Saturday, July 19th, 2014 – Curtain Palooza v3.0 Brings Life Back to Deep Ellum

In just eight short months, the “Curtain Palooza” shows have become an institution at The Curtain Club.

Each one has been largely spearheaded by Dayvoh of the band Alterflesh, beginning last November, while the second installment took place in early March. The first one was a blast, though I missed the second, as I was covering a festival for On Tour Monthly that day. But this third go-around of the extravaganza was one I could not miss, and it looked to be the best one yet.

Why? Well, for starters both Alterflesh and Daylight Industries were getting plaques up on The Wall of Fame, right alongside some of the best bands that have called the North Texas music scene home. The requirements for that are you need to pull fifty plus people out to a few consecutive shows, which isn’t easy, given that Deep Ellum is far from its glory days, when hundreds and even thousands of people ventured to the venues in the area.

To really put that in perspective, I’ve been seeing Daylight Industries for at least going on three years. They play Curtain often, but are just now reaching every bands dream of getting a plaque on the wall. As for Alterflesh, they just started playing the venue early last year, and swiftly achieved that goal.

Apart from an all-star local lineup, Cold was also set to close out the night, doing a special acoustic set.

I got there early enough, but ran into Paco Estrada and Jeremy Rodriguez of SpaceCamp out on the patio (SpaceCamp was playing later on in the Liquid Lounge), and ended up out there for at least a good half hour, before making my way into the Curtain for the remainder of New Voodoo.
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This show started early, at 7:30 to be precise, which is a lot earlier than people usually want to be there by. However, I was amazed at how packed the place already was. I’d guess at least a hundred people were already there watching the band, and I had seen where six hundred tickets had been sold. This was going to be a big night.

New Voodoo is a cover band, but from what little I saw, they own these covers. I walked in as they were doing “Slither” by Velvet Revolver, and before their next song, frontman Dylan St. John counted them in. “One, two, seven, nine.” he said beforehand, which struck me as being pretty funny. The best moment came at the tail end of the show, though, when he suddenly jumped into the air and did a back flip. Not enough singers do that.

Guitarists Andrew Lewthwaite and Dorian Duerinckx, bassist Abe Gonzales and drummer Dave Hale were all great, making it fun an enjoyable to watch. In short, New Voodoo is more than just some glorified cover band.
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They have a show at Wit’s End in Dallas on July 26th, and will be back there on August 30th. You can also see them on August 23rd at Dan’s Silver Leaf in Denton and September 5th at Andy’s, also in Denton.

Following them was the Arlington-based Solice, and it had been quite awhile since I had last seen the female fronted hard rock group.
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Guitarist Juan Brittos, bassist Rob Pummill and drummer Ryan Matthews began their 43-minute long set with a little instrumental intro, letting the now massive audience know just what they were in for, before Xtina Lee walked on stage. “Dallas, Texas! How’s everyone doing tonight?!” she asked as she took her spot at center stage, noting that this first song was “Sweet Escape”.

Xtina, Juan and Rob did a lot of jumping throughout it, syncing up with one another, and the two guys let loose some wicked screams at times that added to the intensity. “Are y’all having a good time tonight?!” Xtina asked as she finished singing the second chorus, and was met with a ton of cheers and applause. “We’re so excited to be here!” she exclaimed once they finished the song, taking time to mention that on August 1st they’d be releasing a new EP online. “Let me see your hands!” she shouted as her band mates started one of their newer songs, “Heart of Stone”. A sea of hands went up, clapping to the beats Ryan was supplying. I’d say this was the best song I’ve heard Solice do. Musically and lyrically it was even a cut above the material from their previous two EP’s, and the crowd was loving every second of it, while Juan was totally in the zone, shredding on his axe with complete ease.
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“Thank you so fucking much!” Xtina said once the song was over, with a smile on her face. She then looked at one friend/fan, saying this next song was by request, after they didn’t play it at their last show. The song was another off their Live EP, “Trapt”, which allowed them to show off their softer side at times, especially in Xtinas’ voice, and she hit some beautiful notes. Upon finishing it, she asked how many people had seen the music video they did for “Do You See it Now?”, which was coming next. They keys she added periodically throughout add a nice balance to the track, a track that was a full on assault from the rhythm section; and Juan squeezed in an excellent solo as well.

