Saturday, September 28th, 2013 – Krash Rover

Four band bills are routine, even five bands on a show is pretty common, but this night the Curtain Club was hosting seven acts. Yes, seven. I think the only time I’ve ever seen that many bands or more on a bill is at festivals, which begs the question, could the show this night be considered a type of mini festival in a sense?

Yeah, I’m kind of joking about that, since there are other requirements to a festival, but all the same, this night was far from being your average concert.

The only downside to having so many bands performing is it has to start so early, and due to the traffic on 75, I didn’t get to the Curtain until around 7:45 or so, fifteen to twenty minutes since Noelle Bean had first started, doing an acoustic set.

I walked in towards the end of the incredibly catchy “Cookies and Cream”, and even though I only caught a snippet of it, it was definitely my favorite of the handful of songs I heard her do. “This next song’s called Lois Lane.” she said, adding, “It’s reggae.” Both she and acoustic guitarist Neil Swanson pulled off the reggae sound surprisingly well, being a bit different from the two poppy songs it was sandwiched in between, and she did an excellent job at adding a real reggae quality to her voice.

She even got the crowd to clap along to portions of that one, before setting up her final song, “Cops and Robbers”, which she noted was the first song she co-wrote. It’s even gotten some radio airplay, and she told a little story about a recent trip to Las Vegas where she happened to hear her song come on the radio. “…I got so excited, I was like, I think I peed a little.” she said, prompting some laughs from the audience. She quickly realized she might have over shared a bit, but all the same, it was funny, and they closed out their set with that short, catchy song, even getting the crowd to sing part of the chorus back at her.

I found myself really wishing I had caught more of their show, but what are you going to do.

Noelle has a sensational voice, and the acoustic setting allowed you to really see what kind of chops she has. And it didn’t hurt either that she had Neil playing guitar for her, and even though this was a far cry from the band he performs in, he could still be seen shredding on that acoustic guitar of his.

It’s also worth noting that I’m not always a fan of pop music like what she played, but Noelles’ stuff is certainly better than much of what you hear on mainstream radio, and with her smooth, golden voice, the music’s practically irresistible.

She has an EP available that was put out earlier this year, as well as a couple of singles which you can get HERE and HERE, and keep tabs on her FACEBOOK PAGE for news on future shows.

The first rock band of the night was the newer Analog I, which featured the drummer of Krash Rover, Zach Fuentes, singing.

He wasn’t just showing off his vocal capabilities, though, but also his guitar skills, at least for their first number, which he added some rhythm to. He soon ditched it, though, taking up the role as frontman as they knocked out a song which I thought had a fantastic music bed. Lead guitarist Logan Leavoy then rolled them into their next song, as they marched on with their 30-minute long set.

Afterwards, Zach said that there was a celebrity in the house. “Macklemore.” he said, pointing to his Krash Rover band mate Kris Newman, who greeted that remark with his middle finger. They kept the music flowing, toning it down substantially for their next number, at least at first, before Logan, bassist Daniel Pitts and drummer Dillon Pitts suddenly exploded in on their respective instruments, as it roared to life.

I found it to be a pretty captivating song, and to fill the silence in between it and Zach readying his guitar for their next one, the three instrumentalists riffed a bit, then closed out their show with one more tune.

It’s always interesting when musicians who you’ve basically type casted, step outside the roles you know them for, and such was the case with Analog I. Considering all I’ve seen Zach play is the drums, I was a bit taken aback by the voice he had and what a decent frontman he was.

Not only that, but he has surrounded himself with a tight group of musicians, particularly Logan, who’s a stellar guitarist.

They don’t have anything coming up at the moment, but stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE, ‘cause it looks like they do shows fairly often, and if you like good quality rock music, then Analog I is one band to check out.

Things went back to the acoustic side for the next group, Beautiful Disturbance, who is based out of Waco and was performing as a two-piece this night.

They did a short 28-minute set to basically no one, which was a real shame, because they wound up being one of the best bands on this bill.

Brenda Flores’s voice was gripping from the moment she opened her mouth, as she an acoustic guitarist Auggie Del Rey ran through their opening track. “Nearly Forgotten” was another track they did this night, and while it a stark contrast of the full band electric version that I’ve since listened to online, this acoustic take of it was hands down the better version. It allowed Brendas’ rich and powerful voice to be the main focal point, completely captivating the attention of the few people who were there, and even gave more weight to the lyrics.

Before continuing on with their next tune, she pointed out that it was one of her personal favorites to do, and while I missed most of the story, she said something about a friend who had battled (or was battling) a deadly disease, and that was what inspired this song. The basic message was living your life, essentially getting the most out of it. It was a very good song, and after following it with another original, they did a cover of Bill Withers classic, “Ain’t No Sunshine”. They put a good spin on it, making it fit their current acoustic rock vibe, before ending with one more great song.

