Thursday, January 31st, 2013 – Part I: Centro-Matic

I don’t get up to Denton too often these days, but there’s at least one night a month when there’s a show up there I want to see. And for this was the night for this month.

There were actually a couple of shows I wanted to see here this night, but the one at Dan’s Silverleaf took priority in my opinion. Centro-matic was doing a rarer string of shows in Texas this weekend, and it began with a hometown gig at that fine venue, which was presented by Spune Productions.

The only opening act was Tony Ferraro & the Satans of Soft Rock, who also reside in Denton, and are a collective effort of several notable area musicians, led by, of course, Tony Ferraro.

Beginning their 38-minute long set was a song, “Children In Fur Coats”, from their first official EP, “Friend of Man and Beast Alike”. It definitely held true to the “soft rock” portion of the band’s name, at least for the most part. It was rock music, but nothing too intense, at least not until the end, when Justin Collins drumming picked up, becoming something you could really bang your head to. Afterwards, Tony stated what an honor it was to be on this bill. “…Up next are the people… The people who I can’t say enough nice things about without saying too many nice things…” he said, obviously filled with glee that he was opening for the iconic, Centro-matic. They did another couple, one of which I think was “I Am The Engine”, which was a very catchy number, and stands out as my favorite from their set. The song titles got a little more creative with their next one, “Assemble the Bitch Wolves”. It was a slower one, a bit somber is some ways, and featured an outstanding guitar riff/solo from lead guitarist, Ryan Becker. Mr. Becker is certainly one of the most prolific musicians in D/FW scene, and while the bands he fronts are some of the best around, it’s also something to see him as just a guitar player. Not having to do all the singing means he can focus all of his attention to playing the guitar. It’s something to marvel at, you quickly realize, as an instrumentalist, he is one of the best. Not just in the local scene here, either, but in general. They kept the final notes of the song going, while Tony, Ryan and Justin presumably discussed how to go into the next song, which Justin soon transitioned them into with some beats, while bassist, David Howard, laid down some heavy riffs, too. That segued them into “Diaspora”, an incredible song that made great use of the keyboard, which was manned by Chris Gomez. Four more songs came next in the setlist, none of which I knew, and on the first of those Tony and Ryan pulled off some gorgeous harmonies as they crooned. After that slew of songs, they were left with enough time to do one more. In case you don’t know, Tony plays bass in one of Ryan Becker’s bands, Last Joke, and the EP that band has released features one of Tony’s songs, “No, We Can’t Be Friends”. That was the one that brought this show to a close, and again found both Tony and Ryan doing some co-singing.

I expected I’d enjoy their show, but not to the extent that I did. Tony has several recordings available to download, many of which are more demo quality, and it’s hard to gauge how a band will sound based on that. That’s not to say I hadn’t enjoyed said recordings, though. They [the songs] sounded so much more impressive live and took the Satans from being a band I had never seen live, to one I’d like to see many times over.

The few glimpses I’ve caught of Tony’s voice, I’ve enjoyed it, and this night I was shown that he definitely has the chops to front a band. There’s a real folk quality to his singing voice, which sounds excellent on the slower songs, but he’s able to push it enough to where it also works on their more rock numbers.

They were very polished, and it was evident that they had put in a lot of work in rehearsing for this show, making them a worthy act to open for Centro-matic. As far as Satans’ shows go, I don’t think they play too terribly often. But to keep up to date with everything, just keep a check on their FACEBOOK PAGE. You can also check out all of their recordings on their BANDCAMP page, all of which are FREE to download (though you can pay for them if you want.)

It was only barely after ten, and already the members of Centro-matic were setting up their gear. It made me think that this may indeed be an earlier night, which would be great, because it would allow me to squeeze in one last band while here in Denton.

A little after 10:30, Will Johnson, Mark Hedman, Matt Pence and Scott Danbom stepped on stage. They hadn’t sold the place out like I thought they might, but there was a very healthy crowd there for a Thursday night, and everyone packed in tight around the stage, as they guys set to work…

“Flashes & Cables” opened up their set, as Will began softly singing the first few lines of it, “If we found the time, if we found the merriment. If we found the words, we’d scratch them in new cement…” They found their footing once they hit the chorus, when it swelled to a powerful rock number, due largely to the driving beats Matt was banging out. Upon finishing it, Will took a moment to thank Tony Ferraro. “…I salute your golden souls…” he said, speaking of the band. He genuinely seemed taken by their talent, and went on to say that they would take them to their next two gigs the following nights in Austin and Fort Worth, “…Somehow…”, Will added. After swooning over them for a few minutes, they continued on with the show. “…This next one is Fountains of Fire…” Will stated, as they tackled the song from 2001’s, “Distance and Clime” album. It seemed a bit too slow to me, at least too slow for so early on in the set. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, though, and plenty of people seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. The fans really didn’t get a chance to applaud that one, though, as Will played some notes on his guitar, winding it right into “Against the Line”. It was one of a few they did from their current record, “Candidate Waltz”, and it shows the unique knack Mr. Johnson has for penning songs, as there is no real chorus to it, yet it stands out as one of the strongest in both their catalog and live show. A brief break occurred afterwards, which lightened the mood as Will proceeded to talk about the “fun” they had been having in Denton earlier in the day. He mentioned that they had been hanging out, I believe on the east side of the square, where the “…Swords, gas masks and helmets…” were. The conversation lasted for a few minutes, and he mentioned how “exotic” the shop was. “…The trick is trying to figure out to write off swords, gas masks and helmets on your taxes…” he finished, before moving on, saying the next song was called “Iso-Residue”. That made for two of their most recent songs getting played back-to-back, and threw one more in there, segueing it into “All the Talkers”. I think they extended the break that happens about halfway through, to the point it made you think the song was over, before they started building it back up. That finished up the “Candidate Waltz” record, at least for the time being, but the band had another trick up their sleeve. Will casually mentioned that they had started working on a new record within the last month. He even dropped the title of it, which will be “Take Pride in Your Long Odds”, and they cranked out a tune that will appear on it. It sounded quite good, and now has me very intrigued about this forthcoming album. Sometime during the song, it hit a lull, during which Scott stood up from the keyboards he had been manning, walked over to center stage and got the bass from Mark, who in turn went and grabbed his guitar, giving them a fuller rock sound as they closed out that new track. (At least I assume that was all part of the same song.) Getting all that new stuff out of the way now meant it was time for the “hits”, or perhaps fan favorites is a better word to use, like “The Mighty Midshipman”, which Matt started them off on. Some more small talk was made once they finished it, and Will pointed out the unusual “…balance of people by the bar…” There was a cluster of them over in that direction, while the stage right section of the audience was pretty bare. “…There’s nothing wrong with that,” he said, “It’s just different…” He also set up the next song, another from the same album as their previous one, “Argonne Limit Co”. “…It’s about deep, dark holes… Lined with crystals…” he said. It was another softer one, but this far into the set, they had already established their rock dominance, so it was nice hearing them switch it up a bit. “Calling Thermatico” followed, which was a fitting one, as it brought things back up a little bit, but still had a similar flow as the one they had just done. Perhaps the best part of that song was near the end, when Will began clapping his hands rather rapidly, as he repeatedly crooned into the mic, “Oooooohh…”. They had something else in store from the nearly seven-year-old “Fort Recovery”, and it was my personal favorite Centro-matic song, “Patience For The Ride”. “…You can’t touch the forces of our hurricane, the forces of our hurricane hearts…” sang Will, changing up the first verse slightly from how it is on the recording, while Scott occasionally added some backing vocals to the mix. They raced through the barely over a minute-long, “The Connections Not so Civilized”, before getting to “Mandatory On the Attack”, which is off their earliest album. Its fast paced beats, and quick plucking of the strings on the guitars and bass, make it an insanely catchy tune. Well, that and the fact that Will manages to keep up with it all effortlessly, with the lyrics spewing from his mouth with ease. Upon finishing it, Scott relinquished his bass duties, giving it back to Mark, while he returned to the keys. That took them into “Huge In Every City”, where the keys were very prevalent, and one of the best things about the song. With the exception of the lengthy instrumental outro, where all four of them really let their musicianship take over, showing what pros they really are. At one point during all of that, Will even proceeded to jump up and down. Next, they cranked out “Rock And Roll Eyes”, which is one of their truest rock songs, and I’m glad it’s still a mainstay in their live sets, despite it being one of their oldest songs. Matt/patched the end of it right into the next song, which was the only other one I didn’t know this night. It sounded quite good, though. They took another break, while they welcomed an additional guitarist on stage, giving him time to set up. “Brent Best, everybody!” Will exclaimed, as the man walked on stage. He stuck around for their last few songs, which included the first single from “Candidate Waltz”, “Only In My Double Mind”. The beats at the beginning were very rhythmic, to the point of being hypnotic, and you knew right away you were about to hear something special. They really cut loose during the instrumental break in the middle of it, showing that Brent brought a lot to the table, and, if only for a few songs, helped elevate the bands performance to an even higher level than before (who knew that was possible.) It was Will who really rocked out, though, dropping to his knees as he just shred on his guitar for a bit. That could have been an excellent note to end on, but they had one last thing planned, and that was the shorter, “Fidgeting Wildly”, which capped off a 71-minute long set.

You would think an encore would be imminent, but after a minute or so passed, I started to wonder. After all, that had been quite a show, and anything they might have had left would be icing on the cake. Then, just when I was about to give up and leave, the four guys walked back on the stage, Will sans his guitar.

I had no clue what to expect, and Will prefaced it by saying it was going to be a love song. It was indeed, and a damn fine one at that. It was called “Love Has Found Me Somehow”, and was a sweet love song, without being too mushy, and Will even got almost everyone in the crowd to join him on a whistling part, which was a pretty cool moment, but not the best. First off, let me say that the beard Mr. Johnson was sporting makes him appear rather prophetic, like he could be some spiritual guru who could tell what the meaning of life is. Hell, the music he writes is so smart it kind of attests to that, and all of that served to make what happened next that much funnier in my opinion. Scott, Matt and Mark lightened the music, as Will announced he had invented a new dance. “…It might not be good,” he warned, “but it’s new…” He had dubbed it the “Belgian Waffle Maker”, saying it came from the free breakfast that the Hampton Inn offers, where you can make your own waffles. Catch is, it ends at ten in the morning. “…Now, ten’s a little too early. But okay, I’ll be there…” he said, and that joke received lots of laughs. He was very detailed with it all, saying when you get to the breakfast bar, there’s a line, “…of every single other person who waited until nine fifty-one to get up…”. Here’s where the dance came in, as he was talking about having to watch everyone make their waffle, and flip it over and over and over again. While he was talking about flipping them, he mimicked the motion with his hands, which he had pressed together, flipping from one side to the other. You really had to be there to fully get it, and it was damn near one of the funniest things I’ve seen at a show. But best of all, that wasn’t the only new dance he had created, and he said he had also done one with his daughter a few days before. I think he said something like, “I’m not sure if it traumatized her or not…”, before he began randomly placing his hands all over his body, then moved them elsewhere, and he picked up speed the longer he did it. By the time that ended, I was near tears from laughing so hard, so it was a good thing they resumed the song and closed it out. That wasn’t the end of the show, though. No, they had one final song for everybody, and closing out their 11-minute encore was “Tied to the Trailer”, during which they again enlisted some help from Brent Best.

I haven’t seen many concerts so far this year, but this was the best one yet. And I have a strong feeling it’ll be one of the best ones I see all year.

Very few bands make it to see their sixteenth year, and all the time they’ve spent together is obvious at their live show. Despite the fact that they all live in different cities now, and they don’t play too often, they are still tighter than most bands could ever hope to be, and while they are seasoned veterans, they can give even the youngest, most energetic bands a run for their money in terms of performance.

Centro-matic really is an institution when it comes to Texas music, and are hands down one of the best acts in the state. I just hate that I didn’t really come across them until late 2011.

They have a bounty of records you can buy, all of which can be purchased HERE. And while they don’t have any shows at the moment, they will no doubt be back out sometime later in the year. Hopefully they’ll get back to the Dallas area for another gig before they release the record they’re currently working on, too.

That may have been the end of this show, but my night in Denton wasn’t quite over with yet…

Thursday, October 4th, 2012 – Tommy & the High Pilots

I was unfamiliar with most of the bands playing The Prophet Bar this night, but there was one band on the bill I really wanted to see, and that was the touring band, Tommy and the High Pilots.

They were the second band of the night, and by the time I got there the first band was practically finished.

I never caught their name, but the last two songs that I caught were really good. Their singer had a powerful voice, that was really quite killer.

I wish I could say more about them, like where to find them online and tell you about any future shows they have, but sadly I can’t. I really hope I stumble across these guys again, though.

Tommy and the High Pilots were up next, and they started their set with one of my favorite songs from their debut record. Singer and guitarist, Tommy Cantillon, began plucking away at the strings of his acoustic guitar, setting up the very catchy melody of “Round N’ Round”. As singers often to live, Tom, took some liberties with how he sang that song (and several of the others this night), hitting some different notes or using a tone unlike that on the recorded version of the song. I’m not usually a fun of that behavior, but it worked for them, and managed to make some already spectacular songs even more amazing. I believe it was Michael Cantillon who started them on their next song, playing a little intro on the keys, which was really pretty, before bassist, Steven Libby, drummer, Matt Palermo, and Tom joined in on “On The Line”, the lead song from the bands acoustic EP, “The Sawhorse Sessions”.  Along with the keys, Michael had been dabbling on an electric guitar during those first two songs, but at this point he took the acoustic one from Tom, who then got an electric guitar. In setting up the song, Tom said it was about a certain type of women. “…We’ll call her a bitch.” he said, and then launched into “Bluesy Floozie”. It’s another sing along of the bands, and especially the chorus, “…I listen at your window. I listen at your wall. I listen to your footsteps. I listen to it all…”, is so infectious it will have you doing just that with ease, or if you don’t know it, then you’ll at least be dancing around. In fact, after finishing it, Tom called out someone towards the back, saying something like, “…You bring a whole new definition to “chair dancing”…” He then laughed, as the person was apparently looking around like, “Is he talking about me!?” “Yes, I’m talking about you.” he added. So far, they had played older songs, but this tour was also about showcasing some of the new songs they’ve written, and they did one next, which was called “Broken Down”. Another new one followed, and afterwards they did, as Tom put it, “…A song we didn’t write, but wish we did. In the business we call it “a cover”.” It was a cover of a Talking Heads song, “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)”, though their version was a far cry from the original, in the best way possible. Tom opened it by playing a harmonica, while the keys were the primary instrument for the first portion of the song, and gave me chills, simply because it sounded so beautiful. Then Matt and Steven joined in with some light beats and notes. I was left in awe, while a girl in the crowd asked who that song was by, I assume because she enjoyed it so much. But I must say, after listening to the original version, I prefer the High Pilots rendition of it. There is no question that they made the song their own, and out of the few covers I’ve heard them do, I think this is my favorite. One last new song was planned for the night, which was “Devil to Pay”. Now, out of their new material, there’s a new quality to them that their previous stuff lacks, and that is three-part harmonies (between Tom, Mike and Matt), which sounds absolutely heavenly. Their time was running out at this point, but they still had enough time for the two songs they had planned, one of which was “Lorraine”, and Tom tried to get some crowd participation, by telling everyone the chorus was as simple as, “Where’s my money gone?”. They even toned that song down to fit it’s acoustic vibe, as Matt joined the other three members at the front of the stage, and just kept beat on a tom for the song. And then they got to the final song of the night, and there were three different songs I was hoping it might be, and it was at least one of those three. “Where To Start” ended their 38 minute set, and was oddly the only song they performed from the “American Riviera” EP, but still, it’s a good one to play. And during it, Steven, Mike and Matt shared a little chuckle, while Tom sang the line, “…Will I be depressed, when I am forty, getting horny, having no sex…”, which made me feel a little better about the fact that I still laugh at the line from time to time.

I had kind of forgotten about it, since it has been awhile since I’ve seen these guys live, but they really do put on one of the most fun and enjoyable live shows I’ve seen. You really can lose yourself in the music and just cut loose and have a good time. I only wish that good time could have lasted a few more songs, but maybe that will happen with their next stop in Texas.

Speaking of which, it will be a little while, but they told me they hope to get back through the area sometime in early 2013. In the meantime, they’ll be going back to Santa Barbara to lay down their next record. And hint, hint, it will most likely be more than just an EP.

So, until that new album is recorded and released, check out their old ones, “Everynight”, “American Riviera” and “The Sawhorse Sessions”.

After them was the first of two Austin based bands, and the first one up was Sounds Under Radio.

I’d heard of them before, but never really listened to their stuff, so I didn’t know what to expect now. Their music was good, with the first two songs sounding rather dark and ominous, while the third was a little more piano based. However, they sounded too mainstream for more (at least what I heard kind of reminded me of The Fray, and is that really a band you would want to be like?), so I went ahead and left.