Afterwards, Xtina again mentioned how “awesome” this was, and commented on the great energy, but asked everyone to move a little closer so they could see everyone better. “…We’re all friends in the local music scene.” With that, they got to their latest single, “Save Me”, which again featured some of the keys at times; and Rob joined Juan on stage right for a time, as they each let loose their throaty, metal screams into the mic. One of the best parts came towards the end, and as Xtina belted out a line, Rob and Juan dropped to their knees for a few moments, before springing back up.
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“…How many veteran Solice fans are in the house?” she asked, while making her way back to the keyboard. Judging by the noise, there were quite a few, and they were glad to hear her say they were bringing back an older song they hadn’t done in awhile. Specifically, that was “The Mask”, a favorite of mine, and from the looks of it, many others, too.

Their time on stage was almost over, and Xtina made sure to let everyone know in about a month they, too, would be getting a plaque up on this wall. They did another (I assume newer) song, which even by their standards was very aggressive; and I really liked the pace it had, with the music bed and vocals working off and complimenting one another.
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They ended with what Xtina mentioned was a very personal song to them; and Rob ditched his bass for a guitar. It was titled “Solice”, and you felt the emotion as they performed it. “…A smile left with no goodbye, and now I’m barely hanging on…” went one of the lines, while they gradually built it up from the more acoustic vibe it had begun with.
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This was the best show I’ve seen Solice do. Since I’ve been aware of them I’ve always thought they were a great band, put they’ve pushed themselves above and beyond the level they used to be at.

They were even more solid as a band in general, with deepened chemistry with one another; and the exerted a hold over everyone that you couldn’t break free from, nor did you want to.

Some of that probably did have something to do with the awesome crowd, too, ‘cause it’s always better when there are a bunch of people at a show, and the band can work of their energy and vice versa.

Regardless, Solice proved just way they, too, will soon have a plaque on this storied wall.

That plaque presentation show will be on Sunday, August 31st. They’ll also be playing Houston on August 1st at Acadia and August 2nd at Lola’s Saloon in Fort Worth. They have a show at The Dirty Rooster in Allen on September 20th, too. Don’t forget their new EP comes out on August 1st, and in the meantime you can also get their last one in iTUNES.

It was nearly ten-o’clock when Daylight Industries got ready to hit the stage, and The Curtain Club was more packed than I have seen it in years. Specifically, the last time was January 13th of 2012, when The FEDS did that reunion show hundreds of fans from all over the Mid-West had waited three years for. You expect that kind of turnout for a Dallas legend, though. But even on a night as important as getting a plaque, I’ve seen some bands pull the typical few dozen people and that’s it.

By the time this night was said and done more than five hundred people had walked through the doors of the Curtain.

Dayvoh introduced the “gypsy rock band from Dallas”, who was all smiles and holding their plaque up for all to see, and then he left them to it.
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“Tonight’s about having fun and playing music!” exclaimed lead guitarist Brandon Tyner. They were already setting up their opening number, and some slightly fuzzy notes filled the air, while Barry Townsend slapped the neck of his bass, which was resting against his amp for the time being. “Well, he said it all, so we’re just going to play some music.” frontman Keith Allen remarked, I believe referring to what both Dayvoh and Brandon had said.

Barry slung his bass over him, and they were off, coming out of the gates strong with a newer song, and one they went absolutely ballistic on. Of course, that could describe the bands entire show in general, but there was something special to this one. Stephen Smith was beating the drums so hard I’m surprised none of the skins broke; and at one point Barry wound up on the drum riser, and soon jumped off it.

They moved on to another newer one, and the last couple times I heard “White Russians”, it was the closer. It fit real well here at the start, though; and the two-and-a-half minute long track appeared to get the band more excited. Steve stood from his kit at one point, appearing to shout at everyone, before forcefully striking the cymbals as he went to sit back down. Keith used one of the brief instrumental breaks to raise his beer to the sky, and nearly everyone in the venue did the same with theirs. A party atmosphere had been established, and everyone was just having a good time; and the crowd roared at Brandon once that song was done, when he asked what was up.
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“We are Daylight Industries, and you must be the best crowd ever.” Keith said in a jovial voice, making the formal introduction. They started cracking away at the Faith Healer EP with “Aphasia”, which has perhaps the coolest guitar licks out of any of their songs (thus far), and the parts Ruvayne Weber added to it made it all the more impressive. Keith chatted with the audience for a minute, while Steve began prepping for their next number, keeping a nice steady and heavy patchwork of beats going before eventually exploding into the beast of a song that is “Wandering”. Their show reached new heights as the five of them thrashed about, but the best part came when the music suddenly fell nearly silent. The crowd didn’t make much noise, and Keith looked out at them. “Aw, that’s sad.” he said before they came back in.