The night came fairly close to belonging to them, and had it not been for all the other topnotch quality acts on this bill, they would have had it in the bag.

The music, even if it was coming from one lone acoustic guitar, was great, and after listening to some of their songs online, I actually think this setting was better. At the very least it was more behooving of Brendas’ voice, which was allowed to fully shine not having any other instruments to compete with, and it was made clear that she’s a vocal powerhouse.

They have an EP you can get in iTUNES, “Deadly Devotion”, and stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE to know when they’ll have more shows coming up.

I must say, it was a bit odd having the acoustic acts spaced out like that, rather than being grouped right at the start of the night, especially given the rock bands that played around them. And now, things were about to get back into that rock mode with a Houston area based rock outfit known as Soul in Tension.

The patrons (at least some of them) made their way back inside for this band, which was probably a wise decision, since the group later mentioned they had recently done some shows with Fuel and Hoobastank to name a few, and that alone should say something about the band.

They had the crowd under their spell from the get go, bringing a few more in from the patio while running through their first song. Later in the frontman Jacob Kitchens noted this was a smaller crowd, especially compared to the bigger shows they had done, but also said this was a lively crowd. “…Sometimes these smaller club shows are the most fun ones…” he noted.

“One Request” was their second track of the night, and it was an impressive heavy hard-rock song, with some thunderous rhythm dynamics from drummer Will Rollz and bassist Alex Robertson. “This next song’s called Ghost in a Shell.” Jacob informed everyone, following it with another killer number.

“Are there any Journey fans in the house?” asked Jacob, after finishing their last song. That was the last thing I expected, because these guys certainly didn’t seem like they’d be one to cover Journey. “…We figured we’d try to learn this one for you all…” he joked as they geared up for it. I was afraid it was going to be “Don’t Stop Believing”, which is just all too commonly covered, and personally, I couldn’t see Soul in Tension pulling that one off. Luckily, it wasn’t, and instead they tried their hand at “Separate Ways”.

They beefed it up to better fit their style, pulling it off quite well, and it added a fun element to their performance. Upon finishing it, they then cranked out one last song, “Hey You”, to bring their 33-minute long set to a close.

They were a phenomenal band, packing a good deal of energy into their show. Not only that, but they had a great sound, too, kind of going along the lines of your typical hard-rock bands, in the sense that their music has mainstream potential, yet also possessed qualities to differentiate them from other groups. And while on the topic of their sound, Jacob had an awesome voice.

Go see ‘em if you get a chance, ‘cause they won’t disappoint, and I’m hoping they’ll get back to Dallas sometime in the not too distant future.

With only three bands left to go, the night was only going to get better, and next on stage was the Arlington based Soilce.

There 34-minute set was comprised entirely of new(er) material. “…I’m glad it’s finally jacket weather…” remarked vocalist Xtina Lee after their first song, referring to the sudden cool down the rain from earlier in the day had brought. She went on to say that they had a video on Youtube for their next song, one from their forthcoming EP, “Sweet Escape”. Guitarist Juan Brittos let out an ear piercing scream towards the start of it, before it slowed down, hitting a bit of a tender spot there on the first verse. That pace worked well, giving the lyrics a little more depth, such as, “…How can something beautiful be so cruel?”, though they soon kicked it back up, Ryan Matthews supplying some rapid, pulse pounding beats on his drum kit.

They followed it with another song they’ve done a music video for, announcing it was “Do You See it Now?”. Juan and bassist Rob Pummill started it out, and while I thought it sounded good, you could tell the bass and guitar weren’t jibing as they probably should. That was because Rob had gotten ahead of himself and was playing the song after, which Xtina pointed out as they all laughed it off. Once they all got on the same page, things went smoothly for them, and Juan even cranked out a brief guitar solo as he dropped to his knees at the forefront of the stage, right next to one of the monitors, and shredded.

Next they did the song Rob had previously tried doing, “Paralyzed”, and I believe it was during it that Juan began experiencing some technical difficulties, mainly with his pedal board. They made the best of it, though, carrying on while he worked to [attempt] to fix it, joining back in on the track soon after.

As their show started to wind down, they debuted a new song they had cooked up, “Pathological”. “…It’s about liars.” Xtina said, as Juan opened up the track with some very haunting guitar notes. Overall, it had an excellent atmosphere to it, and wound up being my personal favorite song of theirs, at least for this night. They then had time for one more song. “…It’s eventually going to be our single.” Xtina said about “Save Me”, which was easily their tightest song of the night, and a great way to end it.