It was also kind of weird that the band was only two guys, one played the keys, the other guitar and sang, while they had a laptop that played the bass and drum lines. Then as I was walking towards the door they said something about them being two fourths of Sounds Under Radio, so I guess they are a full-band, but the whole band couldn’t make it for this show.

If that does sound like you kind of music, well, you can find the bands Facebook page HERE.

There was one last band after them, by the name of Suite 709. I know absolutely nothing about them, but hey, they could be good.

That is unlike me to skip out on some of the bands without giving them a chance, but I did have stuff to do, such as finish my podcast to have ready for the next week, and I really just wanted to go ahead and get that knocked out. Who knows, maybe that made me miss out on something great.

Sunday, September 30th, 2012 – Circa Survive Makes Some Violent Waves

Well, I had been looking forward to this night for a few months.

There aren’t too many national touring bands I listen to, but one of the few I am a fan of is Circa Survive, whose “Violent Waves Tour” was leading them to Dallas this night, specifically the House of Blues.

My cousin introduced me to their music a few years ago, and the two of us went to this show together, where I could finally see if their live show lived up to the hype I had heard.

When we got there, the Atlanta based quintet, O’ Brother was already rockin’. They were my favorite opening act on this bill, and I loved how heavy their music was. It was thick and intoxicating, and their singer/guitarist had a killer voice that flowed well with the music. They put on a pretty good stage show to boot, and I felt they did a good job of engaging the crowd.

You can find their music in ITUNES and check out their tour dates HERE.

After them was Balance and Composure, who hailed from Doylestown, PA. Overall, I did like these guys, though there were several spots where I was on the fence about them. When he sang, their singer/guitarist had a pretty good voice, but he often raised his voice to a scream mid song, losing every ounce of tone he had, sounding as if he was just speaking it. But then he slip right back into his singing voice, and all was good.

Despite not liking that too much, it did give the music a cool, volatile quality. The band reacted well to that, really cutting loose when it was called for.
Their latest record, “Separation”, is quite good, and well worth purchasing, which you can do HERE. And to find out more about the band, future show dates, etc. go HERE.

The only band I didn’t really care for this night was the Los Angeles based, Touche Amore. The reason I disliked them was simple; they were a Hardcore Rock band.
Their singer didn’t scream incoherently, at least not all the time, but he did still scream, and I hardly consider that talent. However, there were a couple of songs they did that I liked okay, and even their second song in Anthony Green of Circa Survive came out on stage and joined them by adding some backing vocals to it.
They did earn some respect from me, though, when at one point their vocalist thanked Circa for taking them out on tour. “…A band like us should not be playing the House of Blues…” he stated, and he/they should be giving some props realizing that fact, let alone acknowledging it.

I might not have cared for them, but if that is your type of music, you can find their website HERE, and buy their music HERE.

Once they finished, people (myself included) began to make their way into any available gap that was anywhere directly in front of the stage. It was pretty cramped, and absolutely no one had any “personal space”, but at least they had a good view of what was going to transpire.

The crew got things ready for them, which included pulling off the sheets that covered what were lights. They were fairly tall, and reminded me of how the board on the video game, Tetris, is, with there being multiple squares on each structure, and there were five of the lights in all, all lined up behind the drum kit.

A little before 9:30 the lights dimmed, and as the members of Circa Survive filed on stage, they were greeted with a deafening sound of cheers and applause.

“TEJAS!” screamed Anthony Green, in his signature whiney wail. He said a few more words about the great state, and then the band embarked on a 76 minute long journey that would incorporate a slew of songs from their four full-length records, beginning with the lead track from “Juturna”.

The fans got ecstatic at the first notes and beats of “Holding Someone’s Hair Back”, and it was during these older songs where the fans sang along most passionately. In fact, you could hear the crowd even better than Anthony at times, as they shouted along, “…It’s nothing personal, you’re an embarrassment. Don’t cut me out…” That was a great kickoff to the set, but this tour was in support of their latest album, “Violent Waves”, and next they tackled a couple of songs from that album. It was readily evident that their fans were dedicated and rabid, making me feel unworthy of even calling myself a Circa Survive fan, but with the next song I saw just how diehard they are. Whereas most fans criticize new albums (from any band) and openly state they’d rather hear the old stuff, Circa’s fans embraced the new material. “Sharp Practice” was easily one of the most electric songs of their set, and the crowd pushed and shoved each other, and most of them were singing every single word, such as the chorus, “You get what you paid for. We can’t sell our Goddamn souls anymore, anymore…”. Anthony was the only one who addressed the crowd, and that was kept to a minimum, as they primarily went from one song to the next, however, after that song he briefly spoke to the fans, then ended with, “…This is the Birth of the Economic Hit Man”. The few times I had listened to that seven plus minute opus, it had failed to engage me, but live I found it to be much more appealing, and it really didn’t feel like it took seven minutes for them to play. With the next song, they finally tapped into the “Blue Sky Noise” record, doing one of my favorite songs from it, “Glass Arrows”. They slowed things down just a little with “We’re All Thieves”, but picked right back up with “Imaginary Enemy”. As that song ended, drummer, Steve Clifford kept right on going, having a few second solo, patching that song into whatever they had in store next. And what they had in store was the song that directly follows it on the record, “Through the Desert Alone”, which took shape when guitarists, Colin Frangicetto and Brendan Ekstrom, as well as bassist, Nick Beard, ripped into the song. And then you have the brilliant opening line from it, “Sadly, I walk around this place on the shells of eggs…”. And at least for me, that was the highlight of their entire performance. Another new song, “The Lottery”, came next, and the intricate instrumental intro to that song is quite impressive, especially when you’re watching the band tear it up on their respective instruments. That was also one of the songs that saw Brendan adding the occasional backing vocals, with the line, “Who’ll take the lottery? We’re the unlucky ones.” They again toned things down, this time with “Brother Song”. Upon finishing it, the band did brief instrumental piece, which I thought was their next song, before abruptly stopping, while Anthony divulged the next song. It was “In Fear and Faith”, and it sounded stellar. It was also during that song that several enormous balloons were thrown out into the crowd for people to bat around. There was confetti put inside each one (side note: two confetti cannons had shot out a TON of the stuff during their second song) and over the course of the next several songs they all were popped, with the confetti inside raining down on the people. “…We did a music video for this next song…” said Anthony, using the word “weird” to describe said video. The song he spoke of was “Suitcase”, which would be the final song they would do from “Violent Waves”. I try to be as precise as possible, but there was one song they did this night that I don’t recall where it fell in the setlist. I think it came after that, and I’ll say it did, but I’m not 100% sure. They wound the previous song into the first of only a couple of songs they did from “On Letting Go”, and this one was “The Difference Between Medicine and Poison Is in the Dose”. Personally, I think that song has the best and catchiest chorus out of any of the band’s songs, and the last four lines of it really packed a punch, as Anthony stood at the front of the stage, singing, “…I can’t be honest with even myself. Did you ever wish you were? Did you ever wish you were? Did you ever wish you were somebody else?” “I love this next song…” he stated. “…Because it’s so fast…” You could feel the anticipation that caused in the air, than he finished, “…This is Semi-Constructive Criticism”. The song has an undeniable faster beat to it, and Steve really demolished it on the drums during that one. Immediately after it was done they launched into “Stop the Fucking Car”, and again followed that pattern for the final song of their set. The first guitar notes sent everyone into a frenzy as it quickly donned on the crowd that it was “Act Appalled”.

That was one helluva note to end on, and after the final drumbeat, while the final guitar chords were still ringing out, the band exited the stage. And as soon as they disappeared, the chanting began, some saying “ONE MORE!”, while others chanted, “CIRCA!”, over and over again.

It didn’t take too long before they returned to do a couple of the singles from their third LP. The first was “I Felt Free”, while before the last song Anthony made a dedication. “This song goes out to my two sons who are at home.” he said, as a seemingly long pause followed, though I’m sure it was mere seconds. “I can’t get started from the part where I left off yesterday, should have spent my time a little wiser. I sat alone, guilty as sin…” he belted out, getting underway with “Get Out”. Again, the fans were singing every word, and at the second verse, he pointed the microphone towards the crowd, allowing them to sing practically the entire verse. Yeah, it was a pretty cool moment.

Those two songs added an additional 8 minutes to their set, and at the end of their final song, the confetti cannons again spewed confetti on the audience.

In some ways, I do think that the band was oversold to me, just in that I had heard so much hype about their live performance, I think I had conceived some unreal ideas about what is was going to be like, but that’s not to say they still weren’t exceptional.

They had an overwhelming stage presence, and were pretty much the only band I’ve seen play on this stage who has what it takes to hold their own and deserve the crowds complete and undivided attention.

Brendan is an extraordinary guitarist, and he picked away at the strings with sheer ease. And when someone can make playing the guitar look that easy, well, I think that’s one of the signs of being truly talented.

Colin was on the other end of the spectrum, being a little more active, and even occasionally jumping around, while still shredding just as hard as Brendan did. Nick and Steve did an excellent job at holding down the rhythm section, and then of course you had Anthony. He certainly has what it takes to helm the band, and he was much more active and engaged the fans more this night then when I saw him earlier in the year on his tour in support of his latest solo record. However, he spent all of his time either on stage left or the center stage, which for me was fine for me, seeing as I was close to the center, but I think vocalists need to spend an equal amount of time on all parts of the stage. Personally, I think this creates somewhat of a distance between the band and the fans on the side of the stage that is getting neglected, and I say that from personal experience with other acts.

Then again, I don’t know, maybe all of the fans on stage right did feel just as connected to the band as I did. Still, I think they could really benefit from Anthony covering every inch of the stage.

That aside, I have no complaints with the show they put on, and it was definitely one for the books.

You can find all of the bands records in ITUNES, and while their tour is over, you can stay tuned to their OFFICIAL WEBSITE for any future tour announcements. And whenever they come back through Dallas, I will definitely be in attendance.

Friday, September 28, 2012 – Ishi Unwraps Their Digital Wounds

Originally, this was going to be the night where “Digital Wounds” was first released upon the world, but due to whatever reason(s), that was postponed. What is “Digital Wounds”? Well, that is the highly anticipated sophomore record from the Dallas Folktronic band, Ishi.

The show must go on, though, and even though they wouldn’t be releasing their new album, the Facebook invite for the concert made it sound like they had cooked up what was sure to be a memorable show at The Door this Friday night, saying they would be performing the record, start to finish.

Blackstone Rangers was starting off the show, and I was curious to see them. I’ve heard nothing but great things about them, but after listening to their music, it just sounded too Electronic for my tastes. But then again, you never know, because in the live setting bands usually come across much better.

Their first couple of songs did nothing for me, but oddly enough, their third song, which was completely instrumental, captivated me. It was very Electronic based, but had a smooth, fluid sound, making it outstanding. They had piqued my interest with that one, and got a little more of my undivided attention, but I have to say, in the long run, they were hit and miss for me.

Some of their music was too heavy on the synthesizers and such, giving them too heavy an Electronic sound for me. But the ones that were a little more relaxed sound wise were pretty good. It also depended on who was doing the singing. Keyboard player, Ruth Smith, had a pretty good voice, but when guitarist, Derek Kutzer, was singing, he used some effects to alter his voice a tad, making it nearly unintelligible.

In all their set was a little over half an hour, which was just the right time frame before it started to drag for me.

Even after seeing a show I’m kind of on the fence with this band. They weren’t bad, but then again I wasn’t too crazy about them. But if you would like to form your own opinion, go to their BANDCAMP PAGE. You can listen to their “Into the Sea” EP, as well as buy it for $1. They also have a couple shows on the horizon, one of while will be October 21st at The Bryan Street Tavern in Dallas. They will also be in Austin on November 16th at the Frontier Bar.

A band called The Lonesome Ghost was next, and I truly could have cared less for them. Usually when I dislike a band, it has something to do with the vocals, but even in those cases I typically like the music. However, that didn’t hold true with these guys. For starters, their lead singer was lacking a strong voice (or even a good voice for that matter), and even the harmonies that he and a couple other of the band members did seemed rather lifeless. While the music was as dull and drab as it comes. And I don’t mean like Commercial Rock dull, where so many songs sound exactly the same. I mean dull, as in no edginess whatsoever, and they didn’t even make an attempt to draw the listener in.

I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt and thought, “They’ll get better on the next song.”… But it never happened, and finally I just zoned out completely and began to browse the internet (specifically Facebook) from my phone.

I believe it had been a few months since the last time Ishi had done a real hometown show, and even longer since the last time I had seen them, and, as expected, as 11:30 drew near, the fans gathered around the stage, packing in as tightly as possible.

Eventually, some of the lights got switched off, then some more, and finally, the few remaining lights went out. There was still no Ishi, though, as the four members were congregated back by the drum riser, behind a screen that was set up to project some video onto.

They have made a few slight improvements to the stage show, in the aesthetic sense, since I last saw them, which was noticeably when guitarist, Rocky Ottley, ran out on stage, wearing a pair of sunglasses that glowed a neon green color, which rapidly flashed on and off. The three other members also wore some, with drummer, J.J. Mudd’s, being blue, backing singer, Becky Middleton, sported some pink ones and then you had vocalist, John Mudd. Not only did he have some purple glasses, but his Native American headdress had been enhanced, with various little designs done in neon lights, which adorned six of the feathers that were closer towards the front. They reflected each other, with one on each side briefly lighting up, then the next two, and finally the two that were closer to the front, as well as some longer feathers that dangled down by his face. So far, just from the looks of it, this was going to be one cool show.

They promptly started their first song, during which they had some visuals being shown on the screens (which looked more like thick white cardboard) on either side of the drum kit, as well as a disco ball, which was on a smaller screen hanging on the back wall of the stage. At one point, John picked up a smaller piece of the cardboard(?), positioning it where it “caught” the disco ball, all while he was singing and dancing along to the song. They quickly followed it with another song, and upon finishing it, John officially stated that they were playing “Digital Wounds” in its entirety, and from front to back. “…So that first song you heard is the first song from the record. That second song is the second from the record. And you’re about to hear tracks three and four…” Soon after he finished, the sample track for “Disco Queen” started, and that was when the fans really got excited, many singing along to the song, “…When I look into your eyes, the beat drops and we collide to the rhythm of the night…”. The first song had been awesome, and the second was pretty good, but it was with this song where the show really took off. Afterwards, John disappeared behind the screen on stage right, and I was wondering what would follow that song. Well, evidently they’ve put what will no doubt be the two biggest hits on the album right next to each other, as the sample track for “Mother Prism” kicked on. John then reemerged, wearing his cape/robe (which resembles like what you imagine a king would wear) and held a shield in his left hand. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. There’s enough love to go around…” he and Becky sang, while he waved his shield in a circle around the microphone. The ethereal sounding song has definitely become a fan favorite, as the crowd joined in on the chorus, “…Aiyah-Aiyah-Aiyay…”. They did another song, then moved right on into another, which I did recognize, as it was the one where John raises his voice into a falsetto register. When it was done, they immediately followed it with the next song, as Becky gradually made her way to center stage, while John took her spot, and she belted out in her fiery voice the first line of the next song, “I’m coming for my love…”. I was always unsure if that song was one of the bands originals or if it was perhaps a cover, so it was nice to find out that it is their own and will be on the new record. So far, I had recognized most of the songs, having heard them at other shows, but for their next song John said they had one that was “brand new”, making its live debut right here, which was pretty cool. Next up was another tune that will surely become a sing along, as Rocky and Becky join John in singing, “…I.S.H.I. We’re running high on our own dreams tonight…”. Their set got even more interesting with the next song, and during the break in between songs John somehow managed to get the strap of his acoustic guitar to slip over his headdress. “…This is track eleven…” he said, soon adding it was called “Naked Blur”, which he started by plucking at the guitar strings. He kept the acoustic for the next song, then asked where their bass player was. “…We have a bass player for this song…” he told the audience. Even though it was just for one song, it was still strange to see the band as a five-piece, but that bass added a noticeable difference to the song, giving them a much thicker sound. But that one song was all they used the guy for, and as he left, John removed his guitar so they could play the twelfth and final track on their new album. By the time they finished that one, it had taken 68 minutes, but for the first time ever (and I’m sure one of the only times) they had played “Digital Wounds” in its entirety.

That had been an incredible show, and some of the songs they did this night I can’t imagine will ever be “regulars” in their setlist, simply because they are either slower or just have a different groove from what is their more traditional sounds. I was still wanting to hear more, but that had been a pretty long set, so it would have been understandable if they had just left it at that. However, as Rocky laid his guitar down and went to exit the stage, John asked everyone, “So, do y’all want to hear more?” The fans cheered and applauded with delight. “Okay, we’re gonna take a nicotine break and a bathroom break, and then we’ll be back.” He told everyone.