Brandon walked over to center stage, glanced down at the set list, and then fired up the opening riff to “Western Sky”, as he swaggered back to stage right. It was a little change of pace for them, as it has a slight reggae sound in the music bed, and isn’t quite as intense as their other stuff, yet it still sounds like Daylight Industries.
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“That’s it. That was our last song. Fuck off now; go home. Thank you for your money, now go home.” Keith joked. No one budged. They knew better. The band probably was getting tired by now, and Brandon had sweat dripping off of him, but they showed no sign of that affecting them. They never do anyway, but it was different this night. They were still gung-ho about it all, and I don’t think they wanted the night to end. Luckily for them there was still plenty of time left in their 44-minute long set.

Their assault continued with “Junkie Logic”, and as they hit the second chorus, Ruvayne raised his guitar over his head and continued to pick away at it. Keith was getting quite into the track, too, and dropped to his knees at the end and shouted out the final lines. A chant of “One more!” then arose from the audience, as people gave the guys a hard time. “Shut up and drink.” Keith responded, chuckling, and added this next one was a new song off the record they are currently tracking. It was typical Daylight Industries, but the growth in the music was noticeable. The spectators were loving it, and one chick even ended up crowd surfing. I’ve seen more than a hundred and twenty shows here at the Curtain, but I’ve never seen anyone crowd surf here. So let that serve as a testament to just how outstanding this night was.
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“Yeah, yeah, look at y’all, levitating and shit.” said Keith, who then apologized for cursing (there’s a first time for everything). “…I have a low vocabulary…” was his reasoning for doing it, and he searched for a more sophisticated word to say that. “What’s the word I’m looking for…” he said aloud, pondering it. “Fuck.” he said, leaving it at that. A guy was now seen crowd surfing during “Faith Healer”, and nearly got dropped, but fortunately for him the people holding him up recovered. They even got a clap along going at one point; and upon finishing it, Keith held the mic in front of Barry, asking if he wanted to say anything. He said something simple, like a word of thanks, and fans yelled at the top of their lungs back at him. “That’s what I want, every time I say something, you cheer!” he replied, beaming with delight.

They launched into “Sit In”, which was even more solid than usual, and followed it with the single from their next EP. Brandon mentioned it was titled “Weight of the World”. “That’s called a metaphor. That’s a literary device.” Keith added, making some people laugh with that comment that seemed to come right out of left field. The song had a nice build-up at one point, and Brandon worked everyone up during it, causing another surge in the energy level.
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“I would stage dive, but this is two hundred and twenty pounds of American muscle.” Keith cracked before their final song. They closed with an oldie but goodie: “Something’s Wrong”. It’s been awhile since they’ve done anything from the Future of an Illusion EP, but that was always my favorite track off it, and it was good to hear it brought back, even if it may have been just for this night. “And I’ve known it all along, it’s the feeling something’s wrong.” goes the chorus, and the first time around, the audience slowly took over on it. That prompted the band to pull back and let everyone sing that part to them; and while he might not have wanted to crowd surf, Keith was all too happy to join the mosh pit that had started closer towards the end. Barry furthered the crowd participation by starting a clap along, and before you knew it, they were done.

This is one band that doesn’t disappoint, and their live show is superior to most as far as energy goes, but this night, this night they went above and beyond what is standard for them.
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As I mentioned with Solice, part of that undoubtedly had to do with the crowd. I mean, when you have people singing your song back at you, how could you not feel a euphoric rush? The same can be said of knowing your band will be immortalized on the Wall of Fame, a feat Barry has said has been a life goal since he was seventeen. It took fifteen years for it to happen, but it happened.

Daylight Industries was an unstoppable force this night, and it was hard to think that the night would or could get any better with the two remaining acts, but that’s exactly what happened.

You can find their EP’s in iTUNES, and you can even download a ton of live cuts as well as the full Faith Healer EP fro FREE on REVERBNATION. If you want to see them live, your next chance will be August 2nd at Lola’s Saloon. They’ll be in Allen at The Dirty Rooster on August 16th; and back in Fort Worth on August 5th at The Rail as part of the Cowtown Charity Music Fest.