Solice had definitely tightened up since the first (and only) time I had seen them, coming across as being very cohesive this night. They owned it, too, with some great stage presence that kept you glued to them throughout, and a lively show, those that could jumping about at times. And while Ryan wasn’t able to do that, he made up for it with his aggressive style of drumming.

They have a few shows lined up, one in Norman, Oklahoma on October 18th at the Red Brick Bar. They’ll also be in Fort Worth on the 31st for a Halloween show at Tomcats West, and they’ll return to Tomcats West on December 7th. Go see them if you can, you’ll be glad you did.

There was one last band to go before the headliner, and was the female fronted group Autumn Stay, who had traveled here from Killeen, TX.

They quickly proved themselves to be a different band from the others, and just a couple of songs in vocalist Danielle Blizzard hopped off the stage and mingled with the handful of onlookers, even dancing with one person (specifically Dayvoh of the band Alterflesh).

“…We must really suck…” she joked after another song, citing that, that must be the reason they were getting so little applause. Props to them for being able to make that into more of a joke, which in turn actually got more people to clap for them. They knocked out another one, the semi dark sounding “Poison”, and afterwards Danielle asked for some crowd participation.

The song was titled “Dream Girl”, and she wanted the crowd to shout out one of the lines, “With her legs spread wide.” “It only happens three times…” she pointed out, after admitting they were a bit dirty. The audience obliged her, perhaps out of fear that they may be singled out, because, as she said, she didn’t have a problem with getting out in the crowd and giving those who weren’t participating a hard time. Possibly the best part of the song came at the end, when guitarists Stephen Troyce Harold Douglas and Jackson Taylor-Smith suddenly jumped off the stage, landing on the floor, and never missed a note.

Their 33-minute long set was almost over by then, with just enough time to pack in two more tracks.

They easily held their own against all the other bands on this bill, and while I personally wasn’t completely taken by their music, I did really enjoy it.

I’m not sure what it was, maybe the dark textures so much of their songs had, but something about it kept me from getting completely into it. On the other hand, they put on a great stage show, particularly with all the moving around they did in the audience.

They may not have won me over as a true fan, but I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing them again.

They do have a show in Austin on October 29th at Headhunters, and they have plenty of music up to listen to on their REVERBNATION PAGE.

Closing out this night was Krash Rover, doing what could be called a summer blowout show, even though, technically speaking, it was no longer summer.

All the same, with lead guitarist Ashton Quincey attending college in the Central Texas area, they aren’t able to play quite as much as they used to, meaning this could be their last gig for a little while, and they had the place fairly full by the time they took the stage at 12:36.

No instructions had to be given, merely the opening beats from Zach Fuentes’s bass drum, and immediately the fans began to chant, “Texas. Texas.” over and over. As usual, it was “I’m From Texas” that got their show going, and at first, you could kind of tell it had been awhile since they had last rocked a stage. It didn’t take them too long to start finding their stride, though, and after singer and rhythm guitarist Kris Newman sang the songs bridge, “…Sorry babe it ain’t what you get, it’s just what you see.” Zach tore off into a dynamic drum solo, seeming to signify that it was on.

Unlike the last show I saw them do, they focused heavily on their self-titled LP this night, and they continued with “SAS”, a song some fans were clearly ecstatic to hear, as Kris got it going, while Ashton, standing on the drum riser, soon joined in on the fast-paced song. Once they finished it, Kris held up a shot. “…Some of you may know this…” he said, going on to say he had taken the summer off drinking, and said shot would be his alcoholic drink in a few months. “We want to touch you!” a couple of fans screamed while he drank his shot. He then walked towards the front of the stage and held his leg out. “Go ahead.” He said, while the two girls rubbed his shoe, a moment that had everyone laughing.

They toned things back a bit with “Release Me”, or at least for the first half of the song, as Kris crooned into the microphone, “…Help me, help me, please someone come try to heal me.” They quickly followed it with “She Gets Around”, before again slowing it down with “Nobody Knows”, and this time Kris moved his guitar around to his back. It didn’t stay inactive too long, though, kicking into high gear shortly before the oh so catchy chorus, “I don’t need you anymore, I’m crutch less…”.

Upon finishing it, Kris decided to kill some time with a joke, beginning with, “Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” some of the audience responded. “Kris.” he said, which was of course met with, “Kris, who?” “Newman, you dumbass.” he finished, then admitted it may not have been the best joke, though it did get laugh from much of the crowd.

They next busted their cover of Lynyrd Skynyrds’ “Simple Man”, which saw Kris give his complete attention to being a frontman as he set his guitar aside. Last time I saw them they did that tune, and did it justice, but this night, they knocked it completely out of the park. Stellar, just a stellar rendition of it, and it left me hoping that it sticks around in their setlist for some time to come.