They were gone for five minutes or so, before coming back out for a an encore of sorts (though I know they’ve said in the past they don’t like to do encores, instead they just do some extra songs) which spanned another 19 minutes. As the fans wondered what the band would play, the sample track for “Our Time” kicked on, which was cheered by the audience. Becky softly crooned into the mic, “Don’t let go.” a few times, serving as a prelude to the first line that John sang, “Don’t let go of who you are. You came too far to be the one left standing on a falling star…”. That will always be my favorite song from these guys, so after that, everything else was just icing on the cake. Now, that’s the lead track from their first release, and they followed it right up with the second song from it, “Come Closer”, which has some powerful drum beats. Near the end of the song, John hopped of the stage and made his way out into the thick of the crowd, and if it wasn’t for that headdress of his I would have lost track of him completely. “…It’s too late, I’ve been programmed to wine and dine you…” and he repeated over and over for the songs bridge, with the fans singing right along with him. He returned to the stage as they got ready for another fan favorite, “Pastel Lights”, and there was a moment during this song where he balanced on one leg and began to slowly flap his arms as if they were wings and he was a bird. Soon after that song was finished, another of the bands sample tracks started to play, and subsequently sent the audience into a near frenzy. “This is our last song of the night.” John stated, adding, “Thanks, Dallas!” “Shake Your Dandelion” is no doubt a catchy number, and this performance of it was the best that I’ve heard, as they had improvised it a little, and Rocky tore off into a astounding guitar solo that brought the song to a whole new level.

This was hands down the best Ishi show I’ve seen yet, and after getting a live taste of what “Digital Wounds” is going to be like, I’m now even more excited.

According to the calendar on the website for Good Records in Dallas, Ishi is scheduled to play there on December 13th, to celebrate the release of “Digital Wounds”. So, if that holds true, I would speculate you’ll also be able to see the band either on the 14th or 15th at one of the clubs in Dallas, and purchase a copy of the new album.

But in the meantime, they will be playing Hailey’s in Denton on October 27th. Also, they will be opening for Of Montreal at the Granada Theater in Dallas on December 5th. Lastly, you can find their first album, “Through the Trees”, in iTunes.


Thursday, September 27, 2012 – Smile Smile

Another Thursday, another Patio Sessions show held outside of the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Downtown Dallas. It was a bit on the warm side this afternoon, but that certainly wouldn’t be a deterrent from the fantastic (and free) show that had been put together for the evening.

The headline act was more than enough reason to get me out here, but then you had Arielle O’Keefe who had been tapped as the opener. It had (unfortunately) been a few months since the last time I had caught one of her shows, and this was certainly a good opportunity to finally see another.

The bulk of her 32 minute set was cover songs, such as “Black and Gold”, which she opened with. The piano part for it sounded gorgeous, yet I thought it also gave the song a certain dark quality, especially as she belted out the first verse, “If the fish swam out of the ocean and grew legs and they started walking. And the apes climbed down from the trees and grew tall and they started talking… And now I’m looking for a reason why you even set my world into motion…”. Afterwards, she left the piano, going over to the loop station, where she proceeded to make an array of sound effects, such as clapping, snapping her fingers, and various other sounds, including some vocals for backing parts. I was expecting it to be another song, but after all of that was said and done, she began to sing, “Give it to me straight, will you love me? Will you leave me alone?…”, the opening line from “Monster”. I then recalled that the last time I saw her she mentioned she was about to make that song much better from what it was, which, to be honest, I had my doubts about. I mean, the song is impeccable to begin with, but somehow, someway, she truly did find a way to improve upon it. She followed it with another original, and a newer one at that, “One Hundred”, which has a bit of a classical sound to it and then did another track from “The Music Box” EP, the soulful, “Lust”. The remainder of the set was covers, one of which was “Please Don’t Go”, which she said was a top forty hit, I believe by Mike Posner. She next did a stellar rendition of Katy Perry’s, “Firework”, while concluding her set was Patty Griffin’s, “Up to the Mountain”.

I understand why artists/bands do cover songs, and in a situation like this I think it’s more so the audience will hear songs they know. Now, that’s nice and everything, but I prefer to hear originals instead, however, I didn’t mind it a whole lot in this circumstance. Mainly because she put a great spin on all of them, and they were just as engaging as her original stuff, which I’m could be partly attributed to her astounding voice.

Despite the shorter set time she got, I would still this was the best show of hers I’ve seen yet. Oh, and if you don’t know, she was recently featured on the reality TV show, Opening Act, on the E! network, where she opened for Rod Stewart in Vegas. Just thought I’d throw that little bit of info out there for you.

As for shows, you can visit her CALENDAR for full listings, which currently includes a gig on October 19th at the Opening Bell Coffee Shop in Dallas. She’ll also be back there on December 15th. Also, on November 1st, she will be celebrating the release of her music video for a new song, “Creature of Habit”. The video will be premiered at the Lakewood Theater in Dallas, which is the same venue it was filmed at. You can also purchase her music HERE.

Next up you had Smile Smile, who very recently (about a month and a half ago) released their long awaited new album. An album that has grown on me each time I’ve listened to it and I was looking forward to hearing a lot of those songs and actually knowing them now.

The band members slowly trickled onto the “stage”, and at 6:34, they broke the silence, abruptly starting their first song. I really wasn’t even sure if they were actually starting or just doing a full-band sound check at first, but by the time they were about halfway through with “Broken Buildings”, I figured the shoe truly was underway. They followed that slower, more folk like song with the poppy lead track from their latest album, “This is for Real”, where the voices of both Ryan Hamilton and Jencey Keeton blend together, creating a beautiful sound. Those two songs where a good start to the set, but the pace picked up dramatically with the next song, the surprisingly upbeat, “Anymore”. I say surprisingly because one of first the lines is, “…An empty white dress is waiting behind those doors. A painful reminder that you’re not mine anymore…”, which should give you a good idea of what the song is about. Afterwards, Ryan told everyone that Jencey had just gotten back from her honeymoon, saying her and her husband had gone to Aruba. “…And when I asked her how it was, all she told me was, “It was expensive.” Jencey was kind of laughing, and reinforced it, simply saying, “It was.” Soon, she began to play her keyboard, starting “Beg You To Stay”, which Ryan soon added his guitar to, with the rest of the band joining in shortly. There some more brief banter after that song, where Jencey said she thought this was the first show she had ever done where she needed some bug spray. They then returned to the music with another new song. I didn’t much care for “When We Make Love” the first time I heard it, nor even the first several times for that matter. But then something changed, and I began to appreciate it for the pretty song that it is. It is a very slow song, but that’s what helps create its ambiance, as Jencey’s raspy voice joins Ryan’s throughout the song, like on the second verse, “She’s high and she’s low. She’s baby I know. She’s sex and she’s cigarettes. She’s perfect to me don’t you dare change a thing, my beautiful, wonderful mess…”. I was thrilled to once again hear “Goodbye Caroline”, which saw Ryan singing a couple lines here and there, though was predominantly sung by Jencey. And after hearing that one at two shows in a row, it gives me hope that maybe it’ll become a staple for a little while. At this point Ryan had to tune his guitar, which took a few moments, and prompted Jencey to ask if anyone wanted to become the bands guitar tech, so they could avoid this all together. When he finished up, they did another old song from their first album, “Icy and Cold”. There were a few songs during this show where guitarist, Emsy Robinson’s guitar playing stood out, but perhaps no better than on this song, where he really embellished some of the guitar chords with a knockout solo that should have left your mouth agape in awe. It was apparently seven o’clock when they finished that song, because some bells on one of the buildings in downtown began to chime. At first they were okay, but then Ryan began to get aggravated by them. “…What time is it!? Fourteen o’clock?” he asked. Jencey replied, “Yes, Ryan. The bells ring in military time.” In his defense, it did seem like the ringing was never going to stop, and I swear it lasted more than seven chimes, and when it finally quit, they picked back up with “Next to Me”. “Statue” came next, which drummer, John Solis, started, with some very steady beats. It was good hearing that one again, too, because even though it is new, I believe it was absent from their CD release show. The title track from their latest album, “Marry a Stranger”, signified that their set was drawing to a close, but they still had a few more left, including a very poppy, happy song, for which they asked any couples that were there to come up and dance to. Specifically, they had asked for the couples to raise their hands, and after they did, Ryan said something to the effect of, “…I love how the married couples with little kids slowly raise their hands, like in defeat…”. That song was “Permanent Bliss”, and it was followed by the title track from the bands last record, “Truth On Tape”. Before that song, Jencey had told all the little kids who were running around, playing in the water that they would need their help dancing on the final song, and know she called them all up to the front. “Do y’all want to know what this song is really about?” Ryan asked the kids, and then received a glare from Jencey. “It’s about when you love someone very much…”, and that was as far as he got (which was probably a good thing for the kids’ sake), as they fired up the final song of their 51 minute set, “Fatal Flaw”.

It was really a great show, and I’d say it rivaled their CD release show from the previous month. Even in this more “unique” setting where they didn’t have as many eager fans as in a club setting, they still put just as much energy into it.

You can find all three of their records in ITUNES, and they do have a show on October 13th in Fort Worth for the ArtsGoogle Festival. They will also be doing a show on October 30th on, so, no matter where you live, you can tune into that online.

Smile Smile

Saturday, September 22, 2012 – SaintKarla

There were a few different shows going on this night that I would have loved to have been at, but I settled for the one at The Boiler Room. Three bands were gracing the stage at the venue, all three of whom I liked, and even one of those I had yet to see live.

Abacu5 (pronounced abacus) was first up this night. I’d seen the band once before, nearly a year ago, for what (I believe) was their first live show. I enjoyed them then, but their shows had been seldom since, and when they did play it didn’t work out where I could make it, so I was looking forward to seeing them again.

Their 42 minute long set began with a bang, in the form of their song “Blow You Away”. It was a helluva way to open the show, what with the sweet guitar licks that Samuel Holder rocks out at the beginning, and also shows how cohesive they are, with singer and rhythm guitarist, Jonathan Sprang, singing part of the chorus on this one, while bassist, Adam Manning, sang the other. Both of whom sounded quite good by the way. I believe it was Samuel who wound that song seamlessly into their next with some guitar chords, and after taking a moment to tell everyone who they were, they fired up their next song. Eric Petrinowitsch laid down the beats for “Pretty Lady”, a song that has a little more soulful sound. They, or specifically Adam, did have a little trouble during this one, when his strap came off at one point, but he recovered as quickly as possible, which was just in time for his solo. The of that one was blended into the following song, which slowed things down a little more, and afterwards Samuel held down a few strings, making for a rather mangled sound. Soon, Adam layered his bass over it, and then Eric joined in, before Jonathan began to sing, “Wish I may, wish I might. Have this, I wish tonight…”. Yes, they were covering Metallica’s “King Nothing”, which I certainly wasn’t expecting, since the song is so much harder when compared to their originals, but they pulled it off very well. “That was Metallica… We tried to do it justice…” said Jonathan when the song was done. Another original followed, after which Jonathan took time to formerly introduce his band mates, and then he started strumming on his guitar, getting back to business with the sweeter tune, “What I Said”. I think “Say What You Want” was performed next, which is easily their catchiest song, and that brought them to their final song of the night.

They were even better than what I remembered, and they definitely must be credited for tightening up, which is impressive, considering they haven’t done just too many shows in the past year.

They’re a great Alt/Rock band who makes great Alt/Rock music, who put on a really good show. Adam owns it on the bass, Eric knocked out the beats with ease, Jonathan has really good voice and is a fine guitarist when that’s his only priority, and as he said about Samuel this night, “…He can play guitar pretty well…”, which might be a slight understatement.

They’ve recorded a four song EP which you can listen to on their Facebook page, and by the time I get this posted they will have physical copies available at shows. And as entertaining as those four songs are, the show this night showed me they have a nice catalog of material that they couldn’t record this time around (but will hopefully make it on a future record). Really, I often found myself liking the next song even more than the one that came before it.

Also, I want to again say thanks to Samuel (and the rest of the band) for giving me one of their shirts. That was too kind, sirs!

As I said, I’m a fan of every band on this bill, but two of them were icing on the cake in my opinion, while SaintKarla was the cake itself.

Before the four piece started, singer and rhythm guitarist, Jono Fink, told everyone they were SaintKarla, adding something like, “…And we’re younger, better, faster and stronger…”. With that, Bryan David smashed down on the drums, while the band ripped into one of my favorite songs of theirs, “Mayday Comrade”. “…You and I never talk anymore. You and I used to be friends. You and I had a history before, you went away and forgot about me…” Jono belted out on the songs chorus, his voice having a bit of a deeper sound live than what comes across on the recordings. “…We don’t know what we’re doing up here…” confessed Jono when the song was over. “,…We got duct tape on our pedal boards… But we’re just gonna have a good time.” he finished, noting the next song was called “The Bomb”. Those are two sensational songs to get going with, and had me, and from the looks of it several other fans, fired up. Next, they dug out a song from their first album, “Self Created City”, and upon finishing it, Jono revisited his statement from earlier. “I don’t know what I was saying… We’re older, fatter, slower and weaker…”. But he also pointed out that, that wasn’t going to stop them, especially with their next song, “Nothing But A Smile”. “…It’s about dancing naked. You know, wearing nothing but a smile…” he said. The sound guy then used that to get some laughs. He had, had the projector showing a old picture of the band, but now changed it to an animated girl dancing around, and later switched that to the animated dancing baby. All the while the band was mostly oblivious to it, as lead guitarist, John Perez, bassist, Brad Bloomer, Jono and Bryan made their way through the largely instrumental song. Once it was over, they pointed the videos out to Jono. “I thought you were laughing at us…” he told the crowd. “I was like, “Well, whatever gets them off.” “Right of Passage” followed, with his catchy, well-written music bed, and next did “Dark Skies”, where Jono asks the question, “…Why do bad things happen to the good people of this world?…”, later wondering, “…Could it be that God don’t love us anymore?…” It seemed like they had just started, and already they were saying they had all of two songs left, one of which was the fan favorite, “Sing”, and at one point John raised his guitar up, using his teeth to play a few of the notes. Now THAT is Rock ‘n’ Roll, and really, how many concerts do you see where someone plays an ax with their teeth? The band has a song they usual like to end on, which was what I was expecting next, but instead they did one last staple from the “Elephant In The Room” album, “You’re Soo Drama”. “…There’s no need to over think or complicate the way life should be… This is me, moving on finally free. Turn around to face the past…” Jono sang towards the end, tuning back towards Bryan as he sang the line, “And wave goodbye…”, he added, waving to the fans. That made for a good note to end on, but some people weren’t satisfied, though their chants of “One more!” quickly died. But the Boiler Room is notoriously good about letting bands to one more song when the crowd wants them to, and the sound guy then said to them, “I think they want one more.” Luckily they hadn’t been able to do much as far as tearing down their gear, and after Jono turned his amp back on, he told everyone they had to do something for this last song, and that was to “…put a drink…” in their hand. Jono mentioned how life can get pretty bad sometimes, saying something to the effect of how you sometimes just have to say to people, “…Tomorrow’s going to be better…”, and “Three Cheers to You” perfectly embodies that positive, things will get better spirit, and was no doubt the note to end their 45 minute long set on.

The sad thing is, these guys don’t play too often, which is a big reason for why I didn’t want to miss this show. In fact, I believe this was their first gig since late March, only their third this year, and also the last one for another little while. But on the bright side, they said something on their Facebook page a while back that they might start writing some new material in the near future, so hopefully whenever they get back to the live circuit, they’ll bring some new tunes with them.

And whenever that does happen, go see them. With each show I become more of a fan, and this night was quite possible the best one I’ve seen yet (or at least the best since the release of “Elephant…”). Finally, you can purchase both of their records in ITUNES.

Rounding out the night was the trio, Long Sword Spectacular. The band recently came onto my radar after one of their members, Doug Jones, contacted me, telling me about the band and how they’d like for me to come out and see a show and review it (which is very humbling by the way). And after a few months of wanting to catch one of their shows, I was finally going to.

Things looked like they were going to be interesting as lead vocalist and bass player, Josh Harelik, and guitarist, Daniel Reid, each donned a pair of sunglasses, and before embarking on their 51 minute set, Josh made a little speech, which was something about when they can’t get the job done, “…They call in the big guns. They call in LONG SWORD SPECTACULAR!” he shouted. Yeah, this was going be interesting…

I assume most of what they did came from their self-titled release which was put out earlier this year, but there was one point, about six songs in, where Josh announced they were doing a “world premier” of a new song, which sounded every bit as good as their other material.