As usual, folks had left the room, going out to the patio to smoke and/or socialize, but once they heard the drums, bass and guitars of Alterflesh’s sound check, the hundreds of people hurried back in.
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Dayvoh (AKA The Shaman) greeted everyone with, “Welcome to Curtain Palooza version three point o…”. The stage was decked out with their usual gear, from paintings that featured Buddha and other spiritual things; while Andrew Lewthwaite stood on a box at stage left, his guitar at the ready. Fellow guitarist Ben Schelin and bassist Paul Kubajak were also peering out at the patrons, anxiously waiting for the introduction to be made so they could get to work.

It didn’t take long, and they opened with “Megahub”. This was their first Dallas show since working with producer Alex Gerst (who recorded their debut EP, which they also happened to be releasing this night.) His guidance had led to an even tighter sound for the band, and while that song didn’t make the cut on the EP, you could still hear a slight evolution in it now from how it used to be. Dayvoh was already going full throttle, interacting with the crowd and jumping around, as the lights shimmered off the golden silk shirt he was wearing.
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“Again, welcome to Curtain Palooza!” shouted Dayvoh once the song ended. He then belted out a line a cappella, before drummer Kevin Mills and the rest of the band tore into a newer song they had cooked up. It fit the Alterflesh mold well, especially in the chorus, with one of the lines being, “…Each of us will burn until we return to the light…” Paul and Ben were jumping about in their spots, and Paul was still able to add his backing vocals when needed; and at one point, Dayvoh knelt on that box on stage left, pointing at the audience. The song ended with him repeating the same line over and over, essentially creating his own echo effect, which was quite cool.

The sheer size of the crowd was remarkable, and it led Dayvoh to comment on how “alive” Deep Ellum was this night. “It’s looking like the old days…” he stated, before shouting out all the other bands who were out supporting, saying there were at least a dozen bands represented who weren’t even playing this night. They simply came out to support their friends. The bass was thunderous at the start of “So Much More”, another song that had been retooled, and this new, polished version was superb.
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He again mentioned how alive the scene was, before noting this next one was a social rant called “Watch Rome Burn”. The song didn’t just get touched up, it got rewritten. The guitar tones were slicker and the pace at which the vocals were delivered was completely different. Then they hit the chorus, “Never will you bear the full weight…”, which was not how it used to go. It was like a brand new song, which brought new life to it. That’s always been one of my favorite Alterflesh songs, and I think anyone would be skeptical if a band reworked a song they like, but this was a change that was easy to embrace, and they really did make the song better. There was also a cool part as they hit the final chorus, when Dayvoh leapt into the air at the instant Kevin came back in on the drums.

“…It’s no secret in life that things aren’t always what they seem to be… But life is music and music is life, and that’s the truth.” remarked Dayvoh during their next break. Words to live by in my opinion. Kevin then led the charge into “The Charade”, the lead track from the Into the Sun EP, which was making it’s live debut this night. You could see the extra rush of excitement it gave them clearly on Ben’s face, who smiled for most of the track; and at a pause, they extended the break, as Dayvoh worked the crowd up, getting everyone to scream and cheer for them. Afterwards he thanked all the behind the scenes players at the Curtain, like sound man Chad Lovell, while Kevin started them off on their next number. Xtina Lee from Solice walked on stage, helping them out on “Start Over”, which has become a duet. Their voices sound incredible together, and even though it’s only one song, they got a good deal of chemistry going on with one another.
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She left, and Ben opened up the title track of the EP, “Into the Sun”, while Kevin stood up as he lightly hit some of the cymbals. They even spiced the song up a bit with a killer guitar solo that Andrew played, showing just how talented a guitarist he is. “How about that Curtain Club?! Are you alive out there?!” roared Dayvoh after the song, before releasing the new version of “New Horizon” on everyone’s ears. Like some of the other songs, there weren’t many huge changes, though it had been better fleshed out (further proof of why Gerst is one of the best producers in the area, and as Dayvoh pointed out this night, he’s also Grammy nominated.)