They got back to their own brand of rock with one of their newer songs, “Feel Good On The Inside”, which is gritty and dirty, filled with some wicked guitar solos and riffs, though my favorite of their new batch would hands down have to be the one that came next. It packs a punch, and is without question one of the most intense songs Krash Rover has ever churned out.

That said, the only song that was capable of following it up was “Russian Roulette (Part II)”, though no one was sure at first what it was, as Ashton, Zach and their bassist riffed a bit, before officially starting the song. The fans even got a chance to sing on the song, when Kris suddenly stopped mid-sentence after, “…Lost on the highway of souls…”, as everyone suddenly shouted, “And now I’m burning inside.”

The audience wasn’t done participating just yet, and as they started what looked to be their final song, Kris led everyone in a clap along, while his band mates fired up the track… Or at least he tried to. The music suddenly came to a halt, and in a friendly manner he asked everyone to, “Clap your damn hands.” They only needed to hear that once, as everyone clapped along to the beat Zach was supplying.

No one was quite ready for the night to be over, though, begging for one more from the band. “…You’re asking us to go over and beyond what he had planned…” Kris said, getting a loud cheer from the fans. “In My Mind” was the last song they had to give, knocking out the shorter song rather quickly, leaving everyone satisfied.

The way it started out, I figured this was going to be just another Krash Rover, and there wouldn’t have been anything wrong with that, but it wound up being so much more.

Kris’s voice was in rare form this night, hitting some notes on various songs that I’ve never heard him hit, and frankly, didn’t even know he was capable of doing it.

It wasn’t just that, though. The further they progressed in their show, the tighter and more in synch they got, making it very hard to tell it had been a little over a month since the last time they had played. I guess that speaks volumes about their skill and musicianship, that they can make it look so relatively effortless.

Aside from a small technical difficulty their bass player had during one song early on, things seemed to go off without a hitch for them, as they again proved they are one of the best rock bands here in the Dallas area.

If we Krash Rover fans are lucky, we might get one more show from the band before the year’s end. Otherwise, it’ll be 2014 before they play next, and hopefully sometime in this new year they can get an EP released of some of their new material, ‘cause it is truly killer stuff. Oh, and if you don’t have it, get a copy of their CD in iTUNES.

I feel like I always say this, but it’s always true, and this was another fantastic night music at the Curtain Club.

Thursday, February 21st, 2013 – Affiance

Torch Entertainment was presenting a show at the Curtain Club in Dallas this night, and I almost didn’t go to it. The reason being it was billed as a metal show, and any casual reader should know by now I’m not a real metal fan.

There are a few metal acts I enjoy, such as Dallas area based, Light the Fire, who was actually the catalyst for me wanting to go to this show, after they were added on semi last minute. I then gave a quick listen to the headlining band, Affiance, who proved to be a different type of metal than what I had expected. There was legitimate singing on their songs, unlike the throaty screaming that plagues the metal industry these days. I was thoroughly impressed after listening to their recorded stuff, and knew I had to be at the show to witness what they were like in the live environment.

First up this night was the Denton based metal act, Wake the Dreamless. With their first song, they proved to be better than I expected. They were a definite metal band, but vocalist, Joe Bustnaji, did equal amounts of singing in both a “clean” and “dirty” style, which kept my interest. They, or rather guitarist, Alex Reuda, had some slight technical difficulties after that song, but fixed it soon enough. “This next song’s called Polarized.” Said Joe, as Alex and fellow guitarist, Cameron Grantham, bassist, Josh Manalo, drummer, Neil Geisel, and keyboard player, David Kang, started the lengthy intro of the song. It was borderline epic, spanning over six minutes, and had a nice flow to it. The issues with Alex’s guitar still persisted at this point, causing the band to put things on hold while he fixed it. At one point he turned his amp back on, thinking the problem had been taking care of, only to have the venue filled with a barrage of ear piercing sounds before he quickly turned it off. Joe managed to use that as banter, though. “That’s our new wave of death metal. It’s just noise…” he said. Once that was fully resolved, they got their next song going, which was heavier than the previous two, and that only progressed with the next and final song of their 23-minute long set.

They were offered a chance to do one more, as they had some time leftover, but apparently those four songs were all they had planned for on this night, and had nothing else ready to pull out.

They were good. You could tell they were a newish band (according to their Facebook page they formed almost two years ago), and they never seemed like a truly cohesive unit, rather five guys who were all doing their own thing. The skill is there, though, they just need to bring it all together. I also found it an interesting choice that they had a keyboard player, since it doesn’t necessarily fit with the genre of music they play, and while I did find the guitars, bass and drums often overpowered the keys, when you could hear them, they added a nice layer to the music.