Their music had a darker undertone to it, which was only enhanced by the devilish growl that Josh sang in. It was definitely good and loud Rock ‘n’ Roll, though. Doug was a beast on the drums, and there was one funny moment where before breaking into a song, Josh shouted, counting down from four. He was looking at Doug, who didn’t make a move, so then he counted up to four, and as soon as he spit that last number out, they ripped into the tune. When their time was almost up, Josh said they were going to close with “…an oldie but a goodie…”, which was the final track from their record, “Breakin’ Loose”.

I did think they had a bit of a rough around the edges sound, in the sense that it wasn’t fully polished, and while that might sound derogatory, I don’t mean it that way. If anything it helped make them more authentic.

They have a show coming up on October 13th at Ten Bells Tavern in Dallas. If you want to check out some of their music before you buy it, they have 3 FREE downloads over at their REVERBNATION PAGE, and if you dig those, check out “Long Sword Spectacular” on iTunes.

All in all a great night, and it was even over a little earlier than these things usually are.

Thursday, September 20, 2012 – A Silent Film

A few months’ back I went to a show at one of the venues in Deep Ellum and happened across a band by the name; A Silent Film. I later learned the band was from Oxford, England, but had been over here in the states touring for a little while. Long enough, in fact, they even recorded their latest album at a studio in El Paso, Texas.

Their fan base at that show was largely younger girls, which made me skeptical, for probably obvious reasons (i.e. I wondered if they were a boy band), but that skepticism vanished once the band began, giving way to their catchy, piano driven music and stellar vocals. They impressed the hell out of me then, and started hoping they’d come back through Dallas sometime.

That brings us to this night, which found the band stopping back in Dallas, and this time Club Dada was the host venue.

First up was another touring band, Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun, who is based out of Atlanta, Georgia. I had listened to a few of their songs after seeing they had been added on this show, and from what I heard I liked ‘em and was interested to see what they were like live.

It was almost 9:20 when the four piece band got on stage and got their 38 minute set going with (I believe) “Bad Design”. The band’s sound was a mix between Rock/Electronic/Pop, with an electronic (either keys or a synthesizer) sound looping throughout the song (mainly on the verses), giving it a certain ominous quality. And it was that eerie sound that helped make the song so captivating. They segued that song into the next, as some more catchy notes on the keys started. “Old Monster” got off to a slower start, showing a more delicate side of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Lauren Gibson’s voice, with some intermittent drumbeats from Jeremy Cole mixed in, before he suddenly tore into his kit, while Cregg Gibson cut loose on his guitar. In fact, I think “shredding” was the guys only setting, because he either wasn’t playing at all (on the occasional parts that didn’t call for any guitar) or he was killing it rocking out on his ax. They followed pretty much the same pattern as before, winding that song into “With My Good Eye”. After that song they took a well-deserved break, and Lauren told everyone who they were and where they were from, plugging the merch they had for sale. I think the following song was “Life & Limb”, during which Lauren hopped off the stage and ran out in between the tables and mingling with a couple of people who were hanging out closer to the stage. For the next tune, Cregg switched out his guitar for a bass, making “We Were Wild”, which was the most fiery song of their set, super heavy with an all rhythm section. They balanced that out, though, because Micah didn’t use her bass for the next song, instead just playing her keyboard for “Single-Hearted”, which was another song where Lauren joined the audience for a few seconds, saying that would be the last time she did it, because it requires more crowd participation. I’m unsure as to what the next song was, but I think it was the one that opened with a drum intro. In addition to the traditional kit,Jeremyalso had a few pieces of an electronic drum set, helping in giving their songs a more unique sound, and this intro used them heavily, and intertwined with the real drum beats, it made for a stellar intro. By this time, I had really gotten into their show, and even though they had played the bulk of their album I could have listened to a lot more. But this was when Lauren said they had one song left, and it was titled “Oh Black Gold”. She had dabbled on the guitar throughout the show, sometimes playing it for full songs, others just portions of it, and it was here she jumped from the stage one last time, going over to the two guys who were close to the stage and rocking out on her guitar in front of them. I think she almost hit them a few times because she was so caught up in the song, but they moved back, allowing her a little more room, before she rejoined her band mates and concluded the song.

They may be a mesh of several genres, but there is no question that from the performance aspect, they are nothing but high-energy Rock ‘n” Roll. Jeremy is a machine on the drums. Lauren has a vigor that most frontwomen (and frontmen) would envy, with a incredible voice to boot. Micah owned it at the bass. And again, Cregg is an outstanding guitarist.

I liked them enough I decided to go buy their “Wildfire” album after they finished, and I have to say, it is every bit as good as their live show is, sans all the visual stimulation. You can find it and their past releases in ITUNES and it is well worth your money, or at the very least just preview the tracks to see if it appeals to you.

You can find the bands tour dates HERE, and I was told they will hopefully be back in the area in the Spring. Specifically around March, when they should be down in Austin for SXSW. Keep a check on them, because believe me, the next time they are in town, you want to see them live.

The only local band on the bill was Catamaran, who I’ve heard of before, but knew little about them.

I really didn’t care for them a whole lot. They’re an Indie Rock band, and I found their style of Indie Rock to (mostly) be incredibly bland. Couple that with their singers’ voice, which wasn’t downright bad, though nothing special or attention grabbing, either. They did probably around a 30 minute set, and it wasn’t until their next to last song where I found myself liking it. The guitar notes their singer was playing were quite catchy, while their lead guitarist was instead playing a tom, adding a little extra percussion to the mix. Then you had their final song, which was almost as good. And then, when I was just starting to enjoy it on some level, they were done.

I’m not saying they were bad, but they didn’t appeal to me a whole lot.
I do know they are playing at The Prophet Bar on October 26th. They also have twelve demo songs you can listen to and even download for free if you would be interested in checking out the band, and can find said songs HERE.

It was then time for A Silent Film, who had amassed a good-sized crowd for a Thursday night, easily numbering between thirty to forty people.

“Dallas, you came!” said vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Robert Stevenson, with delight in his voice. He soon took a seat at the keyboard and started to sing their first song of the night, “Reaching the Potential”. He soon began striking some of the keys, lacing them over the sample track that was playing, but leapt up from it once drummer, Spencer Walker, and bassist and guitarist, Ali Hussain and Karl Bareham, respectively, entered into the song, transforming it into more of a rock song. That is the lead track off their newest album, and they followed it with the second song from it. “…This song is called This Stage is Your Life” Robert said, again dabbling on the piano at the beginning of the song. He grabbed his guitar to use on the next song, the hook filled, “Let Them Feel Your Heartbeat”, and afterwards asked the audience how many of them had their first album, “The City That Sleeps”. Maybe ten hands or a little more shot up, and Robert responded, “That’s good, because we didn’t get this far south on the tour for that album.” He continued, “…This one is for you, it’s called Sleeping Pills.”, which the band promptly started. Upon finishing it, Robert went over near the keyboard, with his back turned towards the crowd so you couldn’t fully see what he was doing. “I’m sorry… I had a hair in my mouth and was trying to get it out, which is quite disgusting…” he said. Spencer was the only other member with a mic, and laughing, he chimed in, “I think that’s one of those things we shouldn’t talk about…” “I thought against it, but the fact is it probably is my hair.” Robert said, adding, “But then there’s that chance that maybe it isn’t mine…” I thought it was commentary like that which made this show even better, as it let the fans really see their personality and connect with them more, rather than acting like a band that was just there to play their music and nothing else. Once that hair had been taken care of, they did another song from their first album, “Driven by a Beating Heart”, before briefly taking things down a bit. They do a wonderful prelude for their song “Love Takes a Wrecking Ball”, which is done solely on the piano, with Robert singing the first few lines of the song, with Karl and Ali gradually adding more and more to the song, before it explodes into the album version of the song at the chorus. Afterwards, they offered up a song to anyone who was a longtime fan, and even though I’m not, it was still great to hear the single from their first record, “You Will Leave a Mark”, which saw Robert spending most of the song at the keyboard, as he crooned, “…Oh, my heart is bursting again. Don’t leave this mark…”. “Thousand Mile Race” fell next in the setlist, which they said was a song about being a “VERY long way from home”. “I think you made the right choice. I didn’t think you’d run away. The thousand miles between us became a race…”, Robert began, singing it almost a cappella, aside from noises from their sample track. Upon finishing it, there was another funny moment, where Roberts said, “…Contrary to popular belief, bands love meeting people after a show. Because the last thing we want to do after performing is to get back in that fucking van.” he said, pointing to their ride right outside of Club Dada. He then encouraged anyone who wanted to, to come buy a record or even just say hello to them, before telling the crowd that this next song was their favorite to play from the new record. “It’s called Anastasia” said Robert, as the sample track, which features some violins (I believe), kicked on, and Spencer soon set the beat for the tune. After it, Spencer mentioned that this was their second to last show before they get to go home for a little while. “I tried saying that last night, but it just sounded… like we weren’t grateful to be here and can’t wait to get home. Which is not at all the case.” Robert said, as they talked about how they were looking forward to having some time off back over in England. “…We’ve got a songs left…” said Robert, who again picked up his guitar, next doing “Queen Of a Sad Land”. It seemed everyone who knew anything about the band got really excited when they did the single from their new record, “Danny, Dakota and the Wishing Well”, which tells an awesome story. At this point, they said they only had one song left, and there was an audible sound of, “Awww”, as the fans wanted even more. Robert had made his way over to stage right, to a smaller keyboard that Ali had used periodically throughout the night. “…This song is called Harbour Lights”, he said. Hearing that appeased me, because that was the only other song that I really wanted to hear them do, and that catchy number with the chorus, “…You were my rock, never my stepping stone…”, brought their 57 minute long set to a close.

These guys are truly sensational. I think I said this about the other show I caught, but Robert is a very charismatic frontman. He made sure to pay equal attention to both sides of the stage, and subsequently their fans on either side, and he’s constantly making little motions with his left hand while he sings. And his voice, his voice is stellar. He is the most active member of the band, so therefore the one who will grab your attention more easily, but I don’t mean to leave the rest of the band out. Ali is a first-rate bassist, having that relaxed demeanor that bassists seem to have while he was cranking out the beats. Karls’ guitar playing is more subtle, but that’s a good thing, because he simple lets his talent and the music speak for itself. Then you have Spencer, whose drumming skills were out of this world.

Even their “break” back in their home country won’t be a complete break, as they have a show at the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen in London on October 15th. Then, from October 31st through November 24th, they will be back in the U.S. to tour part of the West Coast and Texas with Blue October. And yes, that tour will bring them back to Dallas, for a two-night stand at The House of Blues. The full schedule can be viewed HERE.

I must say, I’m really considering splurging and spending the nearly fifty bucks it requires to get a ticket to one of those HOB shows, because A Silent Film is just that good, and I have a feeling that Blue October might be upstaged on their very own tour.

Oh, and be sure to check out the bands two albums in ITUNES. You can also get a FREE download of “Queen of a Sad Land” just by signing up on the bands email list, HERE.

This was one awesome night, and when it was all said and done, I had become a fan of one touring band, and even more of a fan of another. I mean, there’s no question that local Texas bands are the best, but it’s always great to see what else is out there, and I’m eagerly awaiting both of those bands return trips to The Lone Star State.

Monday, September 17, 2012 – Lauren Mann & The Fairly Odd Folk

Earlier in the year I came across Lauren Mann & The Fairly Odd Folk, a Canadian band, who happened to be opening for another band from Canada, which was who I had gone to see in the first place. For that performance, LM&TFOF had to do an acoustic set, which was good and they made me a fan, but more often than not, an acoustic show is very different from an electric show.

So when I found out the band would be getting back to Dallas on their tour to support the release of their new record, “Over Land & See”, I planned on going and checking out what a full performance from them was like.

The House of Blues was the host venue, specifically the smaller Cambridge Room, and to no surprise, it wasn’t too crowded when I got there. Very sad, but then again, it was a Monday night, so I guess most people don’t think about going out then.

Anyway, the first act this night was Claire Stevens, whom I had never heard before, nor could I find anything about here during some light searching online, so I didn’t know what to expect… And I certainly did not expect her to be a nine year old girl, which is exactly what she was.

Her 20ish minute long set was all covers, which she performed on an acoustic guitar. She did a couple of songs from Colbie Caillat, and before one of those songs she told everyone how much she loves Colbie, saying she is her “idol”. I found it amusing when she spoke in-between songs, simply because she sounded so mature when talking about the band whose song she was about to perform. For her final song, she said she first heard it when her mother played it for her, “…And I decided I wanted to play it.” she said matter-of-factly.

Given her age, she was quite good, and very professional. She apparently plays the various stages here at the HOB often, and if you want to see when she will be performing, check out her OFFICIAL WEBSITE. You can also listen to some of her music and see what you think.

After she finished, it didn’t take long before the next band took the stage, which was Nicholas Altobelli & The Gigawatts (pronounced Jigawatts).

I saw Nicholas earlier in the year, but that was more of an acoustic show, and just like the final band, I was also looking forward to seeing what Nicholas was like with a full-band.

His band consisted of a drummer, Nathan Reed, bassist, Paul Wheatley, guitarist, Robbie Saunders, who they said was a “hired gun” for the night, Heather Kitzman, who played a couple of instruments, while Nicholas used an acoustic guitar (Also, I want to apologize for not remembering the names of every band member).

They, too, got a shorter set, which lasted a mere 28 minutes, and even then they had to cut a song, or maybe two. I assume most of their songs this night came from his new album, which will be released soon, so I didn’t know anything of what they did. Still, it sounded great.

His music is easily pulled off in a more solo setting like the other time I had seen him, but the full sound that The Gigawatts added to it gave them a much more layered and deeper sound. His vocals could have been turned up just a hair, though, as I found it hard to hear the lyrics at times, but that’s my only complaint, and it’s certainly not his fault.

He did have some trouble with his guitar being out of tune, and had to tune a couple times. One was before their final song, when they only had five minutes left, and he joked, “It’s going to take me five minutes just to tune.” Also, towards the end of their set, Heather moved over to the pedal steel guitar, while Nicholas sit down at the keyboard she had just vacated, and had some technical issues with it. Honestly, I didn’t notice it (I guess since I don’t know exactly what the song should sound like), but you could tell it frustrated him to some extent.

None of that took away from the show, though, which was still really good. Their music has a bit of a Folk sound to it, and is well worth checking out. You can download “When Now Becomes Then” for FREE, by going HERE, and also get “Radio Waves and Telephone Wire” HERE. He also has a free show coming up on October 4th for the Patio Sessions music series, outside the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas.

It was almost nine o’clock and the last band, Lauren Mann & The Fairly Odd Folk, were already getting ready to take the stage, and getting ready didn’t take long, since their gear was already up there.

The six-piece band, comprised of Lauren Mann and Zoltan Szoges, both of whom are multi-instrumentalists, as well as four other members, started in spectacular fashion. I’m not sure what the opening song was, but they all started at the precise moment, with Zoltan clapping a pair of drumsticks together in synch to the drums, all while he darted around the stage. He may have been more in the background for most of the night, but it was that energy that made you keep an eye on him at all times. Afterwards, he went up to one of the mics, thanking the small number of people for being there on that Monday night. “…Apparently, we only know how to play Dallas on Mondays…” he said, referring to their March trip through the state, which also occurred on a Monday. “Is it Monday?” Lauren asked him, saying she had no clue, and had kind of lost track of days. Their group of musicians rotated instruments frequently this night, and now one of their guitarists switched out for a banjo, while Zoltan got on a little keyboard that was setup next to a gigantic bass drum and partial drum, which he had been using for some extra percussion. The song they churned out was catchy, upbeat title track from their newest release, “Over Land And Sea”. Their drummer kept the beat going, rounding that song into their next, “Let’s Make Our Escape”, during which Zoltan played an oboe. A new song followed it, and was called “Travelers’ Anthem”, which is the perfect title for a song from this band, seeing as at one point they told the crowd they are a full-time touring band. “…We do about two hundred shows a year…” said Zoltan. Around this point the members had again traded positions, with one of the guitarists taking over drum duty, while the one who had been drumming played some other instruments. Thus far, their set had been pretty much all new songs, but next they slowed things down with a song from the 2010, “Stories From Home”, “Stow Me Away”. They kept the slow vibe going, though Lauren left the piano and picked up her ukulele, as she began to pluck the strings. “We are fragile needing much. We are delicate to the touch. We are temporary at best, unaware of what’s next…”, she sang, the opening line of “Fragile”, a song that found Zoltan playing a melodic at times. Around this point they again took a few minutes to talk to the crowd, with Lauren telling everyone about a charity they are trying to raise money for, Charity Water, and that they were donating portions of their merch sales to organization that helps supply clean drinking water to people in developing nations. Then Zoltan again thanked everyone for coming out to this, their first show at the house of Blues. “…I don’t want to sound cocky, like, y’all are witnessing history, but you are seeing something that’s very special to us…” he said, going on about how incredible the venue is and how thrilled they were to be able to perform there. The eclectic use of instruments continued with “Weight Of The World”, which has brief xylophone parts throughout. By this time, the band had returned to the posts they started out at for this show, doing a sweeter song, “Love, I Lost”. This show had been a blast, and wanted it to go on for so much longer, but then Zoltan announced they had only one song left. They made it very fun, though, getting some audience participation, as he handed out a few tambourines to people who came up and got them. “…Don’t worry, I’m going to have more instruments and stuff to shake in a minute…” he told everyone, and soon brought some more light percussion instruments to the front of the stage for people to get. Lauren proceeded to whistle into the mic, starting the final song of their 43 minute long set, “I Lost Myself”.