“How about that curtain?!” shouted Dayvoh, as he stared out at all the adoring fans. They then took a moment to bring Scooter Ward from Cold up on stage, and he asked everyone to give it up for all the local bands that had played. He said all this had brought him back to a day when local music mattered, and he reminisced about a band from out of Atlanta he used to share the stage with back in the mid-nineties. “…They’re now called Sevendust, and they used to play to twenty people. Shit changes.” Scooter said, proving that you never know who might be the next rising star. He then presented Alterflesh with their plaque, and they proudly held it up for all to see.
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Their 41-minute long set was almost over, but they still had one more left, and they had planned something special for everyone. Alterflesh isn’t really known for doing covers, but they’ve done it a time or two before. However, they have never played Bob Dylans’ “All Along the Watchtower” before. They owned it, and with their unique style, they had no trouble leaving their mark on it. Andrew’s guitar was dominant throughout the song, and the additional verses thrown in were fitting of Alterflesh’s style.

It’s really impressive how far these guys have come in a relatively short time. I don’t even mean that just about the plaque, but in general. A year-and-a-half ago, Alterflesh hadn’t even played the Curtain Club once, and were still a little known band. All of a sudden, they started establishing a rapidly growing fan base and pulling more and more people out with each show they did.
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Apply the growth they underwent while at Empire Sound Studio, and you’re left with a force to be reckoned with. They’re probably one of the most hyped bands currently in the North Texas music scene, and not only are people talking about them, they’re actually coming out to shows to see them. As phenomenal as they were this night, it’s easy to see why.

They don’t have the EP on iTUNES yet, but for now you can listen to and purchase a few of the tracks on REVERBNATION. You’re next chance to see them will be on September 13th in Dallas, and then they have an October 11th gig at Hailey’s in Denton.

Cold had the job of closing out the night, doing a special acoustic set. For those wondering how this came about, apparently Dayvoh and Scooter are old friends, and they were the icing on the cake to this spectacular night.

The Cold Army was out in full force, and the trio of Scooter Ward, Zac Gilbert and Drew Molleur were met with rabid screams when the curtain opened and revealed them. “Give it up for all the local bands…” Scooter shouted. He and his band mates were all seated on stools, and he mentioned that everything this night would be different variations of the songs just about everyone here knew.
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Fans were excited when Scooter said the first song was “Remedy”, and it was completely different from the version these people were familiar with. Zac alternated between the keyboard and an acoustic guitar this night, using the keys on this one. The same can be said of many of their songs this night, but you really got to hear their true beauty this night. “I don’t love how you love, but please don’t leave me here alone…” Scooter crooned as they began, giving even more weight to the lyrics.

Another cool thing with this setting was they made it into a sort of storytellers show, and he said when they were working on the A Different Kind of Pain album, they traveled through Atlanta and had a layover at the airport. It was there Scooter said he met and talked with some soldiers, “…And they inspired me with their stories…” he said. So much so, he wrote a song for them. That was the poignant “When Angels Fly Away”, which had Drew adding some awesome backing vocals at times, while both he and Zac strummed their acoustic guitars.

“Is everybody doing alright? Are you okay?” Scooter asked, checking in with everyone. People were hanging in there just fine, and he admitted he had been pretty nervous about “only having two people” next to him, but it was working out so far. “Can we kill the lights?” he then asked. “We’re like gremlins, we don’t like lights.” he said more to the staff, as the lights, which hadn’t been too bright to begin with, left them in almost complete darkness. He mentioned this next song was one he wrote for his mom, and “No One” made a fairly smooth transition over to an acoustic song. The Cold Army was really liking it, and I overheard someone saw this was even their favorite Cold song, so when they hit one of the latter choruses, and Scooter simply said, “Sing it.”, fans were glad to help out.
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Zac went back to the keys, as they prepared for one of the last tracks of the Year of the Spider album, and Scooter noted this was only the second time they had played “Black Sunday” live, which I think made the crowd feel pretty lucky. Throughout all of those, you could feel a sadness, and they had created a somber tone, one the trio wasn’t ready to leave just yet. “Since we’re going with the painful ones…” Scooter said, pausing for a second before finishing, “This one hurts.” He left it at that, and his band mates began “Cure My Tragedy”. “…Won’t you cure my tragedy? Don’t take her smile away from me; she’s broken and I’m far away.” he forcefully sang, asking for the audience to help him out at one point. “That was for my sister.” he remarked afterwards, adding that the hard songs had now been gotten out of the way, and as he did so, he wiped his eyes. Like he said before, that was a painful one, and you could tell it.