You can get a free download of their single, “Polarized”, by going HERE, and in the near future they will be releasing their newest EP.

After them was Light the Fire, who can often be seen headlining the Curtain Club, or at least acting as the main support band, but not this night.

I was, shall I say, intrigued to see them this night. Very recently, their original singer, Jamie Glasgow, decide to leave the band, who rather quickly found a replacement. This was only going to be their second show with the new frontman, though, and I was curious to see what Light the Fire version 2.0 was like.

Their set started in the routine, yet original way, as a rap song began to blare. When the curtain finally opened on them, guitarists, Ryan Dickinson and Felix Lopez, were both sporting some sunglasses, bobbing their heads to the music. Bassist, Andrew Penland, was doing the same, just sans the glasses. Once that sample track began to fade out, Blake Hein led them into the first song with some heavy drum beats, while Jeff Gunter raced onto the stage. “How are we doing Dallas!?…” he asked, leaving little time for a response as he began screaming the opening line of “Don’t Fail Me Now”. The “moment of truth” came rather swiftly, and I realized I had nothing to fear, as he kept the singing pretty true to form to what it had been. “This next song can be found on our EP.” He said hastily, while Felix and Ryan let loose the triumphant notes of the title track from their EP, “Note To Self”. There weren’t a ton of people there this early on, but the ones who were and were up front watching helped them out here, chanting, “HEY!”, right along with Andrew and Jeff on the songs bridge. They powered through this 24-minute long set, and Blake wasted no time, counting them right into their next tune. “This is a brand new song, Dallas.” Jeff said, “It’s called Thunder Cunt.” I still believe this is the heaviest song the band has played to date, and while I liked it the first time I heard it, I thought it sounded even better now. Though I’m not sure if it’s due to them simply having played it live a little more or if it was because of Jeff. When they were about halfway through it, they took a musical break, which Jeff used to introduce his band mates. “Do you know what, Dallas?” he asked after naming everyone, “I never felt so good in my life!” he screamed, resuming the song. It was directly followed by “Under My Skin”, which worked incredible well, since it’s another brutal number, in all the right ways. “Thoughts” came next, and Jeff successfully got some of the fans to jump up and down and just have a good time at the start of it. That brought them to their final song of the night, which was another new one from their upcoming EP, and as they tore into it, Ryan and Felix each hopped onto a box on their respective side of the stage, churning out the notes on another pretty killer song.

It may have been a (slightly) abridged set, but they still managed to pack it full of rock. In fact, I think there was a higher than normal quantity of it this night, even by Light the Fire standards.

They were just on fire this night (no pun intended). Andrew and Blake created the perfect rhythm section this night, especially during “Not to Self”, where Andrew was pounding out the bass lines and reacting in perfect synch with every thundering beat. It was true musicianship through and through, and not just from them but the whole outfit.

That leads us to Jeff. It would be accurate to say I hate when any band gets a new singer, simply because it changes any bands overall sound so much. Sometimes that’s for the better, but there have also been a few acts that have lost me as a fan due to replacements like that.

Luckily, Jeff doesn’t alter the band’s sound that much, though. He definitely has his own voice, which lacks the higher tone that was normal for Jamie, but I look at that as a good thing. It allows Jeff to make the songs his own in a way, while some of his stage mannerisms are similar enough to their former frontman’s that it’s not going to be a drastic change from the live show the fans were used to seeing.

Very solid, especially considering Jeff had only been with the band for three weeks at this point, and had only performed once with them in the live setting.

It’s too early to say if Light the Fire will be even better now than they were before, but they are every bit as great as they’ve always been, and with a new EP/DVD set to be released in June, I’d say the future looks pretty bright for them.

If you haven’t already, check out their debut EP, “Note to Self”, and if you can, go to one of their upcoming shows. They’ll be rocking Click’s Live in Tyler on March 9th, then the Abbey Underground in Denton on the 10th. March 23rd will find them at Hartline’s in Greenville, and they again be rocking the town on April 20th, this time at The Hanger. They even have some dates booked in May, so to see the full listing, visit their REVERBNATION PAGE, where you can also get a free download of their title track.

The third act of the night also happened to be the first of two female fronted bands on this bill, and that was Solice.

This just so happened to be the bands one year anniversary of performing, having done their first live show almost a year to the day of this one, which also took place at the Curtain.

I don’t remember exactly how I came across them, but I had been wanting to see one of their shows for at least the last six months, and was excited that I was finally getting the opportunity.

