was a “3” or so. Clark churned out another solo, and his score improved a little, but the “7” or so still wasn’t good enough, and I must say, he did an excellent job of acting pissed off about this. He gave it one final try, and this time got a “10”, before pushing the guy in the costume off stage, right before Todd sang the next line, “I am hell in high water, and I, I never sleep. So watch your daughters and stay out of the deep…”. They transitioned the final notes from that one right into the next and final song of their 80 minute set, “Mister Love”. “…Love, love, love. Ha ha ha ha…” Todd sang, with the laughing part sounding so callous and cold, which I think is part of what makes the song.
They left the stage after that, though everyone knew the show wasn’t quite over yet.
They were gone just a minute or two before returning, and everyone except for Todd got their instrument. “I’d like to welcome Sarah Jaffe to the stage, if she’s around.” he said. She walked out there and got behind one of the mics, as it looked like they were going to one of the cover songs from the previous night, but which one? That question was soon answered when Sarah started to sing the first of the PJ Harvey song, “Down By the Water”. It was cool to get to hear that one more time, because it was one of the stand out songs from the Friday night show, and now became a stand out from this set. Once she left and they got ready to play some more rock music, Clark, Mark and Todd all began the first few notes of the Helmet song, “Unsung”. This left Doni looking at them like he had no clue what was going on. “…That’s the first rule of touring with somebody, you have to fuck with them…” Todd said as they laughed. One of the bands most rocking songs, “Rattler’s Revival”, came next, and I love the first few lines of it, “Sometimes I wish I had the heart of a snake. With no compassion comes no mistakes…”. That song goes by way too fast, and it seemed like they had only just started it by the time is was coming to close, but that led to one of their biggest crowd pleasers, “Tyler”. It’s a timeless song, and despite the story it tells, it’s still beautiful in a way. That’s usually how they end things, and I was ready to make a dash for the car and try to avoid getting stuck in the parking lot, until Todd said they’d like to welcome several of the drummers from various bands that played to the stage. That could mean only one thing… Their roadies set up several toms on the stage, which took a few minutes, but was well worth it. “I think they’ve got it all set up now, so we’ll get started.” said Todd, who then started “I Burn”. “…Smoke is freedom, flame is mercy and I am free tonight…” he sang, before Mark and Clark joined in on the song. By the end of the second chorus, Trey Alfaro, Christopher Carmichael, Sam Keir, and Pete Beeman among others were on stage beating on all the extra drums, while the 27 minute long encore ended with Todd loudly singing, “…I burn the air you breath. I burn…”
That was the one last song I hoped they might do, and with that this became the tenth Toadies show I’ve seen, and by far the best one yet.
It was a fantastic show, and while I’ll be honest and say there were just a couple of the new songs where I thought Todd’s voice couldn’t pull of certain parts as they are on the album, that’s the only thing I can find wrong with the show, but it didn’t negatively impact their set.
There’s no denying it, The Toadies have staying power, and they are on top of their game even more now than four years ago when they reunited. “Play.Rock.Music” is one of the best things the band has released, second only to “Rubberneck”, and I’m liking their shows even more now than in ‘08/’09.
I’ll say it again, they have a hometown show in Fort Worth on October 13th at Billy Bob’s Texas (Can’t wait for that one!). Then, from October 18th through November 10th they’ll be back on the road for their co-headlining tour with Helmet, hitting Tucson and Tempe, Arizona. Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada. Solana Beach, West Hollywood, Anaheim, San Francisco, and Orangevale, California. Portland, Oregon. Seattle and Spokane, Washington. Garden City, Idaho. Salt Lake City, Utah. Grand Junction, Colorado. Omaha, Nebraska. Fayetteville, Arkansas. Tulsa, Oklahoma. And finally, Lubbock, Texas. If one of those cities is near you, then check their TOUR DATES for exact dates & links to purchase tickets. And you can find pretty much everything the band has released for sale in ITUNES.
It was a long day, but a great one, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s Dia De Los Toadies, which will more than likely be back here at the Whitewater Amphitheater.
I took a few pictures with my phone of a few of the bands. Not the best quality, but whatever…
The King Bucks
The Riverboat Gamblers
The Soldier Thread