The stories continued, when Scooter talked about getting to meet one his idols: Layne Staley. He said the Alice in Chains frontman wore different attire to hide how sickly he looked, covering his face and head with glasses and a hat, but Scooter talked about how amazing that was for him, to at least get a chance to speak to Staley while he was still alive. With that, they did a still fairly intense version of “The Day Seattle Died”, which he later clarified was for Kurt [Cobain] and Layne.

The crowd cheered when he asked, “Do you know this song? It’s been awhile.” He wasn’t speaking to them, though. “I was talking to band…” he told everyone. They knew it no problem, although it was a whole different take on “Wicked World” that they offered up. On the flip side, “A Different Kind of Pain” was built for the acoustic setting, and sounded excellent just being the guitar and piano. It was one of the most beautiful moments of the night, while “Suffocate” created one of the most frenzied. “Come on!” Scooter shouted as they hit the first chorus. He couldn’t resist getting more into this one, and left the stool he had been stationed on, kneeling down closer to the crowds level and holding the mic out to different fans on the chorus. Even then, everyone was singing, though, creating a magical moment.
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Scooter shared another story with fans, saying this next song was one most of the audience would know, and it was one, one of his band mates had heard him sing on their tour bus on numerous occasions, and told him he needed to record it. It was never laid down until they did the 13 Way to Bleed Onstage record, though, and the song he was speaking of was that discs closing number: “Bleed”. The harmonies he and Drew got going during it were fantastic, and the fans made it into another sing-along opportunity. That’s saying something, because on a lot of records, the usual slow, acoustic song that gets placed at the end is dismissed by fans. Not in this case, though.

The mood got a little happier when it was mentioned that Drew had gotten engaged the previous weekend, and then Scooter again everyone for supporting local music. “This is one of our first hit songs that got us noticed…” he informed everyone. It took a moment, but once people heard the unmistakable chords of “Just Got Wicked”, they let out some excited cheers. They then did something they hadn’t done before, and Scooter pointed out that this was a song Zac was wanting to do. It was “Feel it in Your Heart”, which sounded incredible, and making it all the more impressive was when Scooter told everyone they had never done that with the piano before. “…He just winged that shit!” he said, pointing at Zac, leading the crowd to give it up for him.

“I don’t want to stop!” Drew said. He meant it, too, and you could tell he was really enjoying this. Their 58-minute long set was almost up, though, and they left everyone with “Stupid Girl”, which again had Scooter getting up from his stool to better interact with everybody.

To be honest, I’ve never really listened to much Cold. I just never heard much of their music and missed out on them I guess. But man, after seeing this acoustic performance, I’m going to have to fix that.

Even from stools, doing stripped down versions of their songs, they were on par with every other band on this bill, and they brought with them that sense of professionalism that comes with being a major touring band.

Really, I was amazed; plus, it was cool to see Cold do an acoustic show, ‘cause how many people get to experience that?

This whole night was amazing, and Dayvoh deserves one more shout-out for helping orchestrate it all.

This was one of the most fun overall concert experiences I’ve ever had, and that is all because of the atmosphere of it all. Everyone was having a good time and just enjoyed all the bands. On that note, people stuck around for every band, rather than showing up for the one act they want to see and then leaving. Even if it was just for a night, the local music scene was a legitimate community again, and it was thriving.

This is what Deep Ellum needs more of. More solid shows where everyone is headline quality; more promotion on everyone’s part (bands, venues and fans. Remember, it’s a collective effort.); and more people showing up early and staying late for the whole thing.

I could make that list longer, but I think those are the three strongest points, aside from just needing more people to come out in general and support up and coming talent.

I’ll I’ve known is a near lifeless Deep Ellum, the one that was plagued by crime (and even murder), which left most afraid to even venture to the area of Dallas. When I first started coming to the now long defunct Club Clearview and Curtain Club in early 2006, you had your pick of parking spaces, and you didn’t have to worry about any lot filling up.

There’s no denying it has been on an upswing the last couple of years, though. There are bigger crowds, and depending on what’s going on, parking can be pretty scarce even in the eight-o’clock hour. Point is, I hope this night was a sign of things to come. Especially for the beloved Curtain Club.

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
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Light the Fire
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Solice
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Cull the Heard
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Deaf Angel
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Affiance
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