Once the curtain opened, frontwomen, Xtina, made her way on stage and dropped the band’s name for anyone who didn’t know, along with asking how everyone was doing. She finished with, “…”This is a brand new song. It’s called Not Giving Up.” Rob was the one who started the song, with some very thick bass notes. It was a great and slightly more unique way to open it up, but the song didn’t spring to life until guitarist, Juan, and drummer, Ryan, joined the mix, and that was when you knew it was on. After their second song, Xtina had, had enough of the large empty spaces in front of the stage, and she asked everyone to come and join them, and some of the people who were standing further off did just that. They cranked out a couple more songs before Juan started them on one from their first EP, “Break Free”. It was very fast paced and driven, which subsequently made it engaging to the audience and was easy to rock out to. And as if it weren’t heavy enough with thunderous rhythm section of drummer, Ryan, and Rob, the backing vocals (or rather screams) that Juan threw in really set it off as a hard rock song. “We’ve got a couple more for you.” Said Xtin, announcing their next tune was called “Trapt”. It got off to a slower start. So slow that actually she and Juan took a seat on the drum riser, while Rob sit back on his amp. The tranquil sounds didn’t last long, though, as the song soon roared to life, and the three of them jumped back into action. That brought them to the final song of their 32-minute long set, which was another staple of theirs, “The Mask”. Xtina had used her keyboard that was setup at center stage briefly earlier in the night, but it really got put to use know as she used it through part of the first verse, giving the song a beautiful texture. “The outer world puts on a face. Halloween is every day. How you acts not how you feel, no one knows the you that’s real…”She sang, with it making the transition to a full-blown rock song at that point.

It was a pretty high energy show they put on, and they were every bit as good as I had hoped they’d be. They play a nice blend of hard rock tinged with metal, with the metal sound definitely coming from Juan’s guitar work, and even slightly via Rob and his bass. That’s balanced out by Xtina, who has a powerhouse of a voice, and while she sounds great on their recordings, they in no way capture how incredible she sounds in the live setting.

If you haven’t seen them already, they are definitely an act to check out, and one I hope to see a little more often now.

They have several shows coming up, beginning with March 13th, when they will be performing on the Back Porch stage at Six Flags in Arlington. On March 15th they’ll be at Tomcats West over in Fort Worth, while on the 30th they’ll be down in Houston at Walters. They also have a gig lined up for April 13th at Treff’s in Waco. Lastly, if you head over to their REVERBNATION PAGE, you can get a free download of “Break Free”, as well as purchase the other three songs that comprise their EP.

Cull the Heard was next, who was yet another act I had never heard of prior to this, and didn’t know what to expect from them.

“Take Me” kicked off their 28-minute set, with vocalist, Davon Says, singing the first few lines in, of all styles, acappella. “You can’t take my life from me. I’m too strong for it, you see?…” he sang, demonstrating he had quite the voice on him, with his pitch being perfect as he hit each note. The metal part of their music soon began, though, with some fast paced guitar notes from Eric Dando and deafening beats Jim Stephenson was pounding out. That was when Davon began shouting out the lyrics in a more throaty voice, and while I usually dislike vocal styles like that, this turned out to be an exception. Actually, it still sounded good, and the anger it evoked fit with what the song was about. And it only helped that they already had me fully captivated with their energetic performance. After it, they did one titled “Lead Me Home”, and before the following song, Davon offered a brief explanation of what it was about. “…It’s about chasing your dreams…”, adding you just need to do what you enjoy. It was aptly called, “I Want More”, and got off to a softer start, before it swelled to a point it could give any metal song a run for its money. They followed it with “Pieces”, which Davon said was about “…Putting the pieces of your life back together. ‘Cause no one else is going to do it for you…”, and upon finishing it they did “Dim”. Davon used a cordless mic, and right as the song started he leapt off stage into the crowd, before making his way through everyone and eventually walking out the door, presumably out onto the patio. I can honestly say that out of the nearly one hundred shows I’ve seen here at the Curtain, I’ve never seen anyone do that before. That left Eric, Jim and their bassist alone on the stage, but they were more than capable of putting on a show that held your attention until Davon rejoined stormed back in and rejoined them. “Part of It” was another aggressive number and one you could really head bang to, and that left them with only one more song, during which Eric shredded on his guitar for a killer solo.

I liked these guys a whole lot more than I thought I would. Scratch that, I think love is a more fitting word over “like”, and out of the local openers, they ended up being my second favorite.

The stage show was excellent, with Davon exerting most of the energy, at least in terms of being the most active, constantly roaming about and really engaging the crowd. He’s about as solid a frontman as you could find and a real beast, while Jim, Eric and the groups bassist all appeared to be masters of their craft as well.

Impeccable. That’s a good word to sum up their show this night, and I will definitely be attending more in the future.