This show can’t even be compared to the acoustic one I saw back in March, because this night the show was an entirely different beast. I swear, for all 43 of those minutes they were on stage, I felt a sense of wonder as I watched, trying to take in everything that was going on, which was no easy task. There was just so much going on, but it never felt like a sensory overload, and I must say, I was extremely impressed, because just from listening to the bands albums, I didn’t expect their live show to be nearly this high-energy, and that made this one of the most fun shows I’ve seen in some time.

The band has two full-length records available as well as a Christmas themed EP, all of which can be found in ITUNES. You can also get a FREE sampler of their new record HERE. Also, I said that they mentioned they are a full-time touring band, so they obviously have a ton more shows this year, both in the U.S. as well as Canada, and their schedule can be found HERE. Unfortunately, they won’t be getting back to Texas this year, but they did say they’d probably get back this way in early 2013. And whenever they do, go see them, even if it happens to again be a Monday night, because their show is totally worth it. Besides, this was over early enough I got home before 11, which included sticking around for a while after their show and chatting with both Zoltan and Lauren.

Lauren Mann & (most of) The Fairly Odd Folk

Nicholas Altobelli & The Gigawatts

Saturday, September 15th,2012 – Trees’ 3rd Anniversary

So far I’m two for two at seeing Trees’ anniversary shows, and now after this night, I’m three for three.

It has been a little over three years now since Clint Barlow reopened the legendary Dallas venue, and to help celebrate this year’s event he had gotten Bowling for Soup to return to the club, after playing there four short months earlier.

I don’t know when the show started, but evidently it was early, because when my dad and I got there shortly after 8:30, the first band, The Hollow Empire, had already done there thing.

I can’t say I’m disappointed, because I don’t know anything about them, but hey, if they were playing an event like this, they must be pretty good.

We did at least get there early enough to see one of the bands I wanted to see, though, and that was Ten Can Riot.

I had seen the band once before, but that had been two plus years ago, so I didn’t recall much about them, but once they got going, my memory was refreshed a little bit.

They are a trio that churns out some Punk/Rock music that could easily compete with the best of the best. Singer and guitarist, Scotty, is an Australian, and his accent adds an extra element to the songs, frequently shining through on the songs, such as “Got My Rights”, where he growls out the chorus, “Well I got my rights…”. They tore through their set, and the coolest thing about it was how crowd embraced them. After announcing that they only had one song left, there was an audible sound of disappointment, and I even heard someone say, “Play five more!” Yeah, seemingly no one wanted their set to end, and I was in that group, because Scotty, bassist, Dougie, and drummer, Micko, were killing it. But of course they had to, to make room for the remaining acts.

I think these guys usually play pretty often, but I can’t find any upcoming dates at the moment, so I don’t know when their next show will be. They have a record, which you can order online via their OFFICIAL WEBSITE, but it is not available in iTunes or other such retailers. You can listen to their stuff on REVERBNATION, though, and if you like ‘em, go see a show. They will not disappoint.

I had bought the tickets for this show not long after they went on sale, because Bowling for Soup was more than enough reason to get me out to it. But then I found out that The Orange had been added to the bill, and my excitement grew. And those cool cats were next.

A 37 minute set was all they got, but they packed it chalk full of Indie Rock goodness. Their set consisted of their newer material, with a few exceptions of some oldies that have not been recorded, such as their opener, “Such a Drag”. It was a good way to get things going, and while the band rocked out, Tyler Spears, who plays the tambourine, strutted around the stage. Singer and rhythm guitarist, Scott Tucker, ditched his guitar for the next couple of songs, the first of which was “I Want a Girl”. I didn’t know that title of that song until they mentioned it there, but I remember it from the past few shows of theirs I’ve seen, and is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Like so many of their songs, it has a real infectious sound to it. Afterwards, Scott welcomed “Chicago Dan” to the stage, as he walked down from the steps that lead to the greenroom. He lent his harmonica skills on the next couple of songs, one of which I believe was “Doomsday for Mr. Denton”. During that song, Scott left guitarist, Kirk Livesay, bassist, Jason Wessup, drummer, Cody Waits, and the others, as he hopped off the stage and got lost in the crowd. He soon reappeared, and shortly after pulled a young girl on stage. “This is her first concert!” he said, while the girl appeared a little frightened to be on stage in front of so many people, but after seeing Scott jumping up and down, she followed suit. “Scream!” he said at one point, having her scream into the mic., before she eventually left the stage. “I don’t care what anyone else says, Rock ‘N” Roll saves.” Scott said as the song ended, then added, “Raise your hand if you’ve been saved by music.” The bands guitar tech brought out a guitar for Scott, and while that happened, Jason told everyone the next song was called “Mr. Money Maker”. Scott then added it is the first single from their upcoming record (tentatively due out in early 2013). Chicago Dan left after aiding the band on that song, and they soon started their next tune, and one of their longest, “Cityscapes”. As the song builds, the main line that is often repeated is, “Nothing really matters.”, and right before the band ripped into it, Scott said, “The truth is, when you really think about, nothing does matter.” This was the only song that didn’t go off without a hitch, as Scotts’ guitar had some issues, and he switched out a couple of times during it. They ironed out the problem before beginning “Valium”, which Scott said was simply about, “…Taking Valium.” That brought them to their final song of their night, which once again required the sounds of Dan and his harmonica, while Scott set his guitar down for the explosive (no pun intended), “Blow Up”.

I’d say this was the best show I’ve seen the band do since the last time they played here at Trees. Hell, this is quite possible one of the best shows I’ve seen them do period. They were really on top of their game this night, even by their standards.

As mentioned, they are working on a new record, but until then, check out their first EP, “A Sonic Collection of Short Stories from Lala Land”. They also have some more shows coming up, one of which will be on October 12th at The Doublewide in Dallas. They will be back here at Trees on October 27th. Then they have a show at The Door/Prophet Bar (Big Room) in Dallas on November 2nd.

Obviously, people were most excited about seeing Bowling for Soup, and as it got closer to time for them to hit the stage, the people packed in there like sardines and started to chant the band’s name. Then their theme music started, and a vast majority of the crowd was singing right along to it.

The curtain opened with Jaret Reddick, Gary Wiseman, Erik Chandler and Chris Burney already on stage with their instruments, and once the music subsided, they started rocking out. It was just music at first, but then they put the right chords to it, and truly shocked me by opening with one of their biggest hits, “Girl All the Bad Guys Want”. “Sing with me!” said Jaret when they got to the chorus, having the fans sing every other line, such as, “…Turntables in her eyes…”. After it, they took a little break, to talk about Trees and wish the venue a happy third birthday, and soon something was said about needing to be happy, setting up their next song, “Shut-Up And Smile”. I’ve always liked that song, and it’s cool that it’s found its way into the live set, and when listening to it, it really is kind of hard to not smile… Especially when they started talking about how much they loved ice cream, after the line, “…All we need is some ice cream and a hug…”. The end of that song saw the start of the bands typical banter in between songs. “…I think we found the secret to having a great show.” Jaret said. “Only charge three dollars… At this rate, we’d only have to do ten shows a day and still get to live in a van!” He then started setting up the next song, saying it was about his ex-girlfriend, who caught “The Clap”. That led to a hysterical conversation revolving around, “What exactly is The Clap?” “Don’t ask me, I failed health education…” Chris said. They knew it was either Gonorrhea or Syphilis, but the audience couldn’t provide a definite answer, either. I think they finally decided on the former, and Jaret again said this was song about his ex, “…Who got Al Caponed…”. “He died of Gonorrhea, right?” he said, saying something like that gem of a joke could have just been ruined. They got to the song after that, as Jaret started, “It wasn’t supposed to be like this, another dose of unhappiness…”, begging of course, “Emily”. Around this point it was mentioned that they almost didn’t make it to this show and would have been stuck in Toledo. “…Which wouldn’t have been too bad. There’s stuff to do it Toledo…” said Jaret, in a hesitant voice. “Yeah, Detroit’s not too far from there.” Erik added. “…We were so close to Detroit we could actually hear the gunshots…” he added. Then, after asking his band mates how they were doing, Chris said he was having a “bad pants day”, which led to a little discussion about his pants. As that topic neared the end of discussion, they started softly playing their instruments, doing an intro of sorts that soon gave way to a fan favorite, “Ohio (Come Back to Texas)”. During the sing-along portion, everyone was asked to raise their hands in the air. “If the person next to you isn’t doing this, then they hate puppies.” Jaret told everyone, and after the crowd swayed their arms back and forth for a bit, he then asked them to do “jazz hands”. “Okay, now spirit fingers!” he exclaimed. Afterwards, Jaret took a breath mint or something, saying he thought his breath was bad, and offered Chris one. “…I need some of that ball fresh…” he said, which soon turned into a joke about how much he stank. “Can you smell him out there?” Jaret asked. They said it’s sometimes hard to shower when you don’t have one, and Chris said something like, “…What am I supposed to do? Wash my dick in the sink?” That hygiene topic went on for a few minutes, and then Jaret asked how many “really good singers” were in the crowd. “Okay, how about how many bad singers?” he asked, and they really outnumbered the good ones. “Okay, I’m going to need you good singers to help out the bad ones during this next song.” he finished, as they broke into “Almost”. They got to the bridge, and that was when he said the good singers needed to help the bad ones, as the audience sang, “I almost forgot to say something else, and if I can’t fit it in I’ll keep it all to myself…”. Another random conversation started after that tune, and eventually led to “closet peeers” (is that even a word?). “But there is one man who has peed in more closets than anyone…” said Jaret, who asked that one of their roadies come out on stage, saying he held that title. SO, what’s a good song to play after talking about peeing? How about the delightful, innuendo filled song, “My Wena”. Upon finishing it, they reminisced about when they used to play Trees, back in the day. “We’d play here on Wednesday nights.” Jaret said, noting their audience then was the other bands and the bartender(s). “…And it was so cool. Back then, we used to get to pay full-price for drinks!” Chris chimed in, “So we didn’t drink.” “Yeah, once they start giving this stuff to you, it’s all over.” Jaret added. They then got ready for their next song, saying that for the past eight years or so, “…Which isn’t even half of our career…” pointed out Jaret, they have been credited for doing the song, “Stacy’s Mom”. Jaret said that the song went out to a mother and daughter who had bet about who did the song originally, “…[The mother] wins.” he said, before they began the song. When it was over, Jaret said something about how he thought he smelled toast, to which Erik eventually asked him if that made him worried if he ever were to have a stroke, saying something along the lines of, “…You’d be, like, it smells so delicious, but there’s no toast. I must be having a stroke…” “Let’s All Go to the Pub”, a brand new song, came next, and is a song that is done in true BFS fashion. It’s quick and funny (i.e. the line, “…My girlfriend’s acting pissed at me, but that ain’t nothing new. Could it be a birthday or anniversary? Beats the hell out of me…”). It’s definitely bound to be an instant classic. Speaking of classics, they did another one, “High School Never Ends”, which I find even more funny now. There are SEVERAL celebrity names thrown into the song, and after the line, “…And Katie had a baby, so I guess Tom’s straight…”, I kind of laughed to myself, since that couple is no longer together. At this point, someone passed a note up to the stage, which was a coupon for a 44oz. drink that they joked they could all split and each get 11oz. of it. “Yes, I see the note on the back.” Jaret told the person, then Chris took it from him. “Oh, it says “Chris has a lovely dick.” “Now if you’re going to get a note, that’s the kind of note to get. Saying that you dick is lovely.” Jaret joked. Someone from the audience said something, and Jaret quipped back at them quickly and then they immediately started the Phineas and Ferb theme song, “Today is Going to Be a Great Day”. They didn’t get too far, though, before stopping, and Jaret said he was feeling so good from his joke a moment earlier, he hit the wrong note, so he wanted to start the song over. Another short song followed, which was done after they said they “made mistakes” in their youth and did power ballads, rather than keeping things short and simple, and it was one they “made up” there on the spot. “What should we sing about?” asked Jaret, before asking a girl what her name was. It was Holly, and they said they were going to do a 45 second song about Holly. “…Holly, you’re standing fifteen feet in front of me…” was one of the lines, and they only got so far, before the 45 seconds were up. Chris then said something about rock musician, Sebastian Bach, would probably be contacting them wanting to do that song. “If he did it, it would go like this.” Jaret said, as they proceeded to do the song with an 80’s rock flare to it. Chris then joked they could do it like Dokken. “But see, if we did that, we’d be the only ones who understood it.” Jaret told him, essentially saying everyone here was to young to remember that band. When that was all done, they took a beer break, then launched into “The Last Rock Show”. “Now everybody, put your hands up like this!” Jaret instructed, flashing the rock hand sign. “If the person next to you isn’t doing this, than that means they hate gonorrhea…Which, is a good thing.” he slowly said, and I’m going to guess he botched that joke ever so slightly, though it was still good, and then they tore into “Punk Rock 101”. They (or rather their road crew) had, had some rough moments around this time, as a fat guy somehow started crowd surfing, ended up on stage, and then started trying to fight Tony when he tried to get him off stage. And by fight I mean it looked like blood was about to be drawn. So, during “Punk Rock 101” the band did their photo moment, where they pose on all sides of the stage so fans can get pictures, and Jaret said something like, “For the first time ever attempted at Trees after a fat guy jumped on stage and nearly started a fight…”. After the picture taking, they joked about the situation, which was really funny because they continued performing the song, though all four of them watched as they guy pulled Tony to the floor where they wrestled for a moment. “…You guys are like, “Fuck it, we only paid three dollars to get in here and we’ve already heard Girl All the Bad Guys Want…” said Jaret (or at least something like that), then said that would have to be the name of their Greatest Hits. “…The thing is, we need a lot more hits. Otherwise we’re stuck with a shit sandwich.” said Chris, to which Jaret said they were running out of time. They slowed things down a little with “When We Die”, and then invited Clint Barlow, the owner of Trees, who had gotten on stage before the band started to thank everyone for coming out, back up on the stage for one more speech, which he reluctantly did. Trees does have several Hard Rock and even occasionally Metal bands come through, so to honor that Jaret said they had the perfect song, Britney Spears’s, “Baby One More Time”. Once it was done, Chris took notice of the giant ceiling fan that the venue has, saying, “That’s a big fan… I could use that in my bedroom.” “I’d be worried that if you had that in your bedroom your whole house would float away.” Jaret told him. They stayed on that topic for a bit longer, and then began their final song, which was of course, “1985”. Towards the end, they had the crowd sing the chorus to them while they took another beer break. “That’s right, you do all the work and we still get paid.” Jaret told everyone. Their break wasn’t too long, though, and after finishing it, Chris mentioned he wished they had put a double chorus at that spot. “Well why not do it now?” Jaret told him, and the fans again sang it, before they came back and finished what little was left of the song.

That brought an end to their 81 minute set, and for the first time ever (or I guess second, counting when I saw the band on the Warped Tour in ’04), they did not do an encore. Why? There was a DJ who was filling the rest of the time, right up to two AM, so the bands gear had to be gotten off stage.

For the sheer fact of wanting more, I wish they had been able to do a couple encores, but still, they had done everything that the people expected to hear and then some, so there’s no denying it was an incredible set.

BFS will soon be doing a UK tour, stretching from mid-October to early November. They also have a new record Called “One Big Happy”, which is more of an EP of sorts, featuring music from them, The Dollyrots and Patent Pending. You can find it, and all their previous albums, HERE in iTunes.

All the way around it was an awesome show that Clint had assembled at Trees, and a very good way to mark its third anniversary. Go see a show there sometime and help make the place get to four years.

Below are some crappy cell phone quality pictures I took:

Ten Can Riot

The Orange

Bowling for Soup

Friday, September 14th, 2012 – Waking Alice

The Boiler Room was hosting an amazing night of rock this night, and one I had been looking forward to for quite some time, now.