They’ll be playing at Tomcats West in Fort Worth on March 22nd and May 5th, the latter of those dates being another Torch Entertainment show. They’ll also return to Dallas in between those gigs, again rocking the Curtain Club on April 12th.

The last of the local openers was the Fort Worth based, Deaf Angel.

It had been some time since the last time I had seen them (about eight months), during which time they’ve made some changes. One of those changes is the acquisition (or re- acquisition) of Duston Daulton, who is now the rhythm guitarist. They’ve also written a lot of new music for their upcoming LP, which made up the bulk of their 26-minute long set this night.

Their opener was one of those new tunes they unleashed on the audience, and I don’t think there’s any arguing that it’s one of the best things the band has done thus far. Lead guitarist, Lee Daniels, and Dustin cranked out some great riffs on it, even having nice lull that gave the impression it was over, before the group exploded back into it. Vocalist, Tina Downs, added some keys to the next song at the start of their next song, “Goodbye”, which was one of only two songs they did from their “We Will Rise” EP. That didn’t last long though, as she soon left the keyboard, which was set up by the drum kit, getting back to the forefront of the stage to rock out. It’s a very rhythm heavy song, with some killer drum work from Scott Van Slyke, which made it easy for bassist, Kelly Robinson, to thrash around. I also want to say I like the way Scott sits up his kit, which is to the side rather than facing the audience, allowing everyone to better see the skills he posses. “Judge” was another new song they did, and afterwards, Tina asked everyone a question. “Does anybody know who we are?!” The audience cheered, prompting her to ask, “Who are we?!” The fans shouted back at her, “DEAF ANGEL!”, which went on a few times. It’s also worth noting that out of all the opening bands, more eyes were on them than anybody else. That led them to their other song off their most current EP, “Rise Up”, which was just one of many this night that had Scott adding some backing vocals, which really metaled up their sound. Following it was “Face”, and after learning they had enough time for one more, Tina said, “…Let’s get crazy…”, stating that “Crazy” was the song title, and was a good one to conclude their show with.

I’ve only seen them a handful of times, but this was the best Deaf Angel show I’ve caught. I thought that they brought it even more than they usually do. Part of that was probably from Dustin, who I think helped broaden their sound and kick it up a notch, both in terms of the sound and their live show. He wasn’t all of it, though. Kelly put on a show by himself and it was evident he was feeling it for every single second they were on stage. I’ve said this many times in the past, but I find it hard to always pay attention to the drummers of any band when there are three to four other band members constantly moving around, making it hard to see them, but Scott was impressive enough I made a point to give him my full attention. While Tinas’ voice, which is powerful and attention grabbing, was just as big of a focal point.

Later in the year they’ll be releasing their new full-length record, “Brutally Beautiful”, but in the meantime, check out the singles they have available on ITUNES.

They served as an excellent final warm-up, but now it was finally time to see what Affiance was all about…