The night even got off to a very interesting start, and while I stood outside the venue talking with “Duckie”, Nathan and “Otter” of Night Gallery, a (I assume) homeless guy approached us and asked us if we wanted to see “the greatest card trick in the world”. Now, for obvious reasons one would think this was going to be a total disaster, but he proceeded to show us a couple card tricks that left my mind blown. Seriously, it was legit…

Up first was a band based out of Longview, known as This Day Forth. They played at Night Gallery’s CD release show a few months back, and while I wasn’t enthralled by them, I didn’t dislike them, either. However, I didn’t stick around for all of their set, simply because it was so late when they went on. So I was hoping I’d like them a little more now, especially because leaving wouldn’t be an option.

In short, they were great. They’re heavy. Very heavy, and that was what left me on the fence about them from that previous show, because at times their music got harder than I care to have it. The same can be said for this night, but I was more receptive to it, and even liked those couple of songs where their singer and rhythm guitarist, David Wilson, did some borderline screaming. The rest of their material, though, was pretty killer, and with each song I found myself getting more into it. They even did a cover (of what song I don’t know) during which lead guitarist, Travis Hull, and bassist, Mike Battiato, stood facing one another, and then each grabbed the neck of the others instrument, holding down some of the strings on the fret board. It was a neat little trick.

During their set, they mentioned they are currently recording a record at Indian Trail Studio with producer, Alex Gerst. So, there’s that to look forward to in the future. They also have couple of shows coming up, one of which will be on September 29th at Click’s in Tyler. The other is at the Side Pocket Lounge in Kilgore on October 13th. Check ‘em out if you’re in the area, and really, listen to these guys, and if you like them, go to their show the next time they are up here in the D-FW area, because they need a fan base up in this area.

Waking Alice was second up, and this was a performance I’d been looking forward to seeing. I first heard of Waking Alice via Myspace (yes, Myspace, so just a few years ago) and liked their stuff. I never saw them, though, until a little over a year and a half ago, but there was one big difference between then and now. Since then their singer from that time had left the band, while the show this night marked only the second live show the band has done with their new vocalist, Rus Chaney (formerly of Echo of Insanity).

The opening song of their 41 minute set was pretty good, kind of serving as a warm up for what the rest of their set held. When drummer, Jon Levey, tore into his kit kicking off “Wasting Time”, that was when things got really good. It’s got a real Hard Rock sound, with a killer music bed and some sweet riffs for guitarist, Brandon Brewer. They followed it with another older song, and after finishing it Brandon asked the crowd how many of them remembered that song. “…If you remember it, you’re old, ‘cause that song is like, ten years old.” he said. He then asked, “How many singers have you seen sing that song?” Rus made a little remark joking with him, that was something like, “It doesn’t matter. After hearing me do it, no one else before matters.” So far, so good, but those were older songs, and I was most interested to hear what they had written since Rus had joined up with them. Well, they got to some of those new songs next, as he told the crowd they were about to hear “Treason”. Soundwise, it goes along the lines of the bands other material, though Rus’s mark was definitely noticeable in the lyrics and such. They followed it with another new one which he said was titled “Scars”. “Remain!” shouted a girl. “No. That was the other band.” he said, “But good one.” Before their next song, Brandon said something, which I couldn’t understand, and Rus responded, “That’s the biggest lie I’ve ever heard.” Then added, “You see what I did there?” It was clever because the song was “Biggest Lie”, which brought things down just a bit from what they had been. Afterwards, they did another new song, and it really was new, as they said this was the first time it had ever been played live. “…I just got married last month…” said Rus, setting up the subject of the song, “Fates Design”. The song has a nice instrumental intro that leads up to the first line and dances between a slower, more gentle love song and a Hard Rock love song, with part of the chorus being, “…You took a chance and put your hand in mine. What we have now is by fate’s design…”. Upon ending that song, Jon went into a lengthy, awesome drum solo that spanned a minute or two before giving way to their final song of the night. I believe that was also the song where Brandon launched into a guitar solo that lasted a little while, before getting back to the song so they could wrap it up.

It was a really good performance. As I said, I’ve liked the band for awhile, even though I’ve only seen them once prior to this, and while I should point out that my memory of that other show is hazy, I think this was a better show all the way around. For starters, it was good to see Rus back on a stage, since it’s been about ten months since the last show I saw with his previous project. His voice sounds great on these songs, both new and old, and really, I think he sounded better tonight than the other two shows I’ve seen him perform. Personally, I think that’s because this music is more complimentary to his voice, and as he told me a little while back, this stuff really is more melodic than what he was making before. Brandon and Jon are impressive on their respective instruments, and the only unfortunate thing this night was that Brayton Light was having some issues with his bass. “…He can’t move around as much as he normally would…” Rus told everyone early on, citing that if he did something might get unplugged. I thought he still did a good enough job, though you could tell he was holding back from what he would typically be doing.

They don’t have any shows coming up, but they no doubt will soon. In the meantime, they just released their brand new EP, “Retribution”, on iTunes. It consists of three songs, the new ones as mentioned above. You can also find the bands past releases there, when they had a different vocalist.

Two bands in and it had already been one hell of a show, but things only escalated further when Night Gallery took the stage, doing their first Dallas show since the release of their CD at the end of June.

They wasted no time after getting everything set up, and ripped right into “She Runs”. I forgot what a punch the song packs as the opener, and right from the get go it has you, hook, line and sinker. “Duckie” counted them into their next song, before letting loose on the drum kit to start another heavy hitter, “Crazy Brave”. They took a little break after that, and soon vocalist, “Otter”, said the next song they were going to do was “My Friend Pretend”. Their fans cheered at this. “Oh, some of you have heard it.” Otter responded. They had switched the song up a little, and instead of just Nathan Hanlon cranking out the intro on his guitar, fellow guitarist, Jeremy Root, as well as bassist, Mikey Auringer, added some light riffs to it, and there were even some softer drumbeats, all of which helped make am already stellar song even better. They kept right on going, and again, Duckie led the charge, and as soon as he pounded out the final beats of that song, he started the next, “Dirty Side”. While Otter sang the final chorus, “I don’t want to speak to you, unless you want to speak the truth. Wipe the sand from my eyes, and see your dirty side.”, he spun around and around while holding the mic. “I’m tangled up…” he said after they finished, and had to take a moment to unwrap the cord from around him, then placed the mic back in the stand. “We’re gonna slow things down a little.” he said after getting untangled. “This song’s called Without Regret.” I don’t know if the song is really that slow. I guess in comparison to their others, though it is a little more heartfelt then most of their other songs. They wound it into the following tune with some more beats, while Jeremy started plucking his guitars’ strings, setting up “The Tide”. “Separation Anxiety” came next, and while I never took much notice of the song before they released their album, “Loud as the Sun”, it has now grown into one of my favorite NG songs, and is a beast when done live. Near the end, Nathan let out some notes that were quite noticeably different from how the song usually goes, but I just figured he was improvising it just to switch things up. He copped to it afterwards, though, I believe saying it was in the wrong key and that he had to do something so he wasn’t just standing there. So he played some notes that were similar to what it should be. Really, if he had not have said that, I would have been none the wiser to the problem he was having. They really slowed things down with their next song, “Untimely Demise”, which, as Otter put it, “is a sad song”. He even brought his mic stand out on the area that the monitors sit on, leaning out towards the audience while singing the song. It began to fade out, but Nathan kept things going with a guitars version of some circus music, which was a great segue for one of the bands most fun songs, “Mr. Ripper”. That took them to the final song of their set, “The Signal”. Otter left the stage at the end, making his way out amongst the people as he spoke, “With one single voice we will resonate choice. Fight to the end to overcome trend. Now coming in clear, no more static you hear. So take it from me, we’re not changing, you see!” before rejoining the rest of the band to conclude the song and wrap up their 43 minute set.

As always, they put on a fantastic show, and were able to fit in all but one song from their record. It’s a real performance these guys put on for the fans and onlookers, a performance that will earn them your undivided attention and entertain the hell out of you. Oh, random side note: This show marked the first time EVER Mikey had played on stage left. He did fine over there, though later told me he’d prefer to never do it again.

They are trying to get out of town more, and have a date in San Marcos, TX at the Wake the Dead Coffee House on October 6th. On October 12th they will perform at The Grotto in Fort Worth. They’ll be at Fast Eddie’s Billiards in Waco, TX on November 3rd. November 17th will find them at their Dallas “home”, The Curtain Club. On November 24th they’ll be up in Denison at a venue that is TBD. And they even already have a Dallas gig booked on January 12th at Reno’s. Check out one of those shows if your in the area, and also go give a listen to “Loud as The Sun”.

The final act of the night was Redshift, who had made the shortish trek down here from Denison, and I must say, I was pretty excited about getting to see them again.

“Down With A Grin” kicked off their 42 minute long set, and with the soaring guitar solos and powerful rhythm section with beats that are impossible not to bang your head to, it made for a good song to get going with. You know, there was no “getting your feet wet” so to speak, rather they just thrust their sound upon everyone, giving the handful of people that remained a good idea of what their set would be like. A couple more newer songs followed, with guitarists, Chris Hathcock and Jake Cox, and bassist, Alex Cantrell, darting around the stage, shredding on their instruments. They played one of their heaviest songs, “Red and Black”, next. It’s a song that has vocalist, Tommy Barker, belting out a loud, deep scream for most of the verses, and even most of the final chorus, “…No daddy, no, this can’t be true! Choke me while I pull this dirty knife out of you!” Honestly, I wasn’t too fond of this song the first several times I listened to it, but it has grown on me, and especially in the live setting it’s a pretty killer tune. Afterwards they did another new one, which I believe was called “Conventionalized”, and as it ended, drummer, Clay Wise, wound it into their next song. It was during that one that Tommy took time to introduce the band, beginning with Clay who did a few second drum solo, and then Alex, who also did a solo on his bass. It was repeated for Chris, and after introducing himself, Tommy said, “And last, but certainly not least, we have Jake Cox…”. When that song was done, Jake and Chris switched out guitars with some others that they had, while Tommy grabbed his guitar. “This was a single a while back… Kinda.” said Clay. Tommy chimed in, “Yeah, kinda.” The song they spoke of was “Don’t Run Away”, which has a long, but awesome instrumental portion during it. Tommy sit his guitar down as the song neared its end, and as soon as he said they had only one more left, Jake started strumming his guitars’ strings, beginning “Pulling Through”.

Their time on stage passed way to quick (in a good way). To me, that’s one of the many signs of it being a great show, but sadly, very few people were here to witness it. I know it was late, but still, people could have stuck around to at least see what RedShift was like. But oh well. To put a positive spin on it, they still put on a performance like the whole place was packed, and that’s the right thing to do.

This was definitely the best show I’ve seen the band do so far, and while I’m not going to rip a band for legitimate technical difficulties (which was what happened the last show of theirs I saw), it did impact the show, and I realized that this night when Jakes’ guitar was working flawlessly. Their performance was great, and Chris told me afterwards that, that is now one of their big focuses; getting the live show down to where it’s something more than just a show. They do still have a little ways to go, but they are headed in the right direction, and when I think back to the first time I saw them, which was about a year ago if not longer, they’ve grown in leaps and bounds.

I’ll say pretty much the same thing about them as I did the first band, they need more of a Dallas area following, which is hard to get when people don’t want to stay late to see your set. So, check out their music. You can purchase “The Awakening” on iTunes, and even get a FREE download of “Don’t Run Away” HERE. If you like, go support the band at a show. They have one on October 6th at The Office in Dension, TX. And will again play the city on November 24th at a venue that is yet to be determined.

Awesome night of Rock (mainly Hard Rock) music, and I want to again say thanks to Nathan of Night Gallery for guest listing me, even though I didn’t know for sure that he did so I didn’t use it. Still, it’s the thought that counts.

Thursday, September 13th, 2012 – “…Time & Time You Take Your Fill, & Then Just Leave…”

Patio Sessions. It’s been close to a year since the last time I attended one of these seasonal events held outside the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas, and evidently they’ve changed up the set up this year. Last year it was held literally on the patio of the AT&T PAC, but upon arriving today, the musicians were set up on part of the sidewalk near the corner of the street. I didn’t like that part quite as much, because it put a distance between the onlookers/fans and the artists, rather than having a more intimate feel like last year’s did.

First up was a singer/songwriter from Dallas, Kirby Brown, who was introduced by Mark from 102.1 The EDGE. I’ve heard of him [Kirby] for years now, but never took time to listen to his music and never happened to see one of his live shows. In fact, but of me wishes I still hadn’t done either. See, he said in this set as well as a recent online posting that he will soon be relocating to NYC, so it sucks to hear a musician and like him when he only has one last show in D-FW area after this.

Indeed, it was a great show he put on, and his music, voice and lyrics were excellent. His music was more along the lines of Folk, though there was a certain Rock element to it, and I’m sure that is only magnified when he has a full-band backing him, which he said occasionally happens. He got to play a nice little set of songs, before being told his time was up, as they had a “special guest” slated to be there after his set, but luckily after his set was done they decided they could let him do one more.

By the time I get this posted, his farewell show will have already occurred, making this, in all likelihood, the only time I’ll ever see Kirby perform. But who knows, maybe he’ll get back to Dallas sometime for a show.

He’s a very talented individual, and for anyone who might be reading this and lives in New York City, be on the lookout for him in your city soon. For everyone else, he has an album, “Child of Calamity”, which is available in iTunes.

They had said something about a special guest being part of this show, and I was curious as to who it would be. I was thinking along the lines of some type of special musical guest… I was wrong.

A play, Warhorse, was starting there at the PAC that night, and to help welcome it to Dallas they had the mayor of the city, Mike Rawlings, and his wife, as well as two members of the DPD who were some of the ones that patrol the city on horseback. Talk switched to the play, and the main character/horse was Joey, and had the mayor’s wife whistle to get Joey to come out. Long story short, the “horse”, which was a frame, shaped like a horse with of course some actors in it, trotted out to where the mayor and everyone else was. There were a lot of young children there, and I believe what happened next was mainly for them, as they introduced Joey to the real horses that the officers sit on. “Well, I think they’re (the fake horse & real horses) best friends, now!” the mayor’s wife exclaimed.

Some may say that animals such as horses lack facial expressions, however, I saw otherwise this day as both of the horses sniffed of and nudged the fake one, looking like, “What the hell is this thing?!”

It was an interesting moment, and unique way to welcome this play to Dallas. Still, for some reason I thought it cool that the mayor of Dallas was right there. I was glad when they finished up and went about their business, though, because that meant that Bravo, Max! was about to start.

The four guys that comprise Bravo, Max! got up on stage and vocalist and lead guitarist, Johnny Beauford, said, “…We’re going to play a song about horses.” He then started plucking at his guitars’ strings, and once the melody was set, Jonathan Jackson entered in lightly on the drums, with bassist, Ben Gastright, and keyboardist, Garrett Padgett, following suit, as “Dog’s Light” got into full swing. That was a hell of a way to get the show going, and perhaps the most striking part of it this time was the end, when Garrett, Ben and Johnny all crooned into their respective mics, “Ooooohhhhh.”, which sounded incredible. Afterwards, Johnny talked about the events with the mayor, and asked that if he was still here if he could stick around a little longer. “…We’d like to get a band picture with you. We’ll use it for our album cover.” he finished. They followed it with a couple either new(er) songs or some songs from Johnny’s solo project, one of which saw Garrett leave the keys for a guitar, while during the other Ben stepped out into the very shallow pool, which several kids had been playing in, and played a portion of the song from there. Jonathan started them on their next song, as Johnny told those who were watching them it was “about kissing”. “So, if you have someone, now would be the time to start kissing them…”, then he added it should only be if you know the person and it’s consensual, “…Otherwise we don’t approve.” That fitting intro led them into their song, “Kiss”, and upon finishing it, they had a little band discussion of what song to play next. They settled on the lead track from their album, “Hotel Denalian”, and Garrett again picked up his guitar for that song. They then slowed things down with “All Your Grace”, which Johnny busted out his harmonica for and used periodically during the song, but picked the pace back up with their latest single, “Pills”. You could overhear them again having a little band conversation about what to do next, deciding on “Take Your Fill”, which Jonathon started with some light, steady beats. I was surprised that it had already been over half an hour since their set started, because it didn’t feel anywhere near that long, and that meant it was time for them to wrap things up, doing one more newer song, which sounded killer by the way, and concluded their 39 minute long set.

The few times I’ve seen these guys before, they have not disappointed, and this evening was no exception. Johnny truly has one of the best voices of any singer in the North Texas area. And while he’s been with them for three out of the four shows I’ve seen now, I like what he brings to the band. The keys help give them a richer sound, and when he playing his ax, he really cuts loose.

The band is staying busy over the course of October, with a big show at Club Dada in Dallas on the 6th, where they will be a part of the CD release show for the new album from the group, Somebody’s Darling. On the 18th they will be at Bar 14 in Abilene, while on the 19th they will be the final act of the season for the Nasher til Midnight concert series, hosted at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. They will be at The Freeman in Dallas on the 31st, and for anyone in Denver, CO, you can see the band at The Lion’s Lair on November 17th.