They launched right into their 47-minute set, which began with “You Will be Replaced”. The commanded a small crowd, at least at first, but most everyone who surrounded the stage were fans through and through, singing along to every word, like the songs chorus, “We’re fighting as hard as we can to not be forgotten. We’re running as fast as we can. To the front lines we live on forever.” It didn’t even take that full song to have me completely engrossed with the band, more like the first minute of it, and it was already obvious this was going to be quite the spectacle. Material from their newest album was the main focus point this night, though they did a couple from their 2010 debut, “No Secret Revealed”, such as their second song, which singer, Dennis Tvrdik, quickly mentioned was called “Nostra Culpa”. Thus far they had been pretty music oriented, but during the little break they started letting their personalities come out, subsequently building a bit of a rapport with the ever growing audience. Dennis said he eaten too much food at one of their gas station stops, which was now causing him to belch. He apologized to everyone, though I never heard any of it being picked up by the mic, then stated their next song was “Righteous Kill”. About halfway through the song, drummer, Patrick Galante, showed off just what kind of skill he has, tossing his drum sticks in the air one at a time, always knocking out some beats with the one that was currently in his hand, making it look incredible effortless. Also, when he wasn’t singing on that one, Dennis was often surveying the crowd and bore a very determined look with a fiery passion in his eyes. It made it crystal clear that he, along with the rest of the band, took this seriously and were going to leave it all on the stage. A sample track played before their next song, as guitarists, Brett Wondrak and Dominic Dickinson, as well as bassist, Cameron Keeter, geared up to start their next song, the lead track from “The Campaign” album, “Kings of Deceit”. “Are you awake, Dallas?!” asked Dennis once the song was finished, which caused everyone to roar back at him, showing they were still very much alive. While that was going on, Deaf Angel’s, Tina Downs made her way on stage, as the band started “Bohemian”. She added some backing vocals on parts of the chorus, and I believe it was the start of the second verse where she briefly took over the lead. That earned Deaf Angel a shout out, and Dennis mentioned how much they liked the band, and that they had shared the stage with them a few times in the past. Topic of conversation then turned to the bands home state of Ohio (they hail from Cleveland). One of the fans shouted something about how great Ohio was, but Dennis quickly responded with, “…Now parts of Ohio suck…”, saying that there were a few not so great parts of it. Things then circled back to an earlier topic, as Dennis said he was still feeling “gassy”, to the point he thought he might puke. A fan asked if maybe it instead stemmed from having too much to drink, and surprisingly, he answered by saying he doesn’t drink before shows. “…That’ll fuck you up…” he said, meaning it ruin your voice when you need it most. He went on to say he had only thrown up once before during a show and it was because he had too big a meal, and luckily tonight did not make for a second time. They then moved on, firing up “The Cynic”, and while Dominic, Brett, Cameron and Patrick raced through the intro, Dennis outstretched one arm, acting as if he were holding a shotgun, then “firing” it in synch with one of the drumbeats, right before he started singing. “We the Machines” followed that, but first Dennis asked everyone to headbang to what was about to ensue, saying he wanted to see some “…deep headbanging, all in unison…” Nearly everyone obliged. The banter continued afterwards, when Dennis said, “…As you may know, people from Cleveland are kind of Dallas Mavericks fans, because y’all kicked Lebron James’s ass a couple of years ago…” I believe he even referred to the NBA star as a “piece of shit”. “Peace of Mind” was the next song they did, and it was the only song of their set that didn’t go over smoothly. A song or two before, Dominic had switched to another guitar, and while shredding away on this tune one of the strings broke. His band mates noticed it, but didn’t pay it much attention, acting like professionals as they powered through it, still giving it their all. “I’m sorry, guys. My string broke.” Dominic said when the song concluded, seeming pretty sincere with his apology. They stated they only had a couple left at this point, and Dennis asked for everyone who was a warrior to move up front, causing everybody to pack in tightly. With his choice of words, I expected a different song, but instead they performed the title track from their 2012 record, “The Campaign”. I’d say it was good way to start winding things down, but I don’t know how much winding down was actually done, because everyone still appeared heavily invested in the show. They had saved the best for last, and to ease them into their final song, the track “Mad as Hell” began to play. For those who don’t know, it’s a speech by the character, Howard Beale, taken from the ’76 film, Network. “I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job…” it started, during which time Cameron put his bass down, resting it against the drum riser. He neared the edge of the stage, pacing back and forth from one side to the other, inciting the crowd by trying to get them to make some noise, and could often be seen lip-synching to the speech. “…”I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” By that time, Cameron had his bass back on, as Dennis yelled the opening line of “Call to the Warrior”, “Get up off the ground!”.

I half expected an encore, but no, that really was it. Not that I was disappointed by any means, it’s just that they were so damn good I would have loved to have heard more.

Now Affiance is a true metal band whose music I can really get behind. Like I said earlier, it’s the constant screaming that really turns me off of most metal music, but that’s kept to a minimum in Affiance’s music. When Dennis does scream, it more just adds a nice effect to the music, while is actual singing voice is nothing short of phenomenal and gripping. He sounds every bit as good live as he does on their albums, probably even better. Both Brett and Dominic came off as being masters of the axe, shredding almost nonstop, while Cameron could command the audience every bit as good as Dennis did, and Patrick was a true machine on the drums.

It was really an off the wall show they put on, and in terms of energy and showmanship, there’s no reason they couldn’t or shouldn’t be headlining much bigger venues in Dallas and elsewhere. Of course they might not have the necessary fan base for that yet, but they’ll get there. After all, this was (surprisingly) their first ever headlining tour, and for a Thursday night, I’d say their Dallas stop turned out to be a monumental success. And whenever they come back through, I know I’ll make a point to attend the show, and you would be wise to do the same.

At this point, their tour is almost over, with the remaining dates being March 6th at Live 59 in Plainfield, Illinois and the 7th at The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan. That’s not all their shows, though. They have a few in later March in the states of New York and New Jersey. They’ll also be on the road for a lot of April, hitting cities in Virgina, New York, Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri. For full details on when and where they’ll be, go HERE. Also, check out both of their full-length records, plus their cover of “The Final Countdown”, in ITUNES.

Congrats to Torch for putting on such a successful show. It was definitely one for the books, and I feel there’s a pretty good chance this will be one of the best shows I see all year.

All photos were taking by Danny Motta of Danny Mota Photography. All rights belong exclusively to him. Visit his OFFICIAL WEBSITE and to see all of the pictures from this show, go HERE.

Wake the Dreamless


Light the Fire







Cull the Heard



Deaf Angel