Find the band’s album, “Dog’s Light”, in iTunes, or you can listen to the entire thing HERE on the bands website. You can also get a FREE download of that single, “Pills”.

I had forgotten how fun these Patio Sessions shows are (and the fact that they’re free doesn’t hurt at all), They have a few more left for the year, so why not go catch one if you don’t have anything to do on a Thursday afternoon/evening?

September 27th Smile Smile and Arielle O’Keefe will be there. On October 4th Vanessa Peters and Nicholas Altobeli will be the entertainment. On October 11th The Blurries and Zhora will rock the place. And on October 18th Air Review and Home by Hovercraft will close out the season.

BELOW: Bravo, Max!

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012 – Missy Higgins & The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle

It’s rare that you see a show bill that features all female musicians, which is a bit of a shame. However, the Granada Theater was remedying that problem this night, as the excellent venue hosted three bands, all female fronted and two of them were even Australian.

This show was part of Missy Higgins U.S. tour for her new record, “The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle”, which was her first new release in quite a few years.

I arrived early to make sure I could get a spot in the parking lot behind the venue (which didn’t look like it would have been a problem even if I had gotten there later), and when I made it in, I was surprised by how many people were already there. The two sections closest to the stage were already pretty full. I didn’t know much about any of the acts going into this, but I took this as a sign that they, or at least Missy, had a big, loyal fan base.

Shortly after eight o’ clock had rolled around, the first act, Butterfly Boucher, and her band walked on stage. Someone up front shouted out her name, and then she confirmed to anyone who might have been wondering, “…Yes, Butterfly is my real name…”, which was said in a very thick Australian accent. They opened their 31 minute set with “Not Fooling Around” as Butterfly softly sang the first line with, “I’m not fooling around tonight. I’m not trying to win to you back, I’m not trying to win you back…”. The gradual build up to the song made it a fantastic opener, and since the drummer, Will Sails (I think that was his name), and bassist didn’t really invigorate the song until the second verse, it allowed her voice to be the main focal point. Afterwards, they welcomed another musician to the stage, as Jordan Hamlin, who was part of the next act, came out to add to their sound, mainly with a second guitar. The pace really picked up a real rock song, “I Wanted To Be The Sun”, and then they did one more with Jordan, who also occasionally added to the percussion by beating on a tom that was set up at the front of the stage. It was around this point that she asked the crowd if anyone had heard of her or maybe even seen her before, and a few people made some noise. She then noted that most of the songs were from her newest album, released earlier this year, “…But I guess there all new to you, anyway…” she said. I’ll be honest, I haven’t listened to her stuff enough to know song titles, which is why I say I believe they next did “I Can’t Make Me”. Her band left after that song, while she switched one guitar for another. “…This song is called Warning Bell.” she said, starting what was without question the most beautiful song of her set. She’s a great lyricist, though it can be hard to hear everything when seeing a band live, but during that song you could hear how poignant the lyrics can be, as she sang the chorus, “…Life has taken on my pride. Now even hope is hard to find. I only meant to love you truly. I never meant to hurt you deeply…”. Her two band mates returned after that song, though for the rest of their set Butterfly played the bass, while the other guy (my apologizes to him for not remember his name) used a guitar. Some special guests also joined them. “I’d like to welcome two…talented women to the stage that I am very privileged to be sharing a tour with…” said Butterfly, as Katie Herzig and Missy Higgins walked out on stage, the latter getting behind the keyboard, while I couldn’t see Katie well enough to tell what she played. Perhaps one of the toms? They first did “None The Wiser”, and then Butterfly warned everyone that their final song was a dance one, so not to worry if we felt the urge to start dancing. She also asked that everyone who knew the “5678!” part (that was also the title of the song) shout it out as loud as possible. “We sure as hell will be.” Missy said. That was an incredible note to end the show on, and it featured the voices of all three singers to some extent.

I knew very little about all these acts coming into this show, which I think helped in keeping me unbiased about their performances. With that said, I believe Butterfly Boucher was the dark horse of the night so to speak. She got the shortest set and had the fewest amount of people watching her, but I enjoyed those 31 minutes the most. (I also want to state that is in no way a slight towards Missy or Katie.) Her music is just closer to being what I primarily listen to.

When she talked with the crowd, she kept it fun and light. She asked for some audience participation on another song, and told everyone they could really sing it out. “…At some of our other shows people will start whispering like me, when I’m just whispering so they can be heard…” she laughed. Then there was another point where she mentioned her mailing list you could sign up on. “…Don’t be fooled. It says Katie Herzig on it, but you’ll also notice it says “And Butterfly Boucher”, ‘cause we’re trying to save trees people…”

She has an incredible voice, and they all had a good stage presence. Just a topnotch performance.

She said she tours the U.S. fairly often, since she resides in Nashville, and while she has no U.S. booked at the moment, she will be touring a Australian tour in November. Check out her TOUR PAGE for all the dates, and you can purchase all three of her albums in ITUNES. Want to sample some of her stuff first? Well, go HERE to download a nine song sampler from

There was a very quick turnaround in the bands, which was why Butterfly said she would be out at the merch table later, because she was also part of Katie Herzig’s band.

Some of the band members were keeping busy this night, as Butterfly held down bass duties in Katie’s band, while Will was again behind the drum kit. Rounding out the band was Jordan Hamlin on various instruments throughout the night, Claire Indie who played the cello, and of course, Katie Herzig.

As they started off, Katie used a ukulele, softly picking away at its strings as she began “Wasting Time”, which has a very good, often repeated line, “…It’s easier wasting time then breaking hearts you love…”. Upon finishing it, she went over to the keyboard that sit close to the center of the stage, which she would use for the next few songs. They followed it with a few more songs from her latest record, “The Waking Sleep”, including “Make A Noise”, the very catchy, “Midnight Serenade”, and the equally as good, “Free My Mind”. For their next song, Katie told the audience a story to introduce it, and what a story it was. “I wrote this song for the Sex & the City movie…” she began, saying they had originally tapped Fergie to record, but it wasn’t working out. She then said something like, “That’s my purpose, to do whatever Fergie can’t handle.” She then began to laugh. “None of that is true. I was asked to write this song, that’s part’s true…” If I heard correctly, the name of the song was “Hang On”. When it was done, they switched things up, and her band left while she welcomed another guy to the stage (my apologizes for not recalling his name.) She said they had written this song together and that it had been released as a Valentine’s Day exclusive song on this year. “Does anyone here use Noisetrade?” she asked, which I found somewhat ironic, since the site is how I heard of her in the first place (and the same goes for Butterfly Boucher.) What came next was a duet of the gorgeous song, “Holding You”. Her voice was the most prevalent during it, though he added some softer vocals on various parts, such as, “Hold me close until the sun goes down. Hold me close until it comes around again…” Wow. That was a definite highlight of their set, and it really stuck with me. I’d even say the song was haunting in a sense. They returned to their full-band lineup after that, plus the addition of another guest, as Missy Higgins again came out on stage. She lent her hand at playing keys for a couple of songs while Katie used a guitar on “Wish You Well” and then “Lost and Found”, which was the pinnacle of their set. It had a wonderful dynamic going, with Missy, and I believe Jordan and Butterfly continuously singing the backing part of, “Ooooohhhh”, as Katie sang the chorus, “Somebody found me here. Somebody held my breath. Somebody saved me from the world you left …”. I found it to be one of those songs that jumped out at you, pulled you in and then left you awestruck. That seemed like an impossible song to top, and “Daisies and Pews”, the final cut on her new record, seemed to be a good way to bring things down and, I assumed, end on. However, the band had a surprise up their sleeve. “I didn’t write this song, but hopefully some of you will know it…” said Katie, who moved over to the keyboard for the final song of their 47 minute long set. Most everyone cheered as she and Will got the song going, but it took me hearing the first line to realize what it was. “Sweet dreams are made of this. Who am I to disagree?…” she sang. Yes, they were covering The Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams”, and in my opinion, they made it sound even better.

Their music was a little different from what I usually listen to, mining more of a indie/folk sound, with dashes of pop, and even a minimalist feel at times, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it.

There’s a great quality to their sound, and the cello helps make that (by the way, I think more bands could use a cello). While Katie has an astounding voice that, at times, has a very soft, delicate sound with a slight twang. In listening to her music I noticed that and was impressed that it came across live, so what you hear is exactly what you get… And then some.

Her tour with Missy Higgins may be over, but she still has some tour dates left, which are primarily on the East Coast. So, visit her TOUR DATES page to see when and where she’ll be. She also several albums and singles available, all of which you can find in ITUNES. Also, to get a free download of the song “Holding You, simply go HERE.

The crowd had grown quite a bit since the doors opened, and now appeared to be pushing a sold-out show.

So far, they had been pretty much right on schedule, but Missy missed her set time of 9:55 by a little, prompting some fans to use the live Twitter screen feed (where all you have to do is tag @GranadaTheater to see your tweet appear) saying things along the lines of she could take the stage now. They might have been overly excited, though, ‘cause it only ended up being nine minutes after that scheduled time.

The stage had been reconfigured for Missy’s set, with a keyboard/piano on either side, with the one on stage right being played by the guy who sang that duet with Katie during her set. Butterfly Boucher was back out on bass, and Will Sails again completed the rhythm section, and there was also an electric guitarist.

The crowd roared when Missy ran out to center stage, and after briefly talking to the audience, she started plucking the strings on her acoustic guitar. “You were from the North, I was from the South. We were from opposite places, different towns. But I knew it was good and you knew it was too…” she sang, beginning what was more of a solo song, “Secret”. She has a very strong, powerful voice, and that song truly put it on display, and if that as merely the introduction, I was eager to see what was in store for the rest of her set. My method of note taking failed me for the next couple of songs, so this might not be entirely accurate, but I believe next that she said most of the set this night was going to be songs from her new album. “…And this is the first song we’ll do from it…” she announced, as they started “If I’m Honest”. They did another song, which I believe was another older one, and around this point Missy talked about how this was her first album in quite awhile, and how she had a serious case of writers block. “…So I just walked away from and figured I’d come back to it in my own time…” she told everyone, saying that what resulted were several songs about that experience of not being able to pen any songs for so long. That little story made their next song, “Set Me On Fire”, make perfect sense, as one of the lines from it is, “…Melody, you’re the only one who saves me. Out of the cold you take me…”. “Ten Days” came next, and it was another that Missy told a story about before playing. She said she wrote it when she was in LA and missing a guy she had recently broken up with. I think she said she then sent him the song, and I’m not sure if I heard her correctly or not, but she said she sent him something else, and what I heard was a “beard trimmer”. Butterfly appeared to be laughing a little, and once Missy looked back at her they both burst out laughing. “That’s a weird piece of info that you all didn’t really need to know.” she said, laughing. They did another tune, and then the single from “The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle”, the very piano driven pop sounding song, “Hello Hello”. They then slowed things down with a beautiful piano song, “Where I Stood” and another similar song from the new record, “Everyone’s Waiting”, where Missy really belted out some of the lyrics. This night had, had some great moments, what with the solos and duets the other acts had done, and at this point Missy indulged in both. After the band left, she told a story about someone she knew who had been unfaithful in their marriage, and talked about how terrible it was, because it “tore the whole family apart” and that there were young kids involved, too. She went on to say tried to get in his head when she wrote the next song, to understand where he was coming from, since he was “very remorseful” about his mistake. The song she spoke of was “Forgive Me”, and she started singing it, “Oh, my son look at what I’ve done, but I am learning still…And oh, my wife. You are my life… Know that I am burning for you still…”, before hitting the chorus, “…And home, home’s anywhere you are too, so take this one fallen man on his knees. Saying please, forgive me…” I really liked that song, I think partly because it does deal with something more atypical (i.e. it’s not the standard song about a relationship that ends) and she definitely knocked it out of the park. Afterwards, the keyboard player returned to the stage and they did a duet of “Don’t Ever”, off her first album, “The Sound of White”. Her band started making their way back on stage after that, as she talked about how some nights you wake up and have tons of thoughts racing through your mind. “…I call that the Watering Hole” she said, starting the song that had her playing a guitar, while the rest of the band added some percussion by shaking some instruments along to the drumbeats. They followed it with the subsequent song from her latest album, and Missy said she collaborated with Katie Herzig (as well as Butterfly Boucher) on this new record, and since Katie helped her on “Tricks”, she welcomed her out on stage to aid in performing it. Katie left after it, but they brought another member of her band, Claire Indie, out to add the sound of her cello on the next song. Missy said that when working on this latest album, there was one song that both her and Butterfly wanted for their own, so Missy took one version and said Butterfly was left to come up with an alternate version to feature on her album. The song was one of my favorites from the new record, “Unashamed Desire”, and was the only song of the set where Missy wasn’t hiding behind an instrument. Instead, she got to be more of a frontwomen, jumping up and down occasionally as well as swaying to the music. “This was my first single off my first album…” she said after that song was over, and that really excited the fans. “…It’s called Scar”, she finished, as they started a song that had most of the people there singing along to it.

Since that was apparently her big hit, I figured they would all leave the stage for a few minutes, make the crowd wait, and then do an encore. No, not the case. “…I find encores debilitatingly awkward…So how about we just play some extra songs for you, instead?” she told the crowd. “…So we’re just going to pretend we left, and after fifteen minutes of you guys chanting, we reluctantly came back out…” She and Butterfly then started laughing, “Remember that time in September two-thousand-twelve when we played Dallas and they just would not stop asking for more?!” I found that an interesting way to handle the encore, since anymore it seems like encores are both expected by the fans and planned by the bands, rather than being a spur of the moment thing to react to an eager crowd wanting to hear one more song from a band they love.

Anyway, both of their “extra” songs came from the “On a Clear Night” album, and the first of them was “Warm Whispers”. The final song was one Missy said she likes to end with since it is more of a happy song when compared to her other songs. She talked about her inspiration for writing the song, which came she said when she was in a desert town near the coast in Australia. She talked about how she looked up at the stars and had a moment where she realized how small she really was in relation to all the billions of stars out there, saying something to the effect of how that put things in perspective, and that her worries weren’t really as big as she thought. “…And your heart is fierce. So now, you finally know that you control where you go. You can steer…” she sang, part of the chorus for “Steer”, which concluded her 77 minute long show.

It was a phenomenal set. The music was great, and I enjoyed how she made it more into a storytellers set. To go with all those others mentioned, there was one song she said started out as a rap song. I’m not sure if she was joking about that or not, but still… I guess it was more about the rapport she build with the audience. She really did seem to connect with the crowd, making this seem like it wasn’t just her job, it wasn’t just a stop on her tour, but more a place she really wanted and enjoyed being at. There were several points where she even showed off her funny side, like at one point early on where someone evidently called her a “bitch”. “…Where are all my bitches at?” she responded, sounding like she was some party girl out at a hip club in LA. She even didn’t seem to take offense to the comment, saying she thought it was meant in an “endearing” way, though the keyboardist was right when he said, That really isn’t nice, guys.”

The point is her personality got to really shine through, and that made her very likable.

As of this posting, she has a few dates left in America, mainly along the East Coast, with an Australian tour going from November 17th through December 8th. You can find her tour dates HERE, as well as purchase all of her releases in ITUNES.

This was an incredible night, and as I said earlier, I didn’t know much about any of these three fine acts going into this, so I didn’t know what to expect. It was very memorable, though.

Thanks again to Tim and Gavin of the Granada staff for their hospitality, and if you life in the Dallas are, check out a show at the Granada. Just a few acts that will soon be coming through are:

Wanda Jackson on 9/27.

Dark Star Orchestra on 9/29.

Victor Wooten on 9/30.

Menomena on 10/2.

Paper Diamond on 10/4

Saturday, September 8th, 2012 – Here Holy Spain

I was on the fence about where to go this night, as there were a few very great shows going on throughout Dallas. One of those shows was at LaGrange, where Here Holy Spain was going to do their first show in a couple months, and after Descender got added to the bill at the last minute, well, that sealed the deal and I didn’t think of being anywhere else.

Descender was the first band of the night, and it was a little closer to ten when they got started, instead of 9ish. Half of their set consisted of the new songs they’ve written that will eventually comprise their third EP, like the opener, “The Language”. I’ve heard that song a few times now, and I like it more each time. The music bed is pretty killer, and Casey Hess’s guitar solo is electrifying, while at the end of the song Zack Busby viciously slapped his bass in synch to the drumbeats Duncan Black was churning out. Upon finishing it, lead guitarist, Jeff Gruber, started the opening notes of “Hats Off To Your Reflection”. “There ain’t nothing here to stop this train. From here on out we’re on the tracks we lay…”, Casey started to sing once the song really took off. I had noticed that Zach had a new bass at this show, a Rickenbacker, and it was after that song he had to work to get it in the right key for the next song. Casey then took a moment to mention that it was a new bass, and it had a special talent. “…That thing, it kills hipsters…” he told everyone. After Zach got it straightened out, they set off on several more new(er) songs, and out of the four of them, “Slow and Gold” is still my favorite. It was followed by “Spinning On the Surface” and then one other new song, and one of those Jeff played his ax with a slide, and at the end he took it off his finger and tapped one of the strings, resulting in an awesome sound. They then got into the “hits” with “What Was Missing” and the title track from their current EP, “Dark Water”. Afterwards, they weren’t sure how much time they had left, and after asking, found it was enough for only one. “Do any of y’all write songs about cunts?” Casey asked the crowd. That’s the second time I’ve heard him say that to introduce this song, and from the lyrics, I’d say that’s a good lead in for it. “This song’s about cunt.” he finished, and once Duncan beat down on the drums, the rest of the band exploded into “Armor” to end their 41 minute long set.

It was a good little set, and for the first band they got more time than I thought they would. I’m glad they hopped on this bill last minute, because it made the show even better, plus I knew I wouldn’t be able to make their show the following Saturday, so this way I still got to see them. They’ll will probably be back on a stage in the next month or so, so stay tuned to their website, and you can find both of their EPs in ITUNES. Oh, and check out this live video of “Armor”. I think it’s awesome, but then again I am in one of the crowd shots at the end.

Next up was a band from Austin known as These Mad Dogs of Glory. I had seen them once, right here at LaGrange actually, and I think that’s been about two years ago now, so I didn’t remember too much about them. Despite their loud sound, I’d say they lean more towards the Alternative/Country side of the music spectrum, mainly because one of the four band members is a pedal steel guitarist. Plus their singer/guitarist has a bit of a Country twang to his voice. They put on a pretty good show that was upwards of 40 minutes in length, and I liked how they seemed to play it all by ear, because several times during their set they would ask one another what they wanted to do next. At one point their singer even played a few chords from two different songs, asking them, “Do y’all want to do this one, or this one?” Maybe it was just me, but I thought that made for a great atmosphere, knowing they weren’t following some setlist to a tee. They even ended their set with what I think their singer said was a cover of a Rolling Stone’s song, and he noted they hadn’t been playing it too long, so it still wasn’t perfect, but it sounded pretty good this night.

Oh, and there was some nice comedy involved, too, during some lengthy breaks. Their singer warned everyone he wasn’t good at filling time, but still the people asked for, and we got what we deserved. “This is a Gilbert Godfried joke.” He said, doing a slight impersonation of the comedian. He then asked, “How do you get a gay guy to fuck a women?” The punch line, “You fill her pussy with shit.” There was another one, too, that I can’t recall, but it was just as dirty… And Funny. He also told the crowd afterwards, “I told you, I’m not good at talking.”

They usually get up to Dallas every three to four months, so they should be back this way in the not too distant future. As for now, you can catch them at Lambert’s on September 28th and ND 501 on September 29th, both of which are in Austin. On October 6th you can catch them at Luckenbach in Fredericksburg, TX. Then they’ll be in Wimberley, TX on October 19th at the Cypress Creek Café. They also have two EPs available, which you can find HERE.

Here Holy Spain was next, and they had undergone a big change since the last time I had seen them. That change was the addition of a second guitarist, Ben Piché, who made the band a four piece. I was interested to see what this was going to be like, you know, see what he brought to the band and such…

Their 31 minute set began with one of the new songs they’ve written and one I had not heard before, which I believe was titled, “More Than Your Blood”. It was a pretty good song, though early on I had a harder time hearing Wes Todd’s voice, but the music was pretty good and was everything you’ve come to expect from Here Holy Spain. They are experts at tearing through their set, and after cranking out “Can’t Control”, they segued it right into another newer one, the aggressive, “Out West”, and then bled it into a cover song, “A Flight and A Crash”. I was unfamiliar with the song, or the band for that matter, which ended up being Hot Water Music. But after listening to it, I think HHS did it justice, as well as put their own little spin on it. Not long after giving credit to the band whose song they just covered, Wes led the band into “No Love” with his guitar intro, before bassist, Erica Guagliardi, guitarist, Ben Piché, and Scott ripped into it. “…Lock the doors, let’s make some shadows dance. I want to see all your scars, show me all your bruises…” Wes wailed into the mic during the first verse. There was a moment’s pause after that song, during which Wes looked at both Scott and Erica, I presume to get the timing just right, because as soon as Scott hit one of the drums to start “Waiting, Wearing Your Skin”, Erica and Wes were rocking out on their bass and guitar, respectively. “Golden Gun” came next, which is another new one that knocks thing out of the park, and afterwards they kicked it old school with the title track of their first record, “Manic”, which Scott began with a prolonged drum roll. It was immediately followed by the fast tempo, “Sick Again”, and with that they had already arrived at the final song of their show, “Way Out”.

Short and sweet, that’s a phrase to describe this and most Here Holy Spain shows. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are highly enjoyable performances.

In all honesty, I couldn’t always hear the difference Ben made in their sound, but on the songs I could… Wow! The addition of that one guitar can make a huge difference as far as giving the band a more lush sound. He also meshes well with their stage show, rocking out just as hard as the others, which I think was evident because his hair covered his face for practically the entire show.

They have a couple shows left this month, and then they’ll probably lay low again for a little while. So see ‘em while you can. Either this Saturday, September 22nd at The Doublewide in Dallas, or on September 29th at The Where House in Fort Worth. You can also find both of their albums in ITUNES, and sometime next year they will be releasing their third.

The final band of the night was a touring act from Boston by the name of Pile.
I had listened to some of their stuff beforehand and didn’t much care for it, but it’s always worth giving a band a chance, because they can be much better live then what a studio captures. Key word, “can be”, but that was not the case for Pile, at least not in my opinion. I didn’t have anything against their music, but it was more their singers voice, or the lack of I should say.

I gave them a chance, but after three of four songs and not still not being able to get into, I went ahead and left.

It was still a very good show, though, and was well worth checking out.

Saturday, September 1st, 2012 – Dia De Los Toadies Cinco: The Rock ‘N’ Roll Show

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

Sixteen Deluxe

The Phuss

The Riverboat Gamblers

The Soldier Thread


Friday, August 31st, 2012 – Dia De Los Toadies Cinco: The Acoustic Show

Last year I managed to win tickets to the Toadies music festival, Dia De Los Toadies. It was held down in New Braunfels at Whitewater Amphitheater, which hosted the event for a second straight year, and as the show ended that night, making this place the permanent home for the festival was mentioned.

So it was no surprise when Whitewater Amphitheater was again the place to be this year, and even though I didn’t win any tickets for the show, I know knew they were well worth purchasing, so my dad and I did just that, and planned a little road trip.

There was one thing with the tickets last year, they were only good for the Saturday show, and did not include the acoustic set the night before, which sold out rather quickly. That was something I wanted to see this year, though, and snatched up tickets to both events while I had the chance.

It had been a long day, what with driving down there (and dealing with the always horrible traffic through Austin), but we got there with enough time to eat, relax for just a bit, and then head out to Whitewater.

This acoustic set (which wasn’t really an acoustic set, but we’ll get to that) was happening on the smaller Biergarten Stage, and it was nice to see they had ample seating for everyone, as rows upon rows of chairs were lined up in front of the stage.

The first and only opening band this night was the Austin Psychedelic Rock outfit known as Sixteen Deluxe. Until seeing they were performing at this, and part of why I’m sure would be the fact that band formed back in 1994. That and they have broken up, occasionally doing reunion shows over the past couple of years.

It didn’t look like it was going to be too “acoustic” when the band, frontwomen/rhythm guitarist, Carrie Clark, lead guitarist, Chris “Frenchie” Smith, bassist, Jeff Copas, and drummer, Steven Hall, got on the small stage electric instruments, and what appeared to be a full drum kit. They introduced themselves to the audience, and Carrie said they were going to tone things down a little bit, saying, “And for anyone that knows us, this is about as toned down as we get.” They then got going with an instrumental piece, and upon finishing it, Carrie said, “I hope Brian Eno doesn’t mind us playing that.” then added, “And I hope Neil Young doesn’t mind this.” I’m not too familiar with Mr. Young’s music, but I believe they covered “After the Goldrush”, and it was a pretty mean cover at that. Sadly, his isn’t the only music I’m unfamiliar with, and knew almost nothing of what they for the rest of their 40ish minute long set. I assume the rest was originals, including one that Carrie said they had never performed live before, and she seemed excited that they were doing it now. I’m going to take a stab at it and say that one was “There He Goes”, which was the only song of theirs that was truly suited for a slower set of this nature. Towards the end of their, I think it was the next to last song, they pulled out a real catchy rocker called “Idea”, which was about as loud as they got, and also as active.

The set was kind of a double-edged sword for them. On one hand, it was noticeable that they were keeping themselves restrained, but this toned down set let Carrie’s voice shine, which was outstanding.

It was a very entertaining set, and I’m glad they got to perform as long as they did, because two different times they stated they had “a couple songs left”, though had more time left than that and kept getting to add a little more. I was curious, though, how their no holds barred rock show would be in comparison to this and was immediately looking forward to the next afternoon.

They have several albums available, and you can get several of them from 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. You can also catch them at ND in Austin on October 6th, and since they probably don’t do many shows these days, I’d recommend seeing that one.

They were a great warm-up for the main course, and soon it would be time for The Toadies.

I mentioned this was not a true acoustic show, and as we walked through the gates I saw Wes, who is the bands tour manager (as well as plays in the band Here Holy Spain) and he proceeded to tell me he asked the band how many acoustic strings they’d need this year, and the response he got was, “None.”

Instead he said the band decided to turn the songs upside-down, and that had me extremely intrigued.

In setting up they did run into some technical issues that delayed things by a little over half an hour, and once they were finally resolved someone walked out on stage to remind everyone this was being recorded, both the audio as well as film footage, and asked the crowd to keep the chatter down during the set. He then gave the stage up to the band. Mark Reznicek got behind the drum kit, Clark Vogeler took a seat at a piano/organ, while Doni Blair got his bass and took a seat and Vaden Todd Lewis did the same with his guitar.

“This is a chill night.” said Todd. “I know that because I have a music stand in front of me.” he joked, referring to the sheet music that sit in front of him. He went on saying that this began as a way to add an extra night to Dia, but doing the songs acoustically got “boring”. So, they decided to do something different and more fun this year.

They began their first song, and it took a second, but everyone in attendance seemed to realize at the same exact moment that it was “I Come From the Water”. It sounded far different from the usual version. Clarks’ piano/organ mimicked his guitar parts (for this song and every other) quite well, except it had a deeper, more vibrant sound, while the pace of the lyrics was slowed and softened, making it a, dare I say, a pretty song. Another drastic difference was that there was no audience participation on the chorus, which Todd sang, though that didn’t mean that their weren’t several people who were singing along with him. It definitely lacked the punch it typically carries with ease, but I found myself liking this scaled back version more in some ways, and having not seen any of these stripped down shows before, I did not expect to hear that gem this night. Todd quickly set up the next song with, “This one is from the Feeler record, it’s called City of Hate”. It seemed pretty true to form, like it was just a toned down rendition, and another one that was nice to hear, ‘cause it has been a little while since I last heard it. Todd exchanged his guitar for a ukulele, asking everyone not to, “…Make fun of my little guitar.”, which got some laughs, as well it should have. He proceeded to strum some of the strings, and once Clark joined in giving the song its full shape, you could feel the excitement in the air, along with the shouting and applause for “Tyler”. The song is great enough as is, but this alternate version they cooked up for it makes it sound downright gorgeous. You wouldn’t really think they’d be capable of something like this, since they are a rock band and this sounds so out of what is probably their comfort zone, but both the music and vocals were brilliant, tapping into a place no other song of theirs does. It just gave it something extra, especially the line, “…I can’t believe I’m really here, and she’s lying in that bed. I can almost feel her touch and her anxious breath…”. “This next one’s a real old song, about an Elvis fan.” Todd said when the previous song concluded. I’m sure all fans know this, but for anyone reading who may not, the first attempt at the “Feeler” record was in ’97, but most of the songs did not get a warm reception from their at the time record label, while a couple years ago they re-recorded some of those songs so they could see the light of day. This wasn’t from the newer release, though. No, this was a song that was shunned by the higher-ups from the ‘90’s, “Send You to Heaven”. Shame to think about that, because it’s a solid song. The repeated chorus of, “The Beatles and The Stones and The Stones and The Beatles”, can get a bit repetitive at the end, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s as good a song as anything else this band has written, and it a treat getting to hear them bust it out. Afterwards, Todd began to talk about their new record, “Play.Rock.Music.”, and a single from it, “Summer of the Strange”. “…But we’re not going to play it.” he said, making the fans let out a collective sound of disappointment. He continued with something like, “We’re not going to do it and make it sound weirder than it already does.”, then laughed, “This one’s called Summer of the Strange.” It, too, resembled the album version, being mainly rhythm based, with Doni kicking it off with a bass riff and Mark soon joining with some beats. The last time I saw the band, back in April, my thoughts were that this was the strangest song I had heard them do, and Todd had a point from before, because it did sound weirder now, but that is by no means a slight against the song. Things only got more interesting when they welcomed the one and only, Sarah Jaffe, on stage to help with a few songs, the first of which Todd stated was a Pixies song. Clark used a guitar for this one, which was a cover of “Ana”, while Sarah added some backing vocals/noises to it. It was an interesting song selection, but then again, it fits with some Toadies songs, in the sense that they have some stuff that doesn’t follow the “traditional” method of song writing. “That’s the weirdest song I’ve ever learned”, remarked Todd when it was over, though he quickly added, “Right after this one.” He hit the nail on the head with that comment, but as odd as it did sound, the steady tapping of the drums still signified that it was “Pink”, which also utilized Ms. Jaffe to some extent. It was the next song, though, where she really got to cut loose and shine as the singer that she is. It was another cover, originally done by PJ Harvey, and Todd even mentioned it was his favorite song of hers. Before you knew it Sarah was belting out the first line of “Down By the Water”, “I lost my heart, under the bridge…”, and there’s no way her voice couldn’t grab your attention as their set jolted back to life. Todd used a shaker for this song and also supplied the backing vocals, for example, “That blue eyed girl (that blue eyed girl) became a blue eyed whore (became a blue eyed whore)…”. It got almost eerie at the end, as the two of them sang/whispered in unison, “Little fish. big fish. Swimming in the water. Come back here, man. Gimme my daughter…” over and over and over again. It was amazing, hands down the best of the night, and after listening to PJ Harvey’s original recording, I’d say this interpretation was far superior. Sarah exited the stage after that song, and the band marched on with their set, with Clark beginning with a piano intro to “Dollskin”. Another song that I have not heard in awhile, and out of everything they did this night, it might have been the most appropriate to perform in this manner and was another beauty. Mark, Doni and Clark took leave after that, as Todd said, “I’m being abandoned.”, acting as if he didn’t know what was going on. He started to talk about a song from the new album, “Beside You”, saying he had written it for his daughter, and tonight he wanted to play it in its purest form, the way it was first written. Learning what the song was about was interesting, and made this acoustic-ish version sound more sweet as he crooned away at it, “…Although I’m leaving wherever I go, I’ll always be closer than you know…”. Upon finishing it, his band mates returned, and they had one last little surprise from “Play.Rock.Music.”, and that was the albums final track. There’s something about “The Appeal”, though it took me a few listens before I really appreciated the song. It’s a wonderful mix of sweet and somber, which is portrayed in both the music and lyrics, and perhaps best summed up with the opening lines, “I wish I could tell you the way that I feel. I know that I’ve failed you, so I make my appeal…”. That could have been a fitting end to the show, and honestly, I thought it was, as that seemed like a good note to leave on, but they had one last song to round out their 60 minute long set. People got ecstatic as the band got going with “Possum Kingdom”, and several female fans got up from their seats and went to the stage to dance along to the song that first put the band on the map.

What. A. Night. This was an astounding show, I’m sure much better than their true acoustic shows from past years, and was a great way to whet the fans appetite for the colossal rock show that would take place in less than 16 hours from when they finished. I still can’t get over what a spectacle this set was, and maybe if we fans are lucky they’ll release a live recording of the full thing one day, so those who were there can relive it, and those who weren’t can experience what it was like. And I know one thing for sure, I am definitely buying tickets to the Friday night show again when next year’s Dia rolls around.

The band will be taking a well deserved break for the rest of September and into early October, with a one-off show in their hometown of Fort Worth on October 13th at Billy Bob’s Texas. 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.

I was looking forward to everything the next day would bring, except the temperatures. I recalled last year’s festival, during which the heat was brutal, but maybe we would all get lucky enough and it would be a decent day weather